Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ignorance is the norm

I saw an ad on TV for some kind of new fancy construction grade saw. The voice over talked about how easily you could cut through plywood.

The visual showed the saw cutting through particle board.

I don't expect everybody to know the difference between plywood and particle board. But I expect that from people who sell contruction grade saws.

I guess people in America just don't care about competence any more. That's why they were willing to vote for Bush twice.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Scaring people

A freind of mine sent me a copy of Daniel Ellsberg recent book and I finially got around to starting it. So far it's pretty good, not just about Vietnam and the Pentegon Papers, but about America.

An early passage kind of stunned me. About his childhood during WWII in Detroit. In grade school they showed a film about magnesium firebombs. The fires from those bombs can't be put out with water, they need to be smothered with something like sand. So after showing the film they started keeping a bucket of sand in a corner of each classroom.

You know, just in case the Nazi's attacked Detroit from those airbases in Canada they had.

Revision. In the original version of this post I missspelled Scaring in the title, I spelled it Scarying. It put me first in the google search for scarying. Pretty cool. It only got me one hit, but but a number one search engine rank is still a number one search engine rank. So as not to lose that rank I'm putting this note at the end about my spelling the word as scarying.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Friday, December 29, 2006

I'm just stunned

I don't know what to say.

Don't we have any rational people in Congress? This man is just insane and needs to be removed from office.

The risks of letting this man continue using the United States to do the will of God are huge.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Thursday, December 28, 2006

8th Grade Texas History, LBJ, Larry L. King, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, Sam Houston, Big Foot Wallace, John Wayne, The Alamo, and Texas Rangers

The other day somebody made the comment that Bush wasn't really a Texan because he was born in Connecticut rather than Texas.

That may be true. But he took 8th Grade Texas History in Midland Texas. That pretty much makes him a Texan.

Find and read an old essay about LBJ and the Alamo Syndrome by
Larry L. King (the writer, not the TV one). It's in one of his old books, you
can find it an pretty much any library. It applies to George Bush just as well
as it applied to LBJ.

It's about 8th Grade Texas History and young boys and Vietnam and Texas Rangers
and The Alamo. Sam Houston and Davey Crockett and Big Foot Wallace and Jim
Bowie and John Wayne and the line in the sand in San Antonio.

Bush went to jr. high in Midland Texas. You have no idea how much influence his
teacher of Texas History has had on your life. If you took Texas History in
Midland Texas as a 13 year old boy, then as far as waging war goes you're a
Texan. I don't give a shit if you went to Yale later or not.

I found a review of the book of essays you can find it in here.

It's a pity that as fine a writer of humorous prose as Larry (L.) King has to share that name with an undeservedly reknowned hack whose only real talent is a seemingly infinite capacity for sycophancy. I first encountered King the Greater in the pages of his 1980 collection Of Outlaws, Con Men, Whores, Politicians, and Other Artists. I first read this collection before I migrated to Texas and, having recently reread it after living here for over 15 years, I find that it's only improved with age (the book more so than the state, alas). King is most famous for the piece herein called "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" - a tale of the demise of a house of ill repute in La Grange - that spawned the musical and the movie.
The villain of the story is Marvin Zindler, a Houston deputy sheriff charged with enforcing consumer protection laws who, when fired for failing to favor the wealthy and powerful, shifted his crusade to the private sector. King describes Zindler's (played by Dom DeLuise in the film) transition thusly:

"A lot of good people, long goosed and flummoxed by many avid practitioners of free enterprise, dearly loved and cheered Marvin. But fellow deputies judged him insufficiently bashful when it came to personal publicity, and his superiors soon got a gutful of bitching merchants. Perhaps, too, the more sensitive wearied of daily contact with Marvin's ego, which may be approximately two full sizes larger than Howard Cosell's. Marvin keeps scrapbooks. He dresses like a certified dandy in his 200 tailored suits and has bought himself two nose bobs; he does not permit his own family to view him unless he's wearing one of his many silver hairpieces.
When he got wind of the Chicken Ranch, he took up a crusade against it that eventually shut it down. This was to the great consternation of many, including the winners of the annual Texas-Texas A&M football game who traditionally celebrated their victory at the Ranch. It's a sad tale, although there's some poetic justice. The last time I saw Marvin (who was working as a consumer advocate for a Houston TV station at the time) he was gravely intoning about how several restaurants had committed the cardinal sin of having "slime in the ice box!".
The seventeen other pieces in the collection are equally enjoyable, including a portrait of the American Redneck, a remembrance of the depression, looks at big-time poker and horse trading, a description of Willie Nelson's annual 4th of July picnic ("The Great Willie Nelson Outdoor Brain Fry and Trashing Ejacorama"), and several political essays wherein the humor mixes with serious undercurrents (e.g. "The Alamo Mind-Set: LBJ and Vietnam" on why Johnson had to "nail that coon skin to the wall").

My favorite is "Playing Cowboy," an essay about an expatriate's planned return to his home state, having left for New York at age 18. King evokes the bittersweet nature of returning in the following:

"I miss the damned place. Texas is my mind's country, that place I most want to understand and record and preserve. Four generations of my people sleep in its soil; I have children there, and a grandson; the dead past and the living future tie me to it. Not that I always approve it or love it. It vexes and outrages and disappoints me - especially when I am there. It is now the third most urbanized state, behind New York and California, with all the tangles, stench, random violence, architectural rape, historical pillage, neon blight, pollution, and ecological imbalance the term implies. Money and mindless growth remain high on the list of official priorities, breeding a crass boosterism not entirely papered over by an infectious energy. The state legislature - though improving as slowly as an old man's mending bones - still harbors excessive, coon-ass, rural Tory Democrats who fail to understand that 79.7 percent of Texans have flocked to urban areas and may need fewer farm-to-market roads, hide-and-tick inspectors, or outraged orations almost comically declaiming against welfare loafers, creeping socialism, the meddling ol' feds, and sin in the aggregate."
That was written in the late 1970s and, except for the Tory Democrats mostly all having switched officially to the GOP in the interim, remains fairly accurate. If you get the chance, pick up this or any other book written by a man Roy Blount, Jr. says, "writes just like an angel would if it grew up in West Texas and drank."

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

True political legacy of Gerald Ford

The war on drugs has caused a lot of damage to America. A lot. Not drugs, but the war on drugs.

It's cost us personal freedoms. It's cost us money. It's created a new criminal sub culture that has costs outside of the scope of drugs. The war on drugs is just a bad, evil, political tool of manipulation and power. Politicians who promote the idea of the war on drugs are not patriots, they are opportunistic power grabbing evil people.

Gerald Ford is dead. And sorry whenever anyone dies. But he was not a great patriot. He was evil.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Sinton, Texas

I lived in Sinton for a while a long, long time ago. Went to 9th and 10th grade there.

Sinton is the county seat of a South Texas rural county. It's a farming community, cotton and milo, but it's about 30 miles from Corpus Christi and about the same from the beach community of Port Aransas. In the 60's I had a '56 Chevy and cowboy hats and surfboards. It was a 25 mile drive to buy shrimp fresh from the shrimp boats.

It was somewhat of a typical Texas farming town but the nearby coastal spots did put a slight unique spin on it.

Residential areas where highly segregated, Mexican and Anglo, I think there was only one black family in town, and they lived in the Mexican part of town. Schools weren't segregated, because the town was too small to have two elementary schools.

I don't know if the town was abnormally religious are not, I don't think we had any religious nutcase churches but we did have a lot of churches. Not many Catholics and the two jewish families in town where members of temples in Corpus Christi. Very protestant, rural, but not insular.

Now the city is going after a local church. They're afraid of actually helping ex-cons adapt back into society. I"m disappointed. It always seemed like more of a caring, accepting community to me. I guess not.

I'm not a fan of religion and am not a fan of "faith based initiatives". But here we have a church engaged in a serious effort of community service and the town is asserting some kind of unique privilege to provide that community service, one that they have intention of providing at all in fact. They're claiming that it's illegal for a church to help ex-cons to integrate back into society, that the church can't do something that anybody who isn't a church could provide.

