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29.Apr.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Fight to Win Permalink to this item

That was the headline the Statesman gave to Vito Rosati's LTE today, calling for us to bring "more pain and suffering to the enemy than he can bring to you" in order to win a war." Mr. Rosati longs for the moral clarity and decisive weaponry of WWII, when we used "the worst weapon we had" and sent the message that "We will wipe you off the face of the Earth if you continue to fight."

oh how peaceful it'll be
we'll set everybody free

He didn't say exactly how the fight-to-win strategy should be applied to our current conflict, but the strains of Randy Newman's Political Science did ring in my head as I read the letter.

Having won the Big One, and the Cold War, and assembled the greatest military power the world has ever seen, we've come to this:

"You want to get out of Iraq? Fine, they will come after us with everything they have. Iran will do the same. Why? Because we are Americans, no other reason. They know how to fight a war. Fight to win. Run from the bullies and they will come after you every day till you stand up and fight. So run you cowards, and see what you get."

The bullies. Who is that again, exactly?

27.Apr.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

An American Tragedy Permalink to this item

Our Prius hits five fours Complete with Petreus ex Machina by Arianna Huffington's calculation. According to the guy who wrote the manual and got rewarded for it by being put in charge, we'd need 120,000 soliders to secure Baghdad, and three times that many to secure the country.

Sounds vaguely familiar, doesn't it? Yeah, those are the same sorts of numbers that got General Eric Shinseki the bum's rush for testifying truthfully—and accurately—before Congress.

Overkill Permalink to this item

It's worth recalling that this now-familiar word in our vocabulary originally meant something more particular than "ample." Born in the Cold War, it described our newly acquired technology to target and kill all of the enemy, many times over. In the ultimate self-indictment, our overkill capacity has been extended to all of humanity.

It's worth recalling before we sign the first check for yet another $3.5 billion ("optimistically"), to develop another "weapon that doesn't work for a threat that doesn't exist."

William Hartung observes that "The real danger of the whole missile defense effort is that it serves as a rationale for maintaining large, ongoing nuclear arsenals. As long as the illusion of a 'technical fix' to the nuclear threat is kept alive, the urgency for reducing nuclear stockpiles is diminished."

Speaking of What's in His Head Permalink to this item

Richard Clarke analyzes current thinking on terrorist theory, in a Letter to the NY Daily News Editor.

"(I)n the fantasyland of illogic in which the President dwells, shaped by slogans devised by spin doctors, America can 'win' in Iraq. Then, we are to believe, the terrorists will be so demoralized that they will recant their beliefs and cease their terrorist ways.

"In the real world, by choosing unnecessarily to go into Iraq, Bush not only diverted efforts from delivering a death blow to Al Qaeda, he gave that movement both a second chance and the best recruiting tool possible."

Burden of Worry Permalink to this item

Yeah, worry is bad, but I'm guessing having mortar shells land in your neighborhood and people shooting at you and people kicking your front door and car bombs exploding in the market you go to is probably worse. We don't want to attack the First Lady, but let's admit that her assertion that "no one suffers more than their President" lacks evidence.

"Nothing could be further from the truth" as he likes to say.

It brought to mind the call to Talk of the Nation yesterday, from "Javier," who would not dream of participating in Take Your Child to Work day.

"I feel shy myself, because for 15 years I doin' it, and I never make money like a politician does." ("It" is picking garlic.) "So I tell my kids to be President of the United States. Every single day I tell my daughter, 9 years old, you gonna be President of the United States. Please. Because, they make trouble everywhere, and they get paid, no matter what."

26.Apr.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Is Fox Smarter Than a 5th-Grader? Permalink to this item

I tuned in for the thrilling conclusion of an episode of "Are You Smarter Than a 5th-Grader," in which a helicopter pilot said he wasn't smarter than a 5th-grader, but he was pretty smart, because he bailed out before blowing the final, million-dollar question.

He was crying tears of joy, because he did get the half-million dollar question correct, and was going home with the $half-mil (minus taxes, I imagine).

Ok, another fun game show, aimed at the broad audience of Americans who are (a) not very bright; and/or (b) like to have fun at the expense of others who are not very bright. Yeah, what a great concept! That and the draw of Jeff Foxworthy, I'm sure this is a megahit.

