Friday, December 31, 2010

31 December 2010 Sorry about that, pardon me

CNN) -- Billy the Kid is dead and probably doesn't care, but a pardon for the cold-blooded killer may be in the offing.

Gov. Bill Richardson, called a "Billy the Kid buff," is looking at an old promise by another governor, and not the Kid's reputation, in deciding whether to issue a posthumous pardon, a spokeswoman said Thursday

Billy the Kid

This ferrotype photograph is a mirror image of the outlaw

Doors singer Jim Morrison wins indecent exposure pardon December 09, 2010
From Susan Candiotti, CNN

Jim Morrison (second from right) died in Paris in 1971 while his appeal against the conviction was pending.

The Florida Board of Executive Clemency on Thursday voted unanimously to posthumously pardon Jim Morrison, the charismatic lead singer for The Doors, four decades after Morrison was convicted of indecent exposure and open profanity

Cassi Creek:

The urge to pardon the already dead seems to be an exercise in extreme nonsense.

Other than seeking to garner votes there is no reason for any state board, governor, or federal executive to expend the effort and cost of pardoning offenses committed by the dead.

There is no dispute about the line of work William Bonny chose, and no doubt, that he did commit murders. To pardon him for a murder conviction that may have been somewhat questionable by today’s standards is wasted effort and time. To claim otherwise is to open questions as to the validity of many convictions that took place before the days of DNA sequencing and modern forensic science. His convictions should stand as they are. New Mexico has better things to do with its money and the time of its employees.

Jim Morrison was arrested for indecent exposure. The arrest could well have been a political bust or perhaps a staged PR event. Either way, the charges, indecent exposure and profanity were minor in nature even then and could well have been brought to bear against many Florida officials whose behavior once inebriated was likely no more in keeping with the local Baptist customs. Again, wasted time, money, and media attention brought about by a politician who truly should know better and whose public record shows him in a far better light than does this posthumous foolishness.

No more posthumous pardons for historical or pop-culture personalities. We don’t need to revise history.

Happy New Year to all!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

30 December 2010 Your list and mine may vary

According to the Washington Post the ten most important news stories of 2010 are:

GULF OIL DISASTER - – Everyone involved in any manner knew that the well was being drilled on the cheap with every possible corner being cut. We’ve yet to know who will get the official final blame for failure to follow regulations, failure to oversee offshore drilling, inadequate and out of date safety procedures, and utter lack of concern for anything but profits. What we do know is that the American public will take the hit.

HEALTH CARE OVERHAUL – We need universal, single payer, national health insurance similar to Canadian and other national systems. We got another windfall for the insurance companies and proof that the 2008 election had sent the most spineless group of Democrats possible to Congress. What we wound up with is the GOP plan – ‘inherit lots of money or die quickly”

US ELECTIONS – The 2010 elections once again prove that the GOP machine can market absolute lies and bullshit to their vote base with impunity. The GOP\Teavangelist base is terrified of the possibility that someone with dark skin will move in and take their jobs. What jobs? That voter base voted for the people who shipped their jobs overseas and knowingly used the cheaper illegal laborers that they fear to replace them.

US ECONOMY – Wonderful if you are a banker, broker, trader, analyst with an obscenely large bonus in your pocket. Not so great if you lost your job, if you’ve been job hunting, or if you hope to ever work in a first world nation.

HAITI EARTHQUAKE - People who over-populate an island and live in shanties and shacks shouldn’t. Like most of the former European colonies, the human suffering is due in part to the Roman Catholic Church.

-TEA PARTY MOVEMENT – The party for people who profess to love “The Constitution” except for the amendments that allow women and minorities to vote, that allow income taxes, that limit terms for the President, and those pesky parts of the 1st amendment that prevent them forming a theocracy and sending all non-Christians off to camp.

CHILE MINE RESCUE – A truly bright event in the history of 2010.

IRAQ - U.S. forces formally ended their combat role and looked ahead to planned withdrawal, while Iraqis endured months of bitter political haggling after an election that failed to heal Sunni-Shiite divisions.

What could we possibly expect? The religious hatred and tribalism were certain to prevent any hope of actually forming a modern nation. Keep pulling the troops out!

WIKILEAKS - First came the online postings of a huge batch of U.S. military documents from Iraq and Afghanistan, Then WikiLeaks started releasing a cache of classified State Department diplomatic cables, creating embarrassment for Washington in its dealings with other nations.

This was bound to happen eventually. The diplomatic cables only prove what all the diplomats know, that they gossip and that all diplomacy is based upon lies and deceit. The Arabs are afraid of Iran but don’t want to get their hands dirty in a war against brother Muslims; unless they belong to the wrong tribe or the wrong sect. The military files should never have been accessible to a PFC. Heads should and will roll.

AFGHANISTAN - After months of deliberation, President Obama ordered a troop surge in a major bid to turn the tide of the nearly 10-year-old war. Intense fighting pushed the Taliban out of some longtime strongholds, but the militants remained resilient, and Afghanistan remained beset by corruption and ineffectual government.

We had the chance to bag bin Laden, Rumsfeld and Cheney blew it. We have no other reason to be in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Fire all the mercenaries. Pack up the troops, bring them home. Then cover the Pakistani nuclear warheads in green glass with only ½-hour warning. Keep the reward for bin Laden open to anyone who can bring him in – no questions asked.

This is my take on the top ten stories. I’m interested in yours.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

29 December 2010 A second chance for franchise owners


The real reason Vick got a second chance

By Richard Cohen

The commentary about President Obama's call to the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles regarding that adjudicated dog killer Michael Vick has now reached an apogee of stupidity that strongly suggest that too many otherwise smart people have lost their ability to reason. Obama, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie recounted, said, "'So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance.' He said, 'It's never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail.' And he was happy that we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall.'' It helps, I think, that Vick has completed 63.2 percent of his passes and has 20 touchdowns. He is not your average felon.

Cassi Creek:

He is also not – (Column A) your average mechanic, not your average truck driver, not your average artist, and not your average student. He may be – (Column B) an exceptional ball player, runner, or vaulter. He/she may also be – (Colum C) an acclaimed actor, comedian, talk-show host, reality show participant, or manufactured celebrity.

We’ve all grown up with people like Vick. We’ve watched them coast through grade school, junior high school, and high school because they turn out for practice and excel at one of the major athletic games that public schools fund as their contribution to the national franchise owners’ farm teams. We’ve watched them take a test multiple times so that they can magically acquire a “C” grade in a subject that they’ve never bothered to study. We’ve seen them awarded scholarships to colleges and universities that want them for their state/public sponsored part of the national franchise owners’ farm teams. We watch them rake in the under-the-table money, watched them show up with new cars and/or trucks, We watch them as they are flown around the nation from one resort or hotel to another by rich men who want to fund entourages so that they can pretend they are young and good at athletics.

We read in the papers that they are arrested for illegal gambling, for assault, for sexual assault, for theft, for all manner of illegal actions that they fail to recognize as wrong by anyone’s morality but that “get it while you can, get all you can.” Mantra drummed into their heads by teachers, coaches, administrators, preachers, cops, and others who have turned their heads away from the athlete’s transgressions from the day it first became apparent that he might be able to run, jump, kick, throw, or hit better than most others. No one ever tells the potential athletic standout, “no!” No one wants to be the person responsible for causing him/her to miss the big game. Even the most serious crimes are brushed aside long enough for the “star athlete” to play in the post-season games. Perish the thought that he and the team that spawned him might be punished effectively and in a timely and appropriate manner.

Almost no one ever drops the hammer on these spoiled thugs. Almost no one wants to be the bad guy and ruin the team or the “star’s” chances of a winning streak, a scholarship, or a pro career by pointing out his academic failures, by pressing charges for his assaults, his rapes, his thuggery. Almost no one will. But it is time we do.

There is no reason I can think of for the taxpayers to fund the pro-athletics training program using schools that can’t afford textbooks or teachers to prevent the franchise owners having to be out of pocket. There is no reason that thugs should be lionized as role models or allowed to escape the consequences of their actions. There is no reason that anyone should profit from professional athletics that steal from the public by convincing cities to build new venues for the franchise owners. There is no reason that men should be allowed to ignore the law because of their physical prowess. And there is no reason that parents should be allowed to earn from the actions of their children who can’t tell right from wrong but who can throw or run. It’s time we hold these thugs accountable, beginning with their first days in school.

There was no justification for Obama to champion Vick. If the same thing had been done by an unemployed mechanic, no one would be talking about a second chance. Nor should Vick’s need for a second chance be any greater than anyone who can’t run or throw.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

28 December 2010 Obligatory lists fill column inches and airtime but little else

Like most people who sometimes wish they were a professional writer, choosing a topic to write about then putting something interesting down on paper can become difficult. Writers’ block does not apply – I’m not that much of a writer, nor am I unable to put something onto the digital equivalent of paper. I’m aided by the certainty that very few if any people will actually read what I write. It allows me to be repetitious if I wish, vicious and vindictive if I like, and frankly boring without fear that I will lose readers, income or a by-line. I didn’t go to a college of Journalism although I frequently walked past one in my younger days.