This is just wrong.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Police training

You often see news about some police over reaction that ended up badly. Swat attacks often fall into this catogory. They are exonerated because "they were following procedures". Judges won't second guess them becuase they've been "trained".

Well, whether they've been trained or not, we should expect out police to behave rationaly. That means they should take into account whatever information they have available, whether they've been trained how to evaluate that particular information or not.

The event that still sticks in my craw was the shooting of a man at an airport by some reactiionary, control freak air marshalls who intentionlly ignored critical information and killed an innocent man. They had all the information to know the man was not a danger to anyone but they ignored it becuase they'd been trained to focus only on information that wasn't relevant in the case.

Here's the story from last December if you don't recall the details.

The key part to this story as that as soon as air marshalls got involved the man's wife yelled out that he was bi-polar. The cops heard that. Everybody heard it.

The rational thing to do is then evaulated everything that happened with that key information taken into account. They failed to consider that information. I guess because they hadn't been trained to do that. But it doesn't matter -- it was key information and they knew it. The only reason to ignore it was because actually behaving rationally would put the air marshalls at risk of having their decisons evaulated. They knew that as long as they followed procedure, even if they knew the procedure was srong in this instant, would insulate them from and judgement of their behavior and judgement.

This is an absurd situation, we create a situation where all a cop has to do to make sure his ass is covered is to kill someone who's no danger to anyone. That's really, really bad.

Let me just tell you that I'm bi-polar, have been for a very long time, and most of my life was undiagnosed and untreated. So I have some insight into this kind of situation.

There are a number of things that could have triggered someone who is bi-polar to fell an intense anxiety that he was going to explode if he didn't get off the airplane -- anxiety related to heights, enclosures, people, other things. The feeling can be intense.

When they blocked him from getting off the plane he's onlhy going to be thinking about what he can do to get off the plane. That's real common, it's going to be his only focus if he's bipolar.

A natural conclusion is that if he tells them he has a bomb they'll let him get off the plane. I doubt that there is anything else he could do or say that would get him to be allowed to leave. So that's what he said. All he's thinking about is getting of the plane. He doesn't think about consequences past that. That doesn't make him dangerous.

Once he's off the plane, everything is fine. He has not problem, he can't imagine why anyone else would still have a problem. He really can't imagine that. That's part of what it means to be bi-polar.

These control freak air marshalls have been trained to take a claim of having a bomb seriously and to respond to the threat.

Well, if the guy is bipolar, then his proclamation of having a bomb just isn't a threat. That's true whether they've been trained to deal with some kind of bipolar manic episode or not.

It was a tragic situation. These cops may have behaved like they were trained. And, maybe that should exonorate them from any personal responsibility. (I don't think they should be exonarated, you wouldn't be if you killed someone in a situation where you wouldn't have if you'd rationally evaluated all the information you had available).

But to claim that those cops had been right to kill a man because they had "training" is a cop out. They training they had was worthless in the given situation, actually caused the problem.

Bad training can be worse than no training. And the kind of training that cops get in dealing with people who are mentally ill is bad training.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Monday, December 25, 2006


I was watching some cable news show the other day and somebody said something that just stunned me. It took me a couple of days to actually process it, it was just that stunning.

They were interviewing two soldiers in Iraq. One was some kind of infantry, career staff sgt. The other was a pfc medic. They were father and son.

The reporter asked the sgt whether he was worried about his son being in combat.

"No, I trust his training", he said.

Trust his training? That stunned me. What the hell does that mean?

Medic training about about taking care of others while the bad guys are shooting at you. Medic training is not about keeping your head down.

Somebody with a son in combat who isn't worried about his son since his son was trained to not keep his head down is somebody that really gives me the creeps.

No wonder we can't win a damn war. We have sergeants with an IQ of a carrot.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Man of the Year

Time named "you" as the man of the year, referencing the political commentary and sense of community from citizen participation on the internet.

I was just watching a Saturday morning Fox show and they seem to just not be able to read. They thought "you" refered to Americans shopping on the internet. And they got into an intellectual shouting match about how Time should have named the American Shopper since the internet retail business was just a fraction of buying.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Friday, December 22, 2006

Fired by a kiss

If there was a photo of Miss Nevada USA kissing a man would she have been fired?

