Why Now?
Monday, October 31, 2005
  Alito? No!
Bush nominates Alito to Supreme Court - to get the Reich off his back and change the subject from the exposure of classified information to reporters by members of his staff.

We don't need another probable member of Opus Dei on the Supreme Court. We don't need someone who has ruled that there are few if any limits on the actions of law enforcement. We don't need someone who has ruled that discrimination is perfectly acceptable. We don't need someone who can't see the right to privacy in the Constitution.

If you read Planned Parenthood v. Casey you see Justice O'Connor specifically disagree that the number of people affected is a determinate, as argued by Alito, but it is the effect of a law on any individual that is determinate. Alito doesn't seem to believe in minority rights.

Having used Dred Scott as a code for Roe v Wade, the Shrubbery has found a modern version of Roger Taney.


  Happy Halloween
Whether you celebrate Celtic New Year's Eve [Samhain], the evening before All Saints Day [Halloween], or the posting of Martin Luther's Ninety-Five Theses in 1517 [Reformation Day], have a happy one.

Wikipedia does its normally thorough job of covering all of the bases on the holidays that share October 31st.

It is tiresome that some groups are pushing to have the celebration banned at the schoolhouse door
...Buckling to wishes of a minority, says Eric Dietrich, a Binghamton University philosophy professor, is not necessarily what should happen in a democracy. "Halloween is a flare-up of huge social problems we're facing," he says. "If you show me a United States with no holiday where you can be creatively weird, I will show you a United States with no hope."
Some people just don't want anyone to have a good time. These "harvest festivals" aren't fooling anyone.


Sunday, October 30, 2005
  National Security Credibility
The former FBI agent who complained about counter-terrorism efforts before 9/11/05, Coleen Rowley, is running for Congress in Minnesota on the Democratic ticket.

She joins a growing list of veterans and law enforcement people who have given up on the Republican Party doing anything about national security.

The Republicans have been talking about national security for a long time, but they don't do anything about it. They think that throwing money at corporations that build military equipment is providing security.


  Too True
Heard on the "catsup commercial" in The Prairie Home Companion:

Halloween is the great Republican holiday - you try to scare people to death while gobbling up as much as you can.

[from memory, not a transcript]


  Fall Back
Did you remember to reset your clocks?

[Where's the stupid manual? Let the stupid thing blink.]


Saturday, October 29, 2005
  Nice Catch
Robert at Interstate 4 Jamming has a great Quote of the Day:

"If Katherine Harris is the nominee, we lose."
Brian Nick, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee


  A Textbook Investigation
Reading the transcript of the Fitzgerald press conference in Steve's post, The wheels of the bus go round, round, round, took me back to a class room at the police academy.
Now, something needs to be borne in mind about a criminal investigation.

I recognize that there's been very little information about this criminal investigation, but for a very good reason.

It may be frustrating when investigations are conducted in secret. When investigations use grand juries, it's important that the information be closely held.

So let me tell you a little bit about how an investigation works.

Investigators do not set out to investigate the statute, they set out to gather the facts.

It's critical that when an investigation is conducted by prosecutors, agents and a grand jury they learn who, what, when, where and why. And then they decide, based upon accurate facts, whether a crime has been committed, who has committed the crime, whether you can prove the crime and whether the crime should be charged.

Agent Eckenrode doesn't send people out when $1 million is missing from a bank and tell them, Just come back if you find wire fraud. If the agent finds embezzlement, they follow through on that.

That's the way this investigation was conducted. It was known that a CIA officer's identity was blown, it was known that there was a leak. We needed to figure out how that happened, who did it, why, whether a crime was committed, whether we could prove it, whether we should prove it.

And given that national security was at stake, it was especially important that we find out accurate facts.
This is how you are taught to investigate an incident at the academy: gather the facts and then act in accordance with the facts.

The O.J. Simpson case is a prime example of how not to conduct an investigation. Before the facts had been gathered the investigators decided what the crime was and who committed it. They then gathered evidence that supported those assumptions. Things were missed and mistakes were made that compromised the case.


Billmon needs to take some criminal justice courses. He wonders: Why Did Fitzgerald Throw Judy in Prison?

The story that Libby was spinning for the investigators and grand jury had multiple elements, but it was essentially an attempt to distort how and when he learned of Plame's identity. Fitzgerald was answering the classic Watergate questions: "What did he know and when did he know it?"

Judy Miller was crucial because she was the first journalist that Libby talked to about Plame and the conversation took place in June, well before the Novak column. Miller's testimony showed that Libby lied about when.

Tim Russert was important because Libby had identified him as the source of Plame's name, and Russert denied that the discussion took place. Russert's testimony directly contradicts Libby's.

Matthew Cooper's testimony is related to Libby's motive for lying: he was smearing an opponent by leaking to journalists.

Fitzgerald systematically pulled Libby's story apart. The interviews with Plame's neighbors were just a final clean up and cover for any defenses that Libby's team might attempt. It was a small peripheral detail, but Fitzgerald's team covered it.

Fitzgerald's decision not to go with an espionage charge was a reality-based decision. Everyone knows what lying is, but you have to do a lot of explaining to a jury when you try an espionage case. It isn't certain that a jury would understand that Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA operative, because she lived in Virginia, not some foreign country. Trying an espionage case would involve getting some of the information needed for trial declassified by the current administration, not a sure thing. There are a lot of openings for "reasonable doubt" in an espionage case and not much return for a prosecutor.

In the "criminal justice system" it isn't what you know, it isn't what would be just, it's what you can make a jury believe beyond a reasonable doubt that counts.

If more information comes out at another time, Libby can still be indicted on espionage charges.


  What Happened in South Florida
There was time, the forecast was accurate, so what happened in South Florida?

The first problem was that Wilma gathered strength before it hit the west coast and, because of the terrain, didn't weaken a great deal before hitting the east coast from the rear.

I have an old friend, a former Navy Air Boss, who lives in Palm Beach Gardens. He watched the storm pass over his house. He said that the storm was much more powerful than anticipated and the backside of the storm, with gusty winds, caused more damage than the front side.

Interstate 95, the main North-South artery was undercut by the storm, which created problems for deliveries coming in from the North.

Another major problem was the number of retired people who live in the area and have medical needs and limited mobility. The loss of power is trapping them in high-rise apartment buildings.

The quick recovery from previous storms in the area caused people to assume that things would be back to normal in a couple of days, so there was no need to sweat it. There were an amazing number of people who had generators, but hadn't bothered to buy more gas for them, assuming that what was in the tank from the last storm would be sufficient.

Given the number of people who are living from day to day in the area, it's not surprising that people panicked. When your day is structured around showing up at the labor pool in the morning to get enough to make it until the next day, you are in trouble when there's a hurricane.

The reality is that given the current level of poverty concentrated in urban areas, any time a major city is hit there are going to be these problems. Poor people do not have the resources to prepare or evacuate, all they can do is endure.


  The Week That Was
Wilma hits, Miers withdraws, Libby is indicted, the 2000th American military death in Iraq, and as Bob Geiger at Yellow Dog Blog notes Osama spent his 1,500th day at liberty.

Interesting times, indeed.


Friday, October 28, 2005
  Libby Indicted As Expected
Well, we now know that Tim Russert's only involvement in the case is being fingered by Libby as his original source of Ms. Plame's identity. His testimony before the grand jury was essentially: I know nothing.

Ms. Miller's importance was that she was the first reporter that Libby contacted with Ms. Plame's identity, and therefore, her testimony establishes the time line.

Libby has resigned and is looking at 30 years in prison, and up to $1.25 million in fines if convicted.

Update: By not going for the Espionage charges, Fitzpatrick has avoided having to introduce classified information at trial while still going for significant prison time.


