Saturday, February 14, 2009

On being shrill

BTW: The media is resurrecting the word "shrill," which really takes me back. In fact, there is a lot about this period that strangely reminds me of the run-up to the war. It's that disorienting sense you get when lots of folks are telling you that you're hysterical and overwrought for noticing that "serious" people are either outright lying or are completely full of shit.
Damn, skippy! We have every right to be shrill when people lie to us or betray the American People.

--the BB

The cost of wars of choice

Late last month the Army released data showing the highest suicide rate among soldiers in three decades. At least 128 soldiers committed suicide in 2008. Another 15 deaths are still under investigation as potential suicides.
On Feb. 5, the Army announced it suspects 24 soldiers killed themselves last month, more than died in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

--Mark Benjamin and Michael de Yoanna in Salon

Let us not only pray for the peace of these souls and comfort for their loved ones but also strive to make our nation do right by our military men and women and veterans.

h/t to Digby
--the BB

Happy Valentine's Day, ALL you lovers!

This is so sweet. I saw it at Americablog.

Tom Goss sings "Till The End."

--the BB

On the campus of the University of New Mexico last Monday evening

I shot this photo just before Russian class. Needless to say, I was awed by this tree.
--the BB

Cet après-midi dans le jardin

Three more roses have been planted and some more old plantings have been freshly mulched.

Two of the three today are Pink Promise (pictured above). It is a hybrid tea rose of which the nursery says this:
A rose that lives up to its name promising to be the showcase of your garden with its large beautifully formed pink blend flowers and strong green foliage.

A bouquet of these pink roses will promise to fill any room with delectable fruity fragrance.

This stunning AARS winner has been honored to represent the National Breast Cancer Foundation as they search for the cure.
[Emphasis mine]

I did not know the symbolism that has been attached to this flower when I bought. I rejoice to learn it today after planting two of them.

My mother had a double mastectomy. May today's planting honor all the women who struggle with this terrible disease, among whom I have so many dear friends.

The other rose is a John F. Kennedy.

And that is the highlight of my Saturday so far.

The power went out for a while today. I noticed a beeping when I stepped inside from the yard. It was my house alarm telling me the current was off. I walked along the street a ways and found a neighbor who confirmed it was a neighborhood-wide situation. He had been handing out notices of an upcoming neighborhood meeting and was currently walking his little boy. Nice to meet another neighbor, this one from around the corner.

Though I don't see a lot of my neighbors, they are very nice people. We have mostly young families here starting out in these brand new tract homes. While I wish I could wave a wand and have mature trees around here, I am grateful for the views of the mountains to the east and the mesa to the west and friendly neighbors who have good kids. It is nice to feel one is part of the beginning of something.

Oh dear, it just hit me. I think I am the oldest person in the neighborhood (not counting visiting grandparents). Dear Lord, deliver me from being crotchety and disagreeable. Amen.

[The headline was lost when I tried to post this so I have restored it.]
--the BB

La luna è sorta

No one would consider my camera sophisticated nowadays (though it might have been a marvel a decade or so ago). Just a little Nikon Coolpix S210. Though it can do more, I mostly point and shoot.

That is prefatory to saying I wish I could share with you the sight that greeted me last night as I was coming home from my "night at the movies" and turned east way out on the west mesa. The gibbous moon seemed immense and close by, as though a giant dirigible were hovering over the far southeast part of Albuquerque. Perhaps, since it is Albuquerque, I should say an enormous hot air balloon, glowing in the night.

It was a pale shade, as though lightly washed with tangerine chiffon, and the features were clear.

I'm not sure I recall a time that the moon felt so very close. The effect was truly that of something right over the Rio Grande Valley and not somewhere out in space.

Anyway, I did pull over after turning into my neighborhood and took a picture. So here you are. No details, alas, but at least a sense of its prominence.

I am in love with the moon and have been since moving here.

--the BB

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday night at the movies

Just as I was logging out at work I got a phone call from my best friend. An invite to join him and his dad for a simple meal. But of course! So off I went, north instead of south. Lovely meatloaf and broccoli with strawberries, banana slices and cream for dessert.

We then headed to his dad's apartment where we watched Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday. A nice piece of fluff.

And that's my wild night on the town.

