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I'm a Yellow Dog Democrat! Steve Bates,
The Yellow Doggerel Democrat
POLITICAL GRAVITY -- POLITICAL LEVITY -- VERSE AND WORSE
I'm a Yellow Dog Democrat!

BlogDoggerel
for December 2006

 


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Imagine All The Peepholes

The FBI has released the final 10 pages of its John Lennon documents... and U.S. national security has collapsed in chaos.

Some things are just too silly to be worthy of comment. Read it yourself. Ask yourself why we should ever again trust the FBI when it sententiously pronounces "national security" in defense of its indefensible folly.

Steve
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Avoidance Behavior

The preznit is about to deliver his presser. I'm thoroughly conditioned to reach for the remote whenever he's on TV, even if I want to know what he says. I'll read about it later in the "paper."

So... what is Dubya scheduled to say? Yesterday he said one absurd thing that is striking not so much in its fundamental incorrectness... that's nothing new for Dubya... as in its casual contradiction of what he told us right before elections:

As he searches for a new strategy for Iraq, Bush has adopted the formula advanced by his top military adviser to describe the situation. "We're not winning, we're not losing," Bush said in an interview with The Washington Post. The assessment was a striking reversal for a president who, days before the November elections, declared, "Absolutely, we're winning."

I'm not sure how replacing a whopper with a lesser lie is supposed to help him, but anything that helps him moderate his ego has to be good.

Back to topic, this is what he is supposedly scheduled to say:

President Bush will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. EST. The White House said Bush would open with a 10-minute statement discussing his decision to expand the overall size of the U.S. military to meet the challenges of a long, global struggle against terrorism.

Bush also planned to stress the importance of working in a bipartisan way next year when Democrats take control of Congress heading into the final two years of his administration.

The White House also said Bush would talk about the need to keep the U.S. economy strong.

     ...

That's funny; I don't recall any calls for bipartisanship when his party controlled Congress. In fact, I recall talk by GOP committee chairs about "a majority of a majority" as justification for rendering decisions without Democrats even present at committee meetings. The infamous quote from Grover Norquist comes to mind; I'm pretty sure that's the kind of "bipartisanship" the preznit has in mind.

Back to the first significant topic mentioned: well, duh. Or should I say, well, Dub. If Dub is the Decider, he could have ditched Rumsfeld any time during his six years in office and ordered an increase in the size of the armed forces to combat terrorism. But that's not really what he is thinking of: for Bush, this is just another distraction, a way of deflecting the increasingly obvious charge that he, Bush, gutted the once-fine military we had; that he, Bush, is incapable of turning to diplomacy to solve problems; that he, Bush, is pretty obviously the ultimate source of the orders to engage in torture and other unconscionable, prohibited behavior; that he, Bush, is incapable of admitting that he was ever wrong about anything.

I note that the presser should be underway by now. The ABC News site doesn't even have a headline about it. If my corporation had backed this stinker of a preznit as often as ABC has, I'd hide the fact, too.

Steve
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Blair: Sharing A Miserable Failure

According to a respected British think tank, Tony Blair has gotten nothing for his steadfast support of George W. Bush:

Tony Blair has failed to influence the policies of George Bush's White House in any significant way, despite his unwavering support for the US president, a leading foreign affairs think tank has said.

Delivering its verdict on ten years of foreign policy under Mr Blair, a Chatham House briefing paper said his legacy would be defined by the "terrible mistake" of the war with Iraq.

It said Mr Blair was now paying the price for setting too much store by his relationship with Mr Bush and warned that his successor would have to strike a new foreign policy balance between Europe and the US.

"The post-9/11 decision to invade Iraq was a terrible mistake and the current debacle will have policy repercussions for many years to come," the paper said.

"The root failure of Tony Blair's foreign policy has been its inability to influence the Bush administration in any significant way despite the sacrifice - military, political and financial - that the United Kingdom has made. Tony Blair has learnt the hard way that loyalty in international politics counts for very little."

     ...

Let's be a bit more specific about the last statement: Tony Blair has learned that, for George W. Bush, loyalty works in only one direction. In Bush's limited lexicon, an "ally" is someone who does precisely what George W. Bush wants, nothing more and nothing less, at all times. The notion that loyalty could be mutual is... forgive the term... foreign to Mr. Bush.

