Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Thirty years ago

I have now lived in Washington, DC for thirty years.

I arrived in Washington, DC to go to college at the George Washington University and have been here ever since. I cannot imagine living anywhere else. I've lasted through Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and hopefully Bush II. Also all the many many terms of Marion Barry as mayor of DC.

When I first got here the metro at rush hour cost $0.45. Non-rush hour fares were $0.50. Yes rush hour fates were lower than non-rush hour fares to get people to ride the metro. The base rate on the metro now starts at $1.35 and runs as high as $3.90. There was no Green or Yellow line. The Red line ran from DuPont Circle to Union station. The Blue line from Stadium-Armory to National Airport. The Orange line from Stadium-Armory to Rosslyn. There was no service on Sunday and Saturday service was noon to 8pm.

There were three local department stores: Garfinkels, Woodward and Lothrop (Woodies) and Hechts. Now of those are left. Hechts was the last to go when Macy’s took it over. Georgetown was a really unique and neat place to go. There was the Kemp Mill record store (yes record store), next to the Italian men’s clothing store with $500 Italian suits (which was really expensive then) next to the bong and crystal store.

Also in Georgetown was a wonderful coffee and tea place. The entire store was devoted to coffee and tea. Just about everything you could possibly want or imagine dealing with coffee and tea could be found in the store. There were huge wooden barrel full of coffee beans. You could smell the store blocks away. There was a blackboard that listed when certain types of coffee would arrive. It would list the country the coffee was coming from, the ship it was on and what port it would be arriving in and when it would finally get to the store. That store is long sense gone. In fact the originality of Georgetown is essentially gone too. It is now just a bunch of chain stores. There are still a few very good restaurants to go to but the shopping well you can do that at about any mall now.

The wonderful Circle Theater which was just a block from the GW campus. It was a revival house that had some really fantastic double features. Top Hat and Swing Time. Modern Times and The Great Dictator. To name a few. One time my parents were out and we had dinner and then saw the Band Wagon. It was truly a great place to see an old movie on a large screen.

Not to say there are some incredible and wonderful new things. National Museum of African Art, Sackler Gallery, American Indian Museum, the re-newed Portrait Gallery, the Spy Museum, Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences, Air and Space Museum and Udvar-Hazy Center, The Roosevelt Memorial, The Korean War Memorial, The Shakespeare theater, the Verizon Center, the soon to open Newseum, the revitalization of Union Station to name just a few.

I am looking forward to seeing my 30th season of GW basketball. I also plan to attend more GW baseball games this year than I did last year. Since I’m close to Catholic University, I am going to attend one of their football games this year too.

I’m looking forward to the many shows that will be at the Kennedy Center, National Theater, Warner Theater, Studio Theater, Arena Stage, Shakespeare theater (and the new facility they will be opening soon), Ford’s Theater. The main wonderful movies to see on the largest screen in DC at the Uptown theater. The inauguration of a new president (probably several more to be exact).

I can hardly wait to see what the next 30 years will bring.

Hoof Hearted

This is just one very funny video enjoy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Stat counter

I have a stat counter on my site. It keeps track of all the visitors to my blog. There are all sorts of interesting statistics you get with the counter. The number of visitors, where they come from, what page they visit, how long their visit is and the number of times they've visited the blog. That's to name just a few. There is also a really cool thing there's a map which shows where all the people are who view your blog are. You can click on the little pin and see information on the user.

Sometimes it's easy to figure out who's who. The little pin in Utah is from my friend Larry who lives there. Now sometimes it is hard to tell who is viewing the blog because the pin is placed where the ISP provider is located and that is not always in the same place that the person is. Like my friend Art in New Zealand his pin his pin is in Australia because that is where his ISP is.

So the other day I looked at the map and I saw this. Click on the picture to make it larger and you'll see there just isn't any land even close to the pin.

This is out in the middle of the ocean. How can there be an ISP there? This person was on my site for 5 minutes and 36 seconds. He entered my blog from the page that has my user profile on Blogger. He exited from a page that listed all of my entries about Washington Life. So I just wonder who this person is. Maybe on a ship or maybe it's a mistake. Anyway I thought it was rather interesting.

Can You Say Hypocracy?

Ahh I thought you could.

What could have made Senator Craig do such a thing? I don't could it be . . . Satan (with apologies to Dana Carvey)

Yet another Republican who cannot seem to keep his zipper zipped. And this from the "family values" party. The party that wants to pass a constitutional amendment against gay marriage.

Here's some reaction from both the left and the right from a story in the Post:

But conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewit said: "Craig's behavior is so reckless and repulsive that an immediate exit is required ... He has to go."

The left-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington asked the Senate Ethics Committee to reprimand Craig, citing the portion of the Senate's rules manual saying lawmakers could run afoul of the chamber for "improper conduct which may reflect upon the Senate."

