Sunday, July 31, 2005

Impotence Defined

Hearing Nick Nolte's Colonel Oliver declare to the news cameras that, "We're here as peace-keepers, not peace-makers."

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people get slaughtered. Rwanda was not a high-point for the United Nations. The good Colonel's political considerations keep him from the obvious choice even as a truckload of civilians under UN sanction comes under attack by Hutu thugs. The best he can do is fire a pistol shot into the ground in warning.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands are slaughtered while western nations take steps only to evacuate their own nationals and the UN parades around, seemingly the only people in the entire country impressed with it's dedication to peace and security, unable even to avenge the wanton killing of members of the peace-keeping force.

The west is and ought to be ashamed by it's response to the genocide in Rwanda, but there is special blame for the UN in it's impotence; it was there, it saw what was going on and made no effort to stop it when it would have mattered.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Paul Baits Hook, Sim Strikes

Selflessness personified.


A Padres post from Paul? Things really ARE bad in Trolleywreckville ;-) Not that they are particularly dandy in Friarland these days.

Phil Nevin and selfless are two words that should never be uttered within 235 seconds of one another. Does not compute, as they say.

The attempted trade of Nevin to Baltimore last week (and subsequent successful trade of him to Texas this evening) is about three things:

1. More ABs for the X Man (of X Man Cometh Fame)

2. Nevin's contract. Hi-dollar low-production and a comprehensive no-trade clause which vests at the conclusion of this season makes him more than unattractive. Despite limited NTC powers (8 teams) SD was unsuccessful in trading him three times in three years due to Nevin-obstinence. Now he is on the verge of global no-trade powers. Why Texas, my second favorite team (which is desperate for pitching) would take on this kind of player and contract boggles, to say the least.

3. Nevin's personality. As a Padres fan, I can think of only one other time when I despised one of our players: the first spring training of Rickey Henderson's career in SD (but like Deion Sanders, I quickly learned that the dude is fantastic as long as he's on your side). Nevin is the quintessential pea-brain, redneck, prima-donna who couches everything in "winning championships" and "doing anything for the team," but whose actions are about Phil, Phil and Phil in that order. The man could not shut his pie-hole. Whether it was complaining about PETCO Park's dimensions, criticizing the minor league staff's handling of pitchers, Ryan Klesko's play, Bruce Bochy's lineups, the labor negotiations, the WTO, Mystic River, etc. Phil never met a topic he wouldn't express opinions on, no matter how ill-informed and inappropriate commentary might have been.

Nevin was never the kind of ballplayer I like: well-rounded with skills in all facets of the game combined with a "shut-up and play ball" mentality. During his tenure in San Diego, Nevin showed that he couldn't adequately man a defensive position and displayed no speed. He was a strikeout machine that never corrected a proclivity for the low and away pitch with runners in scoring position. Consequently, watching off-balance swings in which it appeared as though Nevin were trying to hit a golf ball became the frustrating norm in those situations.

Needless to say, in my opinion, Phil Nevin will not be missed in San Diego. As much as the Friars need more offense, the subtraction of Nevin can mean nothing but better times ahead for the Friars. They traded him for Chan Ho Park. If Park never throws a pitch in San Diego, this is a watershed deal.

Ding dong, the witch is dead.

Now, if they could only do something about Ryan Klesko, the new Public Enemy #1....

Friday, July 29, 2005

Health blogging, the final post

Hold the presses!

Wife went to the specialist for her pre-op assessment. There's no more cyst. Gone, dissolved, pfft!

We'll be having no surgery on Monday!

At the risk of sounding like some loony cloudtalker, God is good! All the time!

Selflessness personified

Baseball blog Yard Work has this to say about Phil Nevin's selfless act this week.

The Verdict

Kevin Bendermen was sentenced yesterday as his court martial concluded:

Benderman was acquitted of desertion but convicted of the lesser charge of missing movement, meaning he skipped his Jan. 8 deployment flight. He could have received five years in prison if convicted of desertion.

Along with his prison sentence, Benderman will receive a dishonorable discharge and have his rank reduced to private.

Classic Conspiracy Contradictions

One of the things that always amazes me about the conspriacy theorists that pillory the Bush administration on a daily basis is the logical contradiction inherent in their erratic claims. The Bushies are simultaneoulsy the networked puppetmasters; gaming the global system for personal gain, and the incompetent, inarticulate morons; running the country into the ground and bringing the planet to the brink of collapse.

Thus it was nice to see the guys over at OxBlog pointing out the inconsistency in the commentary from The New York Times' Bob Herbert. Also a nice reference to the reality of Bush idealism and Democrat cynicism.

Pop Quiz

What constitutes a "major combat operation,"?

Health blogging, one more time

My wife arrived from California late last night. She's having another out-patient surgery on Monday morning that should take care of a couple of things.

Aside from the intended outcome, it appears that this was the source of additional GI problems not taken care of by the gall bladder removal. The hope is that both issues will be cleared up and life can return to normal after she is recovered.

Her mom arrives at Sky Harbor Saturday morning and will be spending the week with us to help around the house. I'm looking forward to that for several reasons, not the least of which is that I'll get some home-cooked meals while my wife is at less than 100%!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Some Terrorists Decide to Give Up


After 35 years, 3600 deaths, bombings, brutality, hunger strikes, Bloody Sunday, Good Friday, Guildford, Enniskillen and Bobby Sands, it appears that the Irish Republican Army has officially renounced violence in response to British rule in Northern Ireland. In an unprecedented video statement, a representative of the IRA announced what could amount to an end of "The Troubles."

The leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann (the IRA) has formally ordered an end to the armed campaign. This will take effect from 4 p.m. this afternoon. All IRA units have been ordered to dump arms. All volunteers have been instructed to assist the development of purely political and democratic programs through exclusively peaceful means.

This is not the first time that the IRA has pledged to renounce violence, but there is reason to believe that this time they mean it. Sinn Fein, the IRA's political arm seems to have been fully co-opted by the political process and appears to hold significant sway over the paramilitary arm. As the political process has progressed in recent years, the IRA has been more involved in common criminality than actual terrorism.

If the IRA really does decommission its arms and commit to its pledge to engage in deeper, constructive political dialogue, then this is great news for the people of Northern Island and the UK as a whole. Anyone who has listened to early U2 albums, or seen films like In the Name of the Father, The Boxer, Bloody Sunday and others knows the heartache that this violence has generated on all sides and must rejoice upon hearing this news. Moreover, the tireless efforts of Bill Clinton and George Mitchell must be credited with aiding the process. This moment could never have come without the Good Friday agreement negotiated by Clinton's inspired choice of Mitchell as Special Envoy.

But in celebrating today's announcement and hoping for it to hold, it is important to look at the greater meaning in a story that has been surprisingly under-reported in the US media. Should the IRA carry-out its commitments, this represents an example of a violent, terrorist organization getting out of the business of perpetrating violence against civilians for political purposes. It behooves all of those interested in how best to fight the Global War on Terrorism to intensely study Britain's handling of the violence in Northern Ireland. While there are fundamental differences between an IRA that often phoned-in warnings of attacks and an al Qaeda which isn't known for such humanity, it seems to me that it would be valuable to study Britain's successes, failures and intelligence methods along with the general trajectory of the IRA movement and ultimately, the role of the political process in bringing this tragic era to a close.

Still overzealous

My overzealous vendor strikes again!

At the end of the day yesterday I forwarded him a request from our client to introduce their logo onto more pages of the survey links. Granted, not a difficult undertaking.

His reply though reminded me of an over-eager people-pleaser. Just way too keen to please...

Don't get me wrong, good vendors are hard to find and easily worth their weight in gold. But there's good service and then there's good service!

Floodgates open. Torrent of Spew Begins

OK, OK, OK. A trickle of spew was seen a couple of days ago. But it wasn't the torrent promised to Paul. I apologize to everyone for being MIA ever since my return from New Orleans. But it's really taken this long to recover ;-)

No, not really. I've unfortunately been fairly busy with some other stuff, including some work that Paul previously mentioned which is aimed at souping this thing up into a bad-boy blog. So, my dear fans, please forgive me.

I'll hop back on the goodfoot and bring you the torrent of spew you all deserve.


Everybody has a twin

When we first came to Arizona, my wife constantly made comparison between friends and acquaintances in California and people she was meeting here. It served as a frame of reference to help understand what people were like.

That further bolstered an argument that I make that asserts that everybody has a twin. For everyone there is at least one person somewhere out there that is physically similar and/or with a similar personality, disposition or temperament.

This does also. I first saw Alien as a teenager and have loved it ever since. My wife, God love her, knows this and was willing to humor me when she bought me a copy of the Director's cut recently.

With her out of town, I've had plenty of time to devote to such. So after finishing the Director's Cut, I moved on to the extras. Where I was immediately taken aback.

