Thoughts for the New Year
As you clean out your ‘fridge:
- How do you tell if mushrooms are moldy?
- Can Limburger cheese spoil?
- What do you call sour cream well past its “sell by” date?
Update: I would really like the name of the fool that decided that New Year's Eve required fireworks and gun shots.
Happy New Year!
Keep telling yourself that their corruption is now in the open. They can no longer pretend that they don't know Abramoff. They can't pretend they aren't using borrow and spend as a financial model. They can't pretend they believe in the rule of law.
The coming year will be a mess as their collapsed edifices have to be bulldozed from the scene, but we will be returning to our foundations on which to rebuild.
On The Snow Front
The mayor of Topeka, Kansas was surprised to learn that his city has a snowball ban
. You can be jailed or fined up to $500 for throwing snowballs in the city. He is moving to have the ban removed.
In Germany, the police had an easy time tracking two criminals who left their footprints
in the new-fallen snow from a crime scene to their apartment.
is becoming blogdemic:Mustang Bobby
, Steve Bates
, and Lab Kat
are all in various stages of recovery.
A more serious problem is making the rounds: clostridium difficile
. Essentially it provokes extreme diarrhea leading to dehydration. Normally seen among hospital patients, the use of antibiotics and the powerful, new antacid medications are causing problems for an ever wider circle of people.
The microbes live in your intestines, held in check by other organisms and stomach acid. When you take an antibiotic, it kills the protective microbes allowing the resistant clostridium difficile
to multiply. When the anti-heartburn medication reduces the stomach acid, there is no check on the microbes and diarrhea occurs.
If you start having diarrhea after taking an antibiotic, you should check with your doctor, if possible. You definitely need to increase your fluid intake, preferably with something like Gatorade or pedialyte to keep hydrated. If you are taking one of the antacids, you might want to stop to see if it helps. This can cause a hospitalization or kill you, so don't ignore a prolonged bout of "the runs".
, this CBS News story: Pack of Angry Chihuahuas Attack Officer
And for the travelers, a piece on traveling across the United States on a bicycle
Tainted Pet Food Alert
Aflatoxin, a naturally occurring chemical that comes from a fungus sometimes found on corn and other crops, can cause severe liver damage. Aflatoxin poisoning can cause sluggishness, a lack of appetite and in severe cases severe vomiting, fever and jaundice.
The recalled pet food was sold in 23 states under the brand names Diamond, Country Value and Professional, and bears the date codes of March 1, 2007, through June 11, 2007. Consumers are asked to immediately stop using the product.
Twenty-three dogs has died as a result of this food and the company also makes cat food, so check your supply.
They have announced that an Inquiry into leak of NSA spying program launched
It took badgering by the CIA to generate any interest in the White House leaking the name of a covert CIA operative and exposing a major intelligence network.
Some may claim that this is a major intelligence revelation, but that's false - everyone who is reportedly targeted assumed we were doing this. This is about embarrassment and Presidential criminality, not an intelligence leak.
How can I make that statement? Isn't that just partisan rhetoric? No, sorry, it's all about timing.
This investigation started two weeks after the story was printed, not two weeks after the leak was known. The White House knew about the leak before the last election, more than a year ago. If this leak were so damaging to national security it would have been investigated then, not two weeks after it embarrassed the President. It's not one of the worse crimes of these people, but you are required to report leaks of classified information as soon as you become aware of them.
The White House started the investigation to attack its critics, not to protect the national security. This is all about protecting the image of the Shrubbery, not the nation.
Would You Believe...
It's only a month after the end of the Hurricane Season and yet: Tropical Storm Zeta
named storm of 2005 is sitting off the coast of Africa just to remind people that "it ain't over, 'til it's over".
[Update: The first storm of 2006 will be Alberto. In 1994 Tropical Storm Alberto was a nasty rainmaker locally. Storm names are re-cycled every 12 years unless the name is retired for being a real trouble-maker.]
Friday Cat Blogging
™ [Kevin Drum]
Come on let's play.
[Editor: Productivity goes down when the temperature goes up because the cats take turns wandering in to see what I'm doing.]
The man and his administration lie about everything and fill important posts with total incompetents and he expects the American people to "trust him". What has he done that merits trust?
He took a month long vacation and ignored a dire warning just prior to 9/11/01. His Attorney General cut funding for counter-terrorism on 9/10/01. He didn't change his vacation or schedule for days following the Katrina landfall. There hasn't been a single, successful terrorist prosecution on his watch. But the American people should trust him?
His government has swept up thousands of people and held many for years without charges, and some who are known to be innocent are left in prison because they have no place to go as a result. But the American people should trust him?
The main terrorist threat is made up of Muslim fundamentalists who, by definition, don't trust technology, but he wants to data mine phone calls and e-mail. But the American people should trust him?
They arrested Jose Padilla and claimed they stopped him from blowing up a "dirty bomb", and going on to burn down apartment blocks by starting gas leaks. But when push came to shove they charged him with loitering and hanging out with the wrong crowd. They never explained how a guy that has shown no knowledge of explosives and has had no access to explosives or radioactive materials was going to get a "dirty bomb". But the American people should trust him?
They claimed to have stopped an attack on the Brooklyn Bridge...with blowtorches. I have to assume they meant to say oxyacetylene torches, because a blowtorch is fine for melting ice or patching tar, but it would have minimal effect on a bridge. How were these "terrorists" supposed to avoid getting dumped off the bridge by union stewards for working without a card, because it's easier to join Skull & Bones
than a NYC skilled union? But the American people should trust him?
What have the American people received for the trillion plus dollar deficit he has run up since being in office? We know he didn't spend it on body armor and vehicle armor to protect the troops. But the American people should trust him?
The man swore on a Bible twice to support and defend the Constitution and to faithfully execute the office of President, but he spends an awful lot of time and our money looking for ways to subvert the rights of Americans and to avoid enforcing the laws. He claims all this is necessary to fight the "war on terror". All we have is his word, because he won't respond to what little Congressional oversight that has been attempted. But the American people should trust him?
