Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"Nature Deficit Disorder"

You are not the only one who believe children today don't get to play outside in nature enough these days. There is one organization working hard to get youth out doors, particularly those who don't have a chance or the wear-withal to do so.

This organization does great things to educate urban youth about the out-of-doors. Do you have a hard time getting your teen child to turn off the computer and operate in the primary life rather than the second (virtual) life? Support BAWT by donating time or money now.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Whom Do We Trust?

If we cannot trust our existing government to lead us, or even the intelligence that our president uses to go to war, whom can we trust? The DoD?
At least 20,000 U.S. troops who were not classified as wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have been found with signs of brain injuries, according to military and veterans records compiled by USA TODAY.

The data, provided by the Army, Navy and Department of Veterans Affairs, show that about five times as many troops sustained brain trauma as the 4,471 officially listed by the Pentagon through Sept. 30. These cases also are not reflected in the Pentagon's official tally of wounded, which stands at 30,327.
If you cannot trust the numbers put out by the institutions who are charged with doing it, how is it that people who are for the "war" in Iraq base their support and continued trust laden in the existing leadership?

Incidentally, the coalition of the willing is about to shrink by another ally:
Also Friday, Poland's new prime minister said he plans to withdraw troops from Iraq next year.

In a three-hour speech to parliament, Donald Tusk said that by the end of 2008, Poland will withdraw its 900 troops from Iraq, where it leads an international contingent of about 2,000 soldiers from 10 nations in the south-central part of the country.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Iraq Quotient

Out for my post T-Day run this AM. Sunny, but brisk. Thought hit me directly between the eyes. Perhaps there is a direct correlation between those that support the war and those making money from it.

Of course there is no calculus behind this equation, but perhaps there is an Iraq Quotient as follows. That is, your enthusiasm for the war is exponentially connected to the amount of profit you make off it. The more you more the more enthusiastic you are about it.

On the opposite side, perhaps those who don't support the war are vehemently against it because they are not profiting by it...and are being exploited by the former population.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, is the surge working?
Two bombs exploded hours apart Friday in a central Baghdad pet market and a police checkpoint in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, killing 26 people and wounding dozens, officials said.

The attacks were among the deadliest in recent weeks, underscoring warnings by senior U.S. commanders that extremists still pose a threat to Iraq's fragile security despite a downturn in violence since a U.S.-Iraqi security plan began in mid-February.

The blast in the capital's popular weekly al-Ghazl animal bazaar occurred just before 9 a.m., shattering the festive atmosphere as people strolled past the stalls.

At least 13 people were killed and nearly 60 wounded, including four policemen, according to police and hospital officials. Several shops also were damaged.

About 1:30 p.m. in Mosul, a suicide car bomber struck a police checkpoint, killing three policemen and 10 civilians, said police Brig. Gen. Mohammed al-Wakaa.

The al-Ghazl market, where sellers peddle birds, dogs, cats, sheep, goats and exotic animals such as snakes and monkeys, has been targeted in the past. On Jan. 26, 15 people were killed when a bomb hidden in a box of pigeons exploded as shoppers gathered around it.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hells Angels: Getting To Be A Holiday Tradition

I did my usual homeless census on my AM run as is my habit it seems on T-Day. My route was shorter than usual as I'm nursing a calf injury, which is much better after taking the better part of a month and a half off from running completely. Even so, the tally is 26 Homeless, and a dozen Hells Angels lined up along the sidewalk at the same cafe they were at last year.

For a while, I was thinking the Mayor's programs to clean up the homeless issue was working, but really, they are just dislocated. There were not the same congregations of homeless in the places they were last year. This year, they were spread out, outside of the park on city streets. It's astonishing.

Homelessness has been a problem for a great long while. Why is it that people can figure out how to provide free search engines and email accounts, but can't fix the homeless problem? No wait, I know. It's because there's no money in it, unlike some unpopular wars in foreign lands I know.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Got Your IED?

A friend of mine tossed me this link. Pay particular attention to the graph mid way on the page and ask yourself: Is the surge working?

Environmental Thought For The Day

I joined the local Bike Coalition last month...certifying that I will never be electable in any category if I ever dared run for any kind of political office. People mistakenly label bikers in my town as extremists (as to why they don't label us true conservatives is beyond me - e.g. I'm too cheep to pay for gas to drive my car or even pay the fare for local public transit; so my car sits idle most the year round unless I'm toting my windsurfing gear to the launch, but I digress).

