Sunday, October 31, 2010

31 October 2010 “The wind in the wires made a tattletale sound.”

What does that really mean? Does it portend a storm? Do old sailors take warning?

That whistling generated as the wind passes over wires indicates a wind velocity of 25-31 MPH, a “strong breeze.”

The movement of air masses, wind, is described and defined by several scales. The velocity is described numerically in MPH, KPH, and knots. It is also described in terms relating to degree of storminess. A force number unique to the Beaufort Scale links a number to a graphic flag used to chart winds by meteorologists. These arrow/flag markers are used to denote wind direction as well as velocity. Newspaper weather maps sometimes still have them for local reports but such maps are becoming less common in newspapers.

At 0745 Monday 25 October I heard the wind in the wires. By 0835, a seemingly solid wall of wind and water tore through N.E. Tennessee, downing trees, dropping lines, and damaging many homes. The gust reached 36 mph in our sheltered valley location with a large tree screening the wind somewhat from our anemometer. That gust left us with downed branches and downed power lines. It also split the large Bradford Pear that once screened the anemometer and the N.E. corner of the house from extreme winds.

Sustained winds from the same storm, still strongly present Tuesday 26 October, dropped one third of the tree on our roof and back deck Tuesday morning. It took until Thursday to find someone to remove the tree. We were far luckier than most people who lost trees to this storm. We had no damage to our home.

Wind speed on the 1946 Beaufort scale is based on the empirical formula:

v = 0.836 B3/2 m/s

where v is the equivalent wind speed at 10 meters above the sea surface and B is Beaufort scale number. For example, B = 9.5 is related to 24.5 m/s which is equal to the lower limit of "10 Beaufort". Using this formula the highest winds in hurricanes would be 23 in the scale.

Today, hurricane force winds are sometimes described as Beaufort scale 12 through 16, very roughly related to the respective category speeds of the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, by which actual hurricanes are measured, where Category 1 is equivalent to Beaufort 12. However, the extended Beaufort numbers above 13 do not match the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Category 1 tornadoes on the Fujita and TORRO scales also begin roughly at the end of level 12 of the Beaufort scale but are indeed independent scales.

Note that wave heights in the scale are for conditions in the open ocean, not along the shore.

Beaufort Wind Scale
Developed in 1805 by Sir Francis Beaufort of England

The storm system that pushed through North East Tennessee on Monday 25 October and Tuesday 26 October was a monster storm. It apparently displayed the lowest barometric pressure ever recorded in the continental U.S. excluding tornado and hurricane pressures. The adjusted sea level pressure was 28.20 inHg, 954.9mb. Average sea-level pressure is 101.325 kPa (1013.25 mbar, or hPa) or 29.921 inches of mercury (inHg) or 760 millimeters (mmHg)

The storm that did so much damage, which stretched from Georgia into Canada, was stronger, more intense, and exhibited lower barometric pressure than the storm, which sank the Edmund Fitzgerald, November 10, 1975.

For satellite imagery of this storm and a more scholarly discussion of storm and wind forces see the link below, Weather Underground.

“The wind in the wires made a tattletale sound

And a wave broke over the railing

And every man knew, as the Captain did, too,

T'was the witch of November come stealing.

The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait

When the gales of November came slashing

When afternoon came it was freezing rain

In the face of a hurricane West Wind…

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down

Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee

Superior, they say, never gives up her dead

When the gales of November come early”

There were some fatalities attributed to this storm, many tornadoes, and lots of line wind damage. The upper curve contained blizzard conditions due to the high winds spiraling inward to the low center. The bottom curve had 80-degree temperatures and tornadoes.

The lyrics included are appropriate. The wind we dealt with was recorded as a “strong breeze” (force 6) here but as a “whole gale” or “Storm” (force 10) at the official sites. With the tree now down, our recorded winds will be much more in agreement with the official values.

The gales of November came early this year.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

30 October 2010 Qu’ils mangent du gâteau - (Let them eat cake!)

The Republican Party could use some adults
By Dana Milbank

Sunday, October 31, 2010; 12:00 AM

“In an interview last week with National Journal's Major Garrett, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell was asked what his priority would be for Republicans after their expected gains in Tuesday's election.

The possibilities were many: Balance the budget and pay down the debt? Fight the terrorists and reform entitlements? Support and defend the Constitution?

No, McConnell's priorities were elsewhere. "The single most important thing we want to achieve," he said, "is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

The single most important thing? “

Cassi Creek:

The current oath of office, last updated and enacted in 1884, administered to members of Congress and to Senators is as follows:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

The current crop of GOP candidates likely to be elected is heavily laden with right wing nuts, Tea Party mobsters, Christian fundamentalists, and others who lack the intellect to understand that their job is to serve the best interests of the nation, not to further enrich corporations. They also lack the understanding that they are intended to serve the nation, not a single political party or viewpoint. Nowhere in their oath of office does it mention protecting the GOP or the Tea Party mobs. The Constitution they pledge to defend is a road map laid down by men who had the foresight to understand that it was not going to contain all the answers in the original text.

Most importantly, the Constitution and the oath of office both lack any mention of using impeachment or other political tools to overturn the results of an election. This practice, begun by Gingrich when he felt slighted by seat assignments on a plane, is now a central tenet of the GOP’s platform. “If we don’t win the election, we’ll shut down the government.” If we don’t win the election, we’ll find some way to overturn the will of the voters.”

This practice is mean, vicious, petulant, and displays the open contempt for the voters and for the Constitution held by the GOP leadership and the corporations that pay them off. Impeachment as a means to overturn an election is never acceptable. Pelosi knows that and made it clear that only truly criminal offenses would be grounds to use it against Bush II. The GOP, Operating at the level of grade school students is not at all concerned with supporting the Constitution unless they can also gain political power in doing so.

"Let them eat cake" is the traditional translation of the French phrase "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche", supposedly spoken by a French princess upon learning that the peasants had no bread. As brioche is a luxury bread enriched with eggs and butter, it would reflect the princess's obliviousness to the nature of a famine.

In Chinese culture, there is a variation of this story that involves rice and meat, instead of bread and cake. This was quoted by Emperor Hui of Jin who ruled ancient China in the 3rd Century. When his imperial officials informed him of victims of a famine having no rice to eat, he replied: "If they do not have rice, why not eat meat stew?"

The quotation, as attributed to Marie-Antoinette, was claimed to have been uttered during one of the famines that occurred in France during the reign of her husband Louis XVI. Upon being alerted that the people were suffering due to widespread bread shortages, the Queen is said to have replied, "Then let them eat brioche. Although the phrase was seldom cited by opponents of the monarchy at the time of the French Revolution, it did acquire great symbolic importance in subsequent histories when pro-revolutionary historians sought to demonstrate the obliviousness and selfishness of the French upper-classes at that time. As one biographer of the Queen notes, it was a particularly useful phrase to cite because "the staple food of the French peasantry and the working class was bread, absorbing 50 per cent of their income, as opposed to 5 per cent on fuel; the whole topic of bread was therefore the result of obsessional national interest."

These examples of the detachment of rulers and leaders from the situation of the common citizens are quite descriptive of the situation we find today. The average worker is worried about housing, food, and work; wanting, most of all, to have a stable and secure present and a future that promises more than living in a car or under an overpass. At the same time, our elected officials are spending billions for campaign ads. Local governments and state governments are so strapped for operating funds that many offices are not open full time any more. Teachers, public safety workers, police officers, firefighters and many other people who fill important jobs funded by taxes are losing their jobs and see their selves becoming chronically unemployed. Unlike their fellows in manufacturing and other outsourced jobs, these local and state workers cannot pick up and leave for new jobs, if they should exist. The loss of local services and public safety cannot be filled by outsourcing and off-shoring. When we need a cop or a firefighter, the information superhighway to India is not a viable route to safety or survival.

Still, our GOP and Tea Party forces promise no new taxes, promise tax cuts for the wealthy and decreased government spending. The bakeries are running out of flour and the water quality is dropping. Our infrastructure is taking on the appearance of a third world nation. In Ohio, minimum wage McDonalds, employees receive instructions with their paychecks telling them who to vote for to avoid losing their jobs. That this is illegal and no one seems to be bothered in Ohio.

Our honorable leaders, who need only, do nothing to ensure a generous raise in official compensation, have subjected us to ruinous foreign wars without demanding taxation increases to fund these wars. We find ourselves in a position similar to France after the Seven Years War.

European powers entered the Seven Years' War, which saw France, Austria, and Russia pitted against Britain and Prussia. France suffered a defeat at the hands of the Prussians in the Battle of Rossbach, in 1757, and eventually lost her American colonies to the British. After Rossbach, Madame de Pompadour is alleged to have comforted the king saying this now famous by-word: "au reste, après nous, le Déluge" ("After us, the Deluge") France emerged from the war diminished and virtually bankrupt

And so, to sleep, perhaps to dream of the brioche our corrupt and child-like right wing theocrat officials would have us eat when the bread supplies are too dear and too diminished.

I will vote this coming Tuesday. I have no hope that my vote will count for much in this region of the nation. Nevertheless, I will cast it, if for no other reason than to remind the GOP and the Tea Party mobs that some of us still can read and write; and that some of us still know wrong from right. They will most likely control the playgrounds for the next few years. However, when the deluge does begin, they will have so much more to lose than those of us who understand that children will eventually be reigned in and punished for their bad behavior.
Watch a tea party shill try to explain what freedoms are being lost.

Friday, October 29, 2010

29 October 2010 An ill wind out of Yemen

“CNN) -- U.S. officials say that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a fairly new arm of the umbrella terrorist organization, is behind an apparent plot to send explosive devices to U.S. destinations via cargo planes,.”

