Monday, June 30, 2008

Surprise Hotel

I mentioned to the client that the Hampton Inn was a bit edgy...livable but edgy. This week they booked me into a different hotel. They told me it was new and supposed to be very nice. It turns out that The Partridge Inn is on the Register of Historic Places. A very old hotel that has been recently renovated and very nice and quaint. I am on the top floor (5th) and actually have a balcony that overlooks Augusta. The Inn is on a hill so the view is quite nice. I have a few pics which I will post a bit later. Not ideal for me since I need a fridge to store my fish oil and yogurt but otherwise not too bad. I don't think the client realized that being a traditional "old hotel" things like breakfast are extra so even though they got a corporate rate it is going to cost them for breakfast and all that stuff. I am going to try the restaurant tonight which is rated as very good. I shall report. If I were coming to Augusta for tourist stuff then this would be a great place as it is in town and central to the historic district, airport and about a mile and a half from Augusta National.

Powerful Read

I got home Friday to find that my copy of Joe Bageant's book "Deer Hunting with Jesus" had finally shown up. I finished all but the last chapter over the weekend. I can't recommend it highly enough. Even though I grew up in the South and my relatives and my family are the ones Joe is talking about (America's working class/rednecks) it was a powerful and eye opening book. Joe lays out clearly what drives this huge part of American society, why they vote like they do and why they think like they do and why, when they vote, they invariably seem to vote against their own self interests. Guns, fundamentalist religion, living paycheck to paycheck, it is all there in spades.

Speaking of America's working class I am back in Augusta this week for another round with the corporate types. It was a nice relief last week actually working with the folks in the warehouse and distribution center. No corporate politics just getting the work done. This place reeks with all the intrigue and backstabbing that go along with a corporate office. Not very pleasant. Fortunately, it is a short week.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Weekend Projects

Here is the result of two weekends work. This paddle wheel will be at the foot of a bed in the room Madam is decorating at Christmas in one of the historic homes here. The theme is for the house this year is U.S. cities and Madam has Memphis, Tn. so the bed becomes a river boat complete with smoke stacks(made from cutting a round concrete post form in half) and the paddle wheel. There will also be be a BBQ joint in the closet and pictures of the Peabody ducks, W.C. Handy, B.B. King and, of course, Elvis. We even built a small replica of the pyramid out of a clear fluorescent light lens. Should all be very nice.

BTW the paddle wheel is made from irrigation pipe, some wooden dowels, and foam core. Pretty cool and looks like the real thing from a distance.

P.S. you can click on the picture for an enlarged view.

Fallenmonk Gardens

I promised a better picture of my Father's Day sculpture. I finally got around to it. You can see the detail in the lotus flowers a lot better. Amazing what my daughter can do with some scrap metal.

P.S. you can click on the picture for an enlarged view.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

WTF Eye Babies!

I couldn't read the whole thing but you're welcome too....

Losing Your Rights on the Cheap

Between now and last March 94 Congressman that call themselves Democrats switched their position on retroactive telecom immunity and flopped to the telecom side. How did that happen? What spectacular global event precipitated this mass migration to the dark side? You don't suppose money from the telecoms had anything to do with it do you? Our Congress persons are above that kind of stuff aren't they?

Not so fast.
House Democrats who flipped their votes to support retroactive immunity for telecom companies in last week’s FISA bill took thousands of dollars more from phone companies than Democrats who consistently voted against legislation with an immunity provision, according to an analysis by

In March, the House passed an amendment that rejected retroactive immunity. But last week, 94 Democrats who supported the March amendment voted to support the compromise FISA legislation, which includes a provision that could let telecom companies that cooperated with the government’s warrantless electronic surveillance off the hook.

The 94 Democrats who changed their positions received on average $8,359 in contributions from Verizon, AT&T and Sprint from January, 2005, to March, 2008, according to the analysis by MAPLight, a nonpartisan organization that tracks the connection between campaign contributions and legislative outcomes.
Looks like the price of your Constitution got moved to the bargain table. Who would have thought that you could have bought 94 Congress persons for the bargain price of $8,359 a piece? Who would have thought that your Congress persons would have sold your Constitution down the river for such a price? I could have probably been a little less enraged over this had the average price been in the 6 figures because we all know that most everyone has a price but 8 lousy damn dollars!

Down and Up and Bad Both Ways

Holy Moly! The Dow dropped over 3% today or 358 points and the Dow wasn't alone. It was bad everywhere:
The Dow Jones industrial average sank 358.41 points, or 3.03 percent, to end unofficially at 11,453.42 while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped 38.82 points, or 2.94 percent, to end unofficially at 1,283.15. The Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 79.89 points, or 3.33 percent, to close unofficially at 2,321.37.
Not only that but oil futures hit a new high as well:
Oil futures shot above $140 Thursday after OPEC's president said crude prices could rise well above $150 a barrel this year and Libya said it may cut oil production. The advance raised the likelihood that gasoline prices would also extend their advance, and that prices of goods and services throughout the economy would also keep rising.

Light, sweet crude crossed the $140 level minutes before the New York Mercantile Exchange closed Thursday, then retreated slightly to settle up $5.09 at a record $139.64. In after-hours electronic trading, prices rose as high as a record $140.39.
The good news, if there is any, is that George Bush owns it in the view of most Americans. People realize the economy is a disaster and spiraling down in flames. They see it at the gas pump. They see it at the grocery. They see it in their home values. The see it everywhere they turn and the American people blame George Bush. It is also germane here to remind everyone that McBush wants to do it all the same way and he has said more than once that the economy is not his strong suit. What more do you need to know?
Three out of four Americans, including large numbers of Republicans, blame President Bush's economic policies for making the country worse off during the last eight years, according to a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll released Wednesday, reflecting a sharp increase in public pessimism during the last year.

Nine percent of respondents said the country's economic condition had improved since Bush became president, compared with 75% who said conditions had worsened. Among Republicans, 42% said the country was worse off, while 26% said it was about the same, and 22% thought economic conditions had improved.

Don't Travel Internationally with Sensitive Data

Steve at YDD alerts us to the fact that U.S. Customs is seizing laptops, thumb drives and even digital camera storage media from people returning from overseas. The bottom line is that if you have any sensitive or personal information on you laptop or any other digital device then it is best to leave it at home. They worst part is that they are doing this without warrants or even probable cause. What a mess!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Who Do You Think You Are?

I need to throw a question out there. It's precipitated by a discussion in the comment thread here.

The title of this post is the question but let me amplify.

The premise is that as an American my interests and concern as well as my actions and those of my country should be focused on USA first and if by chance some others benefit that's a lagniappe.

For discussion's sake let me try and express my answer to the question.

While I am proud of my country and grateful to have been, by chance, born American my concern and primary interests are far larger. In the great cosmic dance, my existence and that of all others currently extant up the planet is merely a flash, a fraction of a second in the thread of life on this fragile planet of spaceship earth. The genes I am currently borrowing can be traced (through mitochondrial DNA) to the savannas of Africa and millions of years in the past. I am first a creature of the universe and more locally the planet Earth and a creature of the USA second at best. My first responsibility or allegiance, if you will, is to the universe. My fellow humans and the rest of the creatures that share my heritage, tracking back to the beginning of life on Earth, are my first responsibility. My loyalty and support of the political entity of the United States, while very important, are in reality at best secondary and more probably even tertiary after my family.
In light of the above then it becomes clear that the welfare of my fellow humans, whether it is freedom from fear and oppression or freedom from hunger and disease is rightly superior to my concern for my American fellows as a subset of the above. This is not an easy concept since one will invariably be challenged with the challenges of "will you let your neighbors starve while sending food to Africa?" and the like. Life is full of choices but they are rarely black and white as many would have us believe.

