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29.July.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Even the Dumps are Bigger Permalink to this item

Recycling is apparently too liberal for Texans: Houston recycles less than 3% of its waste, as compared to those California liberals in San Diego (55%), Los Angeles (62%) and San Francisco (69%).

Seattle is going a different direction, mandating a $.20 bag fee in stores. (Thanks to Ridenbaugh Press for that one.)

Nice chalet you got there Permalink to this item

"His ability to bring back the bacon to Alaska is legendary," said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Or maybe "was," as Alaska's Senator Ted Stevens seems to have brought home a little too much bacon for himself in the process. We'll see what comes of the indictment for 7 felonies.

28.July.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Fundamentals of Violence Permalink to this item

In everyday life, we bounce between normalcy and horror at senseless killing without end. Thousands killed on a late summer day in 2001 riveted our attention, sparked a war, and then another. Thousands, tens of thousands, eventually hundreds of thousands killed, millions made homeless. Bomb attacks in Baghdad, Kirkuk, Istanbul, dozens killed. Faraway places most of us do not know, nameless dead. We cannot grieve to the depth that all the dead truly deserve, we need some connection, some other reason.

So, in Knoxville, Tennessee, an out-of-work mechanical engineer carefully prepared with "hatred of the liberal movement" and 76 shotgun shells figured he'd share his pain as widely as possible, at the most liberal venue he could think of, the Unitarian Universalist Church.

My profession, my church, my "movement."

I don't suppose he'll appreciate the irony in the fact that after the initial shock, and after one man gave up his life to save others, those liberal parishoners wrestled him to the ground and foiled his plan both for further mayhem, and for his suicide.

It's being investigated as a "hate crime," whatever that means.

27.July.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

This could be the problem people have with Congress Permalink to this item

Looking around Senators' sites to see who's who and what's what, one list of recent actions by way of a voting record listed this item from the Senate:

"Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to the House Amendments to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 3221"

As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up.

McCain: Campaign of Whiners Permalink to this item

File this under "be careful what you ask for": McCain goaded Obama into the foreign tour that produced a wave of publicity last week, swamping the McCain canoe, and the best retort he's got is that Obama doesn't love the troops enough because he didn't visit injured American troops at a base in Germany? Please.

McCain was taking fire from both sides on that one, his fellow travelers Senators Reed (D-RI) and Hagel (R-NB) both leveling criticism at the cheap shot.

Frank Rich was not so circumspect as McCain's colleagues in the Sunday funnies:

"Once again (McCain) was making factual errors about the only subject he cares about, imagining an Iraq-Pakistan border and garbling the chronology of the Anbar Awakening. Once again he displayed a tantrum-prone temperament ill-suited to a high-pressure 21st-century presidency. His grim-faced crusade to brand his opponent as a traitor who wants to 'lose a war' isn't even a competent impersonation of Joe McCarthy. Mr. McCain comes off instead like the ineffectual Mr. Wilson, the retired neighbor perpetually busting a gasket at the antics of pesky little Dennis the Menace."

26.July.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

News Berlin Permalink to this item

A day after our local pulp splashed the picture of Obama before hundreds of thousands in Berlin, with the "full story" inside consisting of a scant half a dozen paragraphs under a bigger headline (and twice the space) about McCain's improvement in a poll, they used a keener insight about what's legitimate in media from The Chicago Tribune to fill out the editorial page. Pity more of the staff hadn't taken the trouble to read it.

"Fairness is about equal opportunity to be judged newsworthy—and freedom from prejudice in journalists' execution of their stories. Fairness is not about counts of stories or minutes on air."

The lastest press release from new Idaho GOP chairman Norm Semanko is just as obsessed with the Presidential race as the headline news, and his idea of "fairness" seems to line up quite nicely with the Statesman's: no matter how pitiful McCain's sideshows this week, we're supposed to provide equal time and attention to the profound and the banal.

See No Evil Permalink to this item

The current administration is ideologically closer to the robber barons than our founding fathers, but they seem to have taken to heart Tom Paine's prescription that "that government is best which governs least." The history of the anti-regulation fever has done a great deal for a very few and left the rest of us holding the bag.

