February 28, 2006

Who is Peter Waldron? You Won't Find Out in the Traditional Media

from - smijer

Unless you count NPR...

I caught this on the radio Monday morning, and expected it to run through the major blogs so fast that I wouldn't even need to mention it...

It occurred to me just now, that I haven't seen it on the big blogs or the big media... Maybe I wasn't paying attention at the right time... So, who is Peter Waldron?

An American citizen in Uganda, being held there on terrorism charges....

It starts with an odd story of 59 year old evangelical missionary Peter Waldron, being spied by neighbors while stashing a bag of automatic weapons and ammo...

When they were challenged, they first hid the bag in bushes, before returning to it and drawing one of the rifles.

As residents raised the alarm, a large crowd gathered.

"As the mob wanted to lynch them, they pleaded to lead them to where more guns were hidden," Mugenyi said.

When police arrived at Waldron's home, they found two more sub-machine guns in a bedroom wardrobe, he added.

Waldron had attended the politically charged High Court and military trials of opposition presidential candidate Kizza Besigye late last year, where observers took him to be a diplomat. Ugandans go to the polls on Thursday.

Ugandan authorities were criticised for posting black-clad commandos at the High Court during one hearing, but they later cited an unspecified terrorist threat.

Police displayed two business cards identifying Waldron as the founder of City of Faith Ministries, an evangelical group, and an advisor to the president of a U.S. company working with Uganda's government on IT healthcare projects.

Mugenyi also showed reporters a news magazine found at Waldron's home, "The Africa Dispatch", which listed him as publisher. It carried pictures of Waldron standing with diplomats at the High Court and army court martial.

"This confirms our suspicions of terrorists at the High Court and the subsequent deployment of the Joint Anti Terrorism Squad," Mugenyi said, pointing to the pictures.

"We also thought he was a diplomat," he added.

"We are still investigating, but we will soon parade him with his guns and you shall see him."

What Reuters and other on-line services omit, but was reported on the radio, was that Waldron's apparent aim was to use the weapons to disrupt Ugandan elections, and that his eventual aim is purported to be re-making the Ugandan government in the image of "Christian values"...

Anyway, he is now being charged with terrorism, along with 5 Congolese and one Ugandan accessories.

When I listened to the report, especially before hearing his purported motivation for religious power, I couldn't help but wonder to myself whether he was an American agent of the CIA, sent in as a provocateur...

The Venezuelan state press has already reached judgment on that question, and cite his case for support of their action to boot New Tribes Mission out of their rain-forests.

What is there to add? I just hope that the American media will pay enough attention to it that it gets investigated, and we get to find out what the hell is going on.

Update: It seems Michelle in the comments may have been correct. If the charges weren't trumped up to begin with, then it defies explanation how they could be dismissed so easily. Other clarifying details at link. Apologies to Mr. Waldron.

Posted by smijer at 10:23 PM | Comments (0)

Bush and Osama

from - Buck


Bush gives some credit for his last election victory to Osama Bin Laden.

I am sure that somewhere Osama is smiling.

What I cannot help but wonder is why Bush would think that this help was inadvertent?

"I thought it was going to help," Bush said. "I thought it would help remind people that if bin Laden doesn't want Bush to be the president, something must be right with Bush."

Consider this.

At the time Bin Laden was the archenemy. He desperately wants another Bush victory because that will help him meet recruitment goals for the next four years not to mention the continued hemorrhaging of the enemy’s national treasury. What is not to like about four more years of cronyism and nepotism? How could four more years of a deteriorating national reputation on the world stage be hurtful to Osama? So of course he comes out against Bush. An endorsement of Bush would have not been helpful. It stands to reason that voters would vote for whomever Bin Laden was against. Bin Laden says, “Do whatever you want but please do not re-elect George Bush!”

Remember Brer Rabbit and the Briar Patch?

As in all things Bin Laden knew what he was doing. The timing was not accidental. The message was not inadvertent. The end result has done more for Bin Laden than anything Bin Laden could have ever done for himself.

Say what you will about Osama. He is a brilliant strategist and a worthy competitor. He has gotten and is continuing to get everything he wants.

I am just not sure if that is because of his superior strength or our baffling weaknesses.

Posted by Buck at 02:53 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2006

Hot to Trot? Here's Some Spots

from - smijer

Lots of goings on are coming up in the next days, weeks, and months... It's going to be a big year for us Chattanoogans, Tenneseeans, southeasterners, and Americans... maybe for us as a world - I hope so... So while you're thinking globally, here's some good chances to act locally, to borrow a cliche...

  • Strides of March... take the walk, raise money and awareness for AIDS treatment and research. It's a great event... you'll never be sorry you went.
  • Hamilton County is electing a new Sheriff... and he's a *bong!* (Sorry - couldn't resist)... Anyway there will be a candidate's forum Tuesday 2/28 (yes - that's tomorrow!!) at 6:00 p.m. in Grote Hall, across from the UTC University Center Auditorium. The candidates will be present to make their case - Dave Alverson (I) John A. Cupp, Jr.(R) Henry (Hank) DeArman (D) Andy Derryberry (R) William (Billy) H. Long (D)
  • LaFrederick Thirkill has written and is directing a play based on the true story of Ed Johnson, a black man who was lynched in 1906 in Chattanooga. The name of the play is Dead Innocent: The Ed Johnson Story. It will be performed as part of the centennial remembrance of Johnson's execution. The play will open April 14, 2006 at Chattanooga State. I'll get you more details as I have them. P.S. I'm told I will have a role.
  • Terry Stulce will run to replace Zach Wamp, whose seat will be open as a result of his promise to self-limit his terms in Congress who will run as a strong Republican incumbent. Zach is a good man, one well loved around town, and he has even flirted with principled political stands... But he's wrong on practically every major and minor issue - particularly those the Party Leader has thrust upon the nation. To re-elect him, no matter how amazing his brother is, would be validating and preserving all of the things that have gone wrong with this country in the past few years. Terry Stulce, on the other hand... well, he has showed in a number of ways that he has what it takes to take this country beyond the grim years we face now. I hope you Chattanoogans will join me in supporting his candidacy.
  • Bill Lusk will be campaigning to fill the vacancy left by the insufferable Chris Clem of the 27th district. I'll be knocking on doors for this one.
  • John Brooks campaigns against Lou Miller for the Hamilton County Commission's District 6 seat. Please join me in supporting him if you are local to west Chattanooga.
  • Keep up with Tennessee Ticket for all the latest on the races that will affect you and the nation this year.