So who do you think you are? Are you and your fellow countrymen and your welfare paramount? Is it meaningful to think about the bigger picture? Do you owe any allegiance to the universe and planet that produced you? And finally Spock's great question...Does the good of the many outweigh the good of the few? Pitch in and tell us what you think.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Obama Brings Out the Best of the Christian Right

Here is what Obama said in a June 2006 speech to the liberal Christian group Call to Renewal.
Obama suggested that it would be impractical to govern based solely on the word of the Bible, noting that some passages suggest slavery is permissible and eating shellfish is disgraceful.

"Which passages of scripture should guide our public policy?" Obama asked in the speech. "Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that eating shellfish is an abomination? Or we could go with Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount?

While I am no longer a Christian, I am a somewhat familiar with the Bible and understand that it has to be read and interpreted with serious look at the times and circumstances in which it was written. I am also well aware that what stands today as the Christian Bible is the result of some serious editing by the Catholic church around 300 A.D. Understandably, they took a lot of controversial and really good stuff out as they felt the masses they were trying to swindle and control would get some wrong ideas about the whole Catholic church and Pope being a direct conduit to God and infallible thing. That said, what Obama says is completely rational, completely honest and something someone who has come to terms with the warts on his chosen faith would say. I agree with it 100%.

Here is what the Focus on the Family founder James Dobson has to say in response:
"I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own world view, his own confused theology," Dobson said, adding that Obama is "dragging biblical understanding through the gutter."
He also goes on to say that Obama should not be referencing antiquated dietary codes and passages from the Old Testament that are no longer relevant to the teachings of the New Testament.

In response to Obama's suggestion that;
"Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal rather than religion-specific values," Obama said. "It requires their proposals be subject to argument and amenable to reason."
Dobson says that the suggestion is an attempt to lead by the "lowest common denominator of morality."

So what's the deal? Dobson has already ready made it clear that he won't support McSame but here he is trashing Obama and thereby helping McBush. Here is my call. Dobson has apparently realized that Obama is a real threat, not just to McCain, but to his own distorted view of Christianity and ability to influence the Christian right. Obama talks about his faith and talks about Christianity in real terms and it resonates not just with the "casual" Christians but with a growing number of evangelicals, if you believe the polls. Dobson is now coming to terms with the fact that his hold on the evangelical right is being threatened by someone of real faith that makes sense and expresses that faith and understanding in ways that reach people across a broad spectrum of the population. He knows that fewer and fewer people actually care what he and the rest of his ilk have to say anymore. This is especially true in politics, and that's really Dobson's home turf. He may have loads of red-state followers who will unthinkingly swallow the pap he peddles, but his influence in in Washington is rapidly dimming and when Obama is in the White House he will be persona non grata - big time. He knows his time in the limelight is over and is fighting back in the only way he knows which is lying and distorting Christian belief to his own ends just like all the other snake oil hucksters that feed off the Christian right.

BTW, I always thought James Dobson was a minister or Doctor of Divinity or some other holy roller muckity-muck. It turns out he has no credentials in religion at all. In an email issued by Dobson in which he takes offense and being compared to Al Sharpton in the same June 2006 Obama speech he writes:
"I don’t want to be defensive here," Dr. Dobson says on the broadcast. "Obviously, that is offensive to me.

"He equates me with Al Sharpton, who is a reverend. I am not a reverend. I’m not a minister. I’m not a theologian. I’m not an evangelist. I’m a psychologist. I have a Ph.D. in Child Development from the University of Southern California. And there is no equivalence to us. I don’t want to overreact to it, but this comment was made two years ago, and it’s taken me two years to find out about it."
So the guy isn't a preacher or some big wig comparative religion scholar but a child psychologist for Goddess's sake. Where does he get off lecturing people about religion and the Bible? There is, however, one thing this bit of information brings forth and that is... are you glad your kid didn't spend any time in session with this fruitcake or what?

crossposted at SteveAudio

They Invest Whilst We Wither

Here is something interesting and frustrating from Bloomberg...

June 23 (Bloomberg) -- Network Rail Ltd., the government- backed owner of Britain's train tracks and stations, may build as many as five more railway lines to help boost capacity as passenger numbers climb to the highest in more than 60 years.

Network Rail will examine the case for constructing new lines to the north and west of London, it said in a statement today. Capacity will be reviewed on the West Coast, East Coast, Great Western, Chiltern and Midland Main lines, the company said.

Passenger journeys have increased 40 percent over the past decade to 1.13 billion, the highest since 1946, when the network was twice the size. The U.K. government predicts numbers will rise by an additional 30 percent over the next 10 years.

And we are we? We're spending nearly half a BILLION dollars a day on a useless and unnecessary war. We've lost over 4,000 American soldiers to this war. We've wasted over $500 billion, and we're still spending over $100 billion every year. The total cost is expected to reach over a trillion dollars - or even several trillion, if you add all the veterans' costs in as well.

China and India continue to grow, and where are we? Pouring money down a hole while our economy grinds to a halt, and we face a world of permanent $4 or more a gallon gas. Hello! That's 3 times the price AFTER September 11. Been grocery shopping lately? Bread, milk or butter or anything else that is coming to your local store by truck, train or plane is being burdened by the price of energy. This is Bush's legacy. A world where we are spiraling into a has been country with millions unable to meet the cost of basic living and millions of children with poor nutrition that will affect their ability to learn and function for the rest of their lives. The rest of the world is looking forward with improved infrastructure, national healthcare, improving nutrition and environmental practices. Not us under the GOP. Anybody ready for a change in direction?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Selling Our Souls for Easy Oil

Let's talk a little reality about opening up our coasts to oil drilling. The reality is that there are roughly 70 million acres of leases already in the greedy little hands of oil companies that they aren't drilling. Why? It is expensive oil. It is in deep water and the costs to get it to market are very high even with prices at $135 or so a barrel. Guess what? Near in shore, shallow water oil is a lot cheaper to bring to market. Why should the oil companies dip into their record profits to extract the expensive oil in the leases they already own when it looks like the panic over high gas prices is going to release millions of acres of "cheap oil"?
From CNN :
The oil industry is correct about not hoarding oil, said Oppenheimer analyst Fadel Gheit. With prices at $135 dollars a barrel, everyone is trying to pump as much as they can, he said.

But fearing oil prices will eventually fall, the industry is leery about making too many investments in the fields it has - many of which are in deepwater areas that can be pricey to develop.

Instead, they're holding out, hoping the government will open areas closer to shore that would be cheaper to work on.

Gheit hasn't seen the legislation proposed by Markey and others, but he thinks the government should revise the leasing process to encourage more drilling on existing areas before it puts more acres up for bid.

"Government agencies should hold their feet to the fire," he said. And oil companies "should finish what's on their plate before they do back in line."

We really need to keep coastal areas clear and free of the oil companies. Sure it is cheaper to drill but with the oil companies making record profits I don't see any reason they shouldn't invest in some of the deeper water resources before we commit our shores to the horrors of even a single spill. Of course the real answer is to invest in finding alternative sources for our continually increasing need for energy but panic and close in shore drilling is the last thing we need.

A Hippy-Dippy Good-Bye

Updated below:

What a way to start off a Monday morning! Just logged on after my trip from Atlanta to Asheville and check CNN and what do I see but George Carlin has passed away. George Carlin has been a part of my life since I can remember and was one of the funniest and astute comedians and social commentators ever. Truly a modern day Mark Twain if there ever will be one. Our lives will be a lot less without his take on the absurdity of life in this crazy world. There have been many a times that I turned in some way to his wit and observations to make sense of the insanity and weirdness around me. Unless you have read some of his books, which you should, then you will have missed some of the greatest belly laughs ever. His most recent book that I remember was "Brain Droppings" that I picked up in an airport somewhere and I got some strange looks on a flight back to Atlanta when I would just burst out laughing. Thank Goddess so much of his work has been captured on DVD.