As the year – no matter which, the numbers matter only to historians- crawls to its annual revolutionary relay hand-off; the events that we worry about every day seem to become less interesting compared to the wait for the calendar page to turn and the fireworks to fly skyward and detonate. The war in Afghanistan (Iraq, Somalia, or whichever grim gray place we have chosen to deploy our young men and women is somehow diminished in importance or relevancy compared to the preparation for the televising of street parties hosted by television celebrities. In preparation for such programming the various news services and correspondents in need of filing copy or video draw upon tradition and deliver “the top/bottom list of some topic”

The perpetual opener is, all too often, “What would it cost Neiman-Marcus to deliver all the gifts mentioned in “The 12 days of Christmas.” I know, twelve, not ten items, I’m searching for inspiration that would be better directed to a CNN Commentator.

Ten ugliest Christmas Sweaters – good for TV

Ten worst movies of the year – also good for TV, fills lots of airtime.

Ten worst celebrity encounters with law enforcement – good for TV and lawyers

Ten celebrities most likely to enter drug/alcohol rehab- good for TV, lawyers, and treatment centers

Ten politicians most likely to claim “sex addition” and enter rehab – see above plus ghost writers and publishing houses

First ten new GOPer\Teavangelist caught accepting money from lobbyists – good for Media

Ten Teavangelist Congressmen most likely to be caught In flagrante delicto – good for media and comedians

The Latin term is sometimes used colloquially as a euphemism for a couple being caught in the act of sexual intercourse. In modern usage, the intercourse need not be adulterous or illicit But it will be so much more enjoyable if it is,

Ten largest lies uttered by Palin – good for no one

Ten most inane lists published this year – good for no one – be sure to include this list.

Monday, December 27, 2010

27 December 2010 We don’t want it but you can’t have it!

U.S. troops battle to hand off a valley resistant to Afghan governance

By Greg Jaffe

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, December 27, 2010; 12:00 AM

Cassi Creek:

Tell me again, please, and help me to believe, that the Afghani and Iraqi wars haven’t become another copy of the Vietnam War; a tragic, hopeless clusterfuck, driven by opposing ideologies, incapable of being won, meat-grinders consuming our troops for no valid reason.

This article documents the same failure to define and maintain any goal beyond a body count that existed in Vietnam. We take ground that we don’t want to deny it to an enemy. We have neither tactical nor strategic reason to expend the lives of our troops in these hellholes. Take away the tropical forests and increase the elevation. Only the face of the enemy remains unknown. The enemy wants the ground we try to control even if they deny wanting it. They want it as a proof of power to contest the will of NATO and the U.S. They want it because they know they can force any populace into compliance by trumpeting ideology and xenophobia, as the Vietnamese did and the Afghanis do. It matters not whether the ideology is driven by religion or nationalism.

We find our troops caught in the demand to win a war that is ill defined, ill chosen, and most likely incapable of being won. We demand that our volunteer troops die on foreign soil for reasons that they will never truly know. Our leaders have yet to realize that money spent building infrastructure and schools in Afghanistan and Iraq should be spent educating Americans and building new infrastructure inside our borders. We won WWII. We are not required to fight every new war that we blunder into as if the continued existence of the world depends upon our next victory. However, there’s little likelihood that we will change our use of troops when diplomacy would by much cheaper. And for the troops who fight and die while we show our support by buying bits of yellow plastic that almost no civilians understand the significance of will find no relief in sight.

This bit of verse written in 1992 seems incredibly timely still.

No Relief in Sight - rewrite 7 November 2009

There's only one more klick to hump today,

How many times they've fooled me with that lie.

We'll have to hump back out, because it's raining,

The clouds too low to let the choppers fly.

Of course, it's only a klick or five,

Of course, I know it'll keep us alive,

But I've been doing this for months,

And there's no relief in sight.

The other squads all took their turns at ambush

Your squad will have to go again tonight.

We know they’re somewhere out there, just can't find em,

So go, the Colonel's spoiling for a fight.

Of course, you know you can sleep in late,

We'll just tell Charlie he has to wait.

Hey, don't you know there's a war on,

And there's no relief in sight.

Hey, Doc, you wanna help me write some letters, man.

To the families of the troops who just got killed.

I know you're feelin' bad you couldn't save 'em

But, Doc, you know we had to take that hill.

And it doesn't matter, not even a bit,

That we hadn't a single use for it.

We killed some soldiers and flew away,

And there's no relief in sight.

I sit and think of the boys who fell that morning.

Who died when the choppers were tasked to another fight,

Who might have lived if only we could have evac'ed 'em,

Who might be writing their own notes home tonight.

It was dragging the wounded down off the hill,

Tagging and bagging them dead off the hill,

Dragging the bodies off some nameless hill

And there's no relief in sight.

So what did we do, we denied the enemy shelter,

And what did we win; well we took contested ground,

And what of the two platoons we left to follow us off the hill,

Well, they're shaking the trees to knock the dog tags down.

Cause some of the boys are MIA,

Only reported in yesterday,

(They were only cherries, anyway)

I know you lost some friends, but, Hey!

There's no relief in sight

We only assaulted eleven days,

Count up the wounded and KIA's

We won a hell of a victory,

And there's no relief in sight

Sunday, December 26, 2010

26 December 2010 Fimbulvetr climate shift or lucky Siberians.

Fimbulvetr is the harsh winter that precedes the end of the world and puts an end to all life on Earth. Fimbulvetr is three successive winters where snow comes in from all directions, without any intervening summer. During this time, there will be innumerable wars and brothers will kill brothers.

The event is described primarily in the Poetic Edda. In the poem Vafþrúðnismál, Odin poses the question to Vafþrúðnir as to who of mankind will survive the Fimbulvetr. Vafþrúðnir responds that Líf and Lífþrasir will survive and that they will live in the forest of Hoddmímis holt.

This mythology might be related to the extreme weather events of 535–536 which resulted in a notable drop in temperature across northern Europe. There have also been several popular ideas about whether or not this particular piece of mythology has a connection to the climate change that occurred in the Nordic countries at the end of the Nordic Bronze Age dating from about 650 BC. Before this climate change, the Nordic countries were considerably warmer. In Denmark, Norway, Sweden and other Nordic countries, the term fimbulvinter is still used to refer to an unusually cold and harsh winter

Cassi Creek:

It has been snowing continuously since Friday night. I’ve cleared the decks twice yesterday and three times today. They need to be cleared again. We’ve cleared the cars and they will be covered again by twilight. Given the drifting, minimal, and the compaction caused by gravity and moisture content variation, snowfall depths and rate of snowfall are somewhat tricky to call. Right now, I’d put the snowfall rate at one inch/hour.

The NWS forecasts are falling on the short side of total accumulations. The best guess so far is 8-10 inches with a possible 2-4 yet to arrive. The earliest expected temperatures above freezing are forecast for Thursday.

This is postcard, Currier & Ives weather. Every possible surface, branch, bush that can hold snow is holding snow. When this melts, it’s going to raise the creek level rapidly. The aquifer needs a long snowy cold winter so that run-off is diminished and the melt water can sink in. I hate to be selfish by wishing for the snow pattern to stop. But I am tired of hauling wood and I need a dry, relatively warm period in order to cut, split, and stack more firewood. It needs to happen before the last injections to my shoulders wear off.

There has been a steady stream of birds at Gloria’s feeders all day. This is hard weather for wildlife. It is also hard for people who live at the far ends of the roads. I trudged out to the mailbox this morning, as usual. To find no newspaper. It’s not a very good newspaper but we pay for it, we expect it, and reading a morning newspaper has always been part of our routine. The trek out to the mailbox would have actually benefited from X-C skis or snowshoes. The snow was over my ankles at the most shallow.

We’re having Steak au poivre tonight. Instead of the much more expensive strip steaks or tenderloin that one gets in really good restaurants, we will be using chuck eyes. The primary source of the taste is the sauce rather than the beef. We had snow crab legs last night. We found them on sail. We didn’t bother with melted butter or other sauces. We just steamed them until hot and demolished them.

While I’m tired of shoveling snow, Loki is delighted to go outside in it. She runs, jumps, and pounces for a while then suddenly decides she’s had enough and runs up onto the deck. She takes the stairs at full-tilt and has not yet learned to slow down on slick stairs and landings. She hasn’t slid off the deck yet but I keep watching for it.

If this is the Fimbulvetr, then we need to be aware of Loki’s offspring. Winter is certainly the inspiration for Hel’s domain of the same name and located in Niflheim. Cold and gloom wait for the earth’s orbit to banish them.

Jormungand, or Jörmungand (Old Norse: Jǫrmungandr), or Midgard Serpent (Old Norse: Midgarðsormr), or World Serpent, is a sea serpent, and the middle child of the giantess Angrboða and the god Loki. This beast is credited with causing earthquakes as it moves on the sea floor. Not documented in any geology texts I’ve found yet. There are small earthquakes along the Great Smokies and Tennessee sits against the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

I’ve heard some communal barking and howling from local dogs and transient packs of coyotes. Hardly the Fenris wolf Fenrir or Fenris (Old Norse: "fen-dweller"), Fenrisúlfr (Old Norse: "Fenris wolf"), but sufficient to make one think of wolf packs roaming the forests of Siberia or descending upon the towns of Europe in the long winters.

