Thursday, December 31, 2009
Sorry for the dearth of posts, though I can see that my audience is rather smaller recently, too.
The computer's been acting a bit hinky lately, and as such, we've been wanting for internet access for a while. I've just (sort of) fixed the wireless, though it's unsecured now.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
I sometimes wonder if being a school teacher would somehow be less stressful, but I think it's more the grass is greener syndrome. I'm generally in a bit more of a cantankerous mood in the Christmastime, anyway...
Thursday, December 17, 2009
The holidays are wearing on me. I'm tired, I'm irritable, and I am ready for time off. How are you?
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
It'll be nice to have. What a day off.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Our laptop died this week, which made work somewhat more difficult, and puts us in the market for a new desktop. I'm looking to upgrade - it's been nearly six years, we're due.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
I should have more time next week.
And while I have nothing against Time Tebow as an individual (he seems like a class act and carries himself well, and really, who wouldn't want him as a captain on their team?), I'm so tired of hearing about Florida and Urban Meyer that I'm glad to see them lose. Even to a Nick Saban team.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
I do hope the surge works to create some stability in Afghanistan, and I hope that it will give us the space to be able to withdraw safely and with some dignity - a la Nixon. But I'm unconvinced because we're dealing with a country that does not appreciate foreign influence and who has no stable centralized government.
I believe the invasion of Afghanistan was justified - more so than the invasion of Iraq (which the President had the authority to do based on the 1991 AUMF and subsequent cease-fire), and I think it's important to do our best to create some stability out of the mess we've helped make through several years of neglect and half-hearted commitment. For that, I am hopeful.
We'll see how it goes.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Fortunately, I have several seasons on DVD and we also have Psych to keep us occupied, so while there will be a void, it won't be quite as big as it could have been.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
For anyone who's been paying attention, it's clear that this has been one of the GOP's central plans with regard to health care from the beginning. After announcing over and over during the previous election cycle that health care was in "crisis," they decided to delay, bitch and moan. and shout vitriolic rhetoric over the past year to avoid giving any honest debate on the matter or allow health care reform to come to an up or down vote - the very same thing that they hoped the farce of a Supreme Court candidate Harriet Miers deserved (I agree that she deserved a vote, but truly believe that any serious politician would vote no on her candidacy, though given the number of Republicans in Senate at the time, that doesn't mean that she wouldn't have been approved). Not that Republicans would be hypocritical about something (and yes, I know Democrats are hypocrites as well - they're politicians - but there's something about the holier-than-thou approach to governing that Republicans took during the Bush administration that is in opposition to how they act in the minority.
Anyone looking for a serious political party to follow needs to look away from the GOP.
Somehow during the course of dinner, Jim and I managed to agree that we would go to Spain next summer. Not just Spain, but Pamplona. To run with the bulls.
I still am not entirely sure how we came to this agreement, but I think it's already planned.
The spouse was nonplussed, apparently.
The Pantheon was the wife's favorite site. It's hard to disagree, as the building is just astounding. It's dome is as high as it is wide, and has been used for multiple religious activities over its existence.
I don't know that I could say what my favorite was, as there was just so much to see there. I did enjoy Hadrian's mausoleum/Castel Sant'Angelo (the castle is built around the mausoleum), as it offered a tremendous view of the city. We managed to get there after dark and saw the city as it was lit up for the evening. That said, the Colosseum and the Forum were both pretty amazing, as were the city walls. The artwork in the museums of the Vatican, including the Vexullum Regis (rumoured to have pieces of the Cross in it) were unbelievable. The detail found in the frescoes and sculptures were beyond what one might seem possible.
We didn't get to the Borghese Galleries, which is somewhat unfortunate, as I understand the artwork there is also tremendous. And we missed out on Trastevere, and most of Campo dei Fiori. But what we did see was pretty amazing. Piazza Navona was chock full of painters hawking their wares, some of it rather nice, but nothing we were going to spend money on. The fountains there were pretty interesting, though not as spectacular as Trevi Fountain. Another set of fountains that were really interesting were the Quattro Fontane, which we happened by on accident. The detail in these wall fountains were also somewhat spectacular.
It was a very interesting trip, and one that I hope to make again someday, perhaps with a little more time to move around and see things (and a little more cash, too).
Saturday, November 28, 2009
The verse by itself ("May his days be few; may another seize his position.") seems somewhat benign, but the intent behind it is anything but. The entire psalm can be found at this link, but for those who aren't much for clicking links, an extended portion of the prayer reads: Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand. When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin. Let his days be few and let another take his office. Let his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places. Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labor. Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favor his fatherless children. Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out. Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the LORD; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out. Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.I first heard about this prayer, known as an Imprecatory Prayer about 2 years ago. The context in which I first heard it was that it was being invoked by a Baptist Minister (a Reverend Drake) against Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU). The reason was that he felt that AU was an enemy of God because AU "asked the IRS to probe the tax-exempt status of Drake's congregation. You see, generally, churches are tax-exempt, which carries with it the burden of not being able to campaign for political candidates. It turns out that Rev. Drake issued a statement endorsing Mike Huckabee as a presidential candidate," (from my post linked above).
The problem then, as now, is that the concept of imprecatory prayer is being misapplied. The original intent for imprecatory prayers are to ask God to intervene against His enemies. There is no call in the prayer for enemies of individuals, and there's no evidence whatsoever that President Obama, himself a Christian, is an enemy of God.