Ron Cobb, credited here as concept artist, could easily pass for one of my co-workers. Eerily so.

The only difference is one wears a goatee and the other a beard. It's uncanny, but not unexpected I guess.

Cuz everybody has a twin.

Swine flu revisited

I read this and I have to check the calendar. What year is it, 2005 or 1976?

Streptococcus suis, known in layman’s terms as swine flu, is endemic in swine in most pig-rearing countries in the world but human infections are rare. Although China’s state media has said no human-to-human infections have been found in Sichuan, the death toll is considered unusually high.

Swine flu is not known to have ever been passed between humans, but scientists fear it could mutate into a strain that could easily pass among people. Compounded with its deadliness, such a bug could unleash an epidemic, killing many people.

There's a right way and a wrong way

Regards many things there's usually a right way to do things and a wrong way to do the same.

Kevin Benderman is free to believe that his presence in Iraq is wrong. But there's a right way and a wrong way to deal with it.

Today, Benderman faces a court-martial for desertion when he refused to deploy with his unit for a second tour in Iraq last year:

He did not tell commanders he planned to seek objector status until 15 months later, after he had trained with his unit for a year in preparation to return to Iraq and had packed his bags to ship overseas.

He skipped his 3rd Infantry Division unit's deployment flight Jan. 8, just 10 days after giving Fort Stewart commanders notice that he was seeking a discharge as a conscientious objector.

Prosecutors argue Benderman had an obligation to deploy while his conscientious objector application was pending, and his actions betrayed the soldiers in his unit. The Army Conscientious Objector Review Board rejected Benderman's application April 22

If the origin of his opposition came from his first tour in 2003, why would he wait for more than a year to apply for conscientious objector status until days before he was scheduled to re-deploy? If in fact he knew he didn't want to be there for those reasons (which are perfectly legitimate), why not immediately move for conscientious objector status?

Whether it is accurate or not, the way he handled it gives the appearance that he simply wanted an out because he didn't want to re-deploy. Perhaps the charges of desertion, as his lawyer has asserted, are in fact trumped-up.

Bottom line though, Kevin didn't do this the right way and now he has to face the consequence of that.

Janet wants to move on

From today's Republic: Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano, who angered Republican legislators by vetoing two major education bills and later claiming credit for GOP-sponsored tax relief for businesses, said Wednesday that she hopes they can put aside partisan differences and move beyond "dead horse" issues that divide them.

(Aside from the link above, you can read more posts on this running feud here, here, here, here as well as here, and finally here.)

"Dead horse" issues? Surprising rhetoric, at least to me. I acknowledge that I'm somewhat cynical in my analysis of it, but it sounds like Janet wants to avoid a discussion of the vetoes altogether.

"Moving forward," is necessary because there is unfinished work at the Capitol. Fundamentally though there is an issue of trust now between the Governor and the Legislature that needs addressing. Yet another example can be seen here where the Legislature is charging that she took credit for their achievement: More recently, they accused her of falsely claiming credit in June for spearheading successful efforts to reduce business property taxes.

For her part, Janet seemingly wants no part of it: Napolitano told reporters Wednesday that she doesn't want to get into a war of words with Republicans on tax issues and instead wants to work together on consensus proposals to move the state forward. She called the Republican-sponsored bill on corporate income tax relief that helped prompt Intel Corp. to pick Arizona for a new plant an example of what can be accomplished.

"That's what I want to get the Legislature refocused on - how we get back to working together beyond partisan politics and into what the state needs to move forward," Napolitano said.

Janet is meeting next month with legislative leaders Bennett and Weiers. Exactly how- and how fast they'll all be moving forward remains to be seen.

Publicly at least, the Republican leaders take a stance similar to mine; Janet created a trust deficit when she vetoed the original bills. She did nothing to improve that by the way she has handled the situation and answered questions since May.

Ken Bennett bottom-lines the leadership's position thus: ...Republicans' distrust has been heightened by Napolitano's later claim on her role in the property tax change. "It's becoming increasingly difficult to believe her at all," he said.

That kind of says it all. Janet broke trust.

She wants to move forward, but doing so will take an effort, among other things, at rebuilding that trust. The legislature needs to know that a future deal designed to replace the vetoed bills will in fact be kept.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Overzealous vendor

In the course of a recent not-so-busy day I stopped to do some analysis of how exactly I use my time here at work. I came up with the following breakdown:

50% of the time I'm waiting on vendors. Waiting for databases to be built, questions to be answered or for some sort of special request to be met.

25% of my time I spend working furiously to meet my own deadlines after receiving said information from vendors.

The other 25% is spent killing time in various miscellaneous-yet-constructive ways. (KIDDING! Well sort of...)

It's come to my attention in the course of working closely with one particular vendor that he's a bit eager to please. We've been trading emails all day as I've tested their programming for one of our studies.

He's replied quickly and acquiesced to every request and correction. Even after stringing him along for a couple of extra hours while I waited for an answer on our end from higher-up.

I gave him our final instructions as of 3:15 this afternoon. His reply took only six minutes and included an obvious suck-up line.

Does he actually think I have any authority around here?!

Turnabout is fair play

The Republic notes that "key Bush aides" skipped the first congressional hearing on the President's immigration-reform policy:

Eighteen months after President Bush first called on Congress to enact immigration reform that includes a temporary-worker plan for foreigners, two top officials of his administration were no-shows Tuesday for the Senate's first major hearing on the politically thorny issue.

No detailed explanation was given as to why Labor Secretary Elaine Chao and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff did not testify as scheduled, except that "they were not ready yet," a disappointed Sen. Arlen Specter said after the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Maybe they were taking their cue from Senate Democrats:

This morning the Wall Street Journal reported that Senate Democrats were planning “to grill Bush confidant Karen Hughes” about her involvement in the ever widening leak-case. But, Senate Democrats must have gotten lost on the way to the hearing. Not one showed up. Instead, according to the Associated Press:

“A scaled-back Senate Foreign Relations Committee showered praise Friday on Karen Hughes and put the former political adviser to President Bush on a fast track to confirmation as the State Department’s top public relations official.”

The absence of the Democrats is even more glaring considering just today the New York Times reported that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald called Karen Hughes before the grand jury to testify as to her involvement in the leak-case. Of course, this begs the obvious question: Karen Hughes, did you have a role in leaking the name of an undercover CIA agent?

Instead of any substantive questions, the Democrats simply didn’t show up.


That was easy!

We listed the house on Saturday the 23rd. As of Tuesday the 26th, we'd had but a handful of visits but from those, two offers.

Both at the asking price. So in riding the benefit of timing and for 3 days work, we'll be selling the house for more than double what we paid for it. I can see where people think this real estate stuff is pretty easy...

Where's the spew!?

I was promised a Torrent of Spew™ (© Simian Logician, 2005) last week but nothing has yet materialized. Not even a trickle of spew...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I was having a bad day

I mentioned exactly why a little earlier in the day. I figured it could only get better, and I was right.

I got home to discover that the painter, after doing some preliminary work on the patio last evening and promising to be here in the morning today before I left for work, had in fact not been here. At all.

At which point I couldn't decide which response was better; calling him up and screaming, or shrugging it off and chalking it up to a really bad day. It didn't stop there though.

In the course of his patio work last evening, he emptied every thing out from under the covered area; plants, plant stands, barbecue(s), garden tools, the kitchen sink...everything and left it out in the rest of the yard. Ostensibly so that he could finish the patio today.

Not more than 10 minutes after I get home we get our first good monsoon storm of the season. So all my patio is sitting out in the yard getting doused in a thunderstorm.

Great. On the bright side, there were no heavy winds to blow it all into the neighbor's yard.

Just as I'm prepared to spend the evening reveling in self-pity, I'm reminded that the realtor is coming over to discuss offers on the house. There is hope after all!

Sure enough, that alone was enough to turn the day around. Details will follow tomorrow. So after this I'm thinking that, on the whole, I can live with the day. Good news, bad news...such is life.

About eight o'clock I realize I haven't picked up the mail yet so I hoof it out to the mailbox and there it was! The one thing most responsible for turning me around...a fundraising mailer from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the National Resources Defense Council.

I know, strange sense of humor but I was so punchy from the rest of the day it didn't take much to push me over the edge. Kennedy should run for President of Moronica. Calling this hyperbole is understating things just a tad.

To wit (this is the teaser quote on the envelope, never mind the stuff in the letter!):

The Bush Administration is quietly putting radical new policies in place that will let its corporate allies poison our air, foul our water and devastate our wildlands for decades to come.

Later when I read the letter I learned this is not hyperbole; it's fact. How you ask? Well, Bob told me so: It took thirty years to put these vital protections in place. But by the end of this year, this Administration will be close to wiping them out.

That's not exaggeration. That's not hyperbole. It's a fact.

