Monday, March 31, 2008

Sometimes one's foibles are funny in and of themselves.

I realized this last night:

I like Chili Cheese dogs. Ironically, my hot dog of choice for Chili Cheese Dogs are Hebrew Nationals.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Those Wacky North Koreans

It kind of strikes me as similar to W's "Bring 'em on!" statement, except they haven't invaded (again) yet.

From Yahoo!:
North Korea threatened South Korea with destruction Sunday after Seoul's top military officer said his country would consider attacking the communist nation if it tried to carry out a nuclear attack. ...
"Our military will not sit idle until warmongers launch a pre-emptive strike," said an unidentified KCNA military commentator. "Everything will be in ashes, not just a sea of fire, if our advanced pre-emptive strike once begins."
This is the thing about North Korea. They have virtually nothing. They rely on foreign aid for just about everything, from energy to food to weapons to clothing. There is really nothing for them to lose by playing dirty, and, in order to keep up their regime, cannot play nice, lest the citizens of the nation catch on that the rest of the world is not as unbelievably poverty-stricken and barren as they are. This means tough rhetoric - an us against the world position. This also means that aid that goes to North Korea that is supposed to help ease tensions somehow end up not being attributed to the helpers who provide it.

Kim Chong Il would much rather see his people starve to death and stay in command than relinquish control of a nation that's been propped up by international aid for over a decade. Yet, in the wake of over 2 million North Koreans killed at the hands of a leader who won't help them, we invaded another nation in a pre-emptive strike to keep them from launching a strike against us (which, incidentally, is what South Korea said they would do, and what North Korea said they'd do if South Korea did that).

Every now and then, North Korea just has to make sure its name is back in the headlines, lest we forget they exist (because it's so easy for us to forget our Axis of Evil enemy without the oil reserves who has quite possibly committed many, many more crimes against humanity in the name of "Self-Reliance," or "Juche").

Bush and Cheney - War Criminals?

Some are suggesting yes, and pointing to others who are pointing to evidence seeming to corroborate such a claim.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Keeping Well Enough Alone

I'm not sure what credibility Karl Rove has right now. But, that doesn't stop him from stumping. I can't decide if he's attacking Obama because Barack is the presumptive Democratic candidate, or if it's because he's working for Hillary to keep the Bush-Clinton family in the White House. Either way, attacking Obama with a question like "what bills has he sponsored?" is right out of Rove's playbook. He knows that most Americans have heard that Obama is not very experienced in Congress (W had no Congressional experience and not much as Guverner of Texas), and that one way to help get people to look away from the potential candidate is to draw attention to that perception. It's a nice innocent question, because it has an answer, and the answer is "a lot," but most people aren't going to go look and see how many bills and amendments to bills Obama has sponsored or cosponsored, and the phraseology is what matters, because it implies that he has done nothing while in the Senate. In truth, however, Barack Obama's name appears as sponsor or cosponsor on 120 bills and amendments according to the Library of Congress website.

I have my reservations about Barack Obama. I have my reservations about John McCain. I have a hunch that whichever one I vote for, I'm going to have some serious buyer's remorse immediately. However, I know that I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton. Which means I'm probably looking at a third party again. If only there was one that was actually viable, like a moderate libertarian party. But maybe it's too late in the game for me to hope for a party closer to what I want from my government.

Single Parenting

The wife is out tonight for a friend's birthday/girl's night out shindig. I had been invited, but we didn't have a babysitter, and the house really wasn't in shape for having one over. So I decided to stay home with the young'uns.

The older two are in their respective baths, getting clean. The youngest, meanwhile, is enjoying some Wii time. This is good, because he really doesn't get quite as much time on it as the other two when they are all "sharing." I think I'm going to use this time to kind of keep my eyes open for something full-time, perhaps in compliance or something along those lines, or perhaps in wills and/or estate planning.

If we stay in Houston, and it's looking more and more likely that we will, then I think my buddy and I need to consider a three year plan. That is, three years from now, we should start our own family/estate practice with some simple wills on the side. I think we could do this, as we work well together, and we get along. But, perhaps I'm being a little premature with my plans. Let's worry about getting through this year first.