I’ll take Loki out tonight as usual and I’ll listen for the voice of Fenrisulfr. I suspect that any howls I hear tonight will be of my own creation. Unlike humans and the fictitious spawn of Loki, the wildlife of Cassi Creek will be denned up under the brush and snow of the mountains.

While Loki of old sleeps in pain, chained until the final battle, Loki Dog sleeps soundly by the stove, rising only to bark at things which go bump in the night.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

25 December 2010 Sleeping in is rarely rewarded

I managed to sleep in ‘til’ almost 0800 this morning. I woke up feeling pretty well rested, about as pain free as I ever feel upon waking up – which is a topic for another day - and extremely happy to be where I am.

A quick look out the window assured me that the forecasted snow had begun. The morning well begun, the morning routine fell into place. Coffee first, watch, medications, animals, check the wood stove, leash Loki and retrieve the newspaper. Return indoors, check the stove for remnants of last night’s fire, and add kindling and wood to bring that fire back into service.

When I took Loki out at 0800, the snow was granular in nature and lightly covered most of the ground. By 0930, the snow depth was about ½ inch. At 1145, Mike returned the log splitter. After storing it, I cleaned 1& ½ inches off the stairs and deck. And now, at 1515 there is another 1 & ½ inch coating on the deck. The NWS forecast for tonight and tomorrow predicts 2-4 more inches of snow. Since we’ve already clocked three inches or so, I’m betting on the total of 4-5 inches. We are not at an extremely high elevation but we seem to accumulate snow as if we are. The micro-climatic effect of the various peak ridges and valleys that define our property seems to favor winter expressions.

Today’s snow has become fairly thick and moderately wet. The overall effect is suitable for a movie set for Bing Crosby or for Christmas in Appalachia.

It’s an easy day to do next to nothing. Television programmers are trying milk the last bit of Christmas and start the endless series of lists of the _____of 2010. Fill in your own blanks. I’m avoiding any such programming.

Our relative isolation steers us toward a lazy day. Gloria’s waiting for her family in London to call. We’ve talked to mine in Kansas City. There is no Chinese restaurant worth mentioning that is open within two hours drive and little playing at local theaters worth dropping a $20 bill to sit through.

I’ll finish this, keep converting mass to energy and ash, and begin thawing the snow crab we’re dining on tonight. All in all, a fine Shabbat, a good day to enjoy each other. Enjoy!

Friday, December 24, 2010

24 December 2010 We should Roe the day

I firmly endorse the thoughts of the two writers linked below!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Phil Roe's Town Hall Extravaganza

The Johnson City Press and The Kingsport-Times News reported Rep. Phil Roe's Town Hall meeting regarding health care reform. Two newspapers. One reporter. Same story. The tone of the article was to dismiss those who advocate for reform as "emotional."

Roe’s tax deal vote

Every Republican in this district who makes less than $250,000 should feel utterly and completely betrayed by U.S. Rep. Phil Roe. With his vote on the “tax deal” he stands firmly with the ultra-rich top 1 percent of Americans.

Maybe there are more rich folks in the 1st District than I am aware of and Roe is looking out for them. I, however, am not feeling the love.

He is certainly not allowed any more crying and whining about the deficit (via his electronic newsletter) having voted to increase it by some $800 billion or more. With the cuts to Social Security, I anticipate that the retirement age will be the next target for the Congress and fully expect to have to work until I’m 70 or older to help pay for these millionaire/billionaire tax cuts. I voted for Roe two years ago, but certainly will not do so again. Congratulations to big money. They win — again.



Cassi Creek:

I’ve rarely encountered a politician who made me feel like I needed to wash my hands immediately than does Phillip Roe. I’ve encountered a few evangelists who left me feeling equally in need of ablution.

Roe’s masters have assigned him a sub-committee so that he can feel self-important and begin to acquire his own string of lobbyists who will feed his campaign fund.

My thoughts about Mr. Roe can be found in the letter below.

Shabbat Shalom.

24 December 2010

To: 4411 North Roan St.

Suite 29

Johnson City, TN 37601

Mr. Roe,

I note your recent appointment as chair of the House subcommittee for Health, Employment, Labor, and Pension. Once again, your GOP\Teavangelists demonstrate the degree of their disconnection from the reality of life for far too many American citizens. In fact, I can’t think of anyone less qualified to chair such a sub-committee.

One would think that your years as a physician might have conveyed a bit of understanding about how poorly health care is provided to most Americans. Since most physicians are afforded professional courtesy by their colleagues, allowing them to avoid worries about finding a competent physician and paying for his/her services. When you trumpet your “over 5000 deliveries” you fail to mention that you’ve essentially received free medical care from the day you entered medical school.

Dealing with Employment for the GOP is a one-note performance. “Tax cuts for the rich will magically create jobs.” Where, Mr. Roe, are the jobs created by the Bush Era Tax Cuts? Easily answered, they’re all offshore because no super rich American is going to pay a living wage to American workers unless forced to do so. Two years from today, I’m sure that “Where are the jobs?” can be answered using the same sentence.

That also applies to Labor. We all know how the GOP feels about labor; sub-minimum, off the books, to illegals or not at all.

Pensions? I’m sure yours is safe. I’m sure the bankers and financiers will recall that you voted against financial reform.

What else have you done for N.E. TN? You’ve voted to increase the debt in order to assure your rich owners continued tax cuts. You’ve voted against allowing members of the military to admit openly to being gay for fear that “Potentially there could be some consequences.” You’ve voted for the continuation of mountain top removal, for the continued destruction of TN streams and wildlife.

You’ve whined like a third grader about having to work after Christmas, about having to “Bring the entire House of Representatives back (to vote on the continuing budget resolution). That’s your job, Mr. Roe. You and the rest of the GOP\teavangelists have spent 11 months delaying any action on any bill or resolution that you could. Don’t complain to me or anyone else about having to work when you’d rather be elsewhere. There are millions of unemployed and under-employed (remember those off-shored jobs) who would walk back to Washington D.C. in order to complete the job if they were fortunate enough to have the chance of employment.

Please don’t insult us by “Co-sponsoring any bill to cut Congressional salaries. We both know that bill will never reach the floor of the House.

Nothing you’ve done since you became “my employee” causes me to find you worthy of retention. I’m sure the coal and natural gas industries, the big banks, and the wealthiest Americans will grade your performance differently. They can afford to keep you on their payrolls. But we citizens of TN who know what it is to work weekends, holidays, and to miss vacations can’t afford your services.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

23 December 2010 Calvin Coolidge emulation post

All appears to be well. Groceries laid in, stove burning warmly.

Wait for it, if necessary.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

22 December 2010 Congress should be sent to bed with no dessert.

“The rise of the Petulant Party”

By Dana Milbank

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

“The lame-duck session of Congress has introduced Americans to the three-party system of government: the Democratic Party, the Republican Party and the Petulant Party.

Eight founding fathers of the Petulants took the stage Tuesday morning in the Senate TV studio to provide an update on their latest cause: The defeat of the nuclear arms treaty with Russia

Petulants do not care about Republican wise men. They do not care about the wishes of the uniformed military. What they care about is preserving the sanctity of . . . Christmas vacation?

"The fact that we're doing this under the cover of Christmas," complained Sen. Jim DeMint (P-S.C.), "is something to be outraged about."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (P-S.C.) was outraged. "Here we are, the week of Christmas, about to pass potentially a treaty," he protested.

And the leader of the group, Sen. Jon Kyl (P-Ariz.), is already on record saying the Democrats' legislative agenda amounts to "disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians."

So it has come to this: Members of the Petulant Party want to stop the START treaty (and block a bill that would help Ground Zero first responders pay medical bills) because they wish to get home to their figgy pudding. This might be called playing the Christmas card.

Of course, the Petulants' objections have little to do with yule. You don't defy the national security judgment of the U.S. military and reject the wisdom of generations of GOP elder statesmen simply because you have concerns related to the Advent calendar.

Petulant leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) spelled out the real reason on the Senate floor Monday. McConnell, who said Republicans' "single most important" goal was Obama's defeat, said that in this case he didn't want to facilitate "some politician's desire to declare a political victory and host a press conference before the first of the year."

On Tuesday, enough Republicans said "yes" to send the treaty to likely ratification on Wednesday. But the Petulant Party is only getting organized. As McConnell told Politico this week: "If they think it's bad now, wait 'til next year." “

Cassi Creek: This is what it comes down to. Appeals by ailing fire-fighters and police officers for medical care due to 9-11 related illnesses are “emotional; not worthy of consideration. The START treaty needs to be “studied more.” The eight months that it has been in consideration were just not enough. Christmas holidays for people who work less than ½ the year are more important than nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear warhead reduction, and any other bill that Obama might want passed before next year.

McConnell has also promised that the GOP\teavangelists will spend the next two years dealing in lies, obfuscation, and all manner of perfidy in order to prevent Obama’s election to a second term.