Anyway, the subject of the final question was "math," and here it is:

What is the only prime number that is a factor of 16?

I am smarter than a 5th grader, and I happen to know there are two prime numbers that are factors of 16: 1, and 2. So, I'm smarter than the twits who write that TV show, too. I suppose the ugly scene with me arguing that the "official" answer was wrong would have been edited out of the broadcast in any event.

Then while I was writing this, Fox continued with its "Trading Spouses" show, and I could've sworn the first gal said "our community is effluent." 'Nuff said for that channel.

27.Apr.07 Comment, from Lee Killough: 1 != prime

Erm, no. 2 is the only prime number which is a factor of 16.

1 isn't included among the prime numbers, although some definitions involving primes might be simpler if it were (a kind of Occam's Razor).

(In hexadecimal, you can add B to the list of prime factors of 16 :)

27.Apr.07 Comment, from me

Call me old school. Until the end of the 19th century, professional mathematicians considered 1 a prime number.

Land of the Toll Permalink to this item

Deep in the heart of a red and white tulip Bill Schneider thinks the Forest Service may be digging its own grave with a deceptive program to make National Forests just like National Parks, at least as far as the toll booth at the entrances.

Take his advice the next time you come up to a little brown building in the middle of a road, with a guy or gal in a Smokey the Bear hat inside, ask him or her if you actually have to pay the toll. By law. Or if they're just seeing who will hand them money if they ask for it.

"In 2005, I tried to ride my bicycle to the top of Mount Evans, and I had no idea there was a fee to enter the national forest. Why would I think this? Itís against the law, and Iíve been in national forests all over the West and never encountered a single toll booth, until I tried to ride my bike on State Highway 5 through the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest. But there it was. A toll booth right smack in the middle of the state highway...."

The Count is Looking Good Permalink to this item

If you count the casualties, then the enemy has already won I guess, so the Bush administration has decided to pick and choose which kinds of dead bodies matter.

And what do you know? We're continuing to make good progress in Iraq.

25.Apr.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Ok, I confess the glove-puppet distracted me Permalink to this item

The plot thickens on the New Mexico chapter of the fired U.S. Attorneys. Greg Palast says Don't Fire Gonzales.

Make some bicycle noise Permalink to this item

The Ada County Highway District is in the process of spending a quarter million bucks on a "Master Plan" for investment in "the bicycle system on roadways." They've got a survey, more information, and contact links on their Roadways to Bikeways page. Check it out. Give 'em a piece of your mind.

20.Apr.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Was that a Rhetorical Question, Senator? Permalink to this item

In the gallery of the Senate Judiciary Committee, 19.Apr.07 Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina (quoted in the NYT analysis of yesterday's hearing):

"But at the end of the day, you said something that struck me: that sometimes it just came down to these were not the right people at the right time. If I applied that standard to you, what would you say?"

Information Technology Permalink to this item

Fewer, better-quality ads. What's not to like about that? The market agreed, and showered Google with $1 billion profit in its first quarter.

Jesus on the Mainline Permalink to this item

I'm sure it's a well-used joke, but I heard it for the first time last night, before Matthew Fox's talk at the Cathedral of the Rockies, and was amused.

"If we hear a cellphone during the service, we'll assume it's God calling," the woman said. "And we'll all stop and listen because we want to hear that conversation! So if you're not expecting Him to call, please turn your cellphones off."

The story of the 10 hours of Blackberryless trauma brought it back to mind.

It is of course in the silence, and perhaps only in the space between our busyness that we might be able to "take that call."

19.Apr.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Ok, that wasn't the worst of it Permalink to this item

Seven hours of testimony later, we're left wondering nothing quite so much as why hasn't Alberto Gonzales resigned? He can't recall the essential meeting when decisions were made. He "misspoke" when he said he wasn't involved, after the people working for him said oh yes he was. Gosh, he just can't remember that meeting.

Some kind of management style. My guess is he was just carrying water for Karl Rove, but whoopsadaisy, all those emails that would show exactly how went missing.

Jeff Sessions (R-Al): "Your ability to lead the Department of Justice is in question."

Arlen Specter (R-PA) on the NewsHour: There is an explanation beyond political influence, the explanation is incompetence."