Cassi Creek:

It is quite likely that the initiating force behind this latest round of attempted bombings is Yemeni-American militant cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, whom U.S. authorities have linked to Fort Hood shooting suspect Maj. Nidal Hasan as well as the man accused in the Christmas Day bomb attempt. In my opinion al-Awlaki has earned the label traitor and should be stripped of his American citizenship. His prior pronouncement and roles in other attempts to kill Americans over religious differences are proof of his contempt for the U.S. and of his hatred for its citizens.

This round, direct attempts upon synagogues, most likely intended to be delivered and detonated on Friday, displays al-Awlaki’s willingness to violate the sanctity of houses of worship serving non-Muslims. He’s displaying the stupidity and hatred that the American right wing theocrats erroneously claim is found in all Muslims. By launching attacks in America he will bring down scorn and hatred upon his and upon the heads of his fellow Muslims. This will surely trigger another round of bigotry and hatred among the Tea Party mobs and other Americans lacking in education and intellect.

Taking place this close to the mid-term elections, the apparent success in finding and thwarting these attacks may pay off for the Obama administration. I’m quite happy that the packages were intercepted and hope they find the others alluded to. As for al-Awlaki, he will be located some dark night by a drone with Hell Fire missiles. May his trip to Paradise be violent, soon, unexpected, and unfulfilling.

Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

28 October 2010 Tree today lawn tomorrow

The Bradford pear tree that has provided shade, bird habitat, and launching pads for squirrels willing to leap from its branches to our platform bird feeder was split by the high winds we had Monday. Tuesday, under the strain of lower velocity but longer duration winds the split widened and about 1/4th of the tree fell onto the house.

26 October 2010

We called our homeowner’s insurance agent and he recommended a tree service to remove the tree. We called him immediately. He was to remove it yesterday. After a day full of excuses, delays, and just plain being ignored we realized that he wasn’t going to be of any benefit and that we probably didn’t want him handling tools on our property. We let our insurance agent know what had happened. We only lost a day and a half waiting on someone who was not going to show up ready to work.

We contacted another service, contracted with them, and they showed up pretty much on time today. They went right to work. Tonight, the tree is down, chipped up for fill in the lower parts of our property, firewood sized remnants stacked to age and use.

28 October 2010

28 October 2010 It is now possible to sit on the deck or on the ground by the deck and shoot down firing lane with a rifle. Previously, it was only a pistol range.

The only damage to the house appears to be some bent guttering. How very lucky we were!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

27 October 2010 Crank Up the Way Back Machine, Sherman

The wrecking crew that has been trying to dismantle the New Deal and other progressive policies and programs since 1980 hasn’t finished rolling back the clock to Dickensian times.

The Tea Party battle cry, “We want our country back!” is a shrill indication that the various mobs are composed of no one who has ever studied American history.

Only in fairy tale world can a nation cut taxes, increase spending, engage in two foreign wars, and expect to see a stable economy that benefits all citizens. Only in that same world does cutting taxes for the very wealthy have any positive impact upon the average citizen.

The propagandists who write fairy tale speeches and advertisements for the Tea Party mobs and the GOP have what is apparently an incredibly easy job. They have only to convince the voter base that further enriching the economic elite will then enrich the working citizens. In a more literate and better educated nation the immediate response to such claims would be utter disbelief, well grounded in history. But American schools don’t teach history very well to begin with; and the theocrats that make up many local school boards are doing all that they can to adulter and even delete history that doesn’t stem from the WASP religious literature. So the average right wing voter is all too willing to accept the view of history handed to him or her by the GOP propaganda machine. With no real education in economics, the definitions of socialism, fascism, communism, and other forms of economic government are easily twisted and re-written in the minds of the voter base. With the rise of pseudo-populism grounded in a strong anti-intellectualism, the lack of intellectual ability in candidates for office becomes no problem for the GOP/TP base. As in fairy tale world, the prom queen/beauty pageant princess and the athlete are considered more worthy of election than are the people who studied and attended schools for knowledge rather than for self-esteem transfusions and socialization.

The lies that emerge daily from the Limbaugh-Beck-Palin-Bachman axis are prime examples of how willing they GOP/TP base is to have someone do the hard work of thinking for them. The generation the “greatest generation” understood that only financial regulation and controls would prevent the Great Depression recurring. They saw the families who survived the depression only because of public works and other infrastructure programs funded by the New Deal. They understand the benefits of Social Security and Medicare; and they recall how adamantly the GOP fought each of these things that helped the American workers become the American middle class. They valued education, were willing and able to place nation and fellow citizens above their own persons.

Their children, who should have known better, fell for a fairy tale spun by the GOP, Saint Ronald. With his ascension to the throne, the vandals were suddenly once again allowed into the palace, into the treasury, and into the halls of power. They began undoing all of the New Deal that they could reach, began looting all that they could. As in all fairy tales, evil and ignorance are easily able to reach the throne but damned near impossible to remove from it. The fault lies in the vandals, the greedy, the Reagan spawn; and in those of us who should have seen the processes that led to the Great Depression being unleashed and unbound by Congress that saw no personal harm in selling out to the corporations that pay them to vote against the best interests of the nation and the citizens.

Unlike fairy tale world, there will be no easy return to what this nation once was and can be again. With a voter base that is keyed to instant gratification, and lacks the intellectual skills to see through the theocrats’ lies, it will be a long time, and a hard one, before we are the shining example of liberty that we think we are.

Can’t Keep a Bad Idea Down


Published: October 26, 2010

I confess, I find it dispiriting to read the polls and see candidates, mostly Republicans, leading in various midterm races while promoting many of the very same ideas that got us into this mess. Am I hearing right?

Let’s have more tax cuts, unlinked to any specific spending cuts and while we’re still fighting two wars — because that worked so well during the Bush years to make our economy strong and our deficit small. Let’s immediately cut government spending, instead of phasing cuts in gradually, while we’re still mired in a recession — because that worked so well in the Great Depression. Let’s roll back financial regulation — because we’ve learned from experience that Wall Street can police itself and average Americans will never have to bail it out.

When Tea Party wants to go back, where is it to?

By Harold Meyerson

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

“The New Deal order produced the only three decades in American history -- the '50s, '60s and '70s -- when economic security and opportunity were widely shared. It was the only period in the American chronicle when unions were big and powerful enough to ensure that corporate revenue actually trickled down to workers. It marked the only time in American history when, courtesy originally of the GI Bill, the number of Americans going to college surged. It was the only time when taxes on the rich were really significantly higher than taxes on the rest of us. It was the only time that the minimum wage kept pace (almost) with the cost of living. And it was the only time when most Americans felt confident enough about their economic prospects, and those of their nation, to support the taxes that built the postwar American infrastructure.

Since the ascent of Ronald Reagan, though, America's claim to being a land of opportunity has become a sick joke. Unions have dwindled; colleges have become unaffordable; manufacturing has gone abroad; taxes on the rich have plummeted; our infrastructure has decayed.

But the country the right wants to return to isn't the America that the Greatest Generation built. Judging by the statements of many of the Republican and Tea Party-backed candidates on next Tuesday's ballots, it's the America that antedates the New Deal -- a land without Social Security, unions or the minimum wage. It's the land that the Greatest Generation gladly left behind when they voted for and built the New Deal order. All of us should want our country back, but that country should be the more prosperous and economically egalitarian nation that flourished at the time when America was not only the world's greatest power, but also a beacon to the world. “

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

26 October 2010 The wind in the wires makes a tattle tail sound…

The high keening noise of wind in wires is always a warning. Unfortunately it can be very non-specific. I heard it about 0700 this morning as the dog and I retrieved the newspaper. The morning news was full of wind warnings, thunderstorm and tornado watches, and dire predictions for storms in the upper Midwest and parts of the Deep South. Kentucky and Tennessee might see some storm damage as well. As a rule, I watch CNN for morning news. As shallow as their coverage is, it avoids the heavy doses of cute and the local color stories that make the network morning “news” programs little more than news readers trying to pimp fashion, pop music, movie reviews, and school lunch menus. I sometimes endure the drivel for local weather. Today would have been a good day to endure.

I left for class at 0945. The parking lot dance was worse than usual and I wound up parking on the opposite side of campus from my class. That wasn’t too bad as my late class is on that side of campus.

After discussion about the battle of TsuShima Strait, I was talking with Dr. Collins about class possibilities for next semester. As I started out the door for the library, Gloria called me.

The Bradford Pear tree that incurred damage yesterday has split and fallen onto the house. My first response was to return home. Gloria assured me that there was no harm to her and no apparent damage, told me to go to my next class. Between concern for the house and the information she had passed on about incipient storms, I decided that missing art-history would be the best course of action.

By the time I returned home Gloria has contacted our insurance agent and had arranged for someone to show up and remove the offending tree. We won’t be able to check for damage more thoroughly until the tree is no longer on the house.

Once again, as with yesterday, we’ve been lightly brushed by the elephant’s tail. A lot to be grateful for.

The storms yesterday blew in fast, hit hard, and blew out. The storms today are moving more slowly, 45 knots rather than 70 knots. Some of them are dropping 0.75 inch hail. We’re clocking winds around 10 mph with higher velocity gusts. The trees in front, that dropped branches yesterday, are swaying alarmingly. The remnants of the Bradford Pear are being rocked back and forth by the gusts. If the gusts remain from the South we’ll be better off in back but more worried about the front.

Promises to be an interesting evening and night.

