Thursday, February 23, 2006
Hey kids, I'm headed home early today to finish packing for my Hawaii trip. Headed out to a conference from Saturday through Tuesday and then heading to Kauai for some much needed R&R for a week. Then, so sadly, I have to make a stop in Palm Springs and the OC on my return on March 7 and 8th. I'm taking my computer and camera so there may be some interesting photos and bloging, but it is Hawaii, so who knows what the connection situation will be. If I can get to a signal, I'll be posting, if not, I'll be drinking Mai Tais by the lagoon.
Worst case scenario is I'll be back March 10th.
It's Not About Dubai
Building on this ongoing ports issue, for me it is not necessarily an issue with Dubai or the UAE per se. As mentioned yesterday, the UAE and Dubai especially are working to put themselves into the modern world by diversify their economy and setting themselves up as the Hong Kong of the Middle East. (Of course I wouldn't buy property here or necessarily invest myself as it is still subject to the whims of its Emire...but he seems pretty moderate and focused on the long term health of his country). Anyway, the core issue on the ports deal is the administrations handling of the affair...it's been ham handed and amateurish...but then again, what's new.
First off, it's politics 101 - not rocket science to know that handing over a contract to an Arab nation would raise eyebrows. There may certainly be a good rationale (even if it is a quid pro quo for support in the WOT), but the key to diffusing such issues before they erupt is to keep your allies in the loop on the decision making process. First and Hassert didn't seem to be on board, nor did the governors of the states involved. When pressed for why this decision was made, we get a petulant.."I'm trying to conduct foreign affairs here...trust me." and then a "even if you don't trust me, it's a done deal...veto, veto, veto". That the issue, not the UAE.
The problem is two fold, first Bush didn't even include his key allies - leaders within his own party, and governors of both parties in the areas affected. He claimed it's been fully vetted, but then reverses himself the next day saying he didn't know it was going to a UAE company. Even Donald Rumsfeld (God bless him) who sits on the committee that allegedly approved the deal without dissent, claims to know nothing of this deal until it hit the press.
And on the trust issue...We Republicans (or former republicans in my case) have a slight inclination not to trust government anyway. Couple that inherent distrust with the long track record of this administration...WMD, NSA spying, Iraq war costs, Katrina-HSD, and it's previous pledges and only a fool, or perhaps Fred Barnes would be willing to offer up that trust. The rhetoric of this administration does not match its actions and results...they have squandered our trust and must earn it...this is not the way.
So in the end, that's the issue for me. A ham-handed-father-knows-best attitude that not only leaves out other branches of government and the American citizens, but one that sticks a finger in the eye of even Bush's strongest supporters on Capitol Hill..who of course are up for reelection in a few months. Good job George.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
That was quick...
So, yesterday we get reassurance from the Prez that they've gone over every detail on the Port contract and everything is a-ok. Now Drudge is reporting that
"White House says President Bush did not know about an Arab-owned company taking over operations at major American seaports until the deal was completed..."
Yes, please re-read that statement again...the deal was completed before a decisive issue on security even was recognized.
It's also being reported that SecDef Rumsfeld, who sits on the panel that unanimously approved this contract, didn't find out about it til yesterday.
So, is it amateur hour?
National Security is Bush's trump card, his supposed strength. Am I supposed to believe that this management deal, that has national security implications, made it through the entire executive apparatus without the Sec Def or the President knowing that the company taking over was an Islamic sultanate?
Yesterday when President Bush posed his question (blogged below) his attitude was "Hey, I'm telling you this is ok...trust me, I'm the President". But there is no trust after the WMD, Iraq war, Katrina, false veto promises of the past, etc. And if we'd trusted him yesterday, and Drudge's report that the Prez. didn't know about the UAE connection is true (a big if), then he really has no right to ever again ask us for that trust.
I must note too, that I do think part of this is a bit over the top (I've been to the UAE and they're no democracy, but trying really hard to become modern and progressive) ...but it is a political issue...one that Bush will lose. So it is no surprise that my prediction of just 14 hours ago that the White House would turn tail on this appears to have already begun....
I think I've posted earlier that while I have some reservations of folks like Yahoo and Google 'censoring' their search results in China, that didn't bother as much as Yahoo's assistance in tracking down a pro-democracy blogger and helping Chinese authorities put him in jail for eight years. Now, this morning I stumble upon this on Andrew Sullivan's blog.
(Instapundit disproves this one...) But yahoo is still suspect if you ask me.
Seems that Yahoo won't let you use any combination of words that spell "Allah" in your email ID, which would suck if your name was something like C-allah-an or something. Funny enough you can use Jesus, Buddah, Jehova and even priest or quran.
Has yahoo succumb to the threats of intimidation by islamists? Communists? Perhaps, but I certainly won't be trusting them with all the data that is generated by my web searches, and you probably shouldn't either.
Search engines generate a wealth of information about us as users, we should support companies that treat that information with respect and confidentiality, at least in terms of handing it over to government authorities...yahoo seems to rank pretty low in that regard.
I ain't no Rupert Murdoch, but thanks for tuning in!
I love legos. But even better it seems, is the emerging trend of story telling on the web with legos. Here ya go.
Hunting Accident w/ Dick Cheney.