After our Environmental Protection Agency considered the question, prepared a finding last year and sent it in an email to the White House Office of Management and Budget, the OMB "declined to open it."

Maybe the subject line was "Hot Planet XXX finding"?

Maybe the Heckuva Job team doesn't feel they have any business thinking about wildfires, persistent drought, storm surges, and shoreline erosion. Maybe if they just ignore it, it will all go away.

This email is so radioactive that White House lawyers were looking on while Barbara Boxer and two other U.S. Senators read it, and "the lawyers then took the document back." Hot stuff, indeed.

Which is not to say this administration doesn't care about the environment! No sirree, there's Dead-eye Dick with his cowboy hat on and some live greenery for a backdrop, announcing that our government is bigger than some dumb old avalanche chute.

25.July.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

That is one angry gnome! Permalink to this item

He's out of his bunker, and doing "the kinds of things that you do on a campaign." "I have a standing offer," Jim Risch says, "with the legitimate media—when I say the "legitimate" media, I mean not, not the bloggers, not the left-wing bloggers, but the legitimate media."

And for all of you people who thought you might like to call in to today's radio show and ask him a question? Apparently you're not anyone Jim Risch wants to talk to either.

War 2.0 Permalink to this item

I happened to read the "thought for the day" just after catching up on an ancient (Feb. 2006) I, Cringley column about the future of the internet, and the two together gave me the headline above. LBJ said:

"We often say how impressive power is. But I do not find it impressive at all. The guns and the bombs, the rockets and the warships, are all symbols of human failure. They are necessary symbols. They protect what we cherish. But they are witness to the human cost of failure."

That perspective was from the middle of the Cold War, when the collection of our most terrible weapons had finally reached the point when Mutually Assured Destruction—that is, our collective fear of each other—was essential for our defense. I'm old enough to remember both a "Duck and Cover" drill at school, and the prepubescent awareness that the ultimate purpose of said Duck would be to kiss my ass goodbye, as we used to say.

George Bush's and Dick Cheney's Orwellian War on Terror is nothing if not Military 1.0 thinking in a millennium when only tribal conflicts have the luxury of going no-holds barred. Our license to failure is not unlimited. That we would embark on a war for oil at the historical moment of Peak Oil, thus squandering the very resource we wanted badly enough to kill for was perhaps an inevitable folly. But having fallen into the trap of thinking that "sole remaining superpower" meant we could do anything, it is indeed time for a new generation of leadership.

How could the contrast be more stark between the two Parties' nominees? The only members of the current administration who had the direct experience to actually learn the lessons from LBJ's era were long ago shuffled out of the picture. (I'm thinking Colin Powell more than anyone else.) What better candidate for the party still held captive by a Vietnam War mindset than a man who was literally a prisoner of that war?

"(W)e cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone."
– Barack Obama

Contrasted with the GOP's and McCain's desperate attempts to get some attention this week, there is Barack Obama, speaking in Berlin to an astounding gathering of 200,000, recounting our history as separate nations that have come to be bound together in a shared fate, "fellow citizens of the world."

One American who's lived in Germany for two decades and who was in the crowd yesterday commented on NPR that there was a sort of uncomfortable rumbling in the crowd when Obama said "I love America." That is not something the Germans she knows would say about their own country, only the kind of thing right-wing radical zealots would say. It was nationalism unleashed that was responsible for their devastated nadir in 1945, and that memory had concrete form that the young people in Germany experienced directly, 40 years after the 20th century cataclysm.

The way forward is not to amass greater military strength, to abandon still more of our civil liberties, nor to apply military force ever more desperately as we borrow from future generations and sacrifice the lives of our own. The way forward is to recognize that we are not separate nation-states with our own interests that can be promoted at the expense of others', that we can only prosper in a world where all can do so.

24.July.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

War Crimes Permalink to this item

Thank goodness Radovan Karadzic popped out of the woodwork with the promise of a spectacular trial to move the spotlight off of what's being reported as "the first war crimes trial since World War 2," and our first prosecution to come out of Guantánamo, our tawdry claims against bin Laden's $200-a-month chauffeur.