Contentedly to bed.

--the BB

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Heart thread - 02/12/2009

Let us pray for Roseann.

From Wounded Bird:
Roseann is back in the hospital with a 103 fever, and vomiting. The doc's have begun testing to see what might be wrong. Would you send this on to the blog world? I'll keep you posted on her progress.


O God, the strength of the weak and the comfort of sufferers: Mercifully accept our prayers, and grant to your servant Roseann the help of your power, that her sickness may be turned into health, and our sorrow into joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Today our travel folks were hustling to send firefighters from the Forest Service to Australia to help with the fires there. I have very businesslike chats with these people and then get teary after hanging up. They are heroes. Every one of them.

O God, we recall before you those who place their lives in danger for the sake of others. Protect them in their work and help us to support them and demonstrate our gratitude. Amen.
Fire updates with links chez FranIAm.

--the BB

Do the American People want torture swept under the rug?

The answer, it seems, is a resounding NO!

Gallup took a poll and check this out. Over 60% of the American people think there should be either an independent panel or a criminal investigation into the Bush torture administration.

So don't give us any shit about "the people won't support you" if you're weaseling away from uncovering the truth.

I've seen the stats at several sites but used Hoffmania when making this graphic.
--the BB

Tired bear - updated with photo

I've been wanting an excuse to use this photo
for the longest time. This post is not quite it,
but I don't know if I'm going to get any closer.

This morning I invited a friend who has been feeling down to come over for dinner. I was going to pick up some pork chops on the way home and make a nice meal with seasoned chops, green beans, pilaf.

But on the way home I heard the all-too-familiar thumpeta-thumpeta. A flat tire. My tires seem to attract nails and other hazards. Tonight, frankly, I don't even know what it was, only that after I drove on I-25 to a reasonably safe spot (next to an off ramp where no cars passed too closely, though they did pass at speeds probably averaging 70 mph) there would be no reasonable hope of salvaging the tire.

I worked the miniature jack as I have done so many times before, removed the tire, put on the doughnut (that's for all who think they are donuts). I had just finished this and was about to call my friend back when he drove up. It took him a while to negotiate the limited approaches and exits and drive all over to get to me. We then headed to Costco where I got a couple of new tires. While those were put on my chum and I had dinner at Sadie's on 4th Street. Oh, and margaritas on the rocks for starters.

So I just got home. We had dinner and visited but it was not the quiet dinner at home I envisioned.

Tired. Very tired.

--the BB

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


On September 13, 2001, still in shock from the terrorist attacks, I left Grand Central and walked west on 42nd Street to Times Square. It was bustling. There was considerable construction going on, and the construction workers had hung American flags on the scaffolding. Some of them had flags attached to their hard hats. There were many expressions of defiance against the terrorists, spraypainted on signs and sheets and flapping in the wind high above the streets.

Most of all, Times Square was busy. New York City was bursting with prosperity in those days. As terrible as the week was, as grief-stricken and as angry as people were, outside the financial district the city was beautiful. The cafes were overflowing with diners, and shoppers were everywhere.

Did Republican economics finish the job the 9/11 terrorists started?

I suppose I should comment, analyze, add value, or something but I just wanted to share the thought.

--the BB

What BarbinMD said

So, requirements to track how the money is being spent, capping the salary of incompetent executives to a half a million dollars, and not being able to replace high-tech American workers with cheap, high-tech foreign workers is unfair? Seriously? Then give the damn money back. We could use it in the real world.

--Barbara Morrill at Daily Kos, on Wall Street banks

648 - updated with photos

02/10/09 :
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty

Lance Cpl. Kevin T. Preach, 21, of Bridgewater, Mass., died Feb. 7 from wounds he received Jan. 24 while supporting combat operations in Farah province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division...

02/10/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties

1st Lt. Jared W. Southworth, 26, of Oakland, Ill....died Feb. 8 in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment of Marion, Ill.

02/10/09 :
DoD Identifies Army Casualties

Staff Sgt. Jason E. Burkholder, 27, of Elida, Ohio...died Feb. 8 in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment of Marion, Ill.

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Milton E. Suggs, 51, of Lockport, La., died Jan. 30 at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 38th Operational Support Airlift Detachment, Hammond, La.