The Brick Testament
(First two links via boingboing)
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Questions for President Bush
Here's my question for the Prez, who so thoughtfully asked for our input on the UAE ports deal. Earlier this year, you said that the federal government won't help GM or Ford with their troubles. "They need to make a relevant product" you said. So my question is thus. Why does a little piss-ant solar power company get a federal bailout and two huge employers, whose bankruptcy would cost the government more than a bailout, get the shaft?
Oh yes, you weren't making an appearance at a GM plant.
UAE Port Deal: Prez Asks
Today President Bush asks, "I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company?"
Great Britain is a democracy, not a sultanate.
Great Britain hasn't laundered money used in 9/11 attacks.
Great Britain wasn't one of the three countries that recognized the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.
Great Britain wasn't reported by the Treasury Department as being uncooperative with post 9/11 efforts to track down Osama Bin Laden's financing.
Great Britain isn't home to the company that CSS (Current holder of this contract) was sold to (it was sold the the UAE Company) and a Great British Citizen wasn't the former head of CSX (that would be Secretary Snow, who approved the deal).
Great Britain hasn't been a transshipment point for nuclear technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea.
Does that answer your question King...err. President Bush?
And like his promise to veto the highway bill, the anti-torture amendment, and other legislation, it's a false promise. AND when Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Coburn are singing the same tune you can probably count on a veto proof majority (especially in an election year) to step up to kill the deal.
PREDICTION: By the end of the week the Administration will have largely backed down on this deal or at the very least, will be singing a different tune. The life span of this veto threat is probably close to that of a fruit fly.
UAE Port Contract
Phfffttt! Giggle, LOL!
Bush, who hasn't vetoed a single bill in five years is expecting us to believe this? Hey, I don't mind if a Dubai based company is running our port system, but if they can do that, why do I have to be virtually strip searched every time I go to the airport?
The chances of Bush vetoing any backlash legislation on this are about as high as the Dems being able to use this for their own electoral gain...near zero.
I Almost Forgot!
I'm Going To Hawaii...Yay!
Busy week at work as I am preparing to leave the office for a speaking engagement in.... Hawaii! Yay! Leave on Friday for five days at a conference in Honlulu, then I'm heading to Kauai for five days or so. On my return I'm stopping off in Palm Springs and the O.C. for a series of speeches. In all I'll be on the road from Feb. 24 to March 10. Can't wait. I'll play it by ear on the blogging front depending on access to wifi and such. More to come
Prez Touts Alternative Energy Sources
President Bush is touring some alternative energy plants today in Michigan and Colorado. Batteries and solar seem to be the topic dejour. Only problem is that the solar plant was in the red and about to lay off a bunch of people..but solar is no GM and the government stepped in with a bailout (albeit a small one).
The lab, with a looming $28 million budget shortfall, had announced it was cutting its staff by 32 people, including eight researchers. But in advance of Bush's visit, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman over the weekend directed the transfer of $5 million to the private contractor that runs the lab, so the jobs can be saved.
Okay, besides solar power being an eternal 'fringe' technology, this whole things smacks of a Potemkin Village. A company that can't make a profit is arguably, in Bush's words, "not making a relvant product." So I'm a bit skeptical on the 'startling' breakthroughs. I am confident however, that scientists will soon develop a hyrbid car that runs on fetal stem cells and cures parkinson's disease. On the conservation side, we probably could save a ton of energy by turning off all those darned TVs in the Situation Room.
Monday, February 20, 2006
This is what I get for checking out Fox News Webpage today. It's always scary stuff at Fox, bbut my Gods! The death of Apple's OS?! I made the switch almost two years ago after my crappy toshiba laptop died, taking most of my files and music with it. My ibook has been a great little computer, solid, functional and most importantly...stable. What scares me most is that this article makes a good case...pitty, I love my MAC operating system.
Greedy, Disabled Canadians
A couple of my favorite things
One thing I find amusing is our inner assumption that those with disabilities are 'nice' and 'try hard.' Maybe it was Cancer-Boy who started this, or perhaps maybe it is just human nature to assume those who may be 'less-abled' are thankful for everything they have. The flaw in this logic though is that those with disabilities are just like you and I, capable of both bravery and courage, and just as capable of being jerks.
But a woman learns her lesson in Hawaii, beware the greedy, disabled Canadian.
(Actually, truth be told here this woman has a legal claim against the person who found the camera as the law is not 'finders keepers' but rather the finder has a claim to the camera against everyone else, except the true owner.)
Happy President's Day
The original version of the holiday was in commemoration of George Washington's birthday in 1796 (the last full year of his presidency). Washington, according to the calendar that has been used since at least the mid-18th century, was born on February 22, 1732. According to the old style calendar in use back then, however, he was born on February 11. At least in 1796, many Americans celebrated his birthday on the 22nd while others marked the occasion on the 11th instead. (More here)
When the King is on Vacation..
How very interesting. Seems like much (and rightfully) maligned FEMA Director Mike Brown did give a shout out to the White House...it's just that they were all on vacation. It seems that the subtext here is that even Bush's senior advisors are afraid to bother him when he's away at play. Sounds imperious to me...
Friday, February 17, 2006
Let's All Help Fight Against...
