Thursday, November 30, 2006

3 years on

It's been three years since I lost my mom. In her honor today, I left work early and went down to the National Gallery, her favorite museum in Washington, and had lunch by the water fall. I finished lunch off with some chocolate pudding.

Here are a few of her favorite paintings in the museum.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Just in time for Christmas

I understand that Milton Bradley is coming out with a new version of Clue. It's the President George W. Bush version of the game.

So here's my guess al-Qaeda did it in Anbar province with an IED.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Cool Yule

Here's the cover the the Bette Midler Christmas album. It is just great.

It's very jazzy with a nice hint of swing in it as well. It also has a native Hawaiian song Mele Kalikimaka which she really has fun with.

Best songs Merry Christmas, Cool Yule and White Christmas. And in Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas she sings the song the way it's supposed to be. Or at least puts in the proper verse as it first appeared in Meet Me in St. Louis. It goes: Through the years we all will be together if the fates allow. Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow. In most versions of the song the second line it: Hang a shinning star upon the highest bough.

Go to Amazon to hear clips of the song and see a video clip of Cool Yule.

Pictures from the other Washington

One of my cousins, Jean, lives out in Bellingham, Washington. She sent this picture of the snow storm they had. They got 16 inches. I hope Washington, DC gets one of those this year. It is always fun to see everyone go into complete panic mode with the thought of that much snow. Actually they go into complete panic mode any time the s word is mentioned.

Pictures from DC

Here's the first phase of Christmas decorations. My neighbor has this motion sensor light that turns night into day so this aren't the best pictures but you get the idea.

My favorite cat in the whole world. In this picture Sam is annoyed that he was not able to go outside when I came home from work. He loves to go outside eat grass and then come back inside and barf it up. Yes, he is my favorite cat in the whole wide world.

Finally a civil war

Yesterday on the Today show Matt Lauer stated that NBC has finally decided to label the violence in Iraq a civil war. About time. Here’s an article from Howard Kurtz in the Post.

Bush is on his way to Jordan to meet with the Iraqi Prime Minister. It’s too dangerous for Bush to go Iraq itself. The more I watch and read the news the more angry I get. The level of incompetence in “planning” post war Iraq is just amazing. More importantly the lack of any plan is leading to the unnecessary deaths of American soldiers and thousands of Iraqis.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Wising Up

Seems the media is finally calling what's going on in Iraq what it really is a civil war. But it seems the White House doesn't like that. The Post has a great story on it.

If the Bush administration cannot even admit to the fact that there is civil war how in the world are they going to come up with "new ideas" on what to do in Iraq.

Putting up decorations

I’ve started decorating the outside of my house with lights. It seems a little early to be doing this but it actually is since there’s an extra week in the holiday season this year.

I’m going to be doing it stages. In part so I don’t get so frustrated from untangling all the lights. Of course there’s all the fun of getting the tape off the role. My favorite part is when the piece you’ve finally gotten off the roll ends up sticking together. This usually happens just as your ready to use the piece and most likely when you are on the top step of the step ladder.

I started yesterday. I bought an additional 300 lights (in stings) and also 300 blue icicle lights. I got them at Target. There the only place that seems to have the blue icicle lights.

I’ve done one side of the porch and one of the pillars. I’ll try and get some pictures as things progress.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Semantics and Sophistry

These two words carry a great deal of importance when it comes to Iraq. So it’s important to know their definitions.

Semantics has several meanings but I thought number four is the best for our example:
loosely deliberate distortion or twisting of meaning, as in some types of advertising propaganda, etc.

So the semantics of the civil war in Iraq is that it isn’t a civil war but sectarian violence, terrorism or a low level or low grade civil war (sort of like being a little pregnant).

unsound or misleading but clever. plausible and subtle argument or reasoning

The sophistry comes in this way. The Pentagon doesn’t consider what’s going in Iraq as a civil war because the military has not gotten involved on one side or the other. The White House says it’s not a civil war because the targets of violence are random. Also the violence is not directed toward overthrowing the current government..

And I guess they are probably right. Because it seems to me that Iraq is not in a civil was but is descending into anarchy.