Here's a link to a discussion on the Post website. It has some pretty funny lines about the Senator's arrest.

I think this question and answer pretty well sums up my feelings on this:

Former GOP Staffer from Idaho: Apologies for one more Sen. Craig comment, but if police misunderstood his behavior, why plead guilty? Especially two months after being arrested. I could understand if he was a naive young man intimidated by the " authority" (i.e. the police) but we're talking a multi-termed U.S. Senator. "...Should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter. In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously." Arrested June 11, plead guilty August 8; and he didn't think during that time to talk to legal counsel? Regardless of his "orientation," what's understood is that he was arrested, and two months later he plead guilty to charges pressed against him -- that's the bottom line, don't try to take the public for fools.

Jonathan Weisman: I absolutely agree. Not only did he plead guilty, but the police report also says he flashed his Senate business card as if to say, "Do you know who I am?" Sen. Craig has been waiting for two months, knowing the news would come out. I'd have expected either a better alibi or a better confession.

I'll just add: Yes, indeed what a hypocrite.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Gonzales Goes

This comes from a piece by Andrew Cohen from the Washington Post:

For an administration known for its cronyism, and alas for an alarmingly incompetent group of cronies, Gonzales was the granddaddy of them all. He lacked the integrity, the intellect and the independence to perform his duties in a manner befitting the job for which he was chosen. And when he and his colleagues got caught in the act, his rationales and explanations for the purge of the U.S. Attorneys were so empty and shallow and incoherent that even the staunchest Republicans could not turn them into steeled spin. Devoid of any credibility, Gonzales in the end was a sad joke when he came to Capitol Hill.

I think. Mr. Cohen's comments are right on the money.

This statement from the President:
"It's sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeded from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons," Bush said.

Only George Bush could think this guy was doing important work. Sort of reminds you of Brownie doing a good job.

You can read the full story here in the Post.

I think careful consideration should be taken about exactly how the Justice Department should be run in the future. Clinton had his problems with the AG as well. I've heard and read a couple of suggestions that the AG should be appointed like the head of the Federal Reserve. I'm not sure what you do if you get a political hack in the position like Gonzales was but it might remove that temptation.

Another one Bites the Dust

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has resigned. More as the story develops. Who would have thought that John Ashcroft would turn out to be a good guy and uphold the Constitution of the United States unlike Gonzales.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Vick again

I have to bring this up about Michael Vick. Here's part of what he admitted to in the dog fighting ring.

"All of those dogs were killed by various methods, including hanging and drowning," the documents said. While he did not explicitly admit having killed any of the dogs himself, he did say, "These dogs all died as a result of the collective efforts" of him and his partners.

Collective efforts. Talk about splitting hairs. I guess this is so he can say he wasn't convicted of directly killing the dogs.

Then this from his lawyer:
"Our position has been that we are going to try to help Judge Hudson understand all the facts and Michael's role," Martin said in telephone interview. "Michael's role was different than others associated with this incident."

Yes like he is the ring leader and the guy with the money. That without his money none of this could ever have happened. But I guess that's not exactly what Vick's lawyers will try and impress on the judge.

And the image rehabilitation will begin on Tuesday:

Vick's defense attorney, Billy Martin, said Vick will "explain his actions" publicly, but did not say when. The "Tom Joyner Morning Show," a syndicated program based in Dallas, said it will have a live interview with Vick on Tuesday, and he will take questions from callers.

It will be interesting to see if Vick continues to split hairs or really apologies for his actions. I'm not holding my breath on that one.

Quick addition:

I found this quote from a Post story:
Earlier yesterday, experts said Vick appeared to be splitting legal hairs in his plea agreement to help rehabilitate his public image. "These distinctions have no legal or moral significance whatsoever," said Steven D. Benjamin, a Richmond lawyer and past president of the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. "Saying that you supplied the money for a gambling enterprise but protesting that you did not yourself gamble is like admitting that you established a brothel but did not personally have sex with anyone."

Friday, August 24, 2007

Protester's manual update

USA Today had a great editorial on this subject.

The last paragraph really hits home:

If you profess to love "the freedom for people to speak their minds," as Bush told the Charleston crowd in 2004, you have to assume you're not always going to love what they say. Instead of a lengthy manual on preventing and handling demonstrators, Bush's advance people need a refresher course on a somewhat older manual. It's called the Constitution of the United States.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Potential protesters manual

A manual put out to White House staffers about how to deal with potential protesters at
appearances by President Bush. See the story here. In part the manual states:

To counter any demonstrators who do get in, advance teams are told to create "rally squads" of volunteers with large hand-held signs, placards or banners with "favorable messages." Squads should be placed in strategic locations and "at least one squad should be 'roaming' throughout the perimeter of the event to look for potential problems," the manual says.

