Thursday, May 29, 2008

Nobody believes you anymore

The media and the White House are spinning frantically over former Bush spokesliar Scott McClellan's new book in which he claims that he's just an honest man given bad information by his bosses. It's pure bullshit, of course, but what surprised people is that he would turn on Bush with such venom. What's not surprising is that former Bush lackeys want to scrub off the filth of this administration that they wallowed in so long. McClellan has an inkling of how badly he's going to look in history so he wants people to think he was manipulated.

In his book he states that Bush wanted all along to attack Iraq, cherry-picked facts to suit him and had no plan for the war once we were there. This has been common knowledge for those of us on the left for, oh, six years now. The White House and what's left of its squad of apologists are in full attack mode, aided by a nervous media, desperate to conceal its complicity. The scrambling by both these groups of people over the next few weeks will be fun to watch. And this can't be good for John McCain.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Terror storks of the Mesozoic


Back when I was a dinosaur-obsessed kid staring at vivid paintings of great battles between Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops, those lurid images invitably had crested Pteranodon soaring overhead, its 27-foot wings keeping it safe from the melee below. Later, Pteranodon was dethroned as biggest flying creature by Quetzalcoatlus, with an immense 40-foot span. The current champion is the massive Hatzegopteryx from Romania.

How did these monsters live? Scientists had difficulty understanding how creatures that big could even get off the ground. For a while people thought that they were the reptile equivalent of balsa wood, incredibly light for their size and delicate. They were thought to cling to windy hillsides and pluck fish out of the water.

Now, a new paper by Darren Naish and Mark Witton of the University of Portsmouth turns all of that upside down. These huge flying creatures were sturdy, agile on the ground, and could get airborne in a hurry when they needed to. Imagine gigantic storks, walking on all fours through a fern meadow in the Cretaceous, looking for baby dinosaurs to munch on and leaping into the air with a flap of airplane-size wings when the enraged parent shows up.

This is why I love the internet. I can hear about this sort of thing as soon as it's published and not have to wait six months for it to appear in National Geographic. I can read the paper myself, as much as I can understand of it and read opinions about it from other specialists. The writers of this paper are both well known in the palaeo-freak world. Darren Naish discusses it on his always interesting blog, and Mark Witton created the above image; his Flickr site is the place for Pterosaur imagery.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

20 cents in 4 days

When I ride to work in the morning there's a Tower gas station the has a big bright LED display for its prices. Thursday I saw the price for regular gas at $3.99. This morning it was $4.19. If Peak Oil hasn't already hit, we're pretty damn close. People are talking about gas prices from $7 to $15/gal by the end of the year. Whether it goes up that quick or never comes down any remains to be seen, but the days of cheap gas are over.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Honoring the troops

Today is the day we honor the soldiers killed in our wars. How do we do that? The traditional way is with ceremonies, speeches and parades. I was never one for ceremony. Ceremonies are big symbolic displays that have very little connection with reality. Everyone is expected to join in and any questioning of meaning is considered to be in very poor taste. It's holidays like this when the questions should be asked. I think asking why we keep adding to our roll of war dead is long overdue.

I think asking why we take time to honor the dead soldiers while ignoring the living ones is long overdue. I think asking why our soldiers are overseas "fighting for our freedom" while our own government is eroding it is long overdue. I think asking why our government expects our troops to make the ultimate sacrifice in wars that they themselves profit from is long overdue.

I think a change in who runs our government is long overdue. Making that change would be a real way to honor the fallen.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Up on the roof

Today started with a steady drizzle- perfect weather for cleaning the solar panels. I climbed up with the hose and a wet mop. I was able to reach most of the panels with my hands and got most of the dust off. That should hold for a couple of months. I also managed to clean a lot of stuff out of the gutters. This may seem like a stupid thing to blog about but I'm not supposed to wash the panels when they're in sunlight so I couldn't have asked for better conditions this morning.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Pomp and Circumstance

Congratulations all around for LeeJ, who graduated from the Sonoma State paralegal program yesterday. We had a good crew on hand to see her get the certificate, with her parents, brother Nick, LeeJ's s longtime friend Gretchen, with her mother Pam and son Cody all traveling to take part. Our neighbor Julia, who got LeeJ started on this path, hosted us all for pizza before the ceremony.

SSU didn't waste any time with the ceremony, because we got there 10 minutes late and they were already on the second speaker. It was in an art gallery on campus that was too small so people were huddled in the doorways but they did have champagne.

LeeJ is happy to be finally done and glad to see her family and old friends. Plus, the house is clean, we have snacks and cake to last all weekend and I don't have to work until Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"We do not torture."