Trust and respect are earned. Where, precisely, in the record of this administration is the action or accomplishment that merits either? They spread fear more effectively than those normally considered "terrorists", but that would seem to be their sole accomplishment. As Donald Rumsfeld observed, they have no metrics. They have no plan. Since they have no goals, they are wandering in the desert.
But the American people should trust him?
Karen at Dark Bilious Vapors
has located the all-purpose holiday decoration
Jack at The Grumpy Forester
has a rather all inclusive rant
about the year that is concluding.
According to the Pensacola Beach Blog
our local zoo received a special Christmas present: a baby hippo
. No pictures yet, and no name until the sex is determined.
The family of Albert Weimorts
reported his passing in the week before Christmas. He was a local Federal civil servant that most have never heard of, but he took a request for a bomb to penetrate bunkers during the first Gulf War from inception to delivery of a working weapon in 28 days.
Mr. Weimorts also designed the Massive Ordnance Air Blast
weapon, also known as "the mother of all bombs", 10½ tons of explosive that rivals a nuclear weapon without radiation. It's hard to imagine a target for the MOAB in anything less than all out war.
I mention Mr. Weimorts because my Father was involved in weapons design, and to point out that if this work had be given to a private contractor, the office to design the bunker-buster would not even have opened in 28 days, and the costs would have already exceeded the entire budget for the project Weimorts led.
[update: Baby hippo pictures
from the Pensacola News Journal
Seven Things To Do Before I Die
- Fix my back porch
- Move away from the coast
- See a return to democracy in the US
- See something concrete done to address global warming
- Get the last of the local feral cats fixed
- Finish cleaning my house without interruptions
- Organize my tools
Seven Things I Cannot Do
- Legally travel to Russia
- Feel comfortable in a crowd
- Ignore an injured creature
- Ignore crime
- Competently play a musical instrument
- Competently speak Asian languages
Seven Things That Attract Me to... Blogging
- The restrictions on letters to the editor
- The Republican Party
- The Religious Reich
- My stress level
- The price is right
- It's better than screaming at my neighbors
- I'm not required to do it
Seven Things I Say Most Often
- Это жизнь в большом городе!
- Rot in hell, Bill Gates!
- Shut everything down and re-boot
- And I should care because?
- Did fairies make off with the manual?
Books Authors That I Love
- Terry Pratchett
- J.R.R. Tolkien
- Isaac Azimov
- Arthur Conan Doyle
- Rita Mae Brown
- J.K. Rowling
- Ellis Peters
Movies Videos That I Watch Over and Over Again
- The Civil War Ken Burns
- Star Wars [the original trilogy]
- The Wizard of Oz
- Lawrence of Arabia
- Blade Runner
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Seven People I Want To Join In Too
- I don't wish these things on others.
to my Jewish friends. I miss the latkes and jelly doughnuts my roommates received for the holiday at college. [Their grandmothers were afraid they wouldn't celebrate or couldn't get "real" food at that terrible Baptist university.] It was a great break.
One of the nice things about Hanukkah is that there are established "gifts", so you don't have to rack your brains about what to get: a card and gelt
covers just about everyone.
[Note: on the Jewish calendar the day changes at sundown, not midnight, so it's now the 26th
A Hint to Blogger
The orange "Santa hat" on the "O" is not festive, nor seasonal. It is annoying. I am not cheered or even amused by its presence.
The British have some wonderful Christmas customs that have survived the incursion of Christianity, especially the Puritan party poopers. Stealing customs from the Celts, Germans, and Scandinavians, they have created a wonderful holiday that I fondly remember from time spent there.
The bird is a European robin that is featured on British Christmas cards, as it is a Winter bird in England, unlike the fair-weather laggard of the same name in America.
If you read the Harry Potter
books you will get a taste, but not the full effect of a British Christmas. A full-on Christmas dinner is wretched excess to the n-th degree - Thanksgiving on steroids.
They'll Probably Try Again
They have been quiet all year on the Missile Defense project, but I suspect another attempt on last year's target
Don't worry, kids, they'll miss again, if it even launches.
Gee, What A Surprise
would say, the New York Times
is "Shocked! Shocked I tell you"
to find out that NSA is "hoovering up" everything available, and not being precise in its collection methods. Precision is so...law enforcement. Cops knock on doors; the military knocks down buildings.
Once again: there is a major difference between the military and the police. The police worry about rights; the military doesn't. The police get in trouble for killing innocent people; the military considers them "collateral damage".
This difference is why there are so many restrictions about using the military within the United States and outside of the context of a declared war. The Shrubbery wants to convince everyone we are at war, so he can ignore rights and the damage of his actions.
You are not going to do permanent damage to terrorists with the military. You have to hunt down terrorists and that requires investigative tactics not military tactics. This bungling around spying on half the universe and playing with Geiger counters in mosque parking lots is not making us safer, nor is it finding Osama bin Laden. This is the abuse of power just to prove he can do it.
Maybe I should find a portrait of Charles I of England and march outside the White House to remind the resident what the tradition is for men who believe they are absolute monarchs among English-speaking nations. That issue was settled in 1215 and restated to Charles in 1649 prior to his beheading for treason.
Rather than having a traditional crèche by the church my local SBC church sponsors a "live Nativity display" at a local shopping center. This isn't a mall, it is a "U" of stores around the parking lot, and the display is on an empty lot on the main street.
While it is not quite as cold as Bethlehem at this time of year, the "angels on high" are out in a 10 knot North wind at 45°, which is a near freezing wind chill. Needless to say, mothers are not permitting warm-up suits under their robes, so those "angels" are not posing in rapt attention to the "child" in the "manger" below, who have a wind break and lights to warm them up, and probably heating pads and some animals to generate a few BTUs.
It will be a "miracle" if those kids don't fall off the platform they're on while they jump around in their "wings" trying to stay warm. Someone at least relented enough to provide them with white "hoodies" to wear with their robes, but long johns, mittens, and snowmobile boots would help a lot.
The "Seven" Meme
I've been tagged, twice. I'll get to it, but not immediately.
Odd late night thoughts:
When the Merchant of Venice
was written you had a man playing a woman playing a man to distort justice by pretending to be a "legal expert" - kind of like Ann Coulter...