I don’t understand how the people who claim to “love the Constitution” while failing to understand or agree with that same document, want to do everything in their power to destroy it and the governmental system it describes. I don’t understand how they find voters who will support elected leaders who repeatedly plant a knife in the back of the voters. I don’t understand how anyone can vote for an elected official who is so deeply in thrall to the rich that he will even forsake the cornerstone of conservatism – the “balance budget with no deficit – to keep licking his master’s boots.

I don’t understand any of that. However, I do understand that this nation can’t survive while exporting jobs and importing debt. Marx said we’d sell the rope to our hangmen. He was right.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

21 December 2010 Cable providers can but won’t

The cable feed from Comcast was abysmal last night. The programmers have taken the easy way out on every possible network and scheduled either re-runs or Christmas re-runs.

After scrolling through the vaunted >500 channel schedules we found exactly nothing that we cared to watch. 500 channels of duplicate offerings separated by the letters “HD” works out to about 300 channels, still with nothing of interest.

Cable programming and the selections that cannot be eliminated from the “packages” can drive one around the bend.

I have no need for any “sports” networks, channels or programs. I have no need for any Christian channels, networks, or programs. I have no need for shopping networks, channels, or programs. I have repeatedly asked cable suppliers to sell me a package designed around those channels and networks I do watch. They tell me I can’t have that option, that it is technically to difficult and too expensive.

Expensive is probably the operative word in the mix. According to a friend who has worked in the cable industry, the programming for such packages would have to be manually keyed into the system. That doesn’t seem like too much of problem to me. They cable companies are being paid to carry many of the channels by the channel owners. So not only am I being charged for programming I will never watch, the programmers are paying the cable company too.

I have no problem with a one-time fee to set up a personal package as long as it includes a routine review and option event. My interests won’t change that much in a year. I’m never going to watch anything on ESPN or its analogs, any shopping channel, any country music, any music video programming, or any Christian programming. I’m also not going to watch any kid programming and damned little “family friendly” programming.

How about it, Comcast? Build me a package with CNN, the major broadcast networks, BBC, History, the premium movie channels, and a few others like Comedy Central, Sci Fi, Food TV and others that I might need an hour or two to think about. Sell it to me and deliver it without glitches.

I know you can do it. Your system allows me the option of streaming movies any time night or day with no intervention from you. So I have to believe that the capability for auto-programming exists in the system or could be added rather easily.

Honestly, as computer systems increase the ability to work around cable TV providers it may be in your best interests as a corporation to let the consumer call the tune. I can get buy, if I want by watching news and movies on-line and I can live with pirated network programming or wait until the shows are released on disk. I don’t need water-cooler or work conversation material so it doesn’t matter, really, how current my TV knowledge is.

Now, about all these “reality” shows…

Monday, December 20, 2010

20 December 2010 Ring in the Saturnalia

There Goes the Sun


Published: December 19, 2010

(There goes the sun, There goes the sun, it’s all right, Cue Harrison solo)

WHAT is the winter solstice, and why bother to celebrate it, as so many people around the world will tomorrow? The word “solstice” derives from the Latin sol (meaning sun) and statum (stand still), and reflects what we see on the first days of summer and winter when, at dawn for two or three days, the sun seems to linger for several minutes in its passage across the sky, before beginning to double back.

Cassi Creek:

Took a cold and breezy hike with Mike this morning. Avoided politics as much as possible.

I left for Johnson City about 1030 and picked up pet food for Gloria. Then it was over to Best Buy to have my older Toshiba notebook put through diagnostics. The tech rep at the service desk kept insisting that I had to purchase a recovery disk from Toshiba before he could look at the computer. Finally, I got through to him and he agreed to accept the computer for diagnosis. The critical factor was to get the complaint into the system before 20 December 2010. After ten minutes of not-quite argument, I accomplished that. But I don’t want to buy anything without a diagnosis. According to the service contract, they owe me a new battery and any repair parts and labor. I won’t back down on this.

Returning home, the Century Link landline bill came after not being sent to us for two months. We became their customers by default and so far, they have not earned any loyalty or appreciation. We had previously negotiated a lower price for their service after pointing out their billing error in not send us a bill. I spent an hour arguing with various levels of business office people in between being put on hold for 15-minute segments of time. Finally, we reached an accommodation but I really would like to replace them. If internet phones were reliable here, we’d drop them instantly. But Mike’s experience with VOIP from

Comcast combined with our dissatisfaction with Comcast in general precluded telling them good-bye for now.

Dinner tonight will be leftovers from last night’s Pot au Feu. It’s nearly time for a cheeseburger. I can feel the craving accumulating.

Enjoy the solstice. I hope you can see the eclipse tonight.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

19 December 2010 Thank you, Senator Phogbound from Dogpatch

Sen. Mitch McConnell 'cannot support' START treaty

By Emi Kolawole

Updated 11:39 a.m.:

In an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union with Candy Crowley," Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said he would not support the new START treaty's ratification.

"I've decided I cannot support the treaty," said McConnell. The minority leader also would not commit to whether the START treaty would come up for a vote during the current session or if there were enough votes within the Republican caucus to advance the treaty towards ratification.

If unfamiliar with Senator Phogbound, please use the link below.

Senator Phogbound:Pot-bellied Jack S. Phogbound was satirist Al Capp's skewed archetype of a filibustering southern politician. Senator Phogbound was a corrupt, conspiratorial blowhard, who often wore a coonskin cap and carried a ramrod rifle to show his constituents he remained a trustworthy good ol' boy. Phogbound seemed to spend a disproportionate amount of his time campaigning or passing through Dogpatch, which made sense from a plot standpoint, but where, it can be assumed, no one ever voted.

Cassi Creek:

The morning began with a granular snowfall accumulating around ¼ inch. This afternoon, we looked out to see what Loki was barking about and saw 20 turkeys feeding in the back yard. They stayed about 5 minutes and then made short flights across the creek and into the national forest. At a quick glance, and based upon turkey customs, all were females.

Senator McConnell has once again demonstrated why Al Capp’s Dogpatch was located by the cartoonist in Kentucky. Dogpatchers were almost universally stupid and opposed to any form of progress.

While Senator McConnell appears in public wearing a suit and tie, his opposition to progress is incapable of disguise. The good Senator has decided that his goal of preventing any chance of re-election for President Obama is more important than dealing with the needs of the United States and its citizens; particularly the need to limit the possibility of nuclear warheads being detonated against targets in the U.S, and/or against U.S, military bases and fleets.

Like the residents of Dogpatch, the Senator is stuck fighting a war that is long over. The Soviet Union is gone, Senator, and Russia is nominally among our list of acceptable nations. The probability that Russia will lose a nuclear strike aimed at our shores is minimal. We need to cooperate with Russia in order to limit probabilities of rogue states and terrorist groups acquiring fissile material or complete warheads. Russia is ready to cooperate with us. Our defense department endorses the treaty, as do many former Secretaries of State. But the good Senator and his teavangelist\GOPer owners would far rather poke Obama in the eye than begin to secure the borders of our nation from enemies with nuclear weapons. The matter of missile defense systems being waved about by the Senator and others calls for the U.S. to field an anti-missile shield over much of the northern hemisphere. Frankly, we’re not capable of fielding such a network nor should we fund it for other nations. The greater risk of attack comes not from missile-delivered nuclear warheads but from a bomb or several smuggled into the nation and detonated after a much more low-tech delivery, such as a work van.

Time to grow up, Senator Phogbound, and to bring the people of Kentucky out of Dogpatch into the 21st century. There’s an entire world out here that doesn’t believe dinosaurs and humans co-existed, that Noah really loaded all those animals on a wooden boat, or that it is smart to risk the future safety of the nation at risk because your party and your financial owners are furious that the nation elected a black male with a non-WASP name as President. Go look at things again, Senator, and think about what risk you’re willing to pass onto “the children and grand children.” They always surface when your party wants to squeeze the middle class and poor. This time, Senator, think about why saddling them with debt for anti-missile defense is OK but for paying for their health care is not.

That anti-missile system won’t stop a bomb carried in by truck from Mexico or by boat from Iran. When “our children and grand-children begin to glow in the dark, they’re going to need health care. As it becomes evident that your party dropped the ball in a bigger manner than anyone in this nation ever did because of your bigotry, your names are going to be remembered like that of Joe McCarthy, Warren Harding, and others who placed personal gain above the nation. Spite Obama or “health care for the children, its and easy choice Senator Phogbound. I’m willing to bet you’ll remain stuck in Dogpatch.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

18 December 2010 It must be hard being a Congressperson.

House members boo working holiday week

By: CNN's Rebecca Stewart
Washington (CNN) – House members aren't happy that they'll have to return next week, booing when House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced Friday they would have to return on Tuesday to continue their work.

Congress is still working through a number of issues, particularly that of funding the federal government after its current money runs out at 11:59 p.m. Saturday. The current plan is to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to pay for government operations for another five days - forcing the House to return on Tuesday and take whatever next step is agreed upon with the Senate.

"It is our intent at this point in time to recess…to obtain a short term CR for five days, until Tuesday night," Hoyer announced to the chamber, which had planned to recess after Friday. "Now there are a lot of grumbling on my side…I know there are at least 434 of my colleagues who are not happy about anything right now. I want you to know I will make that a unanimous judgment - I'm not happy either."