May they rest in peace and rise in glory.

Photos via IGTNT where you may learn more about these men.

4243 - updated with photo - 2nd update

Latest Coalition Fatalities

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

Spc. Christopher P. Sweet, 28, of Kahului, Hawaii, died Feb. 6 in Kirkush, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 172d Separate Infantry Brigade, Grafenwoehr, Germany

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

Sgt. James M. Dorsey, 23, of Beardstown, Ill., died Feb. 8 in Kamaliyah, Iraq, in a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

[Five more deaths are "pending"]

May they rest in peace and rise in glory.

Photo via IGTNT where you may read more about Specialist Sweet.

Heart thread - 02/11/2009

From Susankay:
I would [like to update the] prayer request for my rector and his wife. She will have op for her breast cancer tomorrow and Andrew has asked for prayers.
Nicked from MP at OCICBW:
Posted by Roseann at

I really don't like my life right now. I do not make a good invalid. I am cranky, sad, bored, numb, angry, calm, sedate, patient, anxiety-ridden, happy, annoyed and all in the space of maybe 5 minutes.

It is just a tight rope and I am walking it the best I can. Getting the call that they saw something on the mammogram they didn't like just about did it. I did not handle this news with one iota of grace. I talked to 4 family/friends and got the advice to pray and meditate. Sorry but right now I am too busy being royally pissed off at the creator. Smite me o mighty smiter! And I swear to God if another person tells me the God won't give me more than I can handle, I will just never speak to them again. Seriously, lay off telling me to rely on God and pray, okay? The thing is God and I get along just fine. I'm just slouching towards Bethlehem and I do that imperfectly. I have moments when I feel as close as you can and moments when I am just not there with it at all.

I wish I was brave. I wish I was fearless. I wish I was well.

From David Austin Allen (Dah-veed):

I had an unfortunate accident yesterday and tripped over a curbing while stepping back from having loaded groceries into a taxi yesterday afternoon. I badly wrenched my left foot and fell down in the street. Now I have two fractures in the long bones of the small toe.

The doctor says it can only be taped up. No cast. The outside of my foot is black and blue, swollen and really sore. Plus a lot of general throbbing pain. Alternating ice and heat and an anti-inflammatory pain med helps some, but there just is no comfortable position right now. Plus my whole body is sore today from the fall.

I am also a bit afraid that in walking like a gimp that I will fall again and break something else. I am starting to feel really old at just 45!
Prayers requested by She Knows Who She Is and for her sweetie while waiting for further tests.

For the chap I talked to on the phone today who had to cancel a trip for surgery.

For Steph's mom - who attends Mass each morning and is full of faith but still has cancer - and for Steph who inherited a lot of her mom's faith but says she doesn't have quite so much.

And Maddie came down with the man flu again recently, so pray for Mrs. MP and the dogs.

Jane R gives thanks for prayers (but I think they need to keep coming).

The people and the critters of Australia, of course.
By Ed Johnson Feb. 12 (Bloomberg) -- The death toll from Australia’s deadliest bushfires may reach 300, officials said, as police probe whether the blaze in the worst-hit town of Marysville was lit deliberately.

Photo via FranIAm

May the holy angels guard them, Christ uphold them, the Spirit rise within them as Giver of life, Blessed Raphael bring healing from God's throne, and all the saints in heaven and on earth lift them up.
--the BB

For the people of Zimbabwe trying to survive so many challenges and work out some form of governance. President Robert Mugabe just swore in his rival Morgan Tsvangirai as PM.

For Israel and Palestine after the right-ward swing in the Israeli elections (G-d help us all).

For those killed in the Oklahoma tornado and those who must rebuild their lives.

For the people of Afghanistan:
By Jay Shankar and James Rupert Feb. 12 (Bloomberg) -- The Obama administration and the United Nations condemned Taliban suicide attacks on Afghan government buildings in central Kabul yesterday that killed 26 people....
For the people of Sri Lanka amid seemingly endless strife between the government and rebels.

For the people of Iraq:
BAGHDAD: Twin car bombings ripped through a Baghdad bus station killing 16 people yesterday, as violence across Iraq claimed at least 27 lives and shattered a relative lull marked by largely peaceful polls....

