Friday, August 31, 2007

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Scene at a Lebanese Restaurant in New Jersey


Mauigirl, three friends, and a Lebanese waitress.

Dialogue (as interpreted by Mauigirl).

Waitress to Friend #1: Would you like tea?

Friend #1: "Yes, please, with milk."

Waitress leaves. A few minutes later, she returns.

Waitress: "I'm very sorry, there is no milk. Do you still want tea?"

Friend #1: "No, thank you, not without the milk."

Waitress: "We have camel milk."

Friend #1: "No, that's OK, thanks anyway."

Mauigirl to Friend #1: "Maybe you should've tried it. How bad could it be? Of course, that's easy for me to say, I've never had camel milk!"

Friend #1: "You've never had chamomile tea?!"

Mauigirl: "Chamomile?! I thought she said CAMEL MILK!"

Hysterical laughter by other characters. (I was wrong, obviously).

Friend #2: "Will that be one hump or two?!"

More hysterical laughter by all four characters.

Hey, it was a LEBANESE restaurant. I thought they might import it or something. Aren't there camels in Lebanon?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Difference Between Then and Now

Photo source:
Peggy Noonan wrote in Friday's Wall Street Journal about a touching encounter she had in the fields of Normandy in the summer of 1991. She and some friends were hot-air ballooning and landed in an old farmer's field. Upon realizing they were Americans, the farmer told them he had not seen any Americans since the Normandy Invasion. He went back to his house and brought out a bottle of ancient Calvados. Glasses were poured all around and he toasted "To old times."

Ms. Noonan then wrote,

"He didn't welcome us because he knew us. He didn't treat us like royalty because we had done anything for him. He honored us because we were related to, were the sons and daughters of, the men of the Normandy Invasion. The men who had fought their way through France hedgerow by hedgerow, who'd jumped from planes in the dark and climbed the cliffs and given France back to the French. He thought we were of their sort. And he knew they were good. He'd seen them, when he was young."

She then goes on to describe how our American soldiers in Iraq are doing great things there, building hospitals and schools, joking with schoolchildren in the streets.

"We know of the broad humanitarian aspects of the occupation--the hospitals being built, the schools restored, the services administered, the kids treated by armed forces doctors. But then there are all the stories that don't quite make it to the top of the heap, and that in a way tell you more. The lieutenant in the First Cavalry who was concerned about Iraqi kids in the countryside who didn't have shoes, so he wrote home, started a drive, and got 3,000 pairs sent over. The lieutenant colonel from California who spent his off-hours emailing hospitals back home to get a wheelchair for a girl with cerebral palsy...I hope our soldiers know what we really think of them, and what millions in Iraq must, also. I hope some day they get some earned tenderness, and wind up over the hills of Iraq, and land, and an old guy comes out and says, "Are you an American?" And they say yes and he says, "A toast, to old times."

I too hope this happens. But I wonder if it will. There are big differences between the goals of the Americans who sent troops to France during the Normandy Invasion and of those that sent troops to Iraq.

The Americans who landed on the beach in Normandy were invading France in order to liberate the French from a foreign invader. It was part of a real war, where the Nazi armies were invading other countries and trying to take over all of Europe and beyond. The Nazis were rounding up millions of innocent people and marching them off to death camps. America and the other Allies were truly fighting for their lives. When the Allies landed in Normandy, France was under Nazi Germany's rule. Of course the people of France appreciated their efforts and were thankful a half-century later.

But in Iraq, from the perspective of the Iraqis, it is the Americans who are the invaders. The Americans bombed their country, deposed their leader, and killed countless civilians. The pictures in this link show what has happened in Iraq as a result of its "liberation" by America. Yes, Saddam Hussein was a bad man. But until the invasion of Iraq by the U.S. and the so-called coalition of the willing, his country was intact, people were living their lives and raising their children, and Saddam Hussein had done nothing to the United States to warrant an invasion.

Yes, our soldiers are building schools and hospitals - because they were destroyed by American bombs. Yes, they are helping to rebuild infrastructure - that was destroyed by American bombs. Of course, some of the destruction happened not from American bombs but from those of the insurgents. But there wouldn't be insurgents if the Americans hadn't invaded in the first place.

And the rebuilding is not being done just by the soldiers, but by a bunch of private contractors who include Americans, Iraqis and foreigners. (And of course, Darth Cheney's former employer, Halliburton, is one of the big beneficiaries of this rebuilding effort). There are more of these private contractors in Iraq than our own soldiers, according to the LA Times, and a lot of missing money.

So how will our soldiers be remembered? As invaders, or as the "good guys" that Iraqis will want to toast fifty years from now? Only time will tell.

But it will be a shame if the Iraqis' memory of American soldiers - brave and dedicated men and women that they are - will be a memory of invasion, death, destruction and greed. And if that is the case, the only place to lay the blame is on this administration, which willfully sent them to war against a country that did not attack us, under false pretenses, by making up lies in order to benefit their own pockets and egos.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Weekend Quiz For You

75%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Mingle2 - Dating Site

This was a fun quiz - I must credit Phydeaux Speaks with the discovery of this quiz. Phydeaux was similarly addicted. Is 75% an unreasonable number? Is it verging on interfering with my real life? I guess it might be. Perhaps I do need a 12-step program!

How about you? What percentage do you score?

Friday, August 24, 2007

In Whose Yard the Dog Sits

This essay was written by Kate Fraser, Foundation Director of the organization where we adopted our dog, the Animal Farm Foundation. I thought she expressed perfectly the plight of the pit bull breed as a result of their misuse in the dogfighting world. I know she would not mind me posting this here, as the more people know about our dogs, the better it will be for them.

