Thursday, January 31, 2008

Suicides in the Army

A tragic story on suicides in the army.

Yet another failure on the part of the Bush Administration in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. From the article:

The Army was unprepared for the high number of suicides and cases of post-traumatic stress disorder among its troops, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have continued far longer than anticipated. Many Army posts still do not offer enough individual counseling and some soldiers suffering psychological problems complain that they are stigmatized by commanders. Over the past year, four high-level commissions have recommended reforms and Congress has given the military hundreds of millions of dollars to improve its mental health care, but critics charge that significant progress has not been made.

The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have placed severe stress on the Army, caused in part by repeated and lengthened deployments. Historically, suicide rates tend to decrease when soldiers are in conflicts overseas, but that trend has reversed in recent years. From a suicide rate of 9.8 per 100,000 active-duty soldiers in 2001 -- the lowest rate on record -- the Army reached an all-time high of 17.5 suicides per 100,000 active-duty soldiers in 2006.

To get some perspective on the above numbers: By comparison, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there were 11.05 suicides for every 100,000 people in the United States in 2005.

It is so wonderful to have Bush saying how much success we are having in Iraq in the State of the Union. Applauding how the surge is working. A surge which should have taken places years ago. Or perhaps we should have had enough troops to do the job from the first place. Again it is good to know this “success” is coming on the backs of the ordinary solider that this country is incapable of taking care of properly once he returns home.

The article continues:

The study, which the Army’s top personnel chief ordered six months ago, acknowledges that the Army still does not know how to adequately assess, monitor and treat soldiers with psychological problems. In fact, it says that “the current Army Suicide Prevention Program was not originally designed for a combat/deployment environment.”

Wow then let me take a quick guess and say the program is worthless!

McCain the front runner?

Is John McCain the front runner in the Republican race? Will conservatives vote for him? Will Rush Limbaugh stop foaming at the mouth over McCain. Will the endorsements of Rudi and Arnold make any difference?

McCain certainly did very well in Florida.

He won in a closed primary thus proving he could win with only Republicans voting. And it really wasn’t all that close. McCain won by 5 percent over Romney who spent a ton of money. The win was very important to McCain because he won all of Florida’s 57 delegates. The delegate count is McCain 93, Romney 49, Huckabee 40.

Coming up on Super Tuesday are several states that have winner take all primaries. The Republicans have winner take all primaries. The Democrats have proportional representation in all of their primaries. In some some places for the Democrats this is done by Congressional districts. If a district has 4 delegates a candidate needs to get over 60% of the vote to win three delegates (this is how it was explained on CNN). It would be possible for a candidate to get two delegates if they got just 41% of the vote. So for the Democrats each and every district is important.

Anyway back to Super Tuesday for McCain. There are four winner take all primaries that you can be fairly confident he’ll win. New York (101 delegates) New Jersey (52) Connecticut (30) and Arizona (53). That’s a total of 236 delegates in just four states. He will probably win in California (candidates secure three delegates for each of the state’s 53 congressional districts they win in the primary) and Illinois. In some of the southern primary states Alabama, Georgia and Missouri he’s second behind Huckabee. In Tennessee McCain is first place in the polls. The question has to be asked where does Romney win or more to the point where does Romney pick up delegates to match the numbers that McCain will get.

McCain and Romney went after each other again in their debate last night:

The continued tension between Romney and McCain clearly frustrated the other two participants. “This isn’t a two-man race,” Huckabee said. “You want to talk conservative credentials? Let me get in on that.” Later he begged the questioners to turn the “spigot” of questions back on for him and Paul.

The debate was a reprise of the nasty week of campaigning in Florida and offered a preview of the week to come, as McCain and Romney skip across the country, holding rallies in airport hangars instead of town hall meetings and airing television commercials in some of the nation’s biggest cities.

Tuesday should be a really interesting night.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Less than a year

Here is an extremely frightening column from Dan Froomkin in the Post.

This is from the opening of the column:

It’s about as basic as it gets: Congress has the power of the purse. And Section 1222 of the massive defense appropriation bill enacted this week asserts that power. It reads, in its entirety:

“No funds appropriated pursuant to an authorization of appropriations in this Act may be obligated or expended for a purpose as follows:

“(1) To establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq.

“(2) To exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq.”