This has come to light because of a law suit filed by two people who wore t-shirts with anti-Bush slogans to a Bush rally:

The lawsuit was filed by Jeffery and Nicole Rank, who attended the Charleston event wearing shirts with the word "Bush" crossed out on the front; the back of his shirt said "Regime Change Starts at Home," while hers said "Love America, Hate Bush." Members of the White House event staff told them to cover their shirts or leave, according to the lawsuit. They refused and were arrested, handcuffed and briefly jailed before local authorities dropped the charges and apologized. The federal government settled the First Amendment case last week for $80,000, but with no admission of wrongdoing.

Here's a great opinion piece on it. One of the comments really hits home:

What is sadder to me still is that in an effort to ensure that no one had any "footage" of the president that showed dissent or implied that anything might be wrong, the president's advisers isolated him from the one advisor it is clear he needed the most: the American People

It again show the influence of Karl Rove. The Bush presidency has been nothing more than one continuous campaign. The problem is at some point they have to govern the country maybe they'll try that sometime before they leave office.

Happy Halloween?!

And here I thought it was August 22. I was completely wrong. The Giant Food down the street from me has put up its Halloween decorations. Not only the decorations but they have put out candy as well. Bags and bags and bags of candy. Gee I bet by Halloween that will be good and fresh.

It reminds me of when my dad worked at Ace Hardware. I was home for Christmas and he came home from work and said that the Valentine's Day candy had arrived and this was before Christmas.

I think Halloween can be a great deal of fun but putting up decorations towards the end of August is a little early. That could have at least have waited until Labor Day.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Our Man in Baghdad?

Seems that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is in a little bit of hot water. Senator Carl Levin is calling for Maliki to be removed from office. And it seems the president isn't as keen on Maliki as he once was. But this statement takes the cake:

Clearly, the Iraqi government's got to do more.

How many years have we been hearing that one? I wonder exactly how much time the Iraqi government has "to do More." Maybe to the end of the Bush presidency?

It also seems that the generals on the ground in Iraq don't have much use for Maliki either:

"Army Chief of Staff George Casey, who spent several days last week meeting with top U.S. regional commanders here, said he was taken aback by the intensity of anti-Maliki sentiment among senior U.S. officers. 'I heard more people talk about Maliki not making it through his full term in two days than I had heard in all of my previous time here,' Gen. Casey said. 'There's a frustration with his inability to be a reconciliation leader, and a fear that the momentum generated by the surge could just be frittered away.' . . .

"'It would be a huge shame if after all the military has accomplished with the surge we don't get a political accommodation,' he said. 'But I'm not optimistic.'"
Again the question needs to be asked what happens after the surge. What happens in April when the troops will have to be drawn down? As it always seems to be with the Bush administration and Iraq, these questions have not been considered. If there is no progress on the political problems in Iraq, the moves for reconciliation, the surge will have been a waste. And right now there looks like there has been no progress especially with the Iraqi parliament on vacation for the month of August.

Guilty after all

Well I guess Michael Vick is guilty after all. This article in the Post has the details. I guess I'm not all that surprised. It sounds like the evidence was pretty overwhelming. It now seems he is trying to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. I assume he's going to say something like: oh yeah remember back in April when I said I didn't have anything to do with the dog fighting ring well guess what I lied. That would be an interesting meeting to be in on.

I don't understand how he could put his career at risk this way. But then again no one has probably ever said no to him before so he thought he could just get away with it. Seems rather stupid to win thousands of dollars in a dog fighting ring but loose millions from your NFL contract.

The saddest thing about this is that probably sometime in 2010 or 2011 Michael Vick will be back playing football. If he does come back I hope the fans remind him of exactly what he did.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The garden becomes a jungle

Because Sam's been house bound these past few weeks, I'm not out in the back all that much. The garden has been neglected somewhat. It has sort of taken over the back yard. One good thing is that the flowers are choking out the weeds not the other way around.

Odds and ends

Democratic debate
Wow there was another debate. Is there an election soon? Oh no, not for months but yet here's another 90 second answer gab fest. See the story in the Post.

I know the debates are important. But isn't this just way too early to be having them. When I watch the debates (if I tune in I only watch the Democrats) all I can think of is the way the voices of adults are portrayed on Peanuts specials. Right now it is only so much noise.

No movie
For the second weekend in a row I did not make it to the movies. I got out the Sunday Arts section and took a good long look but didn't see anything of interest. It is after all the dog days of August when the studios dump all of their summer dogs so I guess I'll have to wait until fall. Entertainment Weekly had their fall preview issue out and there are a few things that look interesting.