With all the craziness over smoking bans around the country, it was just a matter of time before this issue popped up. Ugly people! They seem to be the source of crime and if you think about it, can effect your health like second hand smoke. I mean, like this morning when I stepped on the metro and saw a really 'striking' person (no doubt from Maryland) The sight was such a shock it raised my blood pressure and caused a bit of nausia. So, if I can't smoke at the bar, on a plane, in an oxygen tent - then I think it is only fair that we sequester all the ugly people out there.
(Pictured: Carol from Maryland)
A Few Questions about this Greenland Thing...
This morning we've been treated to the dreadful news that GREENLAND IS SHEDDING ITS GLACIERS into the sea, a sign of accelerated global warming. A clear sign, it is said, that the worst case scenario is upon us. Perhaps.
But I also remember many stories about how the total ice cap on Greenland is actually growing, despite glaciers dumping more ice into the sea around the edges..like here.
So which is it? Both perhaps? Some reconciliation here would help I think.
Cheney Takes A Shot
The only thing I find interesting in the otherwise tragic hunting accident involving VP Cheney is that it seems to confirm my theory that it takes the administration three days or so after any crisis to figure out how to handle it. But more important by far is this little tid-bit that was reported yesterday.
"Cheney said an executive order gives him, and President Bush, power to declassify information. 'I have certainly advocated declassification. I have participated in declassification decisions,' Cheney said. Asked for details, he said, 'I don't want to get into that. There's an executive order that specifies who has classification authority, and obviously it focuses first and foremost on the president, but also includes the vice president.'"
I find this intriguing as if you put it into the political translator, what it really says is:
Valarie Plame's identify as a CIA operative was classified (thus the leak was a felony). Dick Cheney ordered it to be leaked in retribution for Ms. Plame's husband's unfavorable (yet accurate) assesment of Iraq's WMD. Even though Cheney may have ordered the leak of the identity of a covert spy (again a felony), regardless of the motivation, he has broad authority to declassify such information at will, so it really isn't a crime or a felony.
Clever really, bury the lede in the avalanche of coverage of an otherwise irrelevant story about a hunting accident. It just begs the question, even if Cheney has this reported authority to declassify information like a spy's indentity, will President Bush still fire the leaker as he promised?
Thursday, February 16, 2006
FMA: If it's an election year
There must be another fake marriage crisis!
Ok, I don't mean a crisis of people entering into fake marriages, although the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes thing could be an indicator. I mean after all the hype and hubabaloo in 2004 on how marriage as an institution was about to collapse, 2005 was rather quite on this front. That's of course because the whole gay-marriage/marriage protection movement is a voter turnout gimmick and that's the same reason why we will see it come up again in 2006, and the very same reason why the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) will be brought to a vote and fail.
Interestingly enough, since Massachusetts legalized gay marriage nearly 3 years ago, no state has been forced to recognize its marriages and only one or two states have moved to adopt domestic partnership or gay marriage statutes. Even the federal Defense of Marriage Act has been upheld by a federal court in Florida. On the flip side, more than 17 states have adopted blanket bans on any form of domestic partnerships (straight or gay). The much-feared collapse of traditional marriage has not occurred, and doesn't seem to even be on the horizon. (Interestingly enough, the state with the lowest divorce rate remains.... Massachusetts).
In fact in 2006 more than 10 states will have the issue on the November ballot. As we saw in 2004, this is a great issue to get the fundamentalist crowd out to the polls. That's why yet again amid promises by Majority Leader Frist to bring up the FMA in the Senate, that I am telling you yet again that the FMA is a political ploy that is designed to fail. Passing the FMA would render the 10 or so state ballot initiatives moot, and as we know the latest get out the vote drive is getting us all hyped out about the gay marriage boogey man. So, as we approach the November elections, expect the Senate to make a lot of noise about this issue, and expect the FMA to yet again fail to garner the 67 or votes needed to pass. Sadly, perhaps elements of the GOP are hoping that the general publics faux rage about same-sex marriages/domestic partnerships (How dare they!) will also blind us to their ineffective governance and free spending ways. Mark my words on this one.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Which means of course that only one man can help us now...Mr. Weatherby.
Last one out of Michigan
Michigan is a great place. Oh yes, the winters are pretty miserable if you hate snow (I don't), but you usually get a white Christmas and the Great Lakes make the summers sunny and temperate. As an industrial power house, Michigan has great universities, public schools and fairly decent services.
Things declined in the late 1970s with the collapse of the old industrial order, but Michigan still came out of it better than say Pittsburgh (No steel is made in Pittsburgh anymore) or even Cleveland. In the next few years that may change, with both GM and Ford looking like they may be on the verge of bankruptcy. Fortune thinks its inevitable.
Already you can see some of the effects. As background, Michigan is pretty much divided into two parts that roughly follow the I-75 corridor that splits the state into the industrial east, and the more conservative west. Having grown up in the industrial east (Saginaw-ish) it's a bit ironic that neither I nor my brothers, nor anyone I was close to in high school, still lives in that part of the state, if they live in the state at all.
In fact of my four fellow H.S. graduates who went on to the prestigious University of Michigan, only one still lives in the state. Most, like me have gone on to other places, DC, NYC, LA, SLC, etc.
Even my brothers have lodged themselves in the still growing and diversifying western half of the state. One in Grand Rapids (which is diversifying into high end health care) the other in the touristy Traverse City. Both are in services as well (Accounting, Medicine).
