Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Creative thinking

Seems to me we are going to have to do some creative thinking to deal with the Katrina problems. Reinvent the wheel, if you will.

How many troops are in Iraq? I've lost track; a hundred-some thousand?

I wonder how much barrack space that clears up here in this country, hmmm?

The 'changing character of the National Guard'

From that left-wing rag The Army Times -
Overseas deployments hinder Guard hurricane presence

Some 6,000 National Guard personnel in Louisiana and Mississippi who would be available to help deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina are in Iraq, highlighting the changing role of America’s part-time soldiers.

“The juxtaposition of the mission to Iraq and the response to Katrina really demonstrates the new and changing character of the National Guard,” Daniel Goure, a military analyst at the private Lexington Institute, said Monday.

The war has forced the Guard into becoming an operational force, a far cry from its historic role as a strategic reserve primarily available to governors for disasters and other duties in their home states.
Charitable, at best.

What has changed is not the character of the National Guard, but the lack of character in the Bush administration.

Track record

Steve has a good post regarding the plans to move the Superdome refugees to the Astrodome in Houston, very rightly questioning the logistics and infrastructure. Go read.

Then ask yourself, as Steve says - "I just hope our government on all levels is making some long-term plans about how to help these good people return to some sort of normal life after the great tragedy they have experienced."

Baghdad West, anyone? Our government hasn't exactly distinguished itself when it comes to long-term planning or any kind of planning for that matter.

Something has got to be done with all these poor people, and I suppose this is the best short-term solution. I sure don't have the answer, but judging from the administration's past record, I'd hazard a guess that a lot of relief efforts will be up to those of us who will take the personal responsibility.

We have a family coming to stay with us as soon as they can get all their family members rounded up and out of the city. They are having difficulty communicating, plus most vehicles are useless. If you have spare room and friends, family, or friends of your friends and family needing refuge - now is the time to step up.


My friends all know I wouldn't say that in those words unless I felt searing, flaming anger -
Storm economic impact seen modest-WHouse

Hurricane Katrina is likely to have only a modest impact on the U.S. economy as long as the hit to the energy sector proves transitory, White House economic adviser Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.

"Clearly, it's going to affect the Gulf Coast economy quite a bit," Bernanke told CNBC television. "That's going to be enough to have at least a noticeable or at least some impact on the aggregate (national) data.

"Looking forward ... reconstruction is going to add jobs and growth to the economy," he added. "As long as we find that the energy impact is only temporary and there's not permanent damage to the infrastructure, my guess is that the effects on the overall economy will be fairly modest."


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Dear George

Dear Mr. Preznit,

Would you like to be a hero? Sure you would!

Let me suggest a good start - guaranteed to boost your popularity ratings at least several percentage points.

Bring the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama National Guard units back from Iraq.



Many of these guardsmen and women are bound to be going out of their minds, worrying about the family and friends.

Some will have damaged or destroyed homes; some may have lost loved ones.

Not only can their states use their help, but they need to have their minds eased at least a bit.

The last thing on their minds is finding WMD or bringing freedom to Iraqis or securing cheap oil or whatever the hell excuse you've cooked up today.

This would be a good time to dig out some of that "compassionate conservatism" you campaigned on five years ago.

How about it?

With deadly serious sincerity,


Do me a favor

I hope someone will take a look at the satellite map off the west coast of Africa and tell me there are no other tropical waves developing.

If there are, I don't want to hear it.

Strange coincidence
The U.S. ambassador suggested Tuesday there may be further changes to the draft constitution in order to win Sunni Arab approval, saying he believed a "final, final draft" had not yet been presented.
Per Juan Cole, a Riyadh source reports -
one Sunni member of the parliamentary drafting committee told it that Washington at one point promised $5 million apiece to tthe Sunnis on the committee if they would sign off on the constitution.
I don't know about you, but right about now I'd rather see my tax dollars used to provide Katrina relief than to bribe Sunnis.

One thing is for certain - if any of those Sunnis accept the bribe, their lives won't be worth a plugged nickel in their own country.


Monday, August 29, 2005

Mississippi sinking

Between crop damage, the casinos, river commerce, and the general destruction to homes and business it looks like Mississippi is in for a rough ride.

From August 22, 2005
National guard unit finds humanitarian missions in Iraq rewarding

JACKSON, Miss. -- While much of their time in Iraq is spent rounding up insurgents and searching for clandestine weapons caches, members of the 155th Brigade Combat Team say they are also focused on helping rebuild the war-torn country.