But in another of his controversial “ signing statements,” President Bush on Tuesday asserted that Section 1222 -- along with three other sections of the bill -- “purport to impose requirements that could inhibit the President’s ability to carry out his constitutional obligations to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, to protect national security, to supervise the executive branch, and to execute his authority as Commander in Chief.”

Therefore, he wrote: “The executive branch shall construe such provisions in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President.”

The overall message to Congress was clear: I’m not bound by your laws.

I guess one could extrapolate by the logic presented above that President Bush can decide to ignore any and all laws that he feels hinders him in any way. This kind of thinking comes from a king or a dictator not a President who's sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America.

January 20, 2009 cannot come soon enough.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Funny Story

W.Va. mayor stuck at Calif. airport uses magazine to prove his identity to security guards

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Charleston Mayor Danny Jones had a problem as he tried to get through the security gate at a California airport: He had misplaced his driver’s license, and the expired one in his wallet wouldn’t do.

The guards at John Wayne Airport in Orange County searched his bag, he told the Charleston Daily Mail for a story published Monday.

Then he remembered picking up a copy of Charleston Magazine while on his way to the West Coast for a little rest and relaxation. Inside was a photograph of him standing in downtown Charleston and an article Jones had written as mayor welcoming visitors to the state capital.

Only then was he allowed to board his flight home.

You can read all about the fun I had over the same issue here. I guess I got off lucky.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Primary Results and Tests to Come

South Carolina

This article from the Post on the results in South Carolina.

One point on the way the story was presented. The jump headline was: Obama Wins Needed Momentum Before Super Tuesday. It seems to me that neither Clinton or Obama has gotten much momentum out of their respective wins.

From the story:

Obama has, it appears, secured a solid base among African Americans, despite the fondness that many black voters had for Bill Clinton, and despite early uncertainty among many African Americans about whether Obama was a viable candidate or whether they could identify with the son of a Kenyan father and a white mother. He will count on this base to deliver strong showings in the four Southern states that vote on Feb. 5 -- he headed last night to Macon, Ga., and today will visit Birmingham, Ala. -- as well as to help him compete in big states such as California, New York and New Jersey.

At the same time, though, Obama will strive to prove in states such as Kansas, Colorado and North Dakota that he continues to hold appeal for white voters in “red state” areas, such as rural Iowa, where he ran close to even with Clinton and Edwards, and rural Nevada, where he outperformed Clinton. And he will try to cut into Clinton’s large advantage among Hispanic voters, which advisers in both campaigns agree is due partly to historic tensions between blacks and Hispanics.

There is time for Obama to make head way in some of these states but he's down by 12% in California, 14% in Connecticut and 37% in Massachusetts.

Maybe the endorsement of Ted Kennedy will make a difference there. The news media gave this huge play. I'm not down playing that getting Kennedy's endorsement is important. My question is does the Kennedy name still have that much pull. I guess it does in the demographic groups that Obama was having trouble with. Of course the main thing is that Clinton didn't get so I guess the Obama camp has to think that's important.

Florida and the Republicans

If you needed any further proof that John McCain and Mitt Romney hate each other all you need to do is read some of the news stories. This from the Post and this from USA Today. Or you could watch the nightly news. You can just tell these guys hate each other. In fact you tell the in general the whole Republican field dislikes Romney. What happened to Reagan's 11 commandment?

McCain has a razor thin lead in Florida like around a point. I think Romney needs the win more than McCain. Florida is a winner take all in the terms of delegates which would be a big boost to whomever wins. If McCain wins he's in the drivers seat I think. He's way ahead in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. In all of these states Giuliani is the guy who's in second. In California McCain is up by 8 points. So Florida is much more important to Romney than McCain. Giuliani well he seems to out of the race but then again so was Clinton in New Hampshire.

Tomorrow night should be very interesting.

Leaving on a Jet Plane or Not

Here’s an interesting story on a new way to think of how flight delays impact passengers.

Here’s are the staggering numbers from the story:

During the first 11 months of last year, 1.6 million passenger flights were at least 15 minutes late. The total delay time added up to 170 years -- up steadily from 98 years lost on 1 million flights during all of 2003. The average delay of a late flight has grown from 49 to 56 minutes during that period, the data show.

Air travelers arriving and departing from Washington’s three major airports suffered 4,897 days of late flights. About 1,077 of those days were spent sitting on the tarmac, waiting for flights to take off. The average late flight landing at the region’s three airports arrived at least 51 minutes behind schedule, the data showed.