One of the report's conclusions, according to the Guardian:

And it said Mr Blair's successor would not be able to make the same mistake, and would instead have to develop a closer relationship with Europe.

Right. Wham... just like that... one of the most significant allies the United States has had in the world, our nation's primary partner in international affairs for over a century, has been compromised by a president (duly elected or otherwise) who, bright or stupid, clever or ignorant, has been unable to see past the end of his nose in international matters, unable to realize that the US has not the slightest hope of being able to go it alone in the world.

I have been no great fan of Mr. Blair in the past few years. From my admittedly limited perspective, if I had been a member of the Labour Party (which of course is impossible, as I am not a British subject), I would have been very discontented with his leadership since Mr. Bush took office here. But I cannot help feeling some sympathy: Blair is by no means the only person who has been taken in by Mr. Bush's congenial but dangerously crazy ways. How many times must the world be subjected to the likes of Mr. Bush before it learns its lesson?

Steve
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Impeachment Or Impairment?

Preface: you have to read to the bottom of this post before you know my opinion on the subject.

There is a lot of discussion on our side of the aisle about whether George W. Bush should be impeached. Among bloggers on my blogroll, some   people really, really favor impeachment and want to see the proceedings begin as soon as Democrats take control of Congress in January. Others are equally certain it's a terrible idea that is not going to happen, a waste of political capital that will give all Democrats bad breath.

I am not on the fence about this. For the record, I favor impeachment. I favor it, pro forma, for the same reason I favor charging and trying accused murderers: the rule of law is meaningful only in its implementation. Bush has committed... and in some cases bragged about... numerous acts which are likely "high crimes and misdemeanors" in the sense the phrase was used by those who drafted our Constitution. From Wikipedia:

"High" in the legal parlance of the 18th century means "against the State". A high crime is one which seeks the overthrow of the country, which gives aid or comfort to its enemies, or which injures the country to the profit of an individual or group. In democracies and similar societies it also includes crimes which attempt to alter the outcome of elections.

(Emphasis mine.)

Mr. Bush stands accused (by a whole raft of legally knowledgeable people, not just by me) of at least two of these charges, the two I boldfaced in the quote above. He deserves (in both senses of the word) to be tried.

So Democrats in the House should get busy right away, impeaching Mr. Bush in January, right?

Ummmm, no.

We have to keep our eyes on the prize. The goal... the only meaningful goal in dealing with this whole sorry spectacle... is to stop Bush's crimes in progress and prevent him from initiating more criminal behavior to the detriment of our nation. It is clear, to me at least, that impeachment will not accomplish the goal of limiting the damage to our nation that even many Republicans understand Mr. Bush is inflicting.

Moreover, impeachment would surely tie up our national discussion in a manner that would be perceived as purely partisan, even if in fact it would not be so. That national discussion needs to be about war, terrorism, torture, civil liberties, the wanton destruction of our armed forces, the profligate spending of our nation's treasuries to no good purpose, the neglect of our young, our elderly and our poor, the export of good jobs overseas to the detriment of American workers and the benefit of only a small number of large corporations and wealthy individuals, the failure of the healthcare system to provide even minimal health coverage to anyone not well-off or otherwise well-situated, the deliberate interference with the workings of a free press and the sinister use of power to perpetrate widespread surveillance of the entire citizenry of the United States. Impeach Bush, and no one will be able to get a word in edgewise about any of these essential topics.

Lefties frequently find themselves... at least I frequently find myself... accused of hating Bush. What garbage. My feelings about the man are irrelevant. But it is clearer day by day that his actions, pursued for a couple more years, will lead to the demise of the United States of America, either in actual fact, or by forcing America's descent into irrelevancy as it ceases to be counted among the civilized free peoples of the world. I do not care one way or the other about Bush. But I do understand that we cannot go on like this.

Congress must therefore use its most effective tools with all due speed. In my opinion, that means constraining Bush's access to funds for his horrific misadventures, using the subpoena power to bring accountability for his minions who actually do his hatchet jobs, and (while we have the Senate) preventing any further Bush judicial appointments from being confirmed. We don't have time for impeachment right now. Even if a conviction were possible... and I do not believe it is possible at present... it would take most of the remaining two years of Bush's ill-gotten term. We don't have the time. Let history... and possibly one or more international courts... judge Bush once he is out of office, not because impeachment isn't right, but because we just can't afford the time for it. Given the straits in which our nation finds itself, our best course is to hobble Bush in every way possible. Don't impeach Bush... impair him.

