Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Happy Hump Day

A great way to celebrate the week being half over.

We’re a Democracy Senator, Not a Theocracy

Seems Mr. Santorum wants no separation between church and state. He sounds like he’s interested in creating a Christian Democracy. That’s the only thing I can think of when he continues his diatribe about religion being under attack. He went on to attack President Kennedy’s speech about the separation of church and state.

Santorum said this:

“I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute,” he said. He said on This Week: What kind of country do we live in that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case?

Too bad Santorum can’t understand what the speech is really about. Eugene Robinson put it best in the Post today:
I have to assume that Santorum knows what Kennedy meant — that when he says “the idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country,” he’s just trying to appeal to religious conservatives. If Santorum is serious, his views are not just misguided but dangerous.

Then there is the silly and out right stupid attack on Obama from Santorum on education. Obama is a snob because he thinks people should go to college. Well again that’s not exactly what Obama said. He was talking about college or trade school so that people can be competitive in this job market. Santorum seems to be unaware or simple doesn’t care that the unemployment rate for college graduates is just 4.4 percent, compared to 9.5 percent for high-school graduates. But as long as you can pander to the far right fringe that is now the Republican party facts don’t seem to matter at all.

Case in point his take on euthanasia in the Netherlands:

“In the Netherlands, people wear different bracelets if they are elderly. And the bracelet is: ‘Do not euthanize me.’ Because they have voluntary euthanasia in the Netherlands but half of the people who are euthanized — ten percent of all deaths in the Netherlands — half of those people are enthanized involuntarily at hospitals because they are older and sick. And so elderly people in the Netherlands don’t go to the hospital. They go to another country, because they are afraid, because of budget purposes, they will not come out of that hospital if they go in there with sickness.”

The Post looked into this in its Fact Checker Column. The conclusion:

There appears to be not a shred of evidence to back up Santorum’s claims about euthanasia in the Netherlands. It is telling that his campaign did not even bother to defend his comments.

But once again why should “facts” matter to this guy. What matters is whipping up the base and winning by any way and any means.

Getting back to the religious aspect of this new tack by Santorum, The Post had an editorial on this issue. The last couple of paragraphs really hit home:

When he so misreads Mr. Kennedy, when he perceives a war that does not exist, he shows a lack of appreciation for the First Amendment. When he accuses President Obama of harboring a “phony theology” — “Not a theology based on Bible. A different theology” — it seems he does not understand the line between policy and religion. Mr.. Santorum later explained that he was not questioning Mr. Obama’s faith, only his environmental policy. But theology means “the study of God and of the relations between God, humankind and the universe.”

That Mr. Santorum believes he has the standing to declaim on the rightness of Mr. Obama’s faith, and whether it is sufficiently Bible-based, is in itself disqualifying.

Seems Santorum needs to be reminded yet again: The United States of America is a Democracy not a Theocracy.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Gratuitous Cat Pictures

I figure it's been awhile since I posted some pictures of the guys. Here they are enjoying looking out the front door on a Sunday. As you can tell from the one picture this is when we had our little dusting of snow.

Every Four Years at the Newseum

It's election time again. The Neweum has a great exhibit on it called Every Four Years.

Here's some more information about it:

The Newseum's new election-year exhibit, "Every Four Years: Presidential Campaigns and the Press," explores how media coverage of presidential campaigns has evolved from William McKinley's 1896 front porch campaign to Barack Obama's 2008 Internet campaign, as candidates and reporters tangle over issues, images and control of the story.

The exhibit features interactive activities and an original video on televised campaign ads, shown on a 100-foot-wide video screen in the Robert H. and Clarice Smith Big Screen Theater.

Presidential Elections at the Newseum, Part II

More from the exhibit on presidential elections from the Newseum.

The first picture is from the LBJ ad about the girl picking the pedals off a daisy and then a count down to the detonation of an atomic bomb. Next is Tim Russert's dry erase board from the disputed 2000 election. After that a display from the 2008 Democratic Convention. The next too are covers from the New Yorker and the Onion. Last the display about the 2012 election.