Thanks, everyone for bearing with me this past week... As usual, despite my better intentions, my vacation from work was once again a vacation from blogging... Once I'm back in my daily rut, I'm sure we'll be seeing more of one another.

Posted by smijer at 06:40 AM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2006

Money matters

from - RSA

Browsing the web, looking for information on a topic unrelated to this post, I happened across a U.S. census document that described how "net worth" is figured. It turns out that as of five years ago, the median net worth [pdf document] for a household in the U.S. was about $50,000, if I'm reading the document correctly. (I've always wondered how this was figured out.)
I. Assets
Interest-earning assets held at financial institutions
  Passbook savings account
  Money market deposit accounts
  Certificate of deposit
  Interest-earning checking accounts
Other interest-earning assets
  U.S. Government securities
  Municipal or corporate bonds
Stocks and mutual fund shares
Rental property
Mortgages held for sale of real estate
Amount due from sale of business or property
Regular checking accounts
U.S. savings bonds
Home ownership
Vacation homes and other real estate
IRA and Keogh accounts
401K and thrift savings plans
Motor vehicles
Other financial assets
II. Liabilities
Secured liabilities
  Margin and broker accounts
  Mortgages on own home
  Mortgages on rental property
  Mortgages on other homes or real estate
  Debt on business or profession
  Vehicle loans
Unsecured liabilities
  Credit card and store bills
  Doctor, dentist, hospital, and nursing home bills
  Loans from individuals
  Loans from financial institutions
  Educational loans
  Other unsecured liabilities
I think that I have a net worth somewhere between 0 and minus $50,000, mainly due to a house mortgage. Oh, well. Of course, on a global scale, I am very rich: if you earn more than $47,500 (just above the median household income in the U.S.), you earn more than 99% of the rest of the world.
Posted by RSA at 01:20 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2006

There Oughta' Be A Law

from - smijer

So, the kid is a Comedy Central junkie... and when he leaves for school in the a.m., he leaves his television on... After I come back from dropping him off, I go turn the t.v. off for him... Yeah, he's rotten. So, anyway... It turns out Comedy Central runs Peter Popoff's televangelism show on Wednesday mornings... where he sells Miracle Spring Water... guaranteed to bring answered prayers, & loads o' money.msw.JPG

For those who don't know, Peter Poppoff is an old school con... he was exposed as a scam artist in the 1980's by James Randi on the tonight show. A brief account of the story can be read here, though you'll find much more detail in Randi's books. I recommend The Faith Healers.

So, anyway... you hear a lot of people kvetching that his deceptive practices are tantamount to theft from the credulous, elderly, and poor... and he ought to be locked up. And, it's hard not to feel sympathy for that view... his business is reprehensible... And despite the fact that he's been unmasked, he remains in business - there's not enough profit in keeping the next generation of marks informed to keep him from having plenty of believing customers.

But can you shut someone like him down in a place like America? Is it right? There is the first amendment... And since he makes his dough in "donations" rather than fees, he's even exempt from the standard disclaimers that the "psychic" hotlines hucksters have to make in big letters on every ad: "For entertainment only". He isn't bound to do what the state-run lottery does, either, and put one's odds of a Popoffian miracle in small print at the bottom of the donation form.

Ordinarily, in free speech cases, my views are simple - the only reason to shut down speech is because you lack faith in your own views enough to let them stand on their own without government backing. Conservatives call it the "marketplace of ideas". But, in the marketplace of ideas, there is little premium on truth, whereas even false hope brings a steep price to the hopeless and desperate. But is that reason enough to abridge his right to do it?

I don't know. It seems that blatant false advertisement is not usually considered protected speech - and that it is a form of theft. But what about his more insidious kind? I doubt he solicits false testimonials from his followers, or that he makes any statements that could be proved false in a court of law. He simply manipulates the technically true or the incontestable, and withholds pertinent information, in order to create a deceptive appearance to his flock.

I don't know if legal action against him is in order. I do know that a counter-offensive of truth is in order. After Randi exposed him on the tonight show, Popoff was forced to file bankrupcy... All that is forgotten by all but the few skeptic enthusiasts who keep up with such things by now. But if a burst of sunlight can damage the growth, can't a steady stream of it kill the thing altogether?

What's needed is an army of Randi's... a mass movement of truth-tellers. But then, how to organize it? We don't have a profit motive that can galvanize our resistance... but surely we can organize? Surely we can hold our own tent revivals and draw the crowds with messages of truth and real hope just as well as Popoff can with lies and false hope? Wouldn't it be great if an army of truth-tellers set out to shut down all the psychic hot-lines, televangelists, and lottery boards - not with legislation, but just with the power of rational thought? Will that ever happen?

Posted by smijer at 08:29 AM | Comments (1)

February 22, 2006

Ports - What the Hell?

from - smijer

This Fox News story about the port deal that seems to have upset the Congressional applecart is interesting in at least one way: It repeatedly references the United Arab Emirates, without employing the obligatory news media modifier: "tiny".

But what the hell? Really?

  • Are Democrats... a largely liberal group... really rallying around the Clinton/Schumer effort to scare us with A-rabs? What the hell?
  • Are Republicans really joining forces with Democrats, and standing up to GWB? What the hell?
  • Is GWB really willing to fight this battle against the sure-thing A-rab card, despite its utter insignificance... just because the opposition is being stupid? What the hell?
  • Did Senator John McCain keep a straight face while saying, "The president's leadership has earned our trust in the War on Terror, and surely his administration deserves the presumption that they would not sell our security short"? What the hell?

Yes, JP, It is indeed a big old goofy world.

Posted by smijer at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)

What a mess

from - Buck

If cartoons will piss these people off I can only imagine what blowing up a holy shrine will do.

I guess the best strategy is to keep our guys as safe as possible inside the "resort" areas and let the citizens work this out on their own.

I keep hearing that the world is a safer place and that things are improving in Iraq.

I'll be glad when it sinks in.

Posted by Buck at 08:23 AM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2006

Paths not taken

from - RSA

Sometimes I wonder what things would be like in an alternate reality where people had made slightly different decisions earlier in their lives. For example:

"Son, I know I said this earlier, but I'm really glad you take the time to come visit."

Silence.

"So, what have you been doing in your free time?"

"I dunno. Stuff. Shootin' birds."

"Still good at it?"

"Coupla years ago, me and my friends shot four, maybe five hunnert of 'em. In one trip. Yeah, I'm good."