Paying taxes
When I bought my house I got a five year exemption from paying property taxes. That is now about to end. On Saturday in the mail I got my official notice from the District that starting October 1, 2007 I would officially on the books. It is hard to believe that September 16, 2007 will mark my 5th anniversary in my house. It is one of the best investments I've ever made.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Fed acts

I can only say my jaw dropped when I read the news yesterday morning that the Federal Reserve lowered the the discount rate. As this story in the post stated:

The Federal Reserve cut a key interest rate yesterday, trying to ease a worldwide credit crunch, and said for the first time that it viewed turmoil in financial markets as a major risk to the U.S. economy.

Taken together, the two moves signaled that the central bank stands ready to take serious action to prevent disruptions that began in the market for household mortgages from spreading through the economy. Stock markets worldwide rallied on the surprise announcements.

Rather than waiting until the economy dips into a recession the Fed took action to hopefully prevent that. What also needs to happen is a drop in the prime rate. One can only hope the Fed sees the wisdom of doing that at their next meeting. A cut in the prime rate would directly help those people who have adjustable mortgages which are due to adjust this fall and next year.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The September Report

Seems the all important report on Iraq due in September from Gen. David H. Petraeus might not exactly be written by him. It also sounds like it might not even be delivered by him. This from the Post article:

Senior congressional aides said yesterday that the White House has proposed limiting the much-anticipated appearance on Capitol Hill next month of Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker to a private congressional briefing, suggesting instead that the Bush administration’s progress report on the Iraq war should be delivered to Congress by the secretaries of state and defense.

Dan Froomkin has a interesting article on how Bush made Petraeus his man in Iraq and how Bush was going to rely on Petraeus for suggestions on what to do there.

I guess the question to ask is why bother giving a report at all. The whole idea of the report, at least that’s the impression I got, was to have an independent voice. To have someone on the ground give a candid and frank assessment of what is going on in Iraq. To highlight what’s been working and at the same time point out what is not working. It looks like the report is going to be the same old BS on Iraq that Americans have received from this administration for the last four years.

It points out that there will be no change by the Bush Administration on Iraq as long as Bush is in office.

A life well lived

This is a very interesting story about the life of Brooke Astor. These couple of quotes capture a very remarkable person

On inspection tours in crumbling neighborhoods, she arrived in Chanel dresses, pearl necklaces and diamonds. She told the New York Times, “If I go up to Harlem or down to Sixth Street and I’m not dressed up or I’m not wearing my jewelry, then the people feel I’m talking down to them.”

In the early 1990s, she helped start a furniture bank to give chairs, tables and other goods to thousands of formerly homeless families. “How can you build a new life if you have nothing to sit on?” she said.

And she was so right on this. How do you start a new life without the very basics.

It seems that these type of philanthropists are well to be blunt dieing off. I think it is a shame. We need more people like her in the world.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Exit Karl Rove

Read to you heart’s content about Karl Rove leaving the White House:

Analysis from the Washington Post

The Post editorial

USA Today’s opinion

Eugene Robinson’s piece

For the other end of the political spectrum Robert Novak

David Corn from the Chicago Tribune.

My friend Art's view

I could go on and on about this guy, but I won’t. All I will say is that in a time when the country needed to be united to fight a common enemy, Karl Rove decided it was more important to divide the country so that Republicans could gain politically. Enough said.

Phantom of the Opera, Washington, DC 2007

I bought my ticket for Sunday night’s performance of Phantom the night I went to see it in June. The ticket counter man said I had a really good seat. He must have know that it was in the front row. I was thinking wow row E that means I be really close. I didn't realize how close I would be. Front row almost dead center.

Being that close I missed a couple of things that went on during the show. I could not see the auctioneer at all in the opening scene. The chandelier was in front of me. Also there were several points where characters were literally on the stage floor and I could not see them. The reason for this is the orchestra pit extends out into the first four rows of seats. It comes out slightly higher than that level of the stage. That’s done, I assume, so that the conductor has a place to conduct and also not to block the music. It was cool to hear parts of the orchestration that would normally have been lost from not being that close.

Also the couple of times the Phantom is above the stage in the last part of the first act, I had to look straight up to see him which actually added to the experience of the show. However, those were the only draw backs if you could eve call them that. Like I said if I’d stood up I could have touched the chandelier when it was rising to the ceiling. And when the Phantom launched the chandelier at the end of act one, I had to look back to see it come down. Again it was really close to me. It was very cool. Many times I felt like the cast was singing directly to me. It was just truly amazing.

Phantom of the Opera in London 1987

This is what I wrote about seeing Phantom for the very first time in London March 4, 1987.

Saw Phantom of the Opera. The seats were way up in nose bleed territory. The show was excellent. The set was fantastic. When the Phantom takes Christine to his island, they actually row down the stage. Then once they arrive or I should say as they are arriving candelabras come up from the floor. There were a few slow spots but then they would go into a song that sent shivers up my spine.