Keep on laughing at us and making fun of us George and I am sure the Goddess has a special job for you all ready. If very strange and funny things start happening in the world then you will know he is in place at his new job.

So long my friend.

Photo credit AP via CNN

Update: HBO is going to dig into their archives and bless us with an overdose of George Carlin:
HBO will replay the specials at various times beginning on Wednesday.

On HBO, the main channel, Mr. Carlin’s most recent special, “It’s Bad For Ya,” will be shown Friday, June 27 at 9 p.m. The special will also be available on HBO On Demand beginning this weekend.

On HBO2, eleven of Mr. Carlin’s specials will be shown over two nights, from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Wednesday, June 25 and at the same times on Thursday, June 26.

On HBO Comedy, a twelve-hour block of Mr. Carlin’s specials will be shown beginning at 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 28.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Anniversary Time

Tomorrow(Monday the 23rd) is the fourth anniversary of the Fallenmonk blog. Never thought it would last. There are some great regulars and I thank you and there are a lot of people who stop by regularly but don't join in the comments. That's great too. Thanks for all the visits and comments and I'll try and do better the next 12 months. More recipes too!

Posting this tonight since I will be on the road before six in the morning and didn't want to forget to mark the occasion.

Oh, and my daughter delivered the sculpture today and it is very impressive in person and a good 6 feet tall. I took some better pictures but they will have to wait. If any of you are jealous she does take commissions.

Friday, June 20, 2008

New Addition for the Garden

I don't have it yet but my daughter sent me a picture of my father's day present which she will deliver this weekend. If you can't tell it is one of her metal sculptures that says "Fallenmonk Gardens" and those are three lotus blossoms. I can't really tell how big it is from the picture but it looks tall, maybe 4 ft. Now I have to decide where to put it to best effect.
When she said she was still working on it when she called father's day I figured I was getting sculpture. Cool!

Rolled Again!

I'm about to hit the road again and head home to Atlanta. While I am driving (and trying to stay awake) the House will be having a sham debate and voting on George Bush and Steny Hoyer's disastrous and fatally flawed FISA bill. This bill is a complete cave in to the criminal George Bush and his equally criminal minions. It gives him and the telecoms everthing they want. I had mistakenly thought that the days of cowering before Bush were over but it looks like I was seriously wrong. I mean really, Bush's approval rating is 29%. But even though he is a complete lame duck he has somehow managed to roll the Democratic Majority Leadership one more time. Do you think Shrub has pictures of them doing disgusting things with animals or something? What other excuse could there be?

Last night on Keith Olbermann Keith's guest, legal scholar Jonathan Turley, called the new bill an "evisceration of the Fourth Amendment." He also stated "This bill has quite literally no public value for citizens or civil liberties."

This is not the way to start a weekend. If you can you might try calling your Congressman...I've emailed mine but he is a Shrub toady so it was a waste of time.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Long Day

Up at half past four and on the road from Asheville to Augusta for a 9 am meeting...Made it with a half hour to spare. Some of these days are killers for an old man. An early dinner and early to bed is in my future. May be a little quiet around here until tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's Good Business for a Few

I have talked here before about the trouble with American health care and how for profit companies have an incentive to deny you the health care coverage you have paid for. Not only do they deny you the health care you have paid for and deserve in search of the not so mighty dollar but they apparently have another gig which is also extremely or even obscenely profitable. This gig is where they invest $150K to get a $12 million return. That kind of ROI can assuage a lot of guilt if you know what I mean. It's a really good deal and I imagine a of fairly stand up people might have trouble turning their back on it. I guess it is really no wonder insurance companies keep doing it:

Blue Cross was fined $150,000 by the California Department of Managed Healthcare to penalize it for 12 Million dollars in premium overcharging errors.

Assurant Health — was just fined $3 million by the state of Connecticut for illegally denying care to hundreds of patients.

Health Net is being sued for $6 Million by a patient whose coverage was dropped in the middle of her cancer treatment, and Health Net gives bonuses for dropped policies! According to the article, the company called 2003 “a banner year” , for saving the company $6 million in what they call “unnecessary health care expenses.”

A California Appellate Court rules against insurer’s recission practices, and allows a family to sue Blue Shield for dropping their coverage after it had previously approved coverage for medical treatment.

How many of these stories have to go around before we do the right thing as a country and institute a single payer universal health care system. You know, like the ones the rest of the leading countries in the world have.

h/t Susie


Some of you regulars will remember the lucky times when Maya's Granny stopped by and shared her wit and wisdom here. I am sorry to share the news that she has passed away. If you were not familiar with her site you might stop by and read some of her stories. A wonderful storyteller who will be much missed here and around the internet.

Bye Granny

Unemployed? GOP says Too Bad

Remember a couple of weeks ago when the House passed legislation that would extend unemploynment benefits for an additional 13 weeks? The Republicans in the Senate just said go to hell. If you are unemployed then pound sand.

WASHINGTON - Senate Republicans blocked legislation Tuesday that would have given an extra three months of jobless benefits for all unemployed Americans, but congressional Democrats plan to bring the bill back by attaching it to an.


The Congressional Budget Office estimated that if the House bill became law, about 3.2 million Americans would collect $11.7 billion in extended unemployment benefits over the life of the extension.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Could Get Hungry Out

In light of the fact that most of "America'a Bread Basket" is under flood water and we all like to eat, I bring you the following good news from the Commodity Credit Corporation.

“According to the May 1, 2008 CCC inventory report there are o­nly 24.1 million bushels of wheat in inventory, so after this sale there will be o­nly 5.73 million bushels of wheat left the entire CCC inventory,” warned Matlack. “Our concern is not that we are using the remainder of our strategic grain reserves for humanitarian relief. AAM fully supports the action and all humanitarian food relief. Our concern is that the U.S. has nothing else in our emergency food pantry. There is no cheese, no butter, no dry milk powder, no grains or anything else left in reserve. The o­nly thing left in the entire CCC inventory will be 5.73 million bushels of wheat which is about enough wheat to make about 1/2 of a loaf of bread for each of the 300 million people in America.”
Thanks to Frederick at MCCS1977 for the heads up.

A Man Can Change His Mind

You gotta wonder when McSame is going to get a dog named Barney...

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank writes:

During his last run for the presidency, in 1999, McCain supported the drilling moratorium, and he scolded the “special interests in Washington” that sought offshore drilling leases. Yesterday, he announced that those very same “moratoria should be lifted” and proposed incentives for the states “in the form of tangible financial rewards, if the states decide to lift those moratoriums.”

In 2000, McCain promised to “never lose sight” of fundamental principles on the issue.

That same McSame yesterday...

As McCain revealed Monday, his speech today includes a proposal to end a federal ban on offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and much of the the oceanic coasts, giving states the option to approve oil production within their waters.

h/t ThinkProgress

Drilling off all our beaches and nature preserves sounds familiar doesn't it. From 2001...

The Bush administration has unveiled plans to extend drilling for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico as part of its controversial energy policy...President George W Bush has long argued that the US needs to drill for more oil and gas, including in its coastal waters, to make it less dependent on foreign energy suppliers.
I guess we're not supposed to remember 7 years ago...

Over There

Just in case you haven't been paying attention...what with grieving over Tim Russert and watching McSame dig his hole deeper.

