Why Now?
Thursday, March 31, 2005
  Rumsfeld's New Army Is Getting People Killed
The Army has been looking for a new troop carrier for a while and came up with a specific set of requirements for the vehicle. They wanted something fast with good range, that could be loaded into a C-130 and rolled off ready to fight.

They selected the Stryker light armored vehicle and the fun began. It was too wide to permit the space needed on both sides for the crew chief to walk around it and was at the upper limit of weight. It had to have waivers to be flown.

You couldn't mount the guns on the vehicle and get it on and off the loading ramp of a C-130, so it wasn't ready for combat for a half hour after being unloaded as weapons were installed.

The armor wasn't adequate and had to be upgraded which made it too heavy to be flown on a C-130, etc.

Rumsfeld has based his New Model Army on this failed vehicle. His small mobile brigade force is supposed to move around in these things. Just another failure on the part of the Faith-based and their corporate sponsors.

For more on the Stryker: Global Security's page, official Army site, and a Washington Post article on the problems.

If they had designed these things to be carried in Ospreys it couldn't have gotten worse.


  Religious Views In Business
I don't hide the fact that I'm a capitalist, and that I believe in the free market. Some people who hear me rant about corporations miss the point I keep making that corporations violate, by design, the underlying principles of capitalism and the free market.

Because of my belief in the value of free enterprise I have no problem with people refusing to sell some things. Don't go into a Kosher deli and expect to buy a ham and Swiss on rye, it isn't going to happen.

The important point is that by designating itself as a "Kosher" deli, the business is informing the customer that there are restrictions. In the debate over pharmacies, the owner of the business is not required to carry all of the drugs that a doctor may prescribe. Frankly there are too many drugs, and some of them are very expensive with a short shelf life.

All that is necessary is to advertise the fact that you don't carry certain drugs, if you, as the owner, object to the drugs on moral grounds. I'm not talking about anything large and expensive, perhaps just a recognizable symbol or sign at the desk to tell customers that you do not carry certain products. There is no need for a customer to get into a confrontation, and the doctors will soon know better than to use certain pharmacies for certain prescriptions and inform their patients.

The problem is that some people want to make a Federal case, literally, about what they perceive is their persecution by society. If a pharmacist doesn't want to dispense certain drugs, don't work for a pharmacy that sells them. There is no right for an employee to determine what the owner of the store sells. If you don't like the way a store does business, you have the right to resign. If this was really important to you, you should have brought it up before you were hired. If you think that targets you because of your religious beliefs, consider that many of the women who were executed for witchcraft were essentially pharmacists dispensing natural medicines. They were usually executed by people holding your beliefs.

It's a terrible thing that Orthodox Jews can't work in McDonalds, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices for your religion.


  Funda"mental" Disconnects

CBS News reports on the idiots who have decided to be vigilantes on the Arizona-Mexico border.

These people don't have the first clue as to what they are getting themselves into moving along the 370-mile border. They may have the camo clothing, but it is the wrong version for the most part [forest pattern] and just makes them more obvious. They have guns, which doesn't mean they know how or when to use them. They have vehicles, but probably haven't made the modifications necessary for use in the desert. They have communications, but they haven't been tested under the conditions in which they are going to be used.

I see a lot of amateurs wandering out into an environment that can and does kill people every year, without the training to survive. They are going to meet drug smugglers, people smugglers, annoyed locals, and assorted other people who do not want them there. Many of these people have no moral problem with killing the outsiders and leaving the bodies for the buzzards.

Steve Gilliard quotes a certain professor of law, on why, for the Republicans, the Woodside Hospice was a "bridge too far".

The election in 2006 will be the best indicator of how much damage has been done to the GOP, but the professor isn't happy about the actions of people he helped get elected.

On the other side, people need to store up these golden moments and bring them out in the Fall of 2006 to remind voters what's at stake. The Republican primaries may be the most fun you can have without buying a ticket. It is possible that several incumbents will face challenges in their primaries.

Back to CBS for a thought provoking report: Medicaid Could Cost You Your IRA.

"The truth is out there", and it tells us that the crisis is medical care in the United States. You can't afford to get sick in this country, no matter how well you have planned your life.

All of the safe-guards that once were in place to help people with disasters have been dismantled. The state has the power to strip you of everything you own before they'll consider helping you, and then you have to sweat out every legislative session to find out if your state will continue to support the medical care your family needs.


Wednesday, March 30, 2005
  Bloggered Around
For those interested, Blogger started a "wonderful exciting up-grade" to the system about a week ago, and have been backtracking ever since. Well, now you know why the vaunted Missile Defense System won't work, why the Florida Department of Children and Families loses people, and why little old ladies on their way to see their great grandchildren keep getting treated like terrorists at the airport: all of these things depend on computers and databases.

The marsupial master of miniscule, skippy, has managed to sneak a few posts passed the Blogger meltdown that you should see.

Just Go, the picture is just wonderful and should remind people why the "Magic Kingdom" has a branch in Florida.

Pudentilla, who posts at skippy point to 18 U.S.C. § 912 - False Personation: Officer or employee of the United States for those ejected from Dubya's dog and pony shows by fake Secret Service agents. Also available from your Federal government are 18 USC § 241 - Conspiracy against rights or 18 USC § 242 - Deprivation of rights under color of law, if it involves local law enforcement.

What they're doing isn't simply annoying, it's illegal.

On the topic of pharmacists who have "moral issues" about doing their job, you will learn an alternate method of dealing with the problem: moral beliefs, schmoral beliefs, it's just bad customer service. Essentially don't make it a battle of rights, make it an issue that the store management can deal with without pickets: customer service. There is nothing easier for a store to deal with than a rude clerk. Anyone who thinks a drug store chain wants to deal with employees who annoy customers has never worked in a store.

Xan at Corrente answers that eternal question: Who is obnoxious enough to drive a pacifist to minimally violent action? Conservative pundit William Kristol during a speech at Earlham College, a private Quaker institution, was nailed by a student with a pie.

I would have used a cow pie, but I'm not a Quaker.


Tuesday, March 29, 2005
  National Defense And Patriotism
George McGovern wrote a column for The Nation "Patriotism Is Not Partisan".

A World War II bomber pilot [B-24s flying from Italy], with a Distinguished Flying Cross, McGovern was attacked as unpatriotic, and weak on defense for his opinions on the Vietnam War.

Take the time to read his words and compare his experience with what is happening today, especially in light of those calling for liberal gravitas on security issues.

No one who compares the number of retired military officers who stood with John Kerry as compared to George Bush, and, more importantly, the success of the officers backing Kerry as opposed to those backing Bush, can reasonably assume a weakness on defense on behalf of the Democratic Party.