"Four--five. . .? Well, I'm glad you had fun. And I know you're being careful when you're out there in the woods."

"I guess. Some old guy got peppered pretty good last time, but he's okay now. Says he was sorry he got in the way."

"Peppered? Um, as long as he's okay. Do you have any plans for the weekend?"

"The little guy wanted to go out and clear some brush, but I told him, 'That's bullsh--' Sorry, I mean, 'We got better things to do.' So then he says maybe bike riding. He's always gotta have something to keep him occupied."

"As long as you both stay out of trouble."

Silence. Fade to black.

Posted by RSA at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2006

The Right Stuff

from - RSA

Wonder of wonders: A Bush administration appointee talks sense about science policy. National Economic Advisor Al Hubbard, in a White House press gaggle says,

And basic research will -- you know, the market doesn't -- the marketplace -- the free marketplace doesn't work for basic research, because you don't get the returns on basic research like you do in applied research. And so companies won't put the money into basic research. And that's why it's imperative that the federal government do it with taxpayer money.

Traditional small-government conservatives argue that endeavors that are capable of funding themselves should fund themselves. One of the targets of this argument is sometimes scientific research: why should we spend so much taxpayer money on activities that don't lead directly to results that everyone can appreciate? The difficulty is that it's often very difficult to predict what exactly will be useful in the future, and how. This translates into risk, which industry tries to avoid by focusing on short-term results of applied research. While much of this research is very good, it leaves questions about the long term wide open; government funding seems to be the only practical way of exploring important basic research ideas that may have no immediate impact but may also have an eventual chance of changing our lives enormously.

Posted by RSA at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)

The Evil Lottery

from - Buck

I think Boortz is wrong to call the lottery a “tax on the stupid”.

In my opinion, a tax is money taken by force at the point of a gun. Playing the lottery is an agreement made by consenting adults. Nobody makes anybody play the lottery.

the lottery is a tax. It's a tax designed to fill the coffers of government, all without actually raising any income or sales taxes.

So if the government comes up with a way to fill their coffers with money from willing participants what is the libertarian argument against it? If the government can come up with 1,000 different ways to raise money without resorting to coercion why am I supposed to get all up in arms about it?

So chances are that if you played, you lost. The money you spent on the Powerball went straight down a rathole. Why? Because you were never going to win. Your chances of hitting those numbers was about the same as getting struck by lightning. Twice. On Sunday. During a snowstorm. It ain't gonna happen.

Ahhh, but it DOES happen as Boortz finally admits.

By the way, whoever won that $365 million jackpot only won $124.1 million after taxes. Those are some taxes!

In my opinion turning $1.00 into $124.1 million dollars makes it a pretty damned good investment.

I don’t play the lottery but that is not because I am morally opposed to it. I avoid it for the same reason I don’t play those games at the carnival. It is hard enough for me to win when the odds are in my favor.

When my youngest daughter was just 7 years old she had three dollars and was pitching a fit to buy three lottery tickets. I had a long discussion with her about the folly of playing the lottery but nothing I said would convince her. Finally I told her to give me the three dollars and I would buy her three tickets and she would see how easily her money was flushed down the rat hole.

When the smoke had cleared from the scratching and matching she had won nine dollars.

The only thing that went down the rat hole was her father’s wisdom.

She is 18 now and still plays the lottery from time to time. She wins a few and she loses a few but no real harm is done. When I see a losing lottery ticket in the floorboard of her car she will just grin at me and say, “but you never know when you might triple your money!”

She has her mother’s memory.

Posted by Buck at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2006

Algebra for all

from - RSA

Richard Cohen has a strikingly anti-intellectual column in the Washington Post, on the value of algebra. He writes a number of things that a self-respecting adult should be embarrassed to say in public. I'll focus on just three passages.

You will never need to know algebra. I have never once used it and never once even rued that I could not use it.

I think Cohen is being a bit of a dolt here; he would probably recognize the source of this analogous comment: "Well, what do you know about that! These forty years now, I've been speaking in prose without knowing it!" For example, if you ever ask yourself how much more money you'd need than you have now to buy something, you're using elementary algebra. Basically, if you're able to deal with unknown values without completely coming apart, you can do some algebra. If you hear that your friend John has a brother Jim who is two years older, do you say, "That doesn't make any sense, because I don't know how old John is!" No, of course not. John's age is a variable that you're perfectly comfortable with.

Writing is the highest form of reasoning. This is a fact. Algebra is not. The proof of this, Gabriela, is all the people in my high school who were whizzes at math but did not know a thing about history and could not write a readable English sentence.

Oddly enough, Cohen does not seem to understand the difference between fact and opinion. (I would say, for example, that writing is not the highest form of reasoning--it is not a form a reasoning at all, but rather the expression of reasoning.) Diving further into incoherence, Cohen bases a proof on the poor writing skills of math whizzes in his high school. (I didn't know logical reasoning was so easy! Let's see what I can prove based on memories of my high school classmates!)

Most of math can now be done by a computer or a calculator. On the other hand, no computer can write a column or even a thank-you note -- or reason even a little bit.

Computers can certainly write thank-you notes, and they actually can reason even a little bit. Does Cohen use a computer program to do his taxes? Does his mechanic rely on a computer to diagnose problems in his car's engine? Has Cohen ever played chess against a computer? I'll make no claims for general computational intelligence, but these kinds of tasks have certainly been associated with reasoning abilities in the past.

Posted by RSA at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)

A time machine

from - RSA

At home last night I wanted to find out something about the Italian city Trieste. The nearest book at hand was a Baedecker's Traveler's Guide to Italy, published in 1909 in Great Britain. (I'd picked it up out of curiosity at a book auction years ago, along with a few other antiquarian travel books.) The first sentence of the introduction ran something along these lines:

This book, an abridgment of three volumes covering Northern, Central, and Southern Italy, is designed for the use of travelers who have only four or five weeks at their disposal. . .

Quite a different perspective on leisure time. Browsing through the rest of the introduction, I found another anacronism, in a discussion of second-quality lodging:

The common idea of Cleanliness in Italy is behind the age.

Stiff upper lip!

Posted by RSA at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2006

What have we learned?

from - RSA

Dick Cheney's hunting fiasco might have been avoided if he had followed a few simple rules. He followed many but not all of them, and look what happened. . .