There have been 4,413 coalition deaths in Iraq since the occupation started:

Just in case you are a detail oriented type as of June 17, 2008 that boils down to:

4,101 American sons and daughters
2 Australians
176 mates from the UK
13 Bulgarians
1 Czech
7 Danes
2 Dutch
2 Estonians
1 Fijian
5 Georgians
1 Hungarian
33 Italians
1 Kazakh
1 Korean
3 Latvian
22 Poles
3 Romanians
5 Salvadoran
4 Slovaks
11 Spaniards
2 Thai
18 Ukrainians

Oh, and lest we forget, At least 30,209 American soldiers have been wounded in action and had their lives changed forever.
If I figure it correctly we have about 7 months before we can start bringing them home.

BTW, did I mention that in one of the deadliest attacks in Baghdad in months, at least 51 Iraqis were killed and 75 were wounded today in a car bombing.

Gettting Worse

From the Washington Post

The American Red Cross said yesterday that it has depleted its national disaster relief fund and is taking out loans to pay for shelters, food and other relief services across seven Midwestern states battered by floods.

Officials at the charity estimated that efforts in the Midwest will cost more than $15 million and warned that the total could surpass $40 million if the Mississippi River creates floods in St. Louis later this week.

On the cusp of hurricane season, Red Cross executives said the charity has raised just $3.2 million for the Midwest floods and painted a dire picture of its overall disaster relief finances. They said many donors are giving less because of rising gasoline and food prices and the collapse of the housing market. Also, the absence of a major U.S. catastrophe since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 has made it difficult to galvanize donors.

"The disaster relief fund today is completely depleted. The balance is zero," Jeffrey Towers, chief development officer, said in a conference call with reporters.

I haven't been able to monitor the news but I think I saw that at least one levee on the Mississippi as failed and that more are expected to. This is looking more and more lie Katrina 2 and where is the purported leader? This is really going to be ugly and a lot of Americans are going to suffer even more hardship because of our failed leadership.

Herding Cats

Off early today for another day of "herding cats". I don't remember where I got the phrase but it is the perfect metaphor for what I do sometimes. Trying to move clients into a new set of thought processes for their business is always challenging but sometimes is very frustrating.

This week we are fighting the "but we have always done it that way" syndrome.

Gore Endorses Obama

Not that it is any surprise but it is always nice when the big guns sign on to the campaign. In Detroit last night Gore did the deal and endorsed Obama. Al Gore recognizes the challenges we face and knows that the only choice for America is change. McSame is not change and he repeatedly reminds us that beyond a somewhat more aggressive foreign policy he is not going to change the disastrous course we are on.

As the old saw says " Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is insanity".

Monday, June 16, 2008

Early Monday

Off early this morning to Asheville for client meetings for a couple of days and then back to Augusta toward the end of the week. Much road time this week. Hope everyone had a a great weekend and all the fathers had a nice Father's Day. I got a new Infrared grill for my present. Can't wait to try in out. I just had time for a pork tenderloin yesterday but judging from the amount of heat it produces on the "sear" setting it is going to put a serious burn on a nice filet de mignon or a ribeye.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Nah, Nah!

I have just had my first tomatoes from the garden. Only cherry tomatoes but lovely and sweet. They actually made their debut in a salad of home grown butter lettuce, home grown parsley and a lovely goat cheese called "Purple Haze". Nice little cheese with lavender and fennel seed.
I should add that they were paired with a small yellow fin tuna steak marinated in Ponzu and coated with sesame. I even went to the trouble of getting out my tiny Weber "Smokey Joe" and over a fire of natural charcoal hit those tuna steaks with about 800 degrees of real charcoal heat. Need I say that they were "slap yo' Momma" good. There were only a dozen little cherry tomatoes but there is some sense of accomplishment in eating your own home grown food

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Not Yo' Momma!

Let me make this perfectly clear. If you believe that everyone deserves the right to challenge his or her imprisonment in a court of law and require the government to produce the evidence to justify your imprisonment then John McSame is your worst enemy. Today the Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision which rejected the Bush administration's grab for imperial power and restored the ancient right of habeas corpus. This is a hugely important decision with respect to whether this is a country of laws or not.

Today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) criticized to the Supreme Court’s ruling granting Guantanamo Bay detainees the right to challenge their detention in civilian courts:

It obviously concerns me. These are unlawful combatants. They are not American citizens. We should pay attention to Justice Roberts. It is a decision the Supreme Court has made and now we need to move forward. As you know, I always favored the closing of Guantanamo Bay, and I still think we ought to do that.

This statement defines McSame and his philosophy completely. It clearly demonstrates his fundamental lack of understanding of the true issue surrounding Gitmo and the actions of the Bush administration. The issue has never been about closing Guantanamo. While Gitmo will be a stain on the soul of America for generations and it should have never been established, its existence is not the paramount issue. Hello, it's the fundamental violation of human rights that is at issue here!
McSame talks endlessly, while leaning on his credentials as a former POW, about no torture and treating prisoners humanely but every time he has had the chance to do something meaningful, whether legislatively or rhetorically, he's wound up up crawling into bed with the administration.

This via Think Progress:

– In 2004, the Supreme Court ruled in Rasul v. Bush that the Bush administration had no jurisdiction to strip habeas corpus rights from detainees. In 2005, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced legislation overturning this decision and thus stripping detainees of their rights. McCain voted for the bill, which passed 49-42.

– The Military Commissions Act of 2006 denied anyone Bush labeled “an ‘illegal enemy combatant’ the ancient right to challenge his imprisonment in court.” McCain weakly pushed to strengthen the torture restrictions in the legislation, but ignored the lack of habeas rights. In the end, he voted for the Military Commissions Act.

– In 2007, Senate conservatives successfully filibustered legislation that would have “given military detainees the right to protest their detention in federal court.” In a 56-43 vote, the chamber fell just four shy of the 60 needed to cut off debate and proceed with the bill. McCain was part of the conservative filibuster and voted against moving forward with the legislation.

Today, the McCain campaign blog also approvingly cited Justice Antonin Scalia’s exceptionally extreme rhetoric on the consequences of the decision.

Somehow, with the unchallenged assistance of the American media, McSame has created the meme that he will "do the right thing" when it comes to torture and prisoners of war. Somehow, his experience as a POW in Viet Nam has made his opinion unassailable when it comes to such things. The reality is that he is our worst nightmare on these issues. At every turn McSame has gathered around the GOP camp fire and he's right there holding hands and singing along with Shrub and Cheney.

'Splain This Lucy

I don't typically post about women's issues because for one thing I am not one. I am married to one and my daughter is one but there are a lot better and more qualified voices out there than mine. Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast, Amanda at Pandagon, Susie at Suburban Guerrilla and a host of others. All smart, focused and talented women.
Nevertheless ,Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast has a link that any woman considering a vote for McSame should read.

As Jill says:
Just in case you think it'll somehow "show" Barack Obama something if you vote for John McCain, here's what you'd be voting for. Now go sit down and start writing down how you'll explain that vote to your daughters.

What Did I Do?

Over the last month or so I have noticed that on my Feedjit thing there are a lot of referrals from CNN. I was curious because just tonight they were incoming from as far away as Berlin via CNN. I went over to CNN and Fallenmonk was listed as one of the blogs talking about the Supreme Court Habeas Corpus story ruling. Mystery solved but how did a third or fourth rate blog like this get on the list of blogs that CNN even checks?

I am not complaining because we have had several new folks in the comments tonight and not just on the Habeas story. Welcome everyone, the more the merrier.

Real Ingredients?