Steve
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The Gift Of The Magi

By O. Reilly.

(H/T to noz.)

Steve
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The Surge, Respelled

David Kurtz of Talking Points Memo remarks on the absurdity of the term "surge" to describe Bush's proposed last-ditch increase in troops in Iraq. Kurtz quotes Colin Powell:

Before any decision to increase troops, "I'd want to have a clear understanding of what it is they're going for, how long they're going for. And let's be clear about something else. . . . There really are no additional troops. All we would be doing is keeping some of the troops who were there, there longer and escalating or accelerating the arrival of other troops."

(Emphasis Kurtz's.)

I believe it all comes down to an error in spelling. Mr. Bush intends one final splurge, not a surge. When one engages in a splurge, one spends resources one does not have, and pays a price one cannot afford, for something one has no business acquiring in the first place.

What Mr. Bush does not understand is that to get from a sPLurge to a surge, he must lose his P and get the L out... something Bush is utterly unwilling to do.

Steve
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White House Censorship

According to Flynt Leverett, former employee of the CIA, the State Department and the Bush White House's National Security Council, the White House is censoring his New York Times op-ed piece critical of the administration's handling of Iran, on the grounds that it contains classified material, even though the CIA review board has cleared the very same contents for publication, not just once in one article but several times in several places. Leverett's sources on the CIA review board tell him the White House explicitly intervened to censor whole paragraphs of the piece.

Remind me again... why are we not supposed to call Bush a dictator?


(Clarification inserted moments after initial publication. - SB)

Steve
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Stardust And Comets

Sometimes I wonder why I spend these lonely nights, dreaming of a comet probe...

Comets hold life chemistry clues
By Jonathan Amos
Science reporter, BBC News, San Francisco

The idea that comets delivered the chemical "seeds" for life to the early Earth has been given a big boost.

Scientists studying the tiny grains of material recovered from Comet Wild-2 by Nasa's Stardust mission have found large, complex carbon-rich molecules.

They are of the type that could have been important precursor components of the initial reactions that gave rise to the planet's biochemistry.

The first full analysis of the Wild-2 grains is reported in Science magazine.

     ...

They found something they never expected... I love it when that happens. Read the rest.

Steve
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Friday Sunspot Blogging

Samantha explains who has rights to the place in the sun...



"Now look, punk: you 'n' me 's gonna have a talk. This place in the sun belongs to ME, y' unnerstan'? Got it, punk? Good. Otherwise, I might have to flatten yer face..."

Steve
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The Licking Of Republican Chops

... is an unseemly sound. Can't they at least find out Sen. Johnson's actual medical status before they start salivating over his office? Hm? Oh. I guess not. I forgot who we're dealing with here.

There is precedent for holding a Senator's place in office awaiting medical recovery, sometimes for long periods. The practice has benefited both Democrats and Republicans over the years, something you would not know if you read only Howard Kurtz's almost certainly deliberately misleading explanation, which mentions only Democrats. (Control your drooling, Howard.)

I pray, and presume, Sen. Johnson will survive. The last word I saw is that his condition is critical... that's usual after brain surgery... but that he is "responsive." If, however, he is incapacitated, South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds (R) could hold the seat for him, replace him with a Democrat or (considering the pressure certain to come from the White House) replace him with a Republican, flipping the Senate. If he chooses that last option, it will be the second time in only three elections that a Senate seat has been changed from Democratic to Republican by the actions of a state governor. I still have my suspicions about Wellstone's untimely death. Have we become a bloody bunch of Klingons, for whom ascent to high office is accomplished by the death of the current officeholder? Do elections mean any damned thing anymore to Republicans? Anything?

Johnson as a Democrat is as conservative as they come. The good people of South Dakota clearly made a conscious choice to elect a conservative Democrat rather than a conservative Republican. If Johnson's health permits him to return to office... or is likely to permit a return in the next year or two... Rounds is morally obligated, whatever Bush may think, to hold the office for him. If, on the other hand, our means of choosing successors in office is changing dramatically, so that elections mean little or nothing, we deserve to know that right now. If I were Rounds, I'd think long and hard about the implications and likely long-term consequences of replacing Johnson with a Republican. I think it is not a trend any thinking person really wants to start. But I wouldn't bet against it.