Perhaps a little concern

I went to the gym today. I stepped on the scale before my workout, as I always do. I noticed something slightly odd. I weighed less than I did the last time I went to the gym. Three pounds less from my post-workout weight last week. I lost 3 pounds without working out for a week. Being that I am not ignorant of diabetes, it made me somewhat concerned that I had weight loss without effort. But I don't have any other symptoms, such as polyuria, polydipsia, polyphagia, blurred vision, or fatigue. Also, the scale felt different. It wasn't quite as wobbly as it had been the last few times I'd gone in, and it was also on a new pad. It's entirely possible that my weight had been registering high the last few weigh-ins due to it not being properly balanced, and my weight was correct. So for the time being, I'm not going to stress the weight loss, as it's what I've been wanting to do for a while.

So the good news is, I'm 30 pounds down from where I was the day after I took the Bar (about 7 months ago). That's not bad. Now, if I can drop about 10 more, I'll be happy.

Choosing a Law School

Every year, the U.S. News and World Report comes out with an issue that ranks the nation's law schools. People put a whole lot of stock in these rankings, and the rankings from the Princeton Review; and many (and I do mean many) use the rankings alone as their choice for selecting a school. That's fine and dandy, I guess, if your concern above all else is prestige. But, quite frankly, that's not the only thing to consider when choosing a law school.

The first thing you should ask yourself is "what kind of law do I want to practice?" If you want to be a trial lawyer, an advocate, then you're probably not going to want to Columbia. Instead, look at NYU. South Texas College of Law has an outstanding advocacy program; one of only three in the nation (the others being Stetson and Temple) to rank on the top 10 list for trial advocacy every year of the rankings. A person with an interest more in intellectual property, however, would probably be better served to forgo South Texas, or even the University of Texas in favor of the University of Houston.

Another thing to consider is where do you want to live? Boston has a lot of history and tradition, but someone who has never lived north of the Mason-Dixon or east of the Mississippi might not be comfortable spending three years in an environment such as that. In that case, University of Oklahoma, or SMU, or something along those lines could be a good choice.

Cost is a factor, for many people considering law school, at least. I knew a girl who was admitted to Fordham University school of law, but had to choose another school (which gives you the same degree and lets you practice in the same courts) because of the lack of available financial aid after her loans capped out. She was disappointed at first, but now is enjoying her time at St. John's.

Other things to consider, perhaps more importantly than the number at the left of the school's name, are a couple other numbers: Bar passage rate, Employment rate, and average starting salary. These are the issues that are perhaps more important, and go more towards what people are looking to get out of their legal education. Choose a school with a high bar passage rate, like Texas Tech, Baylor, or Akron over a school with a high ranking but a lower pass rate. Find a school that has a stronger career services center, that does a good job helping students find their best placement. Look at potential salary, if that's why you went to law school. DePaul University and Loyola of Chicago are nearly identical in starting salary (Loyola is slightly higher) and bar placement, but DePaul is ranked 42 while Loyola is 82.

Finally, one has to consider the source. The U.S. News gleans its rankings from several different sources, but ultimately, these sources are not completely knowledgeable about every section of America. South Texas College of Law has a great reputation in and around Houston, and has trained some outstanding individuals (the CEO of Delta Airlines, and Chris Bell, 2006 candidate for Texas Governor, Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina, and Dan Rather, who attended but did not graduate). But they are a local school, and aren't going to resonate with the bigwigs in New York or D.C. The same could be said, I'm sure, about schools like Ohio Northern University, Memphis, Cooley, or other schools that don't have the name recognition of a Michigan or a Georgetown or a Stanford.

The bottom line is, you can go to school anywhere and be a good lawyer. You can go to school anywhere and be a crap lawyer. What matters, more than anything else, is finding the school that fits what you want to do.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spoiled Brats

I'm not much of a golfer. I've golfed once in my life, about 12 years ago, and I shot a 72.

However, I respect that it's a difficult game to play well, and that one needs to be able to concentrate. What I don't respect, though, is the behavior of "professional" golfers who throw tirades because someone makes the slightest hint of a noise.

For the love of Pete. You are a Professional Athlete. You are supposed to handle distractions. It's a damn camera. You are getting paid millions of dollars, and you want us to pander to you? Grow up. You don't see football being put on hold because the crowd is too loud to call the cadence. You don't see baseball players refusing to pitch or bat because someone's trying to buy cracker jacks. You want to show me you're the best? You want me to believe that you should be getting paid 7 figures to hit a ball at a hole with a stick? Do it in spite of the distractions. I think this would make the game much more interesting. Handle the pressure. You're an entertainer. You are there for us.