  1. Do be the Vice President of the United States. Not all of the rules that follow will work otherwise.

  2. Don't have two drunk driving convictions in your youthful past. This will only raise unpleasant questions.

  3. Don't have a drink with lunch before going out hunting.

  4. Don't lose track of your hunting companions.

  5. Don't fire your shotgun into the setting sun.

  6. Don't--and this is an important point--don't shoot a 78 year old man in the face with your shotgun.

  7. Do see to your companion's injuries if you have ignored Rule 6.

  8. Don't have a cocktail after you get back to the house.

  9. Don't tell anyone about the incident. If someone goes to the press and says that it's without your knowledge, contradict that person and say that it was all part of the plan.

  10. Do talk to the police immediately, unless you have broken Rules 2, 3, and 8. If you have, skip to the next rule.

  11. Don't talk to the police. Instead when they arrive, say that they should come back the next day. If they seem reluctant, tell them that you are the Vice President of the United States (see Rule 1).

  12. Don't let police officers make fun of your fine $7500 Italian hunting piece. Some of your friends have single Italian shoes that cost more than that.

  13. Don't hide like a rabbit after the incident. This will only cause more talk.

  14. Do avoid any conversational topic that may lead to the observation that you will take over if anything happens to the President of the United States.

Posted by RSA at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)

Links With Your Eye Boogers

from - smijer

Congo: Child Abuse for God.

Since oil profits aren't big enough.

Go to this post, set your speakers to a lowish medium, and click the big blue link that says "Sacramental Showdown". Then listen to Episcopals go WWW.

Via Reality Me, a neat video of creative vandalism.

See ya.

Posted by smijer at 08:04 AM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2006

Note to Self: Vid Game Premise

from - smijer

This was handed to me by the trickster muse whole cloth yesterday... She knew I couldn't do anything about it, being a truck pimp & all, so she decided to tease me with this idea. My revenge is to put it on the internet where, doubtlessly, a video game company executive will pick it up, publish it, and pay me royalties.

It's 2015. You are among a school of dolphins with whom military researchers have learned to communicate, and who have been recruited as allies to the government. Your, eh..., porpoise, is to carry out espionage on enemy fleets, inspections of suspiciuos cargo vessels, and in some cases to carry out combat operations using surface mounted explosives.

Your video environment is realistic ocean from a dolphin's perspective. It's the murky blue-green of real life, not the crystal blue of Pixar's animations. It is fully populated by undersea flora and fauna. Your communications to the humans - whether entered usnig voice recognition software, typed on a keyboard, or selected from drop-down menus - are translated into the dolphin chirps and clicks. Return communication is also chirped and clicked to you, and it's meaning translated to your native language and spoken or typed back on the screen to you.

Obstacles to your progress include the inherent difficulty of the tasks, dolphins recruited by the enemy, tuna nets, undersea navigation, and natural predators. Among natural enemies, foremost is the shark. In some cases, you may have to interrupt cmobat with enemy dolphins to defend yourself from the sharks. In extreme cases, you may have to ally yourself with the enemy dolphins in order to repel a forceful shark attack. Over time, you may find yourself allied more closely with the enemy dolphins than with your human recruiters, creating political tensions between your school and the human government which may be difficult to resolve.

Of course, you'll have to feed - and manage to do so without getting inked by a tricky squid or out distanced by small fish who are alert to the danger you represent.

And, at the end of the game, everyone will need to be coexisting peacefully - above and below the surface - and good must have prevailed.

Ok Kotakus San. I'll be watching for this in the game stores. Please don't forget my royalties!

Posted by smijer at 07:36 AM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2006

(Trial) Lawyers in Love

from - smijer

Ok, via roy, I find Con(servative)s in Love. Linking political ideology and romance is possibly the most absurd thing I can think of... And since I am fond of the absurd... Well - anyone want to talk about liberal love affairs?

Let's see... we all love to hate John & Yoko (actually, I don't get that - I thought they made a cute couple. I really don't like to hear Yoko attempt to sing, but apart from that... she's cool with me.) Now, who will write the essay?

Bill and ... who? Hillary or Monica? Or Paula? Or...

Dr. Dean and Judy? Or, is that a little too syrupy?

Oh well... I don't think I could write any of these up with a straight face. I hope they pay their staff well at NRO.

Posted by smijer at 08:30 PM | Comments (0)

Condiments, anyone?

from - RSA

From CNN, on the Cheney shooting:

"This department is fully satisfied that this was no more than a hunting accident," the Kenedy County Sheriff's Department announced in a statement issued Monday evening. (Watch reporters pepper White House spokesman with questions about the shooting -- 2:03) [Emphasis added.]

Based on the recent use of this term in the news, a tiny part of my mind half-expected to see reporters blasting away at Scott McClelland's head with shotguns. . .

Posted by RSA at 11:27 AM | Comments (0)

It's a tough job........

from - Buck

but somebody has to do it!

Posted by Buck at 08:36 AM | Comments (0)

Chattanoogan: Rioter-like Congress addresses Cartoon-like Katrina

from - smijer

Hyena-like Lex Coleman wrote an op-ed in the Moonie Times-like Chattanoogan (not really - the Chattanoogan is mostly just recycled press releases, with very little politics and spin... or anything to make one wish to take it seriously unless you count pictures of female athletes in shorts) about the Congressional hearings into the Keystone Cops-like Bush Administration's handling of Katrina. This skunk spray-like op-ed made it onto the top head-lines at Google News for a brief time last night. It being from one of our local news outlets, I figured I'd take a look... Check this out:

I want to suggest, for all the energy being expended in Washington, why aren’t folks on both sides looking for positive ways to bounce back? Why aren’t they taking the course of Mississippi’s governor, and that state’s citizens – where all are trying to chip in and help in their own communities? The talking heads (locally and abroad) can Bush hate and complain all they want – but in the end – the United States gulf coast was hit by a storm the likes of which no one has seen in over a century. Since it’s an established fact that human beings don’t learn so good from experience (…look only to New Orleans and Louisiana politicians and budgetary priorities), seems to me everyone involved would come out better without the “drama” being intentionally fanned in Washington. I mean, it’s not so far removed from Islamists destroying buildings and killing people over cartoons. {links and emphasis helpfully added here at TaTT}

There are crazies everywhere, but it takes a publication like the Chattanoogan to make them headliner op-eds.

'Course, somewhere beneath the ranting and the shock over blaspheming His Worship, there are nuggets of decent points. Yes, the state & local people could have done a lot more to plan for a storm like this one. No, there isn't an agency in the world that could have dealt with this crisis so effectively that no lives or homes were lost. But we didn't need an op-ed to tell us that.