While I can only speculate that the majority of people who would purchase this are members of the Religious Right, or the Right in general, it seems likely that these would be the individuals who came up with the idea of putting this clever little line on a t-shirt. This is interesting, because it wasn't too long ago that this group of individuals (the Right) had among their number people who openly called for sedition trials for those who opposed the President or his policies (see comments), or advocated sedition against the Democrats. I remember very clearly reading several comments on blogs that I followed where individuals were calling for sedition trials for anyone who opposed the Iraq war or other Bush policies. My question, then, is why would this type of act not be considered a form of sedition? Or do First Amendment rights only apply when it's a Republican or "Right" individual doing the talking? (FTR - I believe that the idea of protected speech is a good one, and don't advocate sedition charges, but think the hypocrisy is astounding.)
Perhaps the most concerning aspect of this is that this type of inflammatory rhetoric by itself might seem shrewdly humorous, but the concern for me is that, much like what happened with Dr. Tiller's murderer or Charles Guiteau, all it takes is one person to determine that it was his calling to carry out this action to really wreak havoc, and I think that this lack of foresight by the makers of these shirts is appalling (and if that's their plausibly deniable intent, then its downright evil and nothing my God would ever approve of).
Friday, November 27, 2009
I would also suggest trying La Famiglia, near the Terminii on Via Gaeta. It's a good restaurant, though it seemed more of a tourist place to me. Still, their pasta was very good, in my opinion. I had a stuffed tortelini in a great cheese sauce. All things considered, quite good.
And while we were there, I found that I wasn't as hungry as I tend to get at home, though I was moving a whole lot more - we walked like it was going out of style. Plan on lots of hills when going to Rome, and streets that are not terribly smooth - they pave with basalt cobblestones called "sampietrini" by the locals - literally "Little stones of St. Peter." You'll be tired at the end of the day, but you'll have seen quite a bit.
I ate entirely too much last night. It's been a long time since I've overeaten like that, but it was Turkey day, and the wife makes an outstanding turkey, as my kids will agree.
I think exhaustion from the trip set in last night, as I fell asleep around 6:30-ish, and really didn't move after that. I feel a lot better this morning, though I've already been up a couple of hours.
All things considered, I've had a good week, and I think the kids really enjoyed spending the week with their grandparents.
I'll post a bit about Rome here shortly, but to satiate you a little, here's a picture of the Colosseum:
Thursday, November 26, 2009
While we were in Rome, though, I tried a few different house wines. Far and away, the best house wine that I found was called Villa Cervia. This was a house red that we had at the fantastic Ristorante Ristochicco, at Borgo Pio 186, just between the Vatican and Castle Sant'Angelo. This wine was quite smooth, with no bitterness that I could detect at all. It drank easily, and tasted terrific with our meals there. While I've looked on the website, it doesn't appear that we would be able to pick up a bottle here in Houston, though that would be nice. We do have one bottle that we brought home with us, and perhaps we'll use that to ring in the new year.
Every year, Americans gather together with their families to celebrate the bounty of the year and to give thanks for all that we have on the Fourth Thursday in November with a huge Turkey and all the fixin's, a tradition that started in 1621 with the Pilgrims, Squanto, and the Wampanoag Indians, right? Well, not exactly. We'll look at some of the history of the holiday today.
First, it's true that there was a day of Thanksgiving in 1621, but, it doesn't look as though there was one in 1622. The harvest wasn't as good, there were many new settlers that needed housing and whatnot. The Pilgrims probably weren't in the best of moods for celebrating.
Second, The First Thanksgiving most likely wasn't in November. It was probably much closer to the harvest in September/October. Anyone who has spent any time in Massachussetts in November would tell you it's not exactly the best weather for celebrating.
Third, the Pilgrims didn't call themselves Pilgrims. They called themselves Saints.
Fourth, The letters and journals of the time indicate that Turkeys were not the big ticket item. The colonists came from England, where the lords greatly restricted hunting, and thus most people had never had venison before. In the states, where deer was plentiful, venison was very prominent at the first Thanksgiving.
- So where did Turkey come from? It appears as though it was a product of marketing in the late 1800s. Turkey was a much more profitable than other birds, so the lobbyists advertised immensely, showing pictures of a family gathering around a table with a big turkey in the middle. It caught on, and the picture printers (Think Currier and Ives) followed suit, with pictures of Pilgrims and a big Turkey.
So, if there was no second Thanksgiving, how the the 4th Thursday become the day? Well, Abraham Lincoln. In 1863, after the victory at Gettysburg, President Lincoln declared a national day of thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday of November. In 1864, after the victory at Antietam, they had another Day of Thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday. In 1865, President Lincoln was shot and killed. President Johnson decided to follow the Thanksgiving tradition set up by President Lincoln, and it became the holiday it is now.
Everything is fine and dandy right? Not quite. You see, in the 1930s one year, There were five Thursdays in November. Since Thanksgiving had traditionally been the last Thursday, (usually there are only 4), this posed a problem. The lobbyists for the big department stores wanted Turkey Day to be the 4th Thursday, because it gave people more time for Christmas shopping. Traditionalists felt that this undermined the historical significance (unaware as to the actual history of the holiday), and pushed for it to be on the Last Thursday. There was some fallout from that, with some states going on the 4th Thursday, and some going on the last. Colorado had a Thanksgiving Week, and another state had 2 thankgsivings. Thankfully, Congress intervened, and passed a law in 1941 signed by President Roosevelt that established Thanksgiving as the 4th Thursday in November. And The Lions have been playing ever since.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Let today be filled with honor for those who have sworn to defend this country and our way of life. A day to celebrate the freedoms that we enjoy because of the liberties these men and women have sacrificed, including, for far too many, trading their lives for ours.