Saturday Night Live at the Newseum

There's a very funny exhibit at the Newseum dealing with humor and election. Specifically the role that Saturday Night Live has played in political satire. There were several clips from the show about the 2008 election. All very funny.

Pictures below show some of the props used in some of those skits.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Talking Oscars' at the Newseum

Got to see the Washington Post's Film Critic Ann Hornaday talk about the Oscars at the Newseum yesterday. It was a fun 45 minutes of here giving opinions on this year's nominees.

She also has a very interesting piece in the Post today. Here's a little excerpt from it:

Of all the endangered species in Hollywood, perhaps the most overlooked might be the adult drama — the kind of mid-budget, modestly scaled, smartly written movie that seemed to be so common in the 1970s. Back then, the genre was typified by taut, no-nonsense films like “Chinatown” and “All the President’s Men.” Their present-day analogs are “Michael Clayton” or “The Social Network” — smart, stylish movies geared toward grown-ups that, were it not for the Oscars, would be less likely to find purchase in Hollywood’s current business model.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rhode Island Row — Close to finishing Construction

Everyday that get closer and closer to finishing the outside construciton on Rhode Island Row. There are no longer any major structures that need to be built. They are working on finishing the outside construction.

There is still a ways to go with getting everything finished and done on the inside. In fact that will probably take a few more months. But at I said in an earlier post, renters are moving in. Soon CVS will open. Not exactly sure how soon that will be but it sounds like by April it will be open.

It will be great when it's finally done.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Rhode Island Row Starts having Tenants

It seems people have started to move into the apartments at Rhode Island Row. I stopped into the leasing office the other day on the way home from work. I got a tour of the place.

During the tour, I was told about 30 people have moved in. They are in the complex that is closest to the Giant and Home Depot. I was also told all the two bedrooms with dens had been rented. I saw the common areas all very nice. There is a nice party room that will look out toward the pool. Also a very nice fitness center. They are in the process of building the pool. It was hard to tell the exact size it was going to be. It will open sometime around Memorial Day.

I also found out that the first official retail client is on board and that's CVS. There are others that are close to signing a lease but they don't say anything until a retailer has actually signed one.

Here's a look at the floor plans for the apartments. The apartments looked very nice; I saw the one and two bedrooms. I liked the set up both of them.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Civil War 150 — Battle of Fort Donelson

Battle of Fort Donelson Feb. 1862 11-16 1862 in Stewart County, Tennessee which is located north west of Nashville near the Kentucky border. The first real major battle since 1861. The Union had about 27,00 and the Confederates in the fort numbered about 15,000.

Details of the battle

Grant had about 27,000 men with naval support; the Confederate garrison was roughly 15,000.

Union losses were about 2,250 while the Confederates had about that many fall, and roughly 12,000 surrender.

After capturing Fort Henry on February 6, 1862, Grant advanced cross-country to invest Fort Donelson. The original garrison of the two forts was about 2,500 men, and Albert Johnston had dispatched about 12,000 reinforcements from Bowling Green, KY, under John Floyd to bolster the defense. A few men also arrived from Columbus, the western end of the Confederate defensive line. Grant had wanted to move fast, to prevent reinforcements arriving at all, but wretched weather (rain before and during his operations ruined the roads) delayed him and the Confederate troops arrived safely.

On the 13th the third Union division arrived (Lew Wallace’s) and Grant had his cordon of roughly 25,000 men. The next day Foote opened his naval attack. He had four ironclads and two wooden gunboats, and he led with the ironclads. St Louis (flagship) and Louisville had their steering gear shot away, the other two ironclads had holes punched through their thinner deck armor. The wooden ships didn’t risk themselves much. The Confederates didn’t lose a gun or a man killed.

The Confederates didn’t think about supplying themselves by water; it was unconventional, and they were cut off by land. They also thought Grant was stronger than he really was, and being continually reinforced. They worried that Foote would turn up with another fleet. In a council of war on the night of February 14, they decided to try and break out.

