Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Oh, the irony...

Via Raw Story -
Washington has objected to Chavez's crackdown on free media and civil rights groups, and says democratic institutions under his rule have been marginalized. Chavez is expected to be granted powers this week to issue decrees without parliamentary approval - a move that has been criticized by Venezuelan opposition parties as a step towards totalitarianism.

"His behaviour is threatening to democracies in the region," Negroponte told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Yeah, that's what happens when a would-be dictator grabs more and more power.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Bush Directive Increases Sway on Regulation
President Bush has signed a directive that gives the White House much greater control over the rules and policy statements that the government develops to protect public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy.

In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president’s priorities.
Because having political appointees run things worked so well in Iraq?

I don't know which is worse - the naked power grab or the proven incompetence of those grabbing the power.


Friday, January 26, 2007

Things that make you go Mmmmmmm

It's going to be a long, excruciating time before the 2008 elections, but here's an election you can get into right now.

Only one of the seven Wonders of the World is still in existence (the pyramids of Egypt), therefore -
The New 7 Wonders of the World will be announced during the Official Declaration ceremony in Lisbon, Portugal on Saturday, July 7, 2007 - 07.07.07.
The contestants are:

**The Acropolis (Athens, Greece)
**Alhambra (Grenada, Spain)
**Angkor (Cambodia)
**The Pyramid (Chichen Itza, Mexico)
**Christ Redeemer (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
**Coloseum (Rome, Italy)
**Easter Island Statues (Chile)
**Eiffel Tower (Paris, France)
**Great Wall (China)
**Hagia Sophia (Istanbul, Turkey)
**Kiyomizu Temple (Kyoto, Japan)
**Kremlin/St. Basil (Moscow, Russia)
**Machu Picchu (Peru)
**Neuschwanstein Castle (Schwangau, Germany)
**Petra (Jordan)
**Pyramids of Giza (Egypt)
**Statue of Liberty (New York, USA)
**Stonehenge (United Kingdom)
**Sydney Opera House (Australia)
**Taj Mahal (Agra, India)
**Timbuktu, Mali

What a list! I can't make up my mind.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bubble Boy

You've got to love the title of Meyerson's latest WP column - Our Delusional Hedgehog.

Meyerson is referring to Bush and his delusional Iraq policy, but it could equally apply to Bush and his health care dreamland.
"When it comes to healthcare, government has an obligation to care for the elderly, the disabled, and poor children," the president said. "We will meet those responsibilities. For all other Americans, private health insurance is the best way to meet their needs. But many Americans cannot afford a health insurance policy." (emphasis mine)
Spoken like a true son of wealth and privilege and a bosom-buddy with health insurance company CEO's.

"Many" Americans? I invite anyone - especially those making less than $100K yearly - to go here and get a monthly premium quote.

Then double it. If you've ever had ANYTHING to go wrong health-wise, if you're taking regular medication for anything whatsoever - the final quote will double.

"Private health insurance is the best way to meet their needs"?

Let the health insurance industry say, "Yee-Haw!"


Monday, January 22, 2007

Paging John Warner

Via Editor & Publisher - Frank Rich: Only Republicans, Not Democrats, Can Stop Bush -- But Who Will Play Goldwater?

If you remember your Watergate, it was Barry Goldwater who was finally able to convince Nixon that the piper must be paid.
That leader was Barry Goldwater , who had been one of Nixon’s most loyal and aggressive defenders until he finally realized he’d been lied to once too often. If John McCain won’t play the role his Arizona predecessor once did, we must hope that John Warner or some patriot like him will, for the good of the country, answer the call of conscience. A dangerous president must be saved from himself, so that the American kids he’s about to hurl into the hell of Baghdad can be saved along with him.
Is the fat lady singing?
Top military Republican to introduce own anti-surge resolution

The ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Warner, (R-VA) will introduce a resolution asserting that sending more troops to Iraq is a mistake later this afternoon, RAW STORY has learned.
My own impression is Dubya is tone deaf and only hears what he wants to hear.

But if he's lost John Warner, he's probably lost Barney and Laura, too.


Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday Doggie Blogging

...or "Yo quiero ear-scratching"

I finally cleared out enough Christmas debris to find the camera cable.