As an aside, I've got to think that if Bob and his boys feel the need to tell us that they're not using over-the-top rhetoric, chances are good that they're using over-the-top rhetoric. If they weren't, what would there be to wonder about? What would require reassurance as to the veracity of their claim(s)?

Getting back to the evil corporate polluters, I've always wondered something. Do these people live on the moon, or maybe on Mars? Maybe they live in a super-secret underwater city.

Point being of course, how do they escape the ill effects of their evil corporate pollution? How does their own little Johnny avoid breathing that poisoned air or drinking fouled water?

Bob, are you truly asking me to believe that Lee Raymond thinks that water that is undrinkable and air that is unbreathable is a good idea? Are you asking me to think that corporate officers don't care that their own children live in this same world, subject to the same wanton environmental destruction you fear for the rest of us, all-the-while not-caring and full speed ahead!? I don't know if that's what you really think, but that appears to be what your rhetoric is saying.

That's why the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is now mobilizing one million Americans to send the President and Senate a message loud and clear:

We refuse to go back to a time when corporations could poison our air and water at will...destroy our forests without regard for wildlife...and ravage our most beloved landscapes for profit.

Frankly, that's the best laugh I've had all day!

Contributing to my headache

You've already heard about this. To add to the joy and frivolity, I've called my mortgage holders today looking for a payoff figure. The house being up for sale and all...

Brent at Aurora Loan Services advised me (after confirming that I am in fact the borrower) that he cannot give a verbal payoff. Now, I'd already listened to the automated menu tell me about the automated faxed payoff statement.

"How fast does that turnaround," I ask.

"There's a five-to-seven day turnaround via fax."

Killing me. "There's no way you can just tell me what the payoff figure is?"

"No sir, I can't give a verbal payoff."

Killing me again. Well, gotta get the information.

Before I can speak again, Brent asks if he should mail or fax the statement. Imagining that they'd be hard-pressed to do worse than a 5-7 day turnaround, I figured I'd go with the mailed version. No doubt, I'll be wrong on that assessment; it's just that kind of day.

As the call is ending, Brent wishes me a good day. Yeah, little late for that, but thanks anyway.

I didn't even bother trying to track down a human being over at Countrywide. Soon as I heard something about a mailed- or faxed-request I hung up. What's the point after all?

The poor slob on the other end of the phone isn't personally responsible for my travails, so why subject them to the cathartic outpouring of all my frustrations? It just wouldn't be nice.

If anybody wants to start a mortgage company that is actually lender-friendly, they'll make millions. And they'll get my business from here to the end of time.

Living in Moronica

Twaddle. Pure twaddle.

I hate being stupid

I seem to have lost or misplaced my checkbook. That's a headache I don't need at this point in time...

In response

Reader JPE responded to yesterday's quip about Joe Wilson. His comment reads:

The op-ed doesn't claim Cheney sent Wilson. Unless lack of reading comprehension is part of being smart now, the post title is a bit misleading.

Well, not so fast.

Granted, since we're talking about a time-frame of two plus years we have the advantage of multiple-sources. As Jonah pointed out earlier in the day at the Corner, the initial assumption that Wilson is saying he was sent by the VP's office is just that--an assumption made based on a reading of his op-ed.

What was Wilson saying to other reporters in '03? Jonah points to Nick Kristoff's mea-culpa in May that year:

I left out the fact that Wilson told Nick Kristoff (Kristoff later admitted it) that Cheney was behind Wilson's trip to Africa. That's the context of Wilson's own op-ed. Here's what Kristoff wrote on May 6, 2003:

I'm told by a person involved in the Niger caper that more than a year ago the vice president's office asked for an investigation of the uranium deal, so a former U.S. ambassador to Africa was dispatched to Niger. In February 2002, according to someone present at the meetings, that envoy reported to the C.I.A. and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong and that the documents had been forged.

We're all friends here!

That's the only thing missing in this tongue-in-cheek slam by Republic editorialist Doug MacEachern on cartoonist Steve Benson:

The annual "monster shark derby" off Martha's Vineyard, Mass., has hauled in a record 1,100-pound tiger shark. One admiring competitor said the big, dead beast truly qualified as a monster. It "could eat you," he observed. Well, in theory, so could my voraciously opinionated friend Steve Benson. But that doesn't mean you should put a hook in him.

The observed life isn't worth living

I think that's how it goes. If not, I'm sure I'll get corrected.

Hugh made a "Rove is to Bush as Vince Foster is to Clinton" observation yesterday:

Bill Clinton drove a lot of conservatives crazy, and a lot of credibility was lost as a result. The same sort of meltdown is now under way on the left, an amazing overkill that probably has its roots in payoffs but which has dramatically overestimated the traction of their claims.

Sadly, I was one of them for a short time. I bailed out around the time this stuff started to get hot; it just wasn't credible and it bordered on an obsessive paranoia. I didn't like Clinton as President, but I had actual reasons for it. I didn't need innuendo about drug-smuggling and conspiracy to commit murder to feed my dislike. Bill did plenty of that just by showing up on my tv every day.

That's where the concept of the observed life comes in. I stopped because I knew it was taking me somewhere I didn't want to go. It's somewhere that many on the left have whole-heartedly embraced and have no qualms about inhabiting.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Corporate Ruination

It takes more than just a mastery of PowerPoint to make you a master of presentation; buzz words and lots of numbers help!

Smart people read National Review Online

Like this guy:

did he let his wife read the op-ed prior to his sending it to the NY Times? we know he let his neighbor see it. would his wife have allowed that nonsense about Cheney sending Wilson to Niger? I mean, if he hadn't had that lie in there, would any of this had happened? Let's assume she did read it. The only way to interpret it is that Valerie was in on the act and trying to discredit the President, too. That would, in my opinion, make her fair game.

Welcome to Moronica

I'm making up words now. This has been in the works for a while; every time I see something so ridiculous as to defy description, I find myself looking for an adequate descriptor of said absurdity. It's gotten to the point in the last several months that existing terms do no justice to the foolishness and idiocy I see.

In those last months I've found myself brought to this place, to a word that embodies the qualities of stupidity I see in some commentary from the left, professional and amateur. This word embodies the moronic commentary we see from all the folks suffering from Talking Point Regurge and treats it as an actual locale, a place where all those pre-disposed to thinking in Talking Points live together in peace and harmony. A place where the tech-bubble never burst, where the Clinton Foreign Policy team continues to keep us all safe and where your 401K is still worth a million dollars.

A place I call Moronica.

Today's newest resident of Moronica is Gerald from Cave Creek:

Back in the 1960s, when I was going to college, I had this idea that over time countries would merge toward a central point.

I thought Russia would look and behave more like the United States, and we would sadly look more like the "old" communist Russia.

Since then, Russia has had a revolution and has overthrown the communists and has some roots in democracy. Here, we now have many laws and spy agencies that look like they came from the old Russia, including the KGB.

These new spy powers for our government can be OK, if those in control are honorable. But there will be abuses. These abuses will bring a lessening of our democracy.

Time will tell how much of our democracy is being lost. Any amount is too much.

Gerald is convinced that as Congress considers renewing the Patriot Act, we take another step towards dictatorial totalitarianism replete with all the official state apparatchiks to keep it all in place. Even though he likely can't point to a single proven case of someone's civil rights being violated through enforcement of any of the Act's provisions.

Welcome to Moronica!

Home for Sale

Lovely 3 Bedroom, 2.5 bath home for sale. Desirable neighborhood near Arrowhead Ranch. Close to shopping, restaurants and schools.

Popular open floor-plan with vaulted ceilings. Landscaped back-yard with small dog run.

Window treatments do not convey. Neither do the dogs.

Blogosphere 1 Left-Wing Fishwraps 0

My "favorite" UK publication, The Guardian, has this tendency to portray the United States and its policies in the worst possible light. Always blaring a headline about some injustice we've perpetrated on the rest of the victimized planet, The Guardian can be counted upon to be well-regarded journalistically at the same time it pushes its Michael Moore agenda.

So it was tremendous glee that I learned of this today:

The Guardian has terminated a reporter's one-year training contract after a blogger revealed the writer was a member of an extremist Islamist political party and had not declared his interest to the newspaper when he wrote for its comment pages after the July 7 attacks.

How many other undeclared anti-Semites and Islamists are writing for The Guardian? Also, it was interesting to see that Gonzo Georgie manages to get a mention as well:

In April, George Galloway alleged that a group organised by Hizb ut-Tahrir had sought to disrupt his campaigning in London ahead of the general election. The mob described the MP as a "false prophet".

Seems that selling out to al-Jazeera and Saddam hasn't won Galloway too many friends in the Muslim community, either.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Benson v. Prager

On Wednesday last, Republic cartoonist Steve Benson struck again. As usual, it elicits a response from both sides of the spectrum.