All the running around by the Bush administration since the election saying they are open to new ideas, seems to be meaningless. The Baker Commission is going to come up with ideas that will “save” the situation in Iraq.

Why do they think what they say or the plans they come up with or the regional leaders they meet with will have any difference. It seems even Sadr is having problems keeping events under control.

What’s needed now is thinking and planning for what to do when Iraq spins completely and totally out of control, if it is not already. That time is coming very soon and no sort of spin by anyone is going to change that.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Red eye Thursday

That’s what I heard it referred to twice on coverage of after Thanksgiving shopping. USA Today has a story on it. The Post has a similar story. There was an outlet mall somewhere in Pennsylvania that was opening its doors at midnight. The first tour buses were expected to arrive around 10:45 pm. There was a story locally about a guy who stood in line at a CompUSA for 21 hours. He said it was worth not having Thanksgiving dinner and not giving up his place in line to go to the bathroom (I’m not even going to touch that one).

It’s ironic. Thanksgiving used to seem like a real holiday. Now it’s been swallowed up by Halloween and Christmas.

The Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special was on last week. In an exchange between Sally and Charlie Brown, Sally says she was at the mall and Christmas stuff was already out. Charlie Brown responds before Thanksgiving. Those were the good old days. Now you’re lucky not to see stuff out before Labor Day. For sure you start to see things after Labor Day. Mostly it’s decorations and cards and stuff. But by the time the middle of October rolls around there are major Christmas departments in stores.

I guess retailers gave up on Thanksgiving because there really isn’t much you can sell to people. There is the food end of things and the transportation industry still makes a bundle on it but not stores. Halloween seems to have come into its own. And you see stuff for Halloween right after the back to school sales end. Oh well.

Of course I’m not all that concerned since I finished most of my shopping when I was in New Zealand.

Totally crazy

I've been following this story of the spy who was poisoned in London. The Post has a story about it. This like something out of a Robert Ludlum book.

I guess this will be appearing shortly at the Spy Museum in DC.

The Russians of course have said they had nothing to do with it. But one does wonder how a run of the mill assassin get hold of polonium 210.

I survived Thanksgiving

It sounds more dramatic than it actually was. Well then again. Here’s the story I cooked a turkey breast that I had frozen in my freezer (and yes where else but the freezer would it stay frozen for three years). As someone at work said it was an aged turkey breast.

I did a little research. What I found out was that after a year the turkey will start to loose some of its flavor. No where that I looked did it say to throw it out if it had been frozen for over a year. So I figured what the hell. It was only going to be me eating the thing and there are several hospitals very close by.

After being in the oven for three hours I was beginning to wonder. It had one of those pop up things that tells you when it is done. Finally it popped. I cooked the turkey in one of those oven bags so it turned out very moist. Not dry at all. And it had lost some of its taste. I’m going to make another meal out of it today and then toss the rest.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Crap from Fox

Well I guess O.J. won’t be getting his money. I love the statement from Rupert:
I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project, Murdoch said. We are sorry for any pain this has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown-Simpson.

What they’re sorry about is the money they won’t be making. They thought they could pull a fast one and it didn’t work. Hurray for the American public. The best editorial response comes from the New York Daily News:
What kind of utterly soulless corporate culture thinks up something like this in the first place? What kind of creepy mold grows in the petri dish that is Fox that someone could even imagine for a minute it was a good idea to pay O.J. Simpson several million dollars to discuss how he might have sliced his wife’s head off? How many levels of bonehead management had to sign off on a project that so grotesquely affronted the simple human decencies?

Here’s a link to Howard Kurtz’s story in the Washington Post

You could tell the writing was on the wall when Fox affiliates started abandoning ship.

Interesting result from the election

Here’s what I think is a rather interesting result from the election. It comes in the way of ballot propositions in six states to increase the minimum wage. It passed in all six states. The closest was in Colorado where it received 53% of the vote. The totals go up from there. 56% in Ohio, 66% in Arizona, 69% in Nevada, 73% in Montana and 76% in Missouri. The proposition in Arizona not only increased the minimum wage but said it would increase as inflation did.