Abraham Lincoln's advice: "It is much better to remain silent and let everybody think you are a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt", is applicable to the use of force. Bush has demonstrated the weakness of America's military as directed by Donald Rumsfeld. US enemies now know that the US is not invulnerable, an assumption they didn't make before Bush started his preemptive war.

Something people forget is that three people have been involved in all the US disasters in the Persian Gulf area. Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz all go back to the Ford administration.

They were there when the US policy was to introduce nuclear energy to Iran. They were there when the US provided weapons to Iran in exchange for hostages. They were there when the US jumpstarted Saddam Hussein's WMD programs. How long and how much evidence is required to conclude that they are incompetent bunglers.

Every guy standing in line to get their traditional "scalping" on the first day in boot camp has more military experience than these three "national defense wizards" combined.


  Random Thoughts After Plumbing
I spent the day helping my neighbor with a bureaucratic plumbing problem. People usually have to irrigate to get flowers to grow here during the Summer. Many people route the water from their washing machine out to a flower bed rather than sending it to the waste treatment plant. The soap acts as a deterrent to several pests and you need the extra water on the flowers.

Well someone from the "barracks" being built behind us complained to the bureaucracy and they gave my neighbor grief, so I connected the line to the sewer.

She's still waiting for the contractor to fix her roof from the hurricane so she doesn't have to worry about water pouring into her living room, but these jerks want to complain about how she waters her petunias.

Anyone who still thinks, for whatever perverse reason, that Dubya's piracy accounts are the way to go should read this heartwarming story about 401(k) surprises for the newly retired. Maybe it's there, and maybe not.

You might be better off investing with these guys or these, they are least required to tell you the odds of getting anything for your money.

They should change the name of this aircraft from the Osprey to the Vampire. No matter how many times it crashes, or many people it kills, it keeps coming back to life.

I worry about it because it is scheduled as the replacement for the Special Operations aircraft that current fly over my house at low altitude on their way to the firing ranges. I would just as soon not have an unscheduled landing in my immediate vicinity.

Lean Left has the story of Juan Carlos Merida, a Panamanian national who went out of his way to help the FBI in an investigation, and found himself on the "persons of interest" list.

There is apparently no one who can edit the list to remove people who shouldn't be on it, and no indication whether the people on the list are good or bad.

Hint: there are a lot of American IT people unemployed by companies shipping their jobs to Asia. I'm sure that the government would be able to hire any number of them to clean up the list. These are native-born Americans who can actually receive security clearances.

The BBC tells us that Whisky bosses search for new cat. They have put out a call for a new cat and hope to find a feline more in the mold of Towser whose "Guinness Book of Records tally of 30,000 mice still stands"

A statue has been erected in Towser's honor in front of the distillery she protected for her 24 years.

The Beeb has gotten carried away as research shows that Towser only actually caught 28,899 mice.

For those not familiar with Britain: whisky is the spelling for the Scottish product, while whiskey indicates what Americans call rye.

This one is for Andante at Collective Sigh, noted Chihuahua herder:

ABC News reports that a Chihuahua Terrorizes Postal Workers. It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.


Sunday, March 27, 2005
  If I Lived In South Park

Me in South Park

Vestal Vespa provided the link to the South Park Studio which allows you to create your own South Park character.

According to the site, the Flash program was designed to provide people with Gravatar images.


Saturday, March 26, 2005
  Pause Before Filling
Pause before you start filling your tank the next time and think of the 15 people who died in Texas this week while refining the fuel you're putting in your tank.

It isn't much, but it is more than they will get from the oilman, former Texas governor, and current resident of Texas who sits in the White House.


  King of Horror
A lot of people would say that Stephen King is America's king of horror for the novels he writes. They would be wrong, because Steve King is a lot scarier: he writes laws.

On the Saturday edition of All Things Considered, March 26, 2005, Debbie Elliott interviews Representative Steve King [R-Iowa] in a segment called: "Congressional Republicans Target 'Activist' Judiciary".

In spite of his lack of any particular credentials, Mr. King sits on the House Judiciary Committee and he discussed various options for making "un-elected judges accountable". Among the ideas were eliminating all of the courts except the Constitutionally mandated Supreme Court, not funding the Federal courts, adjustments like that.

Go and listen to the man, it starts at about 1:15 into the segment. I don't guess he's heard or seen the polls about what American voters think about Congressional action.


  The Easter Bunny Responds

Easter Bunny

There have been numerous complaints received regarding the services provided under the current regime and we would like to take time to respond to these complaints and to help those of you in the outlying areas understand the true situation.

It has been noted that several individuals purporting to be the "Easter Bunny" do not seem to be authentic. Of course they're not authentic. We don't do personal appearances or take requests. As the anthropomorphic personification of a blended holiday we are entirely too involved in attempting to fulfill the unreasoning expectations of various groups. Besides which, we noticed that many of the requests came from people with French surnames, and I don't think it is necessary to remind people what happens to rabbits in France. Remember: in Britain bunnies are found in children books; in France in cookbooks.

We had what we thought was an excellent solution, but then discovered that due to his existence as a pookah, Harvey was not visible to major segments of the population and, to be honest, he had a problem staying away from tipple for any major block of time.

As for the quality of the costumes, we are certainly not going to recommend anyone "donate" their pelt so these obvious frauds can have "genuine rabbit fur" costumes.

There have been other complaints following the change from solid to hollow chocolate statuary. The Chocolate Cartel has been jacking up prices for years, and while we agree that problems like the disruptions in the Ivory Coast have had a negative impact on the pricing of the raw materials, we suspect the price increases have more to do with avarice than insurrections.

We had to choose between offering smaller, solid figures, or larger, hollow figures. Research showed us that the target audience, small children, only actually ate the ears and nibbled a bit from the toes. The majority of the figure was consumed by parents: "to prevent the kids from getting sick from all that candy." Our thinking was the kids would be impressed with the initial size of the figure, and the parents needed to lose weight anyway.

Hollowing the figures took more time and you have to keep in mind that the staff is already pretty weird from the massive doses of sugar, gelatin, and dyes they have to ingest to produce jelly beans. Nonetheless, the illusion is preserved.

Regarding the "grass" and "baskets": hey, wake up and smell the polypropyl vinyl! The days of people having a basket out back and grass around the house are gone. We ask for baskets and find the concept apparently doesn't translate well as the suppliers move further to the East. But the grass? Grass is grass all over the world. It's green, it is almost always the definition of green in every language. So we ask for grass and we get shredded plastic in almost every color except green. We know it's wrong. We complain every year and every year we are told that this is "the new green".

So, suck it up and get out there and deliver.

Update: Easter Bunny Gets Pummeled by Boy at Mall - Be careful out there.


  Still Not A Caring Human Being
Back on the 7th of this month I ranted about Bush failing to acknowledge the pain of other people when he didn't make a public statement of condolences to Italy after US forces killed an Italian security official.