First off, we have Zeigh in Chandler:

Just as I was going blind from the glare of minivans and SUVs displaying those bright yellow ribbons supporting the war in Iraq, Steve Benson has saved my eyesight and sanity with his cartoon on Wednesday. Rarely does a political cartoonist capture the true essence of such an emotional issue. I was forced to spill my coffee, toss the newspaper upon the floor, and stand boldly in my bathrobe applauding how Benson was able to say in one picture what so many Americans have been thinking since this futile war began!

Yes, I am a proud American. Yes, I support every man and woman who serves in this great county's military.

No, I do not support the war in Iraq. That is why I feel that all those misdirected yellow ribbons also need the phrase "Bring them home alive now" added to them.

Next, Art in Phoenix:

Obviously, Republic cartoonist Steve Benson has his anti-war-on-terror stance.

Is it just me or is anyone else out there reading The Arizona Republic who finds Benson's war-related drawings to be gratuitous, immature and off the mark?

No, Art. You're not alone. I for one agree, but opinions are like noses; everybody has one and they're welcome to it. Including both Benson and Zeigh. But I think both miss something entirely.

What they call support is really not. I have no doubt they wish they didn't have to see young American men and women die in Iraq. That is honest and, frankly, I wish it weren't happening either.

But is this really support? Yes, I support every man and woman who serves in this great county's military. No, I do not support the war in Iraq. I believe not.

Why is best illustrated in a piece recently written by Dennis Prager. He uses a simple analogy to press his main point. Simply stated, how can I support anyone when I say that the actions they're involved in are wrong, misguided and/or immoral?:

In order to understand this, we need to first have a working definition of the term "support the troops." Presumably it means that one supports what the troops are doing and rooting for them to succeed. What else could "support the troops" mean? If you say, for example, that you support the Yankees or the Dodgers, we assume it means you want them to win.

How exactly can you support someone involved in something you disagree with? It just doesn't jibe. Dennis is right; it's not a matter of patriotism, but of honesty. As I said, I have no qualms with anyone saying they don't want to see more dead Americans. But don't dress it up as "I support the troops."

You can't support the troops while crapping on the mission. Just not possible.

Killing Egyptians because of Iraq

I have a hard time thinking you can link this to Iraq. Though I'm sure some will try...

Security officials put the toll at 49 killed and about 200 wounded. The Interior Ministry put out a statement putting the toll at 31 people and 107 wounded. Details on the explosions were sketchy, due to the hour they went off and Sharm's remote location.

The dead in the Sharm blasts included British, Russian, Dutch, Kuwaitis, Saudis, Qataris and Egyptians, a security official said. The officials, including the one in the crisis control center, were speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were giving information not yet included in the official statement.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Back to the list

Couple of biggies look to be checked off...

House is professionally cleaned and in show-shape as of 3:50 PM this afternoon. I can do maintenance, but scrubbing the tub? Not so much...

Finally got a hold of the painter; turns out he was stranded for two days up in Utah. Oops. Long and short of it, appears that the exterior will be painted over the weekend.

Messenger drowns out message

First thing I thought of when I saw this. How does anyone think that asking Anita Hill to write about a Supreme Court nomination is a good idea?

But was John Roberts chosen because he's the best choice for the court or because he may easily be confirmed? And why not choose a woman to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court? Or use this as an opportunity to nominate the first Latino to the court?

Not surprisingly, the answer to these questions has to do with the politics of confirmability. One thing is certain: If nominees are selected based on the very narrow and elite credentials that brought us John Roberts, a wide range of equally qualified, more diverse candidates will never even be considered.

The "politics of confirmability,"...I like it! There is merit to an argument about "narrow and elite credentials" and it ought to be discussed. But wow...

Asking Anita Hill to get within 100 yards of a SC nomination is like as if we asked Richard Nixon to weigh in on political corruption--you'll never get to hear what he's saying, you'll be too busy remembering the hubris of the Watergate cover-up. Messenger drowns out message.

Surely, somebody else could have competently made this argument...


Jonathan Chait, writing for the LA Times suggests that President Bush exercises far, far too much. I understand it's commentary, but it's moronic; it would be moronic if he were serious and it would be moronic if he's trying to be tongue-in-cheek. Moronic is moronic, after all.

My guess is that Bush associates exercise with discipline, and associates a lack of discipline with his younger, boozehound days. "The president," said Fleischer, "finds [exercise] very healthy in terms of … keeping in shape. But it's also good for the mind." The notion of a connection between physical and mental potency is, of course, silly. (Consider all the perfectly toned airheads in Hollywood — or, perhaps, the president himself.) But Bush's apparent belief in it explains why he would demand well-conditioned economic advisors and Supreme Court justices.

Bush's insistence that the entire populace follow his example, and that his staff join him on a Long March — er, Long Run — carries about it the faint whiff of a cult of personality. It also shows how out of touch he is. It's nice for Bush that he can take an hour or two out of every day to run, bike or pump iron. Unfortunately, most of us have more demanding jobs than he does.

Did he just not have a good idea for his column? Nothing else come to mind? Moronic...

Just say no!

Just a bad idea. I will heed no other view's just dumb.

Talking Point Regurge

Carol in Prescott is suffering a serious case:

Regarding "What's left for lowly liberals to love" (Letters, Wednesday):On what planet is the letter writer living?

I seem to remember peace and prosperity in the 1990s. We had no deficit. We were not at war. We had the respect of most of the world. We did not have more than 1,700 dead American troops, more than 20,000 wounded or maimed, or an estimated 100,000 dead Iraqi citizens, and no plan to withdraw. Is this your "overwhelming" success?

Now, we have been lied to in order to justify the war, and we still have not found Osama Bin Laden who, if you remember, caused the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

We have administration officials leaking classified information to "punish" those who disagree with their views.

The stock market in the '90s was exactly where it is now. You can say unemployment is down, but just because an individual's benefits have run out doesn't mean he or she found a job, especially not one paying the salary he or she lost.

And as for media bias - excuse me? What about the Robert Novaks, Rush Limbaughs, Bill O'Reillys? If this is what makes the letter writer happy, I feel sorry for him.

Where to start? You decide...have at it if you like!

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

'Bout durn time! Senators Kennedy and Akaka took some heat last week from home-state troops when they visited Guantanamo Bay last week. According to Pentagon officials, said soldiers were rather critical of comments from Democratic Senators in the past:

Soldiers from Massachusetts and Hawaii who work at the U.S. military detention facility at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, gave visiting home-state senators a piece of their mind last week.

Sens. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, and Daniel K. Akaka, Hawaii Democrat, met with several soldiers during a visit led by Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican.

Pentagon officials said soldiers criticized the harsh comments made recently by Senate Democrats.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, last month invoked widespread military outrage when he compared Guantanamo to the prison labor systems used by communist tyrant Josef Stalin, Cambodia's Pol Pot and Adolf Hitler.

"They got stiff reactions from those home-state soldiers," one official told us. "The troops down there expressed their disdain for that kind of commentary, especially comparisons to the gulag."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

In response

Visitor JPE left a comment to the John Howard post in which he stated:

They predate Iraq, but not Afghanistan. The notion that there's no causal link between military support and terrorist operations is preposterous, and disingenuous to boot.

In response, I would point to this post at The Anchoress which details, photographically, Islamic terror that predates both Iraq and Afghanistan:

Khobar Towers-1996
East Timor-1999
USS Cole-2000

Post-Afghanistan of course we have Bali in 2002 and now London twice in two weeks. But the real point is everything dated 2001 and before. Also mentioned is the Achille Lauro hijacking in '85 and the first example of anti-American extremism, the Iranian hostage situation in '79-'80.

Jump ahead to 1998 when OBL issued his declaration of war against the United States. What was one of the main points? The presence of US Forces in Saudi Arabia following the first Gulf War.

Now jump from there to April, 2003 when Donald Rumsfeld announces a withdrawal of 7,000 American troops, a termination of "a significant military presence there that lasted more than a decade...." At the time, Stephen Hedges writing for Global Security discusses part of the Pentagon's reasoning:

Increasingly, the U.S. presence had become a central irritant for those pressing to reform the royal family's strong-armed rule and the fundamentalists who want to replace that government with a religious regime.

Even if you can't agree that such a move is an express recognition that US troop deployments have hurt us in the PR war, surely this represents at the very least a tacit admission of such. So what did we get out of it?

As best I recall, OBL's silence on this point was deafening. He'd moved on; everytime it suits them there is another 'reason' for what they do. It only illustrates what Sim added:

...if it weren't Iraq it would be something else.

Strategic Planning

So Sim and I spent some time today trying to develop a blog strategery. Well, sort of...

More questions at this point than answers, but that's how these things go. We've each got things to do before Monday. Hop to!

As promised Sir Sim, here is one of the posts I mentioned about getting the blog-rolling. No specific references to word counts, still looking for that! Lots of good advice here from Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost. Some of which I heeded in just the first few weeks the digital-doors were open.