On the other hand...

  • The Congress wasn't investigating the local & state governments' roles - there will be and are other hearings for that.
  • While no agency could have prevented the disaster altogether, the administration's response, or failure to respond may have made a big difference. I haven't seen the report, but couldn't we at least acknowledge the possibility that it made important and substantive points? You know, give it the benefit of the doubt until the final version is public?
  • Coleman seems to have forgotten a small point - bashing Congress went out of fashion among Republicans in '94. While I would normally praise a conservative for being critical of his own party, if the cause for criticism is his own devotion to the party leader and president... well then that's just pathetic-like.
  • Do Tennessean's "owe" it to Louisianans to "pick up the tab" for the results of this hurricane? I don't know... I have a feeling that if the disaster had been in Knoxville, the Chattanoogan's would "owe" nothing to the people of Knoxville. If it had been confined to a Chattanooga suburb - say St. Elmo, then residents of Coleman's community would "owe" nothing to the people in St. Elmo. Lex Coleman, try to remember that the people of New Orleans and the other areas affected by Katrina are Americans just like you & me... and those who lived in the places devastated by the Tsunami weren't Americans, but they were our brothers and sisters of the human race. What good is humanity if we don't take care of one another?

I won't reproduce it here, but in the article, Mr. Coleman provided an e-mail address for feedback. I would encourage Chattanoogans to invite him to consider just how far removed the situation in the Congress relative to Katrina is from the situation in the Arab world relative to the cartoons published in Denmark. Let him, and the Chattanoogan know what you think about how they represent our town.

Posted by smijer at 07:54 AM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2006

The Spin Factory

from - RSA

To all Republican operatives:

The unfortunate publicity associated with the Vice President's hunting mishap has largely been contained, but a greater effort will be needed in the near term. Suggestions follow.

"Whittington was peppered [or sprayed] with pellets." The language here is fine, peppering and spraying being associated with domestic activities such as cooking and lawn care, but it could be better. One possibility is that we further push the domesticity angle: "Whittington was misted with a confection of tiny projectiles." Passive voice, abstract language--all good. An alternative is to be more forceful. Imagine this headline: "VP shoots campaign contributer in face with shotgun." This demonstrates Cheney's virility, as well as showing a new way to look at the Abramoff scandal.

News of the incident was held back for almost a day. It's possible to see bad intentions in the delay, but only by the paranoid. Cast this as concern for Whittington's privacy: "If you had just been shot by the Vice President of the United States, would you want a bunch of ravening reporters at your bedside? It's not even the first time it's happened." Aaron Burr, of course.

It was an unfortunate accident. Hunting accidents are fortunately rare, due to the bright clothing worn by hunters, the rules they follow concerning when and where they fire their weapons, and the care hunters take in knowing where their companions are. . . On second thought, forget the rules. When you're bird hunting, it's only natural to shoot at objects six feet off the ground 30 yards away, to the side and possibly behind you. Where's the excitement otherwise?

It was Whittington's fault. Ms. Armstrong's statements have been invaluable, describing Whittington as having sneaked up on the group without shouting, "Hey, it's me, I'm coming up!" If anyone asks about the Vice President's responsibility, suggest that Whittington may be a conservationist: he may have leaped into the line of fire in order to protect the birds.

With hard work, we can keep this under control.

Posted by RSA at 01:32 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2006

A Two Way Street?

from - smijer

He's got a point.

Posted by smijer at 07:37 AM | Comments (0)

Former President Bill Klinton uses Voagra!

from - smijer

Everybody knows the great sexual scandal known as "Klinton-Levinsky". After the relations like this Klintons popularity raised a lot! It is a natural phenomenon, because Bill as a real man in order not to shame himself when he was with Monica regularly used Voagra. What happened you see. His political figure became more bright and more attractive. It is very important for a man to be respected as a man!

See our Voagra shop to enter upon the new phase of your life.

Someone, obviously looking out for my own best interests even though they did not even know me, sent me the above testimonial by e-mail today. I'm so inspired, that I'm going to rush out and get some Voagra today!

Posted by smijer at 07:17 AM | Comments (0)

February 08, 2006

How not to be taken seriously

from - RSA

So I'm reading an interview with Daniel Dennett in Salon, concerning belief in God. Dennett is an important figure in the philosophy of mind, and he's a great speaker and writer to boot. (I had dinner with Dennett once, and in the space of a five minute conversation he was able to provide significant guidance to my research.) I decide to read the letters to the editor, to see how his comments are taken, and the first letter includes this, from a disgruntled reader:

So, how does he come off not referring to my writings on this subject in his book? This is my original idea while he pretends it is his. This doesn't sound too kosher to me for an academic. Moreover, because it wasn't his idea he also doesn't understand the full implications of it and his book falls far short of what it should be. That you should be interviewing him instead of me is a disappointment because your readers aren't getting all they need to from this concept.

I love the complaint: Why is he famous instead of me?

Posted by RSA at 05:06 PM | Comments (0)

Means and Ends

from - RSA

In a column in The New Republic (which I subscribed to until their hawkish position on the Iraq war became clear), Steven Groopman writes,

In the years since September 11, many liberals seem to have concluded that you're not really opposing Bush's means unless you also scorn his stated ends. That's too bad. Liberals have no chance of winning the national security debate if they dismiss its premises. I think most liberals recognize this, but some are so disgusted with the current administration that they feel compelled to oppose--and to mock--anything with Bush's name on it.

But perhaps this is inevitable. Consider that in dealing with the opposition, Bush and his cronies often adopt a rhetorical strategy that can be summed up in two sentences:

If you support my ends, then you support my means.

and

If you oppose my means, then you oppose my ends.

As examples of the first case, we have almost every instance of Democrats being accused of hypocrisy: "How can you object to the way that the Iraq war is being carried out? You voted to give me the authority." Republican message: if you want a specific result, you must do things my way.

As an example of the second case, think about how Rove et al. are spinning the current NSA wiretapping scandal. If you want to force the President to get warrants, obviously you don't care about listening to terrorists' communications. This is just the latest example of this tactic. For an earlier example, John Kerry was pilloried in the last election as a flipflopper for voting against $87 billion to support U.S. troops in the current war; he'd voted for a version that repealed some of Bush's tax cuts to make it all affordable. The establishment of the Department of Homeland Security was yet another example. Republican message: if you don't like the way we're doing things, you don't care about the result.