"We can't have acquittals. We've been holding these guys for years. How can we explain acquittals? We have to have convictions."
–William J. Haynes II, according to Col. Morris Davis.

In a flash of unexpected sanity, the Navy Captain acting as Judge disallowed (at least some of) the evidence tortured out of Salim Ahmed Hamdan over the past—how many years have we been holding this guy now? Going on seven.

There has been a lot of work for lawyers in all this, still on the lookout for some Justice in the matter.

If we ignore all the exculpatory evidence, and some of the ill-gotten evidence, and cherry pick the best hearsay and coerced statements, what does it add up to? "Osama bin Laden's bodyguard and personal driver," who got the reports of "operations" after the fact. The worst accusation is for "delivering weapons to al Qaeda members and purchasing vehicles for bin Laden's security detail." He was captured "returning from a trip to evacuate women and children to Pakistan."

Who's afraid of the big, bad wolf? Permalink to this item

Apparently it's no laughing matter for many. With activist U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy having questioned the Federal science and put them back on the Endangered Species list, the president of the Idaho Sportsmen's Caucus Advisory Council is "worried the decision will turn the frustration into lawlessness," according to Rocky Barker in the Idaho Statesman.

"This is going to start a small riot," Bell said. "I'm worried that this will lead to illegal killing."

Because... Idaho's plan to turn 'em loose to kill up to 400-some wolves (out of a population estimated at a little more than a thousand) got their blood up, and they can't calm down? Not exactly a comforting thought, given that they're all (well) armed. Maybe if they can't shoot wolves without risking a $100,000 fine, they'll start shooting up the town.

In addition to being a top predator—like you know who—some despise the wolf for its moral failings. Sheep rancher Jerry Gilbert:

"I think the whole thing is from pacifists who think the wolf is the greatest animal out here, even though he's just a nasty oversized dog with no conscience whatsoever."

22.July.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

It's a vast left-wing infatuation conspiracy Permalink to this item

Today's email from the McCain campaign has the subject "The Media is in Love with Barack Obama," and I'm wondering how is this possibly going to work for you to point out? They'll all be embarrassed into giving McCain a fairer shake?

Who's the whiz kid on the campaign team who let the snarky back-of-the-Straight-Talk-Bus get out into the open again? You want to distract us from Obama's World Tour, good luck with that. (If you can keep the next $25 billion bailout of well-placed plutocrats needed at the end of the George W. Bush era quiet, that would be a good thing, though. Panic sucks for everybody but the short sellers, and no one is in love with them.)

Oh I get it, associating soft pink love songs with Obama is going to fire up the Base, and scare off that Joe Six-Pack demographic. I'd be keeping an eye on Tucker Carlson and his "kind of love that anybody who's been a 9th grade boy understands." Of course he's not saying that he's not gay, he's just saying all the rest of the media commentators are. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Unless you're voting for Commander-in-Chief.

20.July.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Breathing smoke, waiting for fire Permalink to this item

At Chagdud Gonpa, near Junction City, Calif. It was most of a month ago that the fires in N. California turned into family news for us, and we're still getting tense updates about fire lines and tactics, evacuation and tentative return. From an email under the subject "July 19th fire update at Rigdzin Ling":

"We pray, we water, and we wait... These activities mark our days now. The weather is cool and the quiet is almost eerie. The texture and color of the smoke filled air is that of an antique painting. They have issued a red flag warning from 2:00 this afternoon till 10:00 tonight. That means that they are expecting high winds to kick up which would be bad, bad, bad. Yesterday they were expecting wind as well, but it failed to materialize. Perhaps it is because I receive so many calls and e-mails from people around the world who are praying, but in my imagination it feels rather like the forces of prayer and the forces of the elements have come head to head in a dual, and the opponents are quietly circling round each other, no one yet making a definitive move...