Another amazing aspect of the set was the chandelier. It starts out on the floor of the stage. The show start with an auction set in the future after all the events in the show have taken place. One of the items is the chandelier. As the auctioneer starts to describe the piece and the strange events of the phantom of the phantom of the opera, the music starts and the chandelier rises up from the stage and moves to the top of ceiling of the theater. Then at the end of the first act the phantom causes the chandelier to fall to the stage floor.

The phantom appears in one scene above the curtain on a platform. This gives the impression of him creeping around the opera house.

The final scene is the most memorable. The phantom has taken Christine back to his island. There are being chased by people from the theater and Christine's lover Raoul. Eventually Raoul catches up to them, but he is captured by the phantom. The phantom is going to hang Raoul and turns to Christine and says choose me or Raoul will die. Christine eventually kissed the phantom. The phantom releases Raoul and tells them to go before any one else arrives. After watching them leave, the phantom goes over to his chair sits down and throws his cape over his body. At the same time the people from the theater have reached the island. One of them goes over to the chair and removes the cape. The phantom is gone. All that remains is the mask which is picked up and show to the audience. The curtain comes down. After that there was a moment of complete silence from the audience almost as if everyone let out a breath and then thunderous applause. The man who played Raoul was the understudy and he had a great voice.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

In this the Phantom's Opera

I saw it Phantom of the Opera again tonight. Even though the ticket said row E; I was in the front row because the orchestra pit bumped out. If I'd stood up while the chandelier was going to the top of the theater I could have touched it. It was an amazing performance.

More about it tomorrow as well as my thoughts on seeing it for the very first time when I went to London in March of 1987.

But for now it's over now the music of the night!!

Happy Birthday

A big happy birthday to my brother Ed.

Have a great big wonderful fantastic day!!!!

Jennifer Rides for MS, update

I just wanted to give an update on Jennifer's fund raising for her MS ride.

She has raised her goal to $1,200.

Right now she has raised $955.

So once again if you can help support her, that would be greatly appreciated. Remember no gift is too small. And every dollar can make a difference. Here's the link to her MS page.


Iowa straw poll

Wow oh wow. Romney wins the Ames, Iowa straw poll. (Story in the Post). He got 4,516 "votes". Or to be more accurate he was able to bus in that many people. I guess this does show how well organized Romney is in Iowa but it doesn't show much else.

I think this paragraph from the Post story sums up the importance of this event:

The quadrennial Ames straw poll has long marked a moment of transition in the Republican presidential race, but its significance this year was diminished by the decisions of McCain and Giuliani not to compete actively for the support of party activists and by Thompson's decision to delay his possible entry until September.

And let's not forget who's won this silly thing in the past:

1979 George Bush (the first one)
1987 Pat Robertson
1995 Bob Dole

Then again I have to realize that this is the dog days of August and there is little if any news so no wonder this gets so much coverage.

Those We've Lost

In honor of those men and women who have given their lives for this country in the war in Iraq. They are heroes all.

Pfc. Andrew T. Engstrom
July 4, 2007

Lance Cpl. Jeremy L. Tinnel
July 1, 2007

Pfc. Cory F. Hiltz
June 28, 2007

Capt. Darrell C. Lewis (This man was from Washington, DC)
Lost June 23, 2007

Cpl. Karen N. Clifton
June 21, 2007

Pfc. Jerimiah J. Veitch
Lost June 21, 2007

Odds and ends

Up early
I was up early this morning which is of course not all that unusual. I went out for a little drive; just cruising around the are. The city is very empty these days. Neighborhoods that would have no parking on a Sunday morning suddenly have places to park.

I went to the grocery store and was able to find yellow bananas. This is about the only time I'm able to find them.

Also as I pulled into the parking lot there were at least half a dozen day laborers milling about. The Home Depot didn't open for almost an hour but yet they were still there. I could see others walking toward the parking lot as I was leaving.

Housing/Credit Market
All sorts of to do over the subprime lending market problems coming home to roust. Here's an article from Friday's Post. There is a great deal of blame to go around. But part of it has to rest with the regulators who simply looked the other way when these loans were being giving out to people.

Also the Federal Reserve needs to take some responsibilities for its actions. It has continued to raise rates to "fight" inflation that age old bug-a-boo it floats out to justify raising interest rates. This has been their refrain for the last 15 years.

There's an estimate that something like several million people have these loans. And they are still in the low interest part of the loan. That will change starting this fall and extend into next year. A way to help these people not to default on the loans would be lower the prime interest rate. So while having the fed pump all this money into the economy is a good thing, in the long haul, they are going to have to lower interest rates or this problem will only get worse.

