Thursday, June 30, 2005

Going downhill

My sidebar seems to be down at the bottom of the page; at least, in Firefox. I didn't do it, I swear.

The boys at Blogspot must be making "improvements" again.

I really wish people would leave well enough alone, but I understand the urge to create. I just wish they wouldn't create mayhem.

(Yeah, I've already tried the "fix")

Update - I've tried TWO fixes, and e-mailed the Blogspot Boys for help. So far, nada. Any suggestions gratefully accepted.
Following the footsteps

In Jerusalem, you can walk in the footsteps of Jesus on the Via Dolorosa. In Rome, you can walk in the paths of the Caesars.

In Kannapolis, North Carolina?

Earnhardt's hometown to develop tourist trail for visitors
Get ready for the Dale Trail in the hometown of the late stock-car driver Dale Earnhardt.

The self-guided tour will highlight such locales as the streets Earnhardt cruised in his youth and the restaurant where fans can order his favorite sandwich: sliced tomato on white bread, sometimes with lettuce and Miracle Whip.

"We're quite excited about the project," said Ann Sternal, executive director of the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Leaders in Cabarrus see the trail as another way to emphasize the county's racing ties while luring more visitors. Since Earnhardt died in a crash during the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, thousands of race fans have continued to visit the region to connect with his legacy.
Down here in Rightwing Heaven, we understand that Dale Earnhardt died for our sins and repay his martyrdom by enriching anyone who comes up with another goofy way to make money from his death.

I'm sticking to chlorinated swimming pools

Between shark attacks in the ocean and THIS fellow caught in a river, you won't catch me splishy-splashing in the water any time soon.

This big one did not get away. Thai fishermen netted a 646-pound catfish believed to have been the world's largest freshwater fish ever caught in Thailand, a researcher said Thursday.

The nearly 9-foot-long Mekong giant catfish was landed May 1 by villagers in Chiang Khong, a remote district in northern Thailand, and weighed by Thai fisheries department officials, said Zeb Hogan, who leads an international project to locate and study the world's largest freshwater fish species.

He confirmed it was the heaviest fish on record since Thailand started keeping such statistics in 1981.

The fishermen had hoped to sell the fish to environmental groups, which planned to release it to spawn upriver, but it died before it could be handed over and then was chopped up and sold in pieces to villagers as food.

Former hostages allege Iran's new president was captor
The White House said Thursday it is taking seriously the allegations by former hostages that Iran's hardline president-elect, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was one of their captors at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran a quarter century ago.
Maybe, maybe not.

But one can see how this would present a sticky problem for the Bush administration.

On the one hand, they can't be too happy to have a hard-liner Iranian president-elect.

On the other hand, they haven't been very picky about other heads of state...Vladimir Putin doesn't make any apology for his KGB service or the KGB in general.

We've run out of hands, but you could make a reasonable argument that the Iranian hostage situation was largely responsible for President Jimmy Carter's election loss and Ronald Reagan's victory - which opened the door for the neoconservatives to walk into power.

So, maybe if Dubya just looks deep into Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's soul, he'll find another soulmate and good buddy - possibly a gentleman to whom he owes a great deal.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Inquiring minds want to know...

CNN's Anderson Cooper asks - "How can the president win over the heart and minds of a questioning public, and what’s at stake in tonight's speech?"

How about - "Resign immediately, don't let the door hit you in the butt, and take your homies with you"?

Look over there...sharks!

U.K. Guardian - Teen Critical After Second Shark Attack

Australian News - Teen loses leg in shark attack

News 24 - Shark attack scare hits US

CNN - Florida beaches open after shark attack

FAUX News - Shark Attack Survivor in Critical Condition

...etc., etc., etc.

Too bad we can't get the same coverage for each death and/or injury in Iraq.

Congress gets firsthand look at Guantanamo
Progress has been made to improve conditions and protect detainees' rights at the U.S. prison for suspected terrorists, House Republicans and Democrats, including one who has advocated closing the facility, said Saturday.

The U.S. lawmakers witnessed interrogations, toured cell blocks and ate the same lunch given to detainees on the first congressional visit to the prison for suspected terrorists since criticism of it intensified in the spring.
As expected, everything was kosher; no abuse witnessed, good lunch.

Look - if you made an announced visit to my home, I'd make sure you never knew I tortured my family, abused my pets, or swept the dirt under the carpet.

Not that I do any of those things.

Okay, maybe the last one.