A simple statement, another lie from George W. Bush. A Department of Justice report revealed just how much we torture and in how many ways. It shows FBI agents revolted by the conduct of military and CIA interrogator toward the detainees. It also shows that Rice, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft and Gonzales knew and approved what was happening. Abu Ghraib was not an aberration, it was policy.

In an ironic reversal of the outsourcing of American jobs, the Chinese hired us to abuse their muslims. What do we have to show for it? Dropped charges. Captives driven insane by their treatment and unable to assist in their own defense.

This is what we've been reduced to. Our President and his cabinet are war criminals in every sense of the word and should bee incarcerated in the Hague.

This post ties in with the previous one because the ACLU was instrumental in uncovering and analyzing this information.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Your one-stop shop for civil rights

The ACLU has instituted a blog that focuses on civil rights. It ranges over all aspects of rights and has guest bloggers including big names like Glenn Greenwald and Digby. This week it's having a symposium on torture. I've bookmarked it. Like Media Matters for exposing media bias, this site will be an essential resource for civil rights info and action. If we didn't have the ACLU fighting for us, freedom of speech and a lot of other rights we take for granted would have vanished long ago.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Fire Charlie Black

John McCain's chief adviser, Charlie Black, was a lobbyist for dictators. MoveOn has an ad out calling for McCain to fire Black. I couldn't figure out how to embed this one, so watch it here. Listed under the video are their sources. This whole straight talk thing with McCain is complete bunk. His campaign is infested with lobbyists. If you liked the way the economy turned out under Bush, then McCain's your guy. But if you're like the rest of us, and are tired of stuffing the wallets of the rich, McCain has no business in the oval office.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

98 no, 99 si

We two competing eminent domain measures on June's ballot. Measure 98 is actually a trojan horse attempting to eliminate rent control. 99 is basic. It stops eminent domain from giving developers private homes. Vote no on 98, yes on 99.

Love wins out

lolcats and funny pictures
The California Supreme Court overturned the gay marriage ban today, effective immediately. It feels good to take a step forward.


It's seriously hot here. Triple digits in May already. We had all the windows open and the ceiling fan in the bedroom on and it was still too hot to sleep. On the plus side, it's Bike To Work Day today and I Got a tote bag with a bunch of freebies.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Change You Deserve

That's the official slogan for house Republicans this year. This is an act of desperation from the party that's dimly coming to the realization that its image is in tatters. Change? From the group that brought us Iraq, dead bodies in New Orleans and $4/gal gas? Riiight.

But to show that they haven't gotten any better at thinking things through, It turns out they plagiarized this slogan from ads for Effexor, and antidepressant. I guess that must be the favorite drug amongst House Republicans given the way this year has gone for them so far.

Monday, May 12, 2008

"Rear" Admiral. Heh.

More Republican family values:
A Navy admiral engaged in sexual relations in the White House in 1990 with a federal employee whom he falsely told he was a widower, according to a report released Friday by the Defense Department.

In March, when the report was submitted to Pentagon officials, Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem was demoted and fired from his post as director of the Navy staff.

Stufflebeem told investigators he couldn't remember the name of the woman he had an affair with. He also lied when he told investigators he did not engage in sexual relations with the woman, identified as "Jane Doe," the Defense Department's inspector general's report said.
I love this part:
She also told investigators that Stufflebeem came to her home on the day in August 1990 when she learned he was married and that she called him "scum," shut the door in his face and never spoke to him again.
With a name like Stufflebeem what would you expect?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

To Mom. Still makes the best spaghetti and meatballs ever.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Vegetable garden update

I spent most of the day on the garden. I planted the stuff that was ready to go in, like cilantro and lettuce, attached emitters for the drip line, added some snail bait and cocoa hull mulch. I would have had the pressure regulator and timer connected too but there's a drip line T-connector that leaks like crazy. I'll have to fix that tomorrow. I also need some basil plants since the seed didn't take and I'll add a flat of marigolds because they're supposed to keep the pests away.

So far I've got peas, volunteer tomatoes that sprouted up elsewhere in the yard, a potato that was sprouting in the refrigerator, an onion that survived the winter and a tarragon plant that did the same. I also have some strawberries that I got from Kathy Curley at work. I would have brought more home but it's hard to carry a flat on a bicycle.