To those with whom I served, those who served before me, and after me, to my Father, my Father-in-law, my brothers-in-law, my grandfathers, my great-grandfather, thank you for your sacrifice. Two days a year are but reminders - your service is appreciated every day.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Saturday, November 07, 2009
Things like this give me the desire to do one of those CLE cruises in the Gulf - get out in the water and enjoy my mandatory hours.
My wife asked me what I want for our Anniversary. I'm taking her to Rome. I'm not sure what else I need/want.
Friday, November 06, 2009
Sunday, November 01, 2009
The Court basically denied an en banc rehearing, but did authorize a rehearing by the panel, which reached the same conclusion it did before (in a nutshell - the law is not unlawful, nor could any reasonable person believe it to be).
The allegedly aggrieved pharmacists' argument is that by forcing them to hand out prescriptions they disagree with (i.e. the morning after pill), then the State is forcing them to violate their religious principles. This, as I've mentioned before, is a load of crap. The state isn't forcing these pharmacists to do anything. Rather, the state is giving them a quid pro quo - you want the license to dispence phamaceuticals and make the copious amounts of money associated therewith, then you agree to obey the laws of the state and follow the requirements set out for you. If you don't want to do what the state (who dispenses the licenses) asks, then you don't have to do it, but you will not be able to dispense drugs.
Again, the state isn't forcing the pharmacists to do anything. They knew when they got involved in the pharmaceutical business what that business would entail (the Birth Control pill, condoms, and other prophylactic devices were available long before the current crop of pharmacists got their start), and they knew that their job included dispencing said items. Just because a new form of birth control doesn't jibe with what they decide is ok does not make it all right for them to ignore what is required of their job.
You don't like it, do something else. Period.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Interesting story in the San Antonio News Courant - apparently a man is going to trial after being arrested earlier this year for malicious mischief at Sea World. He reportedly took a Sharpie and drew all over the dolphins at the dolphin tank. His lawyer's statement makes it look like his defense is going to be an accidental occurance - he claims his client "didn't do it on porpoise."
Read the whole article, and read Douthat's first. But understand that this is a dangerous opinion - "Muslim Extremists are bad." "Some Muslims are extremists." "Therefore we must wage war against all Muslims," and ask yourself how this is compatible with Jesus' teachings ("Love your neighbor as yourself," "Turn the other cheek," "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," etc.)?
It's obviously true that some Islamic extremists are inherently incompatible "with the Western way of reason," but that's just as true of Christian extremists and Jewish extremists and a whole array of other kinds of extremists. And some measures taken in the name of accommodating Islam are in tension with core liberties -- just as laws enacted in order to impose Judeo-Christian dogma are.
But the claim that Islam itself -- and the world's 1.5 billion Muslims -- cannot be accommodated by, or peacefully co-exist with, Western values or Christianity specifically is bigotry in its purest and most dangerous form. It's hard to imagine anything more inflammatory, hostile and outright threatening than a call for Christians of all denominations to unite behind the common cause of fighting against Islam as Christianity's most "enduring and impressive foe." No more "conciliation" or appeasement. What, exactly, does Douthat have in mind for vanquishing the Islamic menace from Europe? What weapons will this "united Anglican-Catholic front" employ against its reason-hating enemy? Which "accommodations" of Islam exactly should cease?
BTW, Glenn's updates show western Christian examples that are not necessarily compatible with "the Western way of reason."
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
I have also changed my diet a little (it's a slight change, not a "diet"). I am doing the Subway for lunch thing - I walk through the downtown tunnels to the subway by Beck's Prime (best burgers in Downtown, but definitely expensive) and I get a six inch sub from their "Low-fat" menu. I do still get cheese on the sub (so it's not the "less than 6 grams of fat"), but not the mayonnaise, oil, or vinegar. I also am only eating a 6 inch instead of the foot longs that I used to have.
Dinner I do the same. For Breakfast, I'm actually eating a little now, instead of purely a liquid breakfast. I don't know how much help that is, but it's probably better than nothing.
At any rate, I'd venture to say I've managed to cut close to 3 pounds' worth of calories from my diet by making these little changes. If that's the case, then maybe I'll be a little trimmer when I fly out in 26 days.
Friday, October 23, 2009
The difference is key - one (cutting off funding) is designed to make illegal actions that affect ONE entity - ACORN. This is called a bill of attainder and is expressly prohibited in the Constitution. The other (allowing rapists to sue their rapers) effects ALL entities that would contract with the government and is perfectly legitimate. It doesn't make actions that happened before the bill illegal - that is to say Jamie Leigh Jones still won't be able to sue Halliburton or her rapists (alleged) over her ordeal. That would be unconstitutional as an ex-post facto law. But going forward, unless Inouye gets his way, then future injuries of this kind would be viewed in court. It doesn't require that defense contractors quit putting rape arbitration clauses in their contracts. Rather it says that defense contractors who don't take these clauses out will not be able to contract with the government. (He who pays the piper calls the tune).
I've been having troble with embedding video recently on here, so I'm going to direct you to Glenn Greenwald's site, where you can watch a video of a congressman being educated on what you would hope he would already know (though he's a Republican congressman, so perhaps ignorance of the Constitution is allowed?)
At home, all seems well. At work, we're rather busy.
And this is my seventh day Coca-cola free. I've possibly made the successful switch to Diet Coke, which, if I calculate correctly, is saving me about 900 calories a day. I've not changed my eating habits other than to eat less - with less fat - during lunch. I eat the same amount at dinner.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
I firmly believe that when it comes to quitting something, you need to be physically and mentally ready to quit, both on a conscious and subconscious level. I think there are several people who "want" to quit but are not ready and therefore their attempts to quit will not be fruitful. Once you're ready to quit, though, then it is rather easy - you essentially just stop.