  All Hallowed Evening
Jack o' lanternIn the Celtic/Anglo-Saxon tradition there was a ritual placation on the evening before All Saints Day. People made offerings to evil spirits to quiet them before the celebration of the Holy Day. It was a kind of insurance. The priests said there were no spirits, but it couldn't hurt to make a little offering just in case the priests were wrong and the folklore was right. This changed into an excuse for games. If some expected mischief, others were more than willing to provide it, often exacting small revenges for perceived injuries.

In its continuing evolution in the United States we ended up with Halloween, which I personally preferred to Christmas as a child. There were too many adult things involved with Christmas, and while the toys were nice, the food was better, from a child's point of view, at Halloween.

My earliest remembered Halloweens were in Hamilton, New York. A village surrounded by farms that is the location of Colgate University. The University is a collection of 19th Century ivy-covered stone buildings dominating the hill in the village. The administration building was constructed like a castle with round turrets scattered about the multiple rectangles of stone. There was a lake with swans and ducks in permanent residence, who had their own "gingerbread house" when ice claimed the waters in the dead of winter.

There were trees everywhere: maples, oaks, elms, birches, and a few refugee pines. While the "greening" of the village in Spring was nice, it was the time around Halloween that I liked the best. As if in protest of the coming gray scale of Winter, the trees threw all of their energies into an explosion of color before they shed their leaves to await the return of the Sun. From the brightest of yellow down to the deepest red, no member of that slice of the spectrum was left without representation. The trees were ablaze as if enacting a ritual self-immolation to remind the animals that the warmth of the Sun would return.

Christmas was about secrets and weather reports: boxes you weren't allowed to go near, and would the snow ease up enough for this or that relative to visit. Halloween was open to all, even children.

The apples, McIntoshes, were ripe, but as good as they were, they were made even better by being dipped in caramel or red cinnamon sugar syrup that hardened. Popcorn was formed into balls, held together with a molasses and sugar "glue". Fudge was not a single confection, but a class that varied from kitchen to kitchen, with each mother adding her own secret ingredients. The total range of cookies could never be remembered by a child, only the impression of butter, sugar, and flour enhanced by fruit, chocolate, and nuts.

The best part was not simply collecting, but the open permission to eat as much as you wanted. No guilt, no plate cleaning, just enjoy.

For the mind of a child raised on the Saturday serials it was obvious that a disguise was necessary as you were pulling a "heist", stealing "goodies" from every house in the neighborhood. By sundown you had collected enough that you were sure that your "horde" would last for years.

Almost as important as the single day, Halloween marked the beginning of the season when the heat of oven was a welcome addition to the kitchen. Once again the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg would be released to permeate the house. Local apples and cherries would rest in their rightful place inside pastry. This was the beginning of months of cookies, brownies, kuchen [like a pound cake with apples or cherries], pies, and cakes - all of the essentials that had been missing during the warmer months.

These days, where it is celebrated at all, it is commercial candy in childproof wrappers that is grudgingly meted out and must be x-rayed before consumption.

The disguises are "store bought" and tacky, nothing that could match the imagination of mothers under pressure who owned and could use sewing machines. Of course there was always the carefully preserved sheet in the back of the linen closet with the two strategic patches that could be removed if a mother ran out of time and/or energy.

My older brother had a rather elaborate panther suit that was made from black velvet curtains. Our house in Hamilton had once been a funeral home and there were trunks filled with that kind of thing left in the attic.

It was some time before my Mother figured out that what she had taken for, and used as a breakfast nook, had been the table used for moving coffins to and from the hearse. There was a large square window at the end of the built-in table that was hinged on the side and looked out to the driveway. Our house was very popular for adult Halloween parties because of its former status.

Children today will never know what a real Halloween was like, and they are poorer for it.


  Friday Cat Blogging[Kevin Drum]

Ringo Discovers Electricity

Friday Cat Blogging

Oh, yes, this is wonderful.

[Editor: Ringo discovers the joys of an electric blanket when the temperature dips to the 40s. The big plus is that she doesn't have to behave to get warm.]

Friday Ark


Thursday, October 27, 2005
This is just wrong, and should not be allowed: White, The New Orange For Pumpkins.

This "Ghost Pumpkin" needs to be stopped. I don't care how easy they are to draw on; they are an abomination. This is how we ended up with purple "grass" on Easter and it needs to be nipped in the bud.


  Iran Endorses Bush's Iraq Policy
On Fresh Air yesterday: Richard Clarke Turns to Fiction: Scorpion's Gate. [audio link]

In his conversation with Terry Gross, Richard Clark noted that the invasion of Iraq has done what Iran was unable to do in a decade-long war: Saddam was removed, the threat of WMDs was gone, the Iraqi army was destroyed, and the Iraqi Shi'ia are free to ally with Iran.

And what a wonderful Iran we have. The new Iranian President, who is somewhat more radical than the Ayatollah Khomeini, has called for the elimination of Israel.


  News Flash
Well placed sources at The News Blog are reporting today that blogger, Steve Gilliard, is now, and has been for his entire life, a Black guy.

Apparently the fact that Mr. Gilliard has reported this multiple times, has had his picture displayed on his site and other blogs, and has never denied it, was confusing to people.

While I question Mr. Gilliard's judgment in his support of Manchester United and his aversion to spell checking, I sort of thought that you should have realized he was Black the second or third time he said it.


  Hurricane Beta?
Apparently not satisfied with being a footnote, Tropical Storm Beta could strengthen to a Category 2 hurricane before going ashore in Central America.


  Miers Withdraws
The withdrawal was blamed on the Religious Reich by Democrats, while Miers said it was because Senators wanted to know what she has been doing for the last five years in the Bush administration.

Apparently she hasn't applied for a job recently and doesn't understand that employers like to check on your work history and want you to answer all of the questions on the application.

Pat Leahy on NPR just said that the Republicans were responsible for Ms. Miers not getting a hearing.


  The Cycle of History Keeps Spinning
The White Sox win the World Series, the US is at war, and there is a flu pandemic on the horizon - 1917 or 2005, your choice.

To avoid shortages for the flu season, Roche has stopped shipping Tamiflu because of personal hoarding.


  Notes Among the Static
I have been extremely busy lately because my Mother is in the hospital and visiting her is eating up time. It isn't serious, but she is not a "good patient" because she realized early on that it was an oversight on the part of the medical staff that has caused her hospitalization and an extended stay.

The hospital visits have exposed me to television again. Trying to track a hurricane on the Weather Channel is an exercise in frustration and the content of the channels selected by the other woman in my Mother's room is enough to make one sick.

The soon to be Tropical Storm Beta would appear to be a threat only to Nicaragua, but Central America certainly doesn't need the rain.

It's good to see that Mustang Bobby at Bark Bark Woof Woof made it through Wilma relatively unscathed and is back on line.

Based on the complaints coming from people down South, it would appear that the Florida emergency management team has been FEMA-ized.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Sometimes is takes a while for the pieces to drop into place.

When Cheney said he didn't know Joe Wilson I knew he was lying, but I didn't know why I knew. I knew my reaction was deeper that "they attacked Wilson, so Cheney had to know". That would be my surface reaction, but I KNEW Cheney and Wilson were acquainted.

It finally came to me: Gulf War I.

Cheney was the Secretary of Defense under G.H.W. Bush for the first Gulf War and he was so involved that he went to Saudi Arabia to watch the build up and launch of the war.

At the time, Joe Wilson was number 2 in the Baghdad embassy under April Gillespie. At the start of the war Ms. Gillespie was out of the country and Wilson was the highest ranking American official in Iraq. Wilson would have been the main source of information on the official position of the Iraqi government and about conditions in Baghdad. Bush I cited him for bravery in dealing with Saddam.