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Monday, December 18, 2006

More on what it means to be an American

Torturing those who pick the wrong God is part of what it means to be a good American.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Vietnam and Iraq

Here's some comments on the insanity of United States policy makers.

It just amazes me that someone can make an arguement that we lost in vietnam because we didn't do enough of whatever it was we did so if we do more of whatever we're doing in Iraq we'll win in Iraq.

We've had 4 years to get lights turned back on and we havn't been able to do it. The idea that all we need to turn the lights back on is 30,000 more kids with guns is just nuts. It's insane. But instead of locking up idiots who stand on street corners yelling that nonsense into the institutions they belong in we give them jobs pontificating on TV.

We're going to be in Iraq until Bush leaves office. Our Official National Policy is to make sure that we leave after Bush leaves office so that maybe someone else will be blamed for the fiasco that will result. The fiasco that we can't stop, but we can delay only at the cost of making it worse once it does happen.

I saw O'Reilly showing some TV ad put out by Kurds of Northern Iraq (they're already calling them selves Kurdistan) thanking the US for liberating them.

It's true that Saddam had it in for the Kurds. But it's also true that they had become seperate from Saddam and the rest of Iraq by the UN Sanctions and the US enforcement of the free fly zone. Saddam had no more influence over the Kurds well before our invasion. And in fact the Al Quada training camps in Northern Iraq where sponsered by the Kurds, not Saddam, and we used them as a pretense for the Invasion, pretending that Saddam had something to do with it.

Now, we're praising the ones who actually did have links to Al Quada simply because they support our efforts to kill Iraqis in Bagdad.

The whole thing is nuts. We're nuts for tolerating such nonsense on the part of Americans.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Thursday, December 14, 2006


MSNBC just had a news report about a school in NJ. They found some kind of powder that a teacher who was exposed to it got sick.

What does the school do? Lockdown. Don't let anybody out. Student safety? Hey, they have a crime to investigate, can't jeapordize that just to protect some kids.

I recall the kids who escaped the school at Columbine (not because of any help from the cops) and were essentually arrested, certainly detained, nutcase SWAT team types met them with weapons and had them slow down and put their hands in the air.

They thought it was too dangerous for them to go in, but pointing guns at kids who escaped on their own, not allowing to just proceed to a safe area on their own wasn't possible, because hey, they're cops, they're in charge.

Idiots. Cowards, control freaks, and idiots. Our public agencies are full of them.

Update: Video reveals they aren't really in lockdown. My lockdown experience is in a prison. Nobody goes in, nobody goes out. Period.

But they just aren't allowing the kids to leave the yard, they are on the playground supervised by teachers, not in the building. And, they are allowing cops to come inside.

In the language I'm used to that's not a lockdown. I've been inside a prison that went to lockdown while I was in the middle of a class I was teaching. I was there for the duration. Guards coming in for the start of their shift were not allowed inside, they waited in the parking lot. In those situations in lockdown all inmates to to their cells and a count is done. Until they have a count and have quelled any disruption nobody goes in, nobody goes out.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Mental health and jail

I have had mental health problems for most of my life. And I have gone to jail simply because some cop had now clue and couldn't recognize typical behaviors of someone with bipolar disorder. In many ways I'm lucky. A lot of people with obvious problems with bipolar have simply been killed by cops who should have known better but did't.

So, I was interested in this lawyer blog

I don't know if he's going to approve it or not, but I made a comment on his blog where I said:

If by problem client you mean client with a problem, then that's on target.

If by problem client you mean a client who causes problems for you then you're part of the problem.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

School dropouts

Freakonomics is a good book and it's one of my favorite blogs. They have a recent blog post about programs that punish dropouts by pulling their driver's license.

I dropped out of school in the 9th grade. I returned the next year and ended up getting a pretty good education, but you're really out of touch if you think a kid who wants to drop out of school at 14 is going to not drive just because the government tells them not to.

Most dropouts would not consider loss of a DL relevant to anything at all. They aren't going to stop driving just because the government tells them not to drive.

My experience with dropping out is that if school was interesting, if education was the goal rather than control, that many dropouts would prefer school to the alternatives.