Monday, June 27, 2005

Justices issue mixed rulings on Ten Commandments
A divided U.S. Supreme Court declared on Monday it was unconstitutional to post framed copies of the Ten Commandments in county courthouses but permissible to have a commandments monument on the grounds of a state Capitol. The two 5-4 rulings on the politically charged issue involving Ten Commandments displays on government property came in a pair of cases that have been widely regarded as the most important of the court term concerning church-state separation.
In other words, it's not necessary to post them in front of folks who have already broken them, but okay to post them in front of folks who probably will.

That feels good

I'd just about forgotten what it feels like to agree with my duly elected representative.

N.C. Congressman Calls For Withdrawal From Iraq
The 10-term congressman said in an interview with the News & Record of Greensboro that he's "fed up with picking up the newspaper and reading that we've lost another five or 10 of our young men and women in Iraq."

Support among Coble's 6th District constituents has also waned, his office said.

The dean of the state's congressional delegation said he arrived at his position only after many months of searching in vain for evidence that the Bush administration had a post-invasion strategy to deal with the transition to Iraqi self-government.
Coble isn't a total neanderthal, but he has influence.

The tide, she be a'turnin'?


Friday, June 24, 2005

Not so fast, Mr.Cheney
"We will succeed in Iraq, just like we did in Afghanistan"
Damn this hot, humid summer weather - I must have slept right through the capture of Osama and Mullah Omar, the destruction of the poppy fields, the utter defeat of the Taliban, and all the victory parades.

Or maybe it's just that old neo-con problem - revise the past, ignore the present, and pretend you're living in the future.

Rove is right

Yeah, you read that correctly.

When Karl Rove said liberals don't understand 9/11 and the consequences, he's perfectly correct. There are a lot of things I don't understand.

I don't understand how the Bush administration missed all the warning signals that an attack was about to take place.

I don't understand why security wasn't tightened up.

I don't understand why Bush sat in an elementary school classroom listening to children read while his nation was under attack.

I don't understand why, when we had al-Queda and the Taliban on the run, we didn't stay hot on the trail and finish the job.

I don't understand why the American people weren't asked to enlist in the military, pay higher taxes to pay for the war, or allowed to participate in any way besides going shopping or putting a "Support the Troops" decal on their cars.

I don't understand why, with the billions of dollars necessary to get the 9/11 perpetrators, Bush insisted on tax cuts for the wealthy.

I don't understand why Bush was so hell-bent on war with Iraq.

I don't understand why Bush continues to listen to bad military advice.

I don't understand why anyone would think torture and abuse of prisoners is "okay".

I don't understand why Karl Rove still has his job. He may be doing everything right, as in "right-wing", but "right" certainly doesn't mean "moral".


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Baptist pastors are urged to reject 'judicial tyranny'
Former Chief Justice Roy Moore, speaking to the Southern Baptist Pastors Conference, blasted U.S. court decisions that he said undermined freedom of religion. "We have been deceived by a government which tells us we cannot worship God, contradictory to history, contradictory to law, contradictory to logic," Moore said.
First of all, let's give a little love to the Houston Chronicle for putting 'judicial tyranny' between quotation marks.

Secondly, we might observe the only 'judicial tyranny' on display here is the sorry excuse for a man making the speech.

Speaking of tyrants, another noted example spoke by satellite to this week's Southern Taliban Convention -
(President George W. Bush) reiterated his call for Congress to put into law his executive order protecting religious liberty and providing for equal treatment of faith-based service organizations seeking federal funding.
I can walk outside my front door and see two Baptist churches within my feeble eyesight.

Walk down the street a bit further, and there's a Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, and two Quaker meetings. Judging from the cars in the parking lots on Sunday mornings, a lot of people are defying the tyrannical, Republican-controlled government and worshipping as they please.

If I remember my Constitution correctly, the First Amendment says something about "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

I'll give Dubya a bit of credit here; religious liberty may be in need of protection these days....from him, the Republican-controlled government, and their masters in the religious right.

He coulda been a contender

What Durbin should have said (thanks to Bryan for the inspiration) -
Some of my distinguished colleagues on the other side of the aisle have taken exception to my description of activities at Guantanamo and have demanded an apology.

After careful consideration and a re-reading of my words, I agree.

I apologize to the FBI agent who was exposed to something no dedicated government employee should ever have to witness - the debasement of his country's principles.

I further apologize to him that some of his elected representatives have chosen to twist the words of a dedicated public servant who was only doing his job.