Heat reprieve
The heat wave here has broken. Yesterday was a wonderful day. Low humidity and middle 80s. Today it is supposed to be a little warmer but it should still be nice. I'm going to take a long walk a little later in the day.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Here are a series of articles on Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles from USA Today. The Pentagon balking at safer vehicles. The changes in the design of the vehicle. This is a very interesting article. Make sure you watch the video. One soldier's account of an attack. Finally the article on the request from the Pentagon for money to fly the MRAPs to Iraq.

The Pentagon now wants additional money so MRAPs can be flown directly to Iraq. Troops will get these life saving vehicles in hours instead of weeks. Usually they are sent to Iraq by ship.

I guess the question has to be what took them so long to come up with this idea.

This quote sums up my feelings on this:

Michael O’Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution, attributed the need to fly the vehicles to Iraq to bad planning. Pentagon leaders didn’t push for better protected vehicles because they believed the war would be short, he said. “It’s ridiculous that it took this long to send MRAPs,” O’Hanlon said. “It’s an example of wishfulness and politics getting in the way of protection for troops. It’s a bad mistake verging on the unconscionable.”

Why isn't everything possible being done to protect our troops from IED? Why is the government relying on only a few manufacturers of these vehicles? Why isn't one of the idled car plants taken over and converted to build the MRAPs? Why is it in this war the only people that feel its effects are the members of the military and their families?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A smile on your face

At the end of my street

It’s 6:10 in the am. I’m driving down to Giant to pickup some lettuce and tomato for my salad for lunch and there they are. At this time in the morning there are about half a dozen maybe ten of them milling about. By the time I’m walking to get the subway to go to work about tow hours later there are probably over twenty with more arriving each minute.

I’m talking about the day laborers that are gathering in the parking lot. There’s a Home Depot across the street form the Giant and that’s why they are there. It is going to be almost 100 degrees today but they still come looking for work. I’m going to make a sweeping generalization but I have to assume that most of these men (and they are never any women) are here in the country illegally.

They are there of course to get a job for the day or part of the day. This scene is being played out all over the country and is causing a great deal debate. Congress tried and failed miserably to tackle this problem. But that’s not much of a surprise. So now localities are getting into the act.

I’m not entirely sure what to do. I think having this many people hanging around can cause problems. I've seen a small Toyota truck pull up looking for guys and the truck is rushed by 25 or more guys. It was scary. I've also seen guys drinking. The parking lot is up on a hill above the street. There is a sidewalk that goes down to the street. There’s a retaining wall on one side of the sidewalk. I've walked home from the store that way many times. When you walk to the area by the retaining wall there is the smell of urine. Sometimes the smell is overwhelming.

That’s not to say there contractors using these guys to do work. Again on many a day when I’m going to the Giant to pick up some groceries after work I've seen trucks stop and drop guys off. The driver inevitably says to the guys getting out same time tomorrow.

So what do you do?

One county in Virginia has passed a resolution trying to solve the problem. Here are a couple of stories from the Post about it. This one on the original resolution and this one on the reaction.

From the resolution:

The measure approved directs officers to check the status of anyone in police custody who they suspect is an illegal immigrant.

How does one suspect someone of being an illegal immigrant? What are the tell tale signs that point this out?

As one person rightly observed:

“How are we supposed to survive here?” asked Gregorio Calderón, a legal U.S. resident from El Salvador who said he worries that police will harass him because of his ethnicity. “They’re going to pull me over just for being Hispanic.”

This from one of the members of the board:

“If you’re pulled over and you’re a citizen or legal immigrant, you've got nothing to worry about,” says county board Chairman Corey A. Stewart.

For a moment let’s say that that is indeed the case. You don’t have to worry about it. But let’s think for a moment. Let’s say I’m stopped for speeding. I’m white, with blond hair and blues eyes. Do you think the police are going to check me to see if I’m a legal immigrant? Of course not. And why? Because I don’t look like an illegal immigrant. Now if I had darker skin, black hair and dark eyes I’m much more likely to be looked at as someone who is illegal.

Then there is the question of how does one prove that they are here legally. If I was asked to prove that I was an American citizen or was here legally, I don’t know what I would show to prove that. I have a driver’s license but that doesn't necessarily mean you’re here legally. I have a voters’ registration card but I certainly don’t carry that around in my wallet. Just as I don’t carry around my social security card. Maybe I carry around a passport all the time but that’s not very likely either.

So what do you do?

A tragic loss for journalism

I’m simply over come. The greatest newspaper in the world; the pillar of journalistic integrity is ceasing publication. No not the New York Times or the Washington Post but the Weekly World News is soon to be no more. Here’s the story in that second class rag Washington Post.

The truth is going away. We will no long know when the space alien visits the president or who he favors in the upcoming election. No more information on bat boy. Or the giant space monsters heading for earth. Or where Elvis is living these days. Or that 12 Senators are really space aliens.