I had a similar situation happen to me yesterday - I made the switch from regular Coca-cola, which I've had virtually every day since 1995 (and a whole lot before that, as well, but '95 was the last time I stopped drinking it), to diet Coke. While I don't expect merely making this switch is going to result in my losing copious amounts of weight, I do think it will help stem the tide of weight gain I've been noticing over the last couple of months.
I still need to exercise more (I looked at Bikram yoga, but I'm a little too Middle Class Midwestern at heart to make that plunge, especially at $140/month), and might start running in the mornings, or something to get on the way down...
But it's a start.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
There was to be an inquiry into the execution of Willingham, particularly to the question of whether or not the State of Texas executed an innocent man. The board was set to convene, when Governor Perry fired 3 of the panel members (including the chair). The new board, with a chair appointed by Governor Perry consequently cancelled the hearing. Governor Perry has now canned a fourth member of the committee (he can only remove four, the remaining five are appointed by other state officials). Governor Perry has essentially stated that the inquiry is unnecessary because he's convinced Willingham is guilty. As Publius wrote in the article linked above,
The problem in this instance isn't that the Death Penalty exists. While I am reluctant to advocate its use, I believe that its presence in and of itself does serve as a deterrent. There are enough criminals who manage to lead very productive lives even in prison and enough violent crimes that take place in prison to suggest that merely putting someone in prison for the rest of their life might not be sufficient as a deterrent, and the presence of capital punishment as a possible sentence might affect actions that otherwise might have occurred. The problem comes with its utilization - in order for it to be defensible as a sentencing tool, it needs to be rare and reserved only for the most clearly brazenly guilty.
Of course, his motive is fairly clear. Perry contributed to the execution of an innocent person. And the formal recognition that Texas executed an innocent man would trigger a massive political earthquake -- one that would clarify to an inattentive public the utter barbarity and immorality of Texas's criminal justice system.
So yes, I can understand Perry's motives. But it doesn't change the fact that he is acting in a profoundly immoral way. The whole thing reminds me of a banana republic dictator clumsily covering up his crimes.But in addition to making me mad, I'm hopeful that this story will change some "hearts and minds." Specifically, I hope that social conservatives (particularly in Texas) take some time to reflect on the implications of the fact that Texas executed an innocent person -- and that Rick Perry is trying to cover it up. It's hard to think of something that more directly contradicts the "culture of life."
No, the issues isn't with the existence of capital punishment, rather the issue is with Governor Perry's brazen cover up of his mistake. He knows that he did something completely and utterly indefensible and he's trying to deflect attention. He has gone on the record stating that he believes Willingham was guilty, so the execution was justified. However, the key piece of evidence of the murder (the arson) has been called into legitimate question by renowned arson experts such as Austin forensics expert Gerald Hurst and Baltimore Forensics expert Craig Beyler, and Governor Perry doesn't want this information getting out. This cover-up is what is at issue. As far as I know, nobody is calling Cameron Todd Willingham an angel - they're merely stating that he likely didn't commit the murder for which he was executed - he was innocent. He was not convicted of any other heinous acts, and to execute him for reasons for which he wasn't convicted laughs in the face of our criminal justice system and our Constitution. He may have been a "monster" as Governor Perry refers to him, but that doesn't mean he was a murderer. And an inquiry that could have brought this to a final conclusion has been quashed by the person who could most benefit from its potential conclusion.
Kay Bailey Hutchison (a gubernatorial candidate) piles on in an eerily partisan manner.
Orly Taitz claims that this sanction is just an attempt to intimidate and make her stop. She's half right.
What I think, more than anything else, is that his name was the one placed on the award, yet the award was for the American people, who elected to remove a blight from office (yes, he was on his way out anyway, but we could very easily have chosen John McCain, who basically vowed to continue with Bush's techniques), and we chose to look a different direction. I think this was our award, rather than the President's, and it speaks to how the international community views us on the leaderboard.
Like I said - it's my 2 cents' worth - so it's not too profound, maybe I'll expound later...
Monday, October 12, 2009
From Obsidian Wings, who posted this poster with some commentary on what led to President Obama's nomination/win (it wasn't for what he did, it was what we as a country did in electing him after 8 years of the alternative - though imho the jury is still out on just how much better President Obama has been/will be on indefin
Sunday, October 11, 2009
But I do have a good dinner waiting to be eaten. I have some solace there.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
The amendment passed Senate Vote by a vote of 68-30 with Senators Byrd (D) and Specter (D) not voting. The 30 nays?
Apparently, for these Republicans, it's ok for contractors to go overseas and help in the fight to defend our constitution from the menace of those marauding insurgents that we created, but it would be ghastly to allow the employees of these agencies the benefits guaranteed by the Constitution...
Monday, October 05, 2009
Sunday, October 04, 2009
We're having Shrimp Boil tonight - there is little in the world better than a good old shrimp boil.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
3 months and much cajoling later, I finally yielded to the lamentations of my wife and co-workers and went to get it checked out. Let me first say that I was not terribly impressed with the clinic at which I was seen. The wait was over 2 hours just to get in to the room, and then another 25 minutes after that. I saw a Nurse Practitioner for all of about 3 minutes, who looked at my finger, didn't know what it was, and decided to give me steroids and antibiotics. I don't feel at all uneased about this situation.
Still, I'll take the medicine and hope it all clears up for my trip to Rome in 48 days.
Friday, October 02, 2009
Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire
Posted using ShareThis
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
When did this kind of talk become acceptable? I understand the option is there if a leader decides to hijack the country, but outside of wingnutville, rational people see a rational president making rational (if not always popular) decisions.