The plan was to reinforce the left (Pillow) with Buckner’s men from the right. Pillow would lead the attack and clear the road to Charlotte and Nashville. Buckner’s men would keep the road open while the rest of the garrison was evacuated, and everybody would join the main army in central Tennessee. It almost happened. Pillow, with Buckner joining the attack, broke the Union line in late morning. They captured 300 prisoners, about 5,000 rifles, and an artillery battery. Indecision then lost the victory. Pillow was cautious, Buckner bold, and Floyd foolish. After hemming and hawing Floyd ordered his (victorious) men to return to the trenches. Meanwhile Grant returned to the field. He’d been conferring with Foote (wounded, so the conference had to be on the gunboat) and returned in time to rescue the battle.

He ordered his reserve into action, attacking the Fort rather than the victorious Confederate left. The deploying attack was what drew the Confederates back to their trenches, but Buckner’s men didn’t arrive in time. They held the Union to only limited gains, but the Confederate’s main defensive line was broken. They had broken the Union line, but snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Grant also rallied his right, and reoccupied most of the ground lost in the morning, so the day closed with a near-total Union advantage.

On February 16, 1862, the 12,000-man garrison surrendered. Buckner had enquired about terms and Grant uncompromisingly replied “No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted.” Buckner fumed that it was “ungenerous and unchivalrous” but it was warlike. With a demoralized command he had no choice.

This was a major victory for Grant and a catastrophe for the South. It ensured that Kentucky would stay in the Union and opened up central Tennessee to a Northern advance along the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. Grant received a promotion to major general for his victory and attained stature in the Western Theater, earning the nom de guerre “Unconditional Surrender.”

Civil War 150 — Battle of Roanoke Island

Battle of Roanoke Island Feb. 7-8 1862 in Dare County, North Carolina. This is the area where Cape Hatteras is.

Details of the battle:

On February 7, Brig. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside landed 7,500 men on the southwestern side of Roanoke Island in an amphibious operation launched from Fort Monroe. The next morning, supported by gunboats, the Federals assaulted the Confederate forts on the narrow waist of the island, driving back and out-maneuvering Brig. Gen. Henry Wise's outnumbered command. After losing less than 100 men, the Confederate commander on the field, Col. H.M. Shaw, surrendered about 2,500 soldiers and 32 guns. Burnside had secured an important outpost on the Atlantic Coast, tightening the blockade.

Burnside had 7,500 men, while Wise had around 3,000. Very precise casualty statistics were recorded: the US had 37 killed, 214 wounded, and 13 missing; the South had 23 killed, 58 wounded, 62 missing, and 2,500 captured.

Civil War 150 — Battle of Fort Henry

Battle of Fort Henry Feb. 6, 1862 in Western Tennessee. Another Union victory. Details of the battle:

Total casualties were light, under 150.

By February 1862, Fort Henry, a small Confederate earthen fort on the Tennessee River with seventeen outdated guns, was partially inundated and the river threatened to flood the rest. Tilghman was working on one weakness of the fort, and had started building Fort Heiman on the high ground across the river. Before he could finish the job, Union troops arrived.

On February 4-5, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Union, landed his divisions in two different locations, one on the east bank of the Tennessee River to prevent the garrison’s escape and the other to occupy the high ground on the Kentucky side which would insure the fort’s fall; Foote’s seven gunboats began bombarding the fort. Brig. Gen. Lloyd Tilghman, CSA, realized that it was only a matter of time before Fort Henry fell. While leaving seventy artillerymen in the fort to hold off the Union fleet, he escorted the rest of his force out of the area and sent them safely off on the route to Fort Donelson, 10 miles away. (They escaped since the creeks were too high for Union troops to cut them off.) Tilghman then returned to the fort and, soon afterwards, surrendered to the fleet, which had engaged the fort and closed within 400 yards. (Since the Confederate fort was basically at water level the gunboats could easily and accurately shell it, while a fort on high ground was a harder target and could use plunging fire. Fort Henry was a problem waiting to happen for the South.)

