Saturday, April 28, 2007

The president's pleasure

As Andrew Cohen (Washington Post) notes, the Attorney General serves 'at the president's pleasure', but wonders what sort of 'pleasure' the president derives from Gonzales.


The little boy who enjoyed blowing up frogs has grown up (chronologically, at least) and now enjoys or certainly doesn't mind watching his loyal lapdogs twist in the wind.

The governor who mocked a death row inmate's pleas for mercy doesn't care about the 'negative impact on pending and future federal cases brought by the Justice Department'.

And the president whose view of government has been shaped by Karl Rove doesn't give a flip about the separation of powers or polluting justice with partisan politics.

What sort of pleasure could Gonzales be giving the president these days?

Immense. It's his way of flipping a middle finger at the Democrats and the system in general.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

How's it going, Iraq?

...about all that 'progress':
It's claimed tonight that military chiefs are engaged in an "eleventh hour review" relating to Prince Harry's imminent deployment to Iraq.

The Prince and Princess of Wales' 22-year-old son is due to leave Britain in May for a six-month tour of duty alongside other members of his regiment of the Blues and Royals of The Household Cavalry.

The front page of Thursday's Sun newspaper is exclusively claiming that Harry won't fight alongside other colleagues and will instead be posted to a desk job far from danger. (link)


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Saturday trivia

War going badly? Clap louder? Cheer harder?

Sometimes even a great cheer doesn't help, especially when the odds are stacked against you from the beginning.
Worst College Team (all-time): For sustained ineptitude, it's difficult, if not impossible, to underrate the Beavers of the California Institute of Technology. From 1893, when Caltech lost its first game 60--4 (a sign of things to come) through 1977, the Beavers won 107 games, lost 322, and tied 16.

And they were worse than their record indicated, because in recent years many of their games have been against the junior varsity teams of other colleges. While Caltech ranks among the top schools in the nation for excellence in science and technology, it has never offered football scholarships. About the closest coach Tom Gutman has come to recruiting, according to a Wall Street Journal story, was "lurking in the bushes" around the school while students played intramural touch football.

The Caltech players were said to be the only ones in the nation whose IQs (above 140 on the average) approached their weights.

The team's highlights were few. In 1967 Caltech defeated California State University at San Diego, 34--31, a humiliation that caused San Diego to give up football.

Small player turnouts hurt Caltech. Coach Gutman recalled one "fabulous" first-half performance which ended with Caltech leading Pomona College, 28--27. "But since our guys had to play both offense and defense, as usual, we were physically worn down in the second half," he added. Final score: Pomona 74, Caltech 28.

The turnout for 1977 was so small, in fact, that the school dropped football from its program indefinitely. Missing, too, will be the Beavers' inspiring cheer:

Secant, cosine, tangent, sine

Logarithm, logarithm,

Hyperbolic sine

3 point 1 4 1 5 9

Slipstick, sliderule


Nor will the school's first-down cheer be heard.

Punt, punt, punt,

Punt, punt, punt,



Friday, April 20, 2007

Hell not frozen over yet, but it's distinctly chilly

I keep hoping I'll wake up one day and find my state turning Blue. It hasn't happened yet, but there's a slight purplish tinge creeping in.

North Carolina is traditionally Republican with many military bases and tons of military family and retirees.

This is what happens when the warriors come home on leave (when they can get it) and spread the word about what is really going on 'over there':

Selected results of the latest Elon University poll (April 20, 2007):

When asked an open-ended question about who they plan to support in the 2008 presidential election, 57 percent of respondents said they do not know or it is too early to tell.

Of those who provided a name answer:

Hillary Clinton - 10%
Barack Obama - 9%
John Edwards - 8%
Rudy Giuliani - 5%
John McCain - 1%
Fred Thompson - 1%
Mitt Romney - 1%
Al Gore - 1%

Disapprove or strongly disapprove of Bush’s performance -61%
Approve or strongly approve of his job performance - 36% (down from 45 percent in a September 2006 Elon Poll)

Approve or strongly approve of the way Bush is handling the war in Iraq - 28% (down from 38 percent in the September 2006 Elon Poll)
Disapprove or strongly disapprove of Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq - 70%

Disapprove or strongly disapprove of Bush’s plan to increase the number of troops in Iraq - 65%
Approve or strongly approve - 32%

Support or oppose plans for setting a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq in 2008 - 60%
Oppose - 35%

Believe the war in Iraq has made the U.S. less safe from terrorism - 50%
U.S. is more safe - 32%

U.S. is now more at risk for future terrorist attacks - 61%
Country is less at risk of an attack - 23%


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

One of yer better pro-gun control arguments

Two Secret Service officers injured at White House
Two Secret Service officers were injured on Tuesday after a gun held by another Secret Service officer accidentally fired inside the White House gate, according to a spokesman, Darrin Blackford.