Steve
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Do It... Do It Now

Even the New York Times gets it: Mr. Bush's delay in formulating his "new way forward" in Iraq is unconscionable:

     ...

In Baghdad yesterday, a suicide bomber killed at least 70 people, most of them Shiite laborers whose only sin was looking for work. In Washington, meanwhile, President Bush held a series of carefully stage-managed meetings with officials and outside experts whose common credential appeared to be their opposition to the recommendations of James Baker’s Iraq Study Group.

     ...

Like the singer Pink, I realize the futility of talking to Bush, but I'm going to do it anyway...

Mr. Bush, if an average of, say, 50 people are killed every day in sectarian violence in Iraq, that means 1,500 souls a month, or 18,000 a year, depart this Earth while you dither over what will best serve your selfish ends. Whether or not these killings are your fault, you are the only person in the world... the only one... who can remove one major factor that is driving the killings. Will Iraq descend into chaos without a U.S. presence? What a foolish question: Iraq has already plunged into the abyss, doing its best to drag American forces with it, and no quantity of U.S. troops can stop the civil war at this point.

Mr. Bush, the time for spinning, seeking political advantage, trying to paint Iraq as somehow a success or a potential success, etc., is over. In the real world most of us inhabit, there is nothing more to discuss: Iraq is cooked. Quit dragging your feet. Get us out of Iraq, or at least initiate a clear motion in that direction. Do it. Do it now.

(H/T to NTodd for the link to the NYT editorial.)

Steve
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REPRESENTATIVE Ciro D. Rodriguez!

How I love the sound of that! Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX) defeated incumbent Republican Henry Bonilla in the special runoff in U.S. Representative Dist. 23, in the San Antonio area. With all precincts reporting as of mere minutes ago, Rodriguez defeated long-time incumbent Bonilla by 38,247 to 32,165... in other words, not close enough to be easily disputed. This is an amazing upset. Congratulations and welcome, Rep. Rodriguez!


UPDATE: It just occurred to me that many people outside of Texas probably don't know the backstory of this race. It's pretty interesting. I'll let Charles Kuffner tell you about it.

Steve
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The Other War

While the Iraq war continues to kill literally dozens of people every day, there's another war... no, not Afghanistan; much closer to home than that... that we cannot win: the "war on drugs." Columnist Neal Peirce sums it up nicely. One sample:

There are 2.2 million Americans behind bars, another 5 million on probation or parole, the Justice Department reported on Nov. 30. We exceed Russia and Cuba in incarcerations per 100,000 people; in fact, no other nation comes close. The biggest single reason for the expanding numbers? Our war on drugs — a quarter of all sentences are for drug offenses, mostly nonviolent.

Back in the late Sixties when I was in college, some wag calculated that at the then-current rate of incarceration, by the year 2007, everyone in America would be either in law enforcement (or the courts), or they would be in jail. Obviously there were a few deliberately bogus assumptions in that calculation, but it certainly seems as if that jokester had the right idea. This approach is a strain on the taxpayer and of almost no use in protecting the public. When even State District Judge Michael McSpadden (R-Harris County), once a hardcore lock-'em-up judge, says it's time to get out of the massive incarceration business, you know things are bad.

As the saying goes, drugs are for sick people. Could we please start treating them instead of locking them up?

(H/T TheHim.)

Steve
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It Takes Leather Balls

... to play basketball.

Thank goodness. Based on players' complaints, I thought the microfiber composite ball the NBA tried for a few months was going to be the end of civilization, along with truth, justice, the American way, motherhood, apple pie and the illegal-defense call. Oh, wait... In any case, now we can stop worrying about this important matter and return to mere trivia such as saving America's Constitution from wayward leaders. Whew!

Steve
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HaloScan Down

UPDATE: HaloScan appears to be working again. Two hours of unscheduled downtime would be unacceptable for a service I actually paid for, but I guess I can live with it under the circumstances.