The collapse of either GM or Ford (or as we say in Michigan "Ford's") would be a death blow to the state. Michigan's future may have been foretold by the City of Flint. Once the fastest growing city in America (and birthplace of GM), it is now largely a ghost town. This is all neither good nor bad, just part of the ever evolving (or ever intelligent designing) economy. But it still makes me wax nostalgic to see such a mighty industrial state slowly sink into irrelevance.
Yahoo, Google, MSN
But saavy Chinese hackers will probably end up breaching the fire-walls created by the Yahoo-Google-MSN sell out to the commies.
Last time I was out in LA, Midgie and I hung out with LDM who is a video game producer for Sony. Anyway, we hung out at her house and played Guitar Hero which was quite fun. I've been itching to get a system since I've gotten back. Now after reading this...
Before you assume gadgets and video games fry the minds of the future, consider this: Canadian researchers are finding evidence that the high-speed, multitasking of the young and wireless can help protect their brains from aging.
Perhaps I will. (Of course it is a Cannadian study..so you can never be too sure about it.)
The Terror Watch List
For some reason, this terror watch list article reminds me of a Jerry Springer show where some "Baby Mama Drama" leads someone to call social services as a way to seek revenge on a neighbor for some form of 'dissing. What does it take to get on the terror watch list? A funny sounding name? An ACLU membership card? A blog? We don't know because the government won't tell us. If you are unfortunate enough to have your name on the list, you can't appeal that decision either.
Just remember that the government is always right and out to protect us and our freedoms...even if that means that 298,000 innocent citizens may loose some of their freedoms in the process.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Every day when I wake up I thank God (the real one) that I live in a country that doesn't do crazy stuff like this...(D'oh! I forgot!)
Of course some one needs to let them know that eating the 'rose' of the profit Mohamed is probably far more blasphemous than those cartoons....think about it...and don't even get me started on the tossed salad of Medina.
And of course there was that "Pocket of Persia" I ate when I was in Malaysia.
Yahoo!, Google, Called to Capitol Hill
Like many, I find it disturbing that Google and Yahoo!, among others, have plunged headlong into the Chinese market accepting censorship controls imposed by the Chinese government. At some level, I can sort of understand it. I don't however, understand Yahoo!'s decision to divulge the identity of a pro-democracy blogger who, thanks to Yahoo! is serving an eight year jail sentence. Now Congress has called them up to explain all this.
Thank goodness our government would never pressure internet companies to spy on us...
I'm sure that members of Congress will ask tough questions and won't grandstand or anything...sigh.
It's Not A Popularity Contest
Bush would be about as popular (39%) as those kids who dress up like Neo from the Matrix, go to goth parties and promote veganism. (Clearly I have not a clue about today's youth). But I do know that people are getting tired of the ongoing spending and mismanagement of government by the Republican majority.
Of course, the lack of leadership is not a partisan issue. Al Gore this past week was out criticizing the Bush Administration for not sucking up to the Saudi's enough following 9/11?! WTF?
I don't care if they come from the left or the right, but we need better leadership in this country and fast.
Monday, February 13, 2006
Puppy Mass Transit
Via Midgie from La-La Land....It just doesn't get any cuter than this.
You're Either With Him
Just about eveyone is linking to Glen Greenwald today, as they should. Glen takes a sentiment echoed by this website for some time...That Bush is a faux conservative..in fact, I called him a theorcratic-socialist in an effort to bridge the apparent paradox of his leadership being both overly authoritarian and at the same time, embracing of big goverment. Glen goes further...
Now, in order to be considered a "liberal," only one thing is required – a failure to pledge blind loyalty to George W. Bush. The minute one criticizes him is the minute that one becomes a "liberal," regardless of the ground on which the criticism is based. And the more one criticizes him, by definition, the more "liberal" one is. Whether one is a "liberal" -- or, for that matter, a "conservative" -- is now no longer a function of one’s actual political views, but is a function purely of one’s personal loyalty to George Bush.
Sadly, he's so right. At the moment we are facing the threat of a larger war with the Islamo-facists, Bush will leave the GOP broken and the Dems. are still looking for a direction. Scary..because what Glen says is so true.
The politics of failure have failed...we must make them work again....
Heaven forbid anyone bothers Bush during his vacation...
Congress Exempts Self
Because you can't smokey backroom deals without...smoke!
One thing you used to be able to count on was DC governments total inability to get anything done, like having the streets plowed after a snow storm. Well, that's not the case anymore. In fact most major streets were clear early Sunday morning despite nearly a foot of snow. Of course as a result, I'm at work thing morning.
Sorry We're Full
Oh no! I'm supposed to go speak at a conference in Honolulu in ten days...hope they let me in...
Sunday, February 12, 2006
So much for my plan to live blog the snow storm. When I went to bed last night there was just under an inch on the ground. I woke up to this...
Not an impressive storm by Snow Belt Standards, but for the East Coast it's not too shabby. Certainly a pleasant view to wake up to!
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Well, based on the local news, I expected to be eating my feet at this point. As of now, a steady drizzle turning into light flakes, nothing to get excited about. Still, one can hope. The Home and Garden Show was fun, Mrs. America was there and she was doing color analysis of attendees (I don't understand the connection to landscaping, but whatever). Got some good ideas for my back yard. In the meantime, updates to follow.