Pippin The Grandpuppy, getting some spoiling from Grandma on Christmas.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Winter finally arrives

For much of the 'winter' here, we've had to resort to either open windows or air conditioning.

But the temperatures took a nose dive Tuesday evening, and when I walked out in the sub-freezing weather to go to work Wednesday morning some smart-aleck bird had apparently written a mysterious, invisible bird-language sign on top my car that said POOP HERE.

There was a huge SPLAT on the windshield (driver's side, eye-level), another on my driver's side window, and assorted arrangements on the hood, roof, etc.

Damn birds.

Was I going to clean it off in sub-zero weather? Yeah, right.

But good old Mother Nature got them back today -

Not only will they have to eat the cheap bird seed in the feeder instead of juicy worms, but the snow cleaned the poop off my car.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Breast-enhancing beer gains popularity

(Via Raw Story)
Since Bulgaria joined the European Union, sales of Boza Ale, which claims to give women bigger breasts, has skyrocketed.

European men have been purchasing the beer, made from yeast and fermented flour, for European women since the extra taxes were removed with EU participation, Britain's the Sun reported Monday.

Bar owners and shopkeepers are also stocking up, the report said.

The Sun said a Romanian man, Barmy Constantin Barbu, traveled across the Dunube River just to purchase a case of Boza Ale for his wife.

"I really hope I see an improvement," Barbu said.

There's a song about that; it goes - "The girls all get prettier at closin' time..."


Friday, January 12, 2007

Bait and switch

Join the all-volunteer military! See the world! Great benefits! Money for education!

...but maybe pay for it the rest of your natural life -
The Pentagon has abandoned its limit on the time a citizen-soldier can be required to serve on active duty, officials said Thursday, a major change that reflects an Army stretched thin by longer-than-expected combat in Iraq.


In other words, a citizen-soldier could be mobilized for a 24-month stretch in Iraq or Afghanistan, then demobilized and allowed to return to civilian life, only to be mobilized a second time for as much as an additional 24 months. In practice, Pace said, the Pentagon intends to limit all future mobilizations to 12 months. (Via Raw Story)
Joining the military is fast becoming an act of desperation.

As a double Army brat who has always considered the military a fine choice of career, it hurts to say it - but don't do it. Flip hamburgers, if you must.

No young person in their right mind should join up until the neocons are purged from the planet.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Heckuva job, Mikey

The Alliance For Retired Americans urges:
This Friday, January 12, the U.S. House of Representatives will debate H.R. 4, the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2007. This legislation requires that Medicare negotiate with the drug companies for lower drug prices. As you know, the Alliance for Retired Americans has been a leader in the fight for an affordable, comprehensible Medicare drug program. The drug companies are already spending millions of dollars on lobbyists and television ads to defeat this needed, common sense legislation.

We have a toll free number to contact your member of Congress. Please use it and urge a vote for H.R. 4 on Friday. The toll free number is 1-866-699-9243.
While you're at it, bear in mind that HHS Secretary Leavitt has refused to use any authority to negotiate.

In addition to requiring negotiations Congress should demand replacing Mike Leavitt with a secretary who will actually do his job.
...in any event, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt says he won't bargain even if given the authority to do so. He criticizes negotiations as "a surrogate for a much larger issue, which is really government-run health care."
Mike Leavitt - surrogate for Big Pharma.


Monday, January 08, 2007

The BBC said it was told by a senior US Government source that Mr Bush's speech setting out the changes in Iraq policy was likely in the middle of next week.

Its central theme would be sacrifice, officials said.


Sunday, January 07, 2007


Via Raw Story -
McCain surprised by Reid's sudden '180 on surge'

During an appearance on Bloomberg Television's Political Capitol with Al Hunt, Senator John McCain (AZ-Rep.) said that he was taken by surprise when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV-Dem) suddenly changed his mind on Iraq.

"Because a week ago Senator Reid was quoted as saying he would support a surge if there was some plan for withdrawal," McCain said. "This is sort of a 180 in a very short period of time."


Bloomberg News notes that "Reid told reporters he changed his mind after learning that U.S. commanders on the ground didn't think a surge would work."
Correct me if I'm wrong, St. John McCain, but this sounds suspiciously like actually listening to the advice of the commanders on the ground, instead of using the phrase as a political football.