"There are four very, very, big bulldozers sitting down by the Guru Rinpoche statue, waiting, their drivers watching. On our hill there is a tapestry of fire hoses traversing the mountain, standing ready to defend the structures up there. The sound of chainsaws is constant. We watch as firefighting people stretch out by the pond, resting when they can. We’ve suggested they take a turn in the paddle boat or canoe pretending to GPS the island or something. Sometimes we think of more things to do like wrapping the wooden baffle box that is the inlet to our water supply, and cleaning out the bunny cage, but mostly we pray, we water and we wait...."

Here in SE Idaho, the season hasn't kicked in just yet, but with highs steadily above 90°F and no substantial precipitation due until fall, it's only a matter of when the next cumulonimbus will spark the forest. Our forecast for today is "haze" as we share the products of combustion for the Pacific NW and California. We're not—yet—at the "relentless smoke makes one feel dull and slow and unable to make simple decisions" stage, but we're likely to be there soon enough. Then the Helena Hotshots and others will have to finish the best they can in the Shasta-Trinity and come back to tend the home fires, and the DC3s will be rumbling overhead with loads of fire retardant out of Boise's airport.

18.July.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Idaho GOP Running Scared Permalink to this item

That's the only reasonable explanation I can come up with for today's press release from Sid Smith, attacking Barack Obama for something he said almost a year ago, and trying to skewer whatever positive attention Obama could get from his plans to visit Iraq and Afghanistan.

Smith throws in "carelessly" just before the actual quote of what Obama said, and ignores the "actually, he was correct" Fact Check that followed the original cycle. 11 months ago. (If we're mining the archives for the importance of Being There, we might think back to John McCain's historic visit to stroll in Baghdad, so "like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime.")

The attention-getting headline from our Idaho Republican Party is SHOOTS FIRST, ASKS QUESTIONS LATER, which is a pretty good capsule description of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld plan for war in Iraq. Irony ain't dead yet, it's just coming out unintended.

A fresh quote from Obama was that he realized "something is happening out there" at the momentous rally for him in Boise this winter. I'm guessing the state GOP has the same feeling, and is worried about the length of Obama's coattails here. Shooting off spent ammunition in the middle of the dog days of pre-convention summer just has a lot of stink of fear on it.

Been Swindelled Permalink to this item

Any good marketing person can tell you that sometimes a high price is better than a low one: let the purchaser convince himself that he's buying quality goods. Perhaps this applies to the people who chipped in donations to the Bryan Fischer and Brandi Swindell Legal Defense and Smarmy Publicity Fund, bailing them out (as it were) for the 10-large they owed the City of Boise for some of the trouble they've caused, and buying them yet another extension on their 15 minutes of fame.

Give 'till it hurts, they say. You'll feel better.

IdaBlue has a nice response to Dan Popkey's mainstream column, wherein Popkey discovers "I've been used!" (You think?) Switching to our other locally known Religious Right bloviator, Alan writes:

"I'll give Adam credit for being diligent about having an opinion on everything, for being a prolific blogger, and for building what seems to be a much visited website."

Adam rather makes me think of a Rush Limbaugh Mini-me (or perhaps Nano-me), working hard to find an audience. If hard work is all it takes, maybe he'll hit the big time. There's always room for one more in the entertainment business. But I think Alan's insight about the zenith of the Religious Right is on the mark. It's all downhill from here, and we're not about to pray our way out of the mess we've got ourselves into.

If there is a God, I like to say, She wants us to think. Work together. Be kind to one another. Don't fight. The prophet Jesus provided what should have been sufficient commentary on Commandments: remember just two, and you won't need granite monuments cluttering up your city parks.

Bastille Day Permanent URL to this day's entry

Bad Rumors Permalink to this item

One of this year's first coneflowers in our yard What was that old adage again? Buy on rumor, sell on news? Or maybe the other way around. No help for news on rumors, as the S.E.C. warns Wall Street to stop spreading false rumors. Reminds me of the good old momentum trading days of the late '90s: get in when the going's good and get out when it goes bad.

Now the news and rumors are all bad it seems. A tout is one thing, but nobody likes a short seller, especially if he's making money.

A dropping tide sinks all boats.