Posted by RSA at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)

Strange Bedfellows Unite Against a Bad Idea

from - smijer

Some of the groups opposed to HB1729:

Focus on Family
Planned Parenthood
...

Tennessee Guerilla Women mentions an effort in the Tennessee legislator to create a legislative presumption in favor of joint custody. This is a real dumb idea, if you think about it. I guess I have to program my assemblypersons' phone number into the cell phone, now, too.

Posted by smijer at 11:42 AM | Comments (0)

Not So Good

from - smijer

A late coming superbowl thought -- while it's understandable that the NFL wanted to follow up their success from last year with aging British rockers at half-time, it became clear this year that the Stones were not the way to go. Don't get me wrong. I love the Stones... but this was horrible. They should have stuck with Paul... or moved on to Floyd...

Posted by smijer at 08:00 AM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2006

Racial suicide

from - RSA

It's amazing what passes for semi-mainstream commentary these days. Pat Robertson says, according the Media Matters,

Europe is right now in the midst of racial suicide because of the declining birth rate.

White people have been around for tens of thousands of years (neglecting the myth that God created humans in their present form a few thousand years ago in the Garden of Eden). I somehow doubt that tens of thousands of years in the future, there will be no more white people.

Numbers aside, what's the rationale for being concerned about such an event, even if it were likely? Is such closet racism--actually, it's pretty overt in this case--a misguided application of some feeling of kinship? It's hard for me to understand what's going on in the mind of someone like Pat Robertson. He rails against Europeans at every opportunity, based on what some say in public, but Pat seems at the same time to think, "But it would be a shame if there were fewer Europeans, because, after all, they're white."

Posted by RSA at 03:03 PM | Comments (0)

Time is running out

from - Buck

My birthday was Sunday. 48 years old. That even sounds old when I say it but trust me; it seems to have overtaken me suddenly. I look in the mirror and I don’t even recognize the old guy that is looking back. I don’t want to sound like anybody’s daddy or granddaddy but by God if you are in your twenty’s or thirty’s you might as well just go with the flow. You are not going to believe how quickly you are going to reach middle age.

My youngest daughter and her fiancé took me and the wife out to a place called Japanese Steak and Sushi. It was my first ever trip to a restaurant where the chef cooks the meal while you watch. I don’t get out much. But our chef was an absolute master. He provided me with more entertainment than I have ever gotten at a movie theatre. Damn he was good. I have always heard of dining experiences but this was the first time I have ever had one.

My oldest daughter and her fiancé bought me two books.

The Memory of Running was the one that I decided to read first and I have not been disappointed. I am only about 100 pages in but it is a beautifully written story. I may blog a review when I finish it.

The Life of Pi is a book that I had considered buying myself on more than one occasion but I just have never acted on the urge. I have never mentioned the book to anybody before and when I opened the sack and saw that book in it I got one of they mystical, magical, metaphysical feelings. And I don’t care if you are an atheist Smijer, I know you have had those kinds of feelings before. Hell, you can probably give me a scientific explanation for them.

My wife bought me Our Endangered Values by Jimmy Carter. For most of my life I ridiculed Jimmy Carter. I am ashamed of myself now. Jimmy Carter is truly a man of peace. It only stands to reason that men of peace will be marginalized in this world. That has always been and I guess it will always be. I admire him now because he has remained true to what he is all of the way down the line and even in the face of relentless mockery. The people who say that he never met a dictator he did not like are the same bastards who never saw a war they didn’t like.

I can’t wait until I am 68 or 98 or 108. It is not that I fear or dread dying because I do not. It is just that I am so fascinated to watch the world and the things that go on in the world.

It has been an honor to have a bit part in this Divine Comedy. It has been an honor to watch those around me act out their parts. It sounds hokey but life is a gift and it is a new gift that I enjoy opening every morning.

I am going to have to quit bitching about it so much.

Posted by Buck at 01:01 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2006

National competitiveness in science

from - RSA

In a Washington post column, Sebasian Mallaby tells the science lobby (I'm not exactly sure who that is) that concerns about our national competitiveness in the sciences are overblown. He makes some good points and presents an optimistic picture for the future, but he gets a few things wrong.

Science and math advocates have been harrumphing about national competitiveness for at least a quarter-century. In the early 1980s the National Science Foundation predicted "looming shortfalls" of scientists and engineers, . . .

Part of the shortfall issue is that the proportion of students in graduate science and engineering programs who are U.S. citizens has not been impressive in the past few decades. In 2003, for example, some 55% of the Ph.D.s awarded in engineering went to foreign students with temporary visas. One aspect of the shortfall is that the influx of good foreign graduate students is not really under our control; as of 2001, visa problems for foreign students skyrocketed. Is this a problem for our national technology engine? Hard to tell, but it's a possibility certainly not to be dismissed.

There's no dividing wall between academic labs and commerce, and scientists surf from one world to the other on waves of money and cultural approval.

A couple of years ago my students and I published a short paper describing an interaction technqique to speed up text entry on mobile communications devices. A company became interested, and we collaborated for a few months, with a view toward putting together a new, possibly niche product. Eventually, however, we discovered an extremely broad patent had been granted to one of the giants in the mobile technology field. It wasn't clear that what we were doing could work around the boundaries they'd established. All fine and good---but do we see the technique described in the paper my students and I wrote? Nope.

There may be only weak barriers between academic labs and industry, but they certainly exist, and they're not to the benefit of consumers, at least in the small picture.

Posted by RSA at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

Checking Up

from - smijer

Got a fundraising call Sunday morning from the Disabled Veterans Associations. We just got our taxes done, I hadn't already invested anything in this particular type of organization, and my first instinct was to say "OK". But I wanted to make sure that this organization was legit first, so I asked the caller for the home office address, and looked them up on Charity Navigator.

Now, I already knew that organizations who rely heavily on telephone solicitation spend a lot on fundraising expenses - that the money would be more efficiently spent by a different organization. But, I didn't expect to be solicited at all by any other group, and I know myself well enough that it would be a long time before I sat down on my own and shopped for a disabled veterans organization to make a contribution.