I went to Wendy's for lunch today (chili and a side salad) and there were these little tent cards on every table pushing their new shakes...

Try our new Frostytm Shakes. Available in Strawberry, Chocolate Fudge, and Vanilla Bean! Hand Spun and made from real ingredients.

Maybe they need to rethink that a bit.

Supreme Court: Gitmo detainees have habeas rights

Update: If you want to understand how important this ruling by the Supreme Court is then go read Glenn Greenwald and get the perspective from a Constitutional lawyer.

This is a good thing...

From the Washington Post

The Supreme Court today rebuked the Bush administration for a third time for its handling of the rights of terrorism detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying those in custody there have a constitutional right to challenge their captivity in federal courts.

By a 5 to 4 vote that brought strongly worded and remorseful dissents from the court's conservative justices, the majority held that an alternative procedure designed by the administration and Congress was inadequate to insure that the detainees, some of whom have been imprisoned for six years without a hearing, receive their day in court.

"The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times," Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote. "Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system they are reconciled within the framework of the law."

Justice Antonin Scalia took the unusual step of reading his dissent from the bench, calling the court's decision a "self-invited . . . incursion into military affairs," and was even stronger in a written dissent joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

"America is at war with radical Islamists," Scalia wrote, adding that the decision "will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed."

All I can say is...about damn time!

Strategic Voting or a Sacred Trust?

There is a discussion over at Frederick's place about "Strategic Voting". If you, for instance, support and endorse Barack Obama and live in a state where it is very likely that Obama will win handily and have the opportunity to vote for 3rd party candidates you should feel free to vote 3rd party to make a statement against the two majority parties.

My feeling is that the right to vote for President is a 'scared trust' handed down to us from our forefathers who fought and died to preserve and protect that right. We, in turn, are entrusted with protecting and preserving this 'sacred trust' so that we may hand it our children.

It is our duty and privilege as Americans to take this sacred right to vote as something solemn and deadly serious and use that vote to send the very best we can to the White House. To do anything less is a dereliction of the trust our forefathers passed to us to protect and preserve.

I'd like to here some other opinions. What to you think about your right to vote? Is it right to use it for anything less than it's ultimate purpose and that is to select the from the very best among us to serve as President?

Granted, the majority has really fluffed the job over the last 20 to 30 years but does that lessen our responsibility to try and improve our record?

Here's Our Job

I posted this at SteveAudio earlier in the week and it didn't get much reaction. Let's see if it generates any comments here.

An article in the New York Times today highlights our job as liberals, Democrats and progressives over the next months before the November election. While it is easy to stand around and shake our heads in wonder at the way the conservative right vote it is much more important for us to understand why they vote the way they do and what we can do to change it. These are the people that are suffering worst from Shrub's economic policies. These are the people that will continue to suffer if McSame is elected. We really need to reach them and educate them. They need to understand that a vote for McSame in November is a vote for the same people that have been shafting them for years. They need to understand that these are the people who are making them have to decide whether to put gas the car or to buy food. They need to understand that they are the ones laboring hardest and suffering the most from the deliberate strategy of Shrub and Cheney and their collusion with the petroleum industry to make this country one that is painfully divided between the filthy rich and the devastatingly poor.

Across broad swaths of the South, Southwest and the upper Great Plains, the combination of low incomes, high gas prices and heavy dependence on pickup trucks and vans is putting an even tighter squeeze on family budgets.

Here in the Mississippi Delta, some farm workers are borrowing money from their bosses so they can fill their tanks and get to work. Some are switching jobs for shorter commutes.

People are giving up meat so they can buy fuel. Gasoline theft is rising. And drivers are running out of gas more often, leaving their cars by the side of the road until they can scrape together gas money.

The disparity between rural America and the rest of the country is a matter of simple home economics. Nationwide, Americans are now spending about 4 percent of their take-home income on gasoline. By contrast, in some counties in the Mississippi Delta, that figure has surpassed 13 percent.

As a result, gasoline expenses are rivaling what families spend on food and housing.

“This crisis really impacts those who are at the economic margins of society, mostly in the rural areas and particularly parts of the Southeast,” said Fred Rozell, retail pricing director at the Oil Price Information Service, a fuel analysis firm. “These are people who have to decide between food and transportation.”

A survey by Mr. Rozell’s firm late last month found that the gasoline crisis is taking the highest toll, as a percentage of income, on people in rural areas of the South, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming and North and South Dakota.

With the exception of rural Maine, the Northeast appears least affected by gasoline prices because people there make more money and drive shorter distances, or they take a bus or train to work.

But across Mississippi and the rural South, little public transit is available and people have no choice but to drive to work. Since jobs are scarce, commutes are frequently 20 miles or more. Many of the vehicles on the roads here are old rundown trucks, some getting 10 or fewer miles to the gallon.

The survey showed that of the 13 counties where people spent 13 percent or more of their family income on gasoline, 5 were located in Mississippi, 4 were in Alabama, 3 were in Kentucky and 1 was in West Virginia.

There it is in black and white. The areas of the country where people are spending over 10% of their income today on gasoline are smack dab in the middle of the most reliable Republican-voting states. You do have to wonder why they can't see it, but regardless we obviously have our job to do. We need to understand why they continue to shoot themselves in the foot and figure out a way to make them quit. It won't be easy trying to convince these folks to change the way they've always voted. It will be very difficult and maybe even impossible to convince all of them that the Democrats aren't going to take away their Bibles and put gays in every Boy Scout troop but it is a job that needs to be done. We have to do our very best to instill in them the reality that their future under John McCain is going to be far worse than it is now and far worse than anything they can imagine with Barack Obama and the Democrats in charge.

crossposted at SteveAudio

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

We're Not Alone

While we are suffering mightily from the "Bush Years" here in the U.S. we aren't alone. Some of the statistics are in from the "Blair Years" and they are even worse than predicted. Not only are the Brits suffering from the credit crisis that Blair and Brown promoted through their buddies at City banks, but the socio-economic results are equally as bad.

The UK now has more personal debt than the U.S. and it is actually greater than the GDP where we, here in the U.S., are just a bit under the U.S. GDP when it comes to personal debt. You don't think it's mere chance and good luck that Tony Blair now works for JP Morgan do you? The millions he is bringing down are his and New Labour's reward for putting the City bankers in the cat seat.

Yesterday a new report was released that reinforces existing sentiment that the Blair years promoted inequality and were failures.

Ministers were last night putting a brave face on figures showing a widening gap between the richest and poorest families and a second successive 100,000 jump in the number of children living below the government's poverty threshold. They said extra money pledged to help the young and the elderly in this year's budget underlined the commitment to meet Tony Blair's 1999 pledge to eradicate child poverty by 2020 and halve it by 2010.

Britain's leading tax experts - the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) - said that despite the billions of pounds spent on tax credits, Labour had yet to meet its 2005 benchmark of reducing child poverty by a quarter and that the prime minister would have to divert money from middle-class tax cuts to have an even chance of hitting the 2010 target.
This little report on our friends across the pond is brought to you in the spirit of "misery loves company". Seriously, let us hope that the prospects of sane government returning to our shores next year spills over to our friends in the UK.

Lost America

Scarecrow has a must read post over at Firedoglake. Here is a teaser:

Over the last two nights, a lonely Congressman stood on the House floor and read through 35 Articles of Impeachment, many of them "worse than Watergate," some of them not just "high crimes and misdemeanors," but war crimes and offenses that needlessly sent thousands to their deaths, drove millions more from their homes, and permanently stained the nation's honor. Surely this list of offenses, some more egregious than those in the Declaration of Independence, deserves a thorough and immediate hearing, even a rebellion?