Monday, October 25, 2010

25 October 2010 Blow ye winds of morning…

Cassi Creek:

Today was predicted to be a rainy day with a chance of thunderstorms and possibly some gusty winds. They nailed that.

I was standing in the kitchen at 0828, coffee made, first cup poured, and my breakfast ready to eat. The computers were up and operational. The dog and I had hiked out to retrieve the newspaper and managed to return to the house before the first spatters of rain hit the deck.

“There's a tingling recognition

Like the sound of distant thunder”

Loki joined me in the kitchen, pacing uneasily. The wind was heavy enough to cause our Northern Wind Bells to sound but had not clocked any gusts higher than 11 mph overnight. We sit in a slight depression with major winds normally deflected over us; something we’ve become comfortable with since moving in.

I began to hear some distant rumbles of deep-toned thunder, distant and echo-filled. At this point the only real concern was to worry about whether or not Mike and I would get our morning walk in between rain falls.

With no other warning a seemingly solid wall of rain smashed into the house. Looking out the kitchen window I was unable to see the rails around the deck. We’ve had rain like this before. Still not too worrying. Then the power went.

When the power went, the overhead lights went with it. So did the forest of LED indicators that announce the power on/off status and other information about a constellation of chargers, hubs, routers, extenders, and bases that feed from power cables plugged into our computers, cell phones and land lines/fax/copiers/printers, and terminate in one of three UPS units that protect our computers from the rather dirty power everything else ingest happily. With the loss of lights came the beeps of announcement as the UPSs each announced that they were now powering the network and its remoras from their internal batteries; and demanding that the load be lifted from their shoulders.

Lifting that load, and subsequently stilling the annoying little cries for attention, involves crawling around in the dark to reach one unit that lives behind and below Gloria’s desk. Two others live on my desk but still require contortions to reach. With silence predominant, the next task is to find the hard-wired land line, unplug the cordless base unit’s phone cable from the single land line jack, and replace it with the hard-wired phone. This, of course, involves more crawling on the floor and more contortions in the dark. Then I can read the number for the power company’s automated help desk from the hand set and dial in the dark. After the auto-system answers, I get to respond by entering numbers that identify me and our home as in need of a visit from hard-working men with bucket trucks to restore our power line.

By now it is light enough outside that I can see our driveway is filled with tulip-poplar branches and that the power line is sagging dangerously close to Gloria’s car. It takes another half hour to contact customer service at the power company and tell them that we have a downed line, have no access to water, and have meds that require refrigeration. The storm that brushed us and left us without power did much more damage in Johnson City.

While we had some minor damage here to our trees, nothing else was damaged. Johnson City lost power to four schools. ETSU had power lines down on campus and canceled classes for the day. Towns to our west, north, and east all report lots of tree and power line damage. We were lucky.

A power company truck arrived at about 1015. We had power restored at 1105. The crewman assigned to this area looked at his call sheets and realized that we were the only remaining house on our road without power and moved us from near the end of his schedule to the top, bringing us back on line several hours earlier than we otherwise would have been.

We need to find someone affordable to do some tree trimming. The three tulip-poplars in front are going to continue to shed branches. They’ve been doing so this summer and autumn. The Bradford pear in back is split near the ground level. It needs to be removed as it is far too close to the house anyway. Affordable is the operative word.

Gloria is making a wild mushroom-beef soup for dinner. I’m looking forward to it!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

24 October 2010 Funny, I don’t feel that elite from here!

The tea party warns of a New Elite. They're right.

The tea party appears to be of one mind on at least one thing: America has been taken over by a New Elite.

- By Charles Murray

“The discomfiting explanation is that despite need-blind admissions policies, the stellar applicants still hail overwhelmingly from the upper middle class and above. Students who have a parent with a college degree accounted for only 55 percent of SAT-takers this year but got 87 percent of all the verbal and math scores above 700, according to unpublished data provided to me by the College Board. This is not a function of SAT prep courses available to the affluent -- such coaching buys only a few dozen points -- but of the ability of these students to do well in a challenging academic setting…”

“We know, for one thing, that the New Elite clusters in a comparatively small number of cities and in selected neighborhoods in those cities. This concentration isn't limited to the elite neighborhoods of Washington, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley and San Francisco. It extends to university cities with ancillary high-tech jobs, such as Austin and the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill triangle.

“With geographical clustering goes cultural clustering. Get into a conversation about television with members of the New Elite, and they can probably talk about a few trendy shows -- "Mad Men" now, "The Sopranos" a few years ago. But they haven't any idea who replaced Bob Barker on "The Price Is Right." They know who Oprah is, but they've never watched one of her shows from beginning to end.

“Talk to them about sports, and you may get an animated discussion of yoga, pilates, skiing or mountain biking, but they are unlikely to know who Jimmie Johnson is (the really famous Jimmie Johnson, not the former Dallas Cowboys coach), and the acronym MMA means nothing to them.

“They can talk about books endlessly, but they've never read a "Left Behind" novel (65 million copies sold) or a Harlequin romance (part of a genre with a core readership of 29 million Americans).

“They take interesting vacations and can tell you all about a great backpacking spot in the Sierra Nevada or an exquisite B&B overlooking Boothbay Harbor, but they wouldn't be caught dead in an RV or on a cruise ship (unless it was a small one going to the Galapagos). They have never heard of Branson, Mo.

“There so many quintessentially American things that few members of the New Elite have experienced. They probably haven't ever attended a meeting of a Kiwanis Club or Rotary Club, or lived for at least a year in a small town (college doesn't count) or in an urban neighborhood in which most of their neighbors did not have college degrees (gentrifying neighborhoods don't count). They are unlikely to have spent at least a year with a family income less than twice the poverty line (graduate school doesn't count) or to have a close friend who is an evangelical Christian. They are unlikely to have even visited a factory floor, let alone worked on one…”

Cassi Creek: this article does have some foundation in truth. I’m glad it does. I’d hate to look in the mirror and discover that I have somehow become the person Murray claims to be the “normal, real American.”

Murray seems to feel that “Real Americans.” So defined by him, along with Palin, Beck, and the rests of the theocrats/pseudo-patriots, should all be evangelical Christians, rabid supporters of professional athletic franchises, and should aspire to live in rural, small towns.

I did not intend to live or work in small towns when I graduated university with a degree in laboratory medicine; paid for with scholarships and a watered-down Vietnam –era GI Bill. What I learned, by actually working in and trying to live in multiple small towns is that people who move into town may never achieve membership. Unless one belongs to the local country club or the dominant local church, one remains a stranger. In rejecting the country music, high school football idiocy, NASCAR mania that pervades such places, one is rejecting the town as well.

While Murray may find that he can attend a university to obtain education and then ignore that education for purposes of living, life-style, recreation, dining, shopping, and socialization; I have to wonder as Murray works for a right wing think tank that is based in the DC metro area. Like Palin, Beck, and all the other Tea Party non-leaders, the pull of dollars and city lights is easily overwhelming the “down-home” real America he proclaims normal and mainstream.

The “new elite” are very much aware of rural America, corporate sports, religion controlling education, negating science, and whatever MMA signifies.

I worked in a profession with many acronyms, most of which stand for things Murray’s real America mind can’t begin to fathom.

I never really viewed myself as a member of an elite. I find, reading his column that I’m happy someone else considers me to be of the elite. Thanks, Murray, for reminding me how hard I worked to avoid being like you, Beck, Palin, and the rest of the lumpen proletariat.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

23 October 2010 Everyone’s war or no one’s

The Way We Treat Our Troops


Published: October 22, 2010

“You can only hope that the very preliminary peace efforts in Afghanistan bear fruit before long. But for evidence that the United States is letting its claim to greatness, and even common decency, slip through its fingers, all you need to do is look at the way we treat our own troops.

The idea that the United States is at war and hardly any of its citizens are paying attention to the terrible burden being shouldered by its men and women in uniform is beyond appalling.

We can get fired up about Lady Gaga and the Tea Party crackpots. We’re into fantasy football, the baseball playoffs and our obsessively narcissistic tweets. But American soldiers fighting and dying in a foreign land? That is such a yawn.

I would bring back the draft in a heartbeat. Then you wouldn’t have these wars that last a lifetime. And you wouldn’t get mind-bending tragedies like the death of Sgt. First Class Lance Vogeler, a 29-year-old who was killed a few weeks ago while serving in the Army in his 12th combat tour. That’s right, his 12th — four in Iraq and eight in Afghanistan…”

“Women will begin serving on four U.S. submarines in December 2011, the U.S. Navy announced Thursday.

Twenty-four are in training to be the first women to serve aboard U.S. submarines, the Navy's Submarine Group 10 said in a statement. The subs on which they will deploy are the USS Wyoming and USS Georgia, both homeported in Kings Bay, Georgia, and the USS Ohio and USS Maine, homeported in Bangor, Washington…”

U.S. military to experiment with unmanned helicopters

The U.S. military is hoping to use remote-controlled helicopters like these, shown in January 2010, for supply delivery.

Faced with increasing casualties from roadside bombs in Afghanistan, the U.S. military will experiment with remote-controlled, unmanned helicopters to deliver supplies to remote outposts, the U.S. Navy said…

Cassi Creek:

The ugly truth in Bob Herbert’s column should infuriate all Americans, not just the people at the sharp and dirty end of the stick.

American armed forces currently are made up of less than 1% of our total population. Yet this thin line of troops, ships, and aircraft is expected to actively wage two wars in two different theaters of operations while maintaining the ability to support diplomacy by projection of military power around the world.