Cheney and Schwartzkopf would have been on the address list for Wilson's reports and the reports would have been featured in the daily intelligence briefings. Wilson would have been the channel to Saddam to arrange the end of the war.

There is no way I can accept that Cheney didn't know a major player in the most important event in his political life before he ran for Vice President.

Does anyone believe that a Secretary of Defense doesn't know the name of the highest American official in a country we are about to invade?


  Presidential Approval

Presidential Seal

That's the Presidential Seal, as redesigned by Harry Truman to correct some weaknesses he felt existed in the original created by Rutherford B. Hayes for White House invitations.

If you like it there are plenty of companies willing to sell you just about anything with the seal on it.

Important things require the use of the Great Seal of the United States, which is pictured on the back of the one dollar bill.

Steve Bates reports that the White House is upset by the use of the seal by The Onion and has told them to stop.

Frankly I think Harry would approve of The Onion, and I know he would agree with most of what I write. Hell, George H.W. Bush would probably approve of much of it.


  2000 American Military Deaths in Iraq
That number does not include those who died of their wounds during or after medical evacuation from Iraq.

The military is a bit testy about this event according to CNN. Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, chief spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq: "The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone," he said. "It is an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives."

The Colonel was correct, Bill Frist called for a moment of silence to memorialize the event in the US Senate. The Senate majority leader, famous for misdiagnosing ophthalmologic conditions [he said Mrs. Schiavo could see and his trust was blind], felt it was necessary for his failing hopes to run for President to be seen supporting the troops, even those who can no longer vote.

Next up was the Shrubbery who brought it up in a dog show [they used to be dog and pony shows before Holden cornered the pony market] before military spouses. He proceeded to talk about sacrifices required in the "War on Terror", even though none of his friends or family have sacrificed anything. The military and the middle class are making all of the sacrifices while large corporations are recording record profits.

Steve is also talking about this.


The hurricane affected my DSL as Sprint, for reasons of efficiency no doubt, concentrates DSL traffic and puts it on the "backbone" in Naples, Florida, so I was on dial-up for most of the day, when I could get on at all.

On a related note, Mark Fiore has a new animation out on a hurricane theme.

The guys in Lakeland came through all right, but PoP and Bobby are in the dark for the time being along with millions of others.

This article on the Unisys TSA contract shows a remarkable lack of knowledge about contracting in the IT world, and why it is fiscally foolish to get rid of government IT workers and use contractors.

A contractor charging twice as much for an employee than the employee is paid is the norm, not a remarkable condition. It annoys the employees to no end knowing that the company is making 200% or more for their work, but others are willing to pay it, so that becomes the standard.

This is a reality of outsourcing and privatization.


Sunday, October 23, 2005
  Wilma – Act Two
Other than some constant winds and 5 to 7 foot surf, the Panhandle gets to watch this one.

It’s time to think good thoughts for Aikane and Robert around Lakeland, and for Mustang Bobby and PO’d Patricia on the Atlantic coast.

The waiting and obsessive hurricane tracking are eating up their Sunday.

Hunker down and stay safe.


Saturday, October 22, 2005
  Just Because It's Neat
A guy in a lab was playing with Quantum Dots and has come up with an energy saving way of creating light.

While the nano-crystals [we are talking 100 atoms and less] are known to produce light, he discovered a way of making them produce white light that can be used to increase the output of light emitting diodes [LEDs] with no increase in power consumption.

If you created a film or spray with the dots you could have a surface that would generate its own light in the presence of a lesser source. For example, if you coated the inside of a tunnel, your headlights could cause the entire tunnel to glow with a much brighter light than your headlights alone could produce.


  Why Bork Was "Borked"
It is always entertaining to notice how defective and limited is the knowledge of American history displayed by people who presume to call themselves "conservative".

Over at archy John's post, Bork hates Miers, makes reference to the Saturday Night Massacre, October 20, 1973, when talking about Robert Bork.

When "conservatives" talk about Bork's failure to be confirmed as a justice of the Supreme Court, they like to portray the event as a "liberal" attack on a "conservative". They don't mention that Bork was a tool of the Nixon administration's attempt to stop the investigation of Watergate.

Nominating Robert Bork to be a judge was an attempt to bury the truth of Watergate. It wasn't going to happen, and anyone with a minimum of understanding would have known better that to have made the attempt. Bork was tested and found wanting. He might have the wisdom of Solomon, but he displayed the moral courage of Daffy Duck.


  It Isn't About One Person
Keep in mind as we await the action of Patrick Fitzgerald, that Robert Novak's column didn't reveal simply the identity of a single CIA agent, he revealed the connection of everyone working for or with Brewster Jennings & Associates, a front company that cost millions of dollars and years to create.

Dozens, if not hundreds, of people were put at risk by what the White House did. A major intelligence operation tasked with monitoring weapons of mass destruction was exposed to unfriendly intelligence agencies around the world.

The ability of the United States to maintain, much less expand, its human intelligence capabilities was permanently damaged by this action.


  Why I Am A Bad Person
There is no doubt that Bird Flu is a bad situation that could get much worse, and, considering who's in charge, a pandemic would be catastrophic in the US.

Having said that, my first response to the news that a parrot had died from bird flu while in quarantine in the UK was to picture John Cleese and Michael Palin discussing the health of a "Norwegian Blue Parrot".


  Tropical Storm Alpha?
So much for the record for most named storms: Alpha will be named today and probably cause more rain-related deaths in Haiti.

It doesn't look like it will develop into a hurricane or continue towards the US.


Friday, October 21, 2005
  Friday Cat Blogging[Kevin Drum]

Ringo's Old Man

Friday Cat Blogging


[Editor: This is Ringo's dad, from whom she received her color and the "touch of the tabby". That paver behind him is 18" wide. He is longer and taller than Sox but not as muscled.]

Friday Ark


Thursday, October 20, 2005
  A Question
I have been putting up with television lately for a number of reasons, but I was wondering why the Fox News channel is louder than any other channel on cable. Even their commercials are noticeably louder than any of the other channel's commercials. The sound is set higher.

This cable system has a diagnostic channel up with an oscilloscope display so that I can tell they aren't "pushing" that channel, the problem is internal to the channel.

It's really annoying. If there were ever anything on the channel that you might actually want to watch, you would have to reset the sound.


  What Kind of Bureaucrat Can't Fill Out a Form?
Bobby has a nice post up, The "I's" Have It, about the Senate judiciary committee sending Harriet Mier's questionnaire back to her marked "Incomplete". She apparently thought it was "true/false" while they are looking for essays.

I can honestly say that this is the first time I have ever heard of something like this happening. If you don't answer questions on the employment application, you must not want the job.

Following on the heels of the charades being played to send messages to the Religious Reich, this is so ... middle school!


  Public or Private Wi-Fi?
Steve Gilliard also noticed this BBC article Wi-Fi cities spark hotspot debate concerning local government moving ahead to provide wideband access. Several Philly bloggers have mentioned the tension between the city and Verizon over this issue.

This whole mess highlights a couple of points: the private companies are not rushing to expand broadband availability, preferring to make as much as they can from what already exists; and private business doesn't think it can compete with government.

The first point is endemic in the corporate world: no new facilities or investments, just milk your cash cow until it dies. That's why there are so few manufacturing jobs left in the US, corporations didn't modernize.

We have heard for years the mantra that privatizing public services would save money and reduce taxes. I've never seen it work, and apparently neither have the telecommunications companies, as they claim they can't compete with local governments in providing wideband service.

As a capitalist and end-user I think they should compete in the market, and may the best provider win. I will say it is a bit absurd that government recognizes an unfulfilled opportunity before business.


  Local Humor
From Ron Franscell at Under the News You know you live on the Gulf Coast when ...