I apologize to our troops around the world who face danger and death with great bravery. Our mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere has made their job harder and much more dangerous.

I also apologize to the American people, who have been tricked into supporting an unsustainable, unjustified war that has cost over seventeen-hundred American lives and billions of taxpayer dollars.

I apologize to all those abroad who once looked to America as a beacon of liberty and human rights; we have been dragged into the depths of depravity by our own fears.

We can - and will - do better. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to work with me to seek ways to restore America's honor, make amends for our grievous violations of human rights and dignity, seek swift punishment for those responsible - no matter how high - and restore America to that "shining city upon a hill".


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Say it ain't so!

Durbin apologizing for comments about Gitmo?


Nobody should ever have to apologize for telling the truth.

But we wouldn't want to offend Republican ears with something so offensive as the truth, would we?

Enough, already

I haven't watched CNN in quite some time, but decided to see what was up this afternoon.

They found the little missing kid in the Utah mountains, and as far as I can tell, CNN has been on the story for at least an hour and a half. Non-stop.

Don't get me wrong - I'm very glad they found the boy. I have an inkling of the sheer panic his parents must have suffered the last several days, and understand the crucial role of the media. But enough, already! There are a few other things going on in the world.

When my daughter was about 14 years old, I dropped her off at the little local library where she worked as a volunteer during Children's Story Hour (otherwise known as a Librarian's Worst Nightmare). I ran to the drug store to pick up a prescription, and returned to the library to watch the last of the festivities and bring my kid back home.

She wasn't there.

I searched every nook and cranny of the little library, growing more and more desperate by the second.

My sanity was slipping badly, but I managed to approach the head librarian and ask if she'd seen my daughter.

"Oh, she's over there", she said.

I looked in the direction indicated by Mrs. Librarian, at the gaggle of screaming kiddies clutching and climbing all over some poor person dressed in a Clifford the Big Red Dog costume.

"Clifford" managed to get a paw free and wave at me.

From the moment I walked back into the library until I saw that waving paw was maybe five minutes....the longest five minutes of my life.

With all sympathy to the parents who endure days of desperation, I suggest five minutes is plenty of time for CNN to spend on the story.

How's that War On Terror going?
llegal immigrants accessed nuclear weapons facility

Sixteen illegal immigrants gained access last year to one of the most sensitive weapons sites in the country, according to a report issued Monday by the Department of Energy's inspector general.
That's quite a "two-fer" - illegal immigrants AND a security breach at a sensitive site.

Who's minding the store?


Sunday, June 19, 2005

Darkness at the end of the tunnel
In a report to the council, Gelb was scathing about America efforts to train an Iraqi army. ''If you ask any Iraqi leader, they will tell you these people can't fight. They just aren't trained. And yet we're cranking them out like rabbits." As for plans to train a 10 division Iraqi army by next year, Gelb was scathing. ''It became very apparent to me that these 10 divisions were to fight some future war against Iran. It had nothing to do, nothing to do," with taking Iraq over from the Americans and fighting the insurgents.
The old crystal ball and my tinfoil hat say - "invade Iraq, train their troops to take out Iran on our behalf".

(via Atrios and Boston.com)


Saturday, June 18, 2005

UN reform
The House disregarded strong White House objections and voted yesterday to withhold up to half of the country's dues from the United Nations if the world body does not cut its bureaucracy, redirect its budget and tighten its accountability.

The bill -- one of the most extensive and specific congressional edicts to the United Nations -- requires the creation of whistle-blower protections, an independent oversight board with broad investigative authority and an ethics office to thwart possible conflicts of interest.
What a splendid idea!

When the reforms are in place, perhaps the U.N. will teach the G.O.P. all that cool stuff.

Big Bidness regulates itself

April 20, 2005 Ameritrade loses customer account info

May 3, 2005 Time Warner employee data missing

May 10, 2005 Breach that hit Cisco wider than thought

June 2, 2005 LexisNexis acknowledges more ID theft

June 2, 2005 Advice for ChoicePoint victims

June 6, 2005 Info on 3.9M Citigroup customers lost

June 17, 2005 40M credit cards hacked

Friday, June 17, 2005

Play twenty questions with Lord Vader

My Jedi mind powers were almost too much for him the first time (it took thirty questions), but he nailed me in fifteen on the second try.

Must study harder.