For at least an hour, HaloScan commenting has been, to use Fallenmonk's colorful expression, "tits-up." Now I am, in the equally colorful words of NTodd, "objectively pro-boob," and "tits-up," in a more ordinary usage, has never seemed an objectionable position to me. But in a commenting service it is an unfortunate position indeed. If HaloScan is still down when you read this, and you have something you really need to say to me in a place where others can see it, you can post a comment here, on my last-ditch Blogger blog... presuming Blogger is working. If Blogger and HaloScan are both TU, you're SOL.

Steve
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Minimum Wage Subminimal

Surprise, surprise... the proposed minimum wage hike from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour, the first since 1997 and certainly no bad thing in itself, is not sufficient to allow people to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

I generally favor half-measures when they are the best one can manage in the political climate, and I favor this half-measure, but I am concerned that an increase in the minimum wage will lead conservatives to proclaim that the problem of poverty has been solved. Even if this passes and is signed by the Decider... no certainty, though I'd think there would be a political price to pay if he doesn't... we must keep the pressure on.

I admit it's been close to 30 years since I worked with one of the local hunger prevention organizations, but the thing I remember most is how many people in America are hungry every single day. As with the homeless, many of the hungry have jobs. That simply isn't right. If a person works a full-time job, she or he should be able to raise a family on the wages from that job.


(Aside: It is nice to see Jared Bernstein, who is the senior economist of the Economic Policy Institute, quoted, however briefly, in a wire service article. I guess the decades-long lockout of liberal thinkers by the corporate mainstream press is beginning to crack. Good. It's easy to be conservative if all you ever get to read is the conservative side of issues. And in recent years, to paraphrase Liebling, freedom of the press has belonged to the multi-mega-corporation that owns one.)


UPDATE: The original A.J. Liebling quote is this: "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one."

Steve
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Wacko, Texas

Only in Wacko, ah, I mean, Waco:

WACO, Texas — School administrators gave a 4-year-old student an in-school suspension for inappropriately touching a teacher's aide after the pre-kindergartner hugged the woman.

A letter from La Vega school district administrators to the student's parents said that the boy was involved in "inappropriate physical behavior interpreted as sexual contact and/or sexual harassment" after he hugged the woman and he "rubbed his face in the chest of (the) female employee" on Nov. 10.

DaMarcus Blackwell, the father of the boy who attends La Vega Primary School, said he filed a complaint with the district. He said that his son doesn't understand why he was punished.

     ...

I agree with the boy... I don't understand why he was punished, either. If anyone engaged in "inappropriate" behavior, it was the fool who suspended a four-year-old for doing something no four-year-old could possibly construe as sexual. That fool has what we used to call a "dirty mind."

Steve
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When There's Nothing To Say

Bryan often offers a bit of wisdom from his observation of cats: when there's nothing to do, do nothing. Even the most enjoyable of family gatherings takes a lot out of one. In my current state I have nothing to say, and I have work to do Monday, so I'll say nothing. See y'all soon.

Steve
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Uninformative Headline

"Nearly 100 ill after manure found in Taco Bell onions"

C'mon, folks, where's the news in that? Everyone knows that what Taco Bell serves is full of crap...

Steve
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Preznit Stupid Reacts... Stupidly

WaPo:

President Bush vowed yesterday to come up with "a new strategy" in Iraq but expressed little enthusiasm for the central ideas of a bipartisan commission that advised him to ratchet back the U.S. military commitment in Iraq and launch an aggressive new diplomatic effort in the region.

Tell us how you really feel about the report, Mr Bush:

At a news conference with visiting British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bush called himself "disappointed by the pace of success" and said that "we'll change it if we want to succeed."

"The American people expect us to come up with a new strategy to achieve the objective which I've been talking about," Bush said.

Oh, good grief. You can't be "disappointed by the pace of success" ... no such thing exists. And exactly which objective are we talking about? finding nonexistent WMD? deposing Saddam? bringing Freedom 'n' Democracy™ to Iraq? How about the American people's objective, clearly expressed in poll after poll, including the recent "poll" that put Democrats in control of Congress... that of bringing America's troops home as expeditiously as possible? One more quote in which Bush says a mouthful:

And he repeated his refusal to talk with Iran and Syria unless Tehran suspends its uranium-enrichment program, Damascus stops interfering in Lebanon and both drop their support for terrorist groups. "The truth of the matter is that these countries have now got the choice to make," Bush said. "If they want to sit down at the table with the United States, it's easy: Just make some decisions that will lead to peace, not to conflict."