Wednesday, October 19, 2005
  Felony Voting
Via All Hat and No Cattle the AP has a report about Jack Kemp, former Republican Vice Presidential candidate, testifying before a committee that ex-felons should be able to vote.

Kemp said that after they have completed their sentence felons should automatically have their voting rights restored. The Republicans on the committee opposed the concept.

I think the Republicans will change their stance after Fitzgerald gets done.


  Chertoff Speaks
This AP story about Chertoff's testimony before Congress, Homeland security secretary defends actions, shows that he isn't as stupid as Brown, but he doesn't understand what his job entails.

You have all heard the comments from reporters on the scene of a natural disaster; "It looks like a war zone." Yes, it does. I have been in natural disasters and war zones, and there are many similarities. The reality is that the humanitarian response to either event is the same: search and rescue, care for those in need of medical assistance, and provide food and shelter.

FEMA is supposed to be coordinating the response, but the reality is that the Coast Guard started rescuing people immediately because they didn't need any permission, but the Navy couldn't because they did need civilian approval. Food, water, and ice didn't reach those in need because FEMA stopped it. FEMA wanted to "coordinate" the effort, so it stopped it in its tracks. FEMA wasn't prepared to make any decisions, so everything was put on hold.

FEMA had four hurricanes in Florida to bring its people up to speed on procedures, but it acted like it had never seen a hurricane before. There were more people involved in Katrina, but that should have made aid delivery easier as the needs were concentrated.

The new reality is that state and local governments had better be prepared to be on their own for two weeks, because FEMA is a hindrance not a help.


I just couldn't believe it when a I heard it on the BBC World Service early this morning, but here it is on the site: Rumsfeld urges Chinese openness.

Donald Rumsfeld, who thinks Congress should give him a blank check and shut up, the man who can't explain why he hasn't spent millions on armor as required by Congress, was in China lecturing the Chinese on the importance of being open about defense spending.

It is highly likely that there is a good deal more known about the Chinese defense budget than the American budget. Rumsfeld won't submit a regular request that includes expenses for either Afghanistan or Iraq, and keeps pushing for large blocks of unassigned money.

It's a bit like Newt Gingrich lecturing on the sanctity of marriage.


  Politics and Crime
The new talking point is the "criminalization of politics". Sorry, but that's a reversal of reality: "politicization of crime" is closer than the truth.

We have had laws against espionage for a rather extended period. Texas has had laws against corporate political funding for over a century. The Republicans are in charge of the rules concerning congresscritters accepting gifts and trips.

If the pundits don't like to see all of these people being indicted, they should stop supporting people who have no regard for the rule of law.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005
I definitely do not like the current discussion of Wilma. She is a maximum Category 2 and could well reach Category 5. There is only limited weakening forecast before landfall in South Florida.

The pressure dropped like a rock recently and the storm has a "pinhole eye". This is not what anyone wants to hear.

Update and correction [10/19 11:28AM]: While Wilma has tied the records for most named storms [21] and most hurricanes [12], the record for most major hurricanes was 8 in 1950, not 6 in 1996. However, Wilma has replaced that record with another: the lowest recorded barometric pressure, 882 millibars, for an Atlantic hurricane.

The residents of Monroe County, the southern tip including the keys, are boarding up and getting ready to leave. The current track has the storm hitting around Fort Myers and exiting around Fort Pierce.

Update: This could be another Elena, a 1985 hurricane that wandered around for days. Check out this Javascript graphic of Elena's track. She was a piece of work.


  Professional Journalists
Jack over at the People’s Republic of Seabrook has a long running series on mind numbingly dumb people. Today he ran a feature on a journalist, who gets paid and everything, writing about the contents and organization of Karl Rove’s GARAGE.

Remind me again about the difference between blogging and journalism...


  Tuesday Turtle Blogging

Terrapene carolina major

Tuesday Turtle Blogging

Maybe I need a ramp.

[Editor: a Gulf Coast box turtle has taken up residence in my Mother's pond. The rim of the pond is a little more than 2 inches.]


Monday, October 17, 2005
  Shear Terror
It's time for the estate of the late John Belushi to take action against the Shrubbery.

They stole his "Mission from G-d" bit from The Blues Brothers and now they are "borrowing" his Samurai routine from Saturday Night Live.

Digby reports on the arrest of Walid Muhammad Farhan Juwar al-Zubaydi, Al Qaeda hair stylist.

Come on, this is an obvious rip off, and John's estate deserves credit and royalties.


  Unintended Consequences
The Republicans pushed to ensure that citizens could sue a sitting President during the Clinton administration, so now, after Fitzgerald concludes his investigation, Joseph Wilson will be able to sue Bush and Cheney. As the Supreme Court declared at the time: a lawsuit will have little impact on the President doing his job.

Excuse me while I laugh hysterically. What goes around, comes around.


  Bird Flu Flies West
Having been confirmed in Turkey and Romania, the bird flu has been tentatively identified on a Greek island.

More tests are needed to determine if the Greek outbreak is also H5N1, but it is definitely an H5 variant.


  Oh, Joy
With the official naming of Wilma, 2005 has tied the 1933 record for most named storms in a season: 21; if Wilma becomes a hurricane, 2005 will tie the 1969 record for most hurricanes in a season: 12; and if, as is forecast, Wilma becomes a category 3 storm, 2005 will tie the 1996 record for most major hurricanes in a season: 6.

What a thrill, I have a ring-side seat for the worst hurricane season on record.


Sunday, October 16, 2005
  Your Tax Dollars Actually Working For You
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, one of the really secret intelligence outfits, set up this site to provide before and after photography of the area impacted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

They are also working with governments in the area struck by the earthquake, so that aid can be distributed efficiently.

These are some really high quality photographs that taxpayers spend a lot of money on and don't even know they exist. I get a feeling that the Agency is doing this to show Congress that they are useful and should be funded.

The data is capable of some really amazing tricks if you have the computing power and software.


  Respect For Our Government
From CNN Reliable Sources [Aired October 16, 2005 - 10:00AM EDT]:
[Howard Kurtz, Host:] Lucy Dalglish, if Karl Rove is indicted, if Karl Rove is indicted, what if he's not indicted? Isn't this the worst kind of journalistic speculation?

[Lucy Dalglish, Committee For Freedom Of The Press:] Yes. You know, I think it's always dangerous to speculate whether or not. You're really besmirching someone's reputation, although I'm not sure you can do that with Karl Rove. But it is very, very, you know -- I would prefer that people keep an eye on what the -- you know, watching him testify and going in and out of the courthouse.

But will it bring down the administration? I don't know. I don't know.
[Editor: my emphasis]


Kevin Drum brings Bloggers And Shield Laws back into the conversation because of Federal noises spurred by the Judith Miller jailing in the Plame case. I don't see it as a problem, Miller will get credit for time served when she's convicted and a shield law wouldn't have helped her because she wasn't protecting a source. She confirmed for the public what was already known with a minimum of investigation, her source was "Scooter" Libby. She was refusing to testify about what was said, not who said it, and she has not told the truth.

Shield laws are for the protection of journalism, not propaganda. If you know, or should know, that you are part of a disinformation campaign you are not acting as a journalist.

If Ms. Miller had been acting as a journalist she would have written an article announcing that "senior officials" in the Bush administration are conducting a smear campaign against critics of the intelligence being used to justify a war with Iraq. Ms. Miller reported nothing and denied having been contacted by administration officials to spread the story about Ms. Plame.

If you are attempting to inform others, you are acting as a journalist. If you are distorting or concealing information you are a propagandist. The heart of the matter is the intent of the writer.

Bloggers may be journalists, propagandists, or bystanders, depending on their intent. The same is true of people with bylines printed in the New York Times.


Saturday, October 15, 2005
Tropical Depression 24 is sitting southwest of Jamaica and is in warm enough water that it will probably become Tropical Storm Wilma.