Warranless wiretapping, indefinite detention, torture and the alleged referring to the Constitution as a "goddamn piece of paper?" - fine and dandy. Attempting to dig the country out of massive debt the result of 8 years of deficit spending, decreased oversight, wild speculation and government expansion the likes of which hasn't been seen since the Great Society - coup-worthy?
First read on Balloon Juice.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Anyway, maybe now I can see what the big deal is about The Daily Show - apparently Jon Stewart might be kind of a liberal???
Friday, September 25, 2009
These companies hire "authors" to write "articles" about their medicines, touting the efficacy/effectiveness of the drugs while minimizing the side effects that might come out. They then publish these "articles" with the backing of the "authors'" name recognition highlighting the positives. The problem is that these "authors" don't write the articles, rather company-paid ghostwriters do. What ends up happening is a 6000 word article written by pharmaceuticals with data-mined information pulling one or two positives from a study and skewing the results in favor of the company paying for the article.
This isn't a new development, though it's arguably a more recent one. Here's a blog post from January 2008 discussing issues with a published article from 2006 highlighting data-mined information. This is but one example, and if you look, you can find several more.
Let's hope Sen. Grassley is serious about his inquiries into this major effort to advertise through "information."
Thursday, September 24, 2009
The FBI is investigating the matter and have reportedly ruled it "an apparent homicide," but haven't given any more details.
As Dougj at Balloon Juice writes, it's too early to jump to conclusions, though it does seem interesting to speculate what would be on Rush had this happened to a census worker in New Orleans or Detroit... If one taped incident of a fight on a school bus (that turned out to not be racially motivated) was the result of "Obama's America," then with the same limited facts in this situation, couldn't Rush just as easily say that this type of violence against the Federal Census is the result of Bachmann and Beck's America? I prefer to wait until we know what's actually happened, though the MSM blackout of this incident might keep that from happening...
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Then I got home and started working. And working. And then I took a break for dinner and am going to start getting back to work. These collections are not pleasant, to say the least. And they just keep coming.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
I'm definitely ready for this trial to be done, and it's not even starting until early next year.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
"In Obama's America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, 'Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on... I wonder if Obama's going to come to come to the defense of the assailants the way he did his friend Skip Gates up there at Harvard."I won't link to Malkin, but she runs with the "racially motivated" theme, and then claims that the police officer's recanting of his original hypothesis is not surprising "given the explosive consequences of candor about such matters." - Because it couldn't POSSIBLY be because the more complete picture told a different story...
Monday, September 14, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
The last Republican who left the office of the presidency with the federal public debt as a percentage of GDP less than when he entered was Richard Nixon (FY 1975). The last Republican who left the office of the presidency with a federal deficit less than 2.7% of GDP was Dwight Eisenhower (FY 1961).And:
Since WW II no Democratic president has ever left office with the federal public debt as a percentage of GDP more than when he entered. And since WW II no Democratic president has ever left office with a federal deficit more than 2.6% of GDP.
In my opinion, fiscal responsibility mainly involves reducing the public debt as a percentage of GDP. (Anything less is unsustainable.) Since the end of WW II we've had 63 Federal budgets (FY 1947-FY 2009). If you consider the FY 2002 budget the product of a united Republican government (a Republican congress passed the tax cut) and FY 2003 the product of a divided government you have the following breakdown. Thirtynine budgets were the product of a divided government with 31 having Republican presidents and 8 having Democratic presidents. Twentyfour budgets were the product of united government with 19 having Democratic presidents and 5 having Republican presidents.
The Federal public debt increased as a percentage of GDP in 24 of those fiscal years.(It did not increase during the transitional quarter in 1977.) Eighteen of these budgets were the product of divided government and the remaining six were the product of united government. So although 38.1% of all of the budgets were a product of united governments only 25% of the budgets which resulted in an increase in the public debt were the product of a united government. It seems if reducing the public debt is your goal, then a united government is at least slightly preferable to a divided government.
The worst possible combination is a united Republican government. Three out of the five budgets passed by a united Republican government (60%), an admittedly small sample, resulted in an increase in the Federal public debt as a percent of GDP. The next worst combination was divided government with a Republican president. Eighteen out of 31 budgets passed (58.1%) increased the public debt. Only 3 out of the 19 budgets that were the product of united Democratic government (15.8%) increased the public debt. And none of the 8 budgets passed by a divided government with a Democratic president increased the public debt.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
I'm aware that there are those on the Right who don't view life though hate-colored lenses, but they aren't the people are showing up to Glenn Beck's rallies...
Can someone give me a cogent argument in favor of an alternative to the current healthcare plan being discussed? Please? Instead of Nazi equivocations (again - they were wrong when said about Bush, they're just as wrong when said about Obama.
What I had told my wife was that we needed to take a vacation around Thanksgiving and drive up to Indiana to spend Turkey day with her parents. We'd spend about a week there, catch up on old times, etc, etc. I had hoped that this carrot would be enough to convince her to ask for 4 days off before Thanksgiving. This way she'd have to think about packing and clearing time and whatnot.
Unbeknownst to her, though, I had conspired with her parents. What we were REALLY doing was that while my wife was getting ready to drive up to Indiana, her parents would really be coming down here. At the last minute, I was going to tell her that we had had a change of plans and that instead of going to Indiana, she and I were going to Rome for our anniversary. Her parents would be here to watch after the kids for those few days we'd be gone, and everyone would be happy.