Yeah, right. "Agree to my terms if you want to negotiate with me." That's an oxymoron. Sadly, that's not the only kind of moron we are dealing with here. As many have pointed out, throughout the Cold War, we continued official and unofficial diplomatic talks with the Soviet Union. I'd think that if the U.S. could engage in dialogue with a nation that had thousands of nukes pointed at our heads, surely we can talk to far less militarily powerful nations that may hold the keys to regional stability in the Middle East. But Bush, in his incurious way, in his monochrome world, sees talk as the equivalent of caving. And yet another opportunity is lost. (Aside: Juan Cole comes to the same conclusion about Bush's refusal to negotiate, and he knows vastly more about the region than I do.)

The ISG may have been Poppy Bush's probably vain attempt to compensate for Junior's efforts to paper over the politics of a disastrously failed policy in Iraq. Even so, as Russ Feingold pointed out when interviewed a couple of days ago by Keith Olbermann,

     ...

The fact is this commission is entirely composed of people who did not have the judgment to oppose the Iraq war in the first place, and did not have the judgment to realize that this was not a wise move in the fight against terrorism. So that's who's doing this report.

Then I looked at the list of who testified before them. There's virtually no-one who opposed the war in the first place, virtually no-one who calls for a different strategy which calls for a global approach to the war on terrorism. SO this is really a Washington inside job. It shows not in the description of what's happened. But it shows in the recommmendations[.]

     ...

Incurious George is choosing to ignore the advice of a group selected specifically for their likely support of his goals because they do not support his strategy. Bush wants neither help nor advice... from anyone. He is quite beyond being saved from himself. What about us? Are we beyond being saved from him?

Steve
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Friday Bookish Cat Blogging

"All right already, Samantha, if I give you a little book to read, will you give me a moment's peace?"



I suppose it's to be expected in this household.

Steve
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December 7, 1941

"A date ['date' not 'day'] which ['which' not 'that'] will ['will' not 'shall'] live in infamy..."

Now that we have that out of the way, go listen to the beginning of the speech itself. Depending on your age, it may remind you of an era in which real presidents rose to the necessity of implementing real responses to real threats of cataclysmic proportions, presidents who not so incidentally could speak English without tripping over their own participles. Or it may cause you to shrug, say "gee, that old man sure talked funny," and return to contemplating the iPod Nano you hope you're getting for Christmas but probably aren't because they're mostly sold out.

Fast-forward 57 years to December 7, 1998. I played a concert with an ensemble in Austin, as guest of a group of musicians quite a notch above my own capacity. As I walked onstage, I said a silent prayer that that December 7 would not be a date/day which/that will/shall live in infamy. It wasn't. Like FDR, like our Greatest Generation, I rose to the occasion, playing at my highest level. No one was embarrassed. Not even I was embarrassed.

I can think of five times in my musical career in which I was challenged to play beyond my usual abilities. On the whole, I have positive memories of those times, even the one out of five that didn't go particularly well. It is important for everyone who would accomplish anything worthwhile to push the limits at least once in a while. "A man's reach should exceed his grasp," and I say that as one who has reached often and grasped occasionally.

This December 7, America faces a threat at least as much internal as external. A blithering madman, a legend in his own mind, a stubborn, arrogant fool if ever there was one, grasps the helm of the ship of state and wrenches us in every direction, ignoring the winds, the water, the sails and the advice of wiser women and men in his crew. Of all the adjectives applicable to him... and there are plenty, and I have applied most of them... "incurious" is the most damning: he has no interest in what anyone else thinks he should do while he is at the helm. He has no interest in learning the lore of the seas he sails. The laws of nature and the laws of humankind are equally uninteresting to him, and yet each one of us is his passenger, willing or unwilling.

The Greatest Generation met its challenge, not without a lot of international help. Our challenge as Americans today is not so much to make everything right... probably an impossibility in our lifetimes... as to prevent the madman from steering the ship over the edge of the Earth. Heaven help us all; it isn't going to be easy. But nothing worthwhile is ever accomplished without a stretch.

Steve
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Iraq Report In The Real World

As usual, Danziger gets to the point:



Steve
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Hard Work... Hard Work...