This is a bad position, as, depending on how the steering winds build, it could go almost anywhere, including following the path that Stan took over Central America.

Update: [10/17/05] It's officially Tropical Storm Wilma, and ties a record for the most named storms with a month and a half to go. No real indication where it's heading but it will probably become a strong hurricane in a couple of days.


  In Local News
This needs to be read twice to be understood: Elections Fraud Arrest of Alleged Conspirator in International Sex investigation.
Fifty-eight-year-old George Hoey Morris, of 385 Wade Morris Road in Eclectic, Alabama, and formerly of Okaloosa County, is charged with false swearing of voter information.

Investigators with the Okaloosa Sheriff's Office say although Hoey was convicted of a felony offense involving the sale of illegal narcotics in Colorado in 1980, he registered as a qualified voter in Okaloosa County in 1999 and cast a ballot in November 2002, a violation of Florida election laws.

Federal authorities say the arrest means Morris will remain in detention in the Montgomery Alabama City Jail where he's also charged with immigration fraud.
I'm including it because of the rarity of someone being arrested for voting fraud in Florida, and the fact the guy lives in Eclectic, Alabama. It takes some getting used to.


  Don't Miss It
The former SKB has a great Blue Heron picture. He is apparently going to be bird blogging on Fridays at Facing South.

If you like wildlife photography, don't miss it.


  Going to the Polls
Given the continuing downward trend in his poll numbers, the Shrubbery keeps trying to arrange events that put him in a better light, but they aren't working.

As Terry at Nitpicker notes he has Three Down and three to go for the complete set. Perhaps he should check with Colin Powell who apparently has some affinity for that attempt.

The latest failure, referenced in this CBS piece, Bush, Troops Have Rehearsed Chat, is insulting to the military.

While the 42nd Infantry Division is now a unit of the New York National Guard, the members should have more regard for the history of the "Rainbow Division" than to participate in a political event.

When Rumsfeld has a chat with the troops, it got embarrassing, but it was real. Real soldiers got to ask their questions, and Rumsfeld gave them answers. Rumsfeld may not have liked the questions, and the troops may not have liked the answers, but the event gave Rumsfeld information he couldn't get any other way.

Bush could have gotten his questions answered in the manner he wanted by watching the Pentagon TV channel. Talking to division Public Relations personnel is not the way to find out what is happening in a war zone and ordering the military to participate in staged political events is demeaning.

I doubt it was an accident that the rehearsal made it onto to the general network feed. I would guess that someone who was unhappy with what was going on arranged for the "accident".


Friday, October 14, 2005
  Friday Cat Blogging[Kevin Drum]

The New Chair 2

Friday Cat Blogging

Definitely needs to be bigger.

[Editor: Sox tests the new chair, but isn't impressed, he was hoping for a recliner - Lazy Boy. {I said it to save Steve the effort}]

Friday Ark


Thursday, October 13, 2005
  This Should Be Fun
So the Shrubbery has created a panel to propose tax simplification schemes that will "help everyone", everyone being defined as those with trust funds in excess of a million dollars.

It would seem the system would be a lot simpler if fewer people had exemptions or exemptions that involved smaller numbers, so they have suggested lowering the exemption on mortgage interest for homeowners, and the exemption on employer supplied health care.

A small bit of advice for those who propose "supply-side economics" in 2020 [every 20 years it gets tried in hopes of a different outcome]: don't use the boats and tides analogy. The problem is that New Orleans after Katrina rather clearly demonstrated that poor people don't have a boat. They are already working hard to keep their heads above the water and they drown in the "tide" [inflation] created by the tax elimination for the rich.


  Public Relations Advice
I'm not a marketing or advertising specialist by any means, but when you have a spokesman trying to convince the world that the problem has been exaggerated, as in the case of the Foot and mouth crisis in Brazil, you would want to find an articulate, English speaking member of the government for your BBC interview who isn't constantly coughing, sneezing, and making various unpleasant sounds.

"There is no [hack, cough, cough, cough, sniff] problem in Brazil. [sneeze, hack, hack, cough, spit, cough, cough, sneeze] There is no disease [cough, sneeze, cough, cough] threat from [cough, cough, rasp, rale, spit] Brazilian exports. [hack, sneeze, cough, cough, cough]"

The message gets lost when everyone is waiting for the sound of the ambulance arriving, looking for tissues, or wanting to call 911.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005
  Judging Rightly
In the possibly vain attempt to understand why Harriet Miers is being nominated for the Supreme Court and what it would mean to real people if she is confirmed, everyone is putting forth the information that exists.

John is wondering how Miers can say she supports civil rights for gays but believes that sodomy should be illegal.

Over at the American Street, Barbara O'Brien makes the point, that based on what they wanted in the Schiavo case, the Religious Reich is not really looking for a conservative.

Bush came on the radio and said that it was important to bring up Ms. Miers's evangelical church membership, while the Republicans raised holy hell when Democrats suggested that John Roberts conservative Catholicism might affect his rulings on the court.

Frankly the only candidate that the Reich would have really applauded would have been Roy Moore, Alabama's former Chief Justice of Ten Commandments infamy.

For those who weren't paying attention during the Shiavo affair, the only judge who backed what the Reich wanted was a Clinton appointee.


  What's Wrong With These People!
Jo Fish has a disturbing post about Air Force Chaplains.

After my first aircraft "incident" the station chaplain showed up with the necessities of life: a case of beer and a carton of cigarettes. He said he would be down the hall if anyone needed him, and at the club from 5 to 7pm for the next week.

That's what Air Force chaplains used to be - available, but not pushy.

The garbage that has been going on in the Air Force chaplain service lately just grates. They are supposed to be there for the troops, not their sect. You don't preach hellfire to people going into combat.


  If You Wear Reading Glasses
Go over to Steve's and read about ClearType, the best thing you can do for your eyes if you have Windows XP.


  Archy Has a Great Day
John was having a very productive day today over at archy. He has a map of what the Middle East would have looked like if they had listened to T.E. Lawrence [Lawrence of Arabia].

Colonel Lawrence thought that we ought to divide the old Ottoman Empire up along ethnic lines, rather than lumping different groups together. Of course, the "professionals" back at the European foreign offices had a different set of priorities, and we all know how "well" it has worked out.

There's also a pointer to a jewel of snark from John Aravosis at America Blog. The last paragraph contains the money quote.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005
  The Pretend President
The Shrubbery keeps playing lets pretend, which is charming among small children, but rather alarming for a President of the United States. He is constantly dressing up and strutting around stage sets at amateur productions staged by the White House production crew.

These little shows were amusing when done by the "Little Rascals" or Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland; they were a real hoot when John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd went with the same shtick; but they lose something when they are put on by the office of the President of the United States at taxpayer expense.

As Jack at The Grumpy Forester noted, his latest role is Jimmy Carter at a Habitat for Humanity job site. This is his second attempt at the "Jimmy Carter" role, the last being a pallid remake of Jimmy's energy conservation speech.

He had tried for the role of FDR after 9-11, and had a shot at it when he shifted mid-stream to LBJ, i.e. going from a justified war to an unjustified war using fraudulent evidence. His LBJ war performance is actually his best work so far, so similar to the original that it's occasionally eerie.

Of course he is best known for his "Tom Cruise" parody on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln.


Monday, October 10, 2005
  A List
Mimus Pauly over at skippy's place is soliciting entries for a list of the 100 greatest Americans.

Personally I have felt that the greatest Americans are those who have what it takes to survive and raise a family. They are generally not known outside of a small circle of family and friends, but they pay the taxes and provide the sweat that has made the United States a country.

Consider that Napoleon's life would have been exceedingly short without an army willing to follow his orders.