Read the story and weep my friends. For the “real news” is dead as of August 27.

The iMacs are coming!!!

And they look so very cool. Follow the link to get a look at them a the Apple site. For the low down on the new machines go to Macworld.

I still think I'm going to get the 24 inch one but maybe the 20 inch one will be big enough. I'm probably not going to be able to get one until the fall or maybe early next year. But oh a new toy a new toy!!!!!!!

Time to smile

Something else to smile at on a very hot Tuesday.

Monday, August 06, 2007

An iMac away

Supposedly tomorrow Apple is going to announce new iMacs. I've had my current machine for over 4 years and it is time for a new machine. All sorts of rumors about what or what might not be on the machines.

I thought I could get by with a 20 inch monitor but then I went into the local Apple store and saw the 24 inch. Oh my oh my. So I guess I'm going to have to buy the 24 inch one. I have to make sure it will actually fit on my desk.

I will also have to upgrade my software. I want to get a full version of CS3. I can get a price break because I have InDesign CS2. It's not a huge break but some money is better than nothing.

So tomorrow at 10 am PST the announcement. I'm really excited!

Odds and ends

Hot, hot
The weather is turning warmer this week. It might hit 100 on Wednesday. Even for Washington that is very hot. As they always say it’s not the heat; it’s the humidity. I will say that this has not been all that bad of a summer. There have been three to five days of hot weather in a row and then there is a cool off. This is supposed to last into Thursday and then it is supposed to cool off. Once again just in time for the weekend. This past weekend wasn’t all that bad. It even rained some last night and this morning.

My plants certainly needed it. The garden in the back has just gone crazy. The flowers are muscling out the weeds. Since Sam stays in the house, I haven’t been doing weeding on a regular basis. Now it is hard to get to the weeds without stepping on the flowers. So I have to pull the weeds out gingerly or I’m pulling up flowers as well. I continue to water the pansies out front most ever day and sometimes twice a day. But the flowers continue to whither away. I’ll no better next year not to buy those not matter how pretty they look.

You can hear a pin drop
Here the quiet in Washington? It’s August. Congress has left. It is quiet in the city. There are not nearly as many cars on the road. The Metro seems a little less crowded. A hush has fallen over the city. It will only last until the Tuesday after Labor Day. But it is something to be enjoyed.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Movies, movies, movies

Wow. I am on a roll. I cannot remember how many years it has been when I've seen so many movies and so many movies one week right after the other.

What I've seen so far:

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer June 16
Live Free or Die Hard July 7
Transformers July 14
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix July 22
The Simpsons July 28
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix August 4
Bourne Ultimatum August 5

And there are still a couple more that I want to see before the end of the summer.

I had to go back and see the Harry Potter movie especially after reading the last book.

The Bourne Ultimatum was very good. It is somewhat helpful if you've seen the second one because the third fills in the gap of what happened to Bourne after he left Russia and how he finally ended up in the US. Matt Damon is again fantastic. It is just about non-stop action. There is even sort of an opening for the fourth movie. It is well worth seeing.

In fact it brought in a little over $70 million in its first weekend. Order of the Phoenix has brought in over $260 million. It should go on to be the third highest grossing film in the series. And it looks like Transformers will pass the $300 million mark. That means that this summer there were 4 movies that made over $300 million. I'm sure that is a record.

So funny I had to laugh

I'm borrowing a saying one of my grandmothers would use. It was so funny I had to laugh and this is what I laughed about.

I bought Sam a new nail clipper today. In it there was a nail file. Yes a nail file. The instructions say that:

Before you start accustom your pet to having his paws touched and manicured. Begin when you pet is still your. Always speak soothingly to your pet during clipping and provide a reward when you're finished.
Who are they kidding?

I can just see a couple sitting in their living room. One asks say hon what would you like to do tonight? Watch a DVD? See what's on TV? Read a book?

Oh no dear none of those I have to manicure that cat's nails.

So I just had to laugh.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Chris Isaak at Wolf Trap

I saw Chris Isaak at Wolf Trap on Wednesday. I've been buying his albums for many years. I enjoy his music a great deal but I'd have to say he's not one of favorites artists. Well that's all changed after Wednesday.

What a show. He was just fantastic. I'd listened to him on my iPod that day. I knew just about all of the songs he played. He also had just an incredible stage presence. He was very funny. A couple of the stories Isaak told on Wednesday:

We've been playing for 20 years and if you see us year after year we get a little bit better each year. We want to get as good as ABBA ok well close to as good as ABBA.

A women yelled out a request for Solitary Man. Isaak said you can’t just yell out a request for a song and expect us to play it. What do think this is some bar. There ain’t no chicken wire in front of us. Then of course the next song that is played is Solitary Man.