He's done it again, waiting until after the media starting running stories about his failure to mention the deaths at the Red Lake reservation, to make a telephone call. He promised them Federal aid, as if he was doing them a favor.

Somebody tell Dubya that it is a Federal issue. Murders on reservations are Federal crimes, tried in Federal courts. He isn't doing them any favors; it's his job.

The cretin can spend taxpayer dollars to fly back to Washington to sign hastily passed bills to interfere in matters that have been the province of the states since the Constitution was signed, but can't rouse himself to offer his obviously faked sympathy in a matter that is a Federal concern.

In his discussion of Adam Nagourney's paean to Jeb Bush, James Wolcott notes Mr. Nagourney's comparison of the Bush family to the Adams family. I believe that this has to be a spelling error. Surely Mr. Nagourney meant the Addams family.


Friday, March 25, 2005
  Pistol Packing TEACHERS?
First off, understand that I support the right to bear arms because I need them where I live. We have bears, alligators, bobcats, coyotes, rattlesnakes, water moccasins and a lot of other unfriendly things around. I have always been able to scare things off with a blank round, but the second round is definitely not blank. Police and animal control will show up after being called, often the same day, but you can't depend on them.

Having said that, there are places where guns should not be permitted. I oppose arming airline pilots. That is a controlled situation and the fewer things that can puncture a pressurized aircraft, the better. If you had ever been in an explosive decompression of an aircraft, as I have, you would know why you don't want that to happen.

Another place where I do not want to see guns is in schools. This wire story, NRA Leader Advocates Guns for Teachers is an example of why I have never belonged to the NRA, and never will. These people are idiots.

Carrying a weapon in a peaceful situation, as opposed to war, is a major risk. You have to worry about controlling that weapon and the ammunition. You forget just once and someone can die.

At the police academy we spent more time on when not to shoot, than when to shoot. In the training you didn't have to start over if you didn't shoot when you should have, but if you took one unreasonable shot, it was back to the beginning.

Who covers the cost of the weapons and training? Who pays for the background checks? Who pays for the liability insurance? Why should teachers accept this? We have made them babysitters, counselors, probation officers, nurses, and now, this idiot wants to make them cops.


  Friday Cat Blogging [TM Kevin Drum]


Friday Cat Blogging

Of course cat hair is good for computers. Why do you think the tops are cat-sized?

[Edit: For territorial reasons Dot & Sox were confined to the computer room until Koshka relented, and now I can't get them to leave while I'm working.]

Friday Ark


Thursday, March 24, 2005
  IRS Takes Willie Sutton's Advice
When asked why he robbed banks, notorious criminal, Willie Sutton, responded: "That's where the money is."

The IRS finally figured out that if you what to get a lot of back taxes you need to investigate people who actually have money. MSNBC tells us that the IRS gets $3.2 billion from wealthy tax dodgers.

This has to be more profitable than hassling leftie non-profits. Hint: non-profits shouldn't have a lot of spare change. If you know that they do have a lot of money, then maybe you should take a look.


Why should an American care about some weird little country on the northwest border of China? Because we have military bases there, as does Russia. It is a main smuggling route for the heroin coming out of Afghanistan and within combat range of Iran and Afghanistan for military aircraft.

Kyrgyzstan Map

Kyrgyzstan Flag

The BBC has extensive coverage of the "Tulip Revolution". If you're a former republic of the Soviet Union you have to have a flower and a color to have a revolution: tulip and pink. There's more here and even more on the people involved in Kyrgyzstan names interim leader.

You wouldn't have to know about little countries with strange names if people would elect a government that minded its business, instead of everyone elses.


  Doctors and Judges
CBS has a few goodies up.

Quack, Quack, Quack is a new exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, showcasing the prints, posters and pamphlets of medical hucksters. For some reason that struck me as a timely event.

Andrew Cohen has an op-ed piece, The Courts Push Back that makes an important point about recent history.


  FireFox Update
There is a FireFox browser update to 1.02. That's the reason for the little red dot in the upper right-hand corner of the browser window. They say it's a "critical update", which usually means a security fix.


Wednesday, March 23, 2005
  No One Expected The Spanish Inquisition
This is a tough post to write, I keep laughing as I think about it. John Ellis Bush, governor of the state of Florida, says he is going help someone by having the Florida Department of Families and Children intervene! [spontaneous fits of laughter caused by the evil, black humor that runs under the surface of vets and ex-cops]

I thought he liked the woman. I would be a little reluctant to turn Dubya over to Florida's DCF. People disappear when they are under the protection of DCF, as in Rilya Wilson.

DCF has to have set some kind of new record with the cost and time overruns on its wonderful new computer system: HomeSafenet. What a great system. If you were a client named "John Smith" you either got no benefits or the benefits for everyone named "John Smith" in the entire state.

Hundreds of millions of dollars later, they connected it to their wonderful CoBRIS network which gave access to all of the private contractors who work with DCF, as well as everyone else on the Internet. No worries about identity theft, the clients are poor.

Of course, to run this marvelous system ol' Jeb went out and found great people for the DCF leadership. Who wouldn't want someone like Jerry Reiger, a founder and former president of the Family Research Council to provide a little responsibility for the indigent.

Billmon has his view at the Whiskey Bar.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005
  While We Were Distracted
Andante at Collective Sigh tells us that Bush has appointed a big game hunter to head up the US Fish & Wildlife Service. I'm sure the fish and wildlife are going to be pleased that the man in charge of their preservation wants it done by a taxidermist.

Jack at Ruminate This says that the EPA misplaced a decimal point a couple of places when calculating human costs of mercury pollution. They had to lose a report by their own researchers, but, hey, it helps the coal burning power plants.

Would the supporters of "pirate" Social Security accounts can explain how you can make money when the Dow-Jones Industrial Average has gone from 10,587 when Dubya was inaugurated on 20 January, 2001 down to 10,470 today and that doesn't even take into consideration the management fees and inflation. Muffy and Biff don't seem to have done much with the tax cuts Dubya gave them, unless they're investing in Euros.

I don't know what Dubya has promised John McCain to enlist him in the War against Social Security, but John, one vet to another, he's lying and will screw you the same way he has screwed every other veteran. Get real, John, he thinks veterans are paper towels: he uses them to clean up his messes and then throws them away.


  Thunderstorm Cat Blogging

Dot & Sox

 Thunderstorm Cat Blogging

Dot, why are we up here?
Because, Sox, this wrist rest is rubber and non-conductive, protecting us from lightning.
Oh, that makes sense.
And, it really ticks him off...heh, heh, heh...

[Edit: They always do this.]


  Those Were The Days
Scaramouche, the Swashblogger, has a charming piece of nostalgia What Happened To Real Republicans?.