  A Holiday
As Mustang Bobby points out, today is Thanksgiving in Canada, and, in some places, Columbus Day.

To celebrate Columbus Day today your state must agree to the Federal timing and ignore the original October 12th date. This usually means that you have a significant Italian-American presence in your state, for they embrace Christoforo Colombo.

Some Hispanic groups also embrace Cristobal Colon, but I have a hard time celebrating a guy who was in serious error about the length of trip, failed to find what he was looking for, Japan, and misidentified what he had found as India.


  Robot Race
Driverless VW wins $2 million robot race: Stanley a Volkswagen Touareg modified by a team from Stanford University took 6 hours 53 minutes to complete the 132-mile course and take first prize in the The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's [DARPA] Grand Challenge Race through a course in the Mojave Desert.
In second place was a red Humvee from Carnegie Mellon University called Sandstorm, followed by a customized Hummer called H1ghlander. Coming in fourth was a Ford Escape Hybrid named Kat-5, designed by students in Metairie, Louisiana, who lost about a week of practice and some lost their homes when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.
The vehicles were totally autonomous, not remotely controlled, and had to deal with natural and man-made obstacles.

This year 5 vehicles finished the course, while last year no vehicle was able to travel more than 8 miles before breaking down, or being blocked.

DARPA funds a lot of basic research that can result in useful things - like the Internet.


  The Insurance Scam
Pensacola Beach is the western end of the barrier island south of me, and the Pensacola Beach Blogger is something anyone who has been clobbered by a hurricane should read. The latest entry deals with insurance companies finally paying people for the damaged caused by hurricane Ivan over a year ago.

There are also real world posts about life with FEMA, getting things re-built, the changes that are taking place. It's reality after the storm, and you're not going to like it.


Sunday, October 09, 2005
  Advice From The "Oil Industry"
During a conversation with the manager at the local convenience store about more possible drilling in the Gulf, he opined that it was pretty stupid to put more oil production at risk in the Gulf when hurricanes come through, and what's really needed is another refinery well inland that isn't going to be shut down every time the wind picks up in the Gulf.

His store is no longer open 24/7, as he can't make expenses when he doesn't have gas to sell.


  Silence Is Golden
That Colored Fellow makes a valid point about talking about DeLay's troubles. Democrats should just shut up and let justice take its course. If Democrats respond, it lends credence to DeLay's complaints.

And, on the topic of silence, I agree with Steve Bates that the DLC should shut up.

Until they prove they can win an election, they have no business rendering opinions. The candidates who listen to them lose, so their advice is worse than worthless.


  He Just Doesn't Get It
I have been ignoring this but Bennett defends controversial race comments.

Whether he's willing to admit it to himself, Bennett is a racist, more so because he doesn't understand why people are upset. He keeps fixating on the abortion comment and misses the real point that he makes the automatic assumption that "black = criminal".

For those who don't have the experience in criminal justice statistics that I gained submitting reports to the New York State Police for inclusion in the FBI national statistics, minorities are over represented in the prison system because they are over represented in the lowest income group.

If you have the money there are a lot of options that are available to keep you out of prison, even if you are convicted. If you have the money, you can get out of jail by posting a bond before trial.

If you are poor, the number of options is greatly reduced and you will sit in jail prior to trial because you can't make bail. In many jurisdictions the poorer you are, the more of a flight risk you are considered, and the higher your bail.

In Florida, if two people, one rich and the other poor, are convicted for the possession of a small quantity of drugs, the wealthy person can afford to enter a program that will keep them out of prison and erase the conviction after a year, while the poor person goes to prison, loses their right to vote, and has a felony conviction on their record.

You have to have the money for a private attorney to get the deal and to pay for the program. If you're poor, you're screwed.

Since Bennett refuses to recognize his racism, he should just shut up and go back to his crap tables. It is people like Bennett that almost let Charles Stuart and Susan Smith get away with murder.


  John Lennon



[Editor: Yes, that's a valid type of Florida license plate.]

[Update: Links to All Florida specialty plates and Florida Association of Food Banks, Inc. plate site.]

[Update deux: You can order a sample of this plate for $10. Thanks to Mustang Bobby.]


Saturday, October 08, 2005
  FDA Loses Another Expert
Another medical advisor has resigned after politics trumped science in the FDA decision process.
In his resignation letter, [Dr. Frank] Davidoff said he wrote: "I can no longer associate myself with an organization that is capable of making such an important decision so flagrantly on the basis of political influence, rather than the scientific and clinical evidence."
We can't protect ourselves from medical emergencies like bird flu when decisions are made based on private prejudice rather than public health.


  OK Corral - Part Deux
If you thought that Florida had already gone around the bend on weapons laws you were wrong.

My very own state senator, Durrell Peaden, MD [R-Crestview], has introduced legislation to overcome the Communist restrictions placed on gun-toting employees by businesses.

You won't believe this, but for some reason Disney, Inc. doesn't want people bringing guns to work, and Durrell and the NRA just can't stand it.

Now, the proposed law makes employee leave their weapons locked up in their cars, but business are not allowed to force employees to leave them at home.

After being sued following workplace shootings, a number of businesses around the country have enacted policies that make it grounds for dismissal for an employee to bring a firearm on to the company's property.

I don't guess we have any problems that are more pressing in the state.


  New Conservation Measures
In order to help the Shrubbery meet his conservation goals for gas and oil, my local service stations are having gas free weekends. Of course, some people claim that they aren't selling gas because they have no gas to sell, but we like to think we are conserving so the idiot in the White House can go jetting around the country with his fleet of gas-guzzlers to annoy people trying to help victims.

Let's be clear on this point: the oil companies have been shutting down refineries for a decade. They haven't tried to build any new refineries. The oil companies are responsible for the lack of refineries - not taxes, not regulations, not environmentalists - the oil companies. From the point of view of an oil company, more refining capacity means competition, which results in lower corporate profits.


  Katrina Links
Before you buy that used car with the great price you might want to check the: National Insurance Crime Bureau. Law enforcement and insurance companies have gone to the area to record the VINs of vehicles that were flooded by Katrina and Rita. The mold that will be present in those vehicles will make you sick.

If you know anyone who had to leave a pet behind in the affected area, both Pet Finder and Pet Harbor have searchable data bases of the rescued animals.


  The World Isn't Happy
It looks like the Bird Flu has made its way to Romania and Turkey. Migratory birds are suspected in the spread.

With over 600 confirmed deaths and another 1400 possible, hurricane Stan has managed to spread death and destruction through central America with heavy rains that caused flooding and mud slides.

An earthquake centered near Muzaffarabad, Pakistan may have killed as many as 3,000 people in Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan. The shallow magnitude 7.6 quake was felt from Delhi to Kabul and flattened entire villages.

Multiple aftershocks continue with some in the magnitude 5 and 6 range, which has caused people to stay out of buildings and in the street in spite of rain in the area.


Friday, October 07, 2005
  Friday Bird Blogging
Via Len the Return of Friday Bird Blogging.


  More Flowers*
Via skippy the newest from one of my favorite cartoonists: Mark Fiore.

[Editor: Warning Flash cartoon]
* fiore - Italian flower


  This Is Just Wrong
Look at the picture that accompanies the CNN article: Trailer town opens for Katrina victims.

That trailer is sitting on cleared ground that is going to erode in the rain; it isn't tied down; it doesn't have enough blocks under it. Someone is going to get hurt, and no one should be in it during a thunderstorm.


If you have been having trouble getting certain sites to come up or sending e-mail to some of your correspondents you may well be a victim of Level 3 Communications Inc. [LVLT] being a jerk. As CNN/Money and others have noted: ISP spat blocks Net for thousands.

Level 3 wants a competitor to raise its price for data, so they are blocking traffic. That smacks of anti-competitive behavior similar to price fixing, and is definitely anti-Internet behavior, which should result in customers dumping Level 3.