Now why can’t the Congress of the United States pass a similar law (oh I know why the Republicans have been in charge). I think it is way past time since there hasn’t been an increase in ten years. Someone at work said that each time Congress votes itself a raise, the minimum wage should go up by the same percentage. I think that is a pretty good idea.

I know this is one of the things on the Democrats agenda let’s hope they make sure it gets passed.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The new Bond

I just got back from the new James Bond movie Casino Royale. I thought it was very good. But it is interesting that there's usually a Bond girl or Bond babe depending on how you want to phrase it (and there are indeed several of them in this movie). But this time around it seems Bond has become the babe.

Here's Ursula Andress coming out of the water in Dr. No

And here’s David Craig coming out of the water in Casino Royale.

You figure out who’s got the bigger chest.

As I said the movie is very good. It’s much more straight forward. There are a lot less gadgets (they can be fun but they got to be rather silly in the last few movies). Also Bond is much less suave and sophisticated and much more menacing. The violence is more real and less cartoonish. And while in the past Bond never seemed to get a scratch on him, this time around Bond gets the crap kicked out of him as well as a scene where well go see the movie and find out.

Bond movies always seem to run long and you felt like the movie was running long. You don’t feel that way with this one at all. A very fun and enjoyable afternoon.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

And the news just gets better

It seems that the Democrats will have control of the Senate too. There are rumblings that Allen will save us the waiting and concede today. Webb’s lead has help up and there seems little reason to think that that will change. There was also no widespread or discernible voter problems or fraud.

And thus ends George Allen’s presidential ambitions. Another one bit the dust as well. Rick Santorum’s idea of running was completely crushed. What a loathsome slimy excuse for a human being. His far right knuckle walking ideas will not be missed at all.

Bush’s news conference was interesting. His statement talked about working with the Democrats but the longer the news conference lasted the less and less that seemed likely. He seems unable to understand that the American people want out of Iraq. I think the public is reaching the point where they just want out. Bush needs to really show that he’s trying different things or people will just start demanding we leave no matter what happens after we go. Getting rid of Rumsfeld may help but the mid set at the very top has to change and to be frank that seems to be unlikely.

Funny article in the Post about the blame game and it started so quickly.

It would be so nice to give the Republicans what they deserve in pay back. See how they like being shut completely out of the process like they did to the Democrats. Having the rules gutted or rearranged to suit legislation from the Democrats. But in the long run that will only hurt the Democrats. They need to keep the big picture in mind and not stoop to the level the Republicans did. So far the Democrats have been saying all the right things. They also come up with a good agenda to start with that most people will agree with. The minimum wage being the big winner. I believe it was on at least half a dozen state ballots and won by huge margins.

For the first time in a very long time I’m hopeful about the direction this country can go in. More than anything this has restored the two party system in this country.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What a difference a day makes . . .

Twenty four little hours.

The political landscape has completely changed. The Democrats control the House and it’s possible the Senate as well. And Don Rumsfeld is gone as Secretary of Defense. There’s lots and lots of talk about working with the Democrats from all sorts of Republicans. One party rule has come to an end. Hopefully most of the Republicans arrogance has been swept aside as well.

I’m very skeptical that Bush will be able to change his stripes. He seems only able to see things as black or white. Right or wrong. Interesting how he must now work with the Democrats who he essentially characterized in the campaign as traitors to their county.

The Democrats have to be careful too. They can’t go half cocked looking for revenge on the Republicans. Although they surely deserve to have their asses kicked but that happened in the election.

As we say in my family we’ll see.

Once again wow what a 24 hours.

What a surprise. What a relief!!

Guess I was a little too pessimistic.

All I can say is I think that democracy was saved in our country last night.

This means the Republicans especially Bush will have to think of a different way in which to govern the country. This ends one part rule.

And the Democrats could still win the Senate!!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Business Class

Last week I did a little research as to how much it would cost to fly business class to New Zealand. I had the great pleasure of being in business class on this trip. But I used my frequent flyer miles so I didn't have to pay anything. And staying with friends made the trip even cheaper. It gave me free rein to spend a great deal of money, which I sort of did. I can say that my Christmas shopping is essential done except for a few small odds and ends and stocking stuffers.