I now get their e-news letter. In this last one, they linked up to a fun article that brings us to today's environmental thought for the day:
The biggest con running in the auto industry right now is the notion that hybrids represent some sort of quantum leap in green transportation. Not only is this patently untrue -- hybrid technology is actually decades old -- but it shamelessly plays to the hypocrisy of our society. If we really wanted to save the planet, instead of buying hybrids we would start walking. Or riding bikes. Maybe a few more of us would try public transportation. How about starting with slowing down to the speed limit on the freeway?
I rode my bike to work today. How about you?

Enjoy this little fun clip:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It's Your War, But "The Country Doesn't Want It."

The broader question is why would any one support the funding of the Iraq conflagration if they really felt it was time to bring the troops home.

Helen Thomas hits Dana Perino, the effervescent presidential spokesmodel, over the head with her customary cast iron fry pan a couple of times. Read and listen for the clang as it hits hard:
Q How many billions have we spent already for the Defense Department?

MS. PERINO: The Defense Department says that they need this funding in order to keep the war running, as well as to keep these civilians -

Q Maybe they don't want the war to keep running.

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that that has been --

Q The country doesn't want it --

MS. PERINO: I think that Americans have seen what our troops have been able to do this year, in trying -- is starting to turn things around in Iraq. We've got a long way to go, but they have started to make some significant gains, and to pull the rug out from under them now seems to be -- seems irresponsible.

Q To keep killing you mean.

MS. PERINO: Helen, every -- the security situation in Baghdad is vastly improved, because of what our troops have been able to do, working alongside of the Iraqis. I can't imagine that they would not want to fund these troops before they go home for Christmas. They have gone to Iraq, many members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, have gone to Iraq. They've seen for themselves what's happening on the ground there. They've had briefings from General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. They are working very hard to make sure that they -- these trends that we're starting to see can actually take hold and be cemented, and so that they can continue the progress --

Conscience Raising: Could It Be The President Led His Spokesperson To Lie To The American People?

Could it be former Whitehouse spokesmodel Scotty McMessage McClellan is growing a conscience? Have a gander:
In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, McClellan recounts the 2003 news conference in which he told reporters that aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby were "not involved" in the leak involving operative Valerie Plame.

"There was one problem. It was not true," McClellan writes, according to a brief excerpt released Tuesday. "I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff and the president himself."

Monday, November 19, 2007

"Safer, But Not Yet Safe:" Symptoms Of A Larger Problem

Get a load of this statement from today's press washing from the Sexy Dana Perino:
MS. PERINO: They've had conversations over the past several months. Obviously none of us would have wanted Fran to leave service. I think all of us felt safe because of her work. Of course she always says we are safer, but not yet safe. She dedicated 110 percent of her time and effort to making sure that American citizens could live free from terror. She is an excellent manager. I will say she is also a very good colleague, very supportive, very helpful.

And so over the past several months as she's struggled with this decision about whether to continue her over two decades of public service or to pursue some private sector options, she and the President would talk about it. He appreciates her service greatly. And in the statement he praises her for her wise counsel. And those of us who have had the pleasure of working with her can certainly repeat that it is wise and it is always helpful. She's very thoughtful. And we're going to miss her a lot, and we wish her luck.
Safer, but no yet safe? Sounds to me like the mantra of the whole of the W, Rove and Co - a means of manipulating the public...Dishing fear to make excuses for never accomplishing anything of value. "She's very thoughtful?" WTF?

Really, the Press should have been asking, what the hell did Fran do that benefited the American people besides draw a public pay check...which isn't really a benefit for any one but her, now is it? What exactly did she accomplish on the public dole?

Let's see what our Cheerleader President has to say about Fran:
Over the past four and a half years, Fran Townsend has served my Administration with distinction as Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. Fran has always provided wise counsel on how to best protect the American people from the threat of terrorism. She has been a steady leader in the effort to prevent and disrupt attacks and to better respond to natural disasters.

Fran's remarkable career as a public servant has spanned more than two decades. She has prosecuted violent crimes, narcotics offenses, mafia cases and white collar fraud as an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Manhattan. During her career, Fran worked to protect the American people as the Counsel to the Attorney General for Intelligence Policy, the Assistant Commandant for Intelligence at the U.S. Coast Guard and as the Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism at the National Security Council.