It makes you wonder at what point will people finally get fed up with the bad service and demand some changes. Of course any changes will take some involvement by the government and that seems very unlikely in the near future. The upshot being is the delays will continue.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

An Anniversary

Today is the 12th anniversary of the day I got Sam. I got him at Companions Pet Shop near DuPont Circle. I was meeting some friends for brunch and happened to stop in a look to see if that had any cats/kittens. And there he was. I thought he looked very nice.

I went off and had brunch with my friends. One had a car said he would be more than happy to drive me home with Sam. So off to the pet store we went and thankfully Sam was still there and I went ahead and got him. Sam was not his original name that's the name I came up for him. His original name was Warrior. Who the hell names a cat Warrior. They had had to give him up because they were not allowed to have pets in their apartment (and yet they got the cat anyhow).

So there loss was my incredibly great gain.

Here are a few pictures of Sam as he was as a kitten.

Sam Today

And here is Sam today. He is out doing one of his favorite things eating grass.

This is from last year and one of my favorite pictures of Sam.

Happy Anniversary!!!

Sunday Funny

Saturday, January 26, 2008

South Carolina

South Carolina is voting today for the Democrats.

Wow what a mess this has turned into.

I thought the Republicans would be the ones to inject race into the process especially if Obama won. But Bill Clinton's done that. This from a Post article today:
In a round of morning interviews Friday, Clinton sought to smooth over controversy about the role that her husband, Bill Clinton, has played here this week, calling on all sides to tone down their rhetoric while acknowledging that the former president had gone too far in his criticism of Obama.

"He gets really passionate about making the case for me," she said on CBS's "The Early Show." "He said several times yesterday that maybe he got a little bit carried away."

And this:

By any measure, this has been the toughest and angriest battle of the Democratic campaign. Monday's debate featured personal attacks and acrimonious exchanges, and Bill Clinton drew fire from Obama and his campaign for what they said are distortions of the Illinois senator's statements about another former president, Ronald Reagan.

I actually watched a little of that debate and it was just painful to see Obama and Clinton go after each other. All I could think was just about everything is going in favor of the Democrats but somehow they will screw it up and allow a Republican to win the White House.

As for the Republicans, Florida seems to be do or die for Giuliani. See this article from the Post. Florida is really important because it is a winner take all primary and the winner will get 57 delegates. Right now McCain has a razor thin margin over Romney. Giuliani is in third. Romney seems to be getting some traction on talking about the economy saying he's run a business and he knows how to get things working. This must be like his fifth or six persona on the campaign trail so far. I wonder what he'll morph into next.

For the Democrats all three Clinton, Edwards and Obama will go on to Super Tuesday. I do have to say I find it hard to find a scenario where Edwards wins the nomination.

For the Republicans, Giuliani has to win Florida or I think he is done. I think with Giuliani out of the picture the majority of his supporters will probably go to McCain. It should be an interesting couple of weeks.

New Gym

Well I finally decided I had enough of Bally Total Fitness. I can't believe this but I've been a member there since December of 1990. Seventeen year. Pretty incredible.

The gym has just gone done hill over the last few years. I like going on the weekends. And I like getting there when the gym opens. They are supposed to open at 8am. Usually what happens is someone shows up a few minutes before 8 and let's people in. Then of course there are the times when someone shows up at say 8:10 or 8:20 or later. It can really through off your schedule. Now there is nothing that I probably couldn't rearrange but that's not the point. The place is supposed to open at 8.

Then there is the condition of the place when you walk in first thing. The free weight area looks like a bombs gone off in it. Weights are just about anywhere but on the racks. Or you find one 25 pound dumbbell and then take two to three minutes to find another one. The final straw for me was one time last fall when I went to take a shower. Again remember this is first thing in the morning. In each of the shower stall is a body wash/soap dispenser. The stall I choose the dispenser was empty as where the next two that I went to. On the fourth try I found one with soap. Now if it was 9pm instead of 9am I could understand why this happened. But there is just no excuse for that to happen first thing in the morning.

So the search was on for a new place. I decided on two places to look at: Results and Washington Sports Club. Results has opened a new facility which is right at the Farragut North metro stop. Washington Sports had a site a couple of blocks from Metro Center. Both are very close to work. Washington Sports is a little closer.