[No more late night snacks]
Friday Cat Blogging
™ [Kevin Drum]
Peace on Earth
And to All of Good Will.
[Editor: Merry Whatever from the Crew.]
Now Is The Winter Of Our Discontent
Upon reading about Snoopgate a judge
on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court resigned. The Chief Judge was given a briefing but wasn't permitted to tell the other ten judges about the program.
The "conventional wisdom" is that District Judge James Robertson suspected that some or all of the warrant requests were based on information from the illegal program, "fruit of a poisoned tree", which mocks the purpose of the court.
Judge J. Michael Luttig, a very conservative member of the very conservative Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, has handed the Justice Department a stinging rebuke in the ruling he wrote refusing to transfer Jose Padilla
to civilian authorities. The judge stopped just short of accusing the DoJ of lying in their testimony before the Court of Appeals.
The case now goes to the Supreme Court, and I wouldn't count on any Justice other than Clarence Thomas as a sure vote for the government. Judges don't like going out on a limb when making a decision, and the Fourth Circuit went out of its way to affirm the power of the government to indefinitely detain "enemy combatants".
The picture of Padilla painted before the Court of Appeals is in sharp contrast with the charges filed against him in a Miami court, and the timing of the indictment indicated that the DoJ did not want the case to appear on the Supreme Court docket.
Lying to judges makes them unhappy, and an unhappy judge can throw you in jail until he/she feels like releasing you. While we aren't supposed to have kings in the US, a Federal judge comes very close.
Congress and media have been slow to react to the illegal behavior by the Shrubbery, but the judicial branch seems to have been stirred to action.
The Transit Strike
Others have covered this issue, but this was covered the same way as always by the media: The people "inconvenienced" by the strike, the official talking points, but no coverage of the why the members of the union voted to go on strike.
The problem for the media is that they don't have any "sources" among public workers. They can't flip through their rolodex and find someone they know who can present the reason workers are willing to give up two days pay for every day they are out on strike. They can't talk to the union officials because a "gag order" is the first thing that is imposed.
While the officials of the public agency can't talk, the rest of the local government can go to town and berate the workers for not caring about "the public" who are inconvenienced because the workers are not happy to accept whatever "their masters" deem is sufficient.
The MTA, the agency in charge of the transit system, pushed until they got a strike. While having a billion dollar surplus, they pushed the workers to give up pensions and health care benefits for new workers. This was never about wages. Public workers will never walk out over wages, but the media always paints the workers as greedy.
Workers strike over working conditions, pensions, and health care. That's the way it has always been. If you have a public workers strike in your area, look at the background and you find that the politicians want to do something that puts workers in danger, steals their retirement, or reduces their health care. No one goes to work for the government for the money: it's for the benefits. You work for the government for the security offered by the benefits. It guarantees that you will never be rich, but you and your family can survive in reasonable comfort.
The people in charge these days think that Ebenezer was wrong to change his ways, and want to return to the personnel policies of Scrooge & Marley
. These are people who think it is fine to offer pensions, but unreasonable to be required to pay them. They abolished slavery and claimed to be virtuous, but neglected to state that employees were cheaper than slaves. If you own slaves you have to take care of them because they have value in money. If employees get old or sick, discard them and hire someone else. That employees were cheaper than slaves was one of the great economic discoveries of the 19th
When you look at the public workers strike, take the time to look at the compensation package of the administrators. If these cuts are such a great idea, why don't they get applied to the top management first? What about the elected officials?
Screwing The Troops
Responsibilities of the President:
Article 2 - The Executive Branch
Section 3 - State of the Union, Convening Congress
He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.
The use of the verb, shall
, makes this a required function, not an option. The President is required to enforce the laws of the nation, all of the laws, not just the laws he/she personally approves of, and there is no wartime exception.
The man has no problem using the perquisites of the President, but doesn't seem inclined to fulfill the duties of the office. He frequently refers to himself as the Commander-in-Chief, but fails to understand the responsibility that position entails.
It might surprise some how angry I am about the NSA spying. My anger is based on having served as a member of the National Security Agency and understanding the position of those who are currently serving. Most people will never see, or be aware of the memorial to those who have died while serving in the National Security Agency. Their names are not publicized and their missions are classified. They worked and died in the shadows, but I knew some of them as people with families. Those now working as members of the National Security Agency have been placed in a terrible position by the man who supposed to be their leader.
If you are a Master Sergeant with 18 years of service you are faced with obeying an unlawful order or losing your retirement two years away. You can be charged with disobeying a direct order if you refuse to participate. You can be charged with illegal wiretapping if you do participate. The operation is classified, so you can't seek assistance from the Staff Judge Advocate [military lawyer], or anyone else. You are not protected by the "whistleblower statute", because you work for an intelligence agency. You can't resign, because your family doesn't have "friends" in the power structure to "fix it" for you. Your leader has screwed you over because of his hubris, his arrogance. He doesn't understand "duty", and has no conception of "honor", and couldn't care less about your life, family, or future.
That's why I'm more angry than those who only upset about the illegal spying on Americans. I'm angry for those who are spied upon and those who are forced to do the spying. That's why this embodiment of scum should be impeached, indicted, and sent to prison.
The Sun has decided to stop loafing and return to work, but only slowly as sunset creeps towards 5:00PM local again.
The lows have been just above freezing at night which leads to a spirit of unity and cooperation among the feral cats as they huddle for warmth, many crowding around the lights I put on concrete slabs for warmth.
For all who celebrate this day the warmest of wishes - on many levels.
Every Bad Idea in the Last Forty Years
My transcription of Senator Jay Rockefeller's handwritten letter
July 17, 2003
Dear Mr. Vice President,
I am writing to reiterate my concerns regarding the sensitive intelligence issues we discussed today with the DCI, DIRNSA, Chairman Roberts and our House Intelligence Committee counterparts.
Clearly, the activities we discussed raise profound oversight issues. As you know, I am neither technician nor an attorney. Given the security restrictions associated with this information, and my inability to consult staff or counsel on my own, I feel unable to fully evaluate, much less endorse these activities.
As I reflected on the meeting today, and the future we face, John Poindexter's TIA project sprung to mind, exacerbating my concern regarding the direction the Administration is moving with regard to security, technology, and surveillance.