Maj. Gen. Harold A. Cross, Mississippi's adjutant general, has said the 155th is primarily made up of soldiers from 49 different communities in the state, and their deployment has had a direct impact on thousands of families.

Thirteen Mississippians in the unit have died in Iraq and an even larger number have been wounded.


The 155th is attached to the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force and operates in the Karbala, Najaf and Babil provinces of Iraq. Blanton said each unit in the brigade has adopted at least one school in its area of operations and the soldiers distribute school supplies, furniture, medicine and other goods.
At this point, I imagine these guys would find humanitarian missions in Mississippi even more rewarding.

Random stuff

It's hard to think about anything else while a monster eats at the Gulf Coast, isn't it? At least it looks like New Orleans may escape the apocalyptic, doomsday scenario - barely - but the area to the east may not be so lucky. It's going to be a long day.


What kind of lame excuse is it when Bush says we'll "complete the mission" so that soldier's deaths will not be in vain?
"And now we'll honor their sacrifice by completing their mission," he said.
How about honoring their sacrifice by not screwing up and throwing away more lives?

Bush has run out of reasons for going to war; now he's flopping around trying to find an excuse to keep us there?


Congratulations to the Ewa Beach "Polynesian Power" kids for winning the Little League World Championship on Sunday. The boys from Hawaii came roaring back from a 3-6 deficit to defeat defending champion Curacao with a walk-off home run in extra innings.


Finally, from that wonderful "Letter to the Editor" section in our local paper that provides me with so much laughter and tears of frustration -
Also, I am sick of hearing people criticizing our president for doing the job we put him in office to do. It's not his fault, it's those bleeding-heart liberal Democrats in Congress that make it impossible to win a war. They are doing the same thing today that they did to us in Vietnam.

I fought in Vietnam, and after we pulled out, the South Vietnamese could not defend the country, and they fell. If we leave Iraq now, they will fall back under tyranny, and then our service men and women will have died in vain. Think about that.
I'm sure those who have died will be thrilled with how happy they've made another leg of the axis of evil - Iran thrives on the neo-con dream.


Friday, August 26, 2005

White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant American terrorist en route to Sweden

How did this loon slip past Homeland Security?
Minister of hate to "hunt down" Swedish king

The fanatical American Baptist minister, Fred Phelps, is on his way to Sweden.

"We'll hunt down your king," he said ominously to Expressen. "It doesn't make any difference where he tries to hide."

Phelps' hatred of the royal family and all things Swedish is linked directly to his equally virulent hatred of homosexuals. He praises homophobic crimes, including murder. When controversial Swedish minister, Åke Green, was convicted of inciting hatred of homosexuals following an anti-gay sermon, Phelps saw red and turned his attention to Sweden.

"You're doomed to spend eternity in hell," he continued. "All you Swedes and your Swedish king and his family."

The minister and twenty members of his congregation from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, are planning to come to Sweden at the beginning of September. They are bringing plenty of placards in order to spread their message that Sweden is the cradle of all evil and that the king rules a nation of sodomites.

King Carl Gustaf is their primary target.

"Your king represents your doomed country and we'll find him wherever he may be."
Swedes, please lock him up and throw away the key.

Evangelically-approved Lord's Prayer

Check it out at The Beast of Sound, and welcome him back to the blogosphere while you're at it.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

The MBA preznit

Michael Crowley, guest-blogging at TPM, points to a David Frum piece expressing a bit of concern for the Bush administration's communication skills:
Let me mention just one single but maybe decisive problem. Again and again during the Bush presidency - and yesterday most recently - the president will agree to give what is advertised in advance as a major speech. An important venue will be chosen. A crowd of thousands will be gathered. The networks will all be invited. And after these elaborate preparations, the president says ... nothing that he has not said a hundred times before.
But the best part is the Bush supporter's reactions to the piece. If this were a contest, the following would be my choice for the winner -
A reader from California:
"It is quite frustating to see this horrible lack of comunication coming from a president with such a fantastic background in business. What he needs to do now in treat the American people as if they were the employees of a recently acquired company that has fallen on hard times: Lay out the situation, what has been going well, what hasn't, what is true, and what is folly and rumor, and, most importantly what WE are going to do about it as a team."
We'll lay aside the hilarious bit about the "fantastic background in business" for a moment; let's examine what the CEO of a recently acquired company would do if the American people were his employees and the United States of America his company.