Herbert, a Vietnam veteran is actively supporting a resumption of the draft that fed manpower to the military in our nation’s past. He’s calling for a fair administration this time. That would mean no exemptions for political families, no exemptions for religion, for daddy’s money, or for anything that those unwilling to serve can convince an easily-bought Congress to exclude.

I’m willing to go along with Herbert’s call for resumption of the draft. If we can’t justify using our citizens to fight a war, then our presence in that war is highly suspect. If we can’t field troops who actually know why they are engaged in a war, then we have likely been duped into supporting yet another war for profits.

No soldier should have been subjected to 12 tours in our current wars. While I’m aware of the arguments for an all-volunteer military, draftees can be effectively trained for most combat-related jobs and for almost all logistics and support jobs that the military defines. We won WWII with a mostly-draftee army, navy, and Marine Corps. Vietnam was fought by draftees who filled the dirty positions and let the Officers and senior NCOs get the ticket-punching tours out of the way so that they could advance in rank and skills. We’re using “private contractors” at immense and unjustifiable costs to do the jobs we no longer wish to pay soldiers to do. We can save quite a lot of money in the military budget if we resume the use of soldiers for those jobs we currently pay agencies like Blackwater/Xe to perform.

Of course the private contractors will complain. War profiteers always do when the money dries up under public scrutiny. Let them complain. They can join up and serve the nation in uniform, or remain in uniform, if they are honestly committed to national security.

In the meantime, Congress needs to address increasing the size and compensation of our military. It needs to increase the funding for PTSD screening and treatment, the funding for TBI screening and treatment. Congress needs to address the problem of combat veterans returning home to no jobs, no income, no health care, and no homes. If the only choice for a soldier who’s contract is up is between re-enlisting and/or becoming homeless and jobless. Then the return to another combat tour seems less threatening than it should.

The use of female naval officers in submarines is going to generate some close scrutiny. While I have no doubt as to their commitment and ability to qualify in submarines, the reality of submarine duty may be another matter. It presents some unique logistics challenges to staffing that are being dodged by putting three female officers in each crew. That pattern will allow them to share berthing spaces jokingly called a stateroom. Toilet and shower facilities will need to be segregated or regulated by time. The solutions currently available on surface warships are not necessarily available in the tightly defined submarines. The integration of enlisted crew still remains to be solved.

One such extension of forces is the use of unmanned helicopters for logistics flights. We’re working toward developing a robot force of aircraft. For the most part it is becoming tactically and technologically feasible. We may be graduating to a new level of technology races within the major militaries. From space race to robot race, the programs are underway and under evaluation.

Friday, October 22, 2010

22 October 2010 Who needs haunted houses?

Going, Going, Gone


Published: October 21, 2010

JERUSALEM — Among the minor fiascoes of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, the rapid White House-to-wipe-out course of Middle Eastern diplomacy in recent weeks rates high.

Christine O'Donnell's misconceptions of the Constitution

By Michael Gerson

Friday, October 22, 2010

“The Founders were not secularists. They assumed that people would bring their deepest moral motivations to political life -- motivations often informed by religious belief. But they firmly rejected sectarianism. America was designed to be a nation where all faiths are welcomed, not where one faith is favored. This was and is the American genius.

So does the Constitution, in Jefferson's gloss, require the "separation of church and state"? Institutionally, yes. Theologically, yes with one notable exception. Nearly all the most important teachings of faith -- doctrines on individual salvation or the destination of history -- have no public role or relevance. They are compromised by contact with power. But one belief -- a belief in the nature and rights of human beings -- is the basis of any political philosophy, including our own. It matters greatly if "all men are created equal" or not. …”

George W. Bush Reveals His Biggest Failure Was Not Privatizing Social Security

The Huffington Post
Elyse Siegel First Posted: 10-22-10 08:50 AM

“Former President George W. Bush signaled on Thursday that he sees not reforming Social Security as his greatest failure from the eight years he served in the White House, the Chicago Tribune reports. In 2005, the president unsuccessfully tried to partially privatize Social Security. “

Nuclear launch card was missing for months, new book says

From Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd, CNN

October 22, 2010 8:51 a.m. EDT

CNN) -- A former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says in a new book that while Bill Clinton was in the White House, a key component of the president's nuclear launch protocol went missing.

"The codes were actually missing for months. This is a big deal," says Gen. Hugh Shelton. "We dodged a silver bullet."

Cassi Creek:

The coming battle over Jerusalem worries me. If left alone, Israel might become aware that it is going to have to begin removing settlers from the West Bank. No nation in the world, at this time, will support Israel in their claim to the entire confines of Jerusalem. The use of orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews as human walls was strategically and tactically a failure and should not have been implemented. It will ultimately result in some form of intramural war among Israelis. There is no way for Israel to buy peace by giving up land. But there is no way Israel can remain in control of East Jerusalem without essentially declaring war on the proto-Palestinian government. This would partially duplicate the situation at Israel’s declaration of statehood and must be avoided.

The influx of money and other support by Christians hoping to bring about their end of days scenario is probably Israel’s worst external enemy.

The lack of familiarity with the Constitution and the willingness to accept GOP re-written talking points instead of actually learning what is in the Constitution marks O’Donnell as an extremely poor candidate for Senatorial office. She and the other Palin clones have repeatedly demonstrated that they lack any real grounding in American history and civics. Even more frightening is the large portion of the voter base that is willing to accept their lies and misinformation as true. We are likely to witness a huge vote in favor of GOP and Tea Party mob candidates due to the poor preparation of the American public to actually participate in self-government. They have such poor recall and understanding of the last ten years that they are apparently willing to hand the government back to the very people who wrecked the world’s economy. We are probably witnessing the beginning of the Unites States 3rd World edition.

That Bush II failed is a small favor for the nation and a huge stroke of luck for the millions of Americans who would otherwise have lost all hope of any income if Bush and friends had been able to privatize Social Security. Given the damage to the stock market in 2008 and the inability of people who actually depend upon Social Security to wait out any possible return to profitability, it is likely there would be wide spread starvation and homelessness among our elderly citizens. There should be no doubt that they would have been neglected by the government that beggared them in the interest of corporate greed and profits for the very rich.

The Clinton White House was rumored to have next to no regard for the Armed Forces. It is entirely likely that they would choose staff and aids with the same attitudes. That anyone working in the White House, under any administration should have so little regard for an instrument of national security that is used to control the use of nuclear weapons against any enemies of the U.S. is beyond belief. The loss of a weapons key code card should have resulted in immediate job loss and the permanent revocation of any security clearances the individual ever held. Since the Clinton administration was deviled by continual attempts to unseat Clinton and overturn the 1992 election, it is possible that this incident was overlooked by Clinton due to his continual need to deal with all manner of inquisitions and other attacks by the GOP that had nothing at all to do with governing the nation.

If these events don’t raise fear levels as we approach Halloween, I’m sure that the news in the coming days will provide things that do.

Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, October 21, 2010

21 October 2010 Another short night

Didn’t sleep well last night. It was impossible to find a comfortable position.

For the first time since returning to university I’m blowing off two classes to stay home. I feel a bit guilty about it but I don’t have to worry about it affecting my grade.

Today is bright, sunny, breezy, and the dog has a clear view of squirrels as they invade the bird feeders. She seems to believe that it is her job to protect the remnants of the free world from invasive rodents. It keeps her happy. She’ll will sit and watch out the window for squirrels and rabbits.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

20 October 2010 It should have burned like a blast furnace

Yesterday’s dinner was centered on country-style pork ribs. I defrosted them carefully at refrigerator temperature, marinated them in a blend of orange and pineapple juice, nuoc mam, shoyu, canola oil, sarachi, salt, and pepper. They were returned to the refrigerator to absorb the various flavors.

The weather was slightly cool, partly cloudy, and suitable for grilling/smoking. I’ve used up my lump charcoal and had only briquettes to use yesterday. I store charcoal in a plastic container that holds about two standard bags. I use a chimney device with newspaper to light charcoal and develop suitable coals for grilling.

When it was time to light the fire I stuffed newspaper into the lower chimney compartment, then poured briquettes and some small residual bits of lump charcoal into the upper compartment. I lit the newspaper and watched as the usual streams of smoke poured skyward. Normally, 15 minutes of burning will produce a can of hot coals, ready to be spread out and used for grilling. Yesterday the magic did not work. The top of the chimney was cold. No problem, more paper, more flame, more time. 15 more minutes pass and still no hot coals. Insanity is repeating the same series of events and expecting a different result. I noticed some powdered charcoal pouring into the chimney with the briquettes. A large screwdriver poked into the chimney causes a lot of powdered charcoal to fall out into the bottom of the grill. The third time was most definitely not the charm.

The sun is going down; it’s getting cooler, and later. I’m getting annoyed at inanimate objects, at the laws of physics and chemistry that determine combustion and combustion rates. I’m also annoyed at myself for failing to light a fire that a Tenderfoot scout should be able to ignite in ten minutes. As I mutter, it grows darker and cooler. I could use the broiler and cook indoors but the small stream of smoke from the few briquettes that are trying to burn taunts me; and I know that the chimney will somehow smolder all night if I walk away.

Finally, at the time I expected to have dinner prepared, I dump the briquettes onto the grill grates. What appears to be a liter of powdered charcoal pours out too. I rebuild the chimney, without the powder, and try for the fourth time. Dinner is late but tasty.

I know that the powder was so tightly packed into the chimney that it blocked most of the air flow needed to light the charcoal above it. When I was poking at it with the screwdriver I was hoping to open some air channels. As easily ignitable as such charcoal is, it should have caught fire and burned upward like a blast-furnace or a solid fuel rocket engine. If, if, if, it had only had sufficient air flow to allow oxygen to reach the carbon. The residual burned brightly and rapidly from the top down.