With her extensive experience, intellect and candor, Fran has ably guided the Homeland Security Council. She has played an integral role in the formation of the key strategies and policies my Administration has used to combat terror and protect Americans. She has traveled the world to meet with allies in the Global War on Terror and has partnered extensively with first responders at the state and local level to enhance our preparedness. We are safer today because of her leadership.

Laura and I wish Fran, her husband John, and their two sons, James and Patrick, all the best.
Right, and if we are still living in the fear that the W, Rove and Co elicit every time they need a vote, what good did she do? If you ask me, this is an oft repeated story of another rat jumping the sinking W, Rove and Co ship. And, you might ask...what did Bush accomplish today?

Well, of course, he's busy flogging the Thanksgiving holiday and holding up the Armed Services folk as a political chess piece to try and salvage any support he might have had for the Iraqi Freedom Spreading experiment he loves so dearly (and has cost us so dearly):
Today, the men and women of the United States Armed Forces are taking risks for our freedom. They're fighting on the front lines of the war on terror, the war against extremists and radicals who would do us more harm. Many of them will spend Thanksgiving far from the comforts of home. And so we thank them for their service and sacrifice. We keep their families and loved ones in our prayers. We pray for the families who lost a loved one in this fight against the extremists and radicals, and we vow that their sacrifice will not be in vain. (Applause.)
Right, who's "we" white man? And, when do we get to give thanks that not another one of our valued soldiers die in vain for W's"noble" mission that has led so many to the slaughter?

I Thought Elephants Had Long Memories

In case you long for the days before we were an intractable situation in Iraq, let's dose you with some nostalgia:

Of course, you could sign up and help if you care about the outcome in Iraq. To those who suggest Iraq is the right place to be right now, I say pony up and enlist:

Meanwhile, more GIs and Civilians are creamed in Iraq. This aught give you a flavor of how it's going for the W, Rove and Co in their Iraqi freedom spreading experiment:
Officials in the southern city of Samawah said a U.S. Army convoy opened fire Sunday in an unprovoked attack on motorists who were trying to get out of its way, injuring four and destroying a truckload of sheep.

In Baqubah, the capital of Diyala province northeast of Baghdad, three U.S. soldiers were killed Sunday in an assault involving a suicide vest, the military said. The military released no further details, but witnesses in the city, where American troops had lengthy battles with insurgents this summer, said there appeared to be military casualties when a roadside bomb exploded near a group of children clustered around soldiers on foot patrol. Three children were killed and seven others were wounded in the incident.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Slinging Blame Like Only A President Can

Ross Perot was spot on when he dubbed the Whitehouse "the Bully Pulpit." You will remember a while ago when the current batch of bullies in this pulpit were suggesting that playing the "blame game" was inappropriate and claimed to take the moral high ground by disavowing said game. Of course, today, in his weekly Radio Address (admit it, you listen like Harry Potter in your closet underneath the stairs so no one knows you do), the President and head bully is slinging blame like only a president can.

It's convenient when you can load up heaping doses of blame for a failure you generated on some one else other than one self. Have a look:
It is clear that Congress's failure to adjust the AMT for inflation was a mistake. Unfortunately, Congress seems determined to compound this original mistake by making another one. Last week, the House passed a bill that provides relief from the AMT -- but raises other taxes. Congress should not use legislation that millions of Americans are counting on to protect them from higher taxes in one area as an excuse to raise taxes in other areas. I will veto any bill that raises taxes as a condition of fixing the AMT. Members of Congress must put political theater behind them, fix the AMT, and protect America's middle class from an unfair tax hike.
Who's to blame that the taxes are too low to cover the cost of a majority of what the President is trying to accomplish? How are we paying for the conflagration in Iraq? Is it fiscally responsible to require the funds to pay for the operations of a government or to hock our nations' future to pay for a war on a nation we never needed to wage?
Congress is also failing to meet its responsibilities to our troops. For months, Congress has delayed action on supplemental war funding because some in Congress want to make a political statement about the war. On Wednesday, the House passed a bill that once again has Congress directing our military commanders on how to conduct the war in Iraq as a condition for funding our troops. We do not need members of Congress telling our commanders what to do. We need Congress listening to our military commanders and giving them what they need to win the war against extremists and radicals. Congress knows I'll veto this bill. During this time of war, our troops deserve the full support of Congress -- and that means giving our troops the funding they need to successfully carry out their mission. I urge Congress to work quickly and send me a clean bill so we can fulfill our obligation to our brave men and women in uniform.
Really, who's fault is it that we are in an intractable war that we are serving in a co-dependent relationship facilitating the current dysfunctional Iraqi government? Who's to blame for getting our country to where it is today? The culpable are usually those that protest and point the fingers the strongest. Threatening a veto and slinging blame, in particular, is a strong signal that the Presidential wagging finger of blame need be pointed in a mirror.