Terror Storm: Update
It's lightly sprinkling here in DC, but the local weather reporters are frothing at the mouth, 8 to 14 inches of snow is in the forcast! I'd be surprised if we get more than 4 inches, but what do I know. I'm headed out to the DC Home and Garden Show at the convention center and updates will follow. In the meantime this morning I found out the Ms. D, who lives across the street, has a son who works on the road crew and he stopped by this morning to tell her he'd have the plows hit our streets through out the day and night...sweet!
No significant snow expected til later tonight, but my camera is ready!
Friday, February 10, 2006
Live Blogging the Apocalypse
Hey, since I'll be stuck at home tomorrow patiently waiting for instructions from my local weatherman how to safely deal with a few inches of snow (Wear a hat!)...I figure, why not live blog the storm. I'll dust off my weather gear...get out the high tech Storm Stick 3000 and bring you live updates and photos from ground zero.
I have to come into the office in the morning (a Saturday? I know!) but they say the storm will get going around noon, so expect some updates to being around that time.
It's Time To Panic!
Wow, after last weeks scary mild temperatures, this weekend is shaping up to be the apocolypse, that is if you believe the local weather 'casters. Seems that there is a chance of an old fashioned 'Noreaster coming up the coast and perhaps dumping maybe five inches of snow on the DC area.
Never ones for understatement, the morning radio was telling folks to rush to the store to stock up on supplies as it 'could get ugly.' Perhaps Anderson Cooper will show up to report on the devastation...exagerate it, and then never speak of it again...(cough.New Orleans...cough)
Everything Continues to Be Just Fine!
Everything continues to be just dandy here in Washington, DC. King George and his courtesan continue to do everything in their power (and even stuff outside their scope of power to protect us.) Need proof? Here it is:
Bush details foiled 2002 terror plot: Yes, I totally believe it, and releasing this nugget of detail during hearings on his potentially unconstitutional spying is just pure coincidence, as is the small oversight that no one told the officials in LA about it.
Also, former courtesan, FEMA Director, and fashion God Michael Brown will testify today. Seems that Mr. Brown may drop some 'bombs' on how the administration knew about the levy failures right away, but waited to act. Hope he bought a nice new shirt for his appearance and of course let's hope he actually prepares for his testimony.
Seems that Jack Abramoff knew President Bush fairly well, and had traveled to the fabled Crawford Ranch (Elephant knows several lobbyists who've been to Bush's Ranch), seems Bush is a lot more like Reagan than we give him credit for as he 'doesn't remember' meeting Mr. Abramoff...or more succinctly.."Bush doesn't Know Jack!".
Scooter Libby gives it up and Cheney may have authorized his leaking of Plame's identity. More tough decisive action to protect the realm from enemies abroad and within....
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Brownie is Back!
Poor, poor Michael Brown...He can't get any respect can he? Also another pleasant reminder that he resigned and was never fired!
Ok for the record, Lost is the show I love to hate. First off, I think they are pretty much making stuff up as they go along, and why hasn't Hurly or anyone else lost any weight after two months stranded on the island? Anyway, I watched it last night and picked up on two clues (or misinformation) in the story that I thought I'd share below, as I usually miss this stuff, but a couple of things caught my eye. (Highlight to read)
First, did anyone notice Locke shaking a book? Did you see what book it was? It was An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge. A story about a guy that's about to be hung during the civil war. The whole story is an illusion that takes place between the time the gallows door opens and the time the rope constricts around his neck killing him. (A great short story, probably second to Shirley Jackson's the Lottery).
Second, when Siad and Hurley are listening to the short wave radio, it is playing the Glen Miller Orchestra. Glen Miller disappeared when his plane went down during WWII tour. Coincidence? Probably not, but me thinks that this is all probably red herring stuff as many viewers have speculated that everyone on the island is already dead. But regardless, I'm happy I was able to be these two very obvious clues together.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
And they don't like what they are hearing....
GWB: Who Does His Homework?
As part of the Contract with America, the Congress passed and presented President Clinton with line item veto power. In 1998 the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the line item veto as unconstitutional, meaning, if President Bush wants that power, then we have to adopt a constitutional Amendment on the matter. Of course I might feel bad for the President if he had used his regular veto power at all in the past three years, but he hasn't.
It just begs the question, in calling for a line item veto, who did the homework on that one...it was just 8 short years ago this transpired. This is leadership?
If We Could All Be So Lucky
Wouldn't it be great if we could all get a restraining order against Paris Hilton? I find her continued media presence one of the most baffling phenomena of the new millennium. A prime example of how having money does not equate to having class. This skank (or is she a slut?) is so repellent that I cannot in good conscience stay at a Hilton Hotel knowing that even one penny of my money might find its way into her or her family's account.
Interestingly enough, family patriach Conrad Hilton did in fact exclude his children from the estate when he died. But they challenged the will and won, thus a generation of two later blessing the world with Paris. Oddly enough her sister, Nicki doesn't bother me at all.
South Park's send up of La Paris pretty much sums it all up. (Note: Possibly Not Safe for Work)
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Can you guess which ward I live in? Yes Ward 5!