Don't believe me? Who's going to pay your check if fans don't show up, or don't buy your balls?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How Trite

Hillary Clinton recently made statements regarding her trip to Bosnia in 1996. These statements (almost) immediately were shown to be false. She was selling herself based on her experience, and made material misrepresentations of fact. Her explanation? "She misspoke."'s definition of misspeak is as follows: 1. To speak, utter, or pronounce incorrectly; 2. to speak inaccurately, inappropriately, or too hastily.

I'm curious, if she spoke inaccurately, how she did so with such detail, and how she discounted a fellow passenger's explanation on the matter? I'm also curious, if she misspoke with such clarity, if she was referring to another mission that she flew to, and if so, when and where that was? Because otherwise, this seems less like a misstatement and more like a lie.

Perhaps the most perplexing part of this is how her spokesperson (and by extension, Hillary herself) could expect us to simply accept that she misspoke, and then turn the attention to Obama (in the article linked first, Clinton Spokesperson Howard Wolfson said the Obama campaign was pressing this because they had "nothing positive to say about their candidate"). They need to come up with a better answer, if one is available. But I think this is her losing moment - like George Romney's "brainwashed" statement, or Howard Dean's explosion, or Gary Hart's Donna Rice. At least, it would be, if the Press didn't give her a free pass on this issue.

Nelson M. has another take on this at The Liberal Journal.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Surge is Not Working

For all the blather on the right that the Surge is working because violence was down, and the fact that at least one person is going to make note that it's somewhat arbitrary to mark the 4000th death in Iraq as a "grim" milestone (because the overall body count is lower than in other wars, so it can't be "grim," I guess), the question that really needed to be answered was "did the Surge work?"

For the answer to that, I would pass the mike to General Petraeus, who probably wasn't coached by the President or his staff.

"[N]o one (in the U.S. and Iraqi Governments) feels that there has been sufficient progress by any means in the area of national reconciliation."

Now, let's consider what the goal of the Surge was. The goal, by the President's own mouth, was to provide breathing space for national reconciliation. In other words, the military could not achieve victory by strength of numbers here. They could only create room for those who could achieve the victory to do so. Because this nation was not (and is not) ready for national reconciliation (or, possibly for democracy), this Surge strategy was doomed to fail from the start. It's not the fault of the military, who did their jobs well. It's the fault of the Iraqi government, who were ill-equipped to handle the responsibility given them, and it is the fault of our President and the over-deferent Congress, who created a power/balance vacuum with this war, not sufficiently thinking through the situation to determine how it would end.

But the Executive Branch (or is it Legislative?) has an answer for that.

We don't need no education

Our state board of education director: "What good does it do to put a Chinese story in an English book? That's not going to help you master ... English. So you really don't want Chinese books with a bunch of crazy Chinese words in them. Why should you take a child's time trying to learn a word that they'll never use again?"

I actually think this is a great argument - if you're a student. How many times have you heard a high school student bitch about have to learn trigonometry, because they'll never use it again? I'm a lawyer; I never use trigonometry. Think of all that time I wasted learning! Or history - The Executive apparently doesn't need to learn from it; why should we? Who needs spelling tests when our computers have spell-check? And "Science." Really. Who needs science? After the rapture, none of us are going to have to worry about biography or oceanography or kinesiology or astronomy or anthropology or any of that crap.

We just needs to learn how to pump gas and point guns so that America can be free.

Wash Away My Troubles

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Those Who Do Not Learn From the Mistakes of Their Parents

Are doomed to forget where all the Easter Eggs are hidden.

Friday, March 21, 2008

There's History, and There's Hillary History.

Which version do you want to believe? They're both offered here.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

But, Did He Like Broccoli?

A direct quote from the tour guide leading a discussion with a bunch of children: "If this creature [the Tyrannosaurus Rex] was designed to eat meat from the very start, what would he have to until Adam and Eve sinned and death entered the world? What would he have to do? Fast and pray for The Fall. Is that likely? The answer is ... 'No.'"

I'm all for believing in creationism. I'm all for believing in Evolution. Your beliefs are your own. But to suggest that the Tyrannosaurus Rex was a vegetarian because Adam and Eve hadn't sinned yet makes no sense to me at all.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dick's Hypothesis

I can't imagine it being anything other than "A lie told often enough will become true."