Two issues are keeping the Senate from passing a continuing resolution: A bill repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that bans openly gay service members, and the START treaty, which would resume mutual inspections of U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals while placing limits on the nuclear stockpile of both countries. The House has passed repealing 'don't ask, don't tell," and the Senate must approve treaties by a two-thirds vote.

As Hoyer framed it, "This is our responsibility. We have two houses, we've got to agree." Democrats in the Senate believe they'll get a vote on both issues on Saturday.

Both chambers must pass the same continuing resolution to continue funding the government. A spending bill previously before the Senate collapsed on Thursday night under heavy criticism from Senate Republicans, who claimed it was rife with expensive earmarks. The House had previously passed the spending bill.

Cassi Creek:

Coming atop the statement by Senator Kyl of Arizona that working between Christmas and New Years Day isn't just a way to complete a busy lame duck agenda -- but an attack on people of the Christian faith; we begin to see the contempt that our elected representatives have for the American people. This point of idiocy surfaced during the Senate’s refusal to fund medical care for the surviving 1st responders who risked their lives on September 11th 2001. Many of them are now in need of extensive medical care as a result of their efforts on behalf of others. The Senator from Arizona seems more concerned with igniting a specious “war on Christians and Christmas” than with treating American citizens in a “Christian” manner. If there is a “war on Christmas, Senator Kyl, you are guilty of firing the damaging shots.

As for the gentlemen of the House, it seems as if they regard their selves as too important to work during a holiday period. Their opinions are greatly in error. There are millions of American citizens who work on weekends and holidays whether those jobs interfere with their religious or secular activities. The fire and police forces for whom the Senate refused to provide health care funding, our armed forces, thousands of doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals, work weekends and holidays because the nature of their job requires it. Their responsibilities are not limited to 9-5 hours, Mon-Fri. So they go to work when and where they are needed. If they should choose to give up those jobs for any reason, there are thousands of people lined up behind them anxious to step into employed status once more.

Here’s the deal, Congressmen, you are not so unique that you can’t be replaced by nearly any college graduate and by many with a high school diploma. Your responsibilities to the nation are 24-7 level responsibilities. If the nation is open for business, you had better be there and be ready to work.

There are many citizens from all over the political spectrum who know that your job performance is substandard. They believe that you don’t need to live in an exclusive neighborhood or have special parking permits at the airport. They would, as would I, like to see you living and dining in a barracks, transported to and from work by bus, paid only minimum wage. and not paid for any day of your term you are not present in the House. We’d all like to remove that sneaky little automatic pay raise gimmick your predecessors implemented and that your particular Congress is too self-centered to end.

There are millions of American workers wishing for gainful employment but unlikely to find it because your corporate owners have shipped all the jobs offshore with your blessing and assistance. There are millions of Americans who would gladly work weekends, holidays, nights, and overtime in order to bring in a paycheck and put food on the table.

How dare you act like spoiled children at the prospect of having to work over the winter holidays! How dare you boo like drunken football fans!

If you can’t be bothered to do your job properly, if the job is “just too hard;” quit, like Palin, and let someone who needs a job take over. We don’t need Congressmen like you; we need Congressmen who will actually do the job they were elected to do.

Millions of your fellow Americans need food, heat, shelter, and jobs. How dare you!

Friday, December 17, 2010

17 December 2010 The most loyal mercenaries money can buy

“As American commanders meet this week for the Afghanistan review, Obama is hiring military contractors at a rate that would make Bush blush. Tim Shorrock on the Blackwater heirs.

Top U.S. commanders are meeting this week to plan for the next phase of the Afghanistan war. In Iraq, meanwhile, gains are tentative and in danger of unraveling”

“Both wars have been fought with the help of private military and intelligence contractors. But despite the troubles of Blackwater in particular – charges of corruption and killing of civilians—and continuing controversy over military outsourcing in general, private sector armies are as involved as ever.

Without much notice or debate, the Obama administration has greatly expanded the outsourcing of key parts of the U.S.-led counterinsurgency wars in the Middle East and Africa, and as a result, for its secretive air war and special operations missions around the world, the U.S. has become increasingly reliant on a new breed of specialized companies that are virtually unknown to the American public, yet carry out vital U.S. missions abroad.”

“Among the companies getting contracts is Blackbird, which is staffed by former CIA operatives, and is a key contractor in a highly classified program that sends secret teams into enemy territory to rescue downed or captured U.S. soldiers.

Glevum, meanwhile, fields a small army of analysts in Iraq and Afghanistan who provide the U.S. military with what the company opaquely describes as "information operations and influence activities."

And K2 is a highly sought-after subcontractor and trainer for the most secretive units of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, including the SEAL team that rescued the crew of the Maersk Alabama from a gang of pirates last year. It is based near the Army's Special Forces headquarters in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and was founded by Lane Kjellsen, a former Special Forces soldier.”

Cassi Creek:

This information is truly disturbing.

One of the staunch and unbending components of the contract between the American armed forces and the men and women who make up the armed forces is that we always bring back our dead and wounded from the field of battle; and we never forget our MIA’s and POW’s. Essentially, this is true. We will expend a company of Marines to bring back one Marine KIA. We will spend and have spent millions in an attempt to free POW’s from a camp that was no longer holding them. We’ve exposed our nation to ridicule when we publically acknowledged a rescue attempt that failed before it could actually be implemented. And while no one in the military accepts the lack of, or bad quality of the intelligence that led to failure, or the poor logistics, preparation, and planning that resulted in those failures, nor does anyone responsible for bringing lost or captured troops home count the cost of the operation.

Those are our troops, our brothers and sisters, our comrades in arms. Their lives can become more important than those of the lives of the men and women attempting the rescue effort. We’ve always promised our comrades that they, dead or alive, will not be left behind when the battle or the war is over.

That’s the reason a medic will run out under fire to pull a wounded trooper back to shelter, to begin saving his life. That’s the reason an infantryman will charge a machine gun nest to rescue his wounded squad mate. It is the reason a helicopter crew will fly into a hot LZ to pick up wounded and/or extract soldiers under fire. That knowledge that he will be rescued is the reason a pilot will remain on-site, providing Close Air Support for a downed fellow pilot until he may not have the fuel to make it home him or herself. It is a tenet of faith held by all of us who wore or wear the nation’s uniform.

Other countries armed forces behave the same way. Britain, North Vietnam, Israel, value the lives and the legends of their men and women at arms. Troops don’t fight for God and Country, at least modern effective armies don’t; they fight for the squad mates, teams, aircrews whom they actually go into battle with. They fight for their lives and those of their friends. Mercenaries fight for money.

Now we are at risk of destroying that bond between soldier and nation. We are considering the use of “private contractors” to effect the recovery of our downed &/or captured troops. Call it what they will, the U.S, government is entering into a money for retrieval contract with a mercenary corporation.

This is wrong. Mercenaries fight for money. Implicit in their use for recovery of our troops will be a negotiation centering on how much we pay pirates to retrieve our troops or the bodies of our troops. Will a soldier bring more in retrieval fees to the parent mercenary company than will a body? Will the retrieval of an officer cost more than that of an enlisted man or woman?

Implicit in the use of mercenaries is their corporate contract with the local indigenous populace, LIP’s. In order to use LIP for local intelligence &/or manpower the corporate mercenaries will have to provide some access to what, where, when, and who they are contracting to retrieve. Our experience with LIP’s tells us that at some point in the effort, the likelihood of LIP’s flipping and providing information to our enemies is high. Mercenaries fight for money, except for those who fight for ideological reasons. Does martyrdom over ride their greed? Will our ethnic American mercenaries flip for more money, for more money and ideological reasons?

If loyalty were the force that drives mercenary corporations there would be somewhat less concern on my part at this plan from the Pentagon. But as with all pirates, privateers, and other guns for hire, the unit is for hire to the highest bidder. We, the “real Americans” who want to treat government and war as a business are breaking a bond with our military men and women that will have wider-ranging implications than we realize. Throughout the history of warfare, mercenaries have turned coats during a battle or war. They have chosen to negotiate for more money during critical events during a battle. Mercenaries are not fighting for anyone but their selves. Money drives them. I would not wish to be in battle, wondering if my government will pay what amounts to ransom for my release from an enemy prison. Nor would I care to engage in combat while not knowing that someone I trust will drag me or my remains back because of who I am, not what I mean to their annual income.

Using mercenaries while withdrawing our own under-paid troops from a combat zone is not ending a war, it is simply increasing the cost of fighting a war we have no reason to fight. The use of mercenaries by the U.S is wrong, at every level. If we can’t demonstrate sufficient support by our population to fill the ranks of our own armed forces, we should not be fighting the war in question.

We’re heading back to the pre-enlightenment era of statecraft. We’re heading back to the era when mercenaries fought all the battles, when citizens did not care enough to defend their own nations. We mark the use of mercenaries as significant in deciding when empires fall. I think we’re reaching that point.

The trees are free of ice today, the snow is melting, the creek is roaring.  The chimney sweeps arrived at 1700 last night and climbed onto an icy, steep roof to clean the obstruction from the chimney cap and the creosote from the flue.  The stove burned brightly and warmly last night. 