Please add your own intercessions and thanksgivings.

O Lord, I know not what to ask of thee; thou alone knowest what are my true needs. Thou lovest me more than I know how to love myself. Help me to see my real needs which are concealed from me. I dare not ask either a cross or consolation. I can only wait on thee. My heart is open to thee. Visit and help me for thy great mercy’s sake, strike me and heal me, cast me down and raise me up. I worship in silence thy holy will and thine inscrutable ways. I offer myself as a sacrifice to thee. I put all my trust in thee. I have no other desire than to fulfill thy will. Teach me how to pray, pray thou thyself in me. Amen.
—Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Looking back - February 10 - updated for clarification

[Update: Please note that the "today" in the following was four years ago.]

Today I had a minor temp job, but one that could get me in the door where the accounting manager is a friend. It is in the City. As I started up the escalator at BART in El Cerrito this morning, I tripped. Landed on my face. Terrific goose egg with a bit of blood (bloodied my knees too, but that was minor). I have always thought of a goose egg as colorful exaggeration, but this really swelled up and looked just like say one third of an egg covered with flesh. Most unattractive.

There's more!

Having missed the direct train, I took the Fremont train and changed trains in Oakland, getting on one that was already full, standing room only. So I stood, read my homework about as long as I could, then gave up. Noticed I felt hot and stifled, then began to feel faint. I was trying to take deep breaths and lower my head, but there was not much room to do that. This was just as we were approaching my stop, Embarcadero, in SF. Next thing I knew I was seated and coming too with a crowd of people all around me. I flipping fainted! One nice lady was wiping me with a cold cloth, a gentleman said he had my glasses, I was still sweating like a pig and folks removed my jacket and sweater. Got escorted off the train, a BART lady waited with me until the EMTS came. Yep, they checked the vitals and blood sugar (actually mildly high), gave me oxygen and took me off to St Francis Hospital ER. EKG was fine, no blood gases suggesting heart problems. They gave me an IV to begin rehydration, though I did not end up getting much of it. Doc decided it was an ordinary fainting episode. Possibly the stress from falling earlier. Released me.

I then took the cable car to work. After that went to class, just got home.

One especially nice lady stayed with the BART lady and not only offered me an apple (I had and ate my own) but also offered to call the folks at work. I gave her my card and the name and company. She looked them up, called and let them know. What a total sweetheart.

People were uniformly wonderful. I feel fine now. Were I younger I would have felt humiliated. As it is, I just give thanks for the inherent goodness in people when someone is in need.

That's my story for today.

[Post script: It was BART that insisted I be carried off in an ambulance and taken to the ER. "Are you sure?" I asked. "Yes," said the BART official. Definitely not my idea. While I was concerned about potential injury to my face, I know my own body and knew that I was not having a heart attack or low blood sugar and would recover fine on my own. Did BART pay for the ambulance? No. Did I sue BART for my injuries? No. Did they come after me (who was unemployed) for the ambulance fee? Yes. So while the original story written that night is above, the longer term perspective is not "what nice people" but more along the lines of "those miserable $(%&)$(#$)*. Just saying. You see, my memory of the whole thing has changed for the worse as the story unfolded. Frankly, if I relived this I would sue BART, if only to cover the damn ambulance. And I only got 1.5 days of employment out of the whole adventure.]

The world had discovered that Jeff Gannon the Talon "news" reporter was really Jim Guckert the man whore.

Ah, the softball questions he tossed out at presidential briefings! We never did get a full accounting of all his visits to the White House though the logs indicate he may have spent some evenings there. This chum of Scotty's had awfully free access.

In other words, the "journalist" was a Republican operative by day and a gay male escort by night. Not that there was anything wrong with his night job.

The Rude Pundit commented at the time:
But despite the exposure of its most obvious cheerleader, we'll still have a press corps that is, at the minimum, deferential to the whims and words of the White House without any follow-up, without any accountability. With or without Gannon/Guckert, that ain't stopping any time soon. Propaganda is most effectively spread when it's presented under the guise of objectivity.