Despite a two-hour gun duel, armor plate saved Foote’s ships from serious damage, and only the USS Essex needed much repair. Fort Henry’s fall opened the Tennessee River to Union gunboats and shipping as far as Muscle Shoals, Alabama. (Foote sent his three wooden gunboats up the almost undefended river, holding his four ironclads to support the attack on Fort Donelson.) After the fall of Fort Donelson, ten days later, the two major water transportation routes in the Confederate west, bounded by the Appalachians and the Mississippi River, became Union highways for movement of troops and material.

Civil War 150 — Battle of Mill Springs

Battle of Mill Springs Jan. 19, 1862 in Pulaski & Wayne Counties, Kentucky. This is located directly south of Lexington and right next to the Daniel Boone National Forest.

The details of the battle:
Although Brig. Gen. Felix K. Zollicoffer’s main responsibility was to guard Cumberland Gap, in November 1861 he advanced west into Kentucky to strengthen control in the area around Somerset. He found a strong defensive position at Mill Springs and decided to make it his winter quarters. He fortified the area, especially both sides of the Cumberland River.

Union Brig. Gen. George Thomas received orders to drive the Rebels across the Cumberland River and break up Maj. Gen. George B. Crittenden’s army. He left Lebanon and slowly marched through rain-soaked country, arriving at Logan’s Crossroads on January 17, where he waited for Brig. Gen. A. Schoepf’s troops from Somerset to join him. Maj. Gen. George Crittenden, Zollicoffer’s superior, had arrived at Mill Springs and taken command of the Confederate troops. He knew that Thomas was in the vicinity and decided that his best defense was to attack the Yankees.

The Rebels attacked Thomas at Logan’s Crossroads at dawn on January 19. Unbeknownst to the Confederates, some of Schoepf’s troops had arrived and reinforced the Union force. Initially, the Rebel attack forced the first unit it hit to retire, but stiff resistance followed and Zollicoffer was killed. The Rebels made another attack but were repulsed. Union counterattacks on the Confederate right and left were successful, forcing them from the field in a retreat that ended in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Here's a link to the Mill Springs Battlefield Association.

Civil War 150 — Battle of Middle Creek

Battle of Middle Creek Jan. 10, 1862 in Floyd County, Kentucky. Located in south eastern Kentucky close to the Virginia border. This was a Union victory:
More than a month after Confederate Col. John S. Williams left Kentucky, following the fight at Ivy Mountain, Brig. Gen. Humphrey Marshall led another force into southeast Kentucky to continue recruiting activities. From his headquarters in Paintsville, on the Big Sandy River, northwest of Prestonsburg, Marshall recruited volunteers and had a force of more than 2,000 men by early January, but could only partially equip them.

Union Brig. Gen. Don Carlos Buell directed Col. James Garfield to force Marshall to retreat back into Virginia. Leaving Louisa, Garfield took command of the 18th Brigade and began his march south on Paintsville. He compelled the Confederates to abandon Paintsville and retreat to the vicinity of Prestonsburg. Garfield slowly headed south, but swampy areas and numerous streams slowed his movements, and he arrived in the vicinity of Marshall on the 9th.

Heading out at 4:00 am on January 10, Garfield marched a mile south to the mouth of Middle Creek, fought off some Rebel cavalry and turned west to attack Marshall. Marshall had put his men in line of battle west and south of the creek near its forks. Garfield attacked shortly after noon, and the fighting continued for most of the afternoon until Union reinforcements arrived in time to dissuade the Confederates from assailing the Federal left.

Instead, the Rebels retired south and were ordered back to Virginia on the 24th. Garfield's force moved to Prestonsburg after the fight and then retired to Paintsville. Union forces had halted the Confederate 1861 offensive in Kentucky, and Middle Creek demonstrated that their strength had not diminished.