(if the above link doesn't work, copy/paste - www.sithsense.com)


Thursday, June 16, 2005

Iraq primer for Democrats

From Roll Call via Liberal Oasis -
Democrats remain divided - just as they have been for more than a year - on how to press Republicans and the Bush administration to end the conflict.

"Some within our Caucus want to go from A to D," said one Democratic Member, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "For many of us who supported the president's resolution, we have to go from A to B to C to D."
To House Democrats, Senators, and all other potential candidates for any office whatsoever - here's your A, B, C, and D -

A is for "admit". Go ahead and admit you supported the Mess In Mesopotamia. In this age of the internets, it's stupid to deny it or waffle about it.

B is for "browbeat". Go ahead and admit WHY you supported the Mess In Mesopotamia - the American people were browbeat into it. There are sackfuls of quotes from the Bush administration on mushroom clouds, stockpiles of WMDs, mobile chemical labs, and poison-spraying drones. Use their own words against them.

C is for "concoct". They were lying...say so loudly and angrily.

D is for "duped". Bush lied, thousands died, and you're not falling for their propaganda any more.

No more waffling - demand an exit strategy NOW.

Liberal family values

Congratulations to Andantette, who leaves behind her teen years on Saturday.

She managed to navigate the oft-troubling teen years without getting pregnant or strung out on drugs or arrested or a grade less than a "B". Well, there was one "C" in algebra. Takes after her mother.

She volunteers with Big Brothers/Big Sisters at a pre-dominantly black elementary school, donates blood to the Red Cross on a regular basis, doesn't drink or smoke, and can balance her checkbook.

Her parents were married when she was conceived and the marriage has survived the terrible twos, threes, fourteens, and nineteens.

She hasn't darkened the church door since kindergarten, had decent sex education information in public schools, has a gay male for her best friend, and parents who are card-carrying, loud & proud liberals.

Take that, fundagelicals.

And "happy birthday, baby".


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Starting over from scratch

There's been a good deal of discussion on the left and far too much whining on the right concerning the Democrat's inability to come up with a clear message and position on Iraq.

How about starting with this...."Democrats wouldn't have gotten into the whole sorry mess in the first place".

From there, we move to "Democrats believe in seeking the best, non-politically-tainted, uncooked intelligence possible before unleashing the dogs of war".

And include "Democrats believe we shouldn't make the situation worse by antagonizing the cultural sensibilities and showing disrespect to the rest of the world, friend or foe".

And any statement of Democratic message on Iraq should include - "Democrats believe America should set the example by upholding justice and human rights, regardless of nationality, race, religion, or creed."

Understandably, our elected Democratic representatives have an eye on the electorate and many of them are trying to pussy-foot through the proverbial Iraqi minefield.

But I don't see what's so hard about putting out the message that the Republicans BLEW IT, big time, and Democrats wouldn't have, won't in the future, and would conduct things much more in keeping with real American values.


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Jackson relief

Well, thank goodness the Michael Jackson trial is over - and lookee here, the media will have something else to chew on (all that torture, war, corruption, and lying is too icky and not too good for ratings) -
Schiavo Autopsy Report to Be Released

The medical examiner's office plans to release its autopsy report Wednesday on Terri Schiavo _ findings her family hopes will shed light on the cause of the collapse that left her severely brain-damaged 15 years ago.


Monday, June 13, 2005

Expensive drugs drive up health care cost
With prices that run into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars, the new biotech drugs to treat conditions like cancer and multiple sclerosis are driving up health care costs for employers.

Specialty drug insurance costs will go up 22.5 percent this year, according to a study released Monday by Aon Consulting. General pharmacy costs, in which specialty drugs are included, will increase at a rate of 13.1 percent.
The drug companies are just as guilty as the health insurers when it comes to ripping off Americans.

I took Pravachol for about a year - that one little pill kept my cholesterol very nicely in check.

Then I got a letter from my health insurer; Pravachol had become prohibitively expensive. I could continue to get it, but it would cost me four times as much - instead of $25.00 per month, it would cost $100 per month.

Reluctantly, my doctor switched me to another medication which wasn't as effective and had to be supplemented by yet another medication.

In the meantime, the news came out that the FDC was considering making Pravachol available over the counter.

The bastards were afraid Pravachol would no longer be a big moneymaker, so they scared patients into switching to something more profitable.

May I recommend...

Every once in a while, you run across a company with outstanding customer service - a company that goes the extra mile.

I recently ordered memory cards for an upgrade to Andantette's IBM ThinkPad. I carefully searched the IBM website, noted the requirements for memory supported by the model, then scoured around the 'net for a good deal.