Paul Kiel of TPMMuckraker reflects on incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's declaration that the 110th Congress will work a full five-day work week, unlike the lazy three-day schedule followed by its Republican-dominated predecessor. Kiel points to a WaPo article:

     ...

"I have bad news for you," Hoyer told reporters. "Those trips you had planned in January, forget 'em. We will be working almost every day in January, starting with the 4th."

The reporters groaned. "I know, it's awful, isn't it?" Hoyer empathized.

For lawmakers, it is awful, compared with what they have come to expect. For much of this election year, the legislative week started late Tuesday and ended by Thursday afternoon -- and that was during the relatively few weeks the House wasn't in recess.

Next year, members of the House will be expected in the Capitol for votes each week by 6:30 p.m. Monday and will finish their business about 2 p.m. Friday, Hoyer said.

     ...

"Keeping us up here eats away at families," said Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who typically flies home on Thursdays and returns to Washington on Tuesdays. "Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families -- that's what this says."

     ...

Rep. Kingston and the rest of the GOP caucus, I have just one thing to say to you:

"You don't know nothin' 'bout hard work... hard work..."

Steve
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Olbermann On Gingrich

Last week, Newt Gingrich was the featured speaker at a dinner at which the Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment award was presented. The irony was thick in the air as Gingrich, in his speech, advocated restrictions on free speech in the interest of protecting us from terrorists.

Same shit, different day. Or, more politely, "we have all been here before."

Fortunately, we have Keith Olbermann to remind Mr. Gingrich of the history of the suppression of speech in America, from colonial times to the present. As always, Mr. Olbermann gets right to the point, lists previous incarnations of Mr. Gingrich's almost unbelievably bad idea, and... well, just go watch the segment.

Steve
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Rainbow Coalition - UPDATED

UPDATE: I have some rainbows on hand...



It may not be the Antikythera mechanism, but this little device full of gears and prisms and a tiny solar-cell-driven electric motor...



... produces rainbows in abundance when the sun shines in the window...



... at Stella's place.

The show begins these days at about 10:00 AM, when there's enough sunlight to cause the solar cell to run the motor; it ends at around 11:00 AM, or whenever the sun is high enough that adjacent buildings shade the window.

The gears turn the two prisms at different rates, and they are suspended at different heights, so that the rainbows appear to fly in several different directions at apparently different speeds.

There is no way to convey in a snapshot the effect of literally hundreds of rainbows swarming about the room, across three walls, the floor, the ceiling, down the hallway and over assorted cats and people. This snapshot was taken early in yesterday's show; multiply what you see by 10 to get an idea of the show when it is at its peak, as it was this morning. The effect is mesmerizing.

I don't know where Stella got this gadget, but as a child of the Sixties (born in the Forties), I've seen a lot of suspended crystals in a lot of windows over the years, and I've never seen anything comparable to this one. If you find one for sale, buy it right away and place it in the brightest window you have; you'll thank me for suggesting it. Your cats will thank you in turn. They will hunt rainbows that fall on the floor, follow those on the walls with their eyes, and sometimes just settle in to enjoy the show the same way we do.

Steve
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Saturday Geek Griping

Remember all the problems I had with my wired/wireless router a few months ago? They never really went away; I just work around them by not doing serious work over a WiFi connection. Indeed, I'm retrieving my 100-foot Cat 5 cable from Stella and stringing it from the office to the dining room... again... to use with my allegedly "wireless" laptop when I need a solid connection, which is most of the time when I'm working.

But that's not what I'm geek-griping about tonight.

I probably worsened my WiFi problems today, though I can't test until tomorrow. I bought a new cordless speakerphone, because my old one is rapidly going bad, and I really need the speakerphone when I'm working for a client in another city, because I seldom have face-to-face meetings with their staff. I carefully chose a 5.8 gHz model so it wouldn't interfere with WiFi connections. (2.4 gHz cordless phones are the bane of WiFi.) I brought it home, set it up, started charging the handsets, settled in to read the manual, and discovered that in the technical specs... on the LAST page of the manual... it mentioned that the handsets, unlike the base unit, transmit on 2.4 gHz. I could have screamed when I found out. Nowhere on the outside of the box did it say anything about 2.4 gHz, and I bought it in part because I thought it wouldn't conflict with WiFi. Now I don't know if it will or won't. And I have to wait until the handsets are charged to find out.