But this is 2008, and where Nixon failed to overturn our Constitutional system of accountability, checks and balances, and the rule of law, George Bush has succeeded. Rep. Kucinich's lonely quest to uphold the Constitution will be ridiculed by many, belittled as a waste of time and worse, an embarrassment to a Congressional leadership that has deservedly lost the nation's respect.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

He's Making Sense

I can't tell you how much admitting that Bob Barr is making sense hurts my fundamental psyche but I can't refuse to admit that this statement about the "War on Drugs" makes absolute sense and reflects my thinking 100%. He will never have me as a supporter but I can't escape agreeing with him. I think this is twice in less than a week. My head might explode.

In his own words:

For years, I served as a federal prosecutor and member of the House of Representatives defending the federal pursuit of the drug prohibition.

Today, I can reflect on my efforts and see no progress in stopping the widespread use of drugs. I’ll even argue that America’s drug problem is larger today than it was when Richard Nixon first coined the phrase, “War on Drugs,” in 1972.

America’s drug problem is only compounded by the vast amounts of money directed at this ongoing battle. In 2005, more than $12 billion dollars was spent on federal drug enforcement efforts while another $30 billion was spent to incarcerate non-violent drug offenders.

The result of spending all of those taxpayer’s dollars? We now have a huge incarceration tab for non-violent drug offenders and, at most, a 30% interception rate of hard drugs. We are also now plagued with the meth labs that are popping up like poisonous mushrooms across the country.

While it is clear the War on Drugs has been a failure, it is not enough to simply acknowledge that reality. We need to look for solutions that deal with the drug problem without costly and intrusive government agencies, and instead allow for private industry and organizations to put forward solutions that address the real problems.

Bob Barr will never atone for all his sins in my book but I must admit that Barr has been making more and more sense over the last few years. Maybe this libertarian thing has something to say for it? If Dear Bob keeps refining his position and doesn't piss off the most extreme wingnuts then he has a good chance of taking enough of the fundamentalist vote to guarantee a Democratic victory in Novemeber...Go Bob!

Know Your Tomatoes

Here is some good information on tomatoes from CNN. For more information, check out the FDA website.

So how do you know if your tomatoes are safe to eat? Here are some tips from the FDA on what to look for and how to avoid getting sick.

1. Know Your Tomatoes
The FDA still doesn’t know how tomatoes were tainted with salmonella. But they are telling consumers to avoid the following RAW tomatoes: Roma, Red Plum and Round Red tomatoes. However, these same tomatoes are OK, if they from certain states. You can find that list here.

If you want to avoid this type of detective work, cherry and grape tomatoes, tomatoes still attached to the vine and home-grown tomatoes are safe regardless of where they came from, according to the FDA.

2. If I wash the tomatoes, are they safe?
No. The salmonella might be inside the tomato, so washing won’t help. However, as a general food safety practice, it’s a good idea to always wash your hands with soap and warm water before you handle any food.

Keep those cutting boards and counter surfaces washed too and avoid cross-contamination—especially with raw meat. Wash each tomato thoroughly under running water. Only slice it after washing, and cut away the where the stem was. Bacteria tend to accumulate there

3. Am I safe if I just cook them?
The FDA doesn’t recommend this. Just stay away from the affected tomatoes for now. Better safe than sorry.

4. Eating out
Ask questions. Find out what steps the restaurant is taking to make keep patrons safe. Also, ask what kind of tomatoes they’re serving. If you’re really worried, just tell them to keep raw tomatoes out of your food altogether.

Don’t forget they’re often used in preparation of sauces, fresh salsa, guacamole, as tortilla fillings and in other dishes.

Who Loves Ya Baby?

HuffPo is reporting that Senate Republicans just blocked this:

Senators voted on whether to consider a windfall profits tax against the five largest U.S. oil companies and rescind $17 billion in tax breaks the companies expect to enjoy over the next decade.

And you thought the Republicans were concerned about the high prices their constituents were paying?

Updated to a better link.

Feel Sorry For Me

It's no wonder I am under constant psychic attack around here. It's like having to shop at Wally world every day. There is a constant aura of stupid and hate in the air. It's a wonder I can maintain my sanity. Here is one of my fellow Georgians speaking from the heart.

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA)

I think the people that elect us deserve to know what our plan is. The Republican side has come out with a plan. They say, "Look, we're gonna take advantage of our natural resources. We're gonna take advantage of the things that we were God-given in this land. We're gonna take advantage of our oil reserves, of our natural gas, of our abundance of coal." We're gonna take advantage of those things, and we're gonna use the technology that we've been so good about coming up with. We're gonna take and convert this shale to oil, which Hitler did in the late '20s. In the late '20s. And we don't think that we can do that today?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Immune or Callous?

I guess I didn't overtly comment on all the thinly and not so thinly disguised racism and misogyny in the recent months of the Democratic primary because it was no surprise to me. It was completely to be expected. In my many years I have seen otherwise smart, decent and caring people fall into such behavior without warning and usually for something, at its root, that is trivial or otherwise meaningless in the big scheme of things. This is especially surprising on the progressive left where you would think us DFH's would be cleansed or at least self conscious of all the suppressed hate and fear such behavior symbolizes. Not true as is obvious by all the vitriol of the last few months. Some of it really cruel and hurtful and a lot of it coming out of the mouths of people from whom you would least suspect it. As usual Digby drags it all out from behind the door and flogs it about the room. She's talking about the Clinton campaign here but change a few words and the same applies to the Obama campaign.

From Digby:

Clinton’s campaign ripped open a hole in our culture and forced us to look inside. And what we found was a simmering cauldron of crude, sophomoric sexism and ugly misogyny that a lot of us knew existed but didn’t realize was still so socially acceptable that it could be broadcast on national television and garner nary a complaint from anybody but a few internet scolds like me. It was eye-opening, to say the least.

h/t Susie

If it's Monday it must be Augusta...Again!

Yes, it is Monday and yes it is Augusta again. Scorcher of a weekend here in Georgia and I think it is even hotter here in Augusta. Another day of 100 plus it seems. When I got in my car for lunch it said the outside temp was 110 but that is sitting in a newly paved parking lot with no shade...much more likely to be in the upper 90's this early in the day.

In spite of the heat I got all my yard chores and honey-do's done over the weekend but that is about all. Now it is back to the grind and on the road again.

If you are interested,I just this morning put up my first post over at SteveAudio where I will be posting as a guest occasionally. Drop over and give it a read and don't miss all the other good stuff there while you're at it.

Friday, June 06, 2008

It's Still Not Right in NOLA

I stumbled on this at Susie's place. A lot of people think that Katrina and what happened in New Orleans and the surrounding area is in the past, that it is over. It is not. We need to be reminded on occasion that not only is the ongoing war in Iraq a symbol of the misery that is George Bush's legacy but that there is another closer to home.

From Salon, via Scout Prime at First Draft:

Of all of the stories and subplots, there would be one that, in many ways, symbolized the whole of Katrina, what it revealed about the Bush administration, and how it would affect the lives of so many people. On Friday, Mary Landrieu had been with Bush and Blanco as they toured the 17th Street Canal, where, at last, major work had commenced to repair the damage that had been caused when the levee broke. “Then, on Saturday,” Landrieu says, “George Stephanopoulos called and asked to do an interview with me, and I said, ‘George, I’m tired of doing interviews. I have to work. And nothing you are airing is accurately showing what’s going on down here.’ He wanted to go to the Superdome, and I said, ‘We still have people stranded on their roofs. If you want to tell the right story, I will help you tell the right story. You get a helicopter and I’ll go up and I will show you what is actually happening. It’s awful what’s happening at the Superdome, but the reason the people can’t understand the story is because the entire region is under 20 feet of water. People can’t get into the Superdome to help. They can’t get out. People are drowning in their homes.’