Dinner will be bowtie pasta with seafood in olive oil and garlic.

Shabbat Shalom!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

16 December 2010 Things I wish I had written

Michael WaldmanDec 15, 2010 9:19 pm ET

Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) -- These days, conservatives proudly proclaim their love for the Constitution. Yet many seem unsure whether to revere it or repeal it, plank by plank.

Such constitutional nihilism extends well beyond the drive to strike down the U.S. health-care law, a jarring move by those long opposed to judicial activism. It reflects a deep discomfort with the country’s growth toward a thriving, coast-to-coast democracy”

“Fox News on climate: Ignorant, manipulative -- or both?

By Stephen Stromberg

Media Matters says it has uncovered a directive that Bill Sammon, Fox News's Washington bureau chief, sent to the network's reporters, commanding them to "refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question. It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies."

Did someone say we're at war?

By Matt Miller

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

If we keep taxes low on America's high earners, the terrorists win.

Or at least they'll have a point.

The way we've compartmentalized our current tax debate - and kept it hermetically sealed from the fact that we're a nation at war - is evidence of the moral rot from which our enemies say America suffers.

Listen to the back-and-forth in Washington. Nothing would be different in the way this debate sounds if we were not borrowing $150 billion a year to fund more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Posted at 9:52 AM ET, 12/16/2010

Reid, Kyl and the ridiculous 'war on Christmas'

By Jonathan Capehart

“Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Whinersville) complained that Reid's push to vote on the new START treaty before Christmas was "disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians and the families of all of the Senate, not just the senators themselves but all of the staff."

Cassi Creek:

The forecast was quite accurate. We have been the recipients of sleet, rain, freezing rain, and combinations of the three at any given time since 2200 last night. The amount of ice varies, or course. I’ve been dealing with about 0.25-0.3 inches on flat surfaces. The rain falling atop the existing ice is extremely treacherous.

I got up and dragged the trashcan out to the road in hopes that the trash pickup would take place. The county office says it is going to happen.

We waited all yesterday for the chimney sweeps to arrive. They called at 1600 to tell us they’d be right over then again at 1700 to explain that they couldn’t get here in time to work safely. We’re supposed to be number two on the schedule today. So far, they are an hour late of their target time. If they get here at all, I’m going to be somewhat surprised. Just getting here will be hazardous to their well-being.

There was no newspaper at 0700 but it had appeared by 1045. Honestly, I’m surprised. While the paper is part of our morning routine, I would not have complained about not finding it this morning.

Today’s Washington Post contained a week’s worth of subject material.

The Bloomberg article is really frightening. The desire to undo all the social safety nets is a prelude to debtor’s prisons, workhouses for the poor and private police and fire services. The GOP/teavangelists are steadily pushing undeclared and unfunded war. Yet they are so ignorant of history that they fail to understand that the income tax was the key to building a military system that could beat failing colonial powers and warlords in battle. While demanding more military engagements they also demand a reduction in funding that will lead directly to the routine use of mercenary armies. As long as their cronies make money that must not matter to people who have no concern about returning the nation to a pre-civil war condition. Essentially, the GOP/teavangelists want to return the nation to a theocracy for and of white fundamentalist evangelicals. I want no part of that, nor should anyone who can read at third grade level.

Fox News contains no news, only GOP\teavangelist opinion and Beck, Limbaugh, Palin fomented lies. They reject any thing grounded in science and fact, using a twisted network of deconstructed logic worthy of Goebbels to convince Fox News viewers that what they broadcast is true. Fox News is the 2010 version of 1984’s Ministry of Truth; contracted out, of course, in order to meet with the underlying credo of the GOP\teavangelists that everything government does must enrich some group of private citizens who will hoard every penny of it lest it go to feed and house the poor.

I’m particularly pleased by the response uploaded by another Washington Post reader:

I think this guy should also tell him employees to refrain from asserting that Jesus is the Son of God and was born of the Virgin Mary without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theory is based upon data that critics have called into question.

Posted by: duhneese
December 15, 2010 3:48 PM

The article by Matt Miller is pathognomic of the true idiocy of the GOPers\teavangelists. They constantly trumpet fiscal responsibility, a balanced budget, and a reduction in government expenditures as planks in their platform. Yet for the last ten years, they have pursued an unfunded war costing nearly a trillion dollars over the course, which is yet to be finished in either country where our troops are fighting and dying. They not only refuse to fund this war by taxation, they block any attempt to involve the citizens in these wars. They insist upon using only volunteers and mercenaries. As ever, the mercenaries are owned and rented from cronies who have in effect built a private religion-based army. There is no justification for any of this. If we won’t call up our citizens to fight and won’t pay for the war, there should not be a war.

Senator Kyl has attempted to ignite a religious conflict in his effort to avoid debate and voting on the new START treaty. This treaty is not only in the best interest of the American people, it is in the best interest of the world’s inhabitants. Yet this misbegotten hatemonger rejects it, in large part, because the Obama administration brought it to the Senate. He would rather see nuclear weapons remain a continual threat because the U.S. refuses to cooperate with Russia than make the world a safer place and make it more difficult for terrorists to obtain fissile material. Rather than admit these flaws in his makeup, he tries to hide behind a non-existent “war on Christianity.” There is no such war, Mr. Kyl. Nor would there ever be if Evangelicals and fundamentalists would refrain from forming our own version of the Taliban, we are fighting in Afghanistan. But there should be a war on pseudo-Christians who try to foment class and culture warfare. And you belong in the list of targets for that war, Mr. Kyl. Fortunately, for you, the people you malign most of all don’t threaten elected officials with guns. Unlike the people who target health care professionals, the people who take exception with your bigotry and hatred will do so at the ballot box. Have a happy Christmas break, Mr. Kyl. You don’t deserve it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

15 December 2010 Exceptional buys you a ride on the short bus.

15 December 2010 Exceptional buys you a ride on the short bus.

Thanks to Signe Wilkinson for reminding us that the manifest destiny may well have peaked here and moved elsewhere.

The idea of a nation stretching from Atlantic to Pacific coasts gave rise to the doctrine of “Manifest Destiny.”

That term was first used by John L. O’Sullivan to promote the annexation of the Republic of Texas. O'Sullivan's second use of the phrase became extremely influential. On December 27, 1845 in his newspaper the New York Morning News, O'Sullivan addressed the ongoing boundary dispute with the United Kingdom in the Oregon Country. O'Sullivan argued that the United States had the right to claim "the whole of Oregon":

“And that claim is by the right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us”

Historian William E. Weeks has noted that three key themes were usually touched upon by advocates of Manifest Destiny:

1. the virtue of the American people and their institutions;

2. the mission to spread these institutions, thereby redeeming and remaking the world in the image of the U.S.; and

3. the destiny under God to accomplish this work.

While the Louisiana Purchase and the annexation of Mexican-claimed territory in the American southwest gave us the land that became the 48 contiguous states, the physical possession of the land conveyed no real moral compass for the U.S, to adopt in establishing our nation’s presence among the great powers of the world.

In terms of land possessions, Canada owns more territory than does the U.S, and also stretches from coast to coast, owes its origin to the greed of English and French merchants, and governments in need of cash to pursue European interests. Brazil has more land mass than does the U.S, and is ascending from third world status to become a great economic power. Russian territorial holdings are immense, spanning 11 time zones. None of these nations appears to have any interest in forcing their economic or cultural model upon other nations. One can note that Russia still seems unwilling to allow its bits of the Islamic world to depart from what was once the USSR. Neither does the U.S. plan to allow Puerto Rico to select becoming yet one more banana republic shaped by Catholicism and Spanish lust for gold and souls.

What was wrong about the doctrine then and what remains so today is the concept of divinely appointed destiny residing in the United States to the exclusion of all other nations.

To this point in history, France, Spain, Great Britain, and perhaps even Portugal, China, Japan, Germany and Russia have had a greater impact of the world than the United States. In terms of longevity France, Great Britain, Spain, and Russia outrank the U.S, In terms of culture, Great Britain has provided the world’s language for business, aviation, and science. Legal and judicial systems around the world derive from British models, including our own.

The truly major thing proposed by the U. S. is resident in our Constitution and Bill of Rights – particularly the 1st Amendment. Excluding religion from participation in government, and government from declaring a state religion is, to date, our finest contribution to the world’s culture.

Now, because religion has become a means of developing a voter base, many of our citizens are doing their best to undo the 1st Amendment’s barriers to theocracy. We’ve allowed pseudo-patriotism to unite with pseudo-religion in an attempt to create a theocracy and overturn the best contribution the U.S, has made to the world.

American exceptionalism is a joke, jingoism wrapped in sports franchises and bible-thumping bigotry. Neither the size of our land mass nor our reserve of raw materials make us unique. Certainly, our educational system is nothing to brag about. There was a period of time when we needed the best minds we could find to look for new and better ideas in physics, medicine, chemistry, geology, and the other hard sciences and disciplines. We wanted them for self-preservation, for developing new and more powerful ships, aircraft, rockets, weapons, and for building a space station to springboard our search of the universe. We can’t claim superiority in health care anymore, our means of production have been eclipsed, our factories and our workers sold out by the one industry in which we perhaps still retain a lead – corporate greed.