"The intent is to stop malicious rumors without hampering the natural exchange of information in the marketplace," the story goes. "Wall Street executives insist that false information is permeating the marketplace as never before....

"Short sellers deny that they plant false information and argue that Wall Street is as vulnerable as it is because it invested in risky businesses that backfired."

It's Time to End this War Permalink to this item

Barack Obama: My Plan for Iraq:

In this campaign, there are honest differences over Iraq, and we should discuss them with the thoroughness they deserve. Unlike Senator McCain, I would make it absolutely clear that we seek no presence in Iraq similar to our permanent bases in South Korea, and would redeploy our troops out of Iraq and focus on the broader security challenges that we face. But for far too long, those responsible for the greatest strategic blunder in the recent history of American foreign policy have ignored useful debate in favor of making false charges about flip-flops and surrender.

13.July.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Off the Deep End Permalink to this item

Great first person account of Bill Sali's town hall meeting yesterday from Joel Kennedy (a.k.a. Bubblehead). Even given the short notice Sali sprung on everyone, I would've thought he could get more than 30 people to show up; that was the size of the gathering when our state legislators had a town hall meeting for state District 16.

"He seemed much more honest to me than he has in the past; I think he's starting to realize that he really is in over his head. I can admire a man who stands by his beliefs; I just don't want him as my Congressman if he's completely useless."

Life is Good Permalink to this item

If the Mountain Goat hadn't tipped me off, I might've overlooked Nathaniel Hoffman's feature on Pro-Life in the latest Boise Weekly. Thank goodness I didn't do that. It's a hoot.

The only thing missing is something from one or more of his 15 children. I mean, you have that many kids, it should be a pretty lively homestead, right? But not a peep out of any of them. Even if they're grown up, there ought to be a passle of grandkids, right? 225 of them if the children all followed in their father's footsteps, as it were.

Pro-Life does not support public schools, city parks or even Social Security, on which he depends for the bulk of his annual income....

Kirsten calls her lanky husband Pro-Vida, because it's more romantic. She calls him Buffy, too. He calls her Smoochie, "for obvious reasons."

End Times Permalink to this item

Frank Rich, on the denouement of the current Presidency: "Top Bush hands are starting to get sweaty about where they left their fingerprints. Scapegoating the rotten apples at the bottom of the military's barrel may not be a slam-dunk escape route from accountability anymore."

While those "hands" plan their escape routes, we're left to debate the question of whether we're to be left safer by the actions of a Unitary Executive wielding the greatest military in the history of the planet as if it were a magic wand.

"We are once again distracted and unprepared while the Taliban and bin Laden's minions multiply in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This, no less than the defiling of the Constitution, is the legacy of an administration that not merely rationalized the immorality of torture but shackled our national security to the absurdity that torture could easily fix the terrorist threat."

As we embark on the work of decades (or a lifetime) to repair what was (and still will be) done in the Bush/Cheney eight-year reign, a chilling fact from Nicholas Krisof's column today can remind us both of the enormity of the damage, and the opportunity of swords into plowshares:

"Each Tomahawk missile that the United States fires in Afghanistan costs at least $500,000. That’s enough for local aid groups to build more than 20 schools, and in the long run those schools probably do more to destroy the Taliban."

12.July.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

"Let Me Finish" Permalink to this item

Wordsmith on LSotM tipped me to Carole Coleman's interview of George W. Bush from back in June, 2004. Bush said his God promotes "peace and freedom," apparently in no particular order. He also said "let me finish" way too often, averaging once a minute as he wagged his finger at the woman as if she were his daughter being impertinent. I think he's done quite enough already, and that we should not let him finish, we should impeach him for the crimes he's committed in office, for the abuse he's done on the Constitution, and that he should be convicted and removed from office.

"And, it goes without saying, you can forget about the interview with Laura Bush."
– White House lackey

But of course, this interview was even before he'd finished his first term, and the American people inexplicably mustered a majority of voters (or at least votes) to keep him in office for four more years. And yes, it would be a distraction at a time of many crises and important issues to attend to. But what's more important than demonstrating our commitment to the rule of law, and showing that our belief in freedom is such that dictatorship should not stand?

