Why Now?
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
  A Map of the Area
To give people an idea of the problems involved in the relief effort I've loaded a good-sized map of the Gulf Coast with all of the four-lane or larger roads on it as well as all of the towns larger than 10,000 people.

The roads that seem to end are because of the switch to two lanes. You will notice that there are few North-South roads and too many roads run right along the coast. You will also see the number of bridges required to cross the bays, rivers, and lakes.

It is 200 miles as the crow flies from Fort Walton Beach to New Orleans.

Update: I've put up the wind map for Katrina from the National Hurricane Center.


I've been through this drill several times recently, so let me share: FEMA is not going to give you the aid you think and may ask for what it gives you back; your insurance company is not going to help you, they are going to wear you down until you accept less than you are owned; your assistance from the government is inversely proportional to their resources, local government will help a lot but assistance tapers to almost nothing from the Feds.

Congress allocated all kinds of money for hurricane relief last year, but it never got here. When FEMA said it was going to cover 90% of approved costs, you missed the part about "approved", which doesn't cover much of anything.

I remember Opal in 1995 and things started out rocky, but they came through in the end and hung in for the long haul. After Opal things got fixed and people were made whole.

Duncan wonders why there is so much said about the Mississippi casinos, so I'll tell him: they are the largest single source of income for the state and the largest source of jobs in the area that was struck. The state is in pain and until those casinos are up and operating the state cannot recover. State law required the actual casinos to be on barges on the water, which is why they were lost. There is no guarantee that the corporations won't take their insurance money and abandon Mississippi.

For those who don't live in this area: the losses will almost all have to be covered by government-operated flood insurance, private insurance losses will actually be minimal. The damage was done by the tidal surge and property insurance doesn't cover it. You may have been paying for class 1A homeowner's insurance for 20 years and find out you aren't covered for your losses. Most people discover this when they apply to their insurance company and have their claims rejected.

When your rates for homeowners insurance go up this year, keep in mind that probably 90% of the losses in New Orleans are not covered by a homeowner's policy. Insurance companies will probably pay for damage above the second floor for some of the high rises.

The real fun part is that you can't get flood insurance unless you are in a flood prone area because it is a last resort government program.

None of this is a problem in Florida any more, no one is writing any new policies. There's no problem because there's no new insurance available.

Regarding gasoline: $5/gallon in Atlanta for what's left in the system. Until there's some power restored the gasoline pipelines that feed the center of the country are down. Alabama is asking people to avoid all unnecessary travel and is keeping schools closed until next week to hopefully preserve enough fuel for emergency services and the military.

Maybe Cheney should call together his super-secret energy panel to work out what they are going to do. Oh, when they complain about "environmentalist" blocking new refineries, you need to ask why no one has even applied to build one. This is the same dodge used for the California energy crisis: no new plants were built because no one even started the process. The "environmentalists" haven't been afforded the opportunity to oppose refineries, any more than they had an opportunity to oppose California power plants. Corporations aren't interested in spending money on new facilities when they can milk profits from the old ones.

For those people claiming this was "G-d's judgment on the wickedness of New Orleans", excuse me, but New Orleans was spared devastation by the hurricane and felled by the known weakness of a levee. The Corps of Engineers identified the problem, but the Federal government cut their matching funds from the project. The state came up with their money but the Feds realized that tax cuts were more important than protecting America's largest port and major source of natural gas.


  Bush Surveyed Damage
NPR just told me that the Shubbery "conducted an aerial survey of the damage today", except CNN has already reported the he looked out the window as Air Force One flew over the area.

Exactly how much do you think he could see from a 747 flying over?


  It Was 25 Years Ago Today
I didn't forget Poland.

In 1980 a group of workers at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, Poland challenged the government and formed a union to negotiate for better working conditions. Led by Lech Walesa, Solidarity not only forced the Communist regime to improve working conditions, it eventually forced the Communists out of power.

You have to wonder what might have happened in Iraq if the Coalition Provisional Authority hadn't maintained Saddam's ban on labor unions.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Jo Fish at Democratic Veteran took time out from the bacchanal in celebration of his Half Century to wonder if people have realized what a potential there is for disease in the ever worsening mess that New Orleans is becoming.

I haven't heard a single Emergency Management official mention it to the local media down here on the Gulf Coast.

All of the diseases that mosquitoes carry are present in the "Big Easy" and, with holes in the roof, they certainly have entry to the Super Dome. The sewage system is out and you have to assume that it is backing up and mixing with the floodwaters. Contaminants from the industrial area and the oil leaking from a damaged tanker are also in that water.

Snakes and fire ants will go for higher ground, even if it is a building to avoid the water.

With high temperatures, high humidity, no functioning sanitary facilities, hospitals shut down, scarce drinking water, and the other problems - it is a potential epidemic.

Jillian mentioned Direct Relief as an organization that specializes in medical assistance to disaster areas.

Realistically, as a result of this storm we are going to have tens or hundreds of thousands of refugees for months. Forget Mardi Gras 2006.


JEB! tells us that 70% of the gas stations on Interstate 10 have gas, but fails to mention that the 30% that don't have gas are all on the western end.

Lt. Governor Toni Jennings, who was the spokesweasel that told us there was plenty of gasoline before the storm, has said that people shouldn't worry about the gas situation and continue with their Labor Day plans.

Gee Toni, I don't think that going to see the concrete slab that formerly held a casino in Biloxi is much of a plan, especially since all of the roads are ripped up. Has any one told this woman that we are in the middle of a damn disaster and many of us are not concerned with how much money The Mouse makes in Orlando.

Why not start telling people to stay home and not using gasoline unless they have to so it will be available to use in the generators that are powering breathing machines and other medically necessary devices for the disabled?

Why not ask private pilots to stand down so there will aviation fuel for the aircraft needed for search and rescue operations?

Why can't they ask people who have a home and a job to consume less to help those who have neither?


  Relief Update
In addition to the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, Jillian at skippy mentions Noah's Wish, an animal rescue organization that responds to disasters.

Update: I've put the links on the sidebar, because this is going to be a long hard slog.


Monday, August 29, 2005
  After The Storm
The blogger formerly known as South Knox Bubba is guest blogging at Facing South.

Karen at Dark Bilious Vapors has discovered the reality of Shrubbery's "Noble Cause" in a Jim Morin cartoon.

Mark Fiore presents the future of education.

Via The Yellow Dog Blog the Pentagon's numbers for Deployed National Guard and Reserve. [Warning PDF]

Louisiana - 4,109
Mississippi - 4,793
Alabama - 2,432
Florida - 2,985

They and the people on the Gulf Coast would really like them back now! We need them and their equipment.

CNN/Money looks at the effects of Katrina on oil and gasoline.

Our oilman pResident is apparently unaware that even if the oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve isn't under floodwaters in the Louisiana salt mines where it's stored, you have to have working refineries to use it. I guess no one, like our oilman Vice pResident, bothered to tell him that 9% of our refining capacity is in three units at New Orleans.

While the rest of the country is worrying about the coming increase in price of gasoline, the Gulf Coast wonders when we will get some at any price. Before the storm the pResident's brother had a spokeweasel tell us that there was no problem with gasoline supplies on the Panhandle; it wasn't 24 hours later that we ran out.


  A Dangerous Job Well Done

Hurricane Hunters
53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron [USAFR]
403rd Wing, Keesler AFB, Biloxi, Mississippi

Hurricane Katrina Discussion Number 27
Special thanks are extended to the United States Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter crews stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi Mississippi...who have been flying continuous missions through Katrina even as their families and homes are being seriously impacted by this hurricane.

Forecaster Pasch

Roger that and fly safe.


  Oh What a Beautiful Morning
Forecast for Coastal Okaloosa County
Updated: 5:30 am CDT on August 29, 2005

Tropical Storm Warning in effect...
Hurricane Watch in effect...
Tornado Watch in effect until noon CDT today...
Flash Flood Watch in effect until Tuesday morning...


Sunday, August 28, 2005
Both the Red Cross and the Salvation Army will be on the ground in the devastated areas as soon as it's safe.

If you can afford it, they both do good work during hurricane recovery. It would be wonderful if they had less to do.

Update: If you wouldn't mind, could you send some good thoughts to the men and women of the Louisiana and Mississippi Guard who have been deployed to the Persian Gulf. From personal experience it is really tough to know your family and friends need your help and you can't be there.