It will amaze the younger among you to read what the Republican Party once represented in the US. This concept of the party is what attracted the "moderate" Republicans, some of whom are still in Congress and state offices.

About the best that can best said about the current Republican Party is that they have absorbed the worst of the old Democrats: Thurman, Helms, and the other "Dixiecrats".


Monday, March 21, 2005
  Cultural Devolution
Billmon at the Whiskey Bar has been blogging with graphics and quotes to a very entertaining effect lately.

A recent series featured David Horowitz's conservative jihad against liberal professors compared to the Chinese Cultural Revolution titled: Scenes From the Cultural Revolution with Horowitz appearing on a Mao poster.

It would appear that Mr. Horowitz was appraised of the post and issued an answer, which Billmon turned into another series that ends with Horowitz appearing on a poster that once featured Lenin.

[The poster reads: Партия - Ум, Честь и Совесть Нашей Эпохи! The Party - Intellect, Honor, and Conscience of Our Age!]


  Constitution? "We don't need no stinking Constitution."
Via Pissed Off Patricia [a fellow Florida hurricane survivor] at Blonde Sense you will find C-SPAN video of the House debate on the Schiavo Bill of Attainder at Crooks & Liars.

If you watch the video of Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite [R-FL] you will get a different feel for the Schindlers and their side of the Schiavo passion play.

Oh, regarding Mrs. Schiavo's lack of "her day in court": she has had two three different Guardians ad Litem appointed by the Florida courts to represent her interests, and her interests alone.

The University of Miami has a timeline and links to documents and reporting on the case.

If you want to know why Mr. Schiavo won't surrender his wife to the kind ministrations of her family, read the report of Prof. Jay Wolfson, the second third guardian ad litem, and his interviews with the Schindler family of December 1, 2003. [Warning PDF] That is the source of Mr. Schiavo's odd remarks about "amputations". The quick point is that the family say they would be opposing the removal of the feeding tube even if Mrs. Schaivo had left a written living will.

Bad news for all of those who want Judge George Greer removed from office. Even though he faced an opponent who concentrated on the Schiavo case in the election, Judge Greer was re-elected in 2004 by an overwhelming margin. Yes, in the state of Florida these decisions are made by elected officials answerable to the voters.

Update: Professor Wolfson was, in fact, the third guardian in this case.

Just in from my local NPR station, WUWF: the Republican government of the state of Alabama has provided no money for the state's "Department of Homeland Security" in the budget they just passed. Do they know something that we don't know about the "terrorist threat"?


Sunday, March 20, 2005
  Spring has Sprung


Soon all of the camellias and early azaleas will be history.


Saturday, March 19, 2005
  The Right to Life In Texas
I had seen this somewhere, but djhlights at Exit Stage Left pointed to the Houston Chronicle article explaining how Texas deals with cases like Terri Schiavo's.

Read the article and think about it when you listen to statements from the former governor of Texas, now President, who signed the law, and Tom Delay of Texas talk about the sanctity of life.

Where were "Bo" Gritz, Randall Terry, and the rest of the "pro-life" crowd when that baby was removed from the respirator over the objection of his mother?


  Parking Problems II
Remember the poor student in Portugal who had his car blown up by the police in my post Parking Problems?

Well, Australian Broadcasting tells us that English police blow up parked scooter.

A young woman's brand new motorbike, parked outside the license bureau as she picked up her license plates, was reported as a possible bomb and blown up by authorities.

You would have thought that the location might have indicated that someone go in the building and ask if anyone owned the vehicle.

The "War on Nouns" makes people really stupid.


  Two Years On


Extend the Hand of Brotherly Assistance to the Inhabitants of Towns and Cities Liberated by the Bushists


Friday, March 18, 2005
  Under The Banner Of Bush
So, you ask: "What is the banner of Bush that was referred to in the Poster Blogging?"

 Banner Of Bush

It has the four stripes of the four original states that thought he would solve their problems and the 31 stars representing the total number of states that harbored the same delusion.

It is displayed as a pennon, which most call a swallow-tail, and some call a serpent's tongue. Your choice.


  RIP George F. Kennan 1904 - March 17, 2005

The "Father of Containment", the US policy that is usually referred to as the "Cold War". Many will complain about the effects of the policy, and there were many excesses in it's name, but they forget how many people wanted "World War III" to resolve the "Red Menace".

Overall the policy was successful, but some people, like Ronald Reagan, implemented it badly. Kennan was more about a network of alliances, the UN, NATO, SEATO, than a 600 ship Navy.

Melanie at Just a Bump in the Beltway has a good post, Requiem for a Fighter that includes a Washington Post article on Mr. Kennan.

Update: Glen at A Brooklyn Bridge as a post, George Kennan Dead, that includes an interview with Mr. Kennan in The Hill prior to the start of the Iraq War. Worth the read to understand Mr. Kennan's view on the use of force.

Update2: djhlights at Exit Stage Left Today's history lesson from 04/12/03 and Eric Alterman Altercation Slacker Friday "Quote of the Day" both comment on "X".


  Friday Cat Blogging [TM Kevin Drum]


Friday Cat Blogging

What keyboard? Why would there be a keyboard on my shelf?

[Edit: This is one of my current roommates, last seen as a kitten. She does make it difficult to type.]

Update: Here's the Baby Picture.

Friday Ark


Thursday, March 17, 2005
  RIP Alice Mary Norton February 17, 1912 - March 17, 2005

She changed her legal name to her pen name, Andre Norton, and wrote some of the best speculative fiction novels available for a very long time. Her last novel is due to be released shortly.

She will be missed as the world is lessened whenever a creative spirit passes over.

CNN has her Associate Press obituary.


  Your Terri Schiavo Update
In a never ending effort to pander to the "Randall Terry Taliban", Republicans are ignoring the manifold problems of the state of Florida to attempt to pass a law to overturn seven years worth of legal decisions.

After being characterized for years as an abusive, greedy, immoral monster, Michael Schiavo went on ABC's Nightline to tell his side of the story. Unfortunately for the tabloids, the transcript reveals nothing more than a man trying to keep a promise he made to his wife.

CBS reports on the action in the US Congress to involve "activist Federal judges" in the years of litigation, which the all too cynical Julia at Sisyphus Shrugged thinks has more to do with Tom Delay's problems than concern for Terri Schiavo.

ABC reports that the Florida House passed the "Randall Terry" bill, but the Florida Senate is attempting to craft a bill with fewer unintended consequences.

Just to make us all feel safer, Steve at No More Mr. Niceblog [now with comments] tells us that former Green Beret, Bo Gritz, the model for Rambo, has rolled into town to make a citizen's arrest of anyone who attempts to remove the feeding tube. Given the state of courtroom security following the Georgia shooting, things could get out of hand very quickly.