When I listen to a poorly educated liar like Beck or Palin scream about “America’s exceptionalism” it could just as well be that they are trying to incite fans at a ball game or elicit today’s “Christians” to be “reborn.” They bring the same lack of knowledge, the same bigotry, and the same disdain for education to everything they oppose.

America, the political experiment, the nation that supplied Europe with weapons to defeat the Nazis while winning the war in the Pacific and developing the atom bomb, deserves better than to be represented by idiots chanting, “We’re number one!” It deserves better than to have its political parties seek out the un-educated, the religious intolerant, the bigoted and xenophobic to pack the polls on election days.

America, after WWII, for a while, was “number one.” We had the world’s largest navy, the best submarines. We had the best rocket scientists, the best engineers, and the best potential of any nation on the planet. Like getting to the moon and back, like developing new medications and new diagnostic and treatment tools, like being happily married, being “number one” requires lots of effort, determination, and work. Somewhere around 1980, we lost sight of that. We became willing to settle for second best if it had a designer label on it. We lost sight of the fact that restrictive theology based upon exclusionary tribalism has no place in education of in government. We began to ignore the hard work that is science, physics, engineering for the easy path to greed that led to the decline all nations risk.

“We’re number one!” echoes loudly at every commercial sports franchise event. The fans wear the “local team” colors, swill beer, and behave boorishly. When something requires their attention, a national interest in something such as foreign policy, education, military misadventures, they chant just as loudly, wave their misspelled signs and remind us how much our educational system has lost. We try to trade camp-meeting fervor for years of hard academic preparation, for truth in political speeches. But the stadium is empty most of the time. “We’re number one is no longer true. It’s another example of what happens when greed and stupidity are held up as good examples. Listen to the echoes. “We were number one.” We were, but those days are gone. Like the promises of jobs, like the promise of well-educated men and women working hard to maintain their skills and to increase their personal store of knowledge, like health care for all citizens, the echoes sound horribly hollow, rather like those echoes in the Flavian Amphitheater.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

14 December 2010 Been waiting for people to ask this question

Ben Sargent is one of my favorite political cartoonists. He has an elegant brutality in his work that, in a more perfect world, would result in our political leaders and those who aspire to fatten at the public’s table having their feet held to the fire with every public utterance.

Sargent, in the cartoon above, asks the question that should be on the tongue of every citizen today. I’ve been asking it, Gloria has been asking it, and nearly all my friends have been asking it since the Bush tax cuts emerged from the primordial corruption that is the GOP.

Where are the new jobs those ten years of tax cuts were guaranteed to produce? Where are the cascades of cash that we were promised by Reagan; if only we allowed Congress to cut taxes for the corporate raiders, pillagers of savings and loans, and financial house pirate? Where are the thousands of newly rich entrepreneurs selling snake oil products and employing the former assembly line workers?

The jobs, like the plants, were shipped to Bangladesh, The cash flowed downward as promised by the doddering Reagan, all the way downhill to Bangalore, where Bob and Betty have no problem working at the customer service counter for a dozen or more companies that have moved everything but the corporate tax loopholes some where east of Suez. And the entrepreneurs have made all the money they’re going to make because the great American middle class can no longer afford to buy the gadgets and schlock that filled hours of infomercial airtime for the insomniacs. They collectively attended enough feel good seminars to begin to understand that once the first book in the pyramid is sold, published, and put into a tour program that HR departments can inflict on employees who already know that they will never be allowed to fill the empty slots in their departments, never be able to return to a 40 hour week again, never be granted a pay increase to go with the new BS title that some management consultant thought up and sold to the corporate figureheads. The entrepreneurs are just learning that Bush II lied just like Reagan and the only place where someone can get rich selling nothing is in the third world. Those promises, like our means of production and our dollars, have flown to China and they aren’t coming back.

But the voting public, the newly laid off, the chronically unemployed, the citizens losing their dreams and possession piece by piece have never been smart enough to grab their lying GOP congressmen and senators by their throats and demand that they answer the question.

Senator, Congressperson, where are the fucking jobs we’ve been promised for the last 30 years if we only make the rich that much richer? Where is our share of the pie?

Don’t look for the 2nd coming to save the nation. Jesus was born poor and died penniless. The churches may have fortunes banked and tax-exempt palaces in every town but the pie they promise is in the sky and no one seems to be getting fat on that except the pie salesmen.

It is time to paste Sargent’s cartoon on every bottle of beer, every carton of milk, every fast food wrapper that crosses the checkout counter in every store in the land.

Where are the jobs that Reagan promised, Where are the jobs that Bush II promised, where are the jobs, you corrupt, lying swine? Why should we put the country deeper into debt in order to keep taxes low for the people who have a house for every month of the year? If we’re going to increase the deficit, let it be for education, for healthcare, and for bringing our troops home from Afghanistan and other hell holes that will never be anything but what they are today, models of barbarism, corruption, and hatred; the lot spurred on by a misogynistic tribal culture.

How can we, the American voters, be so stupid as to believe the Reagan lies repeated by the Bush II lies, now echoed yet again by the newest bands of GOPers and teavangelists lined up on the balcony above us, just waiting to demonstrate to us the true meaning of “trickle down economics.”

Zappa reminds us not to eat yellow snow.

Where are the damned jobs, Mr, Boehner?

Kipling told us what to do with such corrupt politicians.

“Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,

Where there aren't no Ten Commandments an' a man can raise a thirst;…”

“ On the road to Mandalay,

Where the flyin'-fishes play,

An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay! “

Monday, December 13, 2010

13 December 2010 Global warming does not preclude the occasional blizzard

Yesterday I was becoming concerned about the rate of firewood consumption secondary to the colder than usual weather we’ve been experiencing. Today, firewood consumption is not the problem. No battle plan lasts beyond the first round fired. No heating plan outlasts the first winter storm warning.

The wood stove was difficult to light and feed last week. It never seemed to reach a point where the wood was being burned efficiently. Feeding it resulted in excessive smoke being released via the door into the room. I’ve called the chimney sweeps we used last year but have not received a call back.

Friday, I noticed what appeared to be solidified creosote on the stovepipe. Tonight it was extremely hard to light a fire. The apparent creosote seems to have been joined by definitive creosote at multiple points on the stovepipe. Equally troubling, there seems to be intermittent smoke leaks at the pipe joints. While there was smoke issuing from the external end of the chimney, opening the feed door caused so much smoke to pour out of the stove that we had to open a door and rig an exhaust fan in order to clear the smoke out of the house. The stove is now officially “Hors de Combat,” literally meaning "outside the fight.” I hope the sweeps will find time for us and the weather will allow them to work. I don’t know if we have an obstruction, if the pipes, which seem to have shifted in alignment were somehow affected by the high winds, or if there is another reason for malfunction. The respite from hauling wood is less welcome than it was.

I do know that we are lucky to have escaped damage from a malfunctioning stove.

After several phone calls with messages left, we managed to talk to the sweeps. They agree that a blockage is the most likely cause. While we have only used the stove about two weeks so far this fall, we did use it heavily last winter and spring. So it is due for cleaning and maintenance. I think we’ll try to have it cleaned after the last use next spring, learning from experience rather than suffering the results of inexperience.

The snow and cold temperatures will delay any cleaning or repair. But we are in the queue and hope for a visit from the sweeps before year’s end. We’ll be happy to see them when they arrive. I’ve annoyed a neighbor who suggested to Gloria that we burn rock salt in the stove to remove the creosote. That procedure first requires a hot fire be burning – not something that I care to attempt after last night. It further runs the risk of igniting creosote and causing a chimney fire. I don’t care to run that risk. As much as I would prefer to have the stove in battery tonight, it is not and will not be. Maintaining an intact home is the preferable course of action and no valid reference for the procedure shows up on a Google search.

At one time, I gave some thought to leaving the clinical lab in order to become a sweep. There was a franchising company, “August West” that would have sold me basic tools and training to enter the field. Apparently, they still exist today... For various reasons I did not make the career switch.

The office is a colder place for now. I imagine I will get some reading done in preparation for next semester.

We have about 5-6 inches of snow on the ground today. The wind has been averaging about 5 MPH with gusts to 13 MPH today. Staying outside for any length of time is not recommended. Current temperature is 19°F with a predicted low of 13°F. Wind chill is currently 13°F. Fleece, wool, Gore-tex, down, and rabbit fur Mad Bomber caps make the trip to the mailbox, the time spent dragging the dog, and the time spent shoveling the decks and stairs more tolerable.

Dinner tonight will be leftover soup and a salad. Classes were cancelled today. Gloria has a final class at 1030 tomorrow. The weather may alter that.

Global warming is taking place without the knowledge, consent or approval of the GOP.  They can pass that on to their precious grandchildren.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

12 December 2010 Palin touched a Haitian for Fox News

Sarah Palin visits Haiti under tight guard


The Associated Press

Saturday, December 11, 2010; 8:39 PM

“PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin began a tightly stage-managed visit to Haiti on Saturday in which she visited cholera clinics while avoiding crowds and the press.