Here's an interesting comment on the economy FIVE YEARS AGO from that same Rude Pundit.
An addict'll pawn it all. The future, the present. He'll raid the kids' piggy banks and empty their college funds. 'Cause always, around the next corner, is the big win, the one that'll make 'em into a wise guy. Problem is, 'cause he's an addict, he'll keep goin' double or nothin', double or nothin'. Problem is that we're the suckers Bush keeps stealin' shit [from] to try to parlay the spot into big money. Problem is: once a gamblin' loser, always a gamblin' loser.
Some of us were worried. Most Americans, it seems, were not.

Maru the Crankpot gave us this little tidbit on honor integrity, and values:
Senate Minority leader Reid suprised to discover Bush's idea of bipartisanship is to send millions of people a 13-page-long smear job about the Senator's voting record.

The Republican National Committee is set to begin a prolonged attack against newly installed Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) aimed at weakening his support in his home state as well as on the national level. Drawing on a blueprint used successfully against former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), the RNC will send a 13-page research document today to roughly 1 million people — a group that includes journalists, donors and grass-roots activists — detailing Reid’s alleged obstructionism among other topics.

Link no longer active but remember this?
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. aviation officials failed to respond to dozens of warnings of a possible threat to airliners months before the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a previously undisclosed report by the commission probing the assault, The New York Times reported on Thursday.

The commission report said federal aviation officials reviewed 52 intelligence reports between April and Sept. 10 that warned about Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda, the newspaper said.

The panel's report took the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to task for failing to take steps that could have deterred the attacks, the newspaper said.

The newspaper cited the report as saying that aviation officials had amassed so much information about the terrorist threat that they held classified briefings in mid-2001 for security officials at 19 of the busiest U.S. airports to warn of the danger posed in particular by bin Laden.

Still, the commission concluded that aviation officials did not direct adequate resources or attention to the problem, the Times said.
Now, what was that about the Cheney-Bush administration keeping us safe? As I recall the 9/11/2001 attacks happened when.... let's see... Bush was president. Just over a month after the Presidential Daily Briefing warned that Bin Laden planned to attack the US.

Heckuva job, Bushie.

And there was this:
Pyongyang pulling out of 6-nation disarmament talks

North Korea on Thursday announced for the first time that it has nuclear arms and rejected moves to restart disarmament talks anytime soon, saying it needs the weapons as protection against an increasingly hostile United States.
And this:
More than 200 Fish and Wildlife researchers cite cases where conclusions were reversed to weaken protections and favor business, a survey finds.

More than 200 scientists employed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say they have been directed to alter official findings to lessen protections for plants and animals, a survey released Wednesday says.

And let's not forget that Condi was a liar:
Although then national security adviser Condoleezza Rice wrote a March 22, 2004 column in The Washington Post that "No al-Qaeda threat was turned over to the new administration," a newly declassified document [image below the fold] tells the story.

EIGHT months before the September 11 attacks the White House's then counterterrorism adviser urged then national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to hold a high-level meeting on the al-Qaeda network, according to a memo made public today.

"We urgently need such a principals-level review on the al-Qaeda network," ... Richard Clarke wrote in the January 25, 2001 memo.

At least the Australians were reporting this back then.

The Rude Pundit lays out some of the major issues of the day:
The White Noise of Scandal:
What's it gonna take for the general public to be shocked anymore? 'Cause, really, and, c'mon, this week's news alone ought to be enough to make the head of even the most casual observer of the nascent Washington scandals explode into a shower of skull and viscera, raining down on the ignorant. The White House knew the levee hadn't held and that New Orleans was being drowned a day earlier than previously admitted? Scooter Libby was told by Dick Cheney and other "superiors" to break the law and leak classified information? Tom DeLay is put on the House subcommittee that oversees the Justice Department, while said department is investigating DeLay's buddy, Jack Abramoff?
Yes, ABRAMOFF, NEW ORLEANS, AND LIBBY'S TREASON were the big items. The corruption investigations related to Abramoff continue, New Orleans still struggles to rebuild, and Libby got off with a slap on the wrist.

I admit it, I still want to see Dick Cheney hanged for treason. Not to put too fine a point on it. Obama can look ahead.

And, though I admit I'm harping on this, attention must be paid:
A timeline pieced together by Senate Democrats shows that the Bush White House knew as early as 8:30 a.m. EST, August 29.