***If he were smart, he would fire the ineffective department managers and bring in some people with solid experience and a good connection to reality.

***He would trash any projects that were costly and ineffective and fire those who insisted the programs should be continued.

***He would take aggressive steps with suppliers, stockholders and other companies in the industry to mend relations and restore confidence.

***He would immediately fire and turn over to the authorities any supervisor or employee found to be embezzling company money or engaged in illegal acts.

***He would honor existing agreements with suppliers. If renegotiation were necessary, he would carry it out in an honorable fashion.

***He would, indeed, gather the employees for a frank discussion of the road ahead and the problems to be surmounted. He would explain that he has cut his own pay and benefits substantially, and ask them to take a small cut themselves until the company gets back on it's feet.

***He would burn the midnight oil seven days a week until the company began to climb out of the red.

But this is the land of unbridled free capitalism; in reality, the CEO would probably take a look at the situation, raid the employee's pension fund, sell the company for peanuts at the first opportunity, and go on permanent vacation in Belize.

The reader in California is at least half-right; Dubya is, indeed, drawing upon his "fantastic background in business".


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Following the money

The best way to evaluate the financial effectiveness of a health care system is to follow the money.

If the money ends up in the pockets of doctors, nurses, orderlies, lab technicians, paramedics, and others who do the actual health care providing - all is well in the health care system.

I've never met a doctor who looked like he couldn't afford a meal - and that's good; medical training is expensive and arduous, and doctors should be well-paid - but most other health care professionals are grossly overworked and humiliatingly underpaid.

The latest in a round of proposals to fix our patchwork of piecemeal, jigsaw-like so-called health care system problems comes from Representative John Shadegg of Arizona.

The "Health Care Choice Act" would allow you to buy health care insurance from another state.
States require health insurers to obtain licenses before they can do business in the state. The most basic licensing requirements include such things as solvency standards. But each state also requires health insurers to provide certain types of coverage, to cover certain categories of people, or to price coverage however the state thinks is best. Idaho has passed the fewest such laws (13) and Minnesota the most (60).
Theoretically, a Minnesotan could purchase cheaper health insurance from a company in Idaho, resulting in (perhaps) significant yearly savings.

But let's follow the money....

A hypothetical Acme Health Insurance Company of Idaho sees a market for their product in Minnesota. The marketing people draw up a plan for an advertising blitz in the Minnesota media, trumpeting their lower rates.

Ah, but a company needs money for an advertising campaign - therefore the rates will need to be adjusted upward; not only in Minnesota, but in Idaho.

No company stays afloat by underestimating overhead costs; the rate increase covers the cost of advertising and then some.

With an influx of new customers - and more cash - does the company lower it's rates? I don't think so.

In the meantime, doctor's offices, clinics and hospitals find they have to hire extra clerical people to deal with the increased paperwork resulting from Idaho insurance company customers.

The people who temporarily found relief from high insurance rates soon find themselves paying for the extra burden on health care providers, and once again the only entity benefitting is the health insurance company.

Onward Christian Soldiers

The Wrong Reverend Robertson takes responsibility for his words:
"I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should 'take him out.' And 'take him out' can be a number of things, including kidnapping; there are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted by the AP [Associated Press], but that happens all the time," Robertson said on "The 700 Club" program.
Let's review those words-
"If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it," said Robertson on Monday's program. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war."

"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," he said. "We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."
Robertson is quite right in that he didn't say "assassination".

He said "assassinate". And that "we (presumably meaning the children and grandchildren of someone other than Pat Robertson and other God-fearing Republicans) really ought to go ahead and do it".

Damned AP news reporters; they should concentrate on harassing gays and painted Iraqi schools and keep their nose out of religious broadcasting.



Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Robertson: U.S. should assassinate Venezuela's Chavez

At this moment, "More headlines" at the The Washington Post website lists two headlines one on top the other -

"Robertson Calls for Chavez's Assassination"


"Radio Host Fired for Anti-Muslim Remarks"

Personally, I don't see much of a difference in making anti-Muslim remarks and calling for the assassination of another human being.

I realize Robertson is his own boss and is hardly likely to fire himself, but this man has received a three-year, $1.5-million grant of taxpayer money for a "faith-based initiative" - "Operation Blessing".