How else could anyone rationally explain his incessant attempts to link Iraq with 9-11, despite the fact that the President, the military, and just about everyone who hasn't drunk the Kool-aid has conceded that Al-Qaeda WAS NOT INVOLVED WITH SADDAM HUSSEIN'S GOVERNMENT!!!!!!!!!!!

Listen. I'm all for asking for continued support of the troops. I don't even mind people rationally debating for a continued presence in the nation where "as [the Iraqi forces] step up, we will step down." But to try to twist conventional wisdom with what can not be described as anything less than a blatant lie is not just painfully wrong, it's a disservice to those who have gone and fought, and to do so in Iraq to a military audience belittles their intelligence.

It's gone beyond "have you no shame." It's now reached a "do you need to be medicated" point.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Rather than write my own post

I'm going to refer you to The Gun Toting Liberal's post on the DC Gun Ban case that is headed for the Court.

I commented, technically, on the post, but it was more prattle than reason. Still, it's an interesting look.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

As Long as There Are Tests

There will be prayer in schools. It's not a difficult concept. What makes it difficult is the sometimes fanatical fervor some on the religious right go to in an attempt to foist their religious beliefs on those around them.

That's why when there is an article that shows at least some semblance of tolerance for the existence of other religions, it bears noting. In this case, it's a settlement following a Texas court ruling prohibiting the use of a student vote as to whether or not to have a prayer at the commencement (source: Americans United For Separation of Church and State). Judge Sam Sparks noted that the policy adopted by the school district - to hold student elections on whether or not to have a prayer at a commencement ceremony - has been ruled Unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, which has ruled that schools cannot impose prayers through student elections.

This is important, though there will be many on the religious right arguing that this is somehow preventing them from being Christian. That's not the case. The ruling does not even prevent students from praying at graduation. They can pray as much as they want. They just can't have a student-led prayer, or a Christian invocation at the beginning of the commencement. In other words, Christians are still as free to practice their religion as every other religious denomination in the district is.

Some on the religious right, though, won't see it that way. Many of them have come to equate religious liberty in America as somehow being hostile towards Christianity, under what I view as some form of insecurity. That is, they need the state to sponsor their religious beliefs, lest their beliefs be wrong, and they need this to be imposed on everyone, so that those "dang heathens" can see the rightness in being Christian.

Cross-posted with additional commentary by Photog at Rambling Photos of a Life Lived.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

What we need

We took the kids to the rodeo today. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is one of biggest things to come to town each year. This year, we did most of the time in the carnival part of the thing, letting the kids go on rides, eat giant mutant turkey legs, and sausage on a stick.

What we could have used were a couple lassos, as we had one heck of a time keeping the Apple and the Princess within shouting distance. They would both keep near us for a couple minutes, then simultaneously tear off in opposite directions. This was unfortunate, as we really wanted to stop by the booths and look at the vendors' wares. One of these days I'd like to get something from one of the stalls, just because. Maybe a hat, or a monogrammed belt buckle, or something.

Anyway, it was nice to do our annual redneck tribute and see the sites. Perhaps next year we'll actually get some tickets to sit down and watch the bull riding or calf roping or something.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Of Course, There Will Be Those On the Right Who Dismiss This

One of my favorite covers, by several Bush fans who claim that only they truly support the military because they support the war in Iraq even though they never donned a uniform themselves, for continued justification for the invasion of Iraq despite the President's concession that we had been unable to find evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda, and the military's Intelligence Committee's report that there were no WMDs in Iraq, and that basically everything that was pitched to us as a no-brainer while those who dared to doubt the decider were stuck on stupid, is the rush to dismiss military intelligence or military reports that seem to corroborate the evidence suggesting no connection between Al-Qaeda and Hussein.

These are the same people who are going to hem and haw and quickly dismiss the latest Pentagon-sponsored report showing no link between Hussein and Al-Qaeda.

Let the excuse-making begin.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Thomas Jefferson's Letter to Attorney General Levi Lincoln

This letter was written the same day as Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptist Church, posted directly after this post. This is also found in Lenni Brenner's book, Jefferson and Madison on Separation of Church and State.