Comtread had the best price, and I placed my order...on Sunday. A few hours later (on a Sunday, mind you) a tech contacted me by e-mail, explaining that I had ordered high-density rather than low-density memory and the motherboard may not support my order.

I hadn't seen any such thing on the machine's documentation, so I replied to the technician with the make and model of the machine I was upgrading. Early this morning, I received a reply - and my corrected order has been shipped.

Time, hassle, and money saved by an alert customer service department. If you need memory, give Comtread a try.

The sweet sound of good sense

Krugman, of course.

One Nation, Uninsured
...the time will soon be ripe for another try at universal coverage. Public opinion is already favorable: a 2003 Pew poll found that 72 percent of Americans favored government-guaranteed health insurance for all.


The great advantage of universal, government-provided health insurance is lower costs. Canada's government-run insurance system has much less bureaucracy and much lower administrative costs than our largely private system. Medicare has much lower administrative costs than private insurance. The reason is that single-payer systems don't devote large resources to screening out high-risk clients or charging them higher fees. The savings from a single-payer system would probably exceed $200 billion a year, far more than the cost of covering all of those now uninsured.
The only people against single-payer are 1) health insurance companies afraid of losing a nickel of profit, 2) politicians on the health insurance lobby dole, and 4) right-wingers who are afraid one of their nickels might be used to benefit someone else.

Krugman is exactly right - "We need to do this one right. If reform fails again, we'll be on the way to a radically unequal society, in which all but the most affluent Americans face the constant risk of financial ruin and even premature death because they can't pay their medical bills."

Seventy-two percent of the American people understand the problem, agree with the solution. We can't let the other twenty-nine percent pull a Harry & Louise on us again.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The man who would be president

Compare and contrast:

Senator Bill Frist
Although he considers it "morally wrong" to put off dealing with Social Security, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Sunday he agrees with fellow Republicans that changes in the venerable domestic program can't be forced upon an unwilling American public. "What we need to do is really demonstrate the reality of the problem," said Frist, R-Tenn.
Senator Bill Frist ably demonstrates the reality of the problem -
Hundreds of thousands of dollars Frist's supporters had given him to run for the Senate were dwindling at a rapid rate. Much of that money was lost in a stock market investment that experts say was out of line with the way candidates traditionally invest campaign funds. Frist's campaign also took on more than $1 million in debt so that it could repay Frist for interest-free loans he made to his campaign six years earlier.
I don't want that man anywhere near my hard-earned dollars.

A North Carolinian shall lead them?

Well, maybe
GOP Congressman Wants Troops Out of Iraq

A Republican congressman who voted for the Iraq war said Sunday that "we've done about as much as we can do" in the country and that the reason for invading Iraq has proven false.

Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina will be among the lawmakers introducing legislation this week calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops in Iraq.

"When I look at the number of men and women who have been killed — it's almost 1,700 now, in addition to close to 12,000 have been severely wounded — and I just feel that the reason of going in for weapons of mass destruction, the ability of the Iraqis to make a nuclear weapon, that's all been proven that it was never there," Jones said on ABC's "This Week."
That 1,700 body-count line has been crossed.

And that would be Rep. Walter "Freedom Fries" Jones.


Friday, June 10, 2005

Holy crap
The Army also said Thursday that it will ease requirements for new officers by accepting older candidates and being more tolerant of past minor crimes.
As another part of the Bush administration agenda for reform, an "officer and a gentleman" may be a thing of the past.

Feel-good reality shows

...and how the television networks could help fill the holes in the front lines.
The networks call this phenomenon a reaction against mean reality shows and in favor of ones on which good things happen to nice people (see also American Idol). "We started off in a cynical place," says Three Wishes executive producer Andrew Glassman. "We explored what happens when animals attack and human beings are treated like lab rats in a social experiment. But people seeing wishes and dreams come true will always resonate."


...for viewers who like to see heartstrings tugged literally as well as metaphorically, next season The Miracle Workers will give away medical care. A man gets treatment for severe tics so he can hold his baby again; a boy gets cochlear implants to hear his mother for the first time. Says executive producer Justin Falvey: "There are thousands of people suffering enormously and unnecessarily out there."
Here’s the concept – let's call it "Uncle Sam Needs YOU!" -

Gather together a group of contestants, and let them tell their personal hardship stories to the television viewing audience. Following the “American Idol” model, establish a special phone number for each so the public can vote for their favorite.