"Please, please, please for a minute, OK? It would be better if you let me finish my answers...."

"Condescending" is much too polite a word for Bush's behavior.

And fobbing off the debacle of Abu Ghraib on "a few soliders," he'll be needing some of that forgiveness he says his Good Lord provides to cover that breach of the 8th Commandment.

"We can do more than one thing at a time," he said, as he demonstrated that he could not handle the normal give and take of conversation in an interview. But more likely it's that he did not want to, and felt it was leaderly prerogative to do, or not do, whatever he wanted. Sort of his "signing statement" on the interview.

11.July.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Nation of Whiners Permalink to this item

Ok, so John McCain doesn't quite understand economics, he needs advice from somebody. But how does he know if he's getting good advice? Give him credit for cutting Phil Gramm loose pretty quickly after "Dr. Phil's" brain recession, at least.

"Phil Gramm does not speak for me. I speak for me."

Acceptance Speech Permalink to this item

It's their pull quote, and mine as well. Disagreeing with David Brooks' assessement that Barack Obama's decision to give his acceptance speech in a stadium was personality-over-Pary narcissism on tonight's Newshour, Mark Shields said:

"First rule of politics, you do those things which your opponent cannot do. And there's no way John McCain, great American, could fill up 80,000 people. I mean, you're not going to get 80,000 people if you're giving away free plasma TVs with John."

10.July.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The Contemptible Karl Rove Permalink to this item

When the Court ordered me to show up, I did, and on short notice. I was at Ada County's beck and call this week for jury duty, and today my number came up. Partway at first, as I was on "standby," instructed to call in at 11:00 to see if they wanted me downtown at noon. After dealing with the horde of prompt callers and getting through about 10 after, I learned that they did, and I was, just in time to hear from the Judge that the accused had taken the Court's advice at the last minute and plead to a lesser charge, rather than run the risk of being convicted of the more serious charge by a jury.

A bit annoying to be on someone else's schedule, and to drive downtown to courthouse only to turn around and come home. As I told a friend it could've been worse: the fellow who plead out has life a lot worse than me (but of course it's his fault).

This is all most unlike Karl Rove, who, when ordered to appear, said no, I don't have to, I'm special. He's carrying on that cocked-up notion of his leader and Vice-leader that they are above the law, and don't have to answer to Congress. He'd be willing to entertain the prospect of an "informal interview" or questions in writing. Any of which he didn't like, he'd blow off, I'm sure.

The message is simple: he won't testify under oath because he doesn't want to tell the truth. He holds us all in contempt, and we should do no less than to return the favor.

So Much for the Rule of Law Permalink to this item

It's just not the same when you get to change the rules after you've been playing the game for a while. We must have broad, warrantless searching of all telecommunications to protect the Homeland! Not legal, you say? Ha! Let us write a new law that says it is. And give anyone and everyone who helped us break the old law immunity.

Obama changed his position and voted for it, along with 68 other Senators, against 28 opposed, Clinton among them. (McCain missed the vote.) Quite the fracas among the Obamamaniacs who saw their candidate as the standard bearer for Perfection and had to face Realpolitik even before the actual nomination. Me, I'm not happy that Obama rolled over when he could've cast a calculated "no" vote just as easily as the "yes" vote, without changing the outcome. Was it a change of heart? A political calculation? Or a measured judgement about what's best for the country?

We may never know for sure, but Obama's flip is hardly a reason to pack up one's toys and go home, much less support McCain for President.

Feeling Hyper? Permalink to this item

Reports of "hypermiling" techniques to squeeze every possible mile per gallon have been making the news as if it were the latest dance craze. So much so that we have the local paper's editorial writers trying their hand at a Reefer Madness parody. But carefully: the subhead was "don't try all this on the road." Some of it is OK.

Like... lose that lame-o SUV, wouldja? We could all use a little more breathing room.

It's OK to drive more conservatively and everything, but not if you get in the way of people racing from stoplight to stoplight in their Expeditions and Armadas as if gas cost $1.89 a gallon.