But of course, every good Presidential radio address needs to point to solutions right?
With both of these delays, congressional leaders are choosing political posturing over the priorities of the people. These choices have real-world consequences for our taxpayers and our troops. When members of Congress return from their two-week-long Thanksgiving vacation, they will have only a few weeks left on the legislative calendar before they go home again for their Christmas break. I call on Congress to use the time that is left to do what is right -- and pass AMT relief and fund our troops in combat.
Who is doing the posturing in a political way Mr. President? Last I checked, the priorities of the American people were to bring our troops home from Iraq, but then again, I live in the real world.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Values Of Our President

Education Bad; War Good

"Fully Embolden Our Enemies?"

The President and his knuckleheads in charge can barely hold together a solid exuse for the folly in Iraq let alone truly know what "emboldens" our enemies. When some one suggests that the reason for not liking a particular bill is based on something they could not know and is truly subjective, you know they are desperate.
Today the House of Representatives passed on a largely party-line vote legislation that would only partially fund our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but fully embolden our enemies. Once again, the Democratic leadership is taking this debate down a well-worn path that calls for arbitrary withdrawal from the battlefield, despite the gains our military has made over the past year. These votes, like the dozens of previous failed votes, put the interests of radical interest groups ahead of the needs of our military and their mission. If legislation comes to the President in this form, he will certainly veto it.

Congress has had ample time to pass legislation to fund our troops. The original supplemental request was made in February and augmented in October. But because Congressional Democrats insist in going through another round of political votes and vetoes, Pentagon planners will be forced to focus on accounting maneuvers instead of military maneuvers.

Before Congress leaves for recess in December, it should send to the President a clean emergency funding bill, without arbitrary withdrawal dates.
Perhaps the President, not listening to the will of the people is really the problem here.

Really, if you are going to make such a sweeping claim as to say that a bill that sets deadlines for troop redeployment emboldens our enemies, you aught to provide the logic and proof with in which that statement rests. The trouble is the W, Rove and Co has leaned on the "trust us" strategy for so long, they don't realize it's not working any more. Simply because the President's Press secretary says it's so doesn't make it such, does it?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

No Heroes For Our Vets

With President Bush flinging blame anywhere but at himself, we find no heroes for our vets this Veterans Day:
Congress can also meet its responsibility to our veterans by passing a clean Veterans Affairs appropriations bill. Unfortunately, Congressional leaders let the fiscal year end without passing this bill they know our veterans need. So I urged Congress to pass this bill by Veterans Day -- and they still have failed to send me this vital legislation. The time to act is running out. There are now just four days left on the legislative calendar before Congress leaves town for their Thanksgiving break. The best way members of Congress can give thanks to our veterans is to send me a clean bill that I can sign into law.
So, whose fault is it that our vets continually get screwed? Of course it's politically advantageous for Bush to sling blame at Congress, but it's also a signal of failed leadership and diplomacy on his part that there was nothing worth signing into law.

Why do I get the feeling that the only reason Bush wanted this bill to sign on Veterans day was that he needed to appear the hero by signing a bill on Sunday? Denied the chance, he's not happy. The feeling is mutual.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

What If It Were Illegal For You To Marry?

What if you desperately wanted to marry the love of your life and it was illegal?

Why the freedom to choose to marry is as important for GLBT folk as it is for straight folk (hint: it's about love):

One of my favorite related quotes is from Sharon Stone, who said at the NCLR gala fund raising event a long while back, "Marry, if you must."

I don't believe my marriage is diminished in any way if two other people decide to tie the knot. I have yet to see any plausible argument that proves gay marriage is wrong. In fact, the interesting question for me is thus: What is it about straight marriage that needs protection?