Without more information and the ability to draw on any independent legal or technical expertise, I simply cannot satisfy lingering concerns raised by the briefing we received.
I am retaining a copy of this letter in a sealed envelope in the secure spaces of the Senate Intelligence Committee to ensure that I have a record of this communication.
I appreciate your consideration of my views.
Links for abbreviations, laws, and bad ideas:
First of all, FISA deals with wars and declarations of wars - the President has a two-week period during which he/she can conduct warrantless wiretaps, we are well beyond that limit.
Second, the Posse Comitatus Act specifically deals with the use of the military within the US. It requires Constitutional authority or an act of Congress, not the whim of a President.
Third, what is being done is an iteration of the TIA, which Congress specifically rejected because of concerns over violations of the Fourth Amendment.
Fourth, if you take the time to read the Declaration of Independence
you will see that the main reason for the Revolution was an abuse of executive power by the King. The signers risked their lives and fortunes because they were fed up with the unrestricted power of the crown.
Taken all together it is obvious that the framers of the Constitution intended to limit power, not grant it, wholesale, to any of the three branches of government. The only way of gaining a new power is by amending the Constitution. It is only by virtue of the Sixteenth Amendment
that the Federal government can levy the income tax.
The only constitutional right that can be limited during a war or rebellion is the writ of habeas corpus
, but that can only be done where the courts are not functioning because of the war or rebellion.
At this point it should be obvious that they can't comply with FISA because they aren't targeting anyone, they are grabbing everything out there, without any regard to what they are gathering. They are hoping to "get lucky" and find something useful.
The backers of "King George" claim that the only limits on the power of the President are elections or impeachment. If that is their view, the solution is obvious: Impeach the arrogant son-of-a-bitch
. Maybe we can then actually get on with business of fighting terrorism and actually catch Osama bin Laden.
[Update: The meeting referred to in the letter featured: Richard Cheney [VP], George Tenet [DCI], Lt. General Michael Hayden, USAF [DIRNSA], Senator Pat Roberts [R-KS], Senator Jay Rockefeller [D-WV], Congressman Porter Goss [R-FL], and Congresswoman Jane Harmon [D-CA]. Goss is the current DCI, and Hayden is now the Deputy Director of National Intelligence under John Negroponte.]
Think It Through
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act puts the most minimal restrictions imaginable on getting a intercept warrant, so why ignore the requirement? Some have opined that they don't want anyone to know who is being monitored, but that's just silly because the court is a special creature that has never shown itself to be "talkative".
The other question is: why use the National Security Agency for the surveillance? NSA has a lot of capabilities but telephone tapping is not exactly its "cup of tea". This is "trowel" work and NSA has bulldozers.
Off the top of my head I can think of a very good reason for avoiding the court and using NSA for the intercepts: this isn't a targeted operation, it is a hoover
They have resurrected a variation on John Poindexter's Total Information Awareness
program and are data mining international telephone calls and e-mails. They have no names to put on the warrants, because they aren't looking at individuals, they are looking at classes of people. They were told to shut down this program, but they just change names and offices and continue their illegal activities.1. [from the vacuum cleaner brand name] Sucking up whatever is available and seeing what filters out.
It is obvious that I needed to explain why having NSA doing surveillance is illegal. I left in 1974, before the all of the domestic spying laws were passed. What has occurred has been illegal since 1878, before there was a Department of Defense or a National Security Agency.
It is a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act(18 U.S.C. § 1385) 1878
, which limits the activities of the military within the United States. The United States military may only take those actions that are specifically authorized by the Constitution or an act of Congress.
The National Security Agency is a joint services component of the Department of Defense; it is part of the military, which is why it is headquartered at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland and the Director is a uniformed flag officer.
After the end of the Cold War, NSA attempted to expand its mission by performing security audits on the computer systems of other government agencies, but the request was denied because the activity would require Congressional authorization or it would violate the Posse Comitatus Act.
The newer laws simply increase the illegality.
The Shrubbery's claim
that "a newspaper jeopardized national security by revealing that he authorized wiretaps on U.S. citizens after September 11" is patently absurd. The "bad guys" are well aware that we can monitor communications, and that other foreign countries also "listen in" on international calls.
This was an administration that informed bin Laden that we were tracing him with his satellite telephone. As a result we caught bin Laden's bodyguard who left with the phone to lay a false trail. During the Bolton hearings there were multiple references to NSA intercepts that involved American officials. The administration that revealed the identity of a Central Intelligence Agency asset working on monitoring the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has a lot of gall attempting to claim that this article does any injury to the national security. The only security affected by the Times
reporting is the job security of those involved in these illegal acts.
Someone needs to explain to the White House that the divine right of kings
was discarded several centuries ago and no one, even the resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, is above the law.
Al Qaeda wins when the United States acts in an illegal manner. When we cast aside our laws in the name of "security", the terrorists advance. The Shrubbery needs to find a little backbone and stop caving in to threats. The system that survived the combined might of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Japan, that outlasted the threat of the nuclear forces of the Soviet Union can surely overcome a motley crew of nutjobs without devolving to a government more suited to the 16th
It's Rant Time
How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?
John F. Kerry
While I can understand the feeling beneath that statement, what is worse is asking the military and other government employees to give up their honor in support of lies. You need to know that the vast majority of government employees are not political hacks and they really are trying to do their jobs according to the rules.
The Shrubbery introduced the ultimate corruption to government: the corporate model. In a corporation the purpose of lawyers is to make the decisions of management "legal", not ethical or correct, but merely within the letter of the existing law. That is what the lawyers acting as counsel to this administration are doing.
In the last century the executive branch would ask for a legal opinion as to whether an action was legal, but now the question is how to present the action as legal. When career attorneys refuse to going along with this deceit they are removed from the decision process to be replaced by political appointees who will play by the new rules.
This is how they came up with an executive order that contravenes the clear meaning and intent of the laws governing domestic surveillance and has the National Security Agency intercepting the communications of American citizens.