This morning I saw a replay of a political ad designed to prevent Latinos voting, specifically voting for Democrats. This is a blatant attempt to disenfranchise an entire voting population selected by ethnicity. The source, the funding for such a despicable ad, is the GOP propaganda machine and the bottomless source of money that flows from business and corporate interests because of the Roberts Supreme Court decision. Much of the funding, funneled through the “Chamber of Commerce,” is from foreign sources. The GOP apparently has no problem allowing foreign interests to own the country as long as the GOP and Tea Party elite get their share of the pie.

The Tea Party mobs, screaming repeatedly and loudly about freeing citizens from “the elite” fails to realize how much of their funding is directly provided by the wealthy, corporation owning, business managing, offshore account holding, revolving Board members who make up the “elite” that owns country clubs, private colleges, and Congress.

I’ve never considered the use of proper grammar, ability to spell, ability to speak coherently, and the pursuit of knowledge to make one a member of “the elite.” I’ve always considered those things to be an essential part of preparing one’s self to become an informed and conscientious citizen and voter. If that makes me an “elitist” I can only conclude that the nation needs many, many more “elitists.”

In concert with the above, I offer the Op-Ed piece written by Maureen Dowd comparing and contrasting Marilyn Monroe and Sarah Palin (and the Palin Clones)

When it comes down to intellect and one’s desire to improve and learn, Ms. Monroe leaves Ms. Palin in the dust. Marilyn wanted to learn, wanted her intellectual appeal to match or exceed her physical appeal. Palin sees no reason to advance intellectually at all beyond middle school; and hasn’t.

“Making Ignorance Chic”


Published: October 19, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

19 October 2010 Can’t walk you out in the morning dew

Story of B-53 'bunker buster' is a lesson in managing nuclear weapons

By Walter Pincus

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, October 18, 2010; 10:33 PM

“Outside of the nuclear weapons communities, little notice was paid last week to the announcement that authorization had finally come through to begin dismantling the last of the minivan-size B-53s, the most powerful thermonuclear bombs ever deployed in the active U.S. stockpile. “

“A terror weapon if there ever was one, the 10,000-pound B-53 was designed to deliver an explosion of nine megatons. That is the equivalent of 9 million pounds of TNT, or 600 times the power of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

Believe it or not, the last 50 B-53s were not retired from the active stockpile until 1997, and even then some were held as a "hedge" in case a new threat emerged”

Cassi Creek:

What this recalled was the middle days of the Cold War when the space race was more about delivering a nuclear greeting card with ever-increasing damage levels than about putting men on the moon. The navigation tools developed for moon shots became less important than those developed to allow missile submarines to launch with pin-point precision and for their deployed warheads to strike with the accuracy required to hit within ten meters of the target.

Soviet tools being more about damage levels than accuracy, the Soviets planned on huge overkill launches. We planned for fewer launches with better accuracy, but still built in massive overkill potential. Our triad of sub-launched, silo-launched, and bomber delivered warheads, while smaller in numbers, was quite adequate to fulfill our side of the MAD equation.

Gloria lived in the primary target area, the D.C. metro area. I live further from the seat of a government that wouldn’t be there to take the hit than she. But I live in a small city surrounded by missile silos, SAC bases, and interceptor sites. Given the accuracy lacking in Soviet missiles and the subsequent reliance on massive blast damage to accomplish their mission, neither of us would have survived the opening salvos.

Both sides knew that the command and control sites for the other side would be protected and hardened against blast by hundreds of meters of steel, rock and concrete. Both knew that they would need massive weapons of megaton capacity to take out the C&C sites of the other side. Both sides tried to harden their sites sufficiently to survive any imaginable blast. Both sides knew that surviving a megaton blast might be marginally possible but that the survivors would never see daylight again before dying.

There are few things uglier than nuclear weapons. We don’t want them in the hands of militaries that may become, or that have become, our enemies. Even less desirable is to find them in the hands of religious fanatics representing no nation, only ideology. We survived the Cold War without nuclear exchange because of common cultural backgrounds with the Soviets. Those commonalities aren’t shared with our enemies and potential enemies today. If they obtain “special weapons” they will use them against us.

While I can’t justify the use of a nuke, particularly one as horrible in nature as the B-53, against a civilian populace; I can justify the use of a bunker buster type bomb to destroy a nuclear arsenal bunkered into a mountain side or mine/tunnel/cave network. I can accept the use of such a horrible tool to prevent the use of a nuke against civilians by terrorists. I’d prefer that such arsenals be destroyed by the nations that hold them but that is highly unlikely. It would be better to expend one or two such weapons rather than to allow an arsenal to fall to religious fanatics. Most people are not likely to agree with me in this matter.

17 October 1962 President Kennedy was informed of the confirmed presence of Soviet SS-4 MRBM on Cuban soil. The first of three confirmed SS-5 IRBM sites is identified. IL-28 Light Bomber aircraft are identified on the decks of Soviet cargo ships and are subsequently photographed while being un-crated in Cuba.

The evidence was collected by over flights using U-2 aircraft for photographic reconnaissance. U-2 flights provide evidence of Soviet bloc weaponry including SA-2 SAM sites. On 27 October 1962 a U-2 piloted by Major Rudolph Anderson is shot down over Cuba. Maj. Anderson is killed.

The decision is made to enforce a naval blockade and quarantine of Cuba. The nation is informed by Kennedy in a televised address on 22 October. The USSR is transporting more missiles to Cuba by freighters in the Atlantic Ocean. The U.S. forces level of readiness is raised to DEFCON 2 – highest level ever since the DEFCON levels have been defined and implemented. The USSR has SS-5 missiles on route to Cuba and U.S. Navy warships are in blockade positions. Alert bombers are aloft, the rest of our SAC bombers are on 15 minute alert. Our Titan missiles are at 15 minute alert as are our missiles in Europe and Turkey.

The Soviet Union is equally on alert. The SS-4 missile sites in Cuba are active and in battery. The IL-28 bombers in Cuba are ready to fly. At least one Soviet submarine is present at the blockade line.

The opposing forces were ready to engage, held back only by a hair trigger command and control structure; each side waiting for the other to blink or swallow. The World was within seconds of thermonuclear war beginning.

At the final moment, Khrushchev backed down and offered a way to disengage. Kennedy accepted. The world was spared what would surely have begun a nuclear winter.

Throughout the nation, families are making emergency plans about where to meet after a nuclear attack. Basements are filled with home-made fallout shelters. Our neighbor built one and then began digging into the hillside next to his house in order to expand the size of his shelter.

While the crisis was playing out in deadly earnest, both sides were engaged in above ground testing of increasingly bigger nuclear and thermo-nuclear weapons, saber-rattling carried out to the worst extreme.

Released White House tapes are available at:

Folk singer Bonnie Dobson wrote a protest song that expressed the world’s fear and explored the world’s risk. Fallout was not and would be restricted to only those nations which were shooting participants in a nuclear war. The levels of Strontium 90, taken up by grazing cows and replacing Calcium in bovine milk were increasing and proof of the danger of fallout.

Dobson’s song was a plaintive little thing, asking for common sense among warring nations. Many singers and performers covered it. The most successful cover, in my opinion, was the adaptation which became part of the catalogue of songs performed by The Grateful Dead in live performance. I recommend the performance of 6-7-1977 at Winterland. Bach would be happy with the music. Unfortunately, as the Cold War becomes more remote, many people hearing this song will have no idea what it refers to. How dangerous to allow the history of such a danger to be forgotten. Unlike the closing line, ”guess it doesn’t matter anyway.” It most certainly does matter.

The original song was penned by Bonnie Dobson and Tim Rose. I’ve appended their phrases to the lyrics used by The Grateful Dead.

“Walk me out in the morning dew my honey,

Walk me out in the morning dew today.

I can't walk you out in the morning dew my honey,

I can't walk you out in the morning dew today.

I thought I heard a baby cry this morning, (Original thought I heard a young girl cry Momma.)

I thought I heard a baby cry this today.

You didn't hear no baby cry this morning,

You didn't hear no baby cry today.

Where have all the people gone my honey,

Where have all the people gone today.

There's no need for you to be worrying about all those people,

You never see those people anyway.

I thought I heard a young man morn this morning,(original thought I heard a young man cry.)

I thought I heard a young man morn today.

I thought I heard a young man morn this morning,

I can't walk you out in the morning dew today.

Walk me out in the morning dew my honey, (Original Now there’s no more morning dew.)

Walk me out in the morning dew today.

I'll walk you out in the morning dew my honey,

I guess it doesn't really matter anyway,

I guess it doesn't matter anyway,

I guess it doesn't matter anyway,

Guess it doesn't matter anyway.”

Monday, October 18, 2010

18 October 2010 Belgian movement from her head to her shoes

It’s a complement of the highest order couched in the language of the blues and the technology of the turn of the 20th century. If you need help, look for information on firearms manufacturing and other machine work. Belgium was noted for work so fine that a rifle bolt might look like polished jewelry.

Other such complements originate in the kitchen. Blues singers welcome biscuits over cornbread. But blues singers, being blues singers, will settle for any kitchen product that appears on their plate. That habit, alone, is one reason they are then heard to be singing their particular verses of “the blues.”

One very minor cause for annoyance showed up on the Window media player. Pieces of music show up as multiple copies of the same piece. I’m not sure what the cause is or how to prevent it. Manually deleting the duplicates from the library of music resulted in missing albums, missing tracks, missing songs I’ve had around on my hard drives for years.