This victory, along with Mill Springs a little more than a week later, cemented Union control of eastern Kentucky until Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg launched his offensive in the summer and fall. Following these two January victories in Kentucky, the Federals carried the war into Tennessee in February.

For in depth information on the battle follow this link.

Civil War 150 — Battle of Roan's Tan Yard

Battle of Roan's Tan Yard Jan. 8, 1862

Another battle in Missouri. This was set north of the city of Columbia. This was a Union victory:

Rumors and sightings of a Confederate force in the Howard County area had circulated for more than a week, but the Union troops could not locate them because civilian sympathy in the area was pro-Confederate.

Then on January 7, 1862, information came to hand that Col. J.A. Poindexter and his Confederate force were camped on Silver Creek. Detachments from various Union units gathered and headed towards the Confederate camp, about 14 miles northwest of Fayette. After finding the camp, the Federals attacked and routed the enemy. Those that were not killed, wounded, or captured fled for safety. Afterwards, the Union troops destroyed the camp to prevent its further use. This small action cost the Confederates Randolph County as a base for recruiting and raiding.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Peanuts Saturday

Funny Peanuts series about Linus getting glasses. Click on the individual panels to read.

Civil War 150 — Battle of Hancock

Battle of Hancock on Jan 5, 1862 - Jan 6 , 1862

Western Maryland serves as the first site of a battle to open 1862:

"Stonewall" Jackson had long urged the strategic value of an offensive out of the Shenandoah Valley, which could threaten Washington and wreck Union east-west communications by breaking the Baltimore & Ohio railroad.

He started from Winchester to Bath with the objective of disrupting traffic on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. On January 5, after skirmishing with the retiring Federals, Jackson's force reached the Potomac River opposite the garrisoned town of Hancock, Maryland. His artillery fired on the town from Orrick's Hill but did little damage. Union garrison commander Brig. Gen. F.W. Lander refused Jackson's demands for surrender. Jackson continued the bombardment for two days while unsuccessfully searching for a safe river crossing. The Confederates withdrew and marched on Romney, in western Virginia, on January 7.

There were a series of events that took place to commemorate the battle. Follow this link.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Putting the Coronation on Hold

Seems the inevitability of Mr. Romney hit a little bit of a bump in the road in the form of Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri. Now it can be argued that these contests are not all that important. After all the Missouri “primary” is only a beauty contest. It has no impact on how the delegates for the state are divided up. That will happen in a caucus in March.

So one could just write these three contests off:

Romney’s campaign did a good job of setting expectations in the run up to its loss in Missouri and the other states Tuesday, noting that there were no delegates at stake in Missouri and the caucus in Minnesota doesn’t directly lead to delegate allocation either. Because of this, many reporters and analysts declared before Tuesday’s elections that they were effectively meaningless.

That’s an entirely fair argument. After all, if Romney were to have mobilized his full campaign in Missouri, we likely would have seen a far different outcome. But he didn’t.

Thus, his campaign has a headache on its hands — especially given that he lost by 30 full points in Missouri and close to that amount in Minnesota.

At this point in the presidential race, it’s about expectations and momentum. And the perceptions of both have changed post-Missouri at least somewhat.

But the problem is that Romney lost badly in two of the contests Missouri by 30%, Minnesota 28% (he came in behind Paul for goodness sakes) and in Colorado 6%. It gives rise to once again the notion, real or imagined, that Romney is not acceptable to the Republican base. Romney still has more money than any other candidate. A better organization and more super PACs on his side. But he still seems unable to close the deal.

Santorum will be getting a great deal of free publicity with his wins. He also will probably get a boost in cash coming his way. Another important point is that there aren’t any another contests until Arizona and Michigan which are on Feb. 28. So the focus will be on how Santorum won and how Romney lost.

Not the story line the Romney campaign wants.

Charlie and Linus Lounge after Dinner

The guys take a rest after dinner and running around last night.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Occupy DC Fades Away

The Park Police finally started to enforce the no-camping rules on Occupy DC at McPherson Square. Very little was left on Monday and even less today.