With her parents' help, we booked a flight, hotel room, and two tours, one a walking tour of Rome and another day trip to Naples and Pompeii. I'd basically thought of everything (including the idea of driving to Indiana thus necessitating the concept of packing). Unfortunately, due to circumstances that were beyond my control, yesterday I had to tell her of the plans. I'm proud to say she was completely in the dark (the in-laws willingness to front the cost of the trip with my reimbursing them later was a big part of that), and since we've been working on this for 3 months, I'm particularly excited about our operations security. However, the secret it out, and while it would have been nice to see her excitement when I told her, it was also very nice to hear her voice when she found out.
So, we'll be in Rome this November. Let me know if you need anythign that I can fit in my carry-on (I don't think Gladiators will fit).
Friday, September 11, 2009
What's worse is that when I'm laying down, I feel fine, but if I get up, within about 20 seconds, I start feeling like crap again. Stupid colds.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
I also agree that the cat calls during the appropriate calling a spade of a spade with regard to "death panels" was in bad form, as was Rep. Joe Wilson's shouting of "liar," though I'm sure that will make him a hero to many on the Right.
What do you think, oh 4 of you left who stop by?
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Laura Bush noted that it's important to let your children hear the President speak, as she noted - it's important to respect the President. I made a slightly different statement, which I view as a little more accurate, in that I believe that it's important to respect the Office of the President - whether you like him or not, he was the duly elected Chief Executive.
I heard Newt Gingrich this morning stating he thought every American should let their children hear the President speak, noting that Bush and Reagan both addressed children directly without the backlash we've seen directed at our Democrat president.
My children will listen, and they will determine for themselves what information to accept and what to reject. I think it's important for them to hear the President speak to them directly - it helps instill a sense of ownership in our nation to know that our country's leaders think enough of them to do so. I would think that would help raise a future generation of proud Americans.
Sunday, September 06, 2009
It should make for an interesting discussion.
On a related note, the family and I went to see the UH Cougars play last night at Robertson stadium. It was a blowout win against Northwestern State. I rather enjoyed the college atmosphere, though, and wouldn't mind seeing another game or two. Though I do wish (sort of) that I had a school to which I had a "vested" interest, like most of my friends with undergrad degrees.
I still kick around the idea of getting a teacher's certificate at (say) Rice or UH, and parlaying that into a teaching gig in the local school district, though I would be willing to bet that my near center viewpoints would be viewed as left fringe...
There are some advantages to teaching, though - I would take a bit of a pay cut, particularly with the absence of overtime, but I would have fixed (and much fewer) hours, I'd have the summers off, and I'd have the advantage of job security - plus benefits - you know, government provided healthcare. Additionally, there would still be time for me to get some use of my law license - drafting wills, POAs, other such items...
I don't know how seriously I would consider a switch like this, but it's fun to kick around the idea - having summers off would make vacation planning much easier.
Friday, September 04, 2009
Of course, these same people didn't raise a peep when President Bush implored our nation's children to support the war in Afghanistan or the clusterfuck of mangled "facts" and rhetoric that became the "liberation" of Iraq...
Nor did I hear anything in 1991 when President George H.W. Bush addressed the children, of course, I was in school then, and wasn't aware that I had the opportunity to choose to not listen, just as in 1988 when President Reagan addressed us about the importance of education, low taxes, and the line item veto. (Much of the information provided above is covered in this post at Salon.com).
What's more embarrassing than the fact that the governor of our state is "troubled" by the President of the United States addressing American Citizens is that many people are actually going to NOT allow their children to hear the address, because they're afraid he "might" use it to spout left-wing, socialist rhetoric, and we can't have that happen to our children. God forbid a dissenting opinion be heard, another viewpoint be allowed to be conveyed - discourse is dangerous for democracy, apparently.
This makes me ill.
I don't know that there's a Tigers fan around that isn't familiar with Harwell and his memorial play calling. This is a sad moment for me - a piece of my childhood is becoming a memory, and I'm going to have to watch it happen.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
On Tuesday, September 8th, 2009, the President will address school children on the importance of education. It will be broadcast live from the website, www.whitehouse.gov. at 11:00am central time. [REDACTED] will be showing this address during advisement time at 3:10 p.m.
If you request that your child not participate in this broadcast, please send a note to your child's teacher and your child will be provided with an alternate activity.
A hard copy of this message will also be sent home with students on Thursday, September 3rd.
Please do not hesitate to call if you have any questions or concerns.
Monday, August 31, 2009
At some point I'll be inspired to write the next great work of blog, but for now it's probably going to be piecemeal.
To give you some interesting reading material, though, I present you with this post at Obsidian Wings displaying the fallacy of Cheney's argument that because Kalid Sheikh Muhammad gave us information after he was tortured, then the torture was what made him cooperate. In a nutshell, it would be like saying that since all serial killers drank milk at some point in their lives that the drinking of milk made them serial killers.
Additionally, my good friend Just Wondering at Vim and Vinegar has a good post here calling out the attorney general for his recent (in)action.
Glenn Greenwald has a very important post here about the recently released torture memos (note that Dick Cheney ended up back on the TV just a week after these new pieces of information came out - this is not a coincidence).
Any of the links on my blog are well worth checking out - but I wanted to bring a couple to the forefront today. Good day, and good reading.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Fortunately (he said sardonically), the Supreme Court has the opportunity to fix this snafu, by hearing the case and engaging in blatant judicial activism by legislating from the bench and ignoring stare decisis, and can reverse this opinion once and for all.
Barry Lynn of Americans United has filed an amicus brief in favor of the removal of the cross and continued adherence to the 1st Amendment barrier between church and state (plus the bill of attainder that would benefit the constructors of the Cross in question.
I encourage you to click on all the links above to see what the hubbub is.
For example, it's apparently equipped with adobe flash, yet I've been unable to figure out which plugin I need to download in order to play flash...