Seems that my neighborhood listserve is abuzz with reports that many of the businesses that will be displaced by the new baseball stadium may consider moving into the North Eastern Quadrant of DC, most likely to Ward Five.
How nice! I've been hoping more businesses would move up into the up and coming old neighborhood where I've invested a small fortune in a restored house. Of course I was thinking Starbucks and such, but I guess that a all-male strip clubs, message parlors and slacker teen dance halls will add to the ambiance of the 'hood. Of course I am sure this is in no way realted to my neighborhoods recent rejection of the city's efforts to make us a historic district, 'cause they'd never do something like that would they?
As Goes GM
So Goes Michigan...
An incredibly bleak story about the prospects for General Motors, whose bankruptcy is increasingly looking like a near certainty. It's collapse will devastate what's left of Detroit and probably drag Michigan down with it...or at least the industrial eastern half of the state. Times change, corporations adapt or die, but it doesn't make it any easier to watch it unfold.
Iran Cartoon Contest!
Ok, again with the false rage here. Iran is sponsoring a contest to see who can draw the most offensive cartoon regarding the holocaust. You know that very same holocaust that the supreme Mullah of Iran claims never happened. It should be a tough contest, as I'm told anti-semitic cartoons and articles are pretty much the Ann Landers of Iranian papers, so it will take an especially creative Iranian to come up with the winning concept.
Keep beating this dead horse guys.
And another tought? Has anyone thanked the Danish cartoonist who's art started this whole farce? I think he/she has done more to expose these zealots for what they are than any leader in the West. Thanks guys!
Monday, February 06, 2006
So I'm Supposed to Believe This Tripe?
Ok, events seem to be progressing rapidly in the 'Muslim World' with the ongoing "outrage" over the "offensive" cartoon depictions of the prophet Mohammed in a Danish paper. Excuse me if I have a few follow up questions.
Am I to believe for a minute that the burning of the Danish and Norwegian embassy is a spontaneous reaction from an offended Syrian populace? Syria is governed by the same party that used to govern Iraq..the Baathists. They tolerate no dissent, restrict mass assembly and run a police state. But oh yes, this spontaneous anger manifested itself into a mob scene and the police were unable to stop the destruction of the embassies. (Most likely because they were directed the government chartered buses full of protestors to pre-arranged parking spaces.)
Also, I mentioned yesterday and Virginia Postrel (she's soo dreamy) expands upon.
My response to this nonsense is to wonder why Muslims don't grow up. If your co-religionists are going to take political stands, and blow up innocent people in the name of Islam, political cartoonists are going to occasionally take satirical swipes at your religion. Those swipes may not be nuanced, but they're what you can expect when you live in a free society, where you, too, can hold views others find offensive. If you don't like it, move to Saudi Arabia. Or just try to peacefully convert people to Islam. As Fred Barnes points out, the current cover of Rolling Stone is offensive to (hypersensitive, paranoid, publicity-seeking) Christians, but they aren't threatening anyone with physical violence.
Any doubts I had the elements of fundamentalist Islam are seeking a confrontation with the West have been dashed. They are testing us, hoping like other totalitarian philosophies of the past, to use our own freedoms against us...(insert trite Nazi analogy here). They are pushing here, prodding there to test their theories about us, and how our decadent lives have made us soft and ripe for conquest. They are highly organized, yet have limited structure and do not reside within a traditional nation state. All very Cylon-ish (except with less sexy outfits and certainly a lot less kissing). Of course the U.S. takes a strong stand and says that Freedom of Press/Expression shouldn't apply to religion. (Indonesia, please take note...attack someone else's consulate..) But they are pushing, analyzing, studying and preparing. Too bad we're viewing this through a lens of cultural sensitivity and a quest for mutual understanding, because what they are looking for is capitulation.
NSA Spying Hearings This Week...
It should be interesting to see what transpires this week as the Senate gears up for hearings on the NSA spying program. It appears that AG Gonzalez may have perjured himself before Congress a year or so ago when he denied such a program exists (Don't worry, perjury is only a crime when it is committed by a Democrat in relation to an extra marital affair).
So the big question is: Did Bush violate the 4th Amendment and it if did, what will Congress do about it? (My take: Yes, and nothing).
And for the record to our friends at NSA: "George Bush is the kindest, most generous and bravest man I know."
Superbowl Sunday: Go Steelers!
Wow, I really enjoyed being a lumph yesterday and just plopping myself down in front of the television to consume mass quantities and enjoy myself. I was rooting for the Steelers (as a rust belt raised boy you kind of have to). Also caught part of the Puppy Bowl II on Animal Planet which was pretty clever counter programming if you ask me.
The game was good-ish. Seattle seemed to be their own worst enemy with several fouls gumming up their efforts to score. And of course even the aged Rolling Stones proved too edgy for network censors.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Islam: A Religion of Peace
Wow! Muslim's in Syria and Lebanon have torched the Danish and Norwegian embassies over a cartoon. I would hate to see their reaction if someone were to say... blow up a bunch of innocent civilians in the name of Mohammed?! Oh wait...
Friday, February 03, 2006
The Exile Continues
This isn't Republicanism...
I begin my weekend a bit angry, but mostly just sad. This weeks National Journal has a detailed and troubling account of the Guantanomo situation (short summary- It's not good) and then we had the unfolding of the cartoon wars both here in DC and in Europe.
