Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Today was the bloodiest day yet for U.S. troops in Iraq, with 37 fatalities (Reuters news). The majority of those died together in a helicopter crash. The others were killed in attacks by insurgents.

The violence is, of course, part of the lead-in to the Iraqi election on which W hopes to make his mark on history. A group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda's leader in Iraq, warned voters to stay away from the "infidel election centers" or "face the consequences." Consequences like those that our troops faced today.

Yes, in that last paragraph you did see that al Qaeda is operating in Iraq. Yep, it seems that Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the center of activity for this organization. They like operating in an atmosphere of un-governable anarchy, and that's what we have created.

According to one senior intelligence official, "The sad thing is we have created what the administration claimed we were intervening to prevent -- an Iraq-Al Qaeda linkage." Success!!!

In other news, Condi Rice has a new job. Congratulations, Condi!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Good night, Johnny. MSNBC - USA Today
An "Operational Error" in FAA speak is when two planes get closer together than they're supposed to be. In other words; it's when you nearly collide with another plane while flying at 30,000 feet. And, each year, there are thousands of "operational errors" - two or three each day.

And what is the FAA, the organization that's supposed to make air travel safer, doing about this problem? As of last Thursday, the FAA has cut in half the required separation between planes. Yep, because we're having so many near accidents, they're allowing planes to fly closer together.

Is this supposed to make the air safer? Hell no! It's supposed to cut fuel costs for the airlines, helping to make them more profitable. (More on the FAA at

This is just one small example of how the policies of the current administration come out in less visible ways. Profits Over People; that's their theme. So, when they tell you that their Social Security plan is to help you - and not to help their Wall Street buddies - don't believe them for a second.

(My rant on Social Security from last month)

Monday, January 17, 2005

You may have noticed that I'm trying to ignore the "big event" that will be happening this week in Washington, D.C. This is necessary to maintain my sanity and a safe blood pressure.

It's okay - I've been keeping busy preparing for a big event myself: Casino Night '05 - our big annual fund raiser for the EHC LifeBuilders Singles' Division. This (and some other stuff) is keeping at the office late most days this month, and that saves me from the headlines surrounding the second inaugural for Dubya.

The other big event around here is more personal: Leslie and I have adopted an eight-year-old kitty named George. He's the big, fuzzy love and I've already posted some pictures of him. The name, just in case you're wondering, has nothing to do with the occupant of the White House. He's been George for eight years, and it would be cruel to change it now.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

It's fully appropriate that the world would (and should) come together to provide support for the victims of the recent natural disasters in South East Asia. When hundreds of thousands of people are killed in one tragic moment, it's hard not to take notice. But there are also tragedies happening elsewhere in the world, nearly every day, that don't carry the dramatic impact. Sometimes the other tragedies are overlooked because of the slow pace of the killing, sometimes because the victims are not perceived to be "innocent", and sometimes the oversight is entirely political.

In the Boston Globe, Derrick Z. Jackson writes about The 'tsunami' victims that we don't count. In this piece, Jackson compares the tragedy of Asia to the tragedy of Iraq. "Tens of thousands of people die by an act of nature and we say we cannot imagine the horror," writes Jackson. "We say it defies comprehension. We call it a catastrophe... In Iraq we kill off thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of innocent civilians with our own hands, and we reject any attempt to comprehend what we have done. Countless Iraqi civilians are homeless. We call it liberation."

Jackson goes on quoting President Bush's speeches wherein he prayed for the survivors of the earthquake and tsunami, and for those who are still missing. "In a nation that supposedly reelected Bush on 'moral values,'" Jackson asks, why have "there have been no prayers from the White House for 'all the people whose fate is still unknown' in Iraq.?"


Smoking gun found: Read about the memo in which Bush okayed the use of torture in Iraq and Guantanamo.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

As of the time you're reading this page, here is the current U.S. population:

Current US Population

When I started writing this post, that figure was 295,170,451. At that same time, the National Debt was $$7,495,347,487,140.25 - or about $$25,394.30 for each man, woman, and child of us to pay off. Under President Bush II, the debt is currently rising by an average of about $1.77 billion per day, and is about $2,000,000,000,000 higher than when W took office.

In Fiscal Year 2004, you paid $1,089.47 in interest on that debt. (Or, if you're the sole bread winner in your household, multiply that figure by the number of people you support).

Sources: Bureau of the Public Debt - United We Stand America's Debt Clock - Ed Hall's U.S. National Debt Clock

By the way; I started this post with a glimpse of the rising U.S. population, then led into the rising debt. In case you're wondering, the debt is rising faster than the population. In other words; those new kids aren't going to help reduce your share of the debt. At least at the pace we're spending now, everybody's share is rising; both yours and those new babies'.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

New year - New rules... at least your local Republican Congressman is hoping that will be the case.

Right now members of the House of Representatives are expected to not only obey the laws that rest of us have to follow, but to also not act in any way that will embarrass the House or their nation. The House Code of Official Conduct, Rule XXIII, Clause 1, specifically states that, "A member... officer or employee of the House shall conduct himself at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House."

But, your new Republican majority sees that provision as old fashioned and incidental to their job, and are proposing that it be eliminated for the next session as part of a broader streamlining of the House Rules.

According to Jennifer Crider, spokeswoman for House Democratic Leader (and Bay Area Rep) Nancy Pelosi, the change, which would make it more difficult to discipline misbehaving Reps, would also "lower the standard of official conduct, and if that's the case, it would be the first time that it has been done since 1968, and it would be done on a completely partisan basis." The Democrats - or at least the few that are left with any spine - are going to try to fight this change.

The first recorded disciplinary action against a House Member occurred in 1798, when a Vermont lawmaker spat on a Connecticut colleague during a vote. Despite an apology letter, the Rules Committee nearly expelled the offender, but fell two votes shy.

* Washington Post
* Richmond Times Dispatch
* Boston Globe

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