Anyway back to the price of business class. I went to three different sites (American, Air New Zealand and Air Tahiti Niu). The price for a business class ticket starts around $8,000.

So I guess on the next trip I'm flying in coach.

I voted?!

I voted but I didn’t get one of the stickers that says that. They didn’t have any at the polling place. There was only one electronic voting machine and it seems like they were having problems with it (wow that comes as a big surprise). So I voted the old fashion way with a pencil. With the ballots in DC you connect the two ends of an arrow by drawing a line between the two parts. Very high tech. I was voter number 73 which is not too bad since the polls had been open less than an hour.

As I said, I’m not feeling optimistic. I don’t think the Democrats can take the Senate and the House is a question. I really hope the Democrats can win at least one chamber. If not, then it will be business as usual. The Republicans will bow down and do whatever Bush wants them to do. In order to stay in power the Republicans in Congress and especially in the House have abdicated their responsibilities of over sight. It’s amazing how quickly the Republicans became corrupt. All in the name of staying in power. What happened to term limits and limited government and all the other crap in the Contract on America. It’s interesting how quickly one’s perspective changes when you come into power and the single most important thing is to stay in power.

People in the elected branches of government have reached the point where everything is a perpetual campaign. One election ends and then the next begins. Once the results of today are know, its off to the '08 presidential election.

On another note I realized over the weekend that Bush is right. Stay the course has never been the policy of the administration. The reason for that is simple: staying the course implies that there is an actual policy. To stay the course you have to have a policy to stay the course with and the Bush administration doesn’t have a policy on Iraq. Or to paraphrase Bill Maher the post war policy on Iraq was written down on the back of a cocktail napkin at Applebees.

I think more and more that the following statement I came up with under Bush one is more and more true:

If the people in power today were the people in power during World War II, we would be speaking German today. If the people in power today were the people in power during the Civil War, when I go to Virginia I wouldn’t be going to another state I’d be going to another country. And if the people in power today were the people in power during the Revolution, Queen Elizabeth would be on our money.

I’m hoping the results tonight prove me wrong or at least give me some hope.

Election Day

It’s finally here. After today no more ads (for two years). No more calls. No more brochures stuffed through the mail slot. No more people at subway stops.

It looks pretty bad for the Democrats to take the Senate. And I’m not too hopeful about the House either. Fear, fear and more fear. That’s what the Republicans run on. After all its worked in the last two elections why shouldn’t it work in a third.

I’m tired of the Republicans doing this. I tired of them equating anyone who dares oppose Bush as being a traitor and for the terrorists. The notion that people have different opinions on Iraq only works when your poll numbers are crap. The great divider is what Bush should be know as.

But then again the Democrats have been so inept as an opposition party maybe they don’t deserve to win.

Both parties are just pathetic.

I’m trying to remain optimistic but it is very hard.

Please get out and vote.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Final weekend

It’s the final weekend before the election. There are 600 new ads out on the airwaves. Probably most if not all negative.

Each election cycle there’s a discussion of whether this is the worse election when it comes to negative ads. I’m not sure that that is the case but it’s probably the most ads that have ever been on before. This of course means, since just about all seem to be negative, there are more negative ads to clutter up the screen.

The Republicans are of course the worst because they have so few positive issues to run on. One thing the Democrats were able to do was to nationalize the election around Iraq. It is so interesting to see Republicans running away from Bush’s polices. Policies these same Republicans help to put in place.

There’s the very funny ad by Michael Steele in Maryland saying Rumsfeld must go. A great ad but completely meaningless because Bush says he’s going to stay.

Then of course there are the smear ads. The one that ran in upper state New York. It said this candidate had made calls to a phone sex line and charged the tax payers. At the end an ominous voice saying what type of person would do that. The truth is the candidate didn’t make the call a co-worker did. He dialed the wrong number because part of the department of corrections was one number different then the phone sex line. The guy hung up immediately. The Republicans stand by the ad. I know that comes as a big surprise.