First, the faux rage over the Tom Toles cartoon that poked fun of Rumsfeld. The cartoon, featured here, used a limbless Iraqi War Vet to make a point. The government's reaction? The Joint Chiefs of Staff (The highest military authority in this country) directly contacted the artist to condemn his work and pressure the paper to apologize. And if that wasn't chilling enough...
Today the State Department took the side of Islamic Fundamentalists in the ongoing cartoon wars in Europe. More on that here. WTF? Does that mean my "Buddy Jesus" T-shirt is now illegal? Do I have to check with the government before I make any sort of comment on any religion? There is a word for this kind of statement: Appeasement.
What's more disturbing is the near total alignment in the blogosphere on the side of freedom of the press on this issue. Disturbing because if you asked me, I don't think I could ever find an issue that brings together the following bloggers:
Each of these blogs has a unique philosophical/political bent...but on this issue they all speak as one....Basically, what an embarrassing and dreadful mistake our government has just made. (Sadly, one of may I might add).
What's interesting is that Donkey, Midgie and I have had long conversations about the growing power of the extreme, religiously fanatical right in this country (who I might add do not speak for a majority of Christians in this country). Anyway, the question was, if our rights and liberties started to erode in this country, to the hyperbolic point of becoming a Margaret Attwood/George Orwell/Sinclair Lewis type country...what would be the signs..when would you know it was time to take up 'arms' (so to speak) or to just plain leave? I think I've just witnesses the first significant indicator.
The sad part is that this comes just days after Bush eloquently talked about the creative vitality of the United States and how we should treasure and protect it, even add to it by opening our trade and borders to those who want to share in that dream. His actions belie this statement. And of course, the only rule that's worked for me in politics is "Pay attention to nothing that politicians say, just what they do."
Here's to hoping the more widely read blogs work to create a blog storm on this issue. In the mean time, I ponder the future of our Republic and mourn the current shame that is our government. Finally, something I thought I'd never do...I stand by Michelle Malkin's statement: "People of Europe, the State Department does not speak for me, or most other Americans."
Or as a reader on Instapundit put it: "Did I miss the State Department analysis of Piss Christ?"
(NOTE: Blogging from my Mac, so links aren't easy to do, I trust that you all can find the websites discussed)
Dear lord could this agency be any more useless?! This week FEMA unveiled FEMA Kids, a disaster planning site for children. It even has a "Poochie" like rap so kids can jam out and learn to those hip-hoppy songs that seem to be so popular. The site dispenses helpful advice like:
- Make sure you are wearing shoes after an earthquake.
- (In case of a volcanic eruption) do not visit the volcano site. You could be killed by a sudden explosion.
- Tornadoes can be very scary. If you are scared, be sure to talk to someone about it.
- If you go out in very cold weather, dress in several layers of clothing.
Of course if this type of ridiculous government spending took place under a democratic administration, the GOP would be appointing an independent counsel to investigate. But these are new times. The website also markets a coloring book called "A Scary Thing Happened", sadly it isn't about how the current administration has lost all touch with reality.
As a citizen/patriot, I feel I must do my part for FEMA kids as well. So, I am freely offering all rights associated with this song I just wrote...
(To the tune of "Frere Jaques")
Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping Michael Brown? Michael Brown?
Warning bells are ringing, warning bells are ringing..
Run and hide, run and hide...
Oddly, a disaster not discussed on this site is the current administrations ability to spend, spend, spend on any and every aspect of goverment, useful or otherwise.
This Administration is not wimpy.
Here's another example of how tough our current GOP led Administration is. A boy in RI apparently wrote an essay about his perfect day. A day that for him would involve allegedly inflicting violence against President Bush and Oprah Winfrey. The boy is now being investigated by the Secret Service...You know the Clinton Administration would simply build a new gym where this troubled lad could take out his aggression with some 'midnight basketball.' But with Bush and Co. you know they mean business.
Can we blame this troubled lad for his pent up rage? Government spending is up nearly 40% in the last five years, our national debt has doubled in that sort period as well. The government's intelligence apparatus is flawed seemingly beyond repair and the feds let thousands languished in the aftermath of Kartina but all flew back to Washington to vote on Terri Schiavo legislation. And then there is Oprah. Her recent defense of "A Million Little Pieces", her turning Dr. Phil loose on the American populace (and for a short period of time Jay McGraw his son!)...and her endless stories about her friend Gail. Oprah even gave my friend N a puppy that later tried to kill her!
So, I can understand this lad's rage, although I don't condone it. But what I really like is that Alberto Gonzales will probably lock this kid up (perhaps declare him an enemy combatant!), perhaps torture him, and maybe bring him to trial at some far off future date. That sure beats midnight basketball and is just another reason why we should all be thankful for King George, Protector of the Realm.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Is it 2008 yet?
"One day after President Bush vowed to reduce America's dependence on Middle East oil by cutting imports from there 75 percent by 2025, his energy secretary and national economic adviser said Wednesday that the president didn't mean it literally. "
Yeah...kind of like WMD and Torture...
If It's Thursday, It Must Be
Wow, fresh off of its 20th Anniversary of the Challenger disaster, NASA has another shamefully day of reflection...the loss 17 years after Challenger of the Shuttle Columbia. Both shuttles were the victims of the same government blunders and mismanagement...sad.