Lindsey Graham (R-SC): "Mr. Attorney General, most of this is a stretch."

Tom Coburn (R-OK): "I believe you ought to suffer the consequences that these others have suffered, and I believe that the best way to put this behind us is your resignation."

With friends like these, who needs enemies? But Alberto has one friend in Washington still, incredibly. The President was pleased with Gonzales' testimony? Gonzales has his full confidence?!

Patrick Leahy (D-VT): "The President has set a very low bar indeed."

Let's Start With Some Browbeating Permalink to this item

The worst part about testifying before Congress has to be when you have to sit through the opening statement of the committee chair. Senator Patrick Leahy took Gonzales to the woodshed, with C-Span thoughtfully providing side-by-side views so we could watch Gonzales squirm.

"I trust that after the weeks of preparation for this hearing, the Attorney General's past failures to give a complete and accurate explanation of these firings will not be repeated today."

A little nod at the idealistic platitude, a little shake at the N.M. political pressure applied to Iglesias. No to what, Alberto? No, those calls weren't made? Or no, that wasn't really inappropriate political pressure?

Shake no to "reduce the Department of Justice to just another political arm of the White House."

Republican Senator Arlen Specter's opening statement was worse, however. He skipped the platitudes and adjectives and just listed the differences between recent accounts, and how many people had contradicted Gonzales' statements of "fact."

18.Apr.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Honoring Commitments Permalink to this item

Kirk Johnson is wondering about the U.S.'s "superpower" status and our "very top priority" to help the Iraq refugees who have helped us. His Op-Ed piece in the NYT reminds us of another dimension of trustworthiness and goodwill... which I expect may be getting honored in the breach, along with so many others.

Two Virginia Techs Every Day Permalink to this item

As the U.S. media saturates with coverage of the tragic shooting on the Virginia Tech campus, Juan Cole's observation is worthy of reflection: imagine if something that horrible were happening every day in your country with one tenth the population of the US'.

That's what's happening in Iraq. Every day, year after year.

Discussion questions for 2008 Presidential candidates: is the U.S. occupation bringing the violence closer to an end, or prolonging it, or escalating it? Is our occupation of Iraq making the world safer? The U.S. safer?

The Green Woodpecker Project Permalink to this item

I couldn't be more pleased to learn that the 2008 Summer Olympics is giving the Commies reason to promote improved civic behavior, starting with no spitting. Likewise, public cursing and littering are being discouraged, along with instructions on queueing up.

Wang Tao's Green Woodpecker Project ("Woodpeckers pick up worms and clean up the forest") uses polite suggestion, proferred tissues, and if those fail, video of "spitting action shots" on the web to discourage foul expectoration.

As far as improving the goofy translations... I have mixed feelings, rather preferring the "Pleasanty surprise of groping" to the better translation (according to the caption) of "Find something new and be pleasantly surprised."

17.Apr.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Taken for a Ride Permalink to this item

I don't know if there are any Firesign Theater fans among my readers, but every so often part of one of those records plays back in my head. Speaking of the "future," I hear the voice from I Think We're All Bozos on this Bus saying "The future? The future's not here yet..."

And so it is with the Foundation for the Future where Wolfie's $196,000 consort Ms. Shaha Riza is parked. A $56 million stake (35 from the US), and we're not sure exactly where its offices might be, if they're anywhere at all.

At the Crossroads Permalink to this item

We've watched two of the six episodes of America at a Crossroads, an intense and frank assessment of "the challenges confronting the post-9/11 world—including the war on terrorism; the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan; the experience of American troops serving abroad; the struggle for balance within the Muslim world; and global perspectives on Americaís role overseas."

Only the dead have seen the end of war.

Last night included two films, Warriors, and Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, giving the most of us staying at home a tiny glimpse of the hell of war in a strange land.

If you only have time for one piece, try Colby Buzzell's story, "Men in Black" (with a video excerpt as well).

Sunrise, Palm Springs, California, March 2007 It's an astounding thing for a country to ask men and women to do something like this. We'd best be damned sure we send them on the right mission, which you all know I don't think we have done.

The mission currently would seem to define "no win." We won the war, but have no idea how to win the occupation, or if that is even a possibility.