“So George and I went up in the helicopter and for three hours his jaw was dropping. Then I said, ‘George, before we finish I have to show you one positive thing because I can’t send you back to Washington to produce a story that shows nothing but devastation and disaster.’ So I told the pilot to tack right so I can show George the 17th Street Canal and the work that was going on there. I swear as my name is Mary Landrieu I thought that what I saw with the president was still there — people working, trucks, sandbags, everything. Then I looked down and saw one little crane. It was like someone took a knife and stabbed me through my heart. I lost it.” There, in the cabin of the helicopter, as they flew above the breached canal below them, Landrieu sat devastated.

“I could not believe that the president of the United States, staged by Karl Rove himself, had come down to the city of New Orleans and basically put up a stage prop. It was like you had gone to a studio in California and filmed a movie. They put the props up and the minute we were gone they took them down. All the dump trucks were gone. All the Coast Guard people were gone. It was an empty spot with one little crane. It was the saddest thing I have ever seen in my life. At that moment I knew what was going on and I’ve been a changed woman ever since. It truly changed my life.”

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Finally We Get Confirmation of what We Already Knew

The Senate Intelligence Committee finally issued its report on prewar intelligence during the build up to the Iraq War. While it is couched in the polite language of the Senate, the report confirms what we already know. Bush lied to the American people about the Iraq War.

Republican Senators fought very hard to prevent the release of this intelligence report way back in 2004 so as not to endanger Bush's re-election. Then they managed to block release of the report in 2006 to protect their own re-elections. While it is absolutely unforgivable that this report was delayed for 4 years for strictly political reasons all the delay has wound up releasing the report in 2008 and leaves John McCain standing there with his pants down around his knees trying to defend Bush's Iraq war.

The Committee’s report cites several conclusions in which the Administration’s public statements were NOT supported by the intelligence. They include:
Statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa’ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa’ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.

Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.

Statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political, security, and economic, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products.

Statements by the President and Vice President prior to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons production capability and activities did not reflect the intelligence community’s uncertainties as to whether such production was ongoing.

The Secretary of Defense’s statement that the Iraqi government operated underground WMD facilities that were not vulnerable to conventional airstrikes because they were underground and deeply buried was not substantiated by available intelligence information.

The Intelligence Community did not confirm that Muhammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001 as the Vice President repeatedly claimed.
One would think that chicken dancing around a blow job being grounds for impeachment would justify at least considering impeachment for lying to the American people about something as serious as war and the resultant death and maiming of thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi. Just saying.

Let America be America Again

In light of the history making event of the week and reminded of the poem "Let America be America Again" by Langston Hughes by a post on DKos. I thought it appropriate to post the whole thing. It is quite amazing that a poem written so long ago by a black American finds so much resonance in today's world. Enjoy.

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

Hooters, Don't Bother

While tooling down Washington here in Augusta last night trying to decide what to have for dinner I noticed Hooters was having a big re-opening after being closed for remodeling. I've never been to one and Buffalo Wings and a cold beer sounded OK. They advertise their wings(and scantily clad staff) heavily here in the Southeast so I figured why not.

Don't bother. The wings were small, overcooked and otherwise undistinguished. Nothing on tap but Budweiser brews and an otherwise poor selection of bottled beer, though they did have Blue Moon. Much better wings at Three Dollar Cafe and other places. To add insult to injury...after paying $7.99 for ten wings you get to pay a buck extra if you want blue cheese dressing and a couple of carrot strips. No celery. Yes, the girls are cute and perky in their tight shorts and tanks but don't, in my opinion, make up for the rest of the experience.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Dems Abandon Jobless But Not Wall Street and the War

From the Washington Post
House Democrats are likely to drop a 13-week extension of unemployment insurance benefits from a major spending package that includes continued funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and that would create a new education benefit for military veterans returning from the battlefields.
The version of the bill approved by the Senate on May 22 would cost more than $250 billion over 10 years, a price tag that the fiscally conservative caucus of "Blue Dog" House Democrats opposes. The bill would provide $165 billion to fund the two wars into the next presidency, along with billions of dollars more for domestic programs.

How do the "Blue Dog Democrats" look at themselves in the mirror when they shave in the morning? They merrily go along with bailing out Wall Street to the tune of billions without a peep and now they turn around and throw jobless Americans under the bus. These are Americans who are losing their jobs in large part because of Wall Street and their failures and now they are getting shafted again.

The "Blue Dog Democrats" and their "conservative" principles happily shovel out billions of dollars so the over paid jokers on Wall Street can maintain their luxurious lifestyles while stabbing regular Americans in the back. Shameful! It is absolutely absurd to casually pump another $165 billion into Shrub's insane war and then out of the other side of their faces insist we as a nation we can't afford to extend jobless benefits for another 13 weeks. No problem with continuing to subsidize the wild gambling of Wall Street but help out Joe six-pack, no way! One wonders how the Democrats ever got the reputation for being spineless and wishy-washy?

On to the White House

It was a long struggle but it is over and Obama will be the next President of the United States. It is not a "done deal" but if all the scattered Dems will rally behind their candidate and do what is right then it will happen. There is nothing positive for McSame to run on and everything for Obama to hammer him with. No, Obama was not my first choice but he will be my President and I will support him in every way I can.

I stayed up way past my normal bedtime (on the road) to watch Obama's speech. I had earlier seen a bit of McSame's. The difference in the two candidates could not be greater than was demonstrated in those two speeches. McSame was old and tired and he spoke for a few dozen old and tired white guys and he said nothing. Obama spoke before thousands of cheering and fired up people that are tired of the way things are and are looking for change and a return to the America we we are taught to believe in. Obama challenged America to look forward and grasp our dreams for America with both hands and build the future we all can live in. He challenged the status quo at every turn and squarely planted on McSame's shoulders the cloak of incompetence and failure that is the legacy of George Bush and the GOP. The fight is on.

It is going to be an exciting campaign and I fully expect that when November comes America will send Bush, McSame and the rest of the GOP into the history books where they belong. They have demonstrated fully and repeatedly that they cannot govern a country. It's been a dark time for America but it is about to change. It is our job to make sure it does.

Let's rock and roll!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Lasting Legacy

Bo Diddley didn't get a whole lot of money for gifting rock and roll with his famous 5/4 signature beat and truth be known he didn't invent it. Blues players like Son House were using the beat at the turn of the century and they got it from their ancestors. Regardless, it is the Bo Diddley beat and if you want to experience a nice collection of covers go over to Brilliant at Breakfast where Jill has gifted us with a nice set of music that owes Bo big time.

Update: Frederick at MCCS1997 has a completely different and all Bo Diddley set for your viewing pleasure. All Bo and some great stuff.

A Flicker of Light

While I will never be a fan of Bob Barr's after his disgusting performance during the Clinton administration, I have to give his campaign some credit for their response to an endorsement from Stormfront:

The Barr campaign is not going to be a vehicle for every fringe and hate group to promote itself. We do not want and will not accept the support of haters. Anyone with love in their heart for our country and for every resident of our country regardless of race, religion, nationality or sexual orientation is welcome with open arms.

Tell the haters I said don’t let the door hit you on the backside on your way out!

This is a good thing.