He talked about touring with other entertainers. Some were really nice on stage but back stage they were just terrible people. He said you just wanted to get a rusty ice pick and stick them with it. He then turns to his drummer and says you know what I mean. And the drummer says yes I feel that way every night.

Here's a video of one of my favorite songs.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Pat Tillman

Hearings were held yesterday on the death of Pat Tillman and if the circumstances of his death from friendly fire were covered up. Here's a story from USA Today and one from the Post.

One of the comments on the story in the Post essential said how come this guy is getting all the press when there are thousands of others who have died and aren't recognized at all. There is some truth to that comment. But I would say that Pat Tillman's death and the inability of the military and the US government to give the real story about what happened. This from former Secretary Rumsfeld:

It was badly handled, and errors were made, but . . . I know that I would not engage in a coverup.

Doesn't that sum up the situation in Iraq: badly handled and errors made.

Further testimony from Richard B. Myers, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Myers testified that he was told in late April, days after Tillman’s death, that he may have died of friendly fire, but didn’t pass along that information or get involved in notifying the family. “This is the responsibility of the Army, not the office of chairman,” Myers said.

Reminds me of the general at Walter Reed. I don't do inspections. Now right after Tillman's death maybe if you were Myers you would not get involved. But considering the fire storm that erupted over this it seems to me you would have done something.

This from USA Today:
The Army censured a retired three-star general for his handling of the friendly-fire death of Cpl. Pat Tillman, the former NFL player who gave up a lucrative career to become an Army Ranger.

Here's the censure order:

SUBJECT: Censure

You are hereby censured for your conduct and failure of leadership in matters relating to the investigation and reporting of the death of Cpl. Pat Tillman. As the commanding general of the United States Army Special Operations Command, you were the senior military officer in the administrative chain of command for the 75th Ranger Regiment, the unit to which Cpl. Tillman was assigned at the time of his death.

You and soldiers under your command failed to follow Army and Department of Defense policy and regulations in the investigation and conduct of the administrative duties required in a case of fratricide. Your failings compounded the grief suffered by the Tillman family, resulted in the dissemination of erroneous information and caused lasting damage to the reputation and credibility of the U.S. Army. You are accountable and responsible for the failures of your command.

When tasked by the acting Secretary of the Army, Secretary Brownlee, to investigate this matter, you failed in your duty to the Office of the Secretary and to the U.S. Army. You subverted the trust vested in you by the Secretary of the Army. To quote Gen. Wallace, “When you chose to lie about what you knew in order to avoid personal responsibility for your actions, you crossed a line that demands serious rebuke.” Your Army leadership relied on the purported accuracy and completeness of the investigation to the detriment of the institutional credibility of the U.S. Army.

Few matters rise to the importance of your handling of next-of-kin notification for our fallen soldiers. You failed in your duty to the Tillman family in the conduct of their notification and failed the Army in your decision to deceive your Army’s leadership regarding your role in the mishandled affair.

I think this is a very sad story. Pat Tillman was an extremely brave man. Pat Tillman could have stayed playing football in Arizona making a great deal of money. But after 9/11 he thought it was important to serve his country. We could all learn a lesson from that.

Bush and the Right-Wing Talk Show Hosts

This come from a column by David Froomkin in the Post. It is under the heading called Bush and the Right-Wing Talk Show Hosts.

This is from Glenn Beck who was there:

"Although I agreed to not quote him directly, I can tell you this: President Bush is a man who personally feels the pain of every lost soldier. . . .

"He feels the pain of every wounded hero, every lonely, grieving parent this war has caused. He is a man who understands the heavy cost that we are paying. But who believes with every ounce of his being that we are in the fight for our very survival, a fight that's importance can only be judged fairly decades from now, and I believe a fight he is willing to be judged harshly for until that time comes, even if he's long dead.

"I can also tell you that he's -- frustrated is not exactly the right word -- frustrated -- hopeful, yet frustrated. He's frustrated that so many people are so myopic that they have lost sight of the forest through the trees. He's frustrated that so many powerful forces, forces that understand what is truly at stake and who our enemies really are, have lined up against the war on terror because it's politically expedient.

"But above all, I can tell you that the president has incredible passion and resolve. I have not seen this George W. Bush since he had a fire truck behind him and a bull horn in his hand. He was so clear-minded; he was focused. This is not the guy you see on television."

Where to begin on such a statement?

Well let me try.

If this is indeed a war, a war for our very existence, why is it the only people affected by this war are members of the military and their families?

Why is not the entire country on a war footing?

Why aren't members of the the general public asked to sacrifice to fight this war?

Who should be leading this call for sacrifice?

Oh I know the President of the United States. But he doesn't seem to want to do that. After all asking people to sacrifice something might be hard and that's not something this administration is willing to do.