Tax Day (Observed) Permalink to this item

Ironic that D.C.'s observation of Emancipation Day should put off the tax deadline by a bonus 24 hours, but there it is. After last week's due dilligence and scraping together the money to pay, I was all set to use the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System with hours to spare...

But no. At 11pm MDT, Monday, April 16th, EFTPS would not accept my payment for form 1040 with a scheduled date of 4/17. It seems EFTPS likes to work ahead, and where its server sits (Central? Eastern?), it was already tomorrow, and it doesn't take payments for "today." Or "tomorrow," in this case.

The "Contact Us" phone number anticipates the problem, with a recording set to tell you what the web application programmers could not bring themselves to. (Their attempt was "the payment must be scheduled for a business day," which was also the error message I got when I tried to schedule a January 2007 estimated tax payment in late December, 2006.)

So what the hell, I wrote 'em a check instead, changed the address on the envelope from Fresno to Cincinnati, and they'll get our money in a week or so instead of today. I tried.

16.Apr.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Wild Bill's Anti-tax Snit Permalink to this item

It's not up on his website yet, but I've got Bill Sali's lastest communication to his constituents. My lucky day, I guess. He's apparently figuring Tax Day is a good day to prompt some discontent from the voters, which must be something like support for his always contrarian attitude.

Not that it will do any good, but I'm easy enough to bait, apparently, so I sent him an email after following the link to his silly polling device. (Still nothing to report on his issues page, though?) Here goes:

You say you'll only answer email for people in your district... which I'm not, but which you can't tell from my ZIP code. And besides which, YOU sent ME your newsletter, with the link to this strange "survey" with its foregone conclusion.

Yes, I did my own taxes, took 2 days, no the system isn't fair, and no, I can't imagine what useful information you hope to gather with your simple questions. You just want to rile us up?

I have been paying close enough attention for long enough that I'm insulted by the misleading implication of your "surprise" that "taxes will automatically go up." The Bush era tax cuts that have so badly unbalanced our budget went disproprotionately to those who least needed relief, with the "temporary" duration a calculated deception that both parties in Congress accepted, hoping to get the best of the other, sooner or later.

If you want to do something constructive, simplify the Foreign Tax Credit, which has doubled my paperwork, due to an honest investment in a Canadian petroleum company, and reform the AMT to stop the assault on the middle class and return it to doing what Congress intended: keeping the extremely wealthy from avoiding paying their fair share.

Thanks for asking.

15.Apr.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

We're Shocked, Shocked Permalink to this item

Can you believe it? $176 million a year spent on abstinence-only "sex education," and it hasn't stopped young people from having sex. (The good news is that other information sources are working well enough that the advocacy hasn't reduced condom use when kids do have sex.)

A top official in the the Department of Health and Human Services demonstrates the incredible stick-to-itiveness that we've come to expect from the Bush team. Harry Wilson "said yesterday that the administration has no intention of changing funding priorities in light of the results," according to The Washington Post.

"This study isn't rigorous enough to show whether or not [abstinence-only] education works," Wilson said.

14.Apr.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Trip to the Maul Permalink to this item

Nice western flavor to the story of Timothy Henderson's bear trouble over by the Tetons; after "the bear grabbed Henderson's head in its mouth and started shaking him" in round 1, and then "flopped him around a little bit" in round 2.

No hard feelings from Henderson; he wanted the authorities to trap the bear and relocate it to greener mountain pastures. "I really didn't feel it was the bear's fault," he said. "I stumbled into his area," around a moose carcass which must have been the first good meal after that long winter's nap, and griz was a bit grumpy.

Alas, the authorities weren't in a relocating mood, snared and shot the bear.

Tax Daze Permalink to this item

Spent the last two days working for Uncle Sam (and Uncle Butch), doing my annual voluntary compliance thing. I did it the hard way again, cobbled-up spreadsheet, calculator, filling in PDFs... "I'm an idiot," I said after I got it all done, dragging my feet against spending $50 or $75 for TurboTax for yet another year, and probably spending 8 hours of my life in exchange.

Bad deal.

I used to value the "learning experience" of knowing the insides and outs of at least a few paths through the tax code, but the thrill of that wore off sometime in the the 1990s.

Maybe if it didn't keep changing every year it would be more rewarding, and get easier. This is definitely a job for mass (software) production, no reason for each of us to figure out these crazy algorithms layered up from legislative meanderings.