I went to Results first. I liked the guy who showed me around. He was very low key. Answered my questions and was very friendly. The facility at Farragut North is brand new. It opened in December. And boy is it cool. Towels are provided for you. Not only to take a shower with but also small towels to use while you work out. The showers have bottles of body wash, shampoo and conditioner. On the sinks are deodorant and hairspray. There are also hairdryers. They offer abs, spinning, yoga and aerobics classes. Since they just opened, there are not a whole lot of classes but they will be expanding that. One very cool thing that they've done is record some of the spinning and ab classes. You can then replay them at some other time and take the class.

At the end of the tour I was given a week free pass to try out the club. The only problem I have is I think the lockers are a little small.

Washington Sports had a very nice facility. In fact it was large than the Results site at Farragut North (Results has other sites that I'd have access to but I would only go to the other ones on the weekend). They had a very hard sell. There was a "special" initiation fee for the day that I came in of $20.08. They said I could join and I'd have a 15 day money back guarantee. I thought why not just give me a free week pass like Results. It would be less expensive then Results.

But and you knew there was a but. Actually there are several. First, Results is month to month which means you can give 30 days notice and be done with your membership. You can put your membership on hold. The minimum time is two weeks. The clincher for the deal was the earliest time Washington Sports opened on weekends was 8:30am. The Results at Farragut North opens at 7am and the Results at Dupont Circle opens at 6am on Saturdays.

So I joined results.

This morning I went and worked out at the Dupont Circle location. I arrived around 6:30 am. There were actually people there. I worked out, went to the grocery store, to back home and put in a load of laundry by 8:45am. Now that's what I call results on a Saturday morning.

Across the Pond II

Here's a quick little update on the trip to England.

I have a place to stay. It is in Bloomsbury which is very near the British Museum. I'm staying at the Jesmond Hotel. It is on Gower Street. The two times I went to England before (20 plus years ago) I stayed on the same street.

I also have booked my flight. When I did so I got a very pleasant surprise. The price dropped, yes I did say drop, by about $60. The actual price of the flights are not all that bad but the taxes and fees are really high. For my flight they are $181. The price you have to pay.

So now I need to start pouring over tour books and figure out where to go. I'm thinking of doing a couple of day trips out of London.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Across the Pond

Here's a great idea. Take a vacation overseas when the dollar is in free fall. But that is exactly what I've decided to do. I thought about going back to California but I did that just two years ago. So I decided to look at little further a field.

I'm doing this in part because last year I didn't go away for my vacation. Family came out here and that was just great. With both visits, we had a complete and total blast. Things could not have worked out any better.

But at the end of the year I realized I hadn't been out of the city for any extended period of time. Of course topping New Zealand from the previous year would have been impossible. But a little time away would have been good.

I thought first of the Caribbean but after looking into that decided I really didn't want to go there. So then I turned to Europe. I decided on England. I haven't been there in over 20 years so just about everything will be new. And it will be very expensive. The new computer may have to wait until next and the trip to New Zealand in 2009 might be later in the year instead of in the spring.

I've very excited about going to England. I will be going the end of March through the first week in April. And the wonderful economic stimulus check will help pay for part of the trip. More information as I get more of an idea of exactly what I'll be doing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Suzanne Pleshette

Suzanne Pleshette died over the weekend. She had a long struggle with lung cancer. She had one of the most distinctive voices in film and television. I will always remember her as Emily on the Bob Newhart Show.

She also participated in one of the greatest endings for a televsion series ever. Not the Bob Newhart Show but the next show that Bob Newhart did: Newhart.

Here's a clip from the show:

Markets tank

Seems the subprime mess is coming home to roost. Here's an article about what's happened overseas. Another on how there is more room to fall.

The Fed this morning cut by .75% the federal funds rate.

It seems to me that if a little more attention had been paid to the subprime market this would not have happened. It also seems to me that this should not have come as such a huge surprise. As the prime went up so did the rate people with this type of mortgage would pay once the lower rate lapsed.

But the Fed has always been more concerned about inflation, which never seems to rear its head, then what is actually happening on the ground.

The Fed will meet next week. There is talk of dropping the prime rate by half a percentage point. They may need to do more than that if it going to make any significant difference on the markets.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Article on the Surge

There's a great article about the surge in the Sunday Post.