Contestant number one

Radio talk show host asks for help getting his butt-boils cured so he can enlist and join in the fun at the Abu Ghraib fraternity house.

Contestant number two

Rightwing talking head asks for the services of a full-time nanny and the funds necessary to keep his family in the manner to which they’ve become accustomed so he can serve his country in the manner to which he isn’t accustomed.

Contestant number three

Flamethrowing author and speaker requests a sex change operation so she can join the Army, bomb all swarthy types, and convert them to Christianity.

As the winner of the competition, the lucky draftee will be granted the dream job of a lifetime with the military on the front lines in Iraq, a hefty almost-five-figure salary, and an attractive but rapidly diminishing package of benefits.


Thursday, June 09, 2005

Let’s begin by looking at...

TV Land's 'Happy Face' On Homosexuality Masks Tragic Lifestyle
A pro-family website is warning television audiences that TV Land, a cable network that advertises a schedule of well-known, classic, family-friendly television shows, is airing a special that promotes the homosexual agenda this month. A recent e-mail alert from OneMillionDads.com notes that the show called "Inside TV Land: Tickled Pink," which celebrates homosexual undercurrents running through television history, is airing on TV Land throughout June.
….and let’s just ask WHY a gay “lifestyle” might be “tragic”?

Could it be because of bigoted jackasses like Governor Goodhair Perry of Texas?

Texas Governor to gay veterans returning from Iraq: "Move out of Texas!"
Texas Gov. Rick Perry suggested that gay veterans unhappy with the proposed anti-gay constitutional amendment should move elsewhere.

"I'm going to say Texas has made a decision on marriage and if there's a state with more lenient views than Texas, then maybe that's where they should live," the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Perry said Sunday.

Perry's comments were in response to a question during a news conference about what he would tell gay war veterans returning from Iraq.
And it might have something to do with the Christian Coalition, which Condemns Howard Dean for Racist Remarks Disparaging 'White Christians' while they sit on their Jeebus-lovin' butts as veterans - gay and straight - put their lives on the line every day to protect their lily-white, sanctimonious asses.

Then they join the White Christian Party.....excuuuuuuuse me....the Republican party and do everything in their power to undercut the troops, minorities, the poor, the middle class, seniors, the disabled, women, the mentally ill, small businesses, the health care system, the intelligence services, the Constitution, the separation of church and state, the diplomatic corps, and national security.

Did I leave anything out?


Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Nice to see the Army finally got all those May recruitment figures together -
After Lowering Goal, Army Falls Short on May Recruits

Even after reducing its recruiting target for May, the Army missed it by about 25 percent, Army officials said on Tuesday. The shortfall would have been even bigger had the Army stuck to its original goal for the month.

On Friday, the Army is expected to announce that it met only 75 percent of its recruiting goal for May, the fourth consecutive monthly shortfall in the number of new recruits sent to basic training. Just over 5,000 new recruits entered boot camp in May.

But the news could have appeared worse. Early last month, the Army, with no public notice, lowered its long-stated May goal to 6,700 recruits from 8,050. Compared with the original target, the Army achieved only 62.6 percent of its goal for the month.
Memorable moment from my last trip to a movie theater - a big, splashy commercial for the Army came on the screen. The audience responded with laughter.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Buck passing
The administration announced last month that it had overturned the Clinton-era roadless rule, opening up 58 million acres of roadless land in the West (6.9 million in Montana) to road building. That is, unless governors petition otherwise. Governors now have 18 months to make the decisions on these lands, a responsibility that does not sit well with Schweitzer.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana isn't a happy camper and expresses his frustration with the Bush administration very well -
"“It’s just another unfunded mandate. ‘They say ‘you’re responsible but we’re not helping and we’re taking away your assets,’” he said. “This is an administration that has it all backward. Remember Truman? … This administration says ‘by the way, I’m passing the buck to you.”
(Link via Kos

Tell it, brother!

Getting drafty

The weather is stifling here, and a nice little breeze would be welcome. Not so a draft.

I wholeheartedly agree with Steve -
We were unable to stop a repeat of the Vietnam war in Iraq; the least we can do is block the parallel resumption of the draft.
Where are those latest recruitment numbers? Is it a trick of my failing memory, or were they supposed to be released last week? Something tells me they aren't very positive.

So, what can you do to draft-proof yourself or your loved ones?

Not much.