While I'm generally breathing a sigh of relief, I feel a good deal of concern for those in the path of this storm. Anntichrist S. Coulter of Blonde Sense lives in Louisiana, and I hope she has high ground to move to if this comes close.

At the moment, I'm reminded of Hurricane Camille in August of 1969. My Dad was in Biloxi, Mississippi when it hit and I drove through a month or so later. It looked like carpet bombing with destruction continuing well inland.

Katrina is now a Category Five with sustained winds at 175 miles per hour. There will be massive waves and a storm surge. New Orleans is six feet below sea level on average and needs levees and pumps to keep from flooding in normal times. If this storm comes anywhere close it will flood.

Katrina is a larger storm than Camille and will affect a wider area. Local officials are asking the Federal government to move MASH units into the area for assistance after the storm moves through.

Pensacola is still closing down and buttoning up because of this storm. It is due in 200 miles West of me, but there will be effects felt here.

We can hope that it will lose some strength before making landfall tomorrow, but you can't count on it.

Update: the fourth most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record. Miles O'Brien of CNN is moving to Baton Rouge. He concluded his satellite truck would be under water if he stayed.

Update: [8PM CDT] The first rain/storm bands are coming on shore at my place.


  The Way-Back Machine
On May 1st, 2003 the Shrubbery made a landing aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln and told us the "Mission" had been "Accomplished". This makes Rumsfeld's war-on-terror memo on October 16th, 2003 even more weird. Why does Rumsfeld need "metrics" five months after the job is supposedly finished?

My point is that these people don't have a compass. There is no course to stay. Their only goal is to make a lot of money for their friends. Bush has no great belief or goal in his life; he borrows beliefs from others without ever bothering to understand them.

Only a great writer or total hack would have scheduled the "Mission Accomplished" speech on May Day.


  Inflated Costs?
'Eyes in the sky' for homeland security indicates I'm not the only one who thinks that airships are worth a look.

I would note that they want to make them bigger [and more expensive] than I would think necessary, but then I'm a believer in Jerry Pournelle's concept of "Good Enough" - it doesn't need to be perfect, it just needs to get the job done.


  Sarcasm is PG-13
Bush supporters gather in Crawford to protest a Gold Star mother, which is to be expected. I mean a guy with control over nuclear weapons really needs to be protected from a mom who wants him to answer a question. I know there were a number of questions I didn't want my Mother to ask over the years.

Unfortunately one group forgot that people require the intellectual maturity of a 10-year-old to understand sarcasm, so there was a problem.

You wonder if they have seen this: Poll: 90 percent support right to protest war.


  A Cat To Watch
Not for the queasy without a sense of humor, I think Culture Ghost is being given a unsubtle hint in One Day late Cat-Blogging.

It's not a horse's head in his bed, but...


  Dogs Today
There was time when the heroic pet would brave all dangers, like the heroine in Lassie Come Home, to return home for a reunion.

But today's dogs avoid a long walk home by nipping aboard the 20:38. I admit that knowing which train to take and getting off at the right stop is pretty good, but where's the mythic quality in taking a local train?


Saturday, August 27, 2005
  A little Bird Told Me
The University of Florida is involved in designing small reconnaissance drones for the US government. The BBC report: Spy craft take gull flight lesson covers an approach to variable wing geometry based on the sea gull.

I don't worry about local testing, our sea birds will take out any intruders that could threaten access to tourist hand outs, and the pigeons in most cities would probably mug them.


  State Redistricting
There is a series of initiatives going through the signature process to transfer the power to redistrict the state from the legislature to a non-partisan commission. All three initiatives must pass for this to take effect.

The Saint Petersburg Times reports on a technical problem with one of the initiatives.
The Secretary of State's Office approved the wording in March and is investigating how the error slipped through.

Gov. Jeb Bush, who appoints the secretary of state, said the office should have caught the mistake. But he and other opponents reveled in the mistake and suggested organizers should have caught it.

"There is this thing in Microsoft Word that's called 'word count,' " Bush said with a grin.
The problem is that one of the initiatives has 81 words, not the maximum of 75 required.

A Bush appointee approved the defective initiative, but Bush finds the situation amusing.


  We Are Victims!
University of Calif. Sued Over Creationism
The Association of Christian Schools International, which represents more than 800 schools, filed a federal lawsuit Thursday claiming UC admissions officials have refused to certify high school science courses that use textbooks challenging Darwin's theory of evolution. Other rejected courses include "Christianity's Influence in American History."

According to the lawsuit, the Calvary Chapel Christian School in Murrieta was told its courses were rejected because they use textbooks printed by two Christian publishers, Bob Jones University Press and A Beka Books.
For those who don't know, A Beka Books is a wholly owned subsidiary of Pensacola Christian College and the Florida Department of Revenue spent years getting them to pay taxes because PCC claimed it was a religious operation.

I don't doubt that the University of California would accept these courses as religious, but there are standards that must be met and the courses don't meet them. The UC standards must be consistent with the standards of their accreditation organization.

I feel certain that the students would be welcome at Bob Jones University, Pensacola Christian College, or any other "Christian college", if they had the money.


Friday, August 26, 2005
  Missing [Not White Women]
Apparently Chinese milk cartons will now feature pictures of missing crocodiles.

The owners of a reptile farm near the city of Benxi have set up a Hotline to find the remaining 13 of 29 crocodiles that escaped during flooding.

Fifteen crocodiles have been returned and one was killed, but there is concern that the 13 will die when the temperature drops.


  The Spirit of Ludwig of Bavaria
In another example of the leadership style fostered under the Soviet system we learn that Turkmenistan shoots for the stars by paying to have a satellite launched that contains a book.
"The sacred text of Rukhnama was chosen because it contains all the wisdom of the Turkmen people, thanks to its creator, Turkmenbashi," the article said, using the name the country's President, Saparmurat Niyazov, has given himself, meaning 'Guide of All Turkmen'.
Turkmenbashi recently outlawed lip-syncing and moustaches, and announced a plan to build a palace made from ice in his desert country.

Some of you probably think that the premise of Being There is absurd. The government of Turkmenistan will disabuse you of that notion.


  Anti-War Movement
A point that seems to be missed by a lot of talking heads is that a large number of the people opposed to the war in Iraq, are not opposed to war. A major segment of those speaking out against what's going on in the Persian Gulf believe that Afghanistan was necessary and proper, but Iraq was neither.

Mrs. Sheehan doesn't oppose war, and has clearly stated that she would fight if the United States was attacked. Her question, and the question of all of us who oppose what is going on in Iraq is why are we there. We have been fed a series of lies over the course of the war and none of them have stood up to scrutiny. There is no "noble cause", only a series of excuses.

"Stay the course" presupposes a course or plan, something that is not in evidence. There really should be a reason when thousands of humans are killed. Someone should explain why.

At some point in the future a stone "I" will join the black granite "V" in Washington. Those of us who oppose this misadventure would hope it needn't be very large and have 2005 as the last date.


  How About A Break?

Hurricane Symbol

In 1995 we had Erin [August] and Opal [October]. In 1997 we had Danny [July]. In 1998 there was Georges [September] and it rained for five days without a break. In 2004 there was Ivan [July], the third costliest natural disaster in US history. Then in July of this year we got Dennis.

We have had our share. We have paid our dues. There is not a lot left for a hurricane to blow over, we do not need a visit from Katrina.


  Trust Us

Defense Language Institute

We have to save money because there is too much waste in the Pentagon.

So are we cutting the National Missile Defense Program, which has still failed to defend anything? Of course not.

We should move the Defense Language Institute and hope that we can convince its faculty of civilian native speakers to relocate from Monterey Bay to the Midwest.

Fortunately the BRAC [Base Realignment and Closure] panel shot that one down, saving my alma mater [Russian Intermediate and Advanced Programs]. When we need linguists more than ever, they wanted to disrupt the program that provides them.

They have managed to get Walter Reed Army Medical Center closed at a time when the military medical system is overwhelmed with casualties. Rumsfeld says he is going to build a new modern facility, but then he also said he was going to provide body armor and up-armor vehicles, so there won't be a new facility. They have under-funded the Veterans Administration by billions, so you know they just don't care.

It is pathetic that a veterans' organization, the American Legion, would think that these people deserve support. Veterans should support those who support them.

It doesn't look like they expect another aerial attack, because their plan strips the coasts of any ability to respond. When they route airliners to Maine, the closest fighter aircraft will be in New Jersey. If they are the new Raptors, they will get there with aerial refueling, but it will be tricky for them to fly at the speed and altitude of airliners.