Dear Kevin: good on you for riding your bike, but until the mythical horde of hypermilers actually appears in something more than urban folklore, do a little more research, why don't you? "Overinflating tires, beyond the manufacturers guidelines" is a bad idea if you're talking about the tire manufacturer, but the car manufacturer and what they attached to your door pillar does not provide the last word on proper inflation, for example.

As you say, "the practice" has gone mainstream media, not quite the same as going mainstream. Prius owners have been trading tips on the best way to maximize mileage for half a dozen years now, and I dare say we've been carrying them out without other drivers even noticing most of the time. If you have noticed, good for you, and give a try yourself.

8.July.8 Permanent URL to this day's entry

More than just the newest Bloviator on Fox Permalink to this item

In their call to Arrest Karl Rove, ("completely independent of the official Democratic Party") points out that he was "at the center of nearly every Bush Administration scandal," from the stolen election that got things started (and the one that kept them going), the campaign of lies that escalated the war in Iraq, the exposing of Valerie Plame, the Katrina debacle.

So what's up with him blowing off a subpoena from Congress? It's one thing for the Administration itself to ignore 20 or so subpoenas, but Private Citizen ("I'm still pals with W.") Rove? It's a sorry state of affairs.

7.7.2008 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Love a Parade Permalink to this item

Not sure that I ever did, really, but I've liked a few, from within and without. Serephin offers a brief account and slideshow from northern Idaho, which is the next best thing to being there... and being "gobsmacked at the sight of at least a block-and-a-half length of Kootenai County Democrats," overwhelming the minimal Republican presence.

Fencing Permalink to this item

The first time our back fence neighbor proposed a replacement, we were lukewarm to the idea, and when it came out that his wife was too, we put the kibosh on the idea. Years passed, and the cedar weathered, and the posts leaned, and it started to look seriously sad. This year we all said "ok." We're taking the easy way out and having somebody else build it, but somehow the demolition of the old fence seemed like a tractable job, and it would give us a chance to donate the material to a worthy local business, Second Chance Building Materials Center. We didn't find out what the contractor would have done with the salvage, but he wanted $200 to do the demo.

The old cedar fence, stacked for pickup Two sore backs and some hours of manual labor later (with most of the force times distance put it by yours truly), I'm wondering about the wisdom of that particular choice. What's done is done though, and Second Chance comes by tomorrow to pick up the pile I just moved out to the curb, weaving through our crowded and pretty much overgrown fence line. (They'll have the hours of fun pulling staples and nails, and a few screws.)

While Chuck and I worked together on Sunday, I asked him, "if good fences make good neighbors, do bad fences make bad neighbors?" He just chuckled and said he didn't know, and Jeanette reminded me that the observation was the neighbor's, dissected with irony in Robert Frost's Mending Wall. (You know, the one that starts "Something there is that doesn't love a wall....")

The demolition was done more carefully by we two owners, at least. We were worried about our overgrown grape vine, and whipped up an arbor that we imagined we were going to move it to, before we discovered that having removed the fence from under the grape, it's now quite capable of standing up by itself. We'll see how gently the construction can proceed around jungly summer growth, tomorrow.

One interesting confluence of the DIY approach: once I'd launched into the disassembly, it attracted the attention of two more neighbors, and we had the very first meeting of four neighborhood patriarchs, each of us in our respective corner, opining about how the meeting looked, and what was to come.

5.July.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

What We Know that Ain't So Permalink to this item

Paul Krugman, on Rove's Third Term: "Again and again we’ve had media firestorms over supposedly revealing incidents that never actually took place," but for some reason the risable events don't seem to generate the same sort of concentrated coverage. Given that false information can be just as memorable as truth, I'm not so interested in repeating the lies as repeatedly naming the liars.

Here comes Col. Bud Day (ret.), formerly featured in the 2004 Swift Boat ads, acting indignant about things General Wesley Clark didn't say. We can remember the name, and remember that anything he says is suspect.