But, I wasn't prepared for just how inefficient these guys really are. While I was talking to the fundraiser, I checked their page on the Navigator. At first glance, I thought the chart showed program expenses in yellow - nearly 3/4 of the pie - which is about right for this type of organization. A closer look told me that this was their fundraising expense. In other words, for every dollar a patron contributes, seventy cents is used to pay someone to call more people on a Sunday morning looking for money. That's plumb awful. I mentioned this to the caller, who insisted that 100% of the money went to the veterans, that he was employed by the DVA, and they did not farm out their fundraising to expensive outside companies. Well, I suspect (especially from the phrasing he used when he reiterated the first point) that the 100% figure is the amount that goes to the Association - not the amount that goes to programs, but I suggested that he send me literature in the mail so that I could review the numbers they provided. I told him that, if they had recently improved their efficiency, etc., then I might be persuaded to change my mind. I also mentioned to him that the group had not returned a donor privacy survey to Charity Navigator - also a concern to many. I suggested to him that his organization should look at their page on CN, verify that the information was correct (and provide better info if needed to the CN), and also consider adjusting their policies so that they would score better in the future.

He was pleasant and asked me for the URL. I hope that he passed this up the chain to someone in management, who can use the CN as a kind of feedback to help guide changes in the way they do their business. If so, then the Charity Navigator is doing some good work on behalf of the people served by organizations like DVA. If not, well, then they at least saved me a few dollars on a Sunday morning... And, I appreciate that a lot.

Posted by smijer at 07:24 AM | Comments (0)

February 05, 2006

When at loose ends

from - RSA

This weekend I find myself rambling through my parents' house, without much specific to do aside from work. I'm often in this kind of situation: I travel to another city alone, work or go to meetings, and have to figure out what to do with my free time. Here's a short quiz about what you do when you're away from home and on your own:

  1. It's morning and there's no coffee in the house. You (a) go without, (b) drink tea instead, (c) look through the phone book for a nearby coffee shop, (d) look for a local coffee shop that also has Internet access, or (e) do something else.
  2. Your afternoon is free and you want to get out of your hotel room or house. You spend it (a) walking through a shopping mall, (b) browsing in a bookstore, (c) walking through a park, (d) drinking in a bar, or (e) doing something else.
  3. You're stuck in someone else's house or apartment for the evening. For dinner, you (a) cook a meal made from ingredients you've foresightedly picked up at the store earlier during the day, (b) search through your hosts' freezer for something you can microwave, (c) order a pizza delivered, (d) raid the liquor cabinet, or (e) do something else.
  4. It's ten o'clock at night. You've eaten dinner and are at loose ends. You (a) turn on the TV--actually, you've had the TV on since the afternoon, so you just continue watching, (b) pick out a book to read, (c) decide to go out and hunt down a bar, (d) go to bed, or (e) do something else.

I'm the kind of person who has to have coffee and connectivity (1d), spends way too much time searching for "finds" in used bookstores (2b), is a very lazy cook except when at home (3b, c, and d), and is reluctant to go out on the town alone (4a or 4b). What about you?

Posted by RSA at 04:54 PM | Comments (0)

Peer Review

from - RSA

In another forum I've been arguing with a Creationist about evolution, and I came to the realization that not everyone understands the idea of peer review. This is scary in that some of the people who are running the nation's scientific and regulatory agencies also seem to have no grasp of the idea.

From the LA Times:

Cal/EPA's air pollution epidemiology chief, Bart Ostro, charged during the teleconference that the EPA had incorporated "last-minute opinions and edits" by the White House Office of Management and Budget that "circumvented the entire peer review process."

In principle, peer review is easy to understand. Scientific results generated by Researcher X are not taken on faith by the scientific community, but rather are reviewed by X's peers before they make their way into the literature. When you read a peer-reviewed scientific article, you know that it's been vetted by scientists who have looked at the claims in the article and found them sound.

One might think that this is an authoritarian, faith-based approach to science, that the high priests of science must give their imprimatur to some piece of work before it can appear, but this is not the case. The keys are transparency and appropriate incentives. For an analogy, suppose that you and your roommate are going out for the evening. He's been out earlier, so you ask him, "Is it raining outside?" He says, "No." Is it a matter of faith for you to believe your roommate? Not at all: he's been trustworthy in the past; he has a stake in telling you the truth (he'll get wet too, if he dresses so as to mislead you); his answer can be checked directly, if you look out the window.

The same applies to scientific research. Reviewers have a track record in their area, or they wouldn't be viewed as competent for reviewing new work. Because reviewers tend to be chosen from the same area as the work they're reviewing, they have a stake knowing whether they'll be able to rely on the results or not. Reviewers usually want enough information to be able to reproduce the results they're reviewing. All this means that, if I trust the peer review process, I can trust the results that come out of it.

Now we come to the Bush administration, which has not been a friend to science in general. They seem to take the shallowest view of scientific research: It's just a bunch of opinions by people who think they're smarter than we are, and what's more, they're people who tend not to vote Republican, so screw 'em. Is this a fair characterization? I think it's consistent with the Bushies' preference for politics over policy, appearance over substance, and happy talk over hard truths. I should probably spend some time documenting this, but others are already doing a fine job, including Chris Mooney at the Intersection and Tim F at Balloon Juice.

Posted by RSA at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2006

Mohammed and the Flag

from - RSA

I've been reading a bit lately about the controversy over the Mohammed cartoons. Slate.com has a rundown of what Arab journalists are saying, along with a pointer to the cartoons (which apparently haven't appeared in any mainstream American print medium.)

I don't have anything in particular to add to the discussion of this case, but a related thought occurred to me: Suppose that, between Moslems who let this pass with a roll of the eyes and a comment of "Ignorant infidels!" (apologies if my light tone is offensive) and Moslems who set fire to the Danish embassy in Syria, there is a group who says, "The cartoonist and his publisher should be jailed." It's not hard to imagine such a view, given how often we read about journalists being jailed in the Middle East for expressing their opinions.

Now switch gears: Think of politicians and political commentators in the U.S., mainly on the right, who push for a Constitutional amendment banning flag burning. They're saying, "The person who burns a U.S. flag should be jailed." I don't think it's possible for a reasonable person to say, at the same time, that the "middle-of-the-road" Moslem group I've hypothesized above is being unreasonable, and that a flag burning amendment is in the spirit of American democracy. It just doesn't work. Satire/mockery/degradation of a symbol (whether religious or secular) is either a matter of free speech or it is not. One can't pick and choose which symbols deserve special treatment.

Posted by RSA at 07:46 PM | Comments (0)

Washington, Lincoln, and. . .

from - RSA

I was listening to the Press Club appearance of Donald Rumsfeld the other day, on a drive between Washington, DC, and Baltimore. Some attention has been given to Rumsfeld's comment that Hugo Chavez was elected by a democracy, just like Adolf Hitler, but less to a more self-serving comment: asked how history would view him (or possibly it was in the context of political figures, like Macnamara, who were criticized for their actions), Rumsfeld responded that Washington was criticized in his time, and Lincoln was criticized in his time.