I just heard that Terri Schiavo's parents have filed a petition with Supreme Court Justice Kennedy for an emergency hearing on violation of her religious and civil rights. This is the procedure normally used for death penalty cases.

It would be nice if a few legislators brushed up on the ex post facto and bill of attainder provisions of the Florida and US Constitutions. They are openly violating the spirits, if not, the letter of these provisions. Then they should look into the meaning and reason behind the separation of powers. This whole mess wouldn't be such obvious hypocrisy if some of us didn't remember what these same groups did and said regarding the death penalty. They don't want to allow this woman to die peacefully, but they were more than happy to strap a 16-year-old with a mental capacity of 8 into "Old Sparky"¹ and pull the switch.

For the medically challenged, including Bill Frist, MD of the US Senate, Terri Schiavo will not starve to death, she will die of dehydration, just like the football players who don't drink their Gatorade® during summer practices. As someone who works outside during the summer in Florida, it is a process with which I am familiar. It would take the average American more than a month to starve to death, and many considerably longer than that.

If she were aware, she would go through mental confusion, weakness, and extreme fatigue before dying from dehydration. While pain would be handy to alert people of this major threat to their life, pain is not a feature of dehydration.

1. "Old Sparky" was the folksy name given to Florida's electric chair, which was not noted for efficiency. It was replaced with lethal injection, before it could be challenged as "cruel and unusual" punishment, by the "Save Our Death Penalty" bill.


  Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Éireann go Brách

Irish Flag

Well everyone agrees that he died on March 17 th, but the year is subject to debate. This is his feast day on the Catholic calendar. Enjoy as you are wont.

Wikipedia has more on Saint Patrick's Day, if you need more.

[Edit: The shamrocks in the picture are growing outside my Mother's kitchen door. They are another invasive species, but good ground cover.]


Wednesday, March 16, 2005
  Scalia Speaks
Supreme Court Justice Scalia is at it again, attempting to justify his opposition to the recent decision to ban the death penalty in cases where the defendant was a minor at the time of the offense.

The CBS News article reports that "... he said unelected justices too often choose to read new rights into the Constitution, at the expense of the democratic process."

I would wonder if Justice Scalia has ever noticed this:

"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

That is the text of the Ninth Amendment to the US Constitution and, as part of the Bill of Rights, it would seem that the justice should have seen it at some point in his education.

When you read the discussion of the adoption of the Constitution you learn that there were people who did not want to include a Bill of Rights because they were afraid that if a right were omitted that would be an excuse for the government to ignore it. This amendment was included to address that concern.

Scalia doesn't seem to understand the underlying purpose of the Constitution. At its root the Constitution is designed to limit the power of the government. The Revolution was a response to what people felt were abuses of power by the government of Britain. Rights are not subject to the passions of a simple majority of the electorate.

CBS highlights this basic misunderstanding of the balance of government power versus the rights of the individual by Scalia with its reminder that:

"During a speech last year in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, a deputy federal marshal demanded that an Associated Press reporter and another journalist erase recordings of the justice's remarks.

The justice later apologized. The government conceded that the U.S. Marshals Service violated federal law in the confrontation and said the reporters and their employers were each entitled to $1,000 in damages and attorneys' fees."

In 1791, a year that he seems to have a fondness for, Scalia would have been hounded out of office for this offense, if he escaped a challenge to a duel, which was still acceptable at the time. Of course in 1791 the only members of the current Court who would have been acceptable would have been Justices Rehnquist, Kennedy, Souter, and Stevens: Christian males of Northern European origin.


  This Just In


This is a picture of an unidentified blogger being helped into the Emergency Entrance of a hospital by members of the editorial staff of the American Governance Institute for Truth's Public Review of On-line Professionalism magazine. The dark glasses and umbrella are necessary to shield the blogger from the effects of natural sunlight.

A spokesperson for AGIT-PROP said that they responded after e-mail from Tennessee reported that the blogger had failed to post or comment for more than an hour. He had begun to have blogging withdrawal symptoms after squirrels ate through his cable connection and the cable company's customer service center had closed down due to a typhoon in the Indian Ocean.


Tuesday, March 15, 2005
  American Traditions
It is past time for Americans to read the Declaration of Independence, and this time really understand what it says. The National Archives actually has the original digitized so you can look at it and see the signatures.

In understanding the seriousness of the document you must remember that in signing the document those men, our Founding Fathers, were providing the Crown with evidence of treason that was punishable by execution and forfeiture of all property. They really meant what was said in that document. They really believed in the words the document contained. People don't voluntarily line up for a gallows and condemn their families to poverty in the proclamation of "suggestions".

In a letter to Joshua Speed on August 24, 1855, Abraham Lincoln wrote: "Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation we began by declaring that 'all men are created equal.' We now practically read it 'all men are created equal, except negroes.' When the Know-nothings get control, it will read 'all men are created equal, except negroes and foreigners and Catholics.' When it comes to this, I shall prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty, --to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy."

Hundreds of thousands of Americans died removing the "Negro" exception. People died and were imprisoned to remove the "Woman" exception. In spite of these bloody episodes, some continue to try to create exceptions to "all Men are created equal". This is not an "American Tradition"; it is a form of "political herpes", a disease that we have to continually battle, but never seem able to eliminate. It keeps breaking out in a slightly different form throughout our history, nurtured by pockets of hate and ignorance.

We are now dealing with the disease as it attempts to instill a "Homosexual" exception. As with the earlier exceptions the "disease vectors" are disguising their true nature with religion. Various states and courts have begun treating the "symptoms", but until the United States resurrects the ideals of its founders, I fear the disease will simply go dormant until it can find another carrier to spread.

Michael at Musing's musings, Bobby at Bark Bark Woof Woof, and NTodd at Dohiyi Mir all have takes on the efforts of a California court to control the recent outbreak.

[Edit: Thanks to Michael at Musing's musings for the pointer to the Lincoln letter.]


Monday, March 14, 2005
  Poster Blogging


"Under the Banner of Bush Toward the Second Four Year Plan."

Update: The multi-talented Michael at Musing's musings has rescued your graphically impaired landlord. Digby at Hullabaloo has the original.


Sunday, March 13, 2005
  Agitation & Propaganda
When I wasn't watching what the Soviet Strategic Rockets Forces were doing during my military service, I was required to read the magazines and newspapers printed by the Soviets. While there was certainly "no truth in Pravda¹ and no news in Izvestiya²" there was a lot of "agitprop". Agitprop is a combination of the Russian words, both cognates, for agitation and propaganda, and it was part of the normal process of government during the Soviet era.

As I read the American media these days I can see the agitprop popping up more and more often. Bush's recent choice of Karen Hughes to a State Department post for Public Diplomacy is just more of the same. The taxpayers are paying to be lied to, just as happened in the Soviet system. The buying of columnists, the faked news casts, the staged "town hall meetings" with pre-selected and pre-rehearsed audience members is not about information, it is about disinformation.