I was part of the National Security Agency for 8 years. This conduct is illegal. I was told it was illegal in an official briefing. There were specific instructions as to the course to take if it occurred by accident, and reporting requirements to prevent the accident from recurring. This isn't a close call, and it's not a matter of interpretation, it is illegal.
The New York Times
held this story for a year. They found out about it from Agency insiders without any doubt, and they should not have held up the story while the criminals in the White House continued to claim dictatorial powers based on a non-existent declaration of war on TERROR
. We have a system of checks and balances. That system isn't suspended for wars, real or imagined.
It is an unconscionable abrogation of their basic position in the American society that we have found yet another example of the media withholding a story that they had before the Presidential election that would have reflected badly on the Shrubbery and his culture of corruption. The American people were systematically excluded from the information to make an informed decision on the fitness of the current administration to remain in office.
The Religious Reich are always the victims, they are "martyrs" for their "faith", which is under constant attack by everyone.
Into this atmosphere steps an agnostic, paleontologist Gregory S. Paul
of Baltimore, who is tired of the ID/Creationist attacks on evolution. Being an academic, he used a scholarly tool to irritate the "Talibaptists".
Mr. Paul decided to research the claim that a "secularized" society is worse that a society of the faithful. He called his study: Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies
The MSNBC article is subtitled: Researcher of religion's link to social ills comes under withering attack
, which is a mischaracterization as bad as the distortions of those attacking him.
The "victims" are accusing Mr. Paul of claiming to prove that religion makes societies worse, while Mr. Paul states that the report generally shows a lack of correlation between religion and condition of society.
The Reich just can't stand being judged irrelevant.
Friday Cat Blogging
™ [Kevin Drum]
Bring that box closer...got it!
[Editor: Ringo is not a fan of posing and really doesn't like the flash.]
Not satisfied with John Bolton annoying the United Nations and Ms. Rice annoying Europe, our State Department thought is was a good idea to have David Wilkins, US Ambassador to Canada, get involved in the Canadian election campaign
US-Canadian relations are a bit strained over the unilateral imposition of tariffs on Canadian lumber. The matter has been investigated by the various arbitration panels and the US keeps getting told to stop it and pay the escrowed tariffs to the Canadians, but the US refuses.
Prime Minister Paul Martin [Liberal] has been trying to improve relations with the US, but the Canadian lumber industry is looking for resolution. Stephen Harper [Conservative], Martin's main challenger, thinks that Canada should be tougher in its dealings with the US than Martin is.
If Ambassador Wilkins would like to convince politicians in Canada to stop bashing the US during the campaign, he might suggest that the US government comply with its trade agreements.
RIP William Proxmire 1915-2005
Bill Proxmire took over Joe McCarthy's Senate seat after McCarthy's death and the change was startling. He was a liberal Democrat, ask anyone, which meant he never accepted campaign contributions from anyone and he pushed for a balanced Federal budget.
Some people felt he was a cheapskate because he refused to accept contributions, probably didn't spend $1000 on his six campaigns for the Senate [that's a total for all six combined], opposed Congressional pay raises, and handed out Golden Fleece Awards
to people he felt were wasting tax dollars.
I objected to some of his targets because they were for basic research that later resulted in significant advances, but most of what he highlighted were pork barrel projects that helped politicians get re-elected.
Wikipedia has a basic biography
and CNN has a short obituary
The country could use a few more Proxmire's to clean up the mess the Shrubbery has created.
Another speech to justify what can't be justified: an elective, preemptive war.
is that the Shrubbery "took responsibility" for going to war. Like, hell he did.He said:
At any point along the way, Saddam Hussein could have avoided war by complying with the just demands of the international community. The United States did not choose war -- the choice was Saddam Hussein's.
Fact: there were no WMDs in Iraq when the country was invaded.
Fact: Saddam's government had been saying for years that their WMDs were gone.
Fact: the UN weapons inspectors were forced to leave by the US war and were not allowed to complete their mandated mission.
Another example of Bushspeak
, which is called lying in the real world.
I'm Still Around
I'm having to be sociable to visiting relatives, who apparently decided to do their Christmas shopping in a location that doesn't have snow and single digit temperatures. This has involved a lot of driving around to show them where to go so they can waste their money on things that no one would ever realistically need.
I hope to return to some form of normalcy tomorrow or Thursday.
It is time to wish my family and friends: [select one]Happy NODWISH
С Рождеством Христовым
Sung Tan Chuk Ha
Happy Christmasand hope they are visited by: [select one]Дед Мороз
Los Reyes Magos
Father Christmaswho leaves good things in their: [select one]Stockings
Pillow Case [some people are greedy]rather than the: [select one]Lump of Coal
Stickssome of them may deserve.
Don't forget to leave out the: [select one]Oats
TurnipsFor the: [select one]Horses
BoarsAnd: [select one]Водка и перожки
Milk & Cookies
Wine and bread
Sherry & pork pieFor the driver.
RIP Eugene J. McCarthy 1916-2005
The BBC has reported the passing of Eugene J. McCarthy
, the former Senator of Minnesota and candidate for the President.
Wikipedia has a brief biography
of the Senator, one of the leading politicians who opposed the Vietnam War.
His primary challenge for the Presidency in 1968 is considered to be a major reason for Lyndon Johnson deciding not to seek re-election.
, another example of the Shrubbery's version of supporting the troops
The correct procedure is to assign someone to accompany the body home and to coordinate with the family to see if they wish a military ceremony. While a family may elect to have a local funeral home take care of the transportation, you don't send the family a note saying that you are shipping the remains airfreight and they should check with the airline for the arrival details.
The casualty officer assigned should take care of these things and act as the liaison between the survivors and the military. That is the procedure. That is what is contained the manual. If the military cannot properly honor the dead in accordance with the procedures, they should stop sending them to die.
Reading the article made me extremely angry, beyond the capacity of even swearing to release the fury. You don't desert your dead on the battlefield. Why would the individuals involved in this assume that it would be acceptable to abandon them once they had been returned to this country? The cost of doing this properly is a pittance compared to the price the family has paid in the service of this country.
Call Central Casting
As Digby of Hulabaloo
points out in his article, Desperate
, the California Republicans are feeling "used" by Arnold.