GoogleClick Permalink to this item

Back at the turn of the millennium, news was that giving the web a memory cost users their privacy, with DoubleClick at the forefront of the effort. Now Google is spending $3 bil of their walking around money to buy up what DoubleClick has become in the half dozen years since I wrote that essay.

"You can protect privacy and provide great insights for advertisers."
(But probably not both.)

Did all the evil get cleaned up? Does Google's purchase agreement specify that the evil is supposed to be put out in the dumpsters before the rest of the stuff is handed over? Or are they planning on squeezing out the ugly in DoubleClick's basic reason for existing?

Google's stated mission has been to make the world's information accessible; DoubleClick's business is making information about consumers accessible to marketers, for a price.

I'm thinking this acquistion may be more infection than anything positive, even as I hope Google can prove me wrong. The one bit of good news here is that "the deal kept DoubleClick from the hands of Microsoft."

13.Apr.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Longing for Leadership Permalink to this item

Lee Iacocca may be 82, but he's not dead yet, and the excerpt of his new book (Where Have All the Leaders Gone?) demonstrates that he has a lot of life left in him. Choose any one of the 9 dimensions of leadership that he lists, and let him remind you why you're so disappointed by the team in charge of this country.

A leader has to be COMPETENT. That seems obvious, doesn't it? You've got to know what you're doing. More important than that, you've got to surround yourself with people who know what they're doing. Bush brags about being our first MBA President. Does that make him competent? Well, let's see. Thanks to our first MBA President, we've got the largest deficit in history, Social Security is on life support, and we've run up a half-a-trillion-dollar price tag (so far) in Iraq....

10.Apr.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The Madness of King George Permalink to this item

The Framers of the Constitution were worried about having another King, Michael Beschloss points out, but here we are with a new King George. He's making the royal rounds complaining about the Democrats in Congress not giving him sufficient latitude in the adventure wars to create an arc of instability not with impassioned rhetoric, but still more lies.

The message is "Democrats not supporting our troops." The reality is, as Bush said today, that "if Congress fails to pass a bill I can sign by mid-April, the Army will be forced to consider cutting back," and even more importantly, the President will be forced to consider cutting back.

Note that this is not yet cutting back, but "forced to consider," which seems like a good idea, given that the voters have made it clear in no uncertain terms that they no longer support an open-ended commitment by the U.S. military, especially in the absence of a clear and supportable mission.

The goal is to have the Commander in Chief be forced to consider bringing the troops home, and thereby making their situation significantly better than what it is now. Instead, we get the Big Lie, that "Congress's failure to fund our troops will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines (and) others could see their loved ones headed back to war sooner than anticipated."

Drinking the Kool-Aid Permalink to this item

In November 1978, I was wrapping up my first try at a college degree in Moscow, Idaho, and I'm sure I read the news with everyone else, and heard what happened in Guyana, but had no connection to the incomprehensible events. American Experience took us back 30 years in the time machine last night, via Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple.

I suspect I drew the same conclusion then as I do now: charisma is a very dangerous thing to be around.

But we can't do without leadership, and leadership requires a certain amount of the stuff. Catch 22. The answer may be in better followership. Do not obey unlawful orders. Be ye lamps unto yourselves.

And whatever you do, don't drink the Kool-Aid.

$20 Lesson Permalink to this item

You know all those heartwarming stories about some honest person finding lost valuables and making superhuman efforts to find the owner and return it all intact? I don't have one of those today, but my ending is happy enough.

In my haste to run from the storm yesterday, I didn't quite zip up the pocket on my tennis bag, and my wallet jumped out between tennis court and parking lot as I ran. It sat there through the rain and wind and sun treating its cowhide. And some child from the nearby school (I'm imagining) picked it up an hour or two later, carried it across the park to where no one was looking, removed the cash, and tossed it away.

Many hours later, the phone rang, and the fellow who found it about 6 hours after I dropped it was calling to let me know he had it. I was happy to go fetch, 7 miles to Eagle, and find my D.L. and credit cards all present and accounted for, and the billfold clean as a whistle.

Like mom said: don't carry more cash than you're willing to lose.

I just wish I'd dropped a bigger bill into the collection basket on Sunday.