These people are looking at the situation of the military during the administration of George H.W. Bush and transforming the military to fit that period. They just don't understand the current requirements, or the weaknesses made obvious by the Iraq War.

When you hear about these cost savings, keep in mind that the fuel cost, fuel only, for Air Force One is running at $8K/hour. Since the Shrubbery flies with a second aircraft containing his motorcade, it's really $16K/hour every time he takes a trip.


  Friday Cat Blogging [™ Kevin Drum]

Taking a Break from Mom Duties

Friday Cat Blogging

Ohhh, that feels good.

[Edit: I don't guess the nepeta cataria is mature enough for the cats to notice it yet.]

Friday Ark


Thursday, August 25, 2005
  Hurricane Katrina
Mustang Bobby is blogging the storm as it comes ashore North of him.

Update: Bobby shut down at 8:15pm EDT as his power is looking a little iffy in the squall conditions.


  K-9 Returns!
If you are not a fan of Doctor Who you have no idea what this means. If you are a fan, especially of the Tom Baker years, the return of K-9 [with Sarah Jane, BTW] is a matter of great nostalgia.


  With Friends Like These
It has been confirmed that the nuclear weapons programs of Iran, Libya, and North Korea has all been traced back to AQ Khan, the "Father of Pakistan's bomb".

How do we know that Saddam didn't have a nuclear weapons program? Well, he wasn't on AQ Khan's customer list.


  Airborne Laser Weapon
The US is close to having a laser weapon small enough to be carried by fighter aircraft that could destroy enemy missiles.

So, the point behind the "National Missile Defense System" would be?


  Supporting the Troops
Hillary Clinton and Lindsay Graham are once again trying to get health care for the Guard and Reserve through Tri-Care, the military system.

The Pentagon is complaining that Tri-Care is already eating up the military budget with its coverage for regular and retired members of the military.

[sarcasm] Yes, it is really inconsiderate of those people who get sent to die all over the world to expect health care for themselves and their families when the money is needed to cover the loss of taxes on the estates of multimillionaires. I mean what's more important: the health of the families of people getting shot up in Iraq, or a new diamond collar for Paris Hilton's dog?[/sarcasm]

Excuse me, but when some are asked to give up their lives, why shouldn't others be asked to give up some money?


Wednesday, August 24, 2005
  The Best Laid Plans
So the British press has been penetrating various Royal residences and writing stories to make security look foolish and incompetent. This has been going on for an extended time.

Well, the security people decided they would do something at Prince Charles's Scottish retreat on the Balmoral Estate to stop this once and for all: they installed highly sensitive seismic detectors all over the place.

Great idea, except the highly ecologically sensitive Prince decided to use Indian runner ducks to control yard pests and keep the grass down.

When the ducks [Arabella, Antoine, Parsley, Sage, Rose, Mary and Thyme] go dashing about the yard they set off the alarm system.

[Edit: Runner ducks look like some one has stretched a regular duck or crossed a duck with a penguin.]


  The Canadians Aren't Going To Take It
Canada hints at trade war with U.S. in response to the US ignoring the fact that tariffs on Canadian lumber have been declared illegal.

They are talking about putting their own tariffs on US goods coming into Canada. I'm hoping they don't decide to take a 5-week vacation on lumber and oil shipments.


  Still the Florida State Seminoles
For some reason after being threatened with lawsuits by the Seminole tribal government of Florida and Florida State University the NCAA Allows 'Seminoles' Nickname.

Okay, you have to understand, the Seminole tribe in Florida did not surrender to the white guys and have been selling swampland to white guys for a while. FSU didn't get to use the name for free, although you'll never find a copy of the agreement. All of the programs for Seminoles coming from FSU are because the University is really nice and filled with empathy for the tribe.


  Ayatollah Robertson
The government of Venezuela is unhappy according to this
Canadian report:
In Venezuela, however, Vice-President Jose Vicente Rangel said the U.S. response to Robertson would be a test of its anti-terrorist policy and that Venezuela was studying its legal options.

"It's a huge hypocrisy to maintain this discourse against terrorism and at the same time, in the heart of that country, there are entirely terrorist statements like those," Rangel said.


Rangel called Robertson "a man who seems to have quite a bit of influence in that country," adding that the comments "reveal that religious fundamentalism is one of the great problems facing humanity in these times."
As for the paranoia of Hugo Chavez, I guess most people don't know who Otto Reich is, and his meetings with the Venezuelans who organized the coup against Chavez.

And the difference between Robertson and the Ayatollah Khomeini would be?


Tuesday, August 23, 2005
  A Tipping Point
Len at Dark Bilious Vapors and Steve at The News Blog via DC Media Girl pointed to Larry Johnson's article on the death of Casey Sheehan.

I went out and did a little research and have concluded that when the history of Iraqi Freedom is written this period will be identified as the beginning of the disaster that the war in Iraq has become.

In late March through early April in 2004 a series of events plunged the US into a quagmire.

Rumsfeld made the decision to replace major units, rather than individuals to accomplish troop rotations. This meant that most of the troops involved in these events were "green" from privates to flag officers. There were major losses among the new units because they lacked the equipment or experience to protect themselves.

This was the period when the death and mutilation of the four mercenaries occurred in Fallujah and the US said: 'We will respond' to contractor killings.

This is when Paul Bremer decided to go after Muqtada al-Sadr by having the Iraqi government issue an arrest warrant for him, by closing down his newspaper, and by having the Spanish pick up one of his deputies.

The April 7, 2004 post by Riverbend of Baghdad Burning gives you a feeling for what was going on in the city.

Things spun out of control as CNN reported on Tuesday, April 06, 2004: "...in Baghdad and at least four cities in the country's south, U.S. and coalition troops battled supporters of Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr for a third day."

No mention of April 2004 would be complete without the crowning event: Abu Ghraib reported by CBS and Seymour M. Hersh.

Quiddity at Uggabugga has a bar graph that shows that since this outbreak in 2004 our casualties have exceeded the first year. Notice that the worse casualties occur during April, the changeover month.

Casey Sheehan died because of Paul Bremer's annoyance with Muqtada al-Sadr and Donald Rumsfeld's rotation concept. Nothing has been accomplished in the effort to reconstruct Iraq since April 2004. The infrastructure of Iraq was in better shape on the day the fall of Saddam's statue was stage-managed for a photo op [April, 9, 2003], than anytime since.

[Edited to clear up the path and provide a direct link to Larry Johnson.]


The University of Texas is a great on-line resource for maps. Today have a look at the distribution of ethnic Kurds around the Middle East and try to imagine why the Turkish, Syrian, and Iranian governments might not appreciate an independent Kurdish state.

It's a very large map, but the Kurds cover a large area.


Monday, August 22, 2005
  Where's The Money?
the marsupial master of miniscule rants about the republican attempts to bleedout the american government.

Again and again I have wondered what is going on with government spending. Congress keeps authorizing money to buy body armor, to up-armor vehicles, to hire Border Patrol agents, to reconstruct Iraq, etc., but the money isn't being spent. Where is it and what's going on?

There are tens of billions of dollars unaccounted for in this administration. You have parts of the Homeland Security Department that have run out of money on paper, but no one is sure if they are out of money or have "lost" it in accounting errors.

The whole government needs a major audit by an outside group to find out what in hell is going on. A billion dollars in $100 bills weighs approximately 2040 pounds. It's not something that just gets lost.


  Protection Racket
How about if a banker suggested that you pay a special fee so your money didn't "disappear" from his bank?

The father of Catblogging highlights a new "service" offered by ChoicePoint, the incompetents whose allowed criminals to loot their databases.

Hmmm...maybe we could charge under extortion laws, or the RICO law. I wonder what Eliot Spitzer thinks? I hope they offer the service to a New Yorker.


  RIP Robert Moog
The BBC has this obituary of a man whose instruments people either love or hate.

Science Fiction films would have never been the same without his work.


  The Day In Iraq
On Day to Day Madeleine Brand talked to Christian Science Monitor correspondent Dan Murphy, reporting from Baghdad about the Iraqi Constitution. During their conservation Ms. Brand asked if the Kurds and Shi'ia forced through a constitution, wouldn't that start a civil war, to which Mr. Murphy responded [my paraphrase] - wake up and smell the cordite, the civil war is in progress.