As always, I do this work Karcher style, the soundtrack for the day starting with a Studio 1 ska compilation, a big band collection, another Studio 1 comp- dub this time, Jimmy Smith's House Party, a Dr. Nico/Roger/Tabu Ley Rochereau collection and finishing off with the Boards Of Canada.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The greatest story never told

Political picture - George W. Bush
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The Pentagon has been forced to release documents regarding its coordination with military media analysts. The blogosphere is digging through the pile to see just how extensive the manipulation of public  perception is. Outside of the New York Times, who broke the story there has been a continued blackout from TV and print media. The traditional media has had a steady decline as readers and viewers discover that the internet is a much more reliable source of information. If you aren't paranoid enough, Meteor Blades at Kos and the formidable Glenn Greenwald have more.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Even his own people don't like him any more

From the shadowz√Ę�¦ Ninja Kittenz 4 Justice

Gallup has dropped Bush's approval to 60% among Republicans, Pollster has his overall at 28.3%. Among all the primary hoopla we forget that the American people hate Bush more every day. Bush will hang from McCain's neck in November.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Night music from Andy & the Bey Sisters

Andy Bey is one of my favorite singers. He's been around for a while, but I've only known about him for the last couple of years. His recent stuff is amazing. His voice is rich and full of emotion. He got his start playing piano and singing with his sisters but he's on his own now. This video is from the early days because I couldn't find anything recent with acceptable quality. This should give you an idea of what he sounds like, though.

Sleepless in Santa Rosa

What is it that causes the body to reject the sleep cycle for no good reason? Last night I went to bed on time and just couldn't get to get to sleep. I hadn't had any caffeine since 9am. I didn't eat anything wierd, no medication other than the allergy med I take every day. I don't think I'm under any particular stress, nothing noisy was going on outside. The only thing I can think of is that it was a little warm and we still have the winter bedding on. That doesn't seem to be enough on its own.

I hate that shit, man. The longer I toss and turn, the angrier I get and the sleeplessness feeds itself. The next day is wasted, although today I forced myself to plant some strawberries in the garden. Maybe a shot of Jaegermeister befor bed tonight.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Wingnut turf war?

Special Counsel Scott Bloch's office was raided today by the FBI. Bloch, like seemingly everyone in the Bush Administration, generated controversy by politicising his office. His position, created after Watergate, was to protect whistleblowing federal employees. When his own employees leaked that he refused to do his job by not protecting them from sexual discrimination, he retaliated against them. This seems to be what brought the raid on.

Josh Marshall has a question about that. Bloch was also investigating Karl Rove in the firings of U.S. attorneys and had complained about being blocked by the justice department.

So was Bloch raided for not doing his job or doing it?

The death of satire

How can it survive when real life becomes so absurd? Last month I mentioned the Supreme Court decision to allow Indiana to force voters to show photo ID at the polls. This is what we end up with:

Sister Julie McGuire said she was forced to turn away her fellow sisters at Saint Mary's Convent in South Bend, across the street from the University of Notre Dame, because they had been told earlier that they would need such an ID to vote.

The nuns, all in their 80s or 90s, didn't get one but came to the precinct anyway.
"One came down this morning, and she was 98, and she said, 'I don't want to go do that,'" Sister McGuire said.

Some showed up with outdated passports. None of them drives. They weren't given provisional ballots because it would be impossible to get them to a motor vehicle branch and back in the 10-day time frame allotted by the law, Sister McGuire said. "You have to remember that some of these ladies don't walk well. They're in wheelchairs or on walkers or electric carts."

Nuns. In wheelchairs. This country gets more ridiculous every day.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Another one of McCain's very good friends

Since it's apparently fair to judge Obama on everything Jeremiah Wright has said, it should be fair to question the other candidates on their associates, too. We've been over McCain's overt courting of nutballs like Pat Robertson and John Hagee, but here's another one.

G. Gordon Liddy. You remember him? The Watergate burglar who was convicted and served time in prison over that and came out even crazier than he was when he went in? It appears our straight talkin' maverick has close ties with the former Nixon thug. To the point of being a guest on Liddy's radio show and Liddy has hosted a fund-raiser for him.

Since Obama is being questioned over and over about the incendiary things Wright has said, in fairness we should ask whether McCain agrees with these statements by Liddy regarding his admiration for Adolf Hitler:

" assemblies where the national anthem is played I must suppress the urge to snap out my right arm."

"Hitler's sheer animal confidence and power of will (entranced me). He sent an electric current through my body."

So if McCain hasn't disavowed Liddy and given his money back can we assume McCain agrees with those sentiments?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Happy WTF Day

Today used to be May Day; we were supposed to dance around a pole or something. I think strippers took over that gig. Now it's called International Workers' Day, to, what? Honor workers? I still had to work. The dockworkers shut down the ports here on the west coast to protest the war, which is cool, but nobody's going to fight a dockworker over it.

Evangelicals have proclaimed today National Day of Prayer, but only if you're a Christian. Everybody else is supposed to STFU I guess.

Bush, with his usual sensitivity, proclaimed today Law Day to celebrate the rule of law. Let that one soak in. So far I haven't seen any reports that he resigned and turned himself in. Maybe we should call every day Global Irony Day.