More later, I'm sure.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
The religious right’s tactics seem to have become ever more extreme in the past year. Today an organization with the credible-sounding name of The Center For Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) used the Christian Newswire service to blast out a press release suggesting President Obama is a deranged murderer of “preborn children.”
Of course, it's not really Religious Right unless it has inflammatory rhetoric:
“Americans don’t want to pay for mandatory insurance which defines baby-killing as ‘essential care.’ They are turning against ‘end-of-life’ counseling which is more coercive than consultative. It is becoming increasingly clear that this horrifying plan is designed to reduce the numbers of preborn children who could ruin their parents’ careers and the numbers of elderly parents who might spoil their children’s retirements.”
And Group Director Greg Cunningham has apparently encouraged supporters to send e-mails with an image of Barack Obama made up as the Joker (which is fine, in and of itself, I suppose), but they apparently have adapted it somewhat to include a bloody hand holding a scalpel over a dismembered fetus, clearly not interested in rational dialogue, but rather relying on carnal, gutteral imagery to create discomfort in those who view the debate contrary to their position.
I don't completely understand what it is about the anti-choice crowd that they so often have to rely on this gimmick to try to make their point instead of coherent, rational debate. I suppose it's akin to those who were deeply moved by The Passion of the Christ - it has to be as basic and primal as possible to evoke the strongest emotions in hopes that (perhaps) by making people just uncomfortable enough, they will change their position. But I digress.
I don't understand groups like CBR, and I disagree with their methods. It would appear that in this instance, they are more interested in vile rhetoric than a frank discussion of the facts, a trait that more broadly applies to many on the Religious Right.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Todd Waite, who has impeccable comedic timing and a countenance similar to Jim Parsons (Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory), was perfectly cast as Sherlock Holmes, but then again, all the roles were very well cast.
The show is done now - they're moving on to the next play (whatever that might be - I can't recall at this time), but should this show make a return to Houston, I think I would find a way to see it again.
The next play I want to see is The 39 Steps. Cross our fingers.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
I'm looking forward to it. And I'll be sure to let you all know how it came out.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I think it's a fair question to ask "What is their alternative? What do they propose instead? If you don't have an alternative solution, then why not work with the administration to figure out a reasonable compromise?"
As far as I can figure, the opposition's position is "we don't like anything proposed by the Democrats, but rather than try to come up with our own ideas, we're going to to oppose this until it's in the dirt and then use the fact that there's been no health care reform as a launchpad for the midterm elections." Am I wrong? Other than saying "this isn't right," what else has the Right offered?
The Fox News spin is that this is an enemies list, and the reporter made a pointed effort in using the phrase enemies list several times throughout the interview, even after this idea had been refuted by the spokesman.
The question then moved to "are you keeping these records of e-mails" that you claim aren't an enemies list (leaving the doubt in the mind of the listener)? The spokesman then answered in the negative, adding "why would we?" This led the reporter to castigate the spokesman, noting that there's a law in place that prohibits the President from deleting records he received (planting seeds of nefariousness), apparently forgetting the millions of deleted/lost e-mails from the Bush administration, which, to my knowledge still haven't been recovered...
The whole interview was a transparent attack on the White House and a specious implication that the White House is assaulting our 1st Amendment/Civil Liberties rights. The same rights that didn't matter too much under the previous administration (remember the poo-pooing of the warrantless wiretaps?) are apparently being "assaulted" by a request to answer legitimate misconceptions about what is being proposed. Strangely, it would seem that the Fox News interview is more geared towards silencing the reformers from getting their message out with an attenuated claim on loss of 1st amendment rights, as opposed to what they are claiming.
I would put the interview on here, but I don't want to give Fox News any more bandwidth.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Sunday, August 09, 2009
Saturday, August 08, 2009
On the back page is listed a dress code. Two things struck me: 1. no "satanic" shirts and 2: No shirts with obscenities on it .
These two issues are a little problematic because as I understand it, it makes the school dress code Unconstitutional. Let me explain: first, the district is banning "satanic" shirts, however, no mention is made of a restriction of "Christian," "Muslim," "Jewish," "Hindu," or shirts of any other religion (satanism is a religion). In other words, the state (via the public school district) is adopting a policy that disfavors one religion over all others. This is a clear violation of the Lemon Test, the three prongs of which are: 1. a legitimate secular purpose (I'm not certain what the secular purpose of this might be), 2. a pimary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion (this CLEARLY inhibits religion as it's an outright ban on one religion), and 3. te statute must not foster an excessive government entanglement with religion (which it probably doesn't). In order to be a legitimate code, the rule must pass muster on all three prongs of the test. Just by plain reading of the code, and then of Lemon, it is painfull obvious that this rule is violative of the 1st Amendment.
The second issue is a little less of an issue, and may very well be just fine. We know that a student's Constitutional rights do not end when they enter a schoolhouse, but we also know that a student's Constitutional rights are not as encompassing as a public citizen's outside of school. That said, it's been ruled in Des Moines that a student may wear an armband in protest, and we know that Bong Hits for Jesus resulted in a suspension upheld by the Supreme Court with Chief Justice Roberts writing the opinion (surprise - he supported the State!). It's possible that this is entirely kosher, but it's likewise possible that my child can wear a shirt with political speech that might be protected.
Of course, neither I nor any of my family to my knowledge is a practicing satanist, and I doubt that anyone in my family is going to wear a shirt that says "Fuck the End of Days war in Iraq entered into by President GW Bush" to school, but that's not the point, really. The point is that these rights need to be protected for those who DO want to do so, or who DO believe the way they do.