So they are going out to recruit Mad Max
to take on Conan
I'm not sure that he is the Lethal Weapon
that will neutralize The Terminator
, but I'll be happy to let them try.California
doesn't change. They should just make Mel Brooks governor for life and admit what they are.
Show Some Love
is in the hospital. While the prognosis is good, drop by and say "hi".
[Anyone who demands their spouse post a "silly site of the day" from their hospital bed deserves the traffic.]
Friday Cat Blogging
™ [Kevin Drum]
Sharing the Warmth
See, I told you I can behave...for a while.
[Editor: The entire crew decides that it is necessary to share the warmth.]
Can We Pick 'Em
In my memory there was R.L.F. "Robbing Bob" Sikes [re-elected after House reprimand for conflict of interest], Earl "Captain Supremo" Hutto [local children's TV is good training for Congress], Joe "What Dead Intern" Scarborough [intelligence is over-rated], and now, Jeff Miller. These people have all represented the Florida Panhandle in Congress.
Lambert at Corrente
has a post on the Katrina hearings
in which survivors compare the lack of regard for their plight to genocide:
"The comparison is inappropriate, according to Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla.
'Not a single person was marched into a gas chamber and killed," Miller told the survivors.'"
That's right Jeff, being abandoned to drown in an attic or bed bound in a nursing home, is not like being "marched into a gas chamber". Having armed police refusing to allow you to escape from hunger, thirst, and pestilence because of your skin color, is not the same as forcing you into a concentration camp because of your religion. Nonfeasance is not the same crime as malfeasance.
I wonder if Jeff talks to Joe, because that comment is remarkably similar to Joe's reaction to what Milosevic was doing in Kosovo and Bosnia.
According to the Associated Press
several of the huge "megachurches" have decided not to have services on Christmas
The logic would seem to be that everyone will be celebrating Christmas at home and since it's on a Sunday this year they don't think their congregations will want to go to church.
I'm, sorry, but this is a little stunning. A Christian church is not holding services on a Sunday because it is also the day designated as the birthday of Jesus? What happened to "the reason for the Season"?
December 7th, 1941
"A day that will live in infamy..."
Via Avedon Carol
, the official US Navy site on the Pearl Harbor
There will be a memorial service aboard NAS Pensacola that features an ever smaller number of survivors of the attack.
BlogSpot was Bloggered
Last night the Blogger empire was down for several hours before they found and corrected the problem.
The other difficulty
is that they host the Blogger Status
and Blogger Buzz
on the BlogSpot servers, so they had no way of telling anyone what was going on and when it might be repaired.
You would think that a large Internet concern like Google would know better than to do that, especially being based in an earthquake zone.
Justice Department Bloggered
Years of investigation, months in the presentation, new laws to help them out, and the DoJ loses another battle in their "War on Terror"
The case against Sami Al-Arian, 47, had been seen as one of the biggest courtroom tests yet of the Patriot Act's expanded search-and-surveillance powers.
Two co-defendants, Sameeh Hammoudeh and Ghassan Zayed Ballut, were acquitted of all charges. A third, Hatem Naji Fariz, was found not guilty on 24 counts, and jurors deadlocked on the remaining eight.
The U.S. Justice Department had no immediate comment.
Days worth of wiretaps and they couldn't convince a jury to convict on anything. And people wonder why the 9/11 Commission won't give them a passing grade.
Sami Al-Arian is an obnoxious jerk, but Ann, Rush, et al. had better hope that never becomes a crime. Oh, he was also a Bush supporter in 2000, big enough that there are pictures of the Shrubbery and Laura with Al-Arian's family.
The question is: are they going to waste any more tax dollars on the charges that the jury couldn't decide? I don't know if he's innocent or guilty, but this Justice Department is obviously not competent enough to prove their case.
Things Everyone Knew
Two segments on All Things Considered
tells us of the considered judgment of two professionals about Iraq before the war. [audio links]
The first is an interview with Peter Galbraith
, the former ambassador to Croatia and an advisor to the Kurds. Mr. Galbraith makes the point that it is obvious that when repressive governments are removed from countries that are collections of disparate national groups, nationalism will kick in and the artificial constructs will break down into their inherently more stable "natural states". This happened in the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, so it should have been obvious that it was going to happen in Iraq.
In the second, Ex-CIA Agent Robert Baer
talks about the new movie Syriana
, which draws on his experiences working in the Middle East. [Listen to the interview to understand his involvement with the picture.]
He makes a makes a passing comment on the end of the interview that everyone knew that Iraq would come apart if Saddam was removed.
He implies that the reason that he parted ways with the CIA in 1995 was because he was suspected of being involved in a plot to assassinate Saddam, to the point that the FBI hauled him in for questioning.
[Edit: This was my 1000th Post
Snark Is The Key To Understanding
Back on September 7th
at the end of a chunk of miscellany called Post It Notes
, I wrote:
The delay in the Federal response to the disaster was explained today when a member of the White House staff discovered the Louisiana governor's request for Federal assistance in the lint trap of the dryer.
A spokesman remarked, "You know how it is. Someone hands you a note while you're on vacation, and you put it in your pocket. Next thing you know it gets thrown in the washer."
Louisiana governor Blanco has just released all of the state's documents
concerning the Katrina response and it contained this gem:
Five days after one request from the governor for federal help, a presidential aide told Blanco in a memo that Bush never got her letter.
The aide told Blanco, "We found it on the governor's Web site, but we need 'an original' for our staff secretary to formally process the requests."
Sunday evening, Blanco's aides told CNN that the governor personally handed the same letter to the president when he visited New Orleans on September 2.
I thought I was kidding.
There Are Limits to "Polite"
As I was raised in the South, I was inculcated with various admonitions concerning being temperate and polite in social situations. These lessons are part of my basic conditioning for society, but I have learned a corollary to the Golden Rule
: "treat others as they have treated you", sometimes expressed as "payback is a bitch".
Those who are accepted as the Republican leaders and spokespersons can be correctly characterized as crude, rude, uncouth bullies. Being a loud-mouthed braggart is considered an asset to the inner circle of the current Republican Party.