There are rules that have nothing to do with government agencies. These rules are enforced by people honoring them and dealing with people who don't by boycott.


  Friday Cat Blogging[Kevin Drum]

The New Chair

Friday Cat Blogging

Well, it's okay, and a bit larger, but more testing is needed.

[Editor: Dot tests the new computer chair...everytime I get up.]

Friday Ark


Thursday, October 06, 2005
  Let Geeks Be Geeks
FEMA didn't know how to provide communications but the geeks used Katrina aftermath as wireless proving ground.

A small wireless Internet provider, a networking class at the Naval Postgraduate School, and techies from all over managed to re-connect people while millions of dollars worth of government equipment sits gathering dust in warehouses.

Off-the-shelf you can get a satellite Internet connection for your RV. This is electronic so a solar-charged battery system can easily power it if nothing else is available.

FEMA had this kind of thing in a trailer that they towed in when they responded under Witt.


  The Courts - A Short Course
There are basically two different kinds of courts in the US: Trial Courts and Appellate Courts.

A trial court is venue at which the Facts are established. It is the lowest level of courts and the beginning point of all legal disputes. This is the one and only time that the facts are subject to scrutiny.

The Appellate Courts deal with the law and procedures in a case.

You cannot appeal a conviction because you are innocent, if a trial court has ruled you are guilty, you have to show that there was an error in the interpretation of the law or the procedures used in the trial. Appellate Courts don't review the facts in a case beyond determining whether those facts were legally obtained.

This difference becomes important when you are looking at qualifications for judges. Just because someone is a good lawyer or a good trial court judge is not predictive of how they will perform as an Appellate Court judge.

The Supreme Court is only bound by the Constitution. While they talk about stare decisis, the Supreme Court is not obligated to abide by previous decisions. The Supreme Court is the most cerebral of courts and the least practical. The justices' intellectual world is a construct based on a document written over two hundred years ago in a language that has undergone many changes. This is environment that is not kind to apprentices, nor to intellectual pretenders.


Wednesday, October 05, 2005
  I'm Late, I'm Late
I popped my head out of the rabbit hole to discover birthdays: Lab Kat and Rook, as well as a blogiversary™ [Talk Left]: Shakespear's Sister.

Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy! to one and all!


  The Superfund Site Under Your Sink
CNN decided that we didn't have enough to worry about, so they are reporting Storms turn everyday items to toxic trash.

A small point of correction - if you read the labels and warnings you would already know this stuff was poisonous, acidic, caustic, or otherwise not suitable for ingestion. You can create your own little Haz Mat emergency by carelessly throwing something under the sink or practicing free-form chemistry experiments by mixing the contents of two bottle to increase the speed of cleaning the shower.


  BlogSpot Down
It's the first day of Ramadan and huge chunk of blogtopia™ [skippy the bush kangaroo]. is locked out. No ability to kvetch about the atrocities of the Shrubbery. This was an announced downtime - announced yesterday on the Blogger Status site, but not considered important enough to make it the dashboard this morning.

Obviously planned to prevent us from saying deeply insightful things about Harriet Miers, a woman who gave up a promising legal career to become a nanny. Now she is being cast out to the cold, cruel world to start over making a measly $194K+ per annum for the rest of her life. The inhumanity of it all!


  A Rain Event
Tropical Storm Tammy popped up off the Florida Atlantic coast this morning and doesn't seem to have the time to spin up before it heads inland around Jacksonville.

Meanwhile there's a disturbed patch of air acting feisty off the Yucatan Peninsula in the area that just spawned Stan.

Less than two months to go.

Update: This a link to the tropical outlook that talks about weather that might become hurricanes.


Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Via Oliver Willis a Quicktime response to Intelligent Design for NASCAR dads.


  Support The Troops?
Out of the blue in his first news conference in a long time the Shrubbery starts talking about the probable bird flu pandemic. Now there are a lot of issues he might have addressed in regards to the response to bird flu, but he decided to talk about the possible need for quarantines and that the military would have to be in charge, so Congress needs to change the law.

Before he talks about the military he might want to clarify who in the Federal government is in charge of a flu pandemic. As reported in August, Michael Chertoff is under the impression that the Department of Homeland Security is in charge, while the Department of Health and Human Services thinks it's their job.

Now the Shrubbery is talking about the Department of Defense.

The Pentagon doesn't have the resources for the job. The military is not a police agency. The civil affairs units that are the military equivalent of local government services have been moved to the Reserves and National Guard, and they are tied down in Iraq. The military medical system is unable to adequately care for its current patient load, so how could they care for the victims of a pandemic?

The military is not the solution to every possible problem the country has. If there were some reasonable level of competence in this government, there would be no need to even bring it up.

Given that the military is the one government operation that hasn't grown under the "borrow and spend" Republicans, why are they being forced to do all the work?


  Not A Break To Be Had
Ron Franscell is an editor at the Beaumont Enterprise and in addition to everything else that has been going on with hurricane Rita, he has been posting on his blog, Under The News.

After a lot of hard work and jumping through a number of widely spaced hoops, the newspaper is finally putting out a print edition.

The first issue was a recap of the editions that have been on the paper's website, but Monday they put out their first regular edition which only contained 8 pages, but that was just the local news, no ads, columns, comics, etc. In What passes for Normal, Texas he says that a reader called to cancel their subscription because the paper was so small.

You just can't please some people.


  New Fed Chair
They way things are going it will probably be his favorite bank teller or Laura.

Remember, you heard it here first second.

Update: Billmon beat me by 22 minutes and he has a picture. I don't know if the Shrubbery will search beyond whoever balances his checkbook.


Monday, October 03, 2005
A new grand jury in Austin has issued a second indictment against Tom DeLay and company for money laundering that has a maximum penalty of life in prison.

It sounds like someone was looking for a deal and spilled their guts to the new grand jury. They must have had some convincing evidence to get three indictments in one day from a brand new grand jury.

It sounds like one or more rattus republicus spent the weekend learning to swim.


  Rove In Charge
If you remember that Karl is in charge of the hurricane rebuilding effort it will come as no surprise that after St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis complained about the slow response to the housing needs of his parish to CNN that:
FEMA had told CNN Sunday that the agency expected to have more than 1,000 housing units up and running in the area shortly, but that Davis himself had contributed to delays because he recommended to the agency that his construction company be hired to develop a property to which he has personal ties.

Davis said in his statement that he does not own a construction company, and that he owns no land other than the site of his flooded home.
Good luck to Mr. Davis on his demand for a FEMA apology.

Smear is the Pavlovian response of Karl to complaints. He can't help himself ever since that little Catholic girl kicked his butt as a child.


  Don't Cry For Me Alabama
Drama queen/victim Roy Moore has announced his run for governor of Alabama.

Roy doesn't think that Alabama has suffered enough from recent hurricanes, so he's going to do his best to replace Bob Riley as the Republican candidate for governor.

For those who didn't click through, Roy is the nutcase that was removed as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for plunking a huge stone Ten Commandments monument in the entrance hall of the court building and refusing to remove it after a Federal judge told him to cease and desist being a jerk.

Bob Riley has actually been trying to fix some of the problems that Alabama has, so you know he's not popular with the "Republican base".


Doesn't the Shrubbery know anyone outside his small clique? I don't know anything about Harriet Miers, which is rather normal for Bush appointments as most of them haven't been known to anyone outside a small circle.

Look, FEMA was no place for someone with no emergency management experience, but Mike Brown has more experience with judging than Harriet Miers. While judging horse shows is a bit different than being a Federal judge, it is closer than anything Ms. Miers has done.