Was anyone else reminded of the line that ends, "but people also laughed at Bozo the Clown"? Rumsfeld seems to be taking a page from Bush's speech book. I just wish there were a Lloyd Bentson around to say, "George, you're no FDR, and Don, you're no George Washington."

(I wish I could find the transcript, but it doesn't appear to be online.)

Posted by RSA at 07:30 PM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2006

Meet The New Boss...

from - smijer

same as the old boss...

Which is a running joke here, but I was reminded of it by a comment that I ran across while preparing this post. I thought it would be fun to compare the points and chat from RedState with the the same from Daily Kos. I'll let Red State go first:

While RedState endorsed another candidate - we see a lot to like about Mr. Boehner. We wish him the best of luck and look forward to working with him in the future.

Now dKos:

In 1995, Boehner handed out campaign checks from the tobacco industry to members on the House floor at a time when lawmakers were considering eliminating a tobacco subsidy.

Tobacco subsidies? Let's see what RedState has to say about government spending...

I think you can expect a bold agenda focused on cutting the size of government. The conservatives in the House are the reason Boehner won. He knows it. He is obligated to put forth an agressive agenda that curtails our out of control spending.

DKos:

Representative Chris Shays, a Connecticut Republican, said he believes that Boehner is even closer to lobbyists than Blunt. "The problem John faces is that he's so close to K Street; that's the challenge he's got," said Shays, who's backing Blunt.

RedState rebuts:

...real impression, good step. one by one, we're turning the gop back into real conservative reformers.

dKos takes the cross-examination:

Interesting to note, via Political Cortex, that Boehner was Ohio's number one recipient of Abramoff-connected Indian Tribe donations, outpacing even Bob Ney.

(which he refused to return, by the way)
RedState on Boehner/Abramoff?

Do I hear crickets? Let's give them another turn...

Maybe Boehner can corral the out-of-control Ohio GOP Delegation. They've gone way too far off the reservation on important legislation like CAFTA.

Last word from dKos:

[T]he new ethically pure, reformist, anti-corruption Congressional Republicans will be led by a Republican from Ohio. Boehner is a member of a male-only country club with a $75,000 initiation fee. Maybe that cleaned out his bank account, which is why he had to take almost $14,000 in free trips from the lobbyist-connected Ripon Society.

Your Republican Party: small government; big lobbyists, cars, country clubs, and tobacco subsidies!

Posted by smijer at 07:10 AM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2006

SPECIAL ALERT! NBC to mock the Crucifixion of Christ

from - smijer

I got this forwarded to me by the CEO of my company today (not me, personally - it went to all of the staff).

NBC, fresh from giving us the anti-Christian The Book of Daniel , has decided to hit back at the Christian community by presenting an episode of Will and Grace which mocks the crucifixion of Christ.

I hate to break it to you, Mr. Wildmon, but they aren't making fun of the Crucifixion of Christ. They are making fun of humorless, pompous culture warriors like yourself.

And now that you've shared the outrage with your flock ("2,985,458 Supporters Strong and Growing!"), NBC will probably feel the pressure and cave to it, pulling the episode out of the line-up and prompting people like me to laugh at their spineless butts.

Won't that be nice?

Wouldn't it be nicer if we all learned how to laugh at ourselves a little instead of taking offense at every poke or tease?

Posted by smijer at 04:33 PM | Comments (0)

What's a man to do?

from - Buck

I have been surprised that I have not seen more of this on other blogs today.

I first saw it on CBS news early this morning.

By the looks of things a police officer told a guy to get up and then shot him for getting up.

I can remember a time when things like this would have infuriated me but for reasons I cannot explain they just do not infuriate me anymore.

I don't know if that is good or that is bad. I fear a police state but who am I going to complain about a police state to? The police?

Posted by Buck at 12:56 PM | Comments (0)

February 01, 2006

Bush, the Science President (no, really!)

from - RSA

I didn't watch the State of the Union address, but I did pick up on this portion from various commentators:

First, I propose to double the federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next 10 years. This funding will support the work of America's most creative minds as they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology and supercomputing and alternative energy sources.

From other sources, I understand that this is a plan to double basic research funding over the next ten years at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Department of Energy (DOE). Wonderful if true.

Posted by RSA at 12:26 PM | Comments (0)

Freedom ain’t free

from - Buck

And by the looks of things won’t be getting any cheaper.

The Bush administration is considering asking Congress later this year for at least $2 billion in new reconstruction money, primarily for maintaining completed Iraqi facilities.

Why would we call it “new reconstruction money” when it is to be used for maintainence?

We should know by now that maintaining infrastructure is not cheap. If we intend to continue building schools and paving roads in the Middle East it is prudent to consider how much this is going to cost and where the money is going to come from.

The issue of maintaining facilities has added importance in light of a report Mr. Bowen released last week. He said that because of rising security costs and other factors, the U.S. will be able to finish only 49 of 136 planned water projects and 300 of 425 electric projects.

It is beginning to look like we cannot build what we had hoped to build and what we were able to build we cannot afford to maintain.

Going forward I can’t help but wonder how much more of this we can expect

Soon, large quantities of cash began arriving in Baghdad, shipped in on C17 cargo planes. The cash arrived on pallets loaded with shrink-wrapped bundles of $US100 notes. The parcels, which soon became known as "bricks", were handed out "like candy", one Democrat congressman said.
In all, $US12 billion in cash, weighing 363 tonnes, was flown into Iraq. On December 12, 2003 one flight to Iraq contained $US1.5billion in cash, the largest single Federal Reserve payout in US history, according to Henry Waxman, the Democrat congressman who is investigating the funding. The US has so far spent $US226 billion on the Iraq war.

I guess the real question is, when will Bush give the State of the Empire address?

Posted by Buck at 11:13 AM | Comments (0)

Excuses

from - smijer

I've been away from the internets the last couple of days and probably will be the remainder of the week. I'm reading Eragon, doing a few odds & ends, and doing some other odds & ends. I put Eragon before the SOTU last night, so there are no comments from me on the latter. It probably sucked.

Any way, I just wanted to tell everybody "hi" before I duck back in my hole... Be sweet.

Posted by smijer at 07:45 AM | Comments (0)