Averse to receive addresses, yet unable to prevent them, I have generally endeavored to turn them to some account, by making them the occasion, by way of answer, of sowing useful truths and principles among the people, which might germinate and become rooted among their political tenets. The Baptist address, now enclosed, admits of a condemnation of the alliance between Church and State, under the Authority of the Constitution. It furnishes an occasion, too, which I have long wished to find, of saying why I do not proclaim fastings and thanksgivings, as my predecessors did (Steve's note: this was the portion in brackets that was deleted from the letter's final draft). The address, to be sure, does not point at this, and its introduction is awkward. But I foresee no opportunity of doing it more pertinently. I know it will give great offense to the New England clergy; but the advocate of religious freedom is to expect neither peace nor forgiveness from them. Will you be so good as to examine the answer, and suggest any alterations which might prevent an ill effect, or promote a good one, among the people? You understand the temper of those in the North, and can weaken it, therefore, to their stomachs: it as at present seasoned to the Southern taste only. I would ask the favor of you to return it, with the address in the course of the day or evening.

Thomas Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptist Association

This is, according to those who want a greater influence of Christianity over all Americans, "the letter," the one that some assert was only intended to quell the concerns of this group, and that President Jefferson was just humoring them. I post not only the letter, to which I'm including the portion deleted [in brackets] as found in "Jefferson and Madison on Separation of Church and State," by Lenni Brenner, plus, in the next post, the letter Jefferson wrote to Attorney General Levi Lincoln the same day. According to the text of Jefferson and Madison, Historians presume that Lincoln told Jefferson to delete this passage; as this is the only reference I've seen, I will leave it at Mr. Brenner's assertion, for you to believe or disbelieve as you see fit.

The affectionate Sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist Association, give me the highest satisfaction. My duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, and in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American People which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church and State. [Congress thus inhibited from acts respecting religion, and the Executive authorised (sic) only to execute their acts, I have refrained from prescribing even those occasional performances of devotion, practiced indeed by the Executive of another nation as the legal head of its church, but subject here, as religious exercises only to the voluntary regulations and discipline of each respective sect.] Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man, and tender you for yourselves and your religious association, assurance of my high respect and esteem.

Sick Child

The Boy is sick. Again. This is 4 days he's missed this quarter. This after having perfect attendance every quarter of school until now.

Poor little guy.

I'm staying home to watch him, which means another day out of work. I hate missing work. I don't particularly care to work - given the option, I'd certainly choose to get paid to not work, but that option's not presented itself to me yet. I don't mind staying home to take care of the Boy when he's ill; that's not the issue. I just hate missing work. It's sort of an obligation thing, I guess. I figure, they're paying me to do a job and I should be there doing it.

Still, my employers are pretty understanding, particularly with regard to my having three children under the age of 10, and that helps out quite a bit.

In the meantime, I think I might make use of the time I'm finding here to look for a permanent position - preferably something research oriented, or at least light on the client contact. I can do it; I am more comfortable not.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

So I've been ill

I've not been feeling well this past week. I thought it was a cold; and still do to a certain extent, but it's persistent. I have been tired, going to bed before nine three times this past week, and lethargic, needing a nap today. I've had headaches, though no fever until this afternoon, and a lot of sinus pressure, and I discovered a swollen gland last night that's still lurking about today.

Unfortunately, I am a contract employee on hourly wages; so I don't get paid if I don't go to work. What makes it worse is that I don't want to go to work if I'm actually sick, because I don't want to get my coworkers sick. But, since I've not been feverish, I've been loathe to call in sick, though I probably should.

I've also got a really red nose right now from a pimple inside the nostril that always hurts more than a pimple should. It makes me look worse than I have already been feeling.

Now the wife is feverish, and the kids are full of energy. Happy Saturday everyone. I'm done complaining now and will try to post something either a little more upbeat or legal-oriented here shortly.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Random Trivia

Peas were the first cultivated vegetable.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Better to ask Forgiveness...

National Security letters are interesting things. They don't have the force of law, but to most Americans, seeing a formal letter with the FBI's letterhead on it is little less than a subpoena, creating the perception that the target of the letter is not entitled to a hearing to contest it. These letters were used to get private information of countless American people during the Bush administration. One person who refused was charged - I've posted about it before, and I encourage y'all to look up Doe v. Ashcroft, but basically, the Court said "can't do it. We are troubled by the concept of the Executive Branch using its plenary power to determine what information is relevant. That's what Courts and warrants are for." You know, oversight.