As they view having manners to be a point of weakness to be attacked, it is well past time to stop trying to be "reasonable". The Republicans have no intention of listening to anything or anyone that does not slavishly follow their "talking points". Stop wasting time looking for middle ground or agreement - there isn't any. Avarice for money and power characterizes those in control of the Republican Party and their minions.
These people created a façade of lies to attack another nation; they have contravened laws and treaties to torture people; they endorse "Star Chamber" proceedings; they subvert religion to serve their ends; they pander to the worst in humanity to achieve their goals.
While they harp about protecting the nation from "terrorism", the 9/11 Commission has produced another report telling us that the U.S. not 'well-prepared' for terrorism
. This should not be news to anyone at all familiar to the failed response to hurricane Katrina. The Department of Homeland Security was unable to respond in a competent fashion to a natural disaster that was predicted. Imagine how badly they would react to a terrorist attack. There is no preparation in evidence, everything must occur after an event.
Terry is fed up with being civil
towards raving liars. Bob Geiger is not going to put up with having his patriotism questioned
These people don't want a conversation; they want a conversion. They have progressed in their delusions to demanding obeisance rather than just obedience.
The entire crew and their toadies can kiss my grits.
A Calendar of Coming Events
Feast of Saint NicholasDecember 13th
Feast of Saint Lucia [the immolation of the youngest daughter]December 16th
Birth of Ludwig van BeethovenDecember 21st
Winter Solstice [1335 Eastern Standard Time]HogWatchDecember 23rdFestivusDecember 25th
Birth of Mithras
First day of Hanukkah [begins at sundown which is the night of the 26th on Jewish calenders]December 26thBoxing Day
Feast of Saint Stephan
First day of KwanzaaJanuary 6thFeast of the EpiphanyDía de los ReyesJanuary 7th
[When the Julian solar calendar replaced the old lunar calendar the Winter Solstice was December 25th
. When Pope Gregory corrected the calendar he only corrected it by 10 days and not the full two weeks it was out of synch with the sun, so the date of the Solstice is now the 21st
. Most Orthodox Churches continue to use the Julian calendar which is why their Christmas is on January 7th
In her article, This Is America, 2005
Melanie at Just a Bump in the Beltway
made a reference to how much better Florida and Mississippi were treated by the Federal government following hurricanes in the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons than Louisiana.
I want to disabuse anyone of that impression. Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Jeb Bush of Florida are Republicans and are suppressing the scope of Federal mismanagement.
Folks, I was here. When my personal cache ran out after a week, I got water and ice from the Bank of America, not a government agency at any level.
The Pensacola Beach Blog
just had a post, Little Matchstick Girls
, about the insurance problems and local governments can't finish the clean up from Ivan because FEMA can't make up its mind what it wants them to do.
MSNBC has a continuing feature on its web site, Raising From Ruin
, which focuses on the problems in Mississippi. In a recent entry you can read the story, Flabbergasting
, of a woman who was turned down for FEMA assistance because she didn't suffer enough damage. As the pictures with the article show, her house is gone, totally washed away, but according to FEMA she didn't have enough damage.
Just because the Republican governors don't talk about the incompetence of FEMA, doesn't mean that FEMA did their job, it means the governors have more loyalty to their party, than their people.
Good King Whatshisface
I have always found Good King Wenceslas
This is a real guy, although he was the Duke of Bohemia, and not a king, he was a real member of the 10th
century aristocracy, and he is the patron saint of the Czech Republic. He is revered as a kind man for the way he treated children and slaves. Apparently owning slaves is fine as long as you don't kill too many.
His mother had his grandmother, her mother-in-law, strangled, and he forced his mother out at sword point. He sounds more like he was ready for Dr. Phil, than canonization.
So then we get to the song. The song says that on Saint Stephan's Day, the day after Christmas, he sees one of his peasants out scrounging up fallen limbs to heat his humble hovel, and Wenceslas carries food and a few logs to the peasant's abode to brighten up the holiday.
At the time commoners weren't allowed to cut trees for firewood nor hunt, as those were the rights of the aristocracy. They were allowed to pick up dead limbs in the forest to heat their homes. They would have a fire in their shacks and a smoke hole in the roof, not a fireplace, so the logs weren't going to be useful unless they were split.
On the day after Christmas there were sure to be a lot of leftovers that would go to the kennels, so the "Good King" Wenceslas was carting dog food to a peasant, who was expected to be overcome with gratitude at the beneficence of his Duke.
There is a happy ending: Wenceslas was murdered by his brother's goons after five years of showering the peasants with the happy life that had them out seeking firewood in the middle of a blizzard.
The Church felt kindly towards Wenceslas because his mother was rather repressive towards the Church, while he wasn't, so he became a martyr.
™ [Mercury X23]
Yes, it's the time of year when the Sun dies and must be re-born through an elaborate ceremony that involves some form or type of sacrifice, such as finding gifts for people you can't stand and smiling brightly as you receive yet another gift based on an urban legend that you actually like truly stomach-wrenching color combinations.
Of course there was a time when the Solstice sacrifices were more visceral and the evergreen was covered in things that pleased only ravens and such, but we have put all that behind us by opting for the possibility of electrocuting one another and causing chaos on the power grid.
What a brilliant idea: moving a large supply of pre-kindling soaked with highly flammable resins into your house, loading it down with petrochemical-based ornaments, lacing it with heat-producing electrical devices, and surrounding the base with cardboard boxes and tissue paper. You just can't have a traditional celebration without a proto-bonfire in your living room.
I do think that followers of Mithras
might want to curtail their typical birthday service in light of Mad-Cow Disease
, but global warming will certainly make the services in the oak wood in traditional druidic robes more comfortable.
When you put up your stocking on the mantel and put out the turnips for Gouger, Rooter, Tusker,
as well as the pork pie and sherry for the Hogfather
, you can rest assured the Sun will come up, because it just slipped around back to return the lager it rented.
Enjoy! You have nothing to fear, except that sniveling little creep with the camera/phone at the office party or the eggnog that was put out rather early causing you to suspect that the bits on top aren't nutmeg. [The pictures probably won't appear on the 'Net and the brandy will surely take care of the salmonella.]