9.Apr.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Call for Manners Permalink to this item

Tired storefront in Palm Springs, California. March 2007 I guess spam and phishing is not the worst of it; there is the purposeful vitriol from those who vehemently disagree. The proposals to make civility more the order of the day provide yet another excuse for me to not get around to adding a comment facility to my blog.

Interaction with readers can be interesting (and I've enjoyed most of the email I've been sent over the years), illuminating, instructive, exasperating, and, well, downright nasty. That's after you've provided the infrastructure to filter out the spammers and other mechanical annoyances. I wonder if just having no apparent means of participating is better than having some, but applying editorial control? It seems that providing some opportunity to vent might be worse then none whatsoever; the disaffected quietly go away, because what else can they do?

Well, you could send the editor a letter, and if you indicate that's what you intend (and it passes my critical evaluation), I'll publish it for you, just like I had a "comment" link, and you used it. Those are low hurdles, are they not? But I imagine it's enough to encourage you all to stroll elsewhere. (Maybe set up your own blog? You go, boy! Or girl!)

Lovely Weather Permalink to this item

A buddy and I were enjoying lunchtime tennis in the cool but not too-cool spring day—some clouds, some sun, some scant sprinkles, some wind—when the dark squall that had been moving in on us from the west emitted a rumbling peal of thunder. We were in the midst of our second set tie-break and had been enjoying a faint moistness in the NW breeze, but that was the capper for me. "We're done," I said. "I don't mind getting wet, but I don't want to get electrocuted." As we packed up, the scattered cherry petals were augmented with graupel, encouraging us to pick up the pace. By the time we'd dashed to our cars, the full downpour hit, maybe 60 seconds from nice to nasty.

Back home, there was most of an inch of slushy hail on the ground. Then sun, then more heavy rain, then more sun, and so on. Springtime in the Rockies! Never a dull moment.

8.Apr.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Easter Permalink to this item

Rain all night

birds singing at dawn

(while it rains on

We sang

and sang, and sang

from before eight o'clock

to well past noon.

Two work-weeks' worth

(and two more we all rehearsed)

I had a little solo part

in Allelulia What a Happy Day!

about Jesus & Mary &

magic I don't believe in.

In the program, I was m y s t e r i o u s l y

left justified.

The season starts in balance, at equinox, all the world aligned, straight up, paying attention, half light, half dark. In lucky northern realms buds broken open, whole trees in flower, and green, green, green. One night before the rain, we stopped at the door before going inside, arrested by the scent in the darkness, coloring our thoughts. Life's longing for itself, planet, star, another resurrection.

Surely this is miracle enough.

6.Apr.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

A Point of Agreement, Perhaps? Permalink to this item

As you know, this immigration debate has a lot of people getting ugly one way or another, so I was interested to read about Larry Craig's talk at the City Club yesterday, and find that we might agree on something. It makes good economic sense to have a guest worker program, and that is probably one part of the way out of the impasse we seem to have put ourselves into.

His stance has been making waves for some time, including harassing hecklers in Caldwell and "angry shouting" up in Couer d'Alene last summer.

We're not so closely aligned on the value of yet another term for the senior singing Senator; Popkey's sidebar included this charming account of how much Craig enjoys his role as butthead:

He said the minority can block legislation with the filibuster and other rules. "So it's just kind of fun to go to the floor every so often and say, 'I object.' And then go back to your office and have a cup of coffee. And there's this great scurrying, 'Why did the senator object? What's the problem?' And then the phone rings, somebody from the majority leader calls and says, 'Is there something we could do for you, senator?'"

All that, and most of $200,000 a year salary, who wouldn't want another 6 years? If he doesn't, he'll have to spend more time with his family.

See How Well Torture Works? Permalink to this item

The Iranians said the Brits had strayed, and supplied the "over the border" coordinate, albeit on the second try. The Brits were seen on Iranian video to say "yes, we strayed," but Britain called the supposed confessions "stage-managed" at the time, and the sailors and marines themselves now refute the statements they made. Iran calls the recantings stage-managed, of course, tells their own people whatever they like to boost their poll ratings.