Let's also not forget that three years ago this week Collin Powell made his case on Iraqi WMD's before the UN. That seemed to play out pretty good too, didn't it?!
New New Orleans?
Do we need yet another argument against big government? I don't think so, but perhaps this is one, or maybe it's just a sad story. I've had two interesting conversations lately with folks here in DC about NOLA. Neither was very positive.
First, I was talking with Donkey. His firm wanted to support NOLA by having a meeting of his firms CEO's and such in NOLA this year. In all a meeting for about 200 people. Unfortunately, the hotels and facilities in NOLA could not handle this size of a group.
Next, I was talking with the meeting director of a trade group that has a monstrous show. (It's so big that only three cities can host it: Orlando, Vegas, and NOLA) They did a site visit to NOLA for a meeting that they are planning a year from this April (2007!). Sadly, she reported that the city is still pretty shabby. The downtown is ok, although she did say the even some of the large downtown hotels are still missing windows and such. But it looks like they will have to move the 2007 show too.
The Boston Globe has more here.
Of course this probably makes Detroit perk up a bit...as NOLA now takes the title of most post apocalyptic city in America.
Kill The Stadium
Ummm...Dear City Counsel. Please do not use my tax dollars to build a stadium. Thank you.
Seems DC's proposed new baseball stadium project has two characteristics. 1) The plan keeps changing, and 2) The cost to us tax payers keeps going up. Why do I have to build a stadium for a group of private investors so they can make money? I don't get it...
The House GOP
Big vote today in the GOP caucus on the majority leader post. Roy Blunt (MO) would be a vote for the status qou, while votes for Boehner or Shadegg would each mean some degree of change. We can always hope....
Who's alligned with who at The Hill.
Ending Oil Dependence...
Lot's of guffaws at the President's goal of cutting our dependency of Middle Eastern Oil by 75% in the next 14 years or so. Of course parsing the President's words.."Middle East" means of course we can import more oil from Venezuela, Nigeria and so forth and thus be 'less dependent' on Middle Eastern imports...How very Clintonian.
Anyway, prior to the speech, I did read a compelling article in last week's Fortune Magazine. Is it possible to drastically reduce imports of oil. Yes, in fact Brazil seems to have been able to kick the habit by making greater use of ethanol. Seems genetic engineers have new ways to make the stuff and it's better than that gasohol crap in the 1970s. Better yet, a regulatory quick has made a good portion of U.S. cars already capable of using either gas or ethanol blended fuels. Compelling and perhaps possible. Oh and as an added bonus, we could cut the green house gas emissions from our cars by up to 80%. Seems worthy of exploring to me.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
The State of the Union is "Meh".....
Wow! I was not looking forward to the SOTU speech at all yesterday, but when I finally sat down to watch it, I did get a little into a whole pageantry and traditions of democracy kind of mode. The President spoke well and was on his game, but the substance was sorely lacking and he was a bit too defensive on the whole Iraq thing. (For a moment I thought we was going to declare the firstGalacticc Republic.) Anyway, what struck me most about the speech and about Governor Kaine's response was that we did get a little of a conservative speech and a little does of big government liberalism...It's just that Bush's speech was the big government liberalism and Governor Kaine's speech (with the exception of a call for the return of the windfall profits tax) was more conservative...go figure.
Seriously though, if you look at what Bush proposed it was like Ted Kennedy's dreams come true. A 22% increase in DOE funding, a federal program to hire 70,000 more teachers, acknowledgement that healthcare for the elderly and poor is the responsibility of the federal government, and other 'investment initiatives.' Spend, spend, spend King George! The only difference between Ted Kennedy and George Bush on the role of government is that King George wants to expand federal programs into our bedrooms and perhaps women's uteruses (after all it's not uter-u...it's uter-us!). The smaller government, fiscal restraint that brought on the new republican majority is dead...Bush killed it and heaven forbid any of us should question it. Confirming the GOP's abandonment of conservative principle was theraucoussapplausee the Prez. got for his unappologetic defense of ignoring the 4th Amendment.
Of course the highlight of the night is when the Dems did a standing ovation when Bush mentioned that Congress failed to act on his social security reform..he, he that was funny...Bush of course showed them though when he called for yet another commission on social security reform..how ballsy George.
Governor Kaine was a different story. His left eyebrow aside, he did a decent job and his message was more of a moderate/libertarian republican with a dash of Clintonian DLC-ish-ness than was Bush's. Responsible government, well run government, accountable government...I remember those messages from the mid 1990s when the GOP was trying to get the majority...The GOP used to mean it, they don't anymore. Kaine's refrain of "There's better way" was nice, but way over used.
Just as it is shaping up as a battle between John McCain and George Allen for the GOP Presidential nom., we should keep a eye on Kaine (or his predecessor Warner) and Iowa's Tom Vilsack... as I think we are starting to see the early messages we'll be hearing more of as we approach 2008.
I was surprised I enjoyed last night as much as I did. Perhaps it isbecausee after five years, I have abandoned any pretext that Bush will actually do anything remotely conservative in the classic sense (e.g. -welfare reform, reducing government spending and the like). He's a Big Government man through and through...and if you like that stuff then good for you...but there used to be a time when such big government supporters were called by their true name..Socialists...not Republicans.