I wonder what this type of campaigning does to people in the long run. Over and over again it’s been shown that negative ads stick in people’s minds more than positive ads. But I wonder at what price. I would think after awhile people would just tune them out. I know I do. I either turn down the sound or switch that station where of course I inevitably run into another ad.

But like I said there are only a few days left. Only a few days left for Bush to say that if people vote for the Democrats they are voting for the terrorists for candidates who don’t want to keep America safe. Curious what happened to people having different opinions on how the war on terror is supposed to be waged. Oh I know what happened the failed policies of the administration are about to come back and bite the Republicans in the ass.

About time too.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Spitting mad

This post reminds me of when Mary Gross was on Saturday Night Live. She’d do commentaries on the news segment and talk about being spitting mad. Well after the last day I’m spitting mad too.

Once again the Democrats are on track to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. What was Kerry thinking? Who on his staff thought those lines in the speech (whatever they were supposed to be) were a good idea. And instead of owing up that it was the wrong thing to say and he’s sorry, Kerry is trying to spin it. Finally at the end of the day the apology.

I’m beginning to think the Democrats won’t be able to with either house of Congress.

In six years and especially since 9/11, the Democrats have allowed the Republicans to define the Democrats to the voting public. The Democrats in their vast ineptness have been unable to respond.

Over and over and over when I was in New Zealand people asked how Americans could support Bush. The answer is there has been no real alternative offered. The Democrats are unable and incapable to frame issues that reflect on them positively.

What has come through to the public is the ineptness of the Republicans concering Katrina and Iraq.

But the Democrats can’t just point out how inept the Republicans are. The Democrats have to show the pubolic they stand for something. That the policies they support, far from making America less secure, will make it more secure. But Democrats on issue after issue have failed to do this.

The war in Iraq is of course the most obvious issue. The Democrats got identified with cut and run. That worked for the Republicans for awhile. That fell apart when Iraq fell apart or better put fell apart further not from anything the Democrats did.

The Patriot Act and similar legislation is another issue. As our president gleefully guts the Bill of Rights, the Democrats seem powerless to counter the president and the Republicans. The Republicans have been able have been able to brand the Democrats soft on terrorists because Democrats support the Constitution. The Democrats have been incapable of mounting any sort of defense.

This is an issue the Democrats could have made their own. And in doing so show the ineptness of the Bush administration. While at the same time showing themselves hard on terrorists. What they needed to do on this issue (and oh so many others) is frame it properly.

Here’s my idea. Rather than talking solely about the constitutionality of these measures (which I’m not marginalizing at all), they should have hammered away about the need for oversight. Someone not directly involved and who could see all the dots and connect them correctly. A phrase used over and over again after 9/11 about missing the big picture. Tie the big picture idea to the fact the Bush Administration misses it over and over and over again. Bring in the bungling in Iraq and the failures of Katrina and missing the clues to 9/11.

So the Democrats should have said we need someone to look things over. The bottom line is you have oversight, not only protect people’s rights, but to make rights sure the FBI, Homeland Security or whoever is going after the terrorist go after the right people. So the FBI etc don’t go after the wrong people and say they are the right people even when they know these people aren’t terrorist. (The guy out west who was arrested after the Madrid bombing comes to mind. The Spanish police said he wasn’t a suspect but the FBI said he was. Finally after many weeks the FBI let the guy go). You have oversight so the bad guys don’t get away!!

I have to go and wipe my mouth now.

Open mouth . . .

What was he thinking. Way to go Senator Kerry. I do wonder what people think well actully this is obviously not thinking.

I like what was reported on ABC News from one Democratic party source essentially the guy said: Kerry was not content to loose the 2004 election he's now working on loosing the 2006 election for the Democrats.

For more coverage go here for a story in USA Today or for the view from the Washington Post.

Any chance the Republicans have to fling mud and not talk about the issues they will take. And here is a perfect chance. A very late October surprise. This is a trick in honor of Halloween. Hopefully it won't lead to a bigger trick on election day.