According to the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) -
We are often asked what can be done now to protect you or your children from being selected in the event of a draft.

Because there is no draft today, no one can say exactly what the rules and procedures would be. However, it seems safe to assume that a future draft would not call up persons who are currently unqualified or unacceptable for military service.

So what a person can do now is to create a file documenting any problems or restrictions, so if the draft returns they would have necessary paperwork ready and complete on short notice.
In other words, the Bushistas can pretty much set whatever limits they want.

The FCNL has some excellent suggestions on how to prepare, but I'm afraid the business of not calling up "persons who are currently unqualified or unacceptable" may not wash.

In the meantime - you, your children, grandchildren or loved ones should follow FCNL's advice and document, document, document. Confide in someone trustworthy such as a doctor, minister, etc. who could be called as a witness, if necessary.

Reinstating the draft would be political suicide for the Republicans, which makes it tempting to call for it - but we can't afford to maim another generation.


Monday, June 06, 2005

Opinion of the day

My opinion for the day is that it is far too hot and muggy to have one.

See how easy this blogging thing is?

Never forget.
Belated dog blogging

Not me or my Chihuahua, but snapped by a professional photographer friend with the Greensboro News-Record.

Vote for this (or any other photo by Jerry Wolford) as "Photo of the Week" here.


Sunday, June 05, 2005

A “snowflake” or a lump of coal?

I have no problem with couples “adopting” embryos, but if the right-to-lifers really want to make a difference, there are plenty of already-born kids that could use a family.

They may not be little cuddly white babies, but on the scale of needy children, they are off the charts.

From the Charlotte Observer (free registration required):
Ex-foster children struggle to survive

Housing, food, lifestyle choices prove to be huge hurdles for some

Fred Kelly, Staff Writer

At 18, Tasha Johnston lives from place to place, calling anyone she knows for help or shelling out $35 for a room at an extended-stay motel in north Charlotte.

Her goal to bankroll an apartment from her job as a restaurant cashier, which pays $6.50 an hour, is a long shot.

"I'm scared," Johnston said.

Four months after "aging out" of North Carolina's foster care system, she knows she runs the risk of becoming another statistic.

Nearly 500 young people from ages 18 to 21 were released from the state's care in 2004. About one in eight is now homeless, a survey shows.


A recent national study of 603 former foster care youths by the University of Chicago found that one-third of them had not graduated from high school and another one-third suffered from mental illness.


Researchers from the Center for Child and Family Studies at the University of South Carolina interviewed 191 former foster care clients.

They found that 14 percent of them said they needed help buying food or clothing.

It mirrors a national trend, experts say.

About 20,000 people age out of foster care annually in the United States.

Between 25 percent and 33 percent will experience homelessness within four years of leaving the system, said Philip Magano, director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Some intentionally get arrested so they can go to jail, where they are guaranteed shelter and food, Magano said.

Others turn to prostitution to pay for housing, he added.


A recent study by the University of Chicago on young adults in Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa who recently exited foster care found that they did not fare well. Here are some of the results:

• 13.8 percent had been homeless.
• 18.6 percent did not have enough money to pay rent.
• 7.4 percent had been evicted.
• 17.4 percent did not have enough money pay for utilities.
• 11.5 percent sometimes or often do not get enough to eat.

Source: Chapin Hall Center for Children at University of Chicago


(continued after several cups of coffee...)

Down here in the South, there is a church on every corner and a couple in between.

If just one couple from each church would foster or adopt one of these older children and the church would help with food, clothing, education expenses, tutoring, mentoring and so forth....the Culture of Life Warriors would be doing much, much more for their community, state, and nation than the adoption of a few embryos.

The problem here is that many of these children aren't white and/or have physical and/or mental disabilities.

I can understand the reluctance of potential parents to take on a handicapped or minority-race child; many moons ago before the birth of our own child, we explored adoption possibilities. I had absolutely nothing against adopting a child of color, and would have done so in a heartbeat if we lived elsewhere.

I'm glad we have our own child now, but also ashamed that I didn't take a deep breath and say, "Yes - give me the child who needs me most".

In the meantime, it's expensive and exhausing to adopt or foster a child. The states are too hard-pressed to offer more funds; it's time for those who think "faith-based" charities can do a better job to step forward and put their money where their mouth is.

"Adopting" an embryo and raising a little golden-haired, blue-eyed, healthy white child is a piece of cake; if the pro-lifers want to make a real statement of family values and commitment to life, they should turn their efforts to rescuing these lost children.


Friday, June 03, 2005

U.S. Confirms Gitmo Soldier Kicked Quran
The Pentagon on Friday released new details about mishandling of the Quran at the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects, confirming that a soldier deliberately kicked the Muslim holy book and that an interrogator stepped on a Quran and was later fired for "a pattern of unacceptable behavior."

In other confirmed incidents, water balloons thrown by prison guards caused an unspecified number of Qurans to get wet; a guard's urine came through an air vent and splashed on a detainee and his Quran; and in a confirmed but ambiguous case, a two-word obscenity was written in English on the inside cover of a Quran.
Well, thank goodness nobody flushed a Quran down the toilet.

I'm reminded of the CBS-Dan Rather business - the substance of the allegations (Bush was AWOL) was correct. The devil was in the details - and oh, how the wingers love to lynch someone over the details.

Friday Rug-Rat Blogging

Alas, I have run out of dog & cat pictures....the photographer in the family is Andantette, and she's been busy with upgrading and maintaining her own website.

Speaking of Andantette, if you are a fan of Kylie Minogue or her sister Dannii, you might want to check out my baby's site. She's revamping everything, but the Dannii portion is available now.

And speaking of my baby...did I mention she got straight A's again this semester?

Here she is (on the left), receiving a leadership award from the Assistant Dean of Students....

Posted by Hello

Needless to say, she got her brains, good looks, and good sense from her mother. :)

Thursday, June 02, 2005

More Edwards

John Edwards continues his blogging stint at "Table For One" with The Federal Minimum Wage: A National Disgrace.
Of course, every time we start talking about raising the minimum wage, critics chime in and say it's bad for business and will cost jobs. So now is a good time to repeat what we know: several studies have shown that the kinds of increases in the minimum wage we are supporting do not lead to higher unemployment. In fact, since 1998, small businesses in states that have increased their minimum wage have created jobs faster than small businesses in states where the minimum wage has stayed at $5.15.
Sadly, it doesn't matter how many studies come up with the same results - Republicans go ballistic if they think something threatens their personal pocketbook or a corporation's profit.

Follow the above link and scroll down the page for much more. Five posts in three days - not bad for a guy who is "not able to get online as much as I'd like". And it's good to know Elizabeth is finished with her treatments and doing well.

The Bush military

Disastrous recruiting numbers?

No problem! The Bush economy to the rescue!

Planned job cuts soar 42% in May
Employers announced 82,283 job cuts in May, compared to 57,861 in April, according to a monthly report issued by Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

May job cuts rose 12 percent from the year-ago period. So far this year, 427,278 job cuts have been announced, 4.6 percent more than the five-month total of 408,392 last year, the report said.
The Bush administration - working harder to make the military the country's biggest employer.
Follow the money

From 2003 -
President Bush called on Congress on Thursday to impose stringent restrictions on medical malpractice lawsuits as a step toward curtailing escalating health-care costs, a key goal in his domestic agenda.

"Excessive jury awards will continue to drive up insurance costs, will put good doctors out of business or run them out of your community," Bush told health-care professionals and administrators at the University of Scranton.
Today -
Rising doctors' premiums not due to lawsuit awards

Study suggests insurers raise rates to make up for investment declines

Re-igniting the medical malpractice overhaul debate, a new study by Dartmouth College researchers suggests that huge jury awards and financial settlements for injured patients have not caused the explosive increase in doctors' insurance premiums.

The researchers said a more likely explanation for the escalation is that malpractice insurance companies have raised doctors' premiums to compensate for falling investment returns.

The Dartmouth economists studied actual payments made to patients between 1991 and 2003, the results of which were published yesterday in the journal Health Affairs. Some previous studies have examined jury awards, which often are reduced after trial to comply with doctors' insurance coverage maximums or because the plaintiff settles for less money to avoid an appeal. Researchers found that payments grew an average of 4 percent annually during the years covered by the study, or 52 percent overall since 1991, but only 1.6 percent a year since 2000. The increases are roughly equivalent to the overall rise in healthcare costs, said Amitabh Chandra, lead author and an assistant professor of economics at the New Hampshire college.
Even a financial nincompoop like me could see this coming.

If Bush weren't so intent on following the money into his own pocket, his family pockets, or his friend's pockets, he could probably see it, too.

If you wonder why health care costs are so high, look no further than our health insurance companies with their high overhead, profit margins, archaic record keeping, and lousy investment records.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?