The 2008 vice presidential candidate was a guest of Rev. Franklin Graham, whose aid group works in the impoverished country. Haiti is facing a brutal cholera epidemic while struggling with an electoral crisis and reconstruction from the January earthquake.

Palin, who traveled in part by helicopter, provided access on her tour solely to the U.S. cable network Fox News.

Graham's organization, Samaritan's Purse, refused to discuss Palin's itinerary with other media and asked Haitian and American reporters to leave its compounds, citing a "security lockdown."

"I've really enjoyed meeting this community. They are so full of joy," Palin was quoted as saying on the organization's website. "We are so fortunate in America, and we are responsible for helping those less fortunate..."

“Associated Press television journalists saw Palin talking with foreign aid workers. She wore cargo pants, a T-shirt and designer sunglasses on her first trip outside the United States since speaking to investors in Hong Kong last year. That speech was also closed to the media.

Samaritan's Purse posted pictures online of Palin touring a post-quake shelter, touching the hand of a Haitian child and laughing with Graham and Fox News host Greta van Susteren. “

Cassi Creek:

Just what Haiti needs these days - visitation by politicians and missionaries trying to use the homeless, starving, and dying for political advantage.

I seriously doubt that anyone in Haiti knows or cares who Palin is. Her expenses for this little junket would have been far better spent providing rehydration medications for people with cholera than in flying her, Graham, Van Sustern, and assorted body guards and lackeys to, around, and from Haiti.

Palin had herself photographed touching a Haitian child's hand! How very brave of her. Was she also photographed afterward as she was having her hand surgically scrubbed?

Joy in Haiti? Find me a starving, homeless, disease-ridden cute Haitian orphan and make sure that they missionaries haven't beaten all the joy out of them yet. We have propaganda to manufacture.

I can’t think of anything less needed by Haitian than the Palin-Graham mob’s “mission of mercy.”

Palin’s noted “responsibility for helping those less fortunate” is obviously something new, something that only applies to photogenic non-Americans. We know how much responsibility she feels for American citizens who have lost their homes, their jobs, their access to health care, and, Oh yeah, their joy. It is obviously easier to coattail onto a missionary trip that is there with conversion, rather than care, in mind; because she will most likely never see any of the children kidnapped by missionaries again. She will, however, make use of both the photo-op and the missionaries to further her political goals. Franklin Graham won’t mind being used by Palin, he’s using her in hopes of increasing his current revenues and hoping to be rewarded by the Palin machine with a post as “America’s Minister” rather like that his father claimed.

It must have been hysterical watching all the hired security keep the Haitians and the Press/media people away from those who came to be seen with them. Graham’s compounds were locked down for “security!” I’d love to have been on the ground among the real media people to hear their comments amongst their selves as they were excluded from any contact with the holier-than-thou ghostwritten Palin and the equally sanctimonious Graham lest they intrude upon the secret and sacred intercourse between Palin and Graham inside the “secure” compounds. “Secure” of course can be translated as free of Haitians and free of any reporter or correspondent with an un-approved question that someone has crib notes for.

This must be Palin’s entry into the world of international relations and foreign policy. Obviously, she is still at the convert them or starve them stage of foreign policy. Now her portfolio contains an image of her hand touching that of a benighted heathen, sure to play well in Iowa and even better in South Carolina’s churches. We have to wonder what her plan for the Haitians might be. Graham’s is to convert them all. Palin can’t hunt them but perhaps she can open an adoption network, approved by Graham. The best guess, however, is that she will return from the island and promptly forget that she visited the island but had no real encounter with the people she will purportedly care so much about. Like all the other GOP/teavangelists, she will trumpet her concern for the “poor Haitians” while doing everything she can to prevent our government from caring for our own citizens who also need help.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

11 December 2010 No Name City and the war

“My Favorite War


Published: December 10, 2010”

“Well, here’s some good news for a change. The Holiday Parade of Lights in Tulsa, Okla., has been saved!

I know you’ve been worried.

The Tulsa City Council has voted to allow the parade to go forward Saturday night, despite protests against the disappearance of the word “Christmas” from its name.

It’s not entirely clear that the council actually could have stopped it, or even whether the parade ever officially had Christmas in its name. But Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma is outraged.

Inhofe was away from home last December, stuck in Washington trying to kill off health care reform. Now he’s back, and he’s noted a dwindling in the parade’s religious angle. “I just don’t like what’s going on in America today, all over the country, with the aversion some people seem to have toward Christ,” he said in one of his many interviews explaining that he will no longer ride his horse in any holiday event that isn’t named for Christmas. “

I’ve been waiting for the battle to engage this year. We’re 11 days into December and the only shots I have heard came from a badly misinformed Vietnam era veteran in the ophthalmology waiting area last Tuesday. He is utterly convinced that there is an internal plot to abolish Christianity in the U.S., beginning with the Roman Catholic church.

He didn’t offer a source for his alarming news. But if I had to gamble on sources, I’d bet that he heard or saw it on Fox News, from Beck, Palin, Limbaugh, or from some teavangelist source that offered only incitation. I’m reasonably certain that he didn’t read it as he was in a VA waiting area with nothing in his hands that remotely resembled a book or magazine.

This trust in un-named sources that specialize in delivering rumors, lies, and blatant mis-information is unsettling. The GOP/teavangelist voter base has seemingly lost all need for truth in the news, in education, or from political candidates. They’ll willingly accept any propaganda as true if it carries the right logo and/or contains the right buzzwords.

One of my favorite movies is “Paint Your Wagon.” The plot revolves around the people who follow gold strikes in the western mountains of the U.S. In the absence of a legal system, mining claim law is used to settle those disputes not settled immediately by more physical means. The gold strike spawns a camp that becomes “No Name City.”

We seem to find ourselves today in our own particular form of “No Name City,” the rapidly developing “No Truth City.” The camp followers are all too willing to accept lack of verification from the current crop of demagogues and their GOP/teavangelist – paid for propaganda.

There are still some of us willing to demand the truth and to expend the effort to seek it out. We’re becoming fewer and fewer and the ill-informed, mis-informed, and indifferent voters are becoming the majority. Our nation is founded upon the premise that the majority is not allowed to oppress the minority. Somewhere along the way that premise has become forgotten. We’ve grown a sub-population that finds no problem at all in forcing their beliefs upon the minority. We’ve allowed the GOP/teavangelists, and to a lesser extent the Democrats, to ignore truth in their efforts to control No Name City.

In the movie, No Name City is destroyed by the greed and indifference of its residents. We see the bright facades of a mining camp returned to the mud and muck that is the source of wealth in such camps. In today’s U.S., we are at risk of seeing No Truth City collapse under the weight of lies heaped upon it by the demagogues and corrupt politicians. I’ll leave the images of Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood singing as images. The truth is, they were not blessed with great singing voices. There’s no need to try to make it sound otherwise.

Back to the war in Oklahoma. We find another demagogue doing his best to stir up conflict where none exists. It matters not what the parade is called. There is nothing of religion, nothing of Christianity in a parade intended to kick-start the winter holiday shopping season. There’s no need for the parade to even do that. We’ve been treated to Christmas music since Thanksgiving in nearly every store we enter. We’ve been barraged with Christmas related ads on television equally as long. We can barely lift weekend newspapers for the weight of unwanted and un-necessary advertising flyers. It’s surprising any trees remain standing, considering the amount of wasted paper discarded daily. No one is going to forget that the parade in question is about Christmas except for Senator Inhofe. The good senator is clearly devoid of both Christmas and Christian spirit He has been making every effort to deprive the citizens of this nation of any system of health care that is better than that found in third world banana republics. I recall nothing in the Christian bible that suggests that the poor be refused compassion and care. Clearly, Senator Inhofe must have been reading the super secret C-Street GOP version of the Gospels. That must be the one that has the secret plans to stir up the voter base by declaring a war on Christmas/Christianity that has never existed.

Anyone interested in a war on GOP legislators?

Friday, December 10, 2010

10 December 2010 no name today.

10 December 2010

About 0900 this morning, the Comcast service tech arrived. As we expected, the noise on the line was negligible. Most people are in school, at work, or sleeping in. He was thorough and checked both the feed line from the node and our drop line. Both were operating at nominal status. They still are at 1647. As more people log on in the evening we expect to see, the familiar service disruption caused, at least in part, by insufficient bandwidth. We now have a software tool we can use to check the signal/noise ratio.

We were told that there were some local cabling/hardware problems that may have been dealt with yesterday. We were both focusing so hard on not attacking or offending the poor tech that neither of us jumped down his throat when he used the offensive “issues.”

Chanukah ended last night at sundown. All the celebratory things have been packed away for next year. We didn’t expect a white Chanukah but we’re a lot more likely to experience one than the Maccabees. Snow happens in Israel but not with any predictable regularity. There is one ski area there, Mt Hermon, with nearly 28 miles of trails. But the Hasmoneans weren’t the type to play in the snow and neither are the ultra-orthodox who live in Israel and the West Bank today.

We have a 36-hour break before the weather becomes arctic in nature. I’m hopeful that the worst of winter will be over by the time we begin spring semester classes. Not at all likely.

Shabbat Shalom.