[Note: Mercury X23
has graciously re-posted the meaning of NODWISH
Remember: Iraq Is Nothing Like Vietnam
It is sheer coincidence that after listening to the Shrubbery speak at Annapolis, Bobby at Bark Bark Woof Woof
posts The Shadows of the Past
and R. Neal at Facing South
posts The "Vietnamization" phase
which are both based on Nixon's speech on November 3, 1969 outlining his plan for "victory" in Southeast Asia.
The short version of Nixon's speech: "as the South Vietnamese stand up, American troops will stand down".
This was Nixon's "secret plan" to end the war. About 10,000 names were added to The Wall
between this speech and the final pull out.
Too Much of a Bad Thing
The 2005 Hurricane Season
is officially the worst on record.
There were 3 Tropical Depressions, 12 Tropical Storms, and 14 Hurricanes. A total of 26 named storms is a record, 14 hurricanes is a record, 3 category 5 hurricanes [Katrina, Rita, Wilma] is a record, and hurricane Wilma established the new record for the lowest barometric pressure recorded in the Atlantic Basin at 882 millibars.
Hurricane Epsilon is still spinning out in the Atlantic, but it doesn't seem to be threatening land.
It is to be hoped that all of these records are unmatched for a very long time.
10 Marines killed near Falluja
A roadside bomb Thursday killed 10 Marines and wounded 11 others while they were on nighttime "foot patrol near Falluja," the Marine Corps said Friday.
The bomb was "fashioned from several large artillery shells," the Marine Corps said.
The attack is one of the deadliest in recent months. In August a homemade bomb killed 14 Marines and a civilian interpreter just south of Haditha in western Iraq.
The Marines attacked Friday were from Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
My condolences to their families and the Corps.
Friday Cat Blogging
™ [Kevin Drum]
Kung Fu Sox
Feel my power, grasshopper!
[Editor: Sox deflects another attack from Ringo without breaking a sweat and without extending claws.]
On All Things Considered
, Melissa Block's piece, Murtha: Military Supports Call for Iraq Withdrawal
[audio link], is an extended conversion with the Democratic Congressman, Jack Murtha
, who is a hawk and supporter of the military, who has called for withdrawing US troops from Iraq.
A Vietnam veteran and retired Marine Reserves colonel, Congressman Murtha spent a long time weighing his decision, but it is based on his personal evaluation of the situation by actually going to Iraq and talking to the troops on the ground.
Of interest was his evaluation that officers are not reporting their concerns to the Pentagon because they don't want to be fired like General Eric Shinseki
, for disagreeing with the civilian leadership at the Department of Defense.
General Shinseki, the then Army Chief of Staff, testified before Congress that more than a quarter million troops would be needed for the war against Iraq, but his opinion was discounted by Pentagon officials and his replacement was announced 14 months before his retirement. When giving your honest opinion results in losing your job, honest opinions become few and far between.
In the end, no serving Army general would accept appointment as Chief of Staff and Rumsfeld was forced to recall General Peter Schoomaker
from retirement to fill the position.
As Congressman Murtha notes "stay the course" is an easy thing to say sitting in an air conditioned office. There is no plan; there is no course. The troops don't know why they are in Iraq or what they are supposed to be doing other than staying alive to leave.
On This Day - December 1st:
refused to give up her seat on a bus in 1955;The first AIDS case
was diagnosed in 1981;All Hat and No Cattle
went on line in 2000.
Piled Higher and Deeper
The short version of this rant can be found by reading Bush's view of Iraq doesn't square with reality
, analysis of the speech by Calvin Woodward of the Associated Press
Charles of The Fulcrum
explains why this is years late in his post of The Decision Making Cycle
, but then he's a veteran, and this administration expects applause and approval, not opinions from those who have military experience.
Lurch at Main & Central
has Part One
and Part Two
on what a withdrawal from Iraq will look like given the privatization that has taken place in Rumsfeld's Pentagon. We have a much worse situation than Vietnam on our hands, which is why Jack Murtha wanted a Rapid Reaction force in position in his plan.
'Noz at Rubber Hose
looked at the Shubbery's Powerpoint presentation and notices that it doesn't actually go beyond "stay the course", with no real definition of "victory".
Bob Geiger of Yellow Dog Blog
reminds people of what the Shrubbery's supporters really think about veterans.
Jo Fish at Democratic Veteran
tells you about the latest attempt to patch the cracks in the military caused the military's failure to recruit sufficient people.
If you missed it, CNN's article, U.S. to stay in Iraq till[sic] war is won
, is a standard media report.
Bush characterized the U.S. enemy in Iraq as "a combination of rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists." The terrorist group, he said, "is the smallest but the most lethal" of the three.
"Our strategy in Iraq is clear," Bush said. "Our tactics are flexible and dynamic. We have changed them as conditions required and they are bringing us victory against a brutal enemy."
The last time Bush appeared before a crowd that wasn't handpicked or constrained by employment from expressing their real feelings, was the last debate during the election. Those debates were the only time the man had to deal with those who disagreed with him in years.
A minor quibble, can't they hire a graphic designer? The retro Time
magazine cover of National Strategy for Victory in Iraq
is atrocious. There is no real content, so they should have spent some time making it look important and serious.
They don't provide any real definition of what "victory" means, they still don't have any "metrics". They talk about numbers of Iraqi troops, but they have repeatedly had to revise those figures, so they have no meaning. They keep changing the base point for all of their other figures on electricity, oil production, and other infrastructure levels and they have been caught doing it, so those numbers are worthless.
The real metric is "where can you safely go in the country", i.e. how much of the country is actually secure? Kurdistan has remained secure, and the Shi'ia have secured some of the South, but the Sunni and mixed population areas show no signs of improvements.
At least the Shrubbery finally admitted that the "terrorists" represent the smallest group, although he still refuses to understand that "foreign troops on Iraqi soil" is the one unifying element in this mess.
I was going to be nice and not bring this up, but the Shrubbery injected 9/11 into this, so: yes, the midshipman all entered after the attacks on the World Trade Center as it was more than four years ago, and Osama bin Laden is still at large. We had three chances to take out Al Zarqawi and we didn't do it. Why should anyone believe that this administration is serious about the War on Terror