Stella already owns the identical model VTech phone system... a base unit and three handsets... and likes it a lot. So do I; it's well-designed from a user's perspective, and my old VTech served me well for over a decade. I hope I don't have to return the one I just bought. If I do, Best Buy will get an earful from me about the (probably unintentional) misrepresentation. But my real grievance is with whoever decided to place those two kinds of devices in the same band of the spectrum... how stupid is that?

Here ends the geek-griping for the moment.

Steve
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No Sex For You!

Now that I have your attention... unfortunately, that really is what this post is about. The inimitable Mark Morford reminds us that our federal government's official message, through the Department of Health and Human Services, is that all single people under age 30 should totally abstain from having sex.

You read that right: no sex for 20-somethings is government policy. As Morford's headline says, "Sex Will Make You Go Blind -- Single? Under 30? You are in grave danger. Your government says so. Please, stop laughing."

I could throw up a bunch of block quotes, but why don't you just go read Morford; he's much, much funnier, and at least as incisive, in his assessment of this idiocy.

I will, though, propose a slogan for our young men and women, inspired by another famous slogan:

They'll take sex from me when they
pry my cold, dead fingers off...

The completion of the slogan is left as an exercise for the reader.

Steve
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Tossing Cookies In Firefox

Maybe I'm the last person in the world to know this, but in case I'm not... In Firefox 2.0 (and possibly earlier versions), if you delete cookies for a specific site, Firefox helpfully adds that site to your "block cookies" list.

Somehow, my HaloScan cookies for the comments form values (name, email, URL) were broken, so I deleted all cookies for haloscan.com and started over. Oops. After that, I could enter my name etc. and the cookies would "stick" only for the session... close and reopen Firefox, and they were gone. That's because, in deleting the HaloScan cookies, Firefox also placed HaloScan on the list of sites for which cookies were blocked. Normally, the only cookies I block are those from known adware sites.

A word to the wise is sufficient. (A word to Bush is wasted, but that's another matter.)


UPDATE: I guess I should have told you what to do if this happens to you. Under Tools|Options, choose the Privacy tab and click Show Cookies. Find the site whose cookies you want to remove (e.g., haloscan.com), select the site and click Remove Cookie. (If you click Remove All Cookies, I hope you have a good memory for your passwords and options on all the sites you visit.) Back on the Privacy tab, click Exceptions... (the ellipsis is part of the text on the button), find haloscan.com (which will have Block beside it), click it, then click Remove Site. That allows you to accept cookies from haloscan.com again, which you almost certainly want to do. Software developers out there, pay heed... it's not always helpful to combine two unrelated tasks behind a single user action.

Steve
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Friday Mighty Hunter Blogging

Samantha and Tabitha bring a live lizard inside to play with it. The lizard is behind Samantha's paw; she's on the left...



Stella retrieved the poor critter from them at some point. It was solid black by then, but according to Stella it was still moving a bit. In my opinion, that was wishful thinking: it was a case of Nature, red in tooth and claw, prevailing over Stella's good intentions.

Steve
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Selected Links To Recent Posts

 
Click any permalink below to go to the original article on a previous page. Click a comment link below to add a comment to the original article. Your comment will be noticed, by the YDD at least: HaloScan has a page allowing me to view recent comments, no matter which post they refer to.

Old Technology, Cool Technology

Steve
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The Meaning Of Freedom

Steve
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Props To Maliki?

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Centrism Defined

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Bracelet Lacks Charm

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Bush Unfazed By Reality

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Lazy Day Book Blogging: Hornet's Nest

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Poetic Justice?

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They Also Serve

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Sometimes You Win One

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Post-Feast Contentment Blogging

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Happy T-Day -- DOGGEREL!

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Abraham, Martin And John

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Election 2006: Incompetently Hacked?

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The Good Die Young

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Two Videos And A Blogiversary

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Book Blogging: Rivals Of Sherlock Holmes

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It's Baaaaack...

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ROTFLMFAO

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Only Bush Can Go To Vietnam

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Book Blogging

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Sprawl, Interrupted

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New Widget: LibraryThing

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What A Surprise

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