The Bush administration can't fire Robertson, but they could certainly show their disapproval of his remarks by yanking that grant.

If they disapprove, that is.


Monday, August 22, 2005

Hat tricks

I have been insanely busy the last week as I switched between my many “hats”. Sorry for the silence; I have barely had time to check my e-mail, and I did that mainly so I could delete all the inane “I want this back!” forwards, Cialis and Viagra spam, and the efforts to hook me up with hot singles in my area.

Hat #1

The Southern Chef Hat

Mr. Andante’s birthday was Thursday, and (bless him) a home-cooked meal of his favorite foods is as enticing to him as a steak at an expensive restaurant.

I planned to fix his favorites (warning to Yankees and other heathens – hold your nose) – pinto beans, hog jowls, and cornbread.

They say confession is good for the soul, but it’s also painful.

I burned the beans.

You cannot possibly imagine the swearing that came out of this mouth. How can a woman possibly claim Southern Belle-hood when she burns a pot of pinto beans?

(Recipe Warning)

Dump a bag of dried beans – any kind, it doesn't have to be pintos – into a colander. Rinse them. If you’re organized enough, put them in a large pot and cover them with water. Let soak overnight.

I'm never that organized; just rinse them off, throw the beans and a ham bone in the pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down so the water simmers.

As much as I love my crock pot, I have to warn you a crock pot doesn't cut it with dried beans. Yes, it will cook them. No, they don't taste anywhere near as well as they do when they're simmered for hours on the stove. It's the Pillsbury Curse - 'nothin' says lovin' like something from the oven'.

The beans absorb the water, so after a short while the whole mess will “cook down”. Add more water to cover the beans again. Repeat this process until the beans are in danger of turning to mush.

Hat #2

The Music Director Hat

My beans burned when I put on another hat – my church music director hat. I lowered the temperature so the bean-mess would simmer, then sat down at the computer with my music software program, arranging music for our annual Christmas extravaganza.

Yes, it's that time of year. Unfortunately, working with Christmas music in August doesn't make it any cooler outside. Neither does something simmering on the stove.

I was absorbed in the music, and didn’t realize the water was totally absorbed in the beans.

Here’s where having Chihuahuas comes in handy…they bark at anything. The herd began barking, something they will do if a pot of water boils over, a leaf falls outside, or anything at all out of the ordinary happens.

I did the ordinary, too – told them to shut up. Then I realized there was a strange smell coming from the kitchen.

Hat #3

The Church Secretary Hat

At the same time, the church secretary hat was fixed firmly on my head. When a prominent member of the congregation and community dies, we go into Barely Organized Chaos Mode.

There's the funeral service program to type, format, and print. I am completely paranoid on this one; what if I misspell the deceased person's name, or some other idiotic misprint? Many people save these things and place great sentimental value on them, therefore I go half out of my mind trying to get it right.

I go behind the custodian and make sure the meeting house is clean and neat. I coordinate various details with the funeral home and family of the deceased.

The family requested a particular song from the soloist, but it was too high for him. I transposed it to a lower key, printed the music, and delivered it to him and the accompanist.

And then a lady from the church calls and asks me to help provide food for the family.

(Not beans)

Nobody had ever requested I fix a particular dish for any occasion whatsoever, except when my kid was five years old and fixated on Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee spaghetti. Spaghetti three times a day for a couple of weeks doesn't seem to have bothered her, nor did opening a can and nuking the contents improve my cooking skills.

But I made Amish Slaw for an earlier funeral feast, and am now the Slaw Lady of Randolph County. Whenever there's an occasion requiring carry-in food, I'm called on for Amish Slaw and have been deluged with appeals for the recipe.

Hat #4

The Domestic Goddess Hat.

I didn't burn the slaw - yes, you could actually burn this type of slaw, but I wasted precious, expensive gasoline driving to the grocery store for more beans to serve Mr. Andante on his birthday.

I threw out the burned beans, put on a new pot - which I watched carefully - and deoderized the house. I highly recommend Febreeze and Lysol Neutra-Air.

The Chihuahuas beg to differ.

I suppose the moral of the story is that a watched pot never boils, but an unwatched pot sure as hell will.

So....has anything been going on in the outside world?


Thursday, August 18, 2005

More gas prices

Sometimes, I wish for my old 1958 Belair. More than that, I wish for the gas prices back in those days - about twenty-cents per gallon, as I recall.