Public information is released, or not, based on political decisions, not its value to taxpayers. Government web sites are posting political talking points, not the non-partisan views that they are paid to provide.

Mustang Bobby at Bark Bark Woof Woof points to a New York Times article on this issue and Digby at Hullabaloo has a nice rant of his with a very appropriate Soviet poster.

If I had the time I would "photoshop" it to read "Under the Banner of Bush towards the second Four-Year-Plan", but I don't like straying outside my core competency.

People who keep pushing for the Fascist model miss the point that this administration is filled with "Cold Warriors" who have a lot more knowledge and interest in the era after World War II.

I would note that one of the things that made the Soviet system of information management so successful was self-censorship. The censors weren't very busy as most writers didn't even attempt to push the envelop. When you read newspapers or watch the news this will tell why certain stories don't get reported: editors don't want to rock the boat.

Edit: Maru at WTF Is It Now, Oliver Willis, and Jack at Ruminate This have also chimed in on this official policy of presenting fiction as reality.

1. The literal translation of "Pravda" is truth.
2. The literal translation of "Izvestiya" is news.


  Sunday Fish Blogging


Sunday Fish Blogging

Eat, swim, sleep - hey, someone has to do it.

[Edit: The two-bit goldfish just eating around the aerator. These are literally two-bit, as in 25¢ fish. My Mother would like koi, but the pond would have to be deeper and larger, or there would be another "Koi named Fu" incident my neighbor had with herons.]


  Taxing What Has Already Been Taxed
Florida has an "Intangibles Tax". This is a tax on stocks and bonds that is similar to a property tax. The way the exemptions are structured you aren't subject to the tax unless your portfolio is worth in excess of a million dollars for an individual. The rate, like property taxes, is in mills, i.e. thousandths of dollars or tenths of cents.

The Republicans are planning to eliminate this tax, while the Democrats have proposed reducing the sales tax rate if the state is so overburdened with money.

The claim is that the Intangibles Tax is on money that has already been taxed. Sorry, but the Federal income tax means that all our money is already taxed and in many cases the sales tax is collected on taxes. More than half of the price of gasoline or cigarettes is taxes, so more than half of the sales tax collected is based on taxing taxes. If gasoline is priced at a dollar a gallon, it costs $2 with the Federal and state taxes. The sales tax in Florida is 6%, so half of the 12¢ you pay in sales tax is actually on tax.

The transfer of the burden for government to the "Third Estate" continues. Oh, you can ask students in the Florida university system, or those people forced by private insurance companies into the state's insurer of last resort, or the local governments waiting to be reimbursed for hurricane expenses if the state is overburdened with money. None of these groups seem to believe that the state has too much money.


  Fire Ants
Among the invasive creatures that have been introduced in the South one of the most deadly is a species of red ant. The fire ant is the largest single cause of death for fawns in Florida. Fawns are taught to freeze and remain in place if their mother isn't around, and if they freeze near a fire ant mound the bites of the aggressive ants kill them.

It isn't just fawns or feral kittens that the ants kill, this CBS article reports of the million+ dollar settlement paid by a nursing home to the family of a patient killed by ant bites.

The bite is highly acidic and is treated by a baking soda and water paste, but, by the time you realize there's a problem, you will be treating a dozen bites.

The pesticides that are most effective against fire ants kill almost everything else, and a water table within a couple of yards of the surface would mean polluting your well if you used them.


Friday, March 11, 2005
  The Florida Legislature Is In Session
A member of the Florida legislature is proposing a 2¢ per roll tax on toilet paper to fund sewer improvements. While this CBS article milks the comedic value of this proposal, they forgot to ask if the tax would added before or after the 6% sales tax we already pay on toilet paper. Unlike luxury skyboxes at professional sports stadiums or emu feed, toilet paper is subject to the sales tax.


  Parking Problems
According to this report on the Australian Broadcasting site, a student in Evora, Portugal parked his car in a public lot and took the plates off to have them straightened.

Someone saw him take the plates off and leave the car, so they called the police to investigate.

The police decided that this was typical "terrorist car-bomb behavior" and called the bomb squad.

The bomb squad decided that since they couldn't find a bomb to disarm, they had better blow up the car in a controlled fashion, which they then proceeded to do.

The student returned with his straightened plates as they were sweeping up the remains of his car.

Well, "the police blew up my homework" is certainly more original than "the dog ate it".


  In Memoriam

March 11th, 2004, Madrid

Flag of Spain

Nuestros profundos condolencias en su perdida.

With 191 dead and hundreds injured the Spanish did not lash out without reason, but conducted an investigation which resulted in the capture of almost all of those responsible.

Had the United States been this reasoned in its response, perhaps Bali and Madrid could have been avoided with the capture of all of Osama bin Laden's thugs in Afghanistan.

For more information on the Madrid bombing see this Wikipedia article.


  Friday Cat Blogging [TM Kevin Drum]


Friday Cat Blogging

What is that?

[Edit: In Russian mythology an ovinnik is a barn sprite that looks like a black cat with green eyes. The photo is the result of taking the picture through a glass window with a flash.]

Friday Ark


Thursday, March 10, 2005
  I Get Snail Mail
A friend in Pennsylvania who hates computers, sent a letter informing me:

"The Super Puke, The King, is coming to Pittsburgh next week to give some money to some faith-based group; he is trying to buy his way out of Hell."

He refers to most elected officials as "pukes" because that's what the drill instructors at Parris Island called recruits before they earned the right to be called Marines. He earned the right and was called a Marine. For the record the only people he doesn't think are "pukes" are Russ Feingold and Barbara Boxer because they show some guts, which is an attribute highly prized by ex-Marines and most veterans.


  Legislature Seeks To Extend Purgatory
The Florida legislature is back in session and in addition to planning tax cuts for the wealthy investor class and doing what they can to eliminate the rights of citizen initiatives, they are taking another step towards appeasing Randall Terry's Inquisition.

This time they are trying to change rules on removing feeding tubes. CNN covers it in this story on the Schiavo case. The changes will prevent the removal of feeding tubes unless someone explicitly states in their living will that such action be taken.

They say that food and water are a basic human right, but they make no attempt to fund this requirement. Terri Schiavo, if feeding is continued, will probably die as result of complications from bedsores and be in pain, if she can sense pain, because no physician will prescribe analgesics in this case, for fear of being accused of euthanasia.


Wednesday, March 09, 2005
  It's A Dog's Life
Murphy Smith of Bentonville, Arkansas was subpoenaed to testify in a murder case, but he encountered the same problem as Monty Slater in Manchester, England, who was offered a Gold Master Card with a £10,000 limit and a chance to win frequent flyer miles by the Royal Bank of Scotland: Murphy, like Monty is a Shih Tzu.