Forgive me Goddess for I have sinned...twice. First, I walked into the Great Beast and made a purchase. I know it was wrong and I beg forgiveness. The thing is I broke my headphones this morning and I find it very hard to work without a little music in the background. You see, I am not familiar with the territory here in Augusta and my client actually is directly next door to to a brand spanking new(parts still under construction) Super WallyWorld. So there are extenuating circumstances and maybe even an actual emergency...depending on your point of view. Honestly, if there were a Fry's nearby I would have spent the gas to get there. If it is any consolation it wasn't painless and I am still trying to recover the life force depleted in the 15 minutes I was in the belly of the beast. That's the first part of today's sinning...the second is that while there I stopped at MickeyD's and got a Southern Style Chicken sandwich for lunch but to my credit no fries. I could claim I was doing road food research and had to compare the new sandwich with Chick Filet but that wouldn't be true.'s a pretty good imitation. Same little plastic cottony bun, same little industrial pickles, very similar piece of undistinguished fried chicken breast.

So yes, I scarificed my principles on the alter of convenience and laziness. Sorry.

Sounds Good to Me!

If one can believe the Telegraph then the following is good news indeed and I for one think it is a smashing idea...

Hillary Clinton will be offered a dignified exit from the presidential race and the prospect of a place in Barack Obama's cabinet under plans for a "negotiated surrender" of her White House ambitions being drawn up by Senator Obama's aides. The former First Lady would get the chance to pilot Mr Obama’s reforms of the American healthcare system if she agrees to clear the path to his nomination as Democratic presidential candidate. Senior figures in the Obama camp have told Democrat colleagues that the offer to Mrs Clinton of a cabinet post as health secretary or to steer new legislation through the Senate will be a central element of their peace overtures to the New York senator.


Another Democrat who has discussed strategy with friends in the Obama inner circle said that Mr Obama was openly considering asking Mrs Clinton to join his cabinet, alongside two other former presidential rivals: John Edwards, who is seen as a likely attorney general; and Joe Biden, who is a leading contender to become Secretary of State. Mr Obama hinted at the plan last week. “One of my heroes is Abraham Lincoln,” he said. “Lincoln basically pulled in all the people who had been running against him into his cabinet because whatever personal feelings there were, the issue was 'how can we get this country through this time of crisis?’ And I think that has to be the approach that one takes.”

Pots and Kettles

Thanks to Bryan at Why Now we have the following link to a post by Walter Brasch writing at Pacific Views and discussing The Politics of Humanitarian Aid . Walter lists the mind numbing and shameful failures of the Bush misadministration post Katrina in the harsh light of the recent events in Myanmar and the ruling junta's actions. The following tiny excerpt distills the arrogance and incompetence of Shrub and company clearly.

More than 20 countries—including Israel, Mexico, China, England, and the Dominican Republic—quickly offered humanitarian and financial assistance. President Bush's first response was to tell the audience of ABC-TV's "Good Morning, America":

"I'm not expecting much from foreign nations because we hadn't asked for it. I do expect a lot of sympathy and perhaps some will send cash dollars. But this country's going to rise up and take care of it. . . . You know, we would love help, but we're going to take care of our own business as well, and there's no doubt in my mind we'll succeed."

Bush and Cheney along with the GOP have paid some political price for their astronomically bad performance in the wake of Katrina but nowhere near what is justified. In a sane world they would have both been impeached for dereliction of duty and more than likely been imprisoned to boot. One can only hope that the wheel of karma will play out the proper justice at some point. Read the post and remind yourself of the shocking failure of Bush to accept the friendship and much needed aid from countries around the world, both allied and not.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Cruising to Hell

A story in the Guardian has renewed my disgust in my country today. It appears that, according to a human rights group, that not only are we continuing to abuse innocent people at Guantanamo and other secret prisons around the world but we also operating prison ships to continue our assault on human rights on the high seas.
The United States is operating "floating prisons" to house those arrested in its war on terror, according to human rights lawyers, who claim there has been an attempt to conceal the numbers and whereabouts of detainees.

Details of ships where detainees have been held and sites allegedly being used in countries across the world have been compiled as the debate over detention without trial intensifies on both sides of the Atlantic. The US government was yesterday urged to list the names and whereabouts of all those detained [...]

Ships that are understood to have held prisoners include the USS Bataan and USS Peleliu. A further 15 ships are suspected of having operated around the British territory of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, which has been used as a military base by the UK and the Americans.

Reprieve will raise particular concerns over the activities of the USS Ashland and the time it spent off Somalia in early 2007 conducting maritime security operations in an effort to capture al-Qaida terrorists [...]

The Reprieve study includes the account of a prisoner released from Guantánamo Bay, who described a fellow inmate's story of detention on an amphibious assault ship. "One of my fellow prisoners in Guantánamo was at sea on an American ship with about 50 others before coming to Guantánamo ... he was in the cage next to me. He told me that there were about 50 other people on the ship. They were all closed off in the bottom of the ship. The prisoner commented to me that it was like something you see on TV. The people held on the ship were beaten even more severely than in Guantánamo."

Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve's legal director, said: "They choose ships to try to keep their misconduct as far as possible from the prying eyes of the media and lawyers. We will eventually reunite these ghost prisoners with their legal rights.
Why am I not surprised? I continually think that Bush/Cheney can't lower the bar on a civilized society any further but they disappoint on a regular basis. It looks like Darth and Shrub have taken a lesson from their corporate owners. It shouldn't be surprising that they're using the same practices as their corporate overlords like offshoring, outsourcing, etc., to avoid American law and taxes. That's why Guantanamo has been put into service and that's the point of these ghost ships. Operating in secrecy and outside the auspices of the law is the hallmark of this administration.
One should note the irony of using a ship named 'Bataan' to pursue these nefarious goals. How many Japanese did the Americans prosecute for war crimes for the abuses suffered on Bataan by American and Phillipine POW's?
January 2009 is way too far away for my sensibilities.

Who Do You Love?

From CNN

The world lost a another Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famer today. Bo Diddley died Monday of heart failure at his home in Archer, Florida according to a family spokeswoman. He was 79 years old. Bo Diddley was born Ellas Bates McDaniel in McComb, Mississippi, Diddley's family moved to Chicago when he was 7, according to his Hall of Fame biography.

Almost more than for his music he was known for his signature beat which has influenced rock 'n' roll for decades. The rhythm on tracks such as "Who Do You Love?" and "Bo Diddley" became known as the "Bo Diddley" beat. The single "Bo Diddley" was his debut record and on the flip side was "I'm a Man".

He played violin as a child, but said he was inspired to pick up the guitar after hearing John Lee Hooker's 1949 rhythm and blues hit, "Boogie Chillen."

He was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in January 1987.

Boogie on Bo...boogie on!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Magnolia and Gardenia

The first official weekend of summer. All the chores are done except for going to madam's office and trying to install the 2008 upgrade to Quickbooks on her office computer(arrrgh!). All the gardening done and I even managed to get he white paint off the right end of my front fender from where I nicked the garage door coming in on Friday afternoon. No damage and a little elbow grease took care of the paint scraped off the door frame. I don't know if I mentioned the hail storm in Augusta the other week which left some nice little dimples all over my pristine car which is next thing to do. State Farm has a catastrophe unit set up in Augusta near the client's office and all I need to do is make an appointment. Lots of people evidently had some damage.
Anyhow, it is definitely summer here in the Northern Atlanta burbs. Took a few photos in the garden after the rain this morning when the sun reappeared. Gardenias and magnolia breaking out in full bloom and the first day lily as well. When the gardenia are in full bloom you can almost get high on the overwhelming perfume. Mix the exotic smell of the gardenia with the oh so faint essence of citrus from the magnolia and it is quite heady.
Off to Augusta again tomorrow morning for another exciting immersion in the fabulously wacky world of home appliance parts logistics. I cannot, however, complain about the money.