Mr. Murphy apparently thinks because he is in Iraq with Iraqi sources, listening to the gunfire and explosions, he gets to tell people about the reality without clearing it with Karen Hughes.

I just heard [4PM, CDT] that the Kurds and Shi'ia sent a constitution to the parliament, but the deadline has been extended by three days for more work because of Sunni objections.


  Bangladesh Bombing
Rubber Hose wonders why there isn't more interest in the 400 bombs set off in Bangladesh.

The World Today on the BBC World Service has been reporting on it and posting things like Bangladesh bombs suspect arrested.

The interesting thing in the reporting is that the Bangladeshi government has been downplaying the problem of Muslim extremists in the country. This attitude has angered just about everyone following the controlled explosions.

The Islamic political parties are saying that the government can't start attacking them having said there was no problem for years. The secular opposition party says that the government was too incompetent to deal with the problem so they ignored it.

It's nice to know that we aren't the country in the world with a government disconnected from reality.


  Blog like a Conservative Day
According to a US-UK scientific team Republican culture 'confirmed'.

Interesting, if true.


Sunday, August 21, 2005
  A New Term
I've decided while making a comment over at NTodd's place that I will henceforth refer to the so-called DLC and their followers as the DC-Rats, in reference to their predecessors: the Dixiecrats.

Hopefully they will take less time than the earlier group to transfer their party registration so that real Democrats might win a national election or two.


  Random Thoughts
When they said democracy in relation to Iraq we forgot who they were. What do Dobson, Falwell and the rest of the Shrubbery's base want American democracy to look like?

Isn't that what they're getting in Iraq?

[Update: Pudentilla at skippy wondered about this earlier today.]

Via Quiddity at Uggabugga: the reDiscovery Institute.

It's too bad about some of the oldest Christian communities in the world (they speak a form of Aramaic), the Jewish communities in the birthplace of Abraham, and the Yezidi.

What's a few ancient religions compared to "bringing democracy to the Middle East"?

An anti-war group is running ads on all but one Salt Lake City television station prior to the Shrubbery's speech at the VFW convention. So who was the hold out? Fox? No. The NBC station owned by the Mormon Church? No.

How about the station owned by Clear Channel? Bingo!

Flashback time: Joan Baez arrives to sing at Camp Casey in Crawford.


Saturday, August 20, 2005
  Blogger Changes
Most Blogger sites have a status bar across the top and they have added a new button to the right side of the bar: Flag.

Their explanation is that you click on the button to report "inappropriate content" to Blogger. No indication as to what "inappropriate" means, but if you get enough flags they "de-list" your site. It's still there but they won't mention its existence. Looks like more corporate CYA.

They have also announced a plug-in to use Blogger inside of MS Word. Given my experience from attempting to copy text from Word into Blogger I don't think I'll be using it, but if someone else would like to try it???

I wish they would stop making changes.


  The Weekend Rant
Patterns are a major tool for intelligence analysts and criminal investigators. You gather as much data as is possible and you study it to look for the connections.

When it came to this new revelation about the Able Danger data mining task force I ignored it because it was being pushed by Curt Weldon [R-Fantasyland] who has grown hoarse crying "Wolf!".

Maybe I was wrong. Now it turns out that the Able Danger warning was suppressed by the Commander of the Special Operations Command who was leery of becoming involved with the FBI. He should have been leery: his last interaction is known as Waco or Branch Davidian. The word is that he didn't want another disaster associated with his name.

He needn't have worried, after all, his former Congressman is now the Vice President of the United States, and he got called back from retirement to become the Army Chief of Staff.

Yes, folks, Lt. General William "My G-d is bigger than yours" Boykin's boss for the Waco adventure was General Peter Schoomaker, who went on to head the Special Operations Command, and is currently the Army's Chief of Staff.

Maybe they should give Pete a couple of weeks of R&R down at Club Gitmo to see if he can remember anything about this little project.

While on historical things, yesterday was the 59th birthday of our last elected President: William Jefferson Clinton. You remember those days: the stock market and your paycheck went up faster than gas prices, and the deficit went down.

I opposed the Iraq invasion for a very simple reason: the US and British air forces were a large brick over that cockroach, Saddam. If he moved the wrong way he knew he would be crushed, first by the those air forces, then his neighbors.

During the last election I wanted to get more troops into Iraq to stabilize the area and start the reconstruction. With someone other than the Shrubbery in charge there was a possibility that the US might get some support from the rest of the world to fix what W had broken.

Now there is no reasonable choice but to withdraw according to an announced plan. If the US announces a timetable and sticks to it, the insurgents will probably give it the ceasefire necessary for an orderly retreat.

There is no country or organization left in the world willing to come into this mess. It would require a massive number of infantry divisions to bring order and countries are not willing to sacrifice their soldiers in the disaster that is Iraq. The UN has no credibility in Iraq and no desire to risk more personnel in this lost cause.

For those who don't get it: the one problem that the majority of Iraqis agree on is that their country is under foreign occupation - changing the foreigners won't make a difference.

For all of those who claim that withdrawal means Osama wins I would point out that Osama can't win more than he did when Shrubbery withdrew the troops hunting him in the mountains of Tora Bora to invade Iraq.

Osama escaped because Bush was more interested in attacking Iraq than catching the scum that attacked the United States. Osama's greatest victory was escaping from the might of the world's only superpower. That was like Peewee Herman lasting 15 rounds with Mike Tyson and not ending up in intensive care.

[Minor celebrity: No link, but the BBC posted my e-mail in From the editor's desktop column. It was a response to an e-mail accusing the BBC of various misdeeds, including pandering to advertisers.]


Friday, August 19, 2005
  Just What We Needed
The BBC has just reported that Protests halt Ecuador oil exports. That will certainly help with the price of gasoline, especially on the West Coast.

  Friday Cat Blogging [™ Kevin Drum]

Biting the Hand That Feeds You

Friday Cat Blogging

Grrr mmrph

[Edit: This is Ringo's idea of fun. Hopefully more time with Dot will teach her some "cat manners" about claws and biting.]

Friday Ark


Thursday, August 18, 2005
  A Moment of Silence

48th Infantry Brigade

After the 48th Infantry Brigade of the Georgia National Guard lost 11 soldiers in 10 days, Governor Sonny Perdue called for a moment of silence scheduled for today at 1PM [EDT].

When you use the Guard and Reserve in combat operations, you concentrate the effect of losses to small geographic areas.

The Shrubbery is still on vacation, hiding from Mrs. Sheehan.


  Yo, Kate, Wake Up and Smell the Burqa
Some may wonder why Scarborough is being courted for Florida Senate race.

Some of those from outside may say 'but she did what they wanted and stopped the recount' which shows a blindness to the reality of the Religious Reich that controls the Florida GOP. The problem is that she is a she and she wants power.

I won't bother to go into what's wrong with Joe Scarborough; he was my congressclown. Yes, he really is as clueless as he looks on television; yes, he really was an apologist for Slobodan Milosovic in the Balkans; and yes, he did not "support the troops" during the Kosovo Campaign; but he has the proper pronoun to be a US Senator for Florida Republicans.


  A Dating Service From Hell
While really ticking off our friends, the Shrubbery seems to be helping old enemies to come together: Russian-Chinese war games begin.

Oh, this is just great news for the United States. I know I'm thrilled with the possibility that instead of two dozen Chinese designed and built single warhead nuclear ICBMs, they could have a hundred Russian designed and built MIRV missiles.


  They Were Our Friends
The US ambassador insists that the Canadian government has to return to negotiations on the sale of softwoods. He makes this statement in spite of the fact that the US has again lost on this issue in arbitration, and hints that the US doesn't actually have to return the billions in fees it has collected since the beginning of this dispute.

The basic claim is that the Canadian government doesn't charge timber companies enough for the logs they cut in Canadian government forests, and the US has been collecting a fee to increase the price of Canadian wood products.

The Canadians referred the matter to a NAFTA panel, which keeps ruling in favor of Canada. What's to negotiate? The matter is settled. Apparently the US thinks it can bully the Canadians into accepting less than they're owed.

Meanwhile there's a shortage of plywood and the price is spiking, raising already outrageous building costs.

The US is also dumping water out of Devil's Lake in North Dakota that will end up in Lake Winnipeg, an important Canadian fishery and water shed.

The Canadians wanted a review by the bi-lateral commission on US-Canadian water issues, but the US just started pumping. The Canadians are worried about pollution and invasive species ending up in their waters.