From the Post

In McPherson Square, where protesters once slept, ate hot meals and snuggled in friendly “cuddle puddles,” they can now stay overnight only if they stay awake, keeping only unfurnished tents for the purpose of a round-the-clock vigil, police said.

“They can have the tents for symbolic purposes only. So long as there is compliance, we will have no issues,” said Sgt. David Schlosser, a Park Police spokesman. “Their First Amendment rights are paramount.”

A great deal of work is going to need to be done to restore McPherson Square to what it once was. In fact this will be the second time in a year that it's been done. Last year the Park Service restored McPherson Square and now they'll have to do it all over.

The issues that Occupy DC and the other Occupy movements were and are important issues. The problem was they just didn't seem to have any idea on what to do to resolve those issues. And in the end that did them in.

Monday, February 06, 2012

The Great Super Bowl Pizza Hunt

A couple of times when I’ve been over at my friend Mark’s to watch football, he’s served pizza from Safeway. It is really good pepperoni pizza. I thought it would be great idea to serve that when Stu and I watched the Super Bowl.

I’d planned to go and get it on Saturday on the way back from having brunch with Lis. But brunch and the visit went a little longer than expected (I also got a firewire cable to replace the one I was having problems with; my external drive now shows up on my computer’s desktop) and I decided to wait until Sunday to get the pizza. I went home after the brunch and took a nap. I thought for a little while after I got up from the nap that I might go out and get the pizza but decided against that. Still fighting the cold from hell I thought best to stay in out of the cold. I was a little concerned that I might have problems finding one.

I settled on a Safeway in Maryland. Not very far from my house. Maybe 15 minutes or so. I checked their hours and they opened at 7. I was hoping to get there around then but I stayed in bed. I got going around 8:15 or so. I put the address into my GPS and off I went. I found the place with no problems. But the problem was that the store had literally closed for good the day before.

I used my iPhone to find the nearest Safeway from there. Off I went. I got to the place where the next Safeway was supposed to be and well I just couldn’t find it. My mistake was not going to the Safeway web site and finding where the nearest store was to the one that had closed.

So this time around I went to the Safeway web site. Found out there was one on Georgia Avenue. And I was on the road again. Got to this one without any problems. It was where it was supposed to be and was open. It was also a very old small store with a parking lot full of cars. I decided to see if I could find another one.

I knew that there was a store in Georgetown that was brand new and with lots of parking. I programed the address into my GPS and off I went yet again. On the way I realized there was a store in Adams Morgan that I would be driving right past. I decided to stop there. Best laid plans. Turns out I couldn’t find any parking.

Finally I get to the Georgetown Safeway. A big wonderful store with two levels of parking. Found the pizza with no trouble. Also the few other things I needed to. Headed back to my house. Got there around 10:30. My trip for a pizza which I thought might take at the very most 45 minutes turned into a two hour trek. Next time I’m just going to drive to the Georgetown location.

But the bottom line it was worth it because the pizza was great.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Hoping for a Great Super Bowl

Here's hoping for a great super bowl. My main goal is not to have it be 40-3 by the end of the first quarter. And in the mean time, as I'm cooking the pizza Stu and I are going to eat (there's a story in getting that pizza but that will be for later), here's a great Peanuts cartoon.

Friday, February 03, 2012


After having the cold from hell all week, this is indeed a HAPPY FRIDAY. And a Peanuts cartoon is a good way to celebrate.

The Cold that Will not Die

Well I thought I was better but it turned out to be otherwise.

I called my doctor and got an antibiotic. Very very very slowly I'm getting better. Having talked to people who either had this or know someone who had it, they say it last about two weeks or so. My doctor said about the same thing when I saw him last Friday.

All I can say is ugh. Very tired of eating, drinking and breathing phlegm.

I will say this I went from feeling terrible most of the time with only brief moments of feeling OK to feeling OK (not normal or great yet) most of the time and terrible only once in a while.

I'm hoping by staying in most of the weekend to finally shake this thing.