I have heard that she was charged with preparing the daily briefing for the Shrubbery. If that's true, that's not a good sign because we can all agree that the Shrubbery is one of the least informed Presidents we ever had.

Would it cause this White House extreme pain to actually look for someone who is obviously qualified for a job?

According to the CNN poll currently up I'm with the 78% of those taking the poll who believe that Supreme Court nominees should have previous judicial experience.


  Happy 5766
Sun down tonight marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah and the year 5766.

Happy New Year to my Jewish friends.


Sunday, October 02, 2005
  About FEMA Outside of Louisiana
Debbie Elliott is the new host for All Things Considered on the weekends and she is a good choice for hurricane coverage because she is a long-time resident of Orange Beach, Alabama.

This evening she interviewed Trent Lott about his book and the response to the hurricane in Mississippi.

Even though he agrees that FEMA shouldn't have been under the Department of Homeland Security and wasn't receiving all that it asked for in funding, he says they flat messed up providing assistance to Mississippi. He also supports using Medicaid to provide hurricane victims with access to medical care.

Old Trent and his constituents are not a happy with the Federal response.

[Listen to the report - Debbie gets in some digs about Lott's attitude toward "big government" and Medicaid prior to the hurricane.]

In Florida the Palm Beach Post added it voice to several other Florida editorial writers suggesting: As FEMA looks at 2006, repay Florida for 2004.

I don't want people to forget this: FEMA did not do a competent job in 2004 and they are still holding up reconstruction. Congress gave them the money, but they aren't covering their obligations.

The "response" was another charade, because after the election FEMA did everything it could to screw over local governments.

What happened in New Orleans was not an aberration, that is the way FEMA does its job: badly. It hasn't been noticed before because Jeb was covering for the Shrubbery last year. People avoided making their complaints until after the election.

The scope of the disaster caused by Katrina made it impossible to hide and the Louisiana officials didn't even make the attempt.

A small statistical aside - the death rate in Louisiana is only slightly ahead of Mississippi when you look at the numbers as a percentage of the population.


  A Stable Persian Gulf?
In response to remarks made by Prince Saud al-Faisal, foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, about ties between Iraq and Iran, Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabor, an honors graduate of the John Bolton School of Diplomatic Tact, said: "This Iraq is the cradle of civilization that taught humanity reading and writing, and some Bedouin riding a camel wants to teach us. This talk is totally rejected."

Iraq blasts Saudi Arabia for anti-Shi'ite remarks, the article on the exchange at AlertNet, doesn't portend smooth relations between these neighboring, oil producing countries.

I'm sure that Karen Hughes and Condi Rice can fly in and help these countries see the benefits of cooperation. It's not like the current disturbances are going to degenerate into a regional conflict with Saudi Arabia and the Iraqi Sunni at the throats of Iran and the Iraqi Shi'ia. I mean the Shrubbery would never allow anything that would stop the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf for an extended period.

I'm sure the White House has a plan, right?


  Let's Outsource the US Government
California has been having a busy wildfire season and needed some help. Who you gonna call? Canada .

The CBC reports: Quebec sends waterbombers to help fight California wildfires
The Quebec government is lending a hand to help fight massive brush fires on the edge of Los Angeles.

The province's forest fire prevention agency has sent two CL-415 waterbombers to help combat the flames. The crew includes eight pilots and three technicians who might remain on site until the end of December, depending on the situation.

Quebec said if the fires get worse, it will be ready to send more help.
Last month I talked about the Vancouver Rescue Teams that were first outside assistance St. Bernard parish received, and about the Canadian Ships that brought people and supplies to the Gulf Coast.

The Canadians have been helping a very long time. Many may have missed the story of the Canadian embassy getting 6 Americans out of Teheran during the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1980.

They do these things and yet the Canadian budget is running a surplus and they are paying down their national debt.

They think that a single-payer national health system is a good thing and they manage to provide health care to everyone. This system as well as their educated work force convinced Toyota to build its newest North American auto plant in Canada, rather than in the United States despite major tax giveaways offered by several states.

General Dynamics has also moved several manufacturing plants to Canada, including one of the plants that build the US Army's Stryker armored vehicle.

Obviously the Canadian government delivers a better product than the US government, so we should fire the current mismanagement team and outsource our government to Canada.


Saturday, October 01, 2005
  It's October Day!
It's the first day of October, the beginning of the Federal fiscal year when we celebrate the fact that the Republican President and Republican Congress can't get their act together and produce a budget, so we have another "continuing resolution". Running the government like a business indeed! All these MBAs, CEOs, and corporate attorneys and they don't seem to be able to plan anything, so everything is done by "emergency bills" to hide the huge deficit they are running while looting the pension funds - just like their corporate sponsors.

My local K-Mart is advertising Flu shots for $25, free to Medicare participants. It's probably a national plan and a good deal. I don't normally get one, but this year I'm going to give it a go because the price is right and the location is convenient.

Some dogs in Florida kennels have come down with a form of influenza that is normally found in horses, and there is a danger of the bird flu mutating into something worse. With some many people coming in from other places, it can't hurt. [Okay, it does hurt, but not for long.]

I hear that Tom DeLay's attorney is applying for a change of venue to a different space/time continuum because everyone in this universe knows he's guilty which will prevent Mr. DeLay from getting a fair trail before they execute him. Normally he'd only get a couple of years in prison, but there's an election year coming up and everyone has to get tough on crime. The current governor is way behind on executions, so I'm sure the Bug Man will understand.

In a slight change of wording the Securities & Exchange Commission is no longer "looking at" Bill Frist's stock sale, they are now "investigating" it. They have stopped "asking for" and started "subpoenaing" records.

Let's see, top aides to both the President and Vice President are "people of interest" in the Plame investigation. The majority leaders of both the House and Senate have legal problems. The head of contract oversight at OMB has been arrested. Obviously we have a slightly different definition of "integrity" with Republicans in charge. They are so bush league.

I wonder if the Shrubbery will push for tax breaks for convicted felons?

Currently Tropical Depression 19 doesn't look like it will amount to much, but Tropical Depression 20 seems ready to become hurricane Stan in the Bay of Campeche after passing over the Yucatan Peninsula. It looks to be headed for Veracruz state in Mexico, but you can't trust them.

Oh, well there are only two months left in the season.


  In Local News
While it starts out sounding like good news, Evacuees trade shelter for hotel, there seems to be a certain lack of planning. While providing some privacy, you can't cook in a hotel so they are having these people eat at the Waffle House.

I have nothing against the chain, but the menu is limited, and anyone who forgets to include milk as a drink choice when there are children needs to perform a reality check.

Some background the following item: gasoline is still in short supply, is priced at $3.20/gallon, and a roundtrip from Fort Walton Beach to Pensacola is 80 miles

Rita Victims Still Seeking Red Cross Assistance talks about the trials getting help after evacuating to the local area. Assuming that you will have to make one trip to apply for help and a second trip to receive assistance, victims are paying the price for the "efficiency" of centralization.

Red Tide Stretches Westward Into Walton County is not something you want to see if you enjoy fishing or have respiratory problems. This is going to kill a major portion of the life in local waters and hospitalize asthmatics and those with emphysema.

Early Morning Brawl in Destin Lands Three in the Hospital is actually a good news story.

Why, you ask? Because from today forward in the state of Florida this would have probably resulted in autopsies of some of the four people involved as the "OK Corral" bill is now in effect. No more fists or pocketknives in these disputes - now we go immediately to guns.

You have to understand that it is not what the law actually says that is the problem, it is what people think the law says: mess with me and I can shoot you without worrying about getting arrested.

What the law did, removing the requirement to avoid conflict when possible, is a bad idea. You always had the right to defend yourself and when at home you could gun down just about anyone, but now you have a state sanction to gun people down over parking places.

This is part of the Republican Culture of Life™?


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