The positive side of “back-ups” is proven today as I rebuild my musical files on the current hard drive. However, the problem of duplicates is somehow returned with the backup. Opening the source files reveals only one copy of each music track. The problem is somehow related to Win 7 and Win Media Player 12. For the moment, I’ll live with it.

A bright sunny day occupied with things medical and pharmacologic. Provisions purchased and transported to re-stock the pantry and freezer. Haircuts for us both, about 90 minutes wait time. We used part of that for re- provisioning. Breakfast out was a nice feature of the morning. Eggs, sausage, hash-browns, and biscuits with sausage gravy. It’s been about a year since I had the last. I never fix it at home. I’d have actually preferred “red-eye” gravy but that wasn’t on the menu. Again, something I don’t fix at home.

Back to the study of modern warfare. Seems to be much like warfare before the industrialization of the battlefield. 
At some point in the war, Germans will move through Belgium.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

17 October 2010 Just a little sweetness, just a little light

The Rage Won’t End on Election Day


Published: October 16, 2010

“CARL Paladino began his New York gubernatorial campaign by bragging he’d “clean out Albany with a baseball bat.” When an ally likened his main Albany target, the (Jewish) leader of the State Assembly, to “an antichrist or Hitler,” he enthusiastically endorsed the slur. We also learned of Paladino’s repertory of gag e-mails — among them a pornographic picture of a woman having sex with a horse and a photo of an African tribal ritual captioned “Obama Inauguration Rehearsal.” How blind we were not to recognize that his victory in a Republican primary under the proud Tea Party banner was inevitable. “

“That wave of anger began with the parallel 2008 cataclysms of the economy’s collapse and Barack Obama’s ascension. The mood has not subsided since. But in the final stretch of 2010, the radical right’s anger is becoming less focused, more free-floating — more likely to be aimed at “government” in general, whatever the location or officials in charge. The anger is also more likely to claim minorities like gays, Latinos and Muslims as collateral damage. This is a significant and understandable shift, if hardly a salutary one. The mad-as-hell crowd in America, still not seeing any solid economic recovery on the horizon, will lash out at any convenient scapegoat. “

Cassi Creek:

We’re in for a long 2012 election campaign, since it began the day the votes were counted in 2008. Despite what the GOP and the Tea Party apologists say, it is about hatred, bigotry, and religion. The ease with which the right wing propaganda machine lies is eclipsed only by the ease with which their base inhales, ingests, and imbibes the utter lack of truth and then converts it to belief of the truly unbelievable.

I’d love to show up at a local campaign stop for our Congressman, with a list of questions that he can’t or won’t answer. I made the list last year and turned out at the local circus of GOP untruth. After waiting in line, politely, to ask my questions, access to the microphone was ended so that the exalted member of congress could attend a birth day party for a big contributor. I’ve sat through interminable phone conversations, where he lied to aging women about their required appearances before death panels, only to hear, “We’re out of time.” I’ve written requests for formal answers, using his official website only to have the site fail to function. If I see him on the street or in a store in the next two weeks, I’m going to follow him with a video recorder and repeatedly ask him why he lies to his constituents, why he votes for oil and other energy companies against the needs and desires of people in Tennessee. He won’t answer but I might be able to upload something that would annoy his eminence.

Slept in today after a great day Saturday. I’ve spent much of the day trying to rebuild an old laptop computer for a friend of Gloria. This one was taken out of service when it repeatedly crashed on boot and then self-erased much of its programming. It wasn’t a virus, Trojan, or other act of malice. We could never find a cause. After some extensive rebuild time, it came up last night as if it had never so much as hiccupped. So, I’ve scrubbed it of our files and cleaned up as much age-related detritus as I can. A laptop that might fail is better than a desktop that has failed. “I’ve always heard that virtue used to be its own reward.” So Tzedakah may triumph over idleness.

The grill is waiting to be fired up. We’ve burgers made with blue cheese in them for dinner tonight. Tomorrow I’ll drive Gloria to have fasting blood work drawn. We may manage to get breakfast out. That is always enjoyable.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

16 October 2010 Can’t see the battlefield for the advertisements

Google Earth debuted, if I recall correctly, in July 2005. I recall downloading the first release while we over-nighted in a motel in Bristol TN. We were on our way back from a fly fishing trip that took us to Vermont with a side trip to Niagara Falls, Ontario. We drove from Mechanicsburg PA to Bristol that day and wanted a good motel after a very unsatisfactory night in a Patel motel that badly misrepresented itself in rest stop throw-aways.

Bristol was a good stop. Using free Ethernet I downloaded Google Earth. Little did we suspect how much we would come to rely on it. When we returned to Florida we immediately installed it on Gloria’s desk-top. We saw it as more than a novelty map.

When we decided to move and finalized our choice of regions, Gloria began looking at houses in the on-line listings. Those that interested her wound up on the list of places to view on Google Earth. On our first trip to the area we used a realtor and let the salesperson select what we would see. When we knew for certain that our house was going to sell, we came back for our second trip with a list of houses we wanted to see after looking at them via satellite imagery. For the most part, that served us well. We were able to rule out some properties based upon proximity to things that don’t always show up at ground level.

We’re currently using the 5th release of Google Earth. It’s become a social networking tool for many people and many corporations. The company has videotaped and digitized many streets, showing more of some people’s lives than they care to have shown or known. I’m pleased that our location makes us less likely to be digitally visible. But even with our remoteness there are many people who have uploaded photographs of near-by places.

I’ve noticed that Google Earth has a way of disappearing from my notebook if not used regularly. I’m not sure how or why that happens and I’m not entirely comfortable with it happening. I’ve also noticed that some searches yield more locations for local businesses than anything that might actually be what I asked to locate. I know that ads pay the freight, but I don’t click on them and don’t find 99% of them at all of interest.

I had several sites in Ukraine, which apply to family genealogy, saved in one file. Several more in Vietnam were saved as points of interest in my release 4.x files. They all vanished, seemingly overnight and I’ve been trying to relocate and save the sites.

Release 5.0 is more likely to reject an overseas site during a “name” search than 4.x versions were. Release 5.0 is also horribly laden with ads. In searching for one geographic landmark in Vietnam, the software returned over a dozen commercial sites that had absolutely no connection beyond on common three letter word in business names. Since I was looking for a mountain, these were of no help. Several searches for small villages that provided names for base camps returned nothing but ads that were far outside the geographic area I was searching. One such village is apparently now under water, drowned in a reservoir that has been constructed some time since 1969.

Looking at the overhead imagery for Vietnam and surrounds, I’m reminded of how inaccurate our maps were during the war. Five mile variations were not uncommon. I’m also amazed at how much of the bomb and shell damage we left has been recovered by local forests, by the Michelin plantations that covered so much ground in III Corps. Even the short air strips that denoted Quan Loi and other bases have vanished. I’m sure the PSP that surfaced them was torn up and used for other purposes as soon as we left.

I’ve followed some highways that were unpaved deathtraps bordered by brush, forests, and the devastation wrought by Rome Plows. What were once hamlets or small villages are now large towns that line the roads. The surface of the land has changed markedly from the terrain I knew. That’s a good thing. What isn’t such a good thing, for my purposes but must be favorable for the Vietnamese is the huge number of ads linked to locations in Google Earth. I can find most of the sites I want to find. But, as with too many of our historic sites, the view of the former battlefield is obscured by the advertisements. Whether they appear as billboards or as balloons super-imposed on a map in Google Earth makes little difference. The coin of the realm is more important than preserving the battlefields where men and women died because diplomats failed in their jobs.

Friday, October 15, 2010

15 October 2010 Feeling left out and unwanted?

““TRENDING: Palin takes jab at first lady


CNN's Alison Harding

(CNN) – Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin seemed to have the 2008 election – and, specifically, first lady Michelle Obama – on her mind during a speech at a conservative forum Thursday night.

"You know, when I hear people say, or had said during the campaign that they've never been proud of America, haven't they met anybody in uniform yet?" Palin opined during her remarks at a Liberty and Freedom Foundation forum in San Jose, California.

"I get tears in my eyes when I see that young man, that young woman, walking through the airport in uniform – you too – so proud to be American," Palin said to enthusiastic applause”

Cassi Creek:

Michele Obama’s comment in 2008 was dissected and over-analyzed during the election campaign. Any American with an eighth grade equivalent education should understand the reasons for her comment and the honest expressed in the comment.

Enter Palin, stage far-right with her usual lack of interest in facts and her usual inability to frame a complete sentence without avoiding any connection to grammar. Ms. Obama seems to be broadly popular in America. She is well-educated, well-spoken, and has thrown the power of her unofficial office toward improving the lives of military families. Ms. Palin’s primary awareness of military life began when her older son was allowed to enlist to avoid a prison sentence for vandalizing the brakes of a school bus. When asked during the 2008 campaign why he was serving in Iraq she showed no acquaintance with the Bush Doctrine or with any other reason for U.S. military presence in Iraq beyond essentially proclaiming it a holy war directed by God.

If Palin has her way, those nice young men and women in uniform will return from duty to find no Veterans Administration health benefits, no education benefits, and no jobs. The only tears in her eyes are artificial.

This wonderful bit of daytime television talk show rhetoric is all too suggestive of Palin’s jealousy of Ms. Obama, who knows how to wield power graciously, who attended accredited schools and earned her degrees in the usual time, and who has not used her children as campaign props. Is Palin bothered because Ms. Angel and Ms. O’Donnell are getting more attention in the media than the badly aging, widely considered unqualified to hold public office former secessionist from Alaska? Are the Palin clones not providing enough praise? How does belonging to the Alaska secessionist party square with her attack on Ms. Obama? Anyone who buys her patriotism as extending beyond her bathroom mirror is badly deluded. Junior high school déjà vu?