I've long thought that we can win the "surge." The problem comes once the troops go home. Has there been any change on the ground politically to make someone think things can change for the better? I'd say that that is probably not the case.

We've offered the Sunni insurgents money and arms to come over to our side and fight against al qaeda. The question has to asked has this bought loyalty to the central government. Or once al qaeda is gone will these Sunni insurgents turn against the government in Baghdad. As First Sgt. Richard Meiers stated: "We're paying them not to blow us up. It looks good right now, but what happens when the money stops?"

I think the final paragraph sums up how I feel about the new found optimism that this time around we've figured out a way to "win" in Iraq:

According to the war's most fervent proponents, Bush's critics have become so "invested in defeat" that they cannot see the progress being made on the ground. Yet something similar might be said of those who remain so passionately invested in a futile war's perpetuation. They are unable to see that, surge or no surge, the Iraq war remains an egregious strategic blunder that persistence will only compound.

South Carolina and Nevada

South Carolina
McCain win s in South Carolina. Not by much but a win is a win. More importantly the results in all likelihood means that Thompson is done. It also means that Huckabee has been unable to expand his base beyond evangelicals. He only got 40% of their vote compared to 27% for McCain. I guess Chuck Norris is more popular in Iowa than in South Carolina.

Now it is on to Florida. Where Rudolph W. Giuliani waits to muddy up the field even more. Right now McCain has a very slight edge in the polls over Giuliani.

The article from the Post sums it up pretty well:

The Jan. 29 contest in Florida will be the first Republican primary closed to independent voters, who have provided McCain with his margins of victory in both New Hampshire and South Carolina. A victory, strategists agreed, would stamp McCain as the front-runner in what has been a muddied Republican race and give him a clear advantage heading toward Super Tuesday on Feb. 5.

Another important point is this is a winner take all primary. So coming in second gets you nothing.

The delegate total so far is:

Romney 59
Huckabee 40
McCain 36

A candidate needs 1,191 to win the nomination so there is a very long way to go.


On the Republican side Romney won in a contest no other candidates spent any time on. In all maybe 40,000 people voted. This is something the Republicans should be worried about. There turnout is way below that of the Democrats which doesn't bode well for them in the general election.

On the Democrats side Clinton won. I'm not sure how important this was but it slow s down Obama a little more. Although I have to suspect that Obama will win big in South Carolina. But I also have to wonder, if the fact he is expected to win in South Carolina, diminished the victory a little because he is supposed to win there. It is not like Iowa which came as a complete surprise.

Delegate count for the Democrats:
Clinton 236
Obama 136
Edwards 50

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Another podcast with my friend Arthur in New Zealand.

You can go and listen to it here.

Here are the show notes from Arthur:

My last political podcast was before Christmas—which was before the Iowa Caucuses—and a lot has happened since then. Joining me to discuss all that today are Jason and Archerr from

I begin today with a brief explanation of what's going on for the benefit of non-American listeners. Then it's a brief recap of where we're at, especially the delegate totals. We then talk a bit about what's wrong with public opinion polls. This leads into a discussion of Super Tuesday and whether it will or won't be “all over” then.

I get the chance to slag off my home state of Illinois for it's asinine primary system, before I go on to reveal who I voted for President in the Illinois Democratic Primary and why. I also talk a bit about how US citizens living overseas vote.

The rest is a wide-ranging discussion of all sorts of things related to this campaign. Do Republicans hate each other? One leader says they do. Did you know that Mitt Romney has far higher negatives than Hillary Clinton? What about the economy? Iraq? They all get a look from us and we're not shy about saying what we think.

This is the first group podcast that I've done and I think it went very well. I hope Archerr can join us again.


Huckabee's Constitution

Here is an interesting quote from Mike Huckabee:

I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that’s what we need to do — is to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family.

Sounds like if Mike Huckabee is elected president he intends to change the form of government in the United States from a democracy to a theocracy. This reminds me once again why I will never vote for a Republican for any office.

Those We've Lost

The economy has taken center stage in both the presidential campaign and in the national discourse. Lost again are those brave soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

So to remind us that these conflicts are still going on a few of Those We've Lost:

Spec. John J. Young
September 21, 2007

Capt. (Dr.) Roselle M. Hoffmaster
September 20, 2007

Pfc. Christian M. Neff
Lost September 19, 2007

Spec. Nicholas P. Olson
Lost September 18, 2007

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Metro Repairs

Metro is making some major repairs to the subway over this coming weekend.