Anyway, what do y'all think? Particularly with regard to the second point, which is much fuzzier in my mind as to its Constitutionality...
Such as Sarah Palin's new diatribe against President Obama's Healthcare Reform.
The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.Nowhere does she point to an actual section of any proposed healthcare bill that would subject ANYONE to this (it doesn't exist), but what's more surprising is that thousands of people will hang on her every word as though it's gospel, even when she's spouting a rejected "Outer Limits" story plot.
Friday, August 07, 2009
Michael Vick is out of jail and is reportedly looking for a team to play football for. Roger Goodell has given him partial reinstatement and will reconsider full reinstatement to the NFL after training camp. I'm surprised (very) to not see Vick get suspended by the league. He was convicted of a felony - of raising dogs to fight, and of violating state laws. On top of that, when asked about his complicity by Goodell, he denied any involvement. In other words, he lied to the boss. That in and of itself, even without the conviction should be grounds for suspension. I don't buy the canard that he served his suspension while he was in prison - he was suspended by the league then, he was serving his debt to society, these are not concurrent acts. He continues to owe a debt to the league, in my opinion. I'm not one of those guys who says he shouldn't be allowed back in the NFL at all - though I don't particularly want to see him making the millions he made before the conviction. However, I do think that it's inconsistent to reinstate him with no suspension given the league's recent history of suspending all players convicted of crimes.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
How anyone can seriously listen to Rush and consider him legitimate about anything is beyond me.
I don't expect the same level of outrage and noise denouncing Rush that the Republicans heaped on MoveOn.org back in 2004, but it SHOULD be there.
What is wrong is this article from the Council for Secular Humanism.
I'm not even sure where to start with this. Let's consider this paragraph:
Incredibly, President George W. Bush told French President Jacques Chirac in early 2003 that Iraq must be invaded to thwart Gog and Magog, the Bible’s satanic agents of the Apocalypse.The article continues:
Now out of office, Chirac recounts that the American leader appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”This is disturbing on several counts. First, it's that the President seems to believe that the End of Days are occurring on his watch and that it's his duty as a Christian to cast out the evil that is the sovereign state of Iraq. Even more concerning is that he apparently used this belief as the crux of his argument in attempting to garner support for his invasion of Iraq. But perhaps the most confounding of this is that this was never mentioned as one of the "justifications" for the invasion to the American people back in 2003, thus denying us the opportunity to see how his faith "guided" him.
This was all reported by former French President Chirac, who confirmed it, according to the article linked above. While this hasn't been confirmed by the Bush White House, and I doubt it will be because of the hyper level of fanatical nonsense involved, perhaps an actual denial from Bush and company might be necessary to at least give a counter-point - though with all the other "reasons" for the invasion holding no water, it's unlikely a denial will ring terribly true.
And the religious Right, who are attempting to vilify President Obama as a Muslim now, were all up in arms about his connections to (Christian) pastor Jeremiah Wright. Wright is a loudmouthed boor, but to the best of my knowledge, he hasn't attempted to convince anyone that he is on a mission from God to relieve the world of Gog and Magog.
The coup of all this is not that North Korea is going to get some sort of quid pro quo out of this - that was going to happen regardless as we weren't going to let these two young women sit in jail for over a decade no matter who was president. No, the coup was that they were stupid enough to go into North Korea and give this nation of syphillic leaders leverage to negotiate. A stupid voluntary act by Americans that makes those we purport to be our enemies some power at the bargaining table.
At least this time the idiots were just journalists and not the Executive Branch.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
I wish I could remember right offhand who said it and what the exact quote was, but someone once made a reference to the importance of several mindsets on the judiciary and how reaching a majority in such a manner was very important.
What we see right now is evidence of single-mindedness, particularly with regard to the Bush-appointed justices, Roberts and Alito, who according to the National Law Journal, ruled with each other in 92% of the cases heard by the Court last year. These same two justices also ruled with Justice Scalia 87% of the time.
The voting records for the justices are all (un)surprisingly high along the idealogical lines, but there is clear evidence that the triumvirate stick together...
Sunday, August 02, 2009
I'm not certain Senator McCain understands the limits of Judicial Power, but more importantly, I'm concerned the Senator McCain is seemingly more interested in constraining the mythical "activist judiciary" than he is in containing the aggressive federal expansion that took place during the Bush administration - the USA PATRIOT Act, the 4th amendment violations, the unitary executive theory, the premise that a sitting president could order the crushing of a child's testicles if he (in his own counsel) determined it necessary for "national security," the holding of non-combatants as "the worst of the worst" indeterminately with no trial, no access to the evidence against them, and not even a charge - even AFTER they've been cleared of any wrongdoing (sometimes before they were detained by us, even), the record deficits in a period of growth, etc.
But we gotta watch out for that activist Bush-appointed (Bush 41) "wise latina." She's going to destroy the country.
Now, granted, I've not been paying 100% perfect attention to the goings-on in Washington, but what I have noticed is that the Republican Party's goal appears to be "reject ANYTHING President Obama puts forward regardless of merit or need so that we can undermine his claim to be bipartisan." The stark difference between this and the previous administration's position of "you're either with us or against us" is confounding.
It's come to the point that I have a hard time believing I could ever vote for a Republican again on the national stage, because it seems very clear to me that they are only interested in making others look bad, while the actual result is that they appear the whiny, petulant, petty children who think that Sarah Palin was a good choice for VP.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
My guess is there will never be sufficient proof for this particular brand of numbskullery. I think this is going to persist until he's out of office, and even then there will be whispers.
Get over it. There are several legitimate reasons to malign the president, such as his shameful embrace of Bush administration detention tactics that this trumped up tripe is a total timewaster.