All that this DL stuff does is extent the idea that school is about control, and that's just a reinforcement that the dropout's assessment of the situation is accurate.

If some kid needs help I guess it might be a good idea to hit them in the head with a baseball bat. But I don't think so.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

American Swat

The photo that this post refers to seems to be gone the web. It's a photo of a Swat team member dreesed out in his full combat gear holding a military style weapon, standing guard over a 5 year old boy urinating.

The photographer seems to claim that the photo represents the humanitarian nature of the SWAT team of the Police Department in Durham, NC. Sure.

As The Agitator points out it seems more likely that the photographer is worried that the SWAT clowns will think it doesn't protray them in a good light and it might cost him the unique access he's been given to observe SWAT in action. So he wants to cover it up, kill it.

If you think photojournalist care out truth or art you'd be wrong. They care about access. And most of them will kiss whatever ass or tell any lies they have to so that they'll be given unique access.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Tucker Carlson

I had the TV on this afternoon and wasn't really watching it closely. Tucker Carlson on MSNBC was on and he was talking to some panel of 3 political junkies about immigration reform.

Tucker was running his mouth claiming that Democrats are in favor of illegal immigration. Of course that's such an absurd statement that I don't why in the world NBC gives the guy a job. What they really need to do is fund a years worth of remedial logic to the clown. Being in favor of increased immigration or in favor of amnesty for existing immigrants or in favor of other such stuff doesn't mean anyone is in favor of illegal immigration.

Tucker seems to be in favor of harsh penalties for those immigrants who don't jump through the right loops while others are in favor of lightening up on those hoops, but Tuckers characterization of those who disagrees with him is just an indication of a really weak intellect.

But, anyway, when he made that silly comment about democrats being in favor of illegal immigration, one of the panel spoke up and said that democrats supported the President in Comprehensive Immigration Reform and it was killed by Republicans in the House, not by democrats. Tucker said, "and they were doing God's Work".

All I can say to that is What? What the hell is he talking about. The job of a Congressman is to serve the constitution, not to serve God. In fact doing God's work would be a direct assault on the constitution and is exactly what they aren't supposed to do.

People like Tucker Carlson are scary. He's the first to attack countries with a government that serves some God other than Tucker's chosen God. But the thinks it's okay for our government to be run by those who serve their personal imaginary being rather than serving the country?


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Monday, December 11, 2006

Talking to the troops

I was watching Hannity and Colmes and he had some film of him talking to some troops at some base camp in Iraq. He touted it as "unscripted and candid".


Since they don't have to worry about draftees who don't give a shit whether they ever make E4 or not, the military probably does allow more of a free access to troops than they used to.

When I was on a ship off the beach in vietnam we sometimes had journalists come out to the ship. We were told ahead of time that we were not, under any circumstances to initiate conversation with the reporters. If we were going to be allowed to submit to an interview we'd be notified. If we took it upon ourselves we could count on a Captian's Mast on some trumped up charge in retaliation.

Since today's miltary has a very high percentage of troops who are afraid to rock the boat they might be allowed more open access than they used to be, I don't know. But I think Hannity has to be very naive to actually believe that.

But then he's one of those warriors who had more important things to do than serve in the military maybe he really is that naive.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Sunday, December 10, 2006

General Quarters

I picked up a dvd of the old Victory at Sea tv show of the '50's at Walmart the other day and have been watching it this afternoon.

One little part that caught my interest was some combat footage of the crew of a destroyer going to General Quarters.

General Quarters is both an order and a state of readiness. The order is a shipwide order for all crew to report to battle stations and prepare for combat. The state of readiness simply describes a situation where combat is imminent and the crew is ready for it.

The thing that caught my attention in the combat footage was deck sailors grabbing lifevests and putting them on as they ran for for their battle stations.

I was a deck sailor on a destroyer that went to General Quarters in Vietnam. We grabbed flakvests, not lifevests. Lifevests where stored at all battle stations but I can't recall anyone actually wearing one. We would have put them on if we'd received an order to prepare to abandon ship. But things never got that far.
I guess they just didn't have adequate flackvests in WWII and the lifevests served double duty. I don't really know.