The first internal White House communication about levee failures came at
11:13 a.m. on Aug. 29 in a "Katrina Spot Report" by the White House Homeland Security Council.

"Flooding is significant throughout the region and a levee in New Orleans has reportedly been breached sending 6-8 feet of water throughout the 9th ward area of the city," the internal report said.

White House spokesperson Trent Duffy explained that Bush and his aides were fully apprised of the situation. But they didn't move a muscle.

So how come Bush, as Senator Joe Lieberman put it, "...could have woken up Tuesday morning unaware of this obviously catastrophic situation"?

At least 28 local, state and Federal agencies reported to the White House that the levees surrounding the Crescent City had broken.
[Emphasis mine]
From the Associated Press - link no longer working.

Jack Abramoff said in correspondence made public Thursday that President Bush met him “almost a dozen” times, disputing White House claims Bush did not know the former lobbyist at the center of a corruption scandal.

“The guy saw me in almost a dozen settings, and joked with me about a bunch of things, including details of my kids. Perhaps he has forgotten everything, who knows,” Abramoff wrote in an e-mail to Kim Eisler, national editor for the Washingtonian magazine.

Abramoff added that Bush also once invited him to his Texas ranch.

Do you miss these two?
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert engineered a backroom legislative maneuver to protect pharmaceutical companies from lawsuits, say witnesses to the pre-Christmas power play.

I think everyone should view krazypuppy's post at Daily Kos titled "Bush Photo Essay of 9/11 & Katrina" but the material was re-hosted elsewhere and the link no longer works. I saved it all in a Word document. Ask me and I will send it to you in an e-mail attachment. The timeline of Bush inaction is stunning, sickening, infuriating.
Hours after landfall, Bush heads 1000s of miles AWAY from NOLA to sell his Medicare package to seniors in Arizona

Governor Blanco sends Bush an urgent request for emergency help.

At about 8 p.m., she spoke to Bush. "Mr. President," she said, "we need your help. We need everything you've got."

But the president, who was in San Diego preparing to give a speech the next day on the war in Iraq, went to bed.

Um. We are still on Day 1.

While shopping for shoes, Condi Rice has a patron thrown out for having the gall to call her on her shoe shopping while AMericans are dying in the Gulf.

The woman said, "How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!" Never one to have her fashion choices questioned, Rice had security PHYSICALLY REMOVE the woman.

Bush FINALLY gets an idea of the magnitude of the tragedy when an aide SITS him down & plays a video of the carnage.

John Dean wrote:
Vice President Dick Cheney has stirred up an old fight in Washington. He sent a rookie, however, to make his case publicly. It did not work.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to offer what may have been the weakest legal argument for presidential power to conduct warrantless electronic surveillance since Nixon's Justice Department invoked the views of King George III.

King George III's take on the matter did not carry any weight either. Indeed, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals could barely believe the Nixon Justice Department was serious. The panel reminded the government's lawyers that warrantless searches were among the very reasons the colonies fought for their independence.

Things were not going so swimmingly in Iraq per McClatchy:
Two weeks with American units that patrolled with Iraqi forces in west and east Baghdad found that Iraqi officers sold new uniforms meant for their troops, and that their soldiers wore plastic shower sandals while manning checkpoints, abused prisoners and solicited bribes to free suspects they'd captured.

During a patrol last week in a violent west Baghdad neighborhood that's the scene of regular sniper fire at U.S. and Iraqi troops, Staff Sgt. Jeremie Oliver saw Iraqi soldiers gathered in the middle of the road, near a streetlight, making them an easy target for gunmen on the surrounding rooftops.

Thinking that something might be wrong, Oliver, 30, of Farmington, Maine, jogged over. The Iraqis were looking at pornography on a cell phone.

NEW Documents Show U.S. Torture Was Planned Long Ago

[I know: you're shocked.]

Larry C. Johnson wrote:
Douglas Feith, the former number three man at Rummy's Department of Defense and co-author of the debacle in Iraq, proved Tommy Franks right. General Franks described Feith to author Bob Woodward as:

"the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth."