I could be wrong, but I thought that the US and Canada were friends, at least for the last century [no need to go into that little trek Benedict Arnold and some of my relatives took, or the Maine and Oregon problems]. Why is the US being such jerks? They sell us oil and timber that we don't have. If they get mad, they can sell those things to Asia.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Perhaps because they felt a need to "balance" coverage of Mrs. Sheehan, Day to Day aired this Mike Pesca report: Military Families React to Sheehan's Iraq Protest.[audio link]

I don't want to pick on them but, serving members of the military are required by regulation not to express political opinions. Your career can be ended by saying the wrong thing. People have already lost their jobs by being "outed" as serving members while making less than complimentary statements about the conduct of the Bush administration.

You can support the President all you want in uniform under these people, but be negative and you are gone. It's not exactly a surprise that families of serving members rarely say negative things about the current crew.

If you look at the news page at Marine Parents, you can see that they have been Bush supporters and frequent media guests. For the spokeswoman to complain about Mrs. Sheehan "going public" is rather hypocritical.

The could have interviewed Military Families Speak Out, about the situation, but that wouldn't have provided the "balance" they were looking for in this piece.



82nd Airborne Division

CNN reports that a veteran has again answered the call.
Fred Mattlage said he hopes the new site will alleviate traffic.

The site is owned by Mattlage's brother Mark, who gave him permission to offer the land. Mattlage, his two brothers and sister own a 212-acre lot adjacent to the one-acre fenced property.

Mattlage said the family will allow the protesters to park their cars on the larger lot if they provide a gate attendant to ensure cattle do not escape.

Mattlage, who served with the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division in the 1970s, said he is against the war in Iraq and is concerned the United States "didn't learn a valuable enough lesson from Vietnam."


Tuesday, August 16, 2005
  Dear George

Lt. Elizabeth Windsor

Lieutenant HRH Princess Elizabeth

This is what the daughter of a leader who believes in the war he is fighting looks like.


  Too Much!
I like oatmeal. I like it with butter, sugar, and milk on a cold morning; I love it as a cookie with raisins. If I had to choose between oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip cookies, it would be tough, but the chocolate would lose by the thinnest of margins. While I draw the line at haggis, I really do like oatmeal.

What I don't like is waiting on a Flash animation by Quaker Oats blocking my view of the news headlines at the ABC News site, nor the Flash-launched pop-up that I had to kill. [Yes, folks, Flash can avoid your pop-up blocker and throw up an extra ad in the background.]

I hope ABC made some money on that ad, because it has cost them my clicks for the foreseeable future. As for Quaker Oats, there are other people who make rolled oats and don't make obnoxious ads.


  All Things Texan?
Some incompetent at Compound W¹ has released a statement by the Shrubbery that congratulates the Iraqis on their efforts to draft a constitution. The BBC reports that he supports their "heroic efforts".

They missed the artificial deadline, agreeing only that they would continue to call the country the Republic of Iraq, but they have been taking lessons from the US:

They invoked Hasert/DeLay Time for the vote on a constitution, interpreting by the end of August 15th to mean the end of August 22nd, and Blackwell of Ohio voting rules by intuitively know that a show of hands was three-quarters plus one votes necessary to change the rules without having to actually count, since there were a lot of extra people in the chamber who weren't supposed to be voting, like American officials.

Steve Bates of Yellow Doggerel Democrat reported on this with The Skittish Are Coming, but the Day to Day segment in which Alex Chadwick talks with Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) adds an interesting element. [audio link]

In response to questions, Culberson admits that the Shrubbery has done nothing about the problem: the Border Patrol hasn't been expanded as authorized by Congress; $6.8 billion in money for Homeland Security hasn't been spent; there has been nothing done in response to the drug war going on in the frontier zone of Mexico.

Culberson admits that he has introduced his bill to address a problem that has been totally ignored by a former governor of Texas who has the power and resources to do something.

Finally, people need to know that there are good people in Texas in addition to those who blog.

When a movement started to close the road to Bush's ranch and move Mrs. Sheehan's protest out of sight, she reports that a landowner on the road has offered her the use of his land.

I'm not going to assume that the landowner is a liberal or a Democrat; I would rather believe he is displaying the traditional manners of a Southerner. I realize that the manners I was taught as a child have been little in evidence, but I would hope that there are still pockets of traditional values, even under rude reign of the Religious Reich.

[Update: Apparently the county can't legally take any action for 30 days for public comment, so this isn't a problem, as the protest will be over when Bush returns to Washington.]

1. Coined by Rook's Rant


Monday, August 15, 2005
  Why John?
Back in 2000 I was considering voting for a Republican, John McCain. He said a lot of things I agreed with and he [more probably, his staff] had responded to a couple of my concerns with letters that actually addressed the problem I was writing about, as opposed to the form letters I was getting from my Democratic Senators.

I was outraged by what Bush and Rove did to him. The smear was the worse thing I had seen since Katherine Harris ran for Secretary of State. It was despicable enough when they attacked Max Cleland, but to do it to another Republican was outside the pale.

During the early years of the Shrubbery's reign, John remained a man of principle, but then when the 2004 campaign started he forfeited all claim to my regard. I could understand not openly opposing your party's candidate, but to actively campaign for the slug that had slimed your family was too much.

James Wolcott in There's only one Maverick, and his name is James Garner chronicles the latest episode of John McCain selling his soul to the Busheviki. He doesn't seem to understand that they have no respect or regard for him.


  3 Old Men
A while ago Len at Dark Bilious Vapors mentioned a blog started by the father of a friend - 3 Old Men.

If you have any interest in post and beam construction you should definitely check them out. They are three guys, Al, Andy, and Mickey, who have retired to rural Georgia and are building barns, houses, and workshops.

Lots of details, graphics, and pictures about the buildings with an occasional political post.


Sunday, August 14, 2005
  Intelligent Design
I'm shocked that Old White Lady of It's Morning Somewhere would acquiesce to the furtherance of a Google Bomb. Linking the term Intelligent Design to a science education site is really beneath the dignity of anyone with three good-looking felines like Sergeant Mango, Cotton, and Saddie.

It is, of course, possible that this was a prank by the mischievous Sergeant.


  Fact Check
Because there have been so many different accounts I looked up a standard reference for those who have died in the Iraq War, Military City which is connected the Army Times group of newspapers. This is their article on Casey Sheehan which reports he died in a fire fight on April 4, 2004 and was awarded a Bronze Star for the action.

What struck me was that he was an artilleryman, not in the infantry. They had already run out of infantry and were cross-training other specialties to fill slots. He died doing a job he hadn't really been trained to do. He wasn't eligible for the Combat Infantryman Badge, but that was the job he was given.

This is the result of Rumsfeld's belief that people are "fungible", that all you have to do is put whoever is available into whatever job that needs to be done, and things will be fine. Rumsfeld doesn't believe that military jobs require specialized training because they are all just "cannon fodder" and "trigger pullers".


  The Weekend Rant
There is almost no reason in a civilized society to attack the parent of a member of the military who died in service to their country. I don't care if you supported or opposed the action by the political leaders that put the member of the military at risk. Your politics don't excuse the total lack of social conscience involved in such an attack. If you can't understand and respect the pain and grief of a mother who has lost a child, you are without any redeeming social value.

Political leaders may waste the sacrifices of the military, but the individuals who make those sacrifices are doing their duty and nothing the political leaders do can alter that reality. You honor them by providing for their family, not by mouthing platitudes.

The deaths in Southeast Asia did not win a war, but they changed the thinking of the American government for a very long time. That may not have been the "goal" of those who started the war, but that was the result. The deaths had meaning. If the war had been won, would those people be any less dead, would the parents have less grief?

I want someone who claims that soldiers can die in vain to find a Virginian who had an ancestor die in Pickett's Charge and who thinks that the ancestor's death wasn't honorable and worthy, that it was in vain.

The NARAL ad incident is indicative of a major misunderstanding among people who should know better.

NARAL is a single issue organization and would be unfaithful to their membership if they failed to give their support to politicians who support their views without regard to party. They would also fail if they didn't vigorously attack those who oppose their views.

Asking NARAL to automatically support one party over any other makes them part of that party, subject to the whims of that party's leadership. They have no such obligation, and given the recent decisions of the leadership of the party seeking orthodoxy, NARAL would be failing in their basic responsibility to do it.

Lost in this episode is the right to privacy. Reproductive choice is not the only issue that is tied to the right to privacy, and the easiest way to limit reproductive choice is by limiting the right to privacy. You can't give ground on Roe v. Wade without weakening the right to privacy.