Shabbat Shalom

Thursday, October 14, 2010

14 October 2010 If I don’t look at you, you don’t exist

It’s an ages-old technique for keeping the things we fear at a hopefully safe distance. We close our eyes, we look away if we can’t close our eyes. We block our ears with white noise, with what passes for music, with environmental audio-trash. We hope the bad things go away. But they rarely do. The more real the danger, the less likely it is to vanish when we behave like frightened children.

Case in point: The refusal of Arab states snd the Palestinian authority to recognize that Israel currently exists as a permanent Jewish state whether or not the PA and its potential citizens like the fact. The PA leaders recognize that to accept Israel’s existence is to commit political and possibly physical suicide. The longstanding mob of presumed refugees will then have to face the reality that they’ve been lied to by a series of corrupt and greedy leaders who used them as cannon fodder and kept them believing that they would eventually eject the Israelis from the land. To acknowledge Israel in any manner is to have to admit to millions of currently stateless Arabs that they are not really refugees because of Israel, but because of the actions and inactions of various Arab states and leaders. Recognizing Israel means telling people who believe that they are refugees that they are not; and that they are never going to begin living in Israel.

There may still be some “refugees” who became displaced when Israel defeated five invading nations to prove its independence in 1947. If these “refugee” exist they are 61 years of age or older. Children born to them in the “camps” which were set up by the losing Arab states to contain Arabs who bore loyalty to no monarchy or oligarchy, and were thus dangerous to the Arab states status quo; are not refugees from what is now Israel. They are homeless/stateless people not allowed to become citizens of the nations that encouraged their parents to flee Israel. As such they are rightfully the problem of those Arab states that have kept them in squalor and used them for cannon fodder and for maintaining political unrest in the Middle East.

Israel is also guilty of hiding from reality. The Israeli right has deluded itself into believing that if a two-state solution is prevented from taking place; then the “refugees” will eventually magically disappear, Sarah Palin will win the Nobel prize in physics before the “refugees” give up their demands to claim land in Israel. There are millions of stateless “would-be-Palestinians who should become either citizens of their own state or one of the Arab nations. The Arab states owe them that much.

Israel owes them the land they were granted by the UN, minus the portion annexed by Jordan. Israel needs to stop the settlers now, by all necessary methods in order to turn that land over with any improvements that now exist upon the lands in question. Gaza rightfully belongs to Egypt, which wants it no more than does Israel. There can never be a safe highway passage between Gaza and the West Bank through Israel. Everyone needs to realize and agree to that..

The two-state-solution needs to happen now. The longer Israel delays it, the less likely it will be to take place; and the less likely it will be that Israel lasts to its first centennial celebration. The longer the PA delays it, the less they will receive in land, water, services, and potentially loyal citizens.

It is time for everyone to open their eyes, shut their mouths, begin to listen, and to create a viable Palestine that recognizes the Jewish state of Israel. Millions of lives in two miniscule nations will depend upon it. Any other response by any nation or group is just whistling by the grave yard.

The morning broke cloudy and rainy. We received over an inch of rain between midnight and 0800. The back roads are covered, in places, with sodden carpets of fallen leaves that are as dangerous under tires as is glare ice. The drive into town involved continual fussy adjustments to wiper tempos and lighting. Many of the higher mountains were fog-shrouded; barely showing through the low cloud deck that filled valleys and canyons with thick, gray mist. The trees have gained more color since Thursday. The ride home should be very pretty.

We may see temperatures in the 30’s tonight.

Dinner will be soup for Gloria and leftover chili for me.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

13 October 2010 Hot dogs and beans

The most likely menu for tonight’s dinner is hot dogs and beans. Hardly a gourmet item on any restaurant’s menu, still last meal I had on my first trip to Boston was an excellent and very satisfying plate of hot dogs and baked beans at Durgin Park. There were lots of other items on the menu that day that I’d have enjoyed eating. The beans and franks were the only one I could afford.

Early on, small cans of “beanie-weenies’ wound up any many backpacks so that young Boy Scouts who had yet to master the art of campfire cooking might eat them directly from the can. Once the youngsters learned to manage camp cooking on a real fire the cans could provide a hot meal, hopefully not containing too much ash. It helped, of course, if the cook first opened the can before placing it into or on the fire. I’ve seen more than one can of beans and franks explode because the “cook” failed to open the can. In several instances, the offender was an adult leader who should have known better.

The commercial cans of beanie-weenies were marketed by Van Camps, easily my least favorite source of “pork and beans” or baked beans. The included “sauce” is too thin and lacking in seasoning. Bush’s many offerings are little better. The Heinz beans made for the British market are so poorly flavored as to not be edible by anyone who can taste at all. Once in a very great while my mother would spend several hours making real baked beans – usually for a potluck dinner involving Boy Scouting. It was probably my favorite of all the things she cooked in those days. Starting with navy beans rather than “pork and beans” as most family recipes began made a big difference in taste. So did the lack of a soupy nature indicating that the cook had merely emptied a can or two into a casserole and waved bacon over the dish. I truly dislike soupy “baked beans.”

We really don’t want to delve into the origin and composition of most frankfurters used to make hot dogs and beans. I’ve always avoided any sausage containing chicken. I still do.

Of course, so simple but solidly nourishing a meal has military applications. The Vietnam era “beans, lima with ham” had no real fan club. They were widely known as “ham and mothers.” I found them palatable with enough Heinz 57 sauce &/or Tabasco sauce.

Since I never carried them on Scout events as an adult leader, and avoided any communal servings – the one exception won me a horrible bout of food poisoning – my next meal of beans and franks, ignoring Durgin Park, was shortly after I moved in with Gloria. Gloria grew up in New England, made the dish with Hebrew National hot dogs and B&M baked beans. It tasted as much like beans baked overnight in a hole beneath a fire as a commercial product can. The dish rapidly became a staple in our early life as a couple.

The new has worn off the dish now. The thrill of rediscovering an old culinary friend has abated. But we still fix hot dogs and beans once or twice a month. We’ve changed from Hebrew National to Nathan’s hot dogs – less salt for two hypertensives. I sometimes add bratwurst to the mix just for the variation in flavor and texture. We make every effort to let the liquid from the can of beans reduce and thicken into a real sauce. We don’t truly bake the beans but we make them believe we have.

It doesn’t take a lot of skill to fix this dish if one can cook and has good ingredients to begin with. With bad ingredients, no amount of skill can rescue the dish. Americans have become used to poorly flavored, badly seasoned, poorly-prepared food for the masses. Discounting picky children much of the populace will eat anything set before them if they are allowed to salt it and have soft drinks or beer with it.

Given the miserable nature of the sauce in what Americans accept as “baked beans,” what Gloria and/or I produce in half an hour eclipses 99% of the hot dogs and “baked beans” that make it to the table on any given night in the continental U.S.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

12 October 2010 This was once Columbus Day

In the ages before Apple invented the letter “I” and when dirt was still new enough to amaze the random student; the United States celebrated the birthday of Christopher Columbus on the day it actually showed up on the calendar. Columbus was not unique in that privilege. We celebrated lots of things on the days they took place. Now that we have decided that three day weekends are of more value than historical accuracy, fewer Americans are aware of the older celebrations. It may come to be that only historians and the odd elitist will recall these things in another generation.

We finished studying the American Civil War in class this morning. After class I drove over to Mountain Home National Cemetery to take some photographs of a friend’s great-grandfather’s grave stone. He’d sent me the location in the grounds so my part was easy.

The older sections of this cemetery are all Civil War veterans. All the markers I saw in the section I was looking for were for troops who fought in Union units. These men were all buried around 1918-19, which makes me wonder if they died in the great influenza pandemic that followed on the heels of WWI. Perhaps my friend knows.

As I pulled up next to the proper section, the front rank contained the carefully tended and specially marked grave stone honoring a CMH winner. I didn’t think to check the back for his birth and death dates so I don’t know when he died. But I suspect that his presence in that section indicates he won the CMH and lived to be awarded his honors. I hope so. That’s a horrible medal to be awarded.

I’d not been on the cemetery grounds here before. There are approximately 12-13000 men and women buried there. The grounds are immaculately tended. Except for such markers as denote a CMH, the grave stones are all white stone, carefully sculpted denoting little but name, rank, branch of service, and time on earth. Some small personalization may be added to more recent markers such as was done with Gloria’s father’s & mother’s common stone. But for the most part, the nation’s servants are equal in death. The broad sweep of white stones across rolling terrain is sobering, and in the case of Civil War era graves, quite saddening. Hundreds of thousands of young men marched off shoulder to shoulder to preserve the Union. Thousands of them simply vanished, consumed in a cannon’s blast of canister, dead of infection caused by a bayonet thrust, dysentery, malaria, starvation in a prison camp, or of some decision to simply vanish on their own into a new name and place. The ones I trod upon today came home or to “old soldiers’ homes” and then were honored with cemeteries of their own.

Next month, on the 11th, we will celebrate “Veterans Day.” More on that later.

I’ll send Dwight the photos tonight when I have internet access. The fine arts building has no access to the campus wifi system. Art, fine-arts, classical music, art-history, along with philosophy, history, English, and other languages are obviously classes that only academics and elitists would ever take. They don’t need wifi. Much more important to have it in a sports complex where the future rulers train.