I realized that Shih Tzus are little better that mobile dust mops, but it is pure speciesism to deny them their day in court, or dismiss their credit worthiness.


  When The Free Market Is The Problem , Not The Solution

Len at Dark Bilious Vapors has a great article on the health care system called Such a wonderfully ironic twist.....

It is a lengthy post but covers a large topic and explains why the current non-system in the US costs so much more than any other country, but produces less.

One of the main points is that a truly efficient health care system is not profitable, and, therefore, the private sector has no incentive to develop such a system.

Read the article and understand why a single payer system is the best of the current options for controlling spiraling health care costs and providing access.


  Science Wednesday
In a post on Asian bird flu, Trish Wilson mentioned that PZ Myers, champion of the spineless¹, was looking for more scientific posting.

The Beeb has an article on a promising Type-1 diabetes treatment. Doctors are harvesting the insulin producing cells, islets, from the pancreases of donor cadavers and injecting them into the pancreases of diabetic subjects.

All the subjects have a reduction of insulin need, and one subject seems to have been cured completely. There is a shortage of donors, so research needs to be done on the possibility of production with stem cells, or using cells from living donors.

This is certainly hopeful news for hundreds of thousands of Type-1 diabetics throughout the world who are subject to multiple, often fatal, side effects from the disease, as well as the burden of buying expensive medication and testing equipment.

1. PZ is a biologist who would like to see greater invertebrate representation at The Friday Ark.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005
  Social Security and Pensions
Just heard from an old friend of the family. He worked for decades at an airline and retired with a pretty good pension and medical coverage. That was important for him and staying with the airline was part of the reason his wife divorced him. Towards the end he was subjected to a series of job transfers that only made sense if the purpose was to get him to quit.

He stuck it out and moved back to his home town after retiring to settle in to what he thought was going to be a comfortable life gardening and playing with his grandkids.

Then a bankruptcy judge decided that the airline wasn't required to honor its commitment to the retirees. Now he is living on Social Security and Medicare. Fortunately he was debt-free when this happened so he isn't in trouble as long as he doesn't get sick. If he has medical problems everything he has worked for could go to cover his medical costs.

If the Republicans have their way, the same bankruptcy court that took away his pension and medical insurance to preserve a corporation from bad management decisions will strip him of a lifetime of assets earned by following the rules. If the Republicans change the Social Security system, those wonderful pirate/private/personal accounts will be subject to forfeiture, assuming that they have any value.

The pattern is quite clear that all of the risks of life are being transferred to people from corporations. Corporations can break laws, pollute, and waste money, but they are protected from the consequences by a series of laws that have been passed or amended in the last four years.


Monday, March 07, 2005
  Why Is The US A Bunch Of Uncaring Bastards?
After September 11th the rest of the world expressed their condolences for the people of the United States in very public ways. There were flags dipped and moments of silence around the world and US Embassies were packed with people expressing their private sorrow at our loss.

Why can't or won't the US reciprocate?

Where was the US response to the Madrid bombing? Spain was an ally and we did almost nothing to recognize its pain.

Where was the US response to the tsunami? Days later there were mumbled responses and inadequate aid offers.

Laura Rosen at War and Piece wonders where the US apology is for the death of an senior Italian agent and wounding of a recently released hostage at an American checkpoint in Iraq.

Tom Watson wonders why there never seems to be any public mourning in the US. He looks at what Italy is doing, and is amazed that the closest the US has come to this is the death of Ronald Reagan, which realistically was not universal, not like JFK or FDR.

A woman lost her job for taking pictures of "transfer tubes" and Nightline was accused of partisan politics for reading the names and showing picture of the American service members who had died in the service of their country.

What is wrong with the people in charge? Are they so disconnected from humanity that they no longer understand the minimum standards of society? How long would it take for someone to whip up a statement for the President to read from the White House and broadcast? No one is asking him to actually care about another human being, but the world expects such statements.

All such lapses do is confirm for the rest of the world that Americans are a bunch of callous, self-centered thugs, devoid of civility.

[Update: Well, John Bolton as ambassador to the UN ought to solidify our position as arrogant jerks.]


Sunday, March 06, 2005
  The FEC Threat
A lot of storage space and bandwidth has been eaten up by the supposed threat to require blogs to report links to candidates. Some have declared they would violate any such regulation, which seems rather extreme.

I would be more than happy to comply with any such regulation after I see the determined values for putting a sign in your yard, a sticker on your vehicle, wearing a t-shirt, wearing a hat, as well as posting a link.

People keep confusing the Internet with television and other broadcast media, and that's not the way it works. A Web ad has good more in common to a roadside sign than a 15 second broadcast ad. Signs on major sites/streets with a lot of traffic, like dKos/Broadway, command higher prices than those on Why Now?/County Road 10, so, the average blogger is no different than the average homeowner who puts a sign in their front yard. Bloggers generally copy ads from campaign sites, just like homeowners pick up yard signs at campaign headquarters.

That leads us to another interesting point: yard signs cost campaigns money to print and they are counted as an expense, so how does the campaign "expense" a blog ad?

What exactly is the difference between an individual who voluntarily says nice things about a candidate on the 'Net, and the individual who voluntarily walks a neighborhood and says nice things about a candidate?

Having been part of state and federal bureaucracies I would follow any requirements to the letter, doing my part to bury the FEC under an avalanche of paper from millions of bloggers. I mean, they do realize that there are millions who will be sending individual reports about their contributions of a few seconds at random intervals?

Folks, there is absolutely nothing that screws up a bureaucracy faster or more thoroughly than some smart ass following the regulations. We have computers, so paperwork is a mouse click away. It isn't a denial-of-service attack when the government requires people to submit forms.

Of course, anyone who is receiving money from a candidate should announce that fact openly, because even if it isn't a legal requirement, it is a moral requirement. Even if what you're doing is not related to blogging, your readers have a right to know.

[Edit: George wrote on this earlier at Old Fashioned Patriot]


  Amazing Grace
If you have any interest in computers and have studied the early days you know Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, PhD, USNR, one of, if not the first to "debug" a computer.

Several of her lectures are on video, and even if you aren't really a computer person, she is a great teacher. She probably has more "firsts" than anyone else in the field of computer science.

"You manage things, you lead people. We went overboard on management and forgot about leadership. It might help if we ran the MBAs out of Washington."

One of the most useful tools for demonstrating speed was her 30 centimeter [approximately 1 foot] pieces of wire that she used to demonstrate computing speed. That's how far light travels in a nanosecond.


  Girly Man
This should be filed under "You Can't Make This Up". James Wolcott tells us of the Gubernator's problems with the "terrorist" RNs of California who are unhappy because Arnold is unilaterally changing working conditions for nurses.

It's not bad enough that these people mess with your life, they expect you to pull your forelock and thank them.