Anyway - what Jeff says.

In much of this country, you're doomed without a car.

On second thought, maybe it's a plot to increase military enlistment.

No car = No job

No job = No money

No money = Iraq starts to look pretty good.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The lap of luxury

I can recall a few times in my (decidedly middle-class) life when I've felt like I was living in the lap of luxury.
- Riding in my childhood best friend's mother's Cadillac...one of those with the sharp fins and everything electric back before it was standard.

- Taking a weekend cruise to the Bahamas, and emerging from my basically steerage cabin to eat filet mignon and baked Alaska and enjoy the same views and sea breeze as those in the upper deck suites.

- Playing golf at an exclusive mountaintop resort as the guest of a (wealthy) friend.
Somehow, filling up my gas tank today and riding around with a full tank didn't have the same je ne sais quoi.

I've never poured so many dollars into a vehicle's gas tank in my life.


It's heartbreaking when anyone is forced to leave their home and community, but when you're offered compensation and a chance to further Middle East peace it should soften the blow a bit.

It's tough all around - tough on the settlers who must leave, tough on the soldiers who must enforce the evacuation, and tough on the Palestinian leadership who now must make the next positive moves.

I've never been a fan of Ariel Sharon, but I may have to revise my opinion a bit -
Speaking at a joint news conference, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon urged settlers not to attack police and soldiers verbally or physically. "I'm appealing to everyone. Don't attack the men and women in uniform. Don't accuse them. Don't make it harder for them, don't harm them. Attack me. I am responsible for this. Attack me. Accuse me," Sharon said.

(Emphasis mine)
Imagine that, taking personal responsibility.


Monday, August 15, 2005

And now, for some comic relief...

From the High Point Enterprise, August 15, 2005 "Letter to the Editor", we shine a little light into what passes for a rightwinger's brain -
Bush critics should experience 'freedom' in another country

Recent letters to the editor have left me shocked and angry. Like a writer on the other side said some time ago, it is foolish to stand by and let our country go down the drain.

I am just wondering if there is anyone in the world who really believes that Saddam Hussein never had weapons of mass destruction. How can you not have something you have used in the past?

Everyone knows that when you hear that the law is coming you hide the evidence. Some day the evidence will be discovered hidden in the endless miles of sand or in one of the neighboring countries that was supportive of him. Remember, even the liberals were sure that he had WMDs until their bid for the White House turned sour last year. They had access to the same evidence the president had.

Every military man who I have talked to or heard talk believes in what we are doing in Iraq. I cannot think of any other reason that President Bush would want to fight a highly unpopular war except for the cause of freedom. Freedom is never free. Never was and never will be. Do the liberals ever listen to anything besides moveon.org? Try Fox News sometimes and learn something about the good things we are doing in Iraq.

Now is the time that all good men should come to the aid of our country. Let's get behind the cause of freedom and what our president and our brave troops are trying to accomplish. It may be unchristian to say, but maybe it is time for those who oppose everything we are trying to accomplish to move on to another country. There, they will see how much freedom they have to bash their new government.



What do you pay?
Retail gas prices hit another record high over the past three weeks, mirroring a rapid increase in the cost of crude oil, according to a nationwide survey released Sunday.

The average price for all three grades rose nearly 20 cents to $2.53 in the three weeks ending Aug. 12, said Trilby Lundberg, who publishes the semimonthly Lundberg Survey of 7,000 gas stations around the country.
And, by golly, $2.53 is exactly what the corner convenience store raised their price to - from $2.32 to $2.53 in just two days.

For those of us who live in the boondocks with no access to public transportation, rising gas prices are pretty bad news.

Yes, I know Europeans pay a lot more per gallon. They also have buses, trains, and bicycles for those who can't just walk to work or the grocery store.

As it happens, I have a bicycle - but you wouldn't catch me riding it on the road into the nearest town. The road is a narrow two lanes with little to no shoulder room; cyclists put their lives on the line by riding on that road. Ditto mo-peds and pedestrians.

But I do admit to one guilty pleasure...my neighbors here in Rightwing Heaven are the ones who put the oil men in charge. When THEY voice the same gripes, I can point the finger of blame straight at them.

Which is something I do at every opportunity.

Any realistic national energy plan would include research funding for developing safe and inexpensive nuclear power, solar, wind, bio-diesel, hybrid, electric...heck, there's power in poop, something that always seems to be in plentiful supply.

Where there's a will, there's a way. Trouble is, where there's a big profit, there are always greedy individuals who can't wait to fill their pockets at the expense of society.


Friday, August 12, 2005

VJ Day

This Sunday, August 14, 2005 will be the 60th anniversary of VJ Day, celebrating the WWII victory over Japan in 1945.

I'm getting an early start on the commemoration by posting pictures taken by my father and his Army buddies during that time.

The pictures are old and my scanner sucks - so please bear with me. Lord knows how this will look in various browsers, but I promise some pictures of half-naked women and a surprise bonus picture at the end.

Captioned on the back: (l-r) T/SGT Curt Thorson, S/SGT Floyd Davis, T/SGT Irving Brett, and M/SGT Irving Fournier (my father). "V-J Day in the Philippines. Ready to leave Leyte Sept. 2, 1945 for Japan".

It started like this:

Training in the desert, about 30 miles from Needles, CA, expecting to ship out to North Africa.

Along came Pearl Harbor - and the 29th Engineering Battalion (Topographic) was off to the Phillippines and New Guinea.

Home Sweet Hammock

Here come the nekkid lady pictures:

New Guinea natives

A New Guinea family

Setting up headquarters

The final product

The drafting "room"

Making maps the 'old fashioned' way, with aerial photos, cartographic skills, and not a computer or satellite in sight.

Mess call

Downed Japanese plane, pretty thoroughly cannabalized

After New Guinea, the 29th Engineers set off for Japan, arriving just in time for the surrender ceremony. Dad said the ships were packed into the bay so tightly you could literally step from one ship to another.

He & his buddies went ashore for some sight-seeing...or what was left after the firebombing.


Fortunately, there were some beautiful (undestroyed) sights

Finally, back home to the USA for some R&R, camping and boating on Spirit Lake...with Mount St. Helen's in the background (1946).

Which bore some resemblance in 1980 to the Tokyo of 35 years ago.

All politics is local

And thank goodness for a Democratic-controlled legislature and governor.
N.C. House approves new voting machine restrictions

The state House unanimously agreed late Thursday to permit only three types of voting methods in North Carolina and also agreed on how to disburse government grants to help pay for machine upgrades.

The measure, developed after Carteret County electronic voting machines lost 4,438 ballots in last November's election, also requires state election officials to hand out more than $36 million in grants to meet new standards.

With the 2006 elections, voting in North Carolina only will occur in the form of optical scan ballot machines, electronic recording machines or paper ballots counted by hand. Electronic machines would have to provide a paper copy of a voter's ballot, which could be corrected by the voter before they are recorded.

(Greensboro News & Record, 8/12/2005)
There shouldn't be a problem getting this through; the state senate approved a similar bill several weeks ago.

More good news for North Carolinians -
Shortly after the 2005 session of the N.C. General Assembly began in late January, (Rep. Hugh) Holliman introduced House Bill 20, which would provide a tax credit to small businesses that provide health coverage to employees.

The bill was amended, though, to add a provision increasing the state's minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $6 an hour.

The bill passed on a nearly party line vote late Wednesday afternoon in the House and now goes to the Senate.
This one might be tougher; the NC Senate is split between 29 Democrats and 21 Republicans. Of those 29 Dems, a handful represent heavily Republican districts.

The small business health care tax credit would probably have been a no-brainer; even my (Republican) representatives support it. Tacking on the minimum wage provision could be a problem; a similar bill was defeated in June.

If you're a North Carolinian, contact your state senator and urge their support.

Throwing a little gas on the fire

This from Bush:
"Pulling the troops out," he added, "would send a terrible signal to the enemy."
....doesn't answer this question:
If the U.S. government doesn't plan to occupy Iraq for any longer than necessary, why is it spending billions of dollars to build "enduring" bases?
There appears to be two things going on Iraq - 1) terrorists who see an opportunity to strike at the United States and don't mind killing innocent civilians to do so, and 2) insurgents who confine their strikes to the military and "private contractors" and want the United States out of their country.

Yes, number one will be an ongoing problem for a long time, but we could knock out their underpinnings by leaving.

Number two will evaporate when our troops and carpetbaggers leave.

Building permanent bases only aggravates both.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Who do you trust?