Here's what's planned at the nearby Verizon Center for the weekend:

The Georgetown Hoyas play basketball Saturday afternoon and Monday night. The Washington Capitals have a hockey game Saturday night, and the Washington Wizards play basketball Monday afternoon.

I realize that repairs need to be made and this is a big one they are replacing the bearing pads. At least this time there has been a big effort on the part of Metro to let the public know what is going on. But many people are going to be inconvenienced and some will probably vow never to take Metro again. The thing that always gets me is Metro vastly underestimates the amount of time that will added by this disruption.

I have to say I'm glad I have a car.

The Race Heats Up

Romney pulls one out in Michigan. He won by 9 percentage points over McCain. However,
this doesn’t seem to have had as much impact on the race as Iowa and New Hampshire. If Romney had lost, it would have been a disaster for him. Winning keeps him in the race. And by winning it means there is no front runner in the race.

It is on to South Carolina where McCain, Huckabee and Thompson (remember him) are all competing. The Romney campaign is making a slight effort there but seems to be concentrating on Nevada. A poll on the Post web site shows McCain with 26 percent to Huckabee’s 23 percent. Take the poll with a grain of salt after what happened in New Hampshire. The margin of error is not shown so essentially this is a dead heat.

Waiting in the wings and spending all his time in Florida is Rudi Giuliani. If he has any hope of getting the nomination, he’s going to have to win in Florida and probably win big. Right now according to Real Clear Politics McCain is in the lead in Florida.

So this means that Super Tuesday on February 5 or Tsunami Tuesday as some in the media are calling it takes on huge significance. But the notion that one candidate will emerge as a front runner after that date seems less and less likely. If you have three to four viable candidates (Giuliani, Huckabee, McCain and Romney) it means the vote is going to be split. So each candidate could win a couple of states.

Or you could have someone who doesn’t win any states but comes in second in enough places (a very close second being even better) that he could do better than a candidate that actually won a state. Considering 24 states have primaries or caucuses on February 5 including such states as California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York to name a few of the big contests. Delegates are starting to become more and more important. It seems very unlikely that the Republican contest will be resolved by the morning of February 6. It is possible there might be one or two fewer candidates but the race will go on.

It means the following week when D.C., Maryland and Virginia vote these contests will be very important.

It also seems to me that the Democrats will in all likelihood be in the same position as the Republicans but the contest will be between Clinton and Obama. I just don’t see how Edwards gets any traction to win. Even if he takes a state or two on Super Tuesday, I think it will be too little too late.

As we say in my family we’ll see.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Odds and Ends

Today is the Michigan primary for the Republicans. It looks like Romney will pull this one out. There seems to be fewer independents and democrats voting in the primary as opposed to eight years ago. McCain was able to win the primary eight years ago because of the independents and democrats. It will be interesting to see how close the voting is.

Romney has pulled his ads from South Carolina. The idea being is that he will concentrate on Nevada and Florida. It seems Romney is ceding South Carolina to McCain or Huckabee.

Huckabee made a comment today in South Carolina that we should restrict people coming in from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The reason is that the terrorists from 9/11 came from those countries. I have to assume Huckabee said this to play to the voters in South Carolina.

Ice Cream
I made two batches of ice cream. I bought a quart of heavy whipping cream and you can't really use that in anything but making ice cream. Well, I sure you can use it some other things but it was a great excuse to make more ice cream. I made some vanilla. The other batch was also vanilla but got a bar of dark chocolate and I cut that up and added it in. I think I need to use a little less vanilla so the chocolate taste comes out a little more.

I went to the DMV last Thursday to take the knowledge test. I needed to get 15 correct answer to pass. There were a total of 20 questions on the test. The test is graded as you go so you know which questions you get wrong and which ones you get right. I missed two questions which I should have gotten right but by question 17 I had passed the test. I then had my picture taken, paid my money and then I got my new license. No other test was needed.

I did something that I haven't done in a very long time. At the beginning of each year I used to go through my music collection and play one album from each artist that I had. I did this when the albums were on vinyl. When I had CDs I put five in my player and listened. Now with the iPod I play each artist for around an hour. I'm going to see how long it takes to get through my collection.