Folks, there is no compromise to be found on the other side of the political spectrum, so stop wasting credibility looking for it. You don't give up basic rights to please the views of others. It's time people understood that the other side wants people to give up the Bill of Rights. They want to limit speech, bring religion into the government, and put the government in your doctor's office and your bedroom. This isn't about accommodating their values; it's about giving away your rights.

If you have a problem with choice, you need to understand that you don't support the right to privacy.

Just because you didn't read the signs properly and supported the invasion of Iraq is no reason to continue to support it now that you have ample proof that you were lied to and the Busheviks "fixed" the intelligence to justify their actions.

There is no reason to stay in Iraq. It isn't going to get any better.

The Shi'ia are going to align with Iran, as should have been obvious. They were screwed over by the US after Gulf War I, so they don't feel they owe us anything.

Most of the damage and deaths were in the Sunni areas, so they certainly hate the US more than any of the other groups.

The Kurds have been screwed over by every Republican administration from Nixon forward, so they don't acknowledge any obligation to us.

The Iraqi women are about to be set back about a millennium with the imposition of Sharia law, so there is no support there.

Turkey and Syria are looking at the emergence of a Kurdish state, so we can forget any help from them, even if we weren't constantly trying to pick a fight with Syria.

The biggest hoot I've heard are the people who claim they couldn't believe that the Bush administration would be this incompetent. Excuse me, but where, exactly, in Bush's Curriculum Vitae do you find any indication of competence in any field other than slimy political campaigns?


Saturday, August 13, 2005
  Jimmy Makes A Test Dive

USS Jimmy Carter Patch

President and Mrs. Carter were afforded the opportunity of a dive and tour of Mr. Carter's namesake, SSN-23, a Seawolf class nuclear submarine.

In addition to its formidable capabilities as an offensive weapon, the Jimmy Carter has research and reconnaissance capabilities only dreamed of when Mr. Carter was a young Naval Academy graduate working for Admiral Hyman Rickover.

There's no further word on the George W. Bush dental chair, although there was a rumor that it will have document shredding capabilities.


  Boys 'N Toys
The Australians ran this article, US displays high-tech Iraq battle tools, and after a quick look at the prices the Pentagon was paying for a radio controlled ATV with a wireless camera [$8K], and a model airplane system with a wireless camera [$38K/three plane set] I was a bit shocked.

My Dad like RC modeling, and I have bought a few for the children in the family, so I wondered why these things were so expensive. I checked on the cost of wireless cameras and RC models and still don't know.

They are talking about a three to four week training course, when Christmas afternoon seemed to be sufficient in my experience.

I will have to do more research on the wireless camera in the model airship. Gulf Breeze is a hotspot for UFO sightings and with the right paint job and LED lighting, that airship could get me in a lot of trouble.


Friday, August 12, 2005
  He Should Have Seen It Coming
More of the weird from Australian Broadcasting: Psychic fails to predict crystal ball fire.
Herve Vandrot, 24, who studies botany at Edinburgh University, left his trusty crystal ball on a windowsill while he sauntered off to the city's Royal Botanical Garden.

He returned surprised to find his top floor flat ablaze and suffered blistering to a hand after dashing in to rescue some course work.
Herve was studying psychic phenomena and claimed the fire must have been the fault of an overheated power cord for his computer, but firemen said it was sunlight focused by the crystal ball on some laundry.

He must have been a grad student, an undergrad would never have tried to save their course work when they had a great excuse like a fire.


  Friday Cat Blogging [™ Kevin Drum]

New Kid Explores

Friday Cat Blogging

What are those things?

[Edit: Venturing off the porch to investigate grass and mushrooms like a lot of young people.]

Friday Ark


Thursday, August 11, 2005
  DoD Agitprop


They can't seem to up-armor vehicles; they can't buy enough bullets; they can't supply troops with the necessities, much less the niceties, of life in a combat zone; but somehow they can manage to organize a concert to celebrate the tragedy of the attack on the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001.

The America Supports You Freedom Walk has got to be one of the worst concepts to ever come out of the Pentagon, including the blue and silver striped tie for the Air Force uniform, wearing ascots with fatigues, and making mukluks Southeast Asia critical equipment.

I don't remember reports of anything other than solemn remembrances of December 7th, 1941 during World War II. I don't understand how a large group of people assembling at the Pentagon to be frisked and then walking to the Mall for a concert shows any concern or support for people who died at the Pentagon or for those people deployed in a combat zone doing their best to stay alive. Apparently if you had planned to visit a grave in Arlington National Cemetery on that Sunday, you are out of luck.

The best way to have honored the people who died on September 11th would have been to capture the man who planned the attack or, at least, to have attended their funerals, many obviously within walking distance of the Pentagon.


  Cause and Effect
The beer that many consider to be the best in the world, Westvleteren 12, is not easy to buy. Australian Broadcasting tells us: Monks run short of 'world's best' beer.
"Our shop is closed because all our beer has been sold out," said a message on the abbey's answering machine, which it calls the "beer phone".

The abbey has no intention of boosting its capacity to satisfy market demand.

"We are not brewers, we are monks," the father abbot said on the abbey's website. "We brew beer to be able to afford being monks."

Monk Mark Bode told De Morgen newspaper: "Outsiders don't understand why we are not raising production but for us life in the abbey comes first, not the brewery."
If you're not a fan of the brewer's art you may not be aware that every time you increase the size of the brewery you decrease the quality of the beer. Not every system "scales", and breweries definitely don't. All a modern megabrewery can guarantee is consistent mediocrity.

The monks have been using the same formula and methods to brew beer for a very long time. They pay attention to what they are doing and produce a superior product. If they became a business they would start to cut corners and the quality would disappear.


  Thursday Fungus Blogging

Fungus Blogging
Fungus Blogging
Fungus Blogging

From the top: the North wall of the house, the front lawn, and recent additions.

If the lawn dries enough to support a mower, the mushrooms will be gone shortly. I'm going to be forced to use chemicals on the wall, and more "mildew resistant" paint additive in the Glidden mildew resistant paint that was applied 18 months ago.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005
  What a Piece of Work
Despite its many faults Florida does have a pretty good public radio system based at Florida State University in Tallahassee. The Florida Public Radio Network provides local stations with a daily half-hour of coverage of the legislature when it's in session and a half show every week on Florida politics the rest of year.

They also have a monthly hour-long show called Florida on the Line which allows people to call in with questions for the people on the panel for the monthly topic. Tonight's subject was the Federal Energy Bill that Shrubbery just signed.

The panel consisted of: Jim Smith, President of the Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, Holly Bins, with the Florida Public Research Interest Group (Florida PIRG), and Greg Laskoski, with AAA Auto-Club South.

Ms. Bins made the point that this might have been a good bill in 1975, but it does nothing for today's problems.

I was taken by the comments of Mr. Smith. He represents the independent gas station owners and they aren't happy with the bill. He noted the problems that were encountered trying to get fuel to the Panhandle after hurricane Dennis and asked how anyone thought they were going to be able to sell ethanol. Apparently there are no local sources, so the independents would have to buy it from processors in the Midwest or Brazil, which means higher prices.

A small bit of information I picked up in conversation with gas station people: they make a fixed amount on a gallon of gasoline, generally a dime. They make a dime when the gas sells for a $1/gallon and they make a dime when it sells for $3/gallon. Every one else in the system makes a percentage. The state gasoline tax is a fixed amount on a gallon, but they also collect sales tax, which is a percentage. As always the people you can complain to have no power and make no money from the price increases.

The corporations make larger profits while the consumers and small businesses pay for it.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005
  Neighborly Wi-Fi
CNN and Money apparently feel that connecting to the Internet through a neighbor's wireless network is an ethical question of great concern.

I have only recently installed a wireless network so that my brother could have broadband while staying at my Mother's house. I did a lot of tuning and messing around to extend coverage, but the only computers that can use my network are those I have granted access to. It was a minor bit of extra work, but I don't have to worry about people "borrowing my bandwidth".

If people leave their networks open they are inviting you to use it. The Wi-Fi systems use a public frequency that is shared with some cordless phones. If you use the frequency, you must make your own provisions for privacy. If you leave the keys in your car with the motor running, don't be shocked if it ends up missing.


The ever vigilant snarkmeister, Maru of WTF Is It Now has a magnificent find at the St. Petersburg Times: Extreme Makeover: Harris Edition. [Update: click on Extreme Makeover so you can play at home.]

Go! Print! Locate the crayons! Create!

Ms. Harris officially entered the primary for the Senate seat currently held by Bill Nelson [nominal Democrat] today, so this is surely a clue to the tenor of the coming campaign.


  Slash and Burn
Jack at Ruminate This posted a preview of coming attractions: Letting the Big Fish Off the Hook.

Gary Bernsten is a retired CIA agent who was in charge of the effort to capture Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. He has written a book, Jawbreaker about the effort and is now suing to get the CIA to complete its review of the book so it can be published.

Apparently Gary missed the problems that Richard Clarke had getting his book, Against All Enemies, cleared for publication. Like Clarke, Bernsten is not going to praise the Shrubbery, so, unlike Tommy Franks or Bob Woodward, the CIA has already taken more than twice as long as Agency rules require to clear the book.

Obviously they need extra time for the meetings to create the talking points to be used for responding to another negative book by an insider about the incompetence of the Shrubbery and his minions.

The people at the top get medals and promotions while the people at the bottom get indicted. The intelligence gathered by the CIA was good and sufficient for the proper decisions to be made. We knew who was responsible for the September 11th attacks, we knew where they were, and we had them cornered, but the mission was compromised to prepare for attacking Iraq.

The intelligence community had plenty of skepticism about the WMD claims, but it was ignored and marginalized by political appointees. George Tenet claimed responsibility for the yellowcake in the State of the Union, in spite of the facts, to get his medal and a pat on the head.

By this time everyone should know that they cooked the books. The intelligence that was claimed as justifying the war was hand selected - the fix was in.



747 Transporter

A Safe Return

They landed at Edwards, so if I'm really lucky I will see it when it lands here to refuel as it is carried on the back of a 747 to the Cape. Eglin is the normal stop for these missions.


Monday, August 08, 2005
  Judge Bullingham
I was struck by the laws Blair was suggesting, which is why I linked to the "FRINGE" post by Publius at Legal Fiction and commented on Kevin's post, HATE SPEECH vs. DEATH SPEECH, which is based on Mark A.R. Kleiman's post, They Hate Us For Our Freedom.

So, I'm driving around and Tony Blair is discussing this on the hourly newsbreak on NPR, and in response to how you determine what is political speech and what is incitement, Blair invokes "common sense".

If you are not a fan of Rumpole of the Bailey that may not mean much to you, but if you have watched as many episodes as I have, hearing a British authority figure invoke "common sense" as a means of discerning the niceties of a legal definition required a quick stop until I stopped laughing.

I had this picture of Blair with a Bolton mustache, a "dead lamb" on his head, wearing a black bathrobe pronouncing the value of "good old British common sense". Judge Bullingham has moved to Downing Street.


  There's No Point
Len at Dark Bilious Vapors has a common sense article on troop withdrawal from Iraq written by Lieutenant General William E. Odom US Army [retired] who was DirNSA [Director of the National Security Agency] during the Reagan administration.

NSA is a joint services Defense agency, and I was part of it. We gathered and analyzed intelligence, which is very definitely a "really-based" business.

As General Odom points out the situation in Iraq with us there is already as bad as it would have gotten if we had left after deposing Saddam, so there's really no point in being targets. More men and materiel are not going to make a difference at this point; we should cut our losses and leave.

We lost the peace when the decision was made to replace Jay Garner with Paul Bremer. Bremer exercised no oversight over anything and the situation spiraled out of control.


  RIP Peter Jennings 1938-08/07/2005
The long time anchor of the ABC Evening News, Peter Jennings, died at home of lung cancer at 67. A Canadian who became a naturalized American, he was the last of the second generation of network television newscasters.

The ABC announcement.

[Update: The Associate Press on the CBS site has a more complete obituary.]


  Commander In Chief
I came across this post by Jane Hamsher of Fire Dog Lake: Just Another Leisurely Day at Crawford.

It would appear that the normally docile New York Post thinks that the Shrubbery should visit Brook Park, Ohio, the home of the Marine Reserve unit that has taken so many casualties lately in Iraq, and doesn't understand why he is going to West Texas to cut brush rather than visiting the families of the Marines.


The June 1998 issue of the Air Force Association has a lengthy article on the Khobar Tower bombing. On the 25th of June, 1996 a truck bomb with the explosive power of 10 tons of TNT went off near a building housing US military personnel causing 19 deaths.

Although the local commander was cleared of any negligence, the Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, felt that someone had to be held accountable and blocked the pending promotion of the officer. The Wing Commander resigned, as did the Air Force Chief of Staff. They were responsible because they were in command and it happened on their watch, not because they had done anything wrong.

Twelve local airmen died. They were members of the 58th Fighter Squadron of the 33rd Fighter Wing of Eglin Air Force Base.

Most of America isn't aware of it, but at the memorial service for those who died was their Commander in Chief, William Jefferson Clinton. If you aren't from this area you aren't aware of this because he didn't bring any reporters with him and didn't answer questions from the local press. He was paying his respects to the friends and families of those who had died.

It was 1996 and he was running for re-election, but he didn't use a memorial as a photo opportunity.


Sunday, August 07, 2005
  Now You Know
New research published in the magazine NeuroImage would seem to confirm what women have long suspected: Men do have trouble hearing women.

Apparently female voices are more complex and melodic than male voices and the brain uses the areas normally associated with music to process them. The processing required for a male voice is much simpler.

It was also noted that the "voices" heard in hallucinations are almost always male, which, if you were going to be sarcastic, might lead to you to hazard a opinion about the dominance of male gods, but I would never do that.


  Credit Where Credit's Due
Good news from Alabama: they have taken action on the eminent domain issue that resulted from the recent Supreme Court decision. The new legislation protects property owners from governments taking their property for private purposes.

The governor, Bob Reilly, is a Christian Republican, but he actually read the New Testament and has tried to improve the lot of the less fortunate in his state. For his efforts he will probably lose in the Republican primary to former chief justice Roy "Moses" Moore who will descend from his mountain to oppose Reilly.

If you have the bandwidth, Mark Fiore has an interesting cartoon on the issue.


  How Damp Is It?
In the first week of August we have exceeded the average rainfall for the entire month. This weather pattern started at the end of July and we seem to be stuck with it, which has made the kids who had to back to school last week feel better.

After the first few days the lawn erupted with corpse-white mushrooms. As things continued a green mold began appearing on the mushrooms and now the black blotching of mildew is appearing on the mold.

Frankly the look and smell reminds me more of my grandmother's basement in upstate New York that the Gulf Coast of Florida. Hurricanes, sharks, rip currents, and now the mold monster - I can't wait to see the newest Visit Florida commercial.


  Good News
A British team with a Super Scorpio remote-controlled submersible has manage to cut the Russian AS-28 Priz-class submersible free and the vehicle has risen to the surface at 03:26GMT, Sunday [22:26CDT, Saturday].

The Priz, literally "prize", vehicles are used for submarine rescue work and are designed for depths of 1000 meters, the problem is that there are very few of the vehicles in the Russian Navy and the vehicle was trapped at 190 meters, below the safe level for other methods to be used.

Based on the reports, the AS-28 became entangled in a fishing net that was entangled with a military communications and detection system anchored to the bottom. The Super Scorpio had to cut the cables to free up the vehicle for ascent. An earlier Russian attempt to raise the vessel using cables also became enmeshed in the antennae of the communications system.

The various reports on how long the crew could survive were the result of having the figures for the vehicle under the normal conditions of three crewmembers, but actually having seven members on board for a training mission.

The US also flew two Super Scorpios and deep diving teams to Kamchatka, but arrived after the British team. The Japanese sent several vessels, but they can't be in the area until Monday at the earliest.

This MSNBC report has the outline of information. I held up because there have been so many faulty reports coming out on this, and most events from Russia.


Saturday, August 06, 2005
  Say What?
I had some cognitive dissonance listening to Tony Blair talk about changes in immigration policy in response to the attacks in Britain: the suicide bombers were born in Britain.

In spite of reality and the facts this BBC report, Mosque chairman sparks fresh row, will result in problems for Britain's Islamic community.

Dr. Mohammed Naseem, chairman of the Birmingham Central Mosque:
"A government is entitled to take measures to safeguard the country and the nation, but the problem is that the government speaks with so many tongues that one is confused.

"Up to last week, we were given to believe that the terrorists were home-grown, 'clean-skinned' and Muslim.

"The measures being taken are against those who come to this country who are asylum-seekers and they are supposed to be misusing or abusing hospitality.

"Mr Blair told the Cabinet last week that people blame anything but faith, including poverty, discrimination and the war on terror for the bombings, so the message seemed to be that they are blaming everything else, but they should be blaming faith."
I fear that Dr. Naseem is about to discover that having facts and reality on your side is not enough to hold out fear and prejudice.

[Update: See "FRINGE" by Publius at Legal Fiction.]


  RIP Robert Finlayson Cook 02/28/46-08/06/05
A Labour member of Parliament and former member of Tony Blair's cabinet, "Robin" Cook resigned his position as Leader of the Commons in protest of the Iraq War and continued his opposition from the "back benches".

An avid hiker, Mr. Cook collapsed while hiking in Scotland, his home. The BBC has an obituary and more coverage.

It is always tragic to lose a politician who shows some evidence of statesmanship and principles.


Friday, August 05, 2005
  FEMA Housing
FEMA brought in 1500 travel trailers to be used for housing after hurricane Ivan last Fall. The local NPR station reports that 900 of those trailers were damaged by hurricane Dennis including 200 listed as destroyed.

I guess if our governor wants to experience the joy of hurricanes he's going to have to provide his own trailer.

  Unintended Consequences
Dave Neiwert has his vacation Orca report up, and I have enjoyed his encounters over the years.

A major problem for orcas and other mammals that live in the oceans are the large nets lost from the major fishing fleets, but we are reminded that other mammals, humans, can also be victims of these nets by the situation of the Russian rescue submersible off the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula. The vessel is apparently entangled in a fishing net.

The CBC has an article, Reports conflict on whether stranded Russian mini-sub has been hooked, on the efforts to rescue the crew.


  The Wrong Equipment
Because of the large Marine presence it is not surprising that this report appeared on Sign On San Diego.

We are informed: "...the amphibious assault vehicle [AAV]- the Marine Corps' signature transport - is designed to carry troops in water operations from ship to shore, then operate on the beach and inland...", which makes its use in a desert hundreds of miles from any significant beach a bit of a problem.

Because it is required to be amphibious, the AAV uses lighter armor than the Army personnel carriers. This difference in armor results in much higher casualty rates among the Marines who encounter roadside bombs. Although the Marines make up a quarter of the forces in Iraq, 49% of the casualties in the last four months of 2004 were Marines.

My concern is: what happened to the Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle? The article was published in December of 2000 and talks about a 2005 deployment. The AAAV offers more protection to the personnel inside, so what happened?

I would assume it was another victim of Rumsfeld's "vision" for the military. His belief in his program, and his continuing spending decisions in the face of the reality of conditions in Iraq is getting people killed.


  Possibly Great Public Health News
BBC reports on a joint US-Belgian research project that may result one 'cure all' flu jab for life.

If this works as is currently anticipated, you will get a single shot and be protected from influenza viruses for life. This is a long-term possibility, not a "talk to your doctor so a large pharmaceutical company can make obscene profits" moment, but it is encouraging.


  You Think?
In an exclusive report ABC asks if there are Rats in the Ranks?

Anyone who hasn't figured out that the Iraqi army and police are thoroughly infiltrated by the insurgents is subject to having life support removed. It has been obvious for well over a year that the various Iraqi groups responsible for attacks know more about what is occurring than anyone in the Green Zone.


CNN reports: Israeli soldier kills four Arab bus passengers.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon condemned the attack, calling it "a reprehensible act of a bloodthirsty Jewish terrorist who sought to attack innocent Israeli citizens."
So now they need to start searching Israeli soldiers.

  I Take It Personally
As a former member of military intelligence I am not going to pretend that my view of the way the Busheviks have treated the military and intelligence personnel is unbiased. It is bad to enough to deal with the actions of "target" governments, without having to defend yourself from the actions of your own government.

I mentioned Larry Franklin when talking about the Plame investigation, so it was no surprise that he is one of those indicted along with AIPAC lobbyists in Pentagon probe.

The USS Liberty was attacked by Israel on 06/08/1967 while in international waters during the Six-Day War. Israel claimed that they attacked a clearly marked US navel vessel flying the US flag in daylight by mistake. Although Israel paid reparations, Israel's supporters in Congress increased aid to Israel to cover the costs.

The USS Pueblo attacked by North Korea on 01/23/1968 while in international waters and not only was no penalty paid, they continue to use the Pueblo as a tourist attraction.

The USS Stark was attacked by an Iraqi air force Mirage fighter on 05/17/1987 in the Persian Gulf. Iraq paid no penalty and we continued to support them in the Iran-Iraq War.

The USS Cole was attacked by al Qaeda on 10/12/2000. Nothing was done about al Qaeda until after the 9/11 attacks.

American military personnel died in these attacks, and nothing was done. That's how much support is given to the troops. Compare these reactions to what happened after four mercenaries were killed in an ambush in Fallujah.

No need to discuss the clearly marked US reconnaissance aircraft attacked or shot down while flying over international waters. You won't find links for the majority of these events, because not only doesn't the government not react, they rarely even bother to tell people that it has happened.

Really makes you want to go and enlist, doesn't it. You don't want to know what I think should be done with yellow ribbons.


  Friday Cat Blogging [™ Kevin Drum]

New Kid

Friday Cat Blogging

Chewing food is hard work.

[Edit: This "tuxedo" kitten appeared this afternoon on my front steps. It must be weening time and Mom brought him/her to the feeding station.]

Friday Ark


Wednesday, August 03, 2005
  Say What?
So I'm listening to David Welna's NPR report on the race in Ohio, when this spokesweasel for the Republican Congressional Campaign, Ed Pardue [phonetic spelling], tells us that Paul Hackett tried and failed to convince the voters that he was close to President Bush.

Excuse me, but Hackett called Bush an SOB and said he didn't like him. How does that spin into trying to associate with Bush? Not only does Hackett not deny disliking Bush, he calls him an SOB again in this audio report. Hackett's a Marine, and Marines use that kind of language.

Hackett goes on to say that the reason that Rove and company don't like the language is because they never served in the military.

The local political science professor [a requirement in NPR political stories] said that Hackett needs to tone down his language, but Hackett kicked butt, winning four of the six counties in the Ohio 2nd district. Schmidt won the two largest counties, but she barely squeaked by for a Republican candidate.

For the sports betters: she lost on the spread: a dead Republican candidate should have been able to win by 5%.

My only question is: why did my cats arch their backs and hiss when Schmidt talked?


  The Smarter Bush?
So John Ellis was talking to reporters in Tallahassee today about the gasoline shortage in the Panhandle related to hurricane Dennis and he passed along his thoughts:

Some gas stations ought to have generators. Most gas stations have had generators since Ivan, but they didn't have any gasoline to either power the generators or sell to the public.

People should only keep a three-day supply of gasoline for their generator, instead of a 30-day supply. The standard 5500 watt generator uses 10 gallons of fuel a day, no one was storing 300 gallons of gasoline, and when my generator arrives I won't be storing more than 15 gallons.

People should stop evacuating and make their homes sturdier or go to local shelters. Does he know what "Mandatory Evacuation" means? The shelters don't have anything but a roof. You bring your own food, water, bedding, etc. and they don't accept pets. The "special needs" shelters for people with medical problems don't have generators or medical personnel. The local hospice program tries to get their patients into the hospitals or nursing homes where there is back-up power and medical assistance.

He also thought the oil companies ought to consider having more gasoline on the Panhandle. There is no more private land available in my area, and certainly none near any transportation which is why they ship gasoline in by barge. The barges have to be pulled off the water when a hurricane hits.

The governor shouldn't be complaining about evacuees clogging the roads, he should be improving the infrastructure so that the roads aren't clogged and cap development until that happens. He really needs to take a few days the next time we are set to get hit and come down to take the part of the idiot standing out in the wind and surf for the Weather Channel. You don't experience the thrill of a hurricane from waiting until it's over and flying over in a helicopter, you need to sit in one of FEMA's trailers for the full effect.

At least Attorney General Charley Crist is being useful regarding Hurricane price gouging. It's only a recovery of $200K from one of the raging horde of contractors who flocked down here after the storm, but it's a start.

You need people to come in to help with rebuilding, but you don't need to be ripped off. FEMA money comes from the taxpayers and the insurance companies have every intention of getting their money back.


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