Iraq: U.S. Charges Iran With Sending Arms Across Border
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says coalition forces have unambiguous evidence that weapons and bombs are being sent across the border from Iran into Iraq.
Iraqi: Iran Smuggling Reports Exaggerated
On Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said some insurgent weapons are entering Iraq from Iran although it's unclear whether they were coming from elements of the Iranian government or from other parties.

Interior Minister Bayan Jabr told reporters that Iraqi security forces recently opened fire on a group of men carrying boxes near the Iranian border. The men dropped the boxes and fled back into Iranian territory. Inside the boxes were dynamite sticks with some wires.

"This is all that happened at the border and was very much exaggerated," Jabr said.
If the answer to "who do you trust?" is "neither", you're probably right.

The Iraqi Interior Minister probably knows less about the security situation than I do, and Rumsfeld has an unhealthy obsession with things that go "boom".

I'm guessing some group in Iran actually is sending arms to Iraqi insurgents, and Rumsfeld is off his meds again.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Lock him up

I am still recuperating from getting the kid back into her college dorm and can barely string words together to make a sentence.

But I would indeed be remiss if I didn't make a comment on the following tidbit from Texas -
Roads were shut down Wednesday and residents living in nearby apartments between Dooley and Ruth Wall Roads were warned not to look out of their windows Wednesday. School busses from Grapevine-Colleyville ISD formed a perimeter around the site where President George W. Bush was scheduled to land. No one was going to get a glance of the president on his way to the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center.
Excuse me?

Who is going to tell me I can't look out my own window?

Don't get me wrong - I wouldn't want to look at Bush. The very sight of him turns my stomach.

There's nothing I'd like more than to deliberately turn my back on him, in person. I'd love to stand in broad daylight in the middle of the street, armed only with my middle finger, and turn my rump straight at him.

But nobody tells me I can't look out my own window.

I understand the security problems; they're afraid one of those people looking out the windows might be an assassin.

In that case, since Mr. Bush apparently attracts potential mayhem and murder, why don't they keep him locked up somewhere, away from innocent citizens who might get shot for looking out their own windows?

Presumably, the Secret Service has determined that American citizens looking out their own windows could be hazardous to Mr. Bush's health. Presumably, Mr. Bush has agreed.

Presumably, Mr. Bush is a cowardly jackass who should be locked up somewhere, and not in the Oval Office.


Monday, August 08, 2005


Finally home and finished moving Andantette back to college. Sore. Tired. Frazzled.

Now I understand why so many parents willingly pay for their kids to rent off-campus apartments - you don't have to move them to and fro every year.

I'm feeling OLD and distinctly fogey-ish. It doesn't help to wake up to the news that Peter Jennings has passed away.

He always seemed a voice of reason back in his days as ABC's Middle East correspondent, back in the late 60's and early 70's. His reporting during the 1972 Munich Olympics and the dreadful terrorist incidents of the time was stellar, and I applauded his promotion to ABC's 'World News Tonight' in 1983.

Rest in peace, Mr. Jennings - and thank you. Your life enhanced mine.


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Sound familiar?

The big news in the sports world is the Rafael Palmeiro situation -
Rafael Palmeiro poked his finger in the air for emphasis and raised his voice with all the indignation of a man falsely accused.

"I have never used steroids. Period," he told a congressional panel in March.

On Monday, nearly five months later, the Baltimore Orioles slugger became baseball's highest-profile player to be suspended 10 days for using steroids.

While he didn't deny testing positive for the drugs, he insisted that ingesting them was an accident.

"When I testified in front of Congress, I know that I was testifying under oath and I told the truth," he said during a telephone conference call Monday. "Today I am telling the truth again that I did not do this intentionally or knowingly."
Guess who is a Republican?
Joshua summarizes it neatly -
On July 23, 2003, Rafael Palmeiro gave $2,000 to George W. Bush's primary campaign, and Mary Palmeiro also gave $2,000, both thus maxing out.

On August 17, 2004, each Palmeiro gave $2,000 to Bush's general election campaign.

The next day, Mary threw in an extra grand to the RNC.
Raffie, my boy, that excuse is getting a bit old; but it still works better for Republicans than a straight out "I screwed up, it's all my fault, I accept responsibility for my own actions, and I'm sorry".

Wouldn't that be refreshing?


Monday, August 01, 2005

You knew he'd do it, didn't you?

Bush names Bolton as U.N. ambassador - Recess appointment ends Senate impasse over nomination

When over half the country and the entire rest of the globe says "no-no-no", it's like waving a red flag in front of a bull.


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