Yes. Amen!! Feith displayed his utter cluelessness Friday afternoon during his appearance on the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer and cemented his status as the King of Stupidity. Feith continued to insist that Saddam was in league with Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

Teacherken shared this:
Five and a half years later, no one has been held accountable for taking into account only what they wanted to hear.

The quote is from Derrick Jackson of the Boston Globe, who has an op ed in today's paper entitled 'This is when the war hits home'.

More on the damnable Doug Feith, one of the great architects of the Iraq disaster:
Feith never mentions to WH, Hadley, or Libby that the CIA disagreed with 50% of his material.
[An oversight, I'm sure.]

Senator Obama throws his hat in the ring:
"We can build a more hopeful America. And that is why, in the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a divided house to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still live, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for president of the United States."
Digby and others noted Darth's bizarre "Fourth Branch" theory:
TPM , The Carpetbagger Report and others including yours truly wrote recently about this bizarre new theory that the VP's office has cooked up apparently granting him some sort of special, unaccountable status as an office that is both Executive and Legislative and so reports to nothing and no one.

Hunter wrote of Dick Cheney:
Cheney doesn't believe in merely denying reality, he believes in pinning it down, attaching electrodes to it, then just clubbing it to death for fun.
It's interesting, because once again one would think it would be a key component of rational public discourse for people to, indeed, call him out on his happy, camouflage-colored delusions. But it's somehow off-limits, in the press, to point out when a public official is an unmitigated, reality-sodomizing liar.

My clippings collection from February 10, 2008, was replete with my own posts here. So that becomes rather redundant. I can see that I had discovered The Cunning Runt by then as I saved lots of his wonderful photos.

Fr. Jake was in the throes of moving and shared an old photo of himself with his daughter.

Keith Olbermann and John Dean discuss one of my favorite topics - FISA:
KO: Tuesday we have the FISA vote. If the Democrats cave in, and they create a shield for the telecomms from lawsuits filed by Americans, never mind any prosecution, but just the civil action, does that mean the end of possibly any inquiry in any way, shape, or form into that illegal wiretapping and whatever the next stage might be of monitoring of Internet and phone communications?

JD: Well, it would certainly end the civil pursuit of that inquiry, if they do cave. And if they do cave, it's not likely they're going to be inclined to pick up a Congressional investigation which should indeed be digging into these issues and they've been very reluctant to do it so far. So this may be the end of the story we're seeing, and I think it's to the chagrin of a lot of people who thought that the law meant something and that they, indeed, were supposed to follow it.

And that's the tour for tonight. I hope it helps us have some perspective on how truly awful the Bush regime was and why we find ourselves in the messes we are in today.

If you feel like bitchslapping any Republican in the US Congress, be my guest.
--the BB

Today's new learning

Illustration from here
Wet snow that has gone through repeated melt-freeze cycles is often called Corn Snow. Under Corn Snow or Melt-Freeze conditions, a crust forms on the surface that will support your weight when frozen, but turns to deep slush during the heat of the day.

I am a weather wimp. I acknowledge it, have never denied it, and am not ashamed of it. Until August 2006 I have lived my entire life in a Mediterranean climate where winter has rarely meant more than tule fog with a visibility of about 25 feet and summer could mean 115 degrees with almost no humidity and everyone had the sense to stay indoors. I have generally lived where wind stays below 40 mph with few exceptions and, in the Bay Area, I enjoyed temperatures that mostly stayed between 55 and 85. Snow of any kind came along every few decades and was a cause of major excitement (and disappeared quickly). I had to ponder seriously moving to Albuquerque where the temperature gets below freezing more than a few days a year and where snow does not always melt by tomorrow.

So, I am a bear of limited weather experience.

That is fine with me. I do not crave climatic extremes.

This morning as I drove to work I saw small bits of what was obviously frozen water landing lightly on my car. They were bright white, the size of pinheads, and resembled fine pellets of styrofoam in their behavior.

"Is this some kind of snow," I thought, "or does it have some other name?"

A coworker told me it was "corn snow."

Never heard of it. But there's Google.

So we have the illustration above. When I walked to lunch the sun was shining, sort of, and I saw pea-sized pellets of corn snow on the ground, sprinkled on bushes, and nestling amid pine needles. Alas, I did not have my camera with me.

And that's the story of what I learned "at school" today.
--the BB