I always enjoyed doing this because I would play songs I hadn't heard for a long time many of which brought back some great memories.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Ice Creammmmmmmmmmm

Yes, it has arrived home. In fact my brother was nice enough to box it up for me in Springfield and send it UPS to me. It arrived at my office on Friday. I was out sick so I did not bring it home until Monday.

Right now the machine is busy making the first batch of ice cream. The freezer bowl is cold enough so there shouldn't be any problems. In fact it took only a few minutes to start making the cream thicker. I'm going to take this and another batch in to work on Friday. I haven't decided what flavor the next batch will be. This one is vanilla. I'm thinking I might trying adding chocolate syrup five minutes before it is done. It should make a chocolate swirl. It will be interesting to see how it comes out.

From New Hampshire — Not so fast

Wow what a night.

The first thing to say on a general level is I'm glad the contest will continue especially on the Democratic side. I think Iowa and New Hampshire have way too much say in who is selected to run for president. The media was just about ready to crown Obama the nominee (just the say way it did with Clinton last year). I think it is important that as many people as possible participate in the process. That Iowa and New Hampshire should not have the final say.

Now to the press fumbling the Democrats story. Here's a link to Howard Kurtz’s column in the Post. In it he says:
This was delicious. The coverage had been so out of control there was speculation about when Hillary might have to drop out. Polls giving Barack Obama an 8- or 10-point lead were accepted as fact. The news surrounding the former first lady had been uniformly negative for days. She’s done everything wrong, Obama has done everything right. She got too emotional in the diner. People just didn’t like her. She campaigned in boring prose and Obama in soaring poetry (to use her analogy). Bill was hurting her. A campaign shake-up was on the way. An era was ending. Some pundits were predicting a 20-point Obama margin.

Here are two stories on how the polls got it wrong. One from the Post and the other from USA Today. The USA Today story concludes:

Certainly there will be soul-searching on the part of pollsters and media-gatekeepers who in this situation believed so strongly in the predictive ability of polls that they built whole story lines and coverage threads around the assumption that Hillary Clinton was going to lose in New Hampshire. This is a cause for caution in the future -- but not, I believe, a reason to cast wholesale doubt on the value of public opinion polling in an election environment.

Except that won’t be happening. The TV media this morning poked fun at the headlines from papers saying how Clinton was finished (most of them were from Monday and Tuesday). But I didn’t hear much from TV talking heads about how they were wrong. There will be the usual “oh we need to be more careful” and then they will go ahead as they have before.

What this proves is that the polls and the talking head are one thing. But the thing that really matters are the people and how they vote. And that is a wonderful thing.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Presidential Debate

There was a debate on ABC last night with both the Republican and Democratic candidates. The debates were back to back. First was the Republicans and then the Democrats.

I watched it on and off while I was watching the playoff games on NBC. I can't imagine that all that many people watched but good for ABC for doing this. They are also going to be shown again on CNN tonight.

On the Republican side I caught the answers to the questions on immigration or more to the point illegal immigrants being in this country. One of the points all the candidates made was that we have to stop the flow of illegals into this country. We need to build a fence. We need to secure our borders to prevent terrorists from getting into the country. Of course all this talk is directed to the border with Mexico. The U.S.-Mexico border is 1969 miles. The U.S.-Canada border is 5526 if you leave out the border between Canada and Alaska the border between the two countries is 3,987.

Now, if one was a terrorists which border would one choose to illegal enter this country. Do we have to think on this one for very long? I hope not. The question should have been asked of each candidate if they see the US building a fence along our entire border with Canada and how much they think that would cost.

What I found interesting is all the answers dealt with only the illegals that were in this country. The policies that should be followed that would some how allow them to become legal citizens.

The only way as I see it to end illegals in this country is to crack down on the businesses that hire them. Arizona passed such a law: The law says any business that knowingly hires a worker who is in the country illegally will have its business license suspended. For a second offense, the business' license could be revoked.

Until a law like this is passed national illegal immigration will continue to be a problem. I'm not sure this is a good idea. The economic repercussions could be huge.
Follow this link for a story from NPR about the law. Here's more on the law from the Tucson Citizen. Here's one final take on the law from a story by Reuters.