Their injuries are non-life threatening, the spokesman said.

One officer suffered a shrapnel wound to the face, and the other was wounded in the leg.
Tell me again why we would all be safer if everyone carried a gun?

Heroes in their own minds

Rather than scorn the deluded who think they could have stopped the carnage at VaTech and wonder why students didn't do a "Let's Roll"...perhaps we should just refer their rantings to the Virginia Tech College Republicans for comment?


Monday, April 16, 2007

Horrible, horrible

Massacre at Virginia Tech: 29 Confirmed Dead

Speaking as the parent of a college student - VaTech students...if you haven't called home lately, now would be a good time.


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Stuff and insurance, again

Seems like I should start every post these days with “sorry it’s been so long”. No excuses (though there ARE plenty) – just Life.


The Easter Sunrise Service went well this year, even though the temperature was in the 20 degree range and nobody dared wear those purty springtime Easter-Go-To-Meeting clothes. I shivered in long johns and sweat suit under my winter coat.

For the benefit of the heathens, let’s review the basis for an Easter sunrise service. It all begins with Mark 16:2 –
And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.
….and ever since then, bleary-eyed Christians have gathered at oh-dark-thirty on Easter Sunday to celebrate the resurrection.

I’ve revised that a bit, but I’m having a hard time getting it accepted:
And around ten o’clock in the morning after two leisurely cups of coffee, they came unto the sepulcher….
... and so on.


I often rail against insurance companies, who seem to have adopted ‘free market capitalism’ as an excuse to rob from everyone and give to themselves.

I’m glad to see the House Financial Services Committee is looking into a wee bit of the problem of catastrophic insurance.
Hoping to curb skyrocketing premiums and the retreat of insurers from high-risk areas like the nation's coasts, Florida lawmakers and other House members, including Reps. Bobby Jindal, R-La., and Gene Taylor, D-Miss., have introduced several proposals that would increase the federal role in the insurance industry.
If ever an industry needed some federal intervention – on the side of the consumer - the insurance industry is it.

Guess who is the president of the American Insurance Association? Our old buddy Marc Racicot – former Montana governor and attorney general, former head of the Republican National Committee, the Boy King’s reelection chairman, and all-around pain in the ass.

Racicot urged the committee to ‘show restraint’; Republican-speak for ‘we’ll regulate ourselves, thank you’.

But the best comment was from Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala.:
"We should not force rural and middle America to pick up the tab."
I’m sure the fine folks in Alabama who have been smacked with tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and other natural catastrophes appreciate Rep Bachus standing up for their right to muddle along somehow without outside help.

Here’s what struck me about this comment – it’s the essence of conservative short-sighted, narrow-minded, “it only happens to Others” thinking.

And the corollary – “If Others are not able to help themselves, it’s their own fault”.

You could probably add ‘Especially if they are poor or brown’.

Rep. Bachus, have there not been tornadoes, floods, fire, and so forth in Alabama? How are things going after Katrina?

Do you not know that a super volcano eruption on the other side of the world could turn your happy little rich white guy life upside down in a matter of days?

I guarantee you that one claim on your homeowner’s policy is enough to make some companies drop you like a hot potato. And good luck finding anything affordable after that.

I guess it will take another 400-plus years before John Donne’s ringing call to mankind in Meditation XVII begins to sink into the conservative soul.

What a pity. And what a pity we all suffer because of it.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The recess appointments get worse

From the Alliance For Retired Americans:
On Wednesday, President Bush announced his intention to appoint Andrew Biggs to be Deputy Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) while Congress is in recess. Biggs, who wrote extensively while at the CATO Institute in favor of the privatization of Social Security, and even for its elimination entirely, will serve for the rest of the President's term of office in the number two position at SSA. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), as well as other Congressional leaders, had made it clear that Mr. Biggs was unacceptable, and would not be confirmed, when Bush nominated him this year. "President Bush remains fully committed to privatization and is once again ignoring the will of the American people and of Congress. This White House will never give up its crusade to turn Social Security over to Wall Street money managers," said George J. Kourpias, President of the Alliance.
Note that it's just an 'intention', and let's hope that's as far as it gets.

Update - Looks like it's a done deal.



Tuesday, April 03, 2007

There's a connection here somewhere...

A sad fact -

2004 statistics for the United States show that coronary heart disease (CHD) is the single leading cause of death in America.

Hope for the future -

British scientists have grown part of a human heart from stem cells for the first time.
(Heart surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub) "told the Guardian newspaper a whole heart could be produced from stem cells within 10 years."
A blast from the past - Bush vetoes embryonic stem-cell bill


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