Friday, January 05, 2007

Happy New Year from Humana

Just one of those things that happens when Republicans are in charge -
More than two million seniors nationwide who signed up last year for insurer Humana Inc.'s least expensive Medicare prescription drug plan face average premium increases of 60 percent - and in seven states, increases of 466 percent - that started on January 1, 2007. Healthcare advocates say Humana kept its prices low in 2006 to gain market share. The strategy may prove lucrative, because many seniors spent considerable time researching and selecting their drug insurance and were unlikely to switch plans for 2007, despite increased premiums. The Boston Globe reported that, in representations to Wall Street investors, Humana said it planned to raise its profit margin on Medicare drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans from 2.5 to 3.5 percent in 2006 to 4 to 5 percent in 2007. "It certainly looks like Humana planned to trick seniors," said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. "The tactic of adding market share and then raising prices is classic bait-and-switch."

(Alliance For Retired Americans 'Friday Alert')
Update - here's the Boston Globe story.

Forget the minimum wage

Coming from me, that's sarcastic, of course.

Coming from George Will, it's dead serious and dead stupid.

What we really need is a limit on maximum wage.

Like this guy.

Or this one.

Or him.

Especially this deadbeat.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

This can't be good...
(LA Times)

Hurricane expert Mayfield warns of potential disaster

MIAMI, Florida -- Frustrated with people and politicians who refuse to listen or learn, National Hurricane Center chief Max Mayfield ends his 34-year government career tomorrow in search of a new platform for getting his unwelcome message: Hurricane Katrina was nothing compared to The Big One yet to come.

Mayfield, 58, leaves his high-profile job with the National Weather Service more convinced than ever that U.S. residents of the Southeast are risking unprecedented tragedy by continuing to build vulnerable homes in the tropical storm zone and failing to plan escape routes.
Thank goodness we have a well-honed FEMA led by competent, experienced disaster managers and a preznit with our best interests at heart.

Or not.

Where did 2006 go?

It's 2007 already, which means it will probably be April before I write the date correctly again.

I apologize for my absence from the blogosphere. In addition to greatly increased job duties of the season, I'm coping with an additional job, caring for my mother, and have all the extra work (and fun) of having the kid & grandpuppy home for the holidays. Each one of those things cuts into spare time, but I haven't been totally out of the news loop.

Today, former President Gerald Ford is being laid to rest. I remember Ford quite well, not only for pardoning Nixon and trying to restore some decency to the White House - but because I actually shook his hand once upon a time, a long time ago.

It was a much more innocent time; a time when you didn't have to prove your political loyalty or get a security clearance to come face to face with the President of the United States.

I happened to be at Hanes Mall in Winston-Salem, North Carolina - and I had totally forgotten President Ford was making a campaign stop at the mall.

There was a whirl of activity in the huge parking lot, and I realized what was happening. My friends and I decided - what the heck? We pay his salary, we have as much right as anyone to shake his hand.

We joined the crowd, and positioned ourselves on the "front row", way WAY down the line of people. He'd never make it down this far to our little group, but at least we'd see him from a distance.

The helicopter landed, a gaggle of Secret Service men fanned out, and there he was - the President of the United States.

And he DID make it down the long line. I remember thinking that he was shorter than I had imagined. Six feet tall, according to Wikipedia, but I bet it's fudged a bit.

He shook my hand - a good, firm handshake. I don't claim to have looked into his eyes and seen his soul, but I did look into his eyes.

They were very kind.

Aside from his pardon of Nixon, the main thing I remember from his presidential tenure is the swine flu scare. I recall standing in a long line at the health department and getting a vaccination with one of those hateful 'air guns' (sore for DAYS).

More people died from the effects of the vaccine than died from swine flu, and the immunization program was cancelled.

Not the greatest memory of a former president, but I'll give him credit for recognizing a potential health risk and using the presidential bully pulpit to do something about it.

And what a wife - we can all thank Betty Ford for increasing breast cancer awareness.

So, rest in peace, President Ford. I bet he was a spectacular grandfather, and I'm glad he had plenty of years to enjoy it.


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