One of the things this law will do is to increase the prices of those products in those industries where illegals worked. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Ocean Mystery Returns

It's back. As I talked about in a post in November the strange visitor in the middle of the ocean has appeared again. Maybe it is just luck but both visits were on the 13th of the month.

I also find out by looking at the stat map that someone from the ISP of U.S. Senate Sergeant At Arms looked at my post called On the Way to the Corcoran.

It should be interesting to see if my ocean visitor returns on January 13th.

Odds and Ends

Christmas time is over

I took down my tree and the outside lights over the weekend. This year there weren't as many houses with lights up. I'm already coming up with ideas of how to add more lights for next year.

The one way you can really tell the holiday season is over is when Christmas trees start appearing curb side. It always makes me sad. At least there's a chance of getting some snow. But not any time soon in DC. This coming week it will be in the 60s.

All in all I had a really good time over Christmas. The visit out to Springfield, even taking into account the problems with the license, was fantastic. The ice cream maker was delivered to my office on Friday.


I went to the DMV on Saturday to pick up some information on the test and the form I'd need to fill out. All you get is a rules of the road. There isn't a sheet with sample questions on it. There are a couple in the book. You can however go the the DMV web site and take sample tests (I'm not sure what people are supposed to do if the don't have web access). I've been doing that the last couple of days. Most of the time I'm getting 100 on the test. I'm hoping this week to take the test. The driving test will take a little more coordination but hopefully the following week.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Iowa Shakes things up

Wow what a night.

I stayed up late and watched the results. I did that in part because of the horrible cold/sinus condition I'm suffering through. My head feels like it is as large as my living room.

Here are some links to stories about what happened. From the Post by David Broder. This story on the Democrats. This one one the Republicans.

What's interesting is going to both the Post and USA Today's webs sites they have stories on New Hampshire and the Iowa results are sort of buried. But I guess Iowa is so yesterday.

The best result of the night the defeat of Mitt Romney. A man who will say and do anything to become president. I'm hardly a fan of Mike Huckabee who sounds like he wants to create a Christian Democracy but I just can't stand Romney.

This goes back to the way in which Romney launched his campaign. He did so by bashing the people of the state of Massachusetts that someone he'd put one over on them. This sort of statements were made in large part to very very conservative crowds in Iowa and New Hampshire. It also goes to show that money can't buy everything. Romney is now in a close race with John McCain in New Hampshire. McCain has been surging there.

Huckabee does not have much of an organization in New Hampshire and the Christian conservatives are not much of a factor in the state so he probably won't do all that well. Huckabee will get a bounce but the battle will be between Romney and McCain. If Romney looses again I think he is out.

As for the Democrats this from a Post article:

Party officials said turnout exceeded 239,000, far above the 124,000 who participated four years ago and eclipsing even the campaigns' most optimistic forecasts.

Obama is running on change and hope which is obviously resonating with Democrats. He needs to define the "change" a little more at least for my thinking. As for Clinton, well she has a tough road ahead. She needs to win New Hampshire.

It will be interesting to see which primary contest the independents in New Hampshire decide to participate in. They could very well hold the balance of power in both contests.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Tomorrow it begins

What a way to pick a president.

Both Iowa and New Hampshire have problems. They really don’t represent the demographic
make up of the country.

However because of there size, it means the politicians have to do some very local grass roots campaigning. It means they are out among the masses. It means they are going to get questions from all sorts of people. It means there is the potential for a gaffe. It means a real test for how well the candidate thinks on his or her feet. It’s the only real chance for the average guy in the street to ask questions.

But do people participate? Here is a sobering statistic:6 percent of eligible voters showed up in the 2004 Democratic caucuses. Like I said what a way to pick a president.

One quick comment from Romney:

Repeating what has become a stock line in recent interviews, Romney told the Fox News Channel's "Fox and Friends" program today, "If you just want to get somebody who knows a lot about foreign policy, well, go the State Department and pluck somebody out." Romney added, "What we need is a leader, someone like a Ronald Reagan, who can come into Washington with a fresh start, get things on track again, who has the skills to negotiate and make relationships of a positive nature with nations around the world."

This is a dig by Romney at John McCain. Here is a great response from Senator Lindsey Graham:

"The next president of the United States will face some of the most monumental foreign policy challenges in our nation's history," Graham said in the statement. "Because of this, I believe foreign policy experience matters. For Governor Romney to say otherwise is naive."

Couldn't have said it better myself.