We can be mad, but how to work up indignent outrage, given that the Bush/Cheney administration have green-lighted torture? If I were driving a ship with big guns around the Persian Gulf, my trigger finger would be a little itchier... and so it goes, as we slink down from the moral high ground, and slide closer to the pit of war and despair.

These Men Need Help Permalink to this item

Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera arguing about illegal aliens. Yet another dose of reality TV I don't need, and a reminder to avoid the B.O. Factor at all costs.

Caught His Limit Permalink to this item

Cliff Weisgerber topped the usual chorus of daylight savings time complaints (which were amplified this year, thanks to the early start) by connecting the obvious dots: the extra hour of daylight is the cause of global warming!

Perhaps Cliff was simply aiming at Al Gore, who is burdened with the inconvenient truth of a supersized lifestyle while trying to be a spokesman for the environment, but that concluding point got lost in the stunned amazement from Idahoans.

You could hear the jaws dropping at kitchen tables all across the state.

The preambles to the lessons in celestial mechanics in today's letters were priceless. "Either Cliff Weisgerber of Hidden Springs is the cleverest jokester west of the Mississippi or he's dumber than dirt."

"I am not real bright, but it seems to me..."

"The only question I have is, 'are you smarter than a 5th grader?'

"I hope I didn't miss attempted satire or irony..."

4.4.7 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Preferable to WW III Permalink to this item

It seems like a rather extreme bit of brinksmanship for a serious of publicity stunts, but I guess the happy ending dispensed upon the Brits is much better than a number of alternatives. There has to be a fascinating debriefing session coming up, which most of us will have to wait for the documentary to see, I suppose.

Just how did the Iranians djinn up all that video footage, and the funky letters to home? Careful editing, obviously, but was it all done with that and friendly persuasion, or did they try out some of what they've been watching on 5½ seasons of 24?

I do expect GPS track logs from the little rubber boats to be published in short order, and I do expect the next flotilla to have more significant and closer support for their work managing ship traffic in the Arabian side of the Persian Gulf.

In the meantime, score one for diplomacy, I think. If those had been 15 U.S. sailors and marines, I'm not sure this would have turned out as well, given the track record of our C-in-C. (Were some of the neocons wishing it had been our go?)

2.Apr.07 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Show Some Enthusiasm, Would You? Permalink to this item

Time for another X Prize, this one for a production-ready car design that can get 100 miles to the gallon. It's not a huge stretch, with the 5+ year-old Honda Insight already north of 70, but with the average stuck at only 20 mpg, it's past due. (The stretchy part will be in coming up with a design that people will buy in volume. Which they haven't much done with Insight.)

"Even before it began publicizing a draft of the rules for the competition, the foundation had fielded inquiries from more than 1,000 potential contestants and institutions willing to participate. Many major automakers have also expressed interest in monitoring the contest, including some that are considering competing themselves."

And General "What Used to be Good for Us Used to be Good for the Country" Motors, what about them? Their spokeswoman "said the company had not determined its level of participation in the contest but would pay close attention to it."

Oh, thank you so much for paying attention.

Victories for the Environment Permalink to this item

Major decisions from 5 of the 9 Supremes, with the new Chief on the (losing) side of "we don't even think you should be able to take this to court." The Environmental Protection Agency got a wake-up call that the law allows them to do the job mandated by the Clean Air Act. Will this administration have the EPA step up and actually do its job?

The majority opinion said that the only way the EPA can continue its dodge away from regulating automobile emissions is "if it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change" or provides a good explanation why it cannot or will not answer the question of if they do.

The New Horseman Permalink to this item

Snippet of Mike Luckovich's editorial cartoon We write and write and write about this stuff, and then some clever cartoonist comes along and stuffs thousands of words-worth in one little box. Mike Luckovich did that, for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and a week or so later, his March 23rd cartoon trickled down to our local paper. Luckovich pictures the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, announcing in chorus that "we Serve at the pleasure of the President," and bearing the names of Incompetence, Corruption, Dishonesty and Spin.

We can think of some proper names as well.

Of the 1,631 people who bothered pressing the [VOTE] button on The Atlanta Journal Constitution site, just under 96% said "Yes," they liked the cartoon. If "like" is the right word for a dose of harsh reality.


Tom von Alten      tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org

ISSN 1534-0007

Tuesday, 01-May-2007 16:28:32 MDT