I'm not sure how many times we came under fire. My recollection is 6, but my ships unit citation said 7. Maybe they counted the time we heard small arms fire when we were hiding behind Tiger Island to escape shore guns from the mainland. We never could figure out if the small arms were aimed at us or maybe they were just squirrel hunting or something. We could hear the firing, and we were very close to the island, but nothing hit us that was could detect. In any event the next day the AF sent some B52's to just pretty much level the island and we never heard any more small arms coming from it.

But, I was talking about general quarters. When a ship goes to general quarters there's a particular announcement that is made by the Bos'n Mate of the Watch. He blows a tune on the pipe called "All Hands". It's a long, haunting type tune, almost bluesy. But it's a fairly long tune. Then he makes the announcement. I don't recall the exact language but it's something like. "General Quarters. General Quarters. All hands man your battle stations. This is not a drill. General Quarters". Something like that.

We only went to general quarters the first time we got shot at. Since we stayed at Condition II whenever we were on station (that's the battle ready condition where all guns are manned and at least half the crew is on some kind of battle watch) and our standing orders where to return fire while retreating, the Captain decided we didn't really need to go to General Quarters. Whenever we started taking fire we'd just pass the word that we were under fire needed to close all water tight doors and non-watch standers should stay off deck. Then steer 090 (due East) All ahead full. That's the course and speed to cut and run from the Vietnam shoreline.

But that first time we did go to General Quarters. The BMOW went to announce GQ and this is what came out. First, rather than play all hands he blew a single note on the bos'n pipe. Then his announcement came out. "General Quarters. General Quarters. This is not a drill. This is not a drill. This is not a drill. This is not a drill. This is not a drill. This is not a drill. Repeat. This is not a drill". Then I think one more note on the pipe. Then "General Quarters" just in case nobody understood.

As a side note, it's interesting how the meaning of nautical terms changes meaning according to the situation.

We were homeported in San Diego. When at home the order "Steer 090" meant "Okay, that's enough sailing around, let's go home for the night". When in Vietnam the order "Steer 090" meant "Run, sailor boy, run"

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Prisons and jails in america

I guess British reporters don't understand the difference between a state prison and a county jail in the US.

The video claims it was filmed in a Texas prison. That's inaccurate. It was filmed in a county jail, in Brazoria County, Texas. That means that the vidioes implication that Bush being Governer when it happened is somehow relevant is wrong.

In the US a county jail is run by the Sheriff, not the State.

I was in Texas when this video came to light. It was done intendended for use as a training film for future deputies.

The really terrible part of it is that it's a jail, not a prison. Many inmates of a jail have not been convicted of a crime. They are awaiting trial and are just too poor to make bail.

This is how the US treats people who are poor but are not criminals.

America. Home of the free and land of the cowards with guns and badges.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Friday, December 08, 2006

Supreme Court

Well, they finally got one that's at least a step in the right direction. We don't have to destroy someones life every time they screw up and don't even hurt anybody doing it.

I wonder what McCain would have thought if his wife was thrown in jail when she was caught committing fraud and stealing drugs to feed her habit. A bunch of hypocritical jerks and I'm really surprised, but pleased, that the SC actually got one right.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Whenever I read a post on libraries like this one. I shudder about the backwardness of the town I live in.

Oklahoma has legal poker rooms, although home poker is illegal. The library at Cushing, Okahoma has internet connection which doesn't allow access to any url with the character string "poker" in the address. And, if you access a site like if the word "poker" is in any text it's blanked out.

Cushing also almost didn't give me a library card because, although I own property in the city limits and had plenty of documentation of who I am and where I live (in the city limits of Cushing) I didn't know two people with a land-line phone listed in the local phone. They don't really like those without kin in the area to use the phone. I guess it will send the wrong message.

I pretty much gave them a choice -- call a cop to get me out of her or give me a card. They gave me a card.

I got a card of the local library in Stillwater, the county seat, with no trouble at all. The also have real libary access, and have free wireless.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

These guys are full of it.

Baker and some other old guy are having a press conference about that "report".

First he says that the agreed at the beginning that they would leave politics out of it, hence not completing the process before the election on purpose.