[Edit: The nurses kicked Arnold's butt in court.]


Friday, March 04, 2005
  Friday Fish Blogging

A Fish

Friday Fish Blogging

Where are the cats?

[Edit: This is my Mother's side pond. The goldfish just eat, but the gambusia minnows occasionally leap out of the pond and commit suicide.]


  Friday Cat Blogging [TM Kevin Drum]

The Kid

Friday Cat Blogging

Where are the fish?

[Edit: This is the youngest of the feral cats. She hangs around my Mother's side pond hoping for a fish to commit suicide. The pond is out of the picture.]

Friday Ark


Thursday, March 03, 2005
  Globalflyer Makes It.
Well the wacko, Steve Fossett, made it, landing back in Salina, Kansas at about 1949GMT, or 1:49PM CST. In spite of a problem about fuel, they went for it and became the first solo flight around the world without refueling and the longest flight by a jet aircraft without refueling.

Better than expected tailwinds made the flight possible.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005
  What States Have You Been In?
bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming | Washington D.C

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.

Edit: Stolen from Steve who stole it from Allan. The joy of being a military brat who joined the military.


  Taking Credit
There is no doubt that the Bush administration will take credit for anything positive that occurs the Middle East and accept no blame for anything bad that happens.

This claim of spreading democracy in the region, usually by pointing to the Iraqi elections, would be a good deal more believable if a few of America's allies in the region would hold some free and open elections after releasing the local media from its state-run status.

If Pakistan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, etc. would show a little willingness to improve their standing on the State Department's list of human rights abusers, and allow a little democracy for their citizens, I might think we were having a positive effect. If a few of them would advance from the 13th to even the 18th century, I might see something positive coming from this total disaster.

Personally, think the one individual who has the most profound effect on the possibility of some democratization of the Middle East was Yasser Arafat. His death resulted in a generally democratic election taking place in occupied Palestine. Now if Sharon would do the world a favor and die, we might see some peace in the area, as long as he isn't assassinated.


  We're In The Book
On All Things Considered today, Robert Siegel talked with Imad Moustapha, the Syrian ambassador to the United States.

Mr. Moustapha repeated the Syrian government's position that they had sent troops into Lebanon at the request of the Lebanese government, and now that the Lebanese government has asked them to leave, they will withdraw the troops.

In response to a question about the recent comments by Condoleezza Rice and George Bush, Mr. Moustapha wondered why their concerns were made to the press and not to the government of Syria.

Asked about claims that the recent attack in Israel was aided by groups in Syria, he noted that such claims had been made in the past, but to date no evidence has been presented to the Syrian government to support any of the claims, and indicated that it would be nice if such things were handled in diplomatic meetings between governments instead of press conferences.


  Mary E. Walker, MD
The only woman ever awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, she was a military doctor during the Civil War. The award was signed by Andrew Johnson, taken away under Woodrow Wilson, and reinstated by Jimmy Carter.

This page is a condensed version of her life.

Writing about Major General Rainville reminded me of Dr. Walker.

[Edit: Woodrow Wilson was a Virginian who thought D.W. Griffith's The Birth Of A Nation was "fair and balanced".]


  Who Is The Terrorist
Maru, who recently returned from a "vacation" at an undisclosed location in the Caribbean, tells us that Yahoo has a story about the Canadian Minister of Defense, Bill Graham, was delayed at the airport, apparently because of a US watch list.

Assuming this isn't more Bullshevik pique because the Canadians don't want to play "Star Wars" with George, who is the William Graham on the list?

Perhaps it is the "star" of WWF: Superstar Billy Graham? No, the WWF has too much in common with NASCAR. Targeting an idol of their base wouldn't be very Republican.

Perhaps it is Nixon's favorite preacher: Reverend Billy Graham? No, see above.

It must be the concert promoter: Bill Graham. Just the thing: a Russian Jewish immigrant who fled the Nazis and made a pile of money in Rock and Roll. So similar to George Soros, that wingnuts would drool over any inconvenience. Even better, since he died in 1991, he can't even sue. Yep, it must Bill Graham.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005
  The Cat Who Blogged The Rat
Jillian at The Snarky Cat has been moved to investigate Choicepoint. Read the post and understand that the Bullsheviks have no intention of regulating or providing oversight of such companies. Based on the evidence they don't have any safeguards in place to verify who has access to the data or whether the data is accurate. An individual's only option, other than setting up a bogus company to alter Choicepoint's database, is to sue them.


When I heard this story on NPR's All Things Considered I thought that I would see what a particular individual had to say about it.

I mean a Vermont Public Radio reporter on the national feed talking about the state's Adjutant General, Major General Martha Rainville, VANG, the first woman to hold the position in the history of the militia or National Guard, I thought that it would certainly be covered on a certain blog.

Given that it's the first day of Women's History Month and we are only just recovering from the righteous Drum beating over "the issue that will not be named", there's is no point in a bayou dweller posting on a Green Mountain story.

I was wrong. One award and they forget their roots.


  What Has Been Wrought
Melanie at Just a Bump in the Beltway in her Open Mind, Open Heart post of learning from the web logs points to Juan Cole's article on the history of Lebanon.

Things are not always the way they are presented by the media or the government. While he alludes to their actions, Dr. Cole doesn't specifically mention the names of the two people in modern times, i.e. that last fifty years, who have created the image that people in the Middle East have of the United States.

If you are really interested in learning why they hate us, look at the actions of the Dulles brothers. John Foster Dulles was the Secretary of State in the Eisenhower years, and Allen Dulles became the Director of the CIA during that period. I'm not going to point you to anything, because you need to discover for yourself why people don't think the US has much credibility when it comes to spreading democracy.

Hint: US officials didn't always believe that a democratic government was capable of fending off the blandishments of Communism.

On a related note, how bad is it when arts and letters commentators like James Wolcott feel obligated to comment foreign policy? In Second Verse, Same as the First notes the attempt to morph the Hezbollah into the new foreign terrorist threat to the United States.

Mr. Wolcott is certainly worth a daily read for his standard fair of snark about people and the arts, but this administration is becoming so annoying that he felt compelled to comment.


  Wretched Excess
Mustang Bobby at Bark Bark Woof Woof mentioned this attempt by confirmed millionaire wackos...ehrrr... adventurers Steve Fossett & Richard Branson to set another record: non-stop solo flight around the world.

They do have the good sense to have Burt Rutan build the aircraft. Rutan's Voyager, the first aircraft to fly around the world without refueling, and Spaceship 1, winner of the X Prize are part of The National Air and Space Museum collection.

You can follow the flight from Salina, Kansas and back at this site.

Update 03/02/05 1600CST: There's a problem. 2600 pounds of fuel is "missing". The mission is on to Hawaii, but no one is sure beyond that point.


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