Still Feeling Patriotic Permalink to this item

Fine holiday post from Left Side of the Moon, To Those Who Persist In Their Treason. I enjoyed the two YouTube snippets, one from the HBO Series John Adams I knew nothing of, and another with the spine-tingling rendition of Find the Cost of Freedom by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

The latter came with montages of the faces of those who have paid with their lives, not well-enough honored by tiny thumbnails on a small screen. Perhaps it would have been better for the Capitol Fourth last night, but they went out on a high note, Jerry Lee Lewis covering his hits from 50 years ago, and then a Marine Band playing a curiously inanimate rendition of Stars and Stripes Forever. (Probably because they were nowhere in the vicinity of their audience of millions.)

It takes a long time to really consider a face and the life behind it, even limiting ourselves to a few seconds, it would take hours just to acknowledge the American military dead from the war in Iraq. The CSN&Y song is barely two minutes, but it sticks with you for decades.

Independence Day Permanent URL to this day's entry

Worse than we thought Permalink to this item

That's been the watchword for the Bush administration for lo these many years, but the news seems to keep digging deeper. The Gitmo training for interrogation using "coercive management techniques" was based on an Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques from the Korean War. Techniques for eliciting false confessions.

Good thing we have military tribunals so we can use those confessions to justify the detention (and whatever) of the so-called "worst of the worst," eh?

Now that's cool writing Permalink to this item

"Cool," as in detached, dispassionate, understated. As opposed to the hot excitement of a pulmonary embolism, 911 call, visit from the EMTs, ambulance ride and so on. Randy Stapilus reports on Why We've Been Away as if he's a commentary team, floating out-of-body.

Lawn Chair Pilot Permalink to this item

Between Bend, Oregon, and Boise, Idaho, there's a lot of desert, and a couple mountain ranges. Great setting for a guy in a lawn chair with helium balloons. Again. it's just gravy that his name is Kent Couch.

2.July.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Too Much Information Permalink to this item

To the extent that it "works" at all, war works with a strict chain of command, something that is an increasingly untidy fit with the democratic medium of the 'net. Not that the Pentagon hasn't enjoyed some successes, such as the "embedding" of reporters who are given ample reason to enthusiastically support their immediate protection. But when the shooting starts, some feet will get in the way, sooner or later. How do you put a positive spin on Abu Ghraib, or Guantánamo? The best that could be done for the former was to blame a few grunts (a cowardly and despicable lie, by the way). The latter has operated with an increasingly tight cone of silence, disturbed only by the Supreme Court of the United States' unwillingness to accept the Commander in Chief as Führer.

But information wants to be free, and some of the participants are navigating the bureaucracy to reveal glimpses of reality in occasionally arresting prose. One writer, LT G, crossed somebody's limit and had his milblog shut down, but not before he'd made some entries capturing the reality of the situation with remarkable precision.

The occupation will go on without it, I'm sure, "because higher said so."

1.July.08 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Plotting the States Permalink to this item

The boys at the Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science blog have graphed Annenberg pre-election survey results from 2000 to show the ranking of states by the liberalism/conservatism of their voters. They split that ideological assessment into "social" and "economic" dimensions.

Bill Harris thought of me and sent the link because he knows I'm way out in Idaho, at "upper right."

It was a different world during the 2000 primaries, but I imagine Idaho remains an outlier. The data show us not so far out socially as economically, however; we're "only" in 8th place in the former. Split out by party affiliation (or leaning), we see that our Dems are are pretty much in the middle of the pack, and our Republicans are not the furthest out... we just have more of them, apparently.

Privacy? Didn't we already give that up? Permalink to this item

Russ Feingold's not ready to roll over with retroactive immunity for telecomms and skipping over judicial review for our intelligence gathering. It makes me proud to see him carry on the progressive tradition in my home state. It's also interesting to consider how much better the same response to everyone works as a short video than as a form letter.

"I teased some of my colleagues and said we can celebrate the Constitution on July 4th and maybe when we come back you'll decide not to tear it up."


Tom von Alten      tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org

ISSN 1534-0007

Friday, 19-Dec-2008 00:16:37 MST