Anyway, the legal field knew that this was wrong, and most people understood that it was wrong from 1st and 4th amendment perspectives. But, it's only until recently that the FBI has started admitting "yeah, what we did was inappropriate." While I'm glad they're coming clean, it's sort of like saying "sorry" to the guy who just caught you in bed with his wife. The damage is done, and it can't be undone. Though it will be quietly pushed aside, not unlike this story which was only on the headline page at Yahoo for an hour or so.

Perhaps this release was given to help garner support for retroactive immunity to the telecoms who turned over the information under threat from the government. But, if that's the case, then doesn't this open the door for litigation against the government by those whose files were inappropriately received? Shouldn't it?

Wednesday is Haiku Day

Taks test is done with.
The Boy thinks he did well. I'm
Not at all surprised.

It's been a while. I look forward to your contributions.

Monday, March 03, 2008

You're Gettin' Nuthin' for Christmas!

At least, not if your friends got you a Sharper Image card. There's got to be some fraud or theft issue here. But I'm too tired to get into it.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

I like this

I'm Joshua Abraham Norton, the first and only Emperor of the United States of America!
Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself

You would think that at some point I would stop being surprised when I read about religious intolerance in America, but it continues to amaze me. We live in a nation where people theoretically are free to practice as they wish, free from government intrusion. We teach our children that America was founded by Europeans who wanted freedom to believe the way they wanted. We have a President that recognizes Chanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, etc.

But then practice comes into play.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Great Executive Ponzi Scheme

When I was 19, I applied for a job I read about in the newspaper. It turned out, the position for which I'd "interviewed," - a sales position for the company Equinox, was not necessarily dissimilar to a Ponzi scheme, despite the disclaimer in the meeting that this was not a "pyramid," but rather a "triangle." Fortunately, I got out of the place before they could get any of my money, but there were plenty more in there who didn't.

For those who aren't familiar, a Ponzi scheme is your traditional pyramid scheme, where the folks at the top of the pyramid get paid while the ones at the bottom get the promise of getting paid by paying those at the top. Of course, those people rarely, if ever, see any return on their investment, hence the problem with pyramid schemes.

When I look at this administration, I see a new Charles Ponzi. I see a salesman, who had charisma and a wealth of political capital, and used used those to sell our nation on a mission to liberate an oppressed people. President Bush and his staff, used the threat of national security, since debunked, that we were in imminent danger of a madman in possession of nuclear weapons. Oh yeah, and he had ties to 9-11 (which has also been debunked, and conceded by the Executive). They argued that the invasion would be easy, that we would be done in no time, and the people would rise up and cast off the chains of oppression and embrace Western-style democracy despite no indication that they were ready for such freedom, and, did we mention, there are vast reserves of oil that would be open for trade, helping to lower gas prices that were creeping up near $2/gallon?

They convinced the first level of investors through charm and threat, either veiled or outright, and those first investors went running out screaming propaganda-like epithets, questioning the patriotism of those who might disagree with their view, a de facto threat to toe the line when an ounce of consideration may have been a better medicine.

The rear-view mirror regularly presents a clearer image than what we see in the windshield, and looking back on four years of fighting an insurgency that is/isn't a civil war, sectarian violence that is supported by Al Qaeda and/or Iran, a "government" that cannot pass its own benchmark legislation, and a nation where violence diminishes only with increased presence by an overburdened American Military that its own leaders concede cannot sustain the demands asked of it, all for an invasion based on premises that have since been shown to be false.

We now have an administration playing the holding pattern, saying "just give it time, and the investment will pay off," just waiting for the end of the administration, when they can board the proverbial plane to Equador, taking his profits and watching those investors they convinced to sign on to his program try to pull together some positive from the nearly half-trillion dollar investment.

Charles Ponzi, after conviction, repeatedly said that those who were sucked in by his plan would have seen their slice of the pie, had they only been more patient, despite the very real fact that there was no way for them to see any return on their investment. This seems to be exactly what the administration is poising itself to do. Wait for the house of cards to crumble, then point the finger at the investors for not being more patient. The Executive has his version of the Keating Five in his appointments to key positions to hold off the regulators providing the checks and balances until such time as he can escape. And, like Ponzi, he still has ardent apologists, insisting that his promise will still pan out.

We did not learn from the mistakes of those who preceded us. Will the next generation sustain the tradition of gullibility?