But then he says one of the goals of the recommendations was to acheive recommendations that would have bi-partisen support. That's not political?

Then he said nowhere in the report do they use the term "civil war". That's not political.

The whole damn thing is political. What's this nonsense that it's not political? They might have waited until after the election because of a fear that putting a focus on Iraq before the election might hurt Republican election chances. That's not avoiding politics -- it is politics.

We're screwed.

Update: Further in the news conference Baker is asked how he expects Bush to react to the recommendations. Baker, playing his role as supreme bullshitter, responds by saying he's worked for 4 presidents and has never tried to psychologically analyze any of them.

That's nonsense. Of course he has. Executives and managers everywhere analyze their bosses. That's part of what they have to do in order to do their job well. To claim otherwise is just absurd.

It would probably be accurate for him to say he has a personal policy of not discussing the results of his psycological analysis of his boss. But he doesn't want to say that becuase that would actually be true.

Update 2: Thanks to Ann Althouse for providing a link to various blogs that have commented on it.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Gates -- just another mealy-mouthed jerk

Whoopy. When asked whether we are winning the war in Iraq Gates says "no". And everybody jumps up and down and yells "Oh, how candid, how wonderfull"

But then he comes back and says, "and we aren't losing the war either". It's no fault of the US Army that we aren't winning, he says. After all, we havn't lost a battle.

He's president of what used to be a second rate military school. More recently it's just a second rate anti-intellectual university.

But even graduates of a second rate military school should understand that an army that can lose a war without having lost a battle is an army run by career idiots who pick their battles according to how they might look in the newspaper rather than how they might actually contribute to winning a way.

I saw that kind of obscene military thinking in Vietnam first hand. I was on a destoryer and our standing orders where to retreat if we came under fire. Retreat. Why? Becasue the political risk of us losing a ship in combat to a country with no Navy was just too much to actually try to win the war. Avoid bad press was the standing military objective in Vietnam. And according to Gates it's the right way for us to fight a war.

He's going to get confirmed. And he might help Bush. But he isn't going to do one damn thing to help this country.

An army that is afraid to lose a battle isn't going to win the war.

As I've said in my poker writings many times -- you can't win until you're prepared to lose.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Monday, December 04, 2006

Keep supporting those troops

I drove to Wal-Mart today and was listening to Rush on the radio. He was whining about people who don't support the troops because they are willing to admit we're beat in Iraq. Admitting defeat is apparently an abandonment of the troops in his world.

In early 1968 I was on a destroyer en-route to Vietnam from PI. The Tet offensive had begun, but we didn't know about it. We found out about that about the time we hit Vietnamese waters and got sent to Hue for the battle to re-take Hue.

But the Pueblo happened and we knew about it. I'm sure that somewhere on that ship we had some sailors who thought going to war against Vietnam was a good idea. I just didn't know any of them. Most of the sailors I knew were draft dodgers. We joined the Navy because getting drafted seemed like a real bad idea.

Our ship got a fairly standard radio message telling us about the attack on the Pueblo and the boarding because we were in nearby waters. It was a classified message, for the eyes of the Captain only. But it went through the radio room and it only took a few minutes for every member of the crew to hear of it.

It galvanized the crew. If not most of us, certainly many of us thought of Vietnam in the same terms that Ali expressed before he was sent to prison for refusal to serve -- "Ain't no Vietnamese ever done anything to me".

But North Korea and the Pueblo was different. I could have been on that ship. Any sailor on our ship could conceivably been on the Pueblo (well, maybe not the fire control technicians or torpedoemen).

Shortly after our tincan got the message about the boarding of the Peublo our CO made an announcment to the crew about it and told us that he anticipated a change in orders but had not yet recieved them. But in anticipation of those orders he had changed course to steam north, towards Korea, rather than west, towards Vietnam.

I and everybody else I knew on that ship supported such action. I didn't want to go to war with Vietnam. But I was perfectly willing to go to war with North Korea. Supporting the troops didn't mean putting ribbons on our car. We were prepared to support the troops by being willing to put our own lives on the line when they needed the Calvery to come over that hill.