UPDATE: I found it! See #20...

It's official

The monsoons are here! And apparently I was in fact wrong the other day in suggesting that the monsoons had started; I got nothing on the National Weather Service!

John Howard on Terrorism

Or, "My new favorite politician"

I think that the way K-Lo describes it is perfectly right:

This quickie transcript was just sent to me by someone who described it as "a direct, devastating bitch-slap to the nonsense that the U.S., Britain and Australia brought this on themselves from any other leader":

PRIME MIN. HOWARD: Could I start by saying the prime minister and I were having a discussion when we heard about it. My first reaction was to get some more information. And I really don't want to add to what the prime minister has said. It's a matter for the police and a matter for the British authorities to talk in detail about what has happened here.

Can I just say very directly, Paul, on the issue of the policies of my government and indeed the policies of the British and American governments on Iraq, that the first point of reference is that once a country allows its foreign policy to be determined by terrorism, it's given the game away, to use the vernacular. And no Australian government that I lead will ever have policies determined by terrorism or terrorist threats, and no self-respecting government of any political stripe in Australia would allow that to happen.

Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place before the operation in Iraq.

And I remind you that the 11th of September occurred before the operation in Iraq.

Can I also remind you that the very first occasion that bin Laden specifically referred to Australia was in the context of Australia's involvement in liberating the people of East Timor. Are people by implication suggesting we shouldn't have done that?

When a group claimed responsibility on the website for the attacks on the 7th of July, they talked about British policy not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan. Are people suggesting we shouldn't be in Afghanistan?

When Sergio de Mello was murdered in Iraq -- a brave man, a distinguished international diplomat, a person immensely respected for his work in the United Nations -- when al Qaeda gloated about that, they referred specifically to the role that de Mello had carried out in East Timor because he was the United Nations administrator in East Timor.

Now I don't know the mind of the terrorists. By definition, you can't put yourself in the mind of a successful suicide bomber. I can only look at objective facts, and the objective facts are as I've cited. The objective evidence is that Australia was a terrorist target long before the operation in Iraq. And indeed, all the evidence, as distinct from the suppositions, suggests to me that this is about hatred of a way of life, this is about the perverted use of principles of the great world religion that, at its root, preaches peace and cooperation. And I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances rather than the abuse through a perverted ideology of people and their murder.

PRIME MIN. BLAIR: And I agree 100 percent with that. (Laughter.)

It's only just come to me...I think what I find lacking in the "It's our own damn fault," analysis--for all it's pretentious intellectualism--is a certain simple common sense as evidenced by Howard's litany of beefs that pre-date Iraq.

Here we go again

Weird goings on in London this morning, two weeks to the day after bombs went off in the tube and blew the top off a double-decker bus.

Drudge has a round up of headlines:

Police escort man away from Downing St...

Search London hospital for man wearing shirt w/ wires...

Police commissioner: 4 explosions occurred in subway and bus...

Underground Stations Evacuated...

BBC: Minor blasts...

Bus operator says windows of double-decker blown out...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Obligatory Sports Post

Filed under, "Duh."

Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi is sitting out the 2005 football season after suffering a stroke soon after the Pats Super Bowl win. Do ya think!?

Bruschi is a hard-working, nose to the grindstone kind of guy and I love that in a player. But surely nobody with a brain thought he'd be playing this season, did they?!

New list just like the old list

Able to scratch some things off the list...

Realtor is coming over to take pics of the house and take care of paperwork to put it under contract...

Maid service coming in on Friday to get it in show-shape...

Touch-up painting is done...except for the one spot in the living room I missed. Hate when that happens...

Front/back yard cleaned up...

Now if only I can nail down the painter and get the exterior painting scheduled...

We could use a few more like this

Ed Whelan writes a post over at NRO's Bench Memos on SC nominee John Roberts that summarizes the entirety of the conservative argument vis-a-vis the job of a judge:

Judge Roberts’s opinion in this case clearly illustrates that he understands the role of a judge. PFAW’s highly selective quotations fail to include the following:

“The question before us … is not whether these policies were a bad idea, but whether they violated the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution.”

“The district court had and we too may have thoughts on the wisdom of this policy choice—it is far from clear that the gains in certainty of notification are worth the youthful trauma and tears—but it is not our place to second-guess such legislative judgments.”

UPDATE: Another example of this from the guys at Powerline:

From a legal standpoint, the Hamdan decision illustrates what judicial restraint should be about. The district court, refusing even to consider key legal precedent, had emphasized that by not treating Hamdan better we risked mistreatment of our own soldiers. An arguable policy position, perhaps, but one for the president, the miiltary, and Congress (if it is unhappy with the executive branch's approach) to decide, not an unelected judge. Republican Senators should be willing to tout the fact that Judge Roberts joined Judge Randolph's no-nonsense opinion.

"Beam me up, Scotty!"

James Doohan, best-known as Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, died early this morning at home in Redmond, Washington.

Though I'm accused of being a Trekkie (read: Geek) by many, I can honestly say I've never attended a single Star Trek convention in my life. And I never will.

Even so, I can say that I've seen every episode of the original series at least a dozen times each. While I'll leave the impassioned proclamations of the greatness of Chief Scott to others, I will say that he created one of the more memorable characters in that original series and that without him it would not have been the same show.

Quick Hit(s)

It's a feature of the Republic's editorial pages...just a quick less-than-100-word blurb on just about any topic of the day. Today, editorial writer Douglas MacEachern takes aim at Joe Wilson:

. . . has a D.C. "player" of the inconsequence and puffery of Joe Wilson ever held the spotlight this long? Nobody this much debunked and outed as a fibber has stuck in the headlines this long since David Brock slimed his way from right to left.


I don't get him either

I like to think I'm an intelligent guy. Not the smartest guy in the room necessarily, but neither am I the biggest dolt in the neighborhood. I make a conscious effort to remember that I don't know everything about everything.

Having said all that, I'm perfectly comfortable admitting that there are some things--and people--that I don't 'get.' Whether or not it's a matter of intelligence, I just don't 'get' why people think they need to read Kos, Billmon or the subject of this post, Juan Cole.

Cole is a professor of History at the University of Michigan, and at least for a time, was some lefties favorite Middle East expert to cite during discussions on Iraq. He's had a couple of famous (a relative term in the blogosphere) dust-ups with the likes of NRO's Jonah Goldberg and most recently with Martin Kramer, senior associate of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University and self-described "authority on contemporary Islam and Arab politics."

Today, Cole has decided to address the plight of women worldwide under George W. Bush. In a post titled The Roberts Nomination and the Iraqi Constitution: Bush's War on Women, Cole loses all focus and seems to think that the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court is somehow related to the war in Iraq:

George W. Bush's nomination of John Roberts, Jr. is a setback for American women, just has his policies in Iraq have produced a setback for women's rights in the Arab world. Indeed, Bush has been bad for women all around the globe.

I guess when you're what is rightly described as an Arabist who has spent 3 years blasting the Bush Administration at essentially every turn, everything is related to the war in Iraq. Like I said, I just don't 'get' it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Ode to lists

My wife is a list-maker. Every Saturday we've got a list of things to do. For that matter, we've got lists of things all week long.

She says it helps her focus on what needs to get done. I say it helps her torture me by making me busier than I might otherwise be. To each their own I guess.

With my wife in California, all the arrangements for selling the house fall on me. That's the daily upkeep and routine stuff as well as any special one-time only projects (like say, landscaping emergencies) are on my plate. And there isn't a list to be found anywhere. Well, there is a sort of scribbled thing that doesn't prioritize or offer any explanation as to what the short-hand refers to. But that is not helping.

Meanwhile, I'm too pre-occupied with all of it; work stuff, house stuff and the wife-withdrawals to keep it all straight in my head! I need a list. My kingdom for a list!

I'm cranky

Can't seem to get past it either.

This indefinite-bachelor thing is for the birds. The house isn't ready to list and I'm getting nowhere with getting it more-readier. At least so far.

How bad is it? I have to redo the touch-up painting I did last night.


Just making stuff up

Cox News Service joins the ranks of those media who are moving the goal posts on Bush's statements about the Plame leak:

President Bush said Monday that any White House staffer who committed a crime in the leak of a CIA agent's identity would be fired, a change in position that could allow top aide Karl Rove to stay on the job even if he was involved in the disclosure.

Rove, as well as Vice President Cheney aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, have been identified by a reporter as his confidential sources for a report he wrote in July 2003 concerning undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame, wife of Bush critic Joseph Wilson.

The White House, through spokesman Scott McClellan, previously said anyone involved in the leak would be fired.

They then go on to compare the President's most recent statements with comments made by Press Secretary Scott McClellan in 2003. This seems highly disingenuous to me.

If you want to analyze Bush's comments, you need to compare them to, well...Bush's comments. Yes, the Press Secretary speaks on behalf of the President and presumably represents the President's position on any given issue. But when you have the President making statements as well on the issue, seems to me you ought to be comparing apples to apples.

Meanwhile, Tom Maguire (follow the links!) has the complete and best run-down of who said what and when. And it is clear that what President Bush has said most recently about punishing the breaking of law in his Administration is the same as what he had to say about it two years ago:

And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of.

And they say that bloggers are the ones who shouldn't be taken seriously because they just sit around and write whatever they want...

Monsoons 2, Paul 0

This headline gives the impression that we haven't reached the official start of the monsoons here in the desert southwest. After watching the dew points for the last few days I'm not sure how you can't think we've in fact reached the beginning of the summer-storm season (monsoons begin officially when the dew point reaches 55 or higher on 3 consecutive days) since we've had storms on consecutive nights and the forecast calls for thunderstorms all week. But I'm not a meteorologist.

Regardless, don't tell my shrubs and trees that though, they'll simply laugh at you. I told you what waited for me when I got home on Sunday night. Round 2? A storm blew through right about the time I went to bed last night and when I checked everything this morning I noticed that one of the shrubs out front had gotten seriously mangled by the winds.

Just in time to list the house for sale this week. [sigh]

Monday, July 18, 2005

California Dreaming

The Rumor Man comes clean! Finally...
So what were all the cryptic references and allusions to oh-so-secret secrets about exactly? Well, it is official.

We are moving back to California. We've been here 3 1/2 years--to me, the best 3 1/2 years of our married life; we own a house, we're better off financially and I could not be happier about my professional situation.

For my wife? 500 miles from her family, in a climate that is the evil-twin of what she loves (116 degrees yesterday in Phoenix versus 69 in Lompoc along the coast), in a place where she's struggled to put down roots, it's been the most difficult 3 1/2 years she could have imagined. That being said, we've been working at cross-purposes for quite some time.

I've fought the good fight, but at this point my love for our home, my enjoyment of the area and passion for this work cannot compete with my love for and commitment to my wife. If leaving Arizona is what it takes to put her smile back on her face on a more regular basis, then that is what I will do.

So now what? The house will be on the market at some point this week, we will effort to figure out when both of us will get back to CA. I left my wife in Lompoc yesterday to start a new job this week. Once the house is sold the question will simply be, do I remain here until I've landed a job of my own or will I shut it down here to join her there and seek new employment from there. Not an easily answered question at this point.

So what of the Rumor Man's other points? The hints about big-things-a-coming down the pike for My Dogs are Smarter? Well, Sim and I are already scheduling our teleconferences and strategery-planning sessions for what we'd both like to see become a blog of import to one degree or another.

Once the house is listed and everything associated with that is history, I'll have the time to work with him on these things and we can get the ball rolling. As you've seen me lament numerous times here recently, I haven't had the time to devote to such things with all these other life-decisions being worked on at the same time. Thankfully, that's changing!

Stay tuned for the details!

So that's why...

This is why two trellises in the back yard were laying on the ground when I got home. At 1:00 AM.

This is why I'm going to have to spend time tonight repairing one of them.

Let the fun begin!

Oh goodie...

Bonds in '06. I can't wait. No, really...I can't wait.

Who knew?

Nobody cleared Sim on this whole vacation thing. As Will Smith says to a chortling Jeff Goldblum, "We got to work on our communication!"

I guess the real question is, does he have any interesting travel stories? Like, spending 3 1/2 hours in traffic on the way to the airport, only to discover (THANK GOD!!!) that the flight (last one of the day, mind you) is delayed more than an hour.

Only to get to the ticket counter and realize it's been delayed another 15-20 minutes, which turns into a full 35 minutes at the gate. [sigh]

I went to bed at 1:30 this morning. Blogging will be sluggish at best!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Big Easiness

Paul would have you believe that you are going to be left in the steady hands of The Simster in his absence. He out and out lied.

The Simster will neither be here for the weekend nor will his hands be steady. For you see, tomorrow he will be boarding a big ole jet airliner and embarking on a weekend jaunt to New Orleans for his best friend's bachelor party. You can imagine the rest. So I guess My Dogs is on hiatus until Monday. I leave you in the capable hands of...the archives.

Travelin' Man

I'll be gone again this weekend. You will once again be in the trusty-hands of your Captain Sim as you travel the blog-friendly skies.

Where else, California. This one is important, even momentous, and there will be more forthcoming as soon as next week. Much to the Rumor Man's delight.

Part of the reason for this trip, aside from our mysterious cloak-and-dagger exploits, revolves around some tests that my mother-in-law is undergoing. We are all hopeful that the problem is easily detected and as easily corrected. In the meantime, we'll be taking advantage of the opportunity to visit cooler climes.

Besides, I'll get her back in spades--she's coming out for a week to help with a second surgery my wife is having in August. Yes, August.


Saber rattling, nuclear style

China says "Ready to use N-weapons against US." Scary at first but once you read it for what it is (posturing), it starts to seem a little surreal. Kind of like watching Kruschev bang his shoe at the UN must have been...

China is making too much money to risk becoming the worlds largest parking lot over Taiwan. Still dangerous however...

What do you do about it?

A lot of people define a blog as a sort of on-line diary or journal, a recording of thoughts about the personal, public and private. I've viewed this one as more of a commentary than a journal.

While I share stories about the dogs with tongue-firmly-in-cheek, the only other postings about anything very personal have pertained to my wife's recent surgery and even those were not overly revealing.

We are enduring a number of difficulties in this season of our married life. It starts with my wife's recent health problems but is not limited to them by any means. It also involves her heart-ache at living 450-miles from her closest family. None of these hurt as much as wanting a child and not having one; and nothing hurts more than not having one than learning that you won't be having any of your own.

We've known for some time that there are issues keeping us from having children. As of two years ago it became clear that both of us were affected to some degree. The hope was that in both cases there were solutions available.

It turns out that there are solutions available, but only for one of us. After further testing, we've learned that my issues are essentially un-fixable. This is where we find ourselves then after nearly four years of trying to become parents, of doctor visits, tests and more tests; We will not be having a family of our own.

So now what? We've had brief discussions at various times in the past about adoption but have not ultimately resolved the issue one way or another. Frankly, I always assumed that when push came to shove, if we really wanted kids we'd be finding a way to have them ourselves. So now there are no more options.

Generally speaking, us men don't spend a lot of time growing up in conscious thought about what our family will be like in adult-hood. In contrast, my wife had already planned to be married by 25 and had names chosen for her two children. Contrasting yet again, I vaguely saw a future with a wife and kids but never had spent time fleshing it out and putting names and faces to the dream.

Only as we've gone back-and-forth over the last 4 years about whether and how much we want a family and the occasional tears the discussion produced, was I just beginning to go through the same process. And now, this is where it ends up. Just as my heart finally understands how much it wants children, it learns that it cannot have that dream.

There aren't words for this.

Jinx: no thanks

The Padres start the second half of the season with a 5 1/2 lead over Arizona in the NL West. Despite a really poor month, the club still managed to grow its lead over the Snakes by a game. Of course, the Padres have been struggling mightily to overcome injuries which have sidelined regulars Ramon Hernandez, Phil Nevin, Mark Loretta, Dave Roberts and starting pitcher Adam Eaton. All are expected to be returning over the next month.

But the Padres aren't the only ones struggling with injury problems. The Trolleywreck's problems have already been documented in this space. Since then, LA outfielder JD Drew has been lost for the season. The Dogs are now 7 1/2 games off the pace and although they've hung tough in recent weeks, they just don't have the horses anymore. I expect them to fade further back in coming weeks. San Francisco is still struggling without Barry Bonds, Armando Benitez and a healthy Jason Schmidt. Rumors have them in sell-mode as the trade deadline approaches. Which brings us to the Diamondbacks, the Padres' opponents tonight as they kick off the second half. Arizona has some nice players. Troy Glaus, Craig Counsell, Javier Vasquez, Luis Gonzalez and Brandon Webb have kept the D'Backs in this thing. But barring a major move or two before the deadline, Arizona doesn't frighten me.

But you never know. And the Friars failed to put the Dogs away when they had the chance a couple of weeks ago and the same thing could conceivably happen this weekend against the Snakes. Which is why this article in today's Union-Tribune unnerved me. Don't jinx us, people. Things look good, but the good guys ARE capable of being challenged. I would sure feel better if GM Kevin Towers were to swing a deal to improve the offense. There are a lot of rumors that the Pads are active in trying to make something happen as the deadline approaches. They recently made a strong move by acquiring reliever Paul Quantrill from the Yankees. But the team is still struggling with runners in scoring position and 3B Sean Burroughs isn't getting it done with the bat. Of course I am a strong advocate of either replacing Burroughs with Xavier Nady or platooning them. But if the club is unwilling to give up on Slapstick Seany, they definitely need to get another bat for this offense if they are going to win the division and have any chance in the playoffs.

It will never lose

The Belmont Club addresses the most recent example of jihadi violence on Muslim children in Iraq. Wretchard's conclusions are insightful:

There are those who, after the London bombing, had convinced themselves that all Muslims were enemies of civilization. There are sound arguments for that: the existence of the Jihad, the silence of most Islamic clergy. But what of the children? What of the Muslim children who are the targets of these "freedom fighters", "resistants" or "militants", whichever the BBC prefers to call them? In what category do they belong? The empirical fact is that no group has been killed more often and more brutally by the "Jihad" than Muslims themselves. During the French Algerian war several times more Algerian Muslims died than French. Anyone with a calculator can see the same is true in Iraq. One of the targets of the London bombing was a subway station frequented by British Muslims. The first objective of terror, indeed of the Terror, and the first objective of the Jihad is to maintain internal control over its base. For as long as internal control can be maintained, a terrorist movement need not defeat its armed enemy. It will never lose; hence in the estimation of the Peace generation, it will always win.

Logically, a large part of the War on Terror will consist of creating an insurgency within the insurgency. Fighting Islamic extremism must comprise organizing a revolt against Islam's internal oppressors. That would include waging intellectual war against Islamic fundamentalism within its own theological context -- a reformation -- it will include creating clandestine cells to strike at the gangs which beat women and intimidate men within the community.

Wholly unsatisfactory

That is how I found this commentary from the Christian Science Monitor on the Rove-Plame affair:

Just on face value, and that's a huge caveat because no one knows what the grand jury in this case knows, it doesn't look as if Mr. Rove has broken the law. But leak? Yes.

And perhaps, when one clears away all the weeds in this overgrown story, that's the bottom line - the leaking. The question is why? If the motives were not in the nation's interests but to score political points, then leaking is an unsavory practice, and sadly, a typical one in Washington. You might even call it a garden variety.

That's it? That's all we get...?! Newsflash: leaking is nearly always unsavory! This is wisdom-coming-down-from-on-high? Hardly.

Why we do it

In case you were curious, here's one guy's guess at why we Lab owners own Labs.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

One more step to the middle

The Hill reports that Senator Clinton is co-sponsoring a Democrat bill to increase the size of the US Army.

Dragging out the old MBA one more time

Sim wonders why people won't just wait for the Fitzgerald investigation to run it's course before making arguments about Karl Rove's innocence/guilt. To wit, I hypothesize the following corollary to the idea of Net Present Value:

Much as in Finance where dollars now are worth more than dollars later, a good Bush-bash now is more valuable than a Bush-bash later. Just as in Finance though the trick is not in the computation itself, it is in finding the accurate rate at which to discount-over-time the value of the bash.

At least he sounds reasonable

Michael Medved is interviewing Ted Rall this hour. He is being quite a good guest and not at all the slavering, raving maniac I might have thought him.

But he's still out of his mind when it comes to his politics...

When he puts his mind to it...

Steve Benson can be funny!

Sadaam and al-Queda

Claudia Rosett writes a concise, clear statement about the truth behind the Administration's linking of Al-Queda to Sadaam's Iraq.

But there's another speech Mr. Bush still needs to give. That would be the one in which he says: I told you so--there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. In some quarters, that would of course provoke the usual outrage. Since the U.S.-led coalition went outside the corrupt United Nations to topple the Baathist regime in Baghdad more than two years ago, it has become an article of faith that there was no such connection. Typical of the tenor in both the media and western politics is an article that ran last month in The Economist, describing Iraq as Mr. Bush's "most visible disaster" and opining that "even Mr. Bush's supporters admit that he exaggerated Saddam's ties to Al Qaeda."

Actually, there were many connections, as Stephen Hayes, writing in the current issue of the Weekly Standard, spells out under the headline "The Mother of All Connections." Since the fall of Saddam, the U.S. has had extraordinary access to documents of the former Baathist regime, and is still sifting through millions of them. Mr. Hayes takes some of what is already available, combined with other reports, documentation and details, some from before the overthrow of Saddam, some after. For page after page, he lists connections--with names, dates and details such as the longstanding relationship between Osama bin Laden's top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Saddam's regime.

The Administration had an idea; the general shape and outline of a relationship. The last two years have provided some--but not a complete--detail of it, in the form of Iraqi documents, correspondence and financial records.

Hayes' collection of evidence is far from complete, but compelling none the less. Read both pieces, as they are the best affirmative argument for what the President has maintained to date.

Doggy ruminations

Lileks spends some time on his dog today. Thinking thoughts that at the same time are ones you never want to think and remind you about all the reasons you love your animals to begin with:

Unless you’re single or childless, you don’t give a lot of time to thinking about how you’ll miss your dog. I would guess there are millions of American men like me – got the dog before the kid, treated him as an ersatz offspring until the real thing came along and made you feel foolish for dressing him up in a bomber jacket for Halloween. You get busy with your child, and the dog recedes, gets old, becomes ambulatory furniture with weird warts hanging off his snout, that tired annoyed expression and a hitch in the step when he tries to get up the bed. He’s the only family member whose end you will arrange on purpose. You’ll make the call. You’ll take him to the same place you took him every year to get his shots. Two go in, one comes out. But you don’t think about that; why should you?

Maybe I'm a bad owner, but I must confess that there are times I already anticipate the sad day that "our first" must go and all the tears that will be associated with it. Makes me enjoy even more when she lays down next to me on the floor and rests her head on my crossed-legs.

Just as Lacy is a needy people-pleasing dog, Cassie is independent, reserved and much-less needy. But she will be missed just as much for the living-contrast she offers as for her sweet disposition and personality. Bottom-line, once they're part of the life you don't want them to go; ever. Even if it comes after a dozen wonderful years.

Some dogs become rugs; some dogs become indistinguishable from the sofa pillows on which they sit. That’s not Jasper. How he talks! The range of his vocalizations are so wide and varied you wish you could give him the Gift of Consonants and hear what he really has to say. But I know: MORE PIZZA THROW THE HEDGEHOG NOW THROW IT AGAIN.

Do people who have cats ever put their faces in the creatures just to smell them? Smell that good cat smell? Is there such a thing?

Gnat will remember him, I think. But there is something poignant about the sight of a four-year old kid hugging a ten-year old dog – a moment that meant everything to everyone, and will be remembered by neither in the end. But if “the end” is what counts above all, why bother with anything.

What counts, of course, is the simple present you’re granted anew as the day rolls on, the moment when you see the dog on the floor staring up at the crumbs from her Pop Tart, knowing he cannot eat them because I am watching. I can leave the room, and he won’t eat them. He awaits permission. As noted on this page long ago, the relationship between man and dog is a dim reflection of the relationship between man and God, inasmuch as we don’t know what we don’t know, but intuit there is a Rule, an Order that hovers above us. The difference is that God never leans over from the kitchen table and grants permission to eat the Pop-Tart. In so many words, anyway.

Ultimately that is what it's about with your pets. Lacy has no long-term memory; she no more recalls riding in a box in the car with my wife from Prescott down to Phoenix than she does of her very first trip to the dog park. She only knows she loves the dog-park (and mommy too!).

It's about today. So what are we going to do today? THROW THE HEDGEHOG NOW THROW IT AGAIN.

HuffPo: On Moral Relativism

Wow, I never expected to read this on the Huffington Post. It's weird, but I'm occassionally coming across some good stuff over there. Here's a quick taste of the snark:

When faced with something truly evil, like Karl Rove's leak, it's easy. Call for the bastard's head. But what about terrorists - or “bombers” - as the BBC calls them? That's a tough one, because although what the bombers did was bad - OUR country does some pretty bad things too! And really, who's to say what's bad anyway? That's judgmental. And being judgmental is wrong. Unless you're a judge. And even then that's probably not right either. Who's to say? Not me. Probably not even a judge! Judges aren't cool!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Under cover at the CIA

If we're to believe that Valerie Plame was in fact a covert CIA operative as of July, 2003 then I guess we have to believe that CIA op's go Langley. As analysts.

Valerie Toensing, co-author of 1982's IIRPA, doesn't buy that, and neither would I:

There has been some dispute, moreover, about just how secret a secret agent Ms. Wilson was.

"She had a desk job in Langley," said Ms. Toensing, who also signed the supporting brief in the appeals court, referring to the C.I.A.'s headquarters. "When you want someone in deep cover, they don't go back and forth to Langley."

Doesn't pass the sniff test. More conventional reading way back in '03 from Nicholas Kristof:

"First, the C.I.A. suspected that Aldrich Ames had given Mrs. Wilson's name (along with those of other spies) to the Russians before his espionage arrest in 1994. So her undercover security was undermined at that time, and she was brought back to Washington for safety reasons."

"Second, as Mrs. Wilson rose in the agency, she was already in transition away from undercover work to management, and to liaison roles with other intelligence agencies. So this year, even before she was outed, she was moving away from "noc" — which means non-official cover, like pretending to be a business executive. After passing as an energy analyst for Brewster-Jennings & Associates, a C.I.A. front company, she was switching to a new cover as a State Department official, affording her diplomatic protection without having "C.I.A." stamped on her forehead."

John Podhoretz's column today clearly delinieates exactly how and why many a conservative refuses to get apoplectic over the Rove-Plame connection:

There's no mistaking the purpose of this conversation between Cooper and Rove. It wasn't intended to discredit, defame or injure Wilson's wife. It was intended to throw cold water on the import, seriousness and supposedly high level of Wilson's findings.

Rove was suggesting to Cooper that that folks lower down in the CIA than its own director commandeered the process so that the husband of one of their own could get the gig. And the husband in question then went and misrepresented his findings to various journalists (The Washington Post's Walter Pincus and The New York Times's Nicholas Kristof) and then in his own now-famous Times op-ed.

This Rove-Cooper conversation discredits Wilson, not Plame. In fact, nothing we know so far was done either with the purpose of exposing or even the knowledge that these remarks would be exposing an undercover CIA operative.

But Plame's undercover status at the time was and is a little questionable in any case. How undercover could she have been when her name was published at the time as part of Joseph Wilson's own biography online?

So if the offense wasn't against Plame, what of the offense against Wilson? There was no offense. As many of Joe Wilson's own hottest defenders would no doubt argue in relation to President Bush, exposing a liar is not only not a crime, it's a public service.

And Wilson lied. Repeatedly.

You don't say!? Indeed. The SIC report made it clear, with documentation, that Plame had in fact pushed Wilson for the job, something he denied on his own. Furthermore, they point out that Wilson's report had far less impact on CIA analysis of Iraq's efforts at obtaining uranium than it seemingly had in Wilson's own mind.

With that in mind, Podhoretz concludes that: Thus, Rove was telling Cooper the truth. According to one of Cooper's e-mails, "not only the genesis of the trip is flawed an[d] suspect but so is the report. He [Rove] implied strongly there's still plenty to implicate Iraqi interest in acquiring uranium fro[m] Niger . . ."

J-Pod concludes by painting quite a different picture of Wilson than what Wilson's adoring fans work at: Karl Rove didn't "out" Valerie Plame as a CIA agent to intimidate Joe Wilson. He was dismissing Joe Wilson as a low-level has-been hack to whom nobody should pay attention. He was right then, and if he said it today, he'd still be right.

And if Valerie Plame wants to live a quiet spy life, she should stop having her picture taken by society photographers and stop getting stories written about her on the front page of the Times.

This is hardly a one-stop-shopping collection of links and story-lines, but I wanted to post something that was working hard at being somewhat comprehensive. Why?

I can't stand the screaming of the usual suspects over this. Rove, and very possibly nobody, broke the law. Minus that, all they're left with is the hand-wringing over a CIA operative's 'outing'. With, of course, all the attendant bile directed at Karl Rove for being Karl Rove.

Some get indignant over the perceived political handling of the Wilson-Plame affair. That, seems to me, is a fair criticism. That of course posits that Rove was attempting to push-back at Wilson by discrediting him via his wife.

Lest we forget though, politics is nasty sometimes. I mean, if it were not, what exactly would Rove have had to push-back at anyway!?


Well, I finally got around to seeing Michael Moore's celebrated opus, Fahrenheit 9/11. I have but one reaction:

Are you kidding me?

This was the source of so much controversy? This film actually received the prestigious Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival? This was the movie that John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and others claimed was a "must-see?" Someone, anyone took this mess seriously and found value in it? Again, are you kidding me?

Now to be clear, no money went into Moore's pocket as the result of me witnessing this trainwreck of a film. It was on cable, so it was going to run anyway. After having learned of the movie's storyline upon its release and having run into a celebration of Michael Moore's irresponsible films overseas, I resolved to do nothing to enrich this man. I kept my word.

But I was curious, it was on and I did watch the damn thing from beginning to end. Although I was frequently challenged not to turn it off, I stayed the course and watched, desperately seeking something of value. From the petulant opening where Moore claims Bush stole the 2000 election because a family member worked for FoxNews (?) to the ludicrous portrayal of idyllic pre-war Iraq to the shameful concluding scenes where he brazenly uses the grieving mother of a soldier who died in Iraq as human prop, I found myself thoroughly irritated. But beyond that, my overriding reaction was one of being completely underwhelmed. This film is thoroughly devoid of value.

I won't regale you with all of the errors, smears, unsupportable implications portrayed as absolute fact, carefully edited videotape and lazy argumentation. The film is simply riddled with errata and most have been enumerated and discussed elsewhere.

Rather, I'd like to write about the film in the overall. First of all, as I said above I am really quite shocked that this film received as much attention as it did. It yields little in the way of new information or insights. When it does purport to raise earth-shattering insights, they are of the ilk that bubbles up largely through a labyrinth of looney leftwing websites that specialize in advancing conspiracy theories. Surely this plays well among the peanut gallery, but the "gotcha" grandstanding fails to live up to a strong documentary tradition which includes The Fog of War, Control Room and The Trials of Henry Kissinger. Instead of reaching for those etheral heights, Fahrenheit 9/11 settles in comfortably among Bulworth, Wag the Dog and Bob Roberts as pure political satire.

Sourcing on the film is extremely weak. Washington Congressman Jim McDermott gets the bulk of the "analytic" airtime. Jim McDermott? You mean the same Jim McDermott who became a puppet of Saddam Hussein during an ill-advised pre-war trip to Iraq? Except for two or three clips of Richard Clarke, there are no terrorism, international affairs, Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan or oil experts quoted anywhere in the film. None. While edited Bush Administration video is often used to great cinematic effect, we get virtually no meaningful analysis from subject-matter experts who would allow us to place the administration video in any sort of context whatsoever. And it's not like anti-war experts aren't out there. I recently saw this film, which received far less acclaim and was likely filmed on a much smaller budget. While its claims are equally outlandish, at least experts like David Albright, Robert Baer and Larry Johnson are heavily leveraged. In short, for someone levelling charges of high crimes, Moore's support is extremely weak. This is just flabby, intellectual laziness. Consider the source.

But the predominant reaction I had was to the irresponsible treatment of this subject matter. These are grave issues and serious charges. They are deserving of earnestness and intellectual rigor. But Moore impugns his film and himself by continually alternating between making a documentary and groveling for cheap laughs. He vacillates between somber tones when dealing with 9/11 or grieving parents and pure schlock when portraying the war in Afghanistan as an episode of "Bonanza" in which the faces of Bush, Blair, Cheney and Rumsfeld are superimposed over the comboys of the Ponderosa. We see a similar disconnect in the treatment of American soldiers throughout the film. On the one hand, Moore argues that our heroic soldiers are the sad victims of the Bush Administration's heartless militarism. And yet at several junctures in the film, Moore actually ridicules American troops through a cartoonish portrayal of them as moronic, buck-toothed red-staters who get their jollies by killing and desecrating the bodies of dead Iraqis. How can this blatant contradiction be explained, much less overlooked?

In sum, this film doesn't know what it wants to be. One the one-hand it seeks to be taken seriously as a well-researched documentary. On the other, it aspires to light-hearted satire. The result is that it fails on both counts. The film does not hold up to intellectual scrutiny and it fails as a satire because a) the subject matter isn't funny and b)the satirical moments are often contradicted by the weak efforts to make legitimate points.

This thing won a Palme d'Or and created heated controversy? How? It must be more a tribute to its timeliness in tapping in to anti-Bush and anti-American sentiment, than to anything contributed by the film itself. To be controversial it must demonstrate at least some intellectual rigor. And yet this film has remarkably little. Sorry, I just don't get it.

At the end of the day, I don't really care much about what Michael Moore has to say. I don't lose much sleep over it. Much like I don't care what Al Franken, Anne Coulter and Rush Limbaugh have to say. But last year, I traveled to Europe and Africa and I came across a lot of people who had seen Moore's films and read his books. He's a kind of cult figure overseas and what I find very sad is that he is viewed as something of a scholar and a paragon of "the truth." Most don't understand that he's a political satirist. Although many, or even most, Americans can see through Moore's flimsy arguments I worry that those consuming his message overseas are adopting Moore's films as the unvarnished truth. In the sense that he does get worldwide distribution, I find it highly irresponsible for him to make films like this. If he is going to level such serious charges, is it not incumbent upon him to support his accusations? Did he ever give any thought to the impact F 9/11 might have as a terrorist recruiting tool? Oh, that's right. Based upon his ridicule of the American public's concerns about terrorism, Moore must not worry about the implications of such a hyped threat.

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