The rise of the 'ordinary' elite

By Anne Applebaum

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

“In 1958, an English sociologist and Labor Party politician named Michael Young imagined a future in which the British establishment dissolved itself, abolished all forms of hereditary power and created instead a meritocracy (a word Young invented) based on IQ. In Young's fable, the academically talented from the working class happily join the elite. But the less-talented resent them even more than they did the old dukes and duchesses. By 2034, this resentment leads to a violent populist revolution that sweeps the meritocracy away. “

“In America, the end of the meritocracy will probably come about slowly: If working hard, climbing the education ladder and graduating from a good university only wins you opprobrium, then you might not bother. Or if you do bother, then you certainly won't go into politics, where your kind is no longer welcome. We will then have a different sort of elite in charge of the country -- and a different set of reasons to dislike them, too.”

Monday, October 11, 2010

11 October 2010 Look! Up in the tree!

It is nearly half-past October and the trees are beginning to change colors. Among the premature browns brought on by too little rainfall are spots and smears of orange, yellow, and red. I notice the changes today that were not present last week. This morning’s hike with Mike was an excellent opportunity to look past the trees that surround us and out to the forest. It was a unique morning walk, as no one went tearing past us in a car or truck.

Some mornings the road down valley is frankly dangerous. Many of the people who use the road drive poorly, ignoring all safety concerns and regulations, but firmly believe that they are well-trained professional-level drivers. They take curves on the inside lane and rarely, if ever, decelerate or brake prior to entering a curve. Several of the curves are blind, with trees and scrub blocking vision in the approaching lane. It is only a matter of time until some would-be racer hits another.

To walk along that road requires continual attention to the rear as well as to the front. Oncoming drivers will not move away from the edge of the road. Drivers coming from behind too often do move closer to pedestrians. It seems that the younger drivers are worse than the older ones. The very worst, most likely to deliberately try to push both pedestrians and oncoming cars off the road, is a small red car which carries one of the gorgon sisters and her girlfriend. They are so dangerous that local residents have reported them to on-duty sheriff’s deputies. I doubt that the fine was sufficient to change their behavior.

The lack of traffic this morning made it a very nice day to walk with a bit more freedom to look at the hillsides around us. This is a beautiful place to live. We’ve got four distinct seasons, good color changes, and reasonable weather most of the year. 2010 has brought both record high and low temperature conditions that were unexpected. 2011 could be even more surprising.

Dinner tonight will be eggplant dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and herbs before grilling it. I’ll treat some boneless country style ribs with olive oil and tandoori spices before grilling them as well. Greek Yogurt with mint will round out the meal.

In the trees today are squirrels, crows, woodpeckers, turkeys, and other unseen but heard creatures. We think the last of the humming birds have tanked up at the feeders Gloria keeps for them, and begun their long migration south. Beneath the trees today, lots of acorns and lots of other detritus. Safety glasses are in order when looking upward!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

10 October 2010 Good for something after all

This blog became useful today beyond being a means of generalized bitching, complaining, and kvetching. The good folks at the local VA hospital sent me a postcard announcing their schedule for influenza immunizations. They also requested that, if I had already received my annual vaccination, I call or fax them the date, place, and other information. I typed out the information and realized that the paperwork provided me by Krogers was so faint – multiple copies – that the date of immunization was not legible.

I recall mentioning the event in my blog. A short search retrieved the date I needed and I faxed it off to VA. Someone else may have received a copy, too. The all-in-one printer/fax/copier’s memory seemed to have another number in hold. Since we fax something, perhaps twice a year, it is a lesson in humility every time we try to recall the process.

Someone now knows where I live and that I’m a VA patient who stopped at Krogers.

I’m exploring the problem of Flash cookies now. These little bits of tracking software can actually be dropped onto a computer from a website the computer has never accessed. I’m not at all happy to discover that. I make it a point not to read ads that come up disguised as search results. I make it a point to avoid websites that require flash.

This is day three of update, rebuild, restore, and see what is missing. The latest discovery is that my incremental backups have not been saved since Thursday evening. Any document, spreadsheet, picture, music, or other such file added to the hard drive or modified in some form, is to be written to an external hard drive. Many of my settings, contacts, bookmarks, and other operating files were cross-decked from my backup drive. Currently I’m running a new incremental program that will hopefully correct that problem. The initial backup will take a couple of hours.

Dinner last night was Pho, a Vietnamese beef noodle soup that can be constructed in endless varieties. We had it with pan-seared bean curd, pan-grilled shrimp, rice noodles, mint, lime, and cilantro last night. Gloria is more willing to muck around with recipes than I am. She added Shitake mushrooms to hers, giving it some further chewy components and a bit more Japanese character. I tend to be more rigid if I’m trying to copy a recipe from a different culture. I generally either plan ahead and buy all the ingredients I need for the dish or manage it without some ingredients rather than to cross cultural traditions. Gloria will add whatever sounds good or interesting to her at the moment. Both of us can crank out excellent meals, and do.

Tonight will be a reprise of last night, south east Asian soups. I’m going to fix a Thai hot and sour for Gloria, adding some bean thread noodles and some oysters, along with leftover tofu from last night. I’ll make another pho for me with the same additions.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

9 October 2010 I’d rather have been wrong about this

“"What used t0 he called warlord militias are now Private Security Companies. ..

Kandahar City Municipality & Dand

District, Narrative Analyst~

ISAF, Regional Command South

Stability Operations Information Center

March 30, 2010

Cassi Creek:

Actually, like anyone who throws their opinion out, I’d rather be proven right. But I'd rather the situation was different.
Historical, use of LIP contractors for any task by a foreign army has always become a means of infiltration and enrichment for the LIP’s and the force they support.

In every case, the use of local people to perform menial and manual labor that the troops do not wish to perform, or cannot perform due to manpower conditions; has served to infiltrate a group of enemy forces pretending to be there only for the money they can earn into the confines of the invading army’s bases. There is no way to avoid hiring infiltrators if locals are hired. Even the most menial and demeaning tasks offer opportunity for intelligence gathering. Money paid to LIP workers goes directly to the local economy and also to the opposing forces tax collectors.

Every man who served in VietNam outside the major cities has a war story about finding the barber who cut hair outside the company office or the operations office dead inside the wire after leading a sapper team into the base during a night attack. Some of these are true. Some are just war stories. But they all have their foundation in truth. Camp followers, pretending not to understand the invader’s language have always been a source of intelligence information.

Mercenaries fight for pay and sometimes for even less noble reasons. The history books are filled with reports of battles lost when a mercenary force switched sides during a battle. We are hiring mercenary contractors to fill manpower needs in Afghanistan and elsewhere. That the primary contracting corporations are officially “American in origin and makeup does not change the nature of the corporations from what they are; men pretending to be soldiers for profit, employed by a for –profit corporation. The bottom line is the controlling factor.

Since the going price for U.S. and European mercenaries is greater than that paid to Afghanis and other South Asians to pose as guards and gatekeepers, it should come as no surprise that these “American corporations” are selling out their home nation and its real soldiers by hiring the cheapest mercenaries they can find. Those are the LIP workers who are all too willing to wear a provided uniform, carry a provided weapon, and earn money for the local warlords and religious leaders who hold what loyalty these mercenaries do have.

We, the citizens of the U.S. are contributing our tax moneys so that Congress can approve the use of mercenary contractors. The mercenary contractors are hiring our sworn enemies to guard our bases, our embassies, offices, convoys, supply dumps, and people. We’re waging war for the benefit of the “free market.” At the same time, we’re paying our enemies to spy upon us, destroy our fuel convoys, ambush and kill our troops. Anyone who is truly surprised has not been paying careful attention.

The solution, as ever, is to field and maintain a military capable of meeting our manpower needs. There are millions of unemployed men and women today who would be happy to join up for the money that “American mercenaries receive in pay each month. We can increase our military manpower and still decrease the cost of our current wars by cutting out the mercenaries and their unscreened, un-vetted, local fighters. And by doing that, we might just see our WIA and KIA numbers decrease as well.

Congress released a 105 page report on this problem, linked below. Wade through it if you can. What is doesn’t really say loudly enough is that American mercenary corporations are hiring and paying Afghanis and others to kill American soldiers. That’s the sad truth, Americans are now paying to kill other Americans for profit.

There’s nothing that can be done about this situation until the Pentagon is allowed to field the armed forces we need. We need the best we can recruit, not the worst we can buy.

8 October 2010 Last updated at 06:50 ET

Afghan security contractors 'fund Taliban'

Private security guards are often used to guard compounds or convoys

Heavy US reliance on private security in Afghanistan has helped to line the pockets of the Taliban, a US Senate report says.

The study by the Senate Armed Services Committee says this is because contractors often fail to vet local recruits and end up hiring warlords.

The report demands "immediate and aggressive steps" to improve the vetting and oversight process.

“(U) In 2009, the Senate Armed Services Committee initiated an inquiry into private

security contractors operating in Afghanistan. In the course of the inquiry, the Committee

reviewed hundreds of thousands of pages of documents from the Departments of Defense and

State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and private security contractors.

Committee staff conducted more than 30 interviews of military and contractor personnel and

solicited written answers from several others. This report is a product of that inquiry.

“(U) The Committee's inquiry uncovered evidence of private security contractors

funneling U.S. taxpayers dollars to Afghan warlords and strongmen linked to murder,

kidnapping, bribery as well as Taliban and other anti-Coalition activities. It revealed squandered resources and dangerous failures in contractor performance, including untrained guards, insufficient and unserviceable weapons, unmanned posts, and other shortcomings that directly affect the safety of U.S. Military personnel.”

“The Committee's investigation reveals the threat that security contractors operating without adequate U.S. government supervision can pose to the mission in Afghanistan.”