About 20 minutes later 7th fleet command told us to forget about the Pueblo and steam to Vietnam. You know, so we could support the troops by pointlessly putting our lives at risk so things looked good in the newspaper.

People who run their mouths about supporting the troops by putting their lives at risk needlessly should be rounded up and housed at Gitmo.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Sunday, December 03, 2006

nouns and adjectives and law

Guacomole is a salad. The primary ingrediant is mashed avocado. It's an avocado salad. It's not an avocado dip.

Kraft makes an guacomole dip which doesn't have much avocado in it. They are being accused of fraudulent labeling and are being sued.

I guess I'm different in that I grew up in Texas where I actually knew what guacomole was from a young age. When I first saw a little 8 oz package of Guacomole Dip made by Kraft in the grocery store I didn't jump to the conclusion it was an avocado salad. In fact my gut reaction to that label was that it probably wasn't an avocado salad.

But today, if you're too stupid to understand that then you can file a lawsuit. If you can find a judge as stupid as you are you might even win.

Read about it here

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

yahoo tv schedules

Something is just wrong with American business. It's like they have a compulsion to just screw up the simple things. Maybe they're all Republicans or something.

Yahoo is the latest addition to the "What the hell are you doing" club.

I used to use on an almost daily basis. Certianly regularly and frequent.

It was a great little tv schedule service. It saved my zip code and the identity of my cable service and one little click told me what's on TV and what's going to be on for the next couple of hours. If I wanted to know what was going to be on later it took another click. Perfect. It told me exactly what I wanted to do with only a little hassle. They did use those damn ignorant ads that would fill up the screen if I passed my cursor over them but I quickly learned to avoid that part of the screen and would move the cursor around it rather than over it.

Then just the other day they changed it. I don't know what the hell they changed it to, but it wasn't the service I was looking for.

So I found and it gives me everything used to give me plus a little more. So it looks to me like yahoo not only screwed up, they did it in a way which will lose them at least some customers who will never return even if they fix the screwup.

American business has a long history of screwing up like that. I don't know what the problem is, maybe it's just what happens when MBA programs turn themselves into a cash cow rather than an educational activity.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs


I used to be a project manager and have done a lot of project plans. They all had timetables.

Whether it's the development of a software system to make a lease/buy decision or it's the management of the war in Iraq, you really aren't likely to be successful without some kind of an actionable plan, and you aren't likely to have a workable plan that can feed decisions without a time table.

Most of the time the times in the time table aren't external requirements, usually they are simply estimates. I worked at a bank and sometimes we'd have a software project that did have hard-and-fast target dates. That would happen when the software was to meet some new regulatory requirement. But even then, if you couldn't meet the date the elements in the project plan simply became a plan for negotiations with the regulatory agency. If you couldn't do it then you couldn't do it and you come up with new dates even if the dates had been previously announced as set in stone.

Dates were simply estimates. Decision points in the plan were driven by tasks accomplished, and and tasks began when other tasks where completed -- depending on manpower available and precedence relationships between tasks.

Dates were estimated from estimates and forecasts of available manpower and task completion estimates. If one task went over, or if a key analyst got hit by a train, We'd revise the estimated task and project completion dates. If the user community didn't like the dates it was just part of my job to sit there and get beat up by a bunch of 2x4 wielding bankers.

That's why Bush doesn't want to estimate dates. Because dates might actually lead to numbnuts actually being expected to just do his damn job.

That's why I find this Bush insistence that we won't have a plan for Iraq

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Saturday, December 02, 2006

language and war

I just saw some little blip on TV where Rice is saying that a large endevour like "liberating a country" is likely to result in things that could have been better.

"Liberating a country"? What the hell does that mean. Maybe we liberated a group of people from the country that ruled them. But we didn't liberate a country. We destroyed a country.

I guess that's the fundemental mistake that Bush made. He didn't understand the difference. It appears he still doesn't.

I think Colin Powell had understood the difference. Maybe that's why he got fired. Too good at his job for Bush.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

MIddle age

It's not my birthday or anything, but I was reading a blog entry about turning 50 and it caused me to think about age a little.

I used to think middle age was about 30. These days 57 sounds like middle age to me.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs