Last year, Kerry showed me a video of the coolest Christmas light display EVAR. Turns out the guy lives just outside Toronto. Neat.
Last official post of 2006.
Due to travel, inevitable lack of internet access, a general sense of malaise and a need to take time off, we're going to turn off comments & go quiet around here until the first of January. or at least that's the plan
During the off period I'm going to catch up on some reading and unfinished business.
1. Have to read the report these guys put out. What a collaboration.
2. Fight the good fight in the War on Christmas, ensuring I'm spending my money only at stores willing to exploit the birth of the Christ-child in their ads. No spending my hard earned dollar at stores willing to focus on the larger holiday season.
3. Spend quality time with my father in-law before the pancreatic cancer takes him from us forever.
4. Pray for the health of Senator Johnson... and selfishly, majority control of the Senate.
6. Lament the loss of more of the freedomses we're supposedly fighting for overseas.
7. Wonder how in the world a democratically elected leader could be removed from office without any proof of a consensual blow-job being involved.
8. Not worry about wardrobe malfunctional impacts to possible presidential hopefuls.
Y'all have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Spectacular Boxing Day, Kickin' Kwanza and a great New Years... be safe.
The Lead Ostrich in the Conservative's Global Warming Exploratory Committee speaks up.
We do not face looming climate chaos. We have time to respond rationally and responsibly, evaluate competing claims, demand real science and evidence, devise sensible laws and policies, and develop new energy generation technologies that will meet growing demand for abundant, reliable, affordable electricity – while improving efficiency, reducing pollution, and protecting the health and economic vitality of families, companies and communities.
Let’s hope the march toward totalitarian government ends, wisdom prevails, and we again place our faith in American optimism, creativity, innovation and true social responsibility.
So, no regulation and over-reliance on business to solve Global Warming while simultaneously declaring it to be barely more than a fairy tale is the answer? It's not a partisan issue, it's a humanity issue and the last political grouping of individuals who should be in denial are ones with "conserve" in their name.
What happens when you leave global solutions to business?
The world's largest energy company is still spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund European organisations that seek to cast doubt on the scientific consensus on global warming and undermine support for legislation to curb emission of greenhouse gases.
Data collated by a Brussels-based watchdog reveals that ExxonMobil has put money into projects that criticise the Kyoto treaty and question the findings of scientific groups. Environmental campaigners say Texas-based Exxon is trying to influence opinion-makers in Brussels because Europe - rather than the US - is the driving force for action on climate change.
The insurance industry is paying attention to climate change and to increased storm activity, and that is translating into skyrocketing premiums from Hilton Head to Little River.
Premiums for single-family residences along the Grand Strand have seen 100 percent increases and condominiums have seen up to 700 percent increases, according to research by Al Parish, an economist at Charleston Southern University.
While climate change and global warming have plenty of skeptics, said state Insurance Director Eleanor Kitzman, "the insurance industry believes in this issue and it is affecting the way they do business - which affects the citizens of South Carolina and the economy of this state and that gets my attention."
so... although there's no pending chaos, everyone's concerned but the conservative wonks?
The World Bank's former chief economist, Nicholas Stern, recently conducted a sweeping analysis of the economic risks of global climate change. His conclusion: Climate change is "the greatest market failure the world has seen" and, if unchecked, it could cause "economic upheaval on the scale of the 1930s Depression" at a greater cost than both world wars combined. British Prime Minister Tony Blair declared Stern's report the most important document ever put before his government.
The Midwest will be examining its own special risks from climate change Thursday at a meeting of Midwest investors and business leaders at the University of Chicago Business School. The gathering is a cogent reminder that climate change is not just a coastal issue, but also a heartland issue, with potentially far-reaching consequences for the regional economy. So serious is the issue that 50 leading U.S. investors, including the Illinois State Board of Investment, have joined the $3.7 trillion Investor Network on Climate Risk to examine the financial implications of climate change and actions to reduce risks.
Spending advertising and media dollars to piss on Al Gore and others championing the rescue of the planet that sustains our lives seems like an awful waste when the same level of effort applied to trumpeting alternatives to our current lifestyles would move us so much further towards ensuring our collective longevity. Or... we could just sit back, whine and wait for the inevitable.
What Would Leslie Do?
Why is it that something as fragile and precious as life is taken so for granted? Suddenly someone's gone and you spend your time rummaging around old emails and websites trying to find something tangible that you can grab onto. When I lost a very close friend in fall of 2001, Leslie sent me a wonderfully warm and supportive email and in it, she enclosed the following quote which I included in the eulogy read at his funeral.
On a day of burial there is no perspective-for space itself is annihilated. Your dead friend is still a fragmentary being. The day you bury him is a day of chores and crowds, of hands false or true to be shaken, of the immediate cares of mourning. The dead friend will not really die until tomorrow, when silence is round you again. Then he will show himself complete, as he was-to tear himself away, as he was, from the substantial you. Only then will you cry out because of him who is leaving and whom you cannot detain.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944), French aviator, author. Flight to Arras, ch. 2 (1942).
Thank you Leslie... that about sums it up and it's about time for that cry.
Oh what a difference a month makes.
The country, in my judgment, is tired of pure political bickering that happens in Washington, and they understand that on this important issue of war and peace, it is best for our country to work together. And I understand how difficult that is, but this report will give us all an opportunity to find common ground, for the good of the country -- not for the good of the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, but for the good of the country.
You know, the debate is interesting about this vital part of protecting the country. If you listen carefully to what the Democrats say about Iraq, you think about what they're saying about their plan for success, there isn't one. This is a major political party that has no plan for success in Iraq. As a matter of fact, their only plan is to leave before the job is done. Oh, you listen to some of them -- they say we pull out the troops now. And then they got a bunch of them saying, let's have a fixed date and we'll leave on that fixed date, regardless of whether the job is done. They've actually got a member of the House of Representatives who has recommended moving our troops 5,000 miles away on another island -- on an island. Nineteen House Democrats introduced legislation that would cut off funds for our troops in Iraq.
So they're going to tone down the "cut & run" rhetoric then?
The national job approval rating of President Bush has plummeted to 30%, an all–time low in the latest Zogby International telephone poll, sinking below the 31% approval rating he dropped to in early June.
The President’s positive job rating is down from 36% in late October, in the weeks heading into the congressional midterm elections. Since then, the Democrats swept to control of both houses of Congress, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld resigned and was replaced by Robert Gates, who said the U.S. is not winning the war in Iraq. Release of the Iraq Study Group’s report calling for significant change in the way the U.S. is conducting the Iraq war came as this latest Zogby poll was in the field.
Sixty–eight percent said they believe Bush is doing only a fair or poor job leading the nation.
He's staying the course.
You can't beat Texas when it comes to making bigotry, laughable.
KATY, Texas (AP) - A plan to build a mosque in this Houston suburb has triggered a neighbourhood dispute, with community members warning the place will become a terrorist hotbed and one man threatening to hold pig races on Fridays just to offend the Muslims.
Many neighbourhood residents claim they have nothing against Muslims and are more concerned about property values, drainage and traffic.
But one resident has set up an anti-Islamic website with an odometer-like counter that keeps track of terrorist attacks since Sept. 11. A committee has formed to buy another property and offer to trade it for the Muslims' land. And next-door neighbour Craig Baker has threatened to race pigs on the edge of the property on the Muslim holy day. Muslims consider pigs unclean and do not eat pork.
"The neighbours have created havoc for us and we didn't expect that," said engineer Kamel Fotouh, president of the 500-member Katy Islamic Association.
Though he now concedes the Muslims are probably not after his land, Baker said he is obligated to go through with the pig races, probably within the next few weeks, because "I would be like a total idiot if I didn't. I'd be the laughingstock now because I've gone too far."
Best thing to happen to the office of the Vice President in quite some time.
Mary Cheney, the vice president's openly gay daughter, is pregnant. She and her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, are "ecstatic" about the baby, due in late spring, said a source close to the couple.
Washington - The Bush administration is considering doing away with health standards that cut lead from gasoline, widely regarded as one of the nation's biggest clean-air accomplishments.
Battery makers, lead smelters, refiners all have lobbied the administration to do away with the Clean Air Act limits.
A preliminary staff review released by the Environmental Protection Agency this week acknowledged the possibility of dropping the health standards for lead air pollution. The agency says revoking those standards might be justified "given the significantly changed circumstances since lead was listed in 1976" as an air pollutant.
(via Political Wire)
"Important Bush Administration officials are ready to leave the government rather than undergo two years of hell from Democratic committee chairmen in Congress. Leading the exodus are officials of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), fearing investigation by two chairmen, Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA) and John Dingell (D-MI)."
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The toll in one of the U.S. military's deadliest days in Iraq rose to 11 when the military said Thursday that another soldier had died in fighting west of Baghdad.
At least seven Iraqis — six policemen and a 7-year-old girl — were killed in a series of bombings and shootings.
The U.S. soldier was shot Wednesday while manning a machine gun nest on the roof of an outpost in Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, the capital of the volatile Anbar province, according to an Associated Press reporter on the scene.
The death came on the same day that 10 other U.S. troops were killed in four separate incidents in Iraq, and a blue-ribbon panel in Washington recommended gradually shifting U.S. forces from a combat to a training role.
The military released details about five of the other troops killed on Wednesday, saying they were Task Force Lightning soldiers who were struck by a roadside bomb while conducting combat operations in the vicinity of the northern city of Kirkuk. The soldiers were assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.
The U.S. military gave no further details about identities or the other deaths, pending notification of relatives.
The attacks followed a particularly bloody weekend and raised to at least 31 the number of U.S. troops who have died in the first week of this month. At least 69 troops were killed in November and 105 soldiers were killed in October — the highest monthly toll since January 2005.
So... Bush, we're losing ~4 troops a day... and we've still not found Osama yet?
PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH: I know there’s a lot of speculation that these reports in Washington mean there’s going to be some kind of graceful exit out of Iraq. We’re going to stay in Iraq to get the job done.
Yes George, we've seen graceful exits before and feel you're incapable of them.
Oh yeah.. a Shrill-off
When the president persists in talking about staying until "the mission is complete" even though there is no definable military mission, let alone one that can be completed, he is indulging in pure absurdity. The same goes for his talk of "victory," another concept robbed of any definition when the prime minister we are trying to prop up is allied with Mr. Sadr, a man who wants Americans dead and has many scalps to prove it. The newest hollowed-out Bush word to mask the endgame in Iraq is "phase," as if the increasing violence were as transitional as the growing pains of a surly teenager. "Phase" is meant to drown out all the unsettling debate about two words the president doesn't want to hear, "civil war."
The joke, history may note, is that even as Mr. Bush deludes himself that he is bringing "democracy" to Iraq, he is flouting democracy at home. American voters could not have delivered a clearer mandate on the war than they did on Nov. 7, but apparently elections don't register at the White House unless the voters dip their fingers in purple ink. Mr. Bush seems to think that the only decision he had to make was replacing Donald Rumsfeld and the mission of changing course would be accomplished.
Washington - With Iraq falling apart, it's getting lonely at the top for President Bush.
His hawkish neo-con advisers are deserting him. He had to fire Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The Democrats have won control of Congress. U.S. allies are angry at his Iraq policies.
And even Henry Kissinger - one of Bush's foreign policy advisers and a key architect of the Vietnam debacle - has decided Iraq is a can't-win situation. He earlier had told Bush, "The only exit strategy is victory."
Don't expect any dramatic recommendations from the Iraq Study Group led by Baker and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind. The nine men and one woman on the panel are cautious Washington insiders who got picked for the job because of their don't-rock-the-boat reputations. After all, they might want to get asked again, sometime in the future, to serve on another White House commission.
This is unfortunate because the dire mess in Iraq demands bold action by the U.S. The real solution is a cakewalk out of Iraq tomorrow. The world would stand in shock and awe.
...and Frank wins by a nose.
John Bolton's out... the qualified policy wonks are busy speculating as to who the most qualified candidate is.
See this coming?
Excellent choices all. I like Rick Santorum. He would be my pick. He's a man of vision. He represents American values and he kowtows to no one. Would the Senate reject one of their own?
Yeah, me neither.
Unannounced server move... last two days' posts lost.
Oh Lord, why hath thou foresaken me?*
*was never with him
What is is with the Chickenhawk's desperate desire to discount every piece of nasty news coming out of Iraq? Fear of the truth or that their rose colored glasses might eventually fall off their faces?
On Nov. 25, the press office of Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNCI) published press release No. 20061125-09 (see mnf-iraq.com). The MNCI stated that investigation showed only one mosque had been attacked and found no evidence to support the story of the six immolated Sunnis.
The U.S.-based Website FloppingAces (floppingaces.net) has published an email from MNCI to the AP that states "no one below the level of chief is authorized to be an Iraqi police spokesperson." The email also addresses the story of the Sunnis being burned alive: "... neither we nor Baghdad Police had any reports of such an incident after investigating it and could find no one to corroborate the story. ... We can tell you definitively that the primary source of this story, police Capt. Jamil Hussein, is not a Baghdad police officer or an MOI (Ministry of the Interior) employee." The letter is attributed to U.S. Navy Lt. Michael Dean.
I contacted CENTCOM's Baghdad press office and received an email confirming that Hussein is not a policeman nor does he work for Iraq's MOI.
FloppingAces noted that the AP has quoted "Jamil Hussein" in at least eight stories since April 2006.
So who is Jamil?
At this point we really don't know. The AP hasn't provided definitive details. Jamil's "burning Sunnis" story now appears to be rather dubious smoke. However, its horrifying headline has magnified a perception of sectarian terror, one advantageous to Saddam's "former regime elements" and al-Qaida terrorists.
Jamil and his various stories require investigation and substantiation; an AP self-investigation will strike many as inadequate. Twenty-five years ago, The New York Times dismissed the National News Council as unnecessary. "Jimmy's World" proved the Times wrong. We need to revive the National News Council -- and have it investigate "Jamil's World" muy pronto.
Investigation underway... seems Townhall's genius experienced some premature especulation.
On Tuesday, two AP reporters also went back to the Hurriyah neighborhood around the Mustafa mosque and found three witnesses who independently gave accounts of the attack. Others in the neighborhood said they were afraid to talk about what happened.
Those who would talk said the assault began about 2:15 p.m., and they believed the attackers were from the Mahdi Army militia loyal to radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. He and the Shiite militia are deeply rooted in and control the Sadr City enclave in northeastern Baghdad where suspected Sunni insurgents attacked with a series of car bombs and mortar shells, killing at least 215 people a day before.
The witnesses refused to allow the use of their names because they feared retribution either from the original attackers or the police, whose ranks are infiltrated by Mahdi Army members or its associated death squads.
Two of the witnesses — a 45-year-old bookshop owner and a 48-year-old neighborhood grocery owner — gave nearly identical accounts of what happened. A third, a physician, said he saw the attack on the mosque from his home, saw it burning and heard people in the streets screaming that people had been set on fire. All three men are Sunni Muslims.
The two other witnesses said the mosque assault began in earnest about 2:30 p.m. after the arrival of the four vehicles filled with arms. They said the attackers fired into the mosque, then entered and set it on fire.
Then, the witnesses said, the attackers brought out six men, blindfolded and handcuffed, and lined them up on the street at the gate of the mosque. The witnesses said the six were doused with kerosene from a 1.3-gallon canister and set on fire at intervals, one after the other, with a torch made of rags. The fifth and sixth men in the line were set afire at the same time.
The witnesses said the burning victims rolled on the ground in agony until apparently dead, then the gunmen fired a single bullet into each of their heads.
The witnesses said residents, in the meantime, had taken up arms and began a gunbattle with the suspected militiamen that raged in the neighborhood until 4 p.m. They said eight to 10 gunmen were killed and left in the streets. Iraqi law allows each household to own an AK-47 assault rife for protection.