In Whose Yard the Dog Sits

Animal lover or not, it would take someone with a heart of stone to read the details of crimes Michael Vick committed against the pit bull dogs in his “care” and not feel sick. While the media talk about how much “time he’ll do” and whether or not he’ll ever play in the NFL again, there is one vital piece of information missing from the equation…this isn’t about Michael Vick, it’s about the dogs.

Michael Vick is not the only dog fighter in the United States, not the only man who has made money off the dog’s backs while feeding his own warped ego. Not the only one who has tortured and killed innocent dogs on a regular basis. Michael Vick is just a symptom, a blip on the radar screen, of a cancer in desperate need of a cure. While the Pundits debate and the NFL Public Relations Machine wrings its hands, thousands of other "Michael Vicks", black and white, rich and poor, in neighborhoods urban and rural, are committing the same crimes against pit bull dogs that Vick did.

The question remains, will the Feds come for them too or will the presently very public fight against the crime of dog fighting end with Vick? And if they do continue, who will speak for victims who can not speak for themselves, the dogs? What will become of them? Will their lives be better for our intervening on their behalf or will it be more of the same. Death, not death in the pit, but death on the end of a snare pole perhaps, death without compassion, death just the same. Will all of the dogs continue to be victimized twice? Killed by their masters because they wouldn't fight, killed by those who rescued them because they might? The dogs are left with nowhere to stand, pawns in a cruel game of guilt by association.

So I ask you, when does the dog in the fight, the innocent pit bull dog who has not asked for any of this, when does he finally get to win? When does he get the same care and compassion as any other pet? When does the pit bull dog, get be to be viewed as simply what he is, a dog, who like all canines, desires a warm hearth, plenty of food and a person to call his own?

Michael Vick’s story and the tragic story of his dogs will reach its not-so-fairy tale ending in due course. But what of the stories of all of the nameless, faceless victims of the crime of dog fighting whose masters don’t play in the NFL? What of those dogs? Who will say this doesn’t end here? Who will ensure that their stories have a happier ending than that of the Vick dogs?

I look at both of my pit bull dogs, but particularly my dog Isaac who was left to die in a dumpster, and think there but for the grace of god go they. It occurs to me that the only difference between their lives and the thousands of pet pit bulls like them and the lives of all of the pit bulls suffering in dire circumstances, is the hands into which they fell. A cruel twist of fate or a blessing from above, depending on in whose yard the dog sits.

-Kate Fraser
Animal Farm Foundation


Animal Farm Foundation has a number of dogs available for adoption, including this one!

The following photo courtesy of League of Animal Protection (LAP) of Huntington, NY. This dog is available for adoption. See more information on

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The NAACP Doesn't Get It

R.L. White, president of the Atlanta chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) said today that Michael Vick should pay for his crime but then should be allowed to continue playing in the NFL. He was quoted as saying that Vick had "made mistakes" but that it shouldn't cost him his career.

White then went on to say "The way he is being persecuted, he wouldn't have been persecuted that much had he killed somebody." He also said that he didn't really understand the uproar over dogfighting when hunting animals is acceptable.

In response, I'd like to say that Michael Vick is not being "persecuted," he is being prosecuted, rightly so, for an illegal and heinous activity. The man is taking a plea bargain and admitting his guilt in order to get a lighter sentence. It is no longer a question of innocence or guilt. He has admitted the guilt. Others who were involved in the dogfighting organization have admitted their complicity as well.

There is no persecution here; we in the United States have the right of free speech and are allowed to express our opinion of a person who admits he ran a dogfighting ring, killed dogs that weren't good fighters, and treated the dogs cruelly. And it certainly has nothing to do with his race that people are outraged.

The reason Vick is being castigated in the media, in the blogosphere, and by his fans, is that this man is famous. He had it all - money, fame, glory. And yet he participated in the illegal world of dogfighting. It is hard to understand why he would be involved with this activity (I refuse to call it a sport) given all of his advantages. He didn't need the money that the illegal betting probably brought in. And yet he did it anyway.

Did he think it made him cool? Did he think it made him more macho? Was he proud of his involvement? What motivated him?

It's hard for those of us who love dogs to understand what kind of twisted mind would think this activity was acceptable in any way, shape or form. Mr. White says we should give Vick another chance, that he "made mistakes." "Made mistakes" does not describe what Michael Vick did. This isn't a case of someone who succumbed to a temptation like drugs, drink or sex with someone they shouldn't have had sex with.

This is someone who purposely ran a dogfighting ring with all its inherent cruelty, and personally killed dogs that didn't perform. This wasn't just a little faux pas. This was purposeful, criminal and cruel behavior. It was not a "mistake." What kind of inhuman monster wouldn't know that cruelty to innocent animals is wrong?

I was particularly disturbed by the NAACP's comparison of dog fighting to hunting, a comparison that was echoed by Stephon Marbury, who said, "We don’t say anything about people who shoot deer or shoot other animals. You know, from what I hear, dogfighting is a sport. It's just behind closed doors."

To compare dog fighting with hunting or any other animal-related sport is a shameful fallacy. I am no fan of hunting, but I do see a big difference here. Hunters who hunt legally are limited to a certain number of deer (or whatever they are hunting), they can only hunt at certain times, and usually when they do shoot an animal, the animal dies instantly, or nearly so. The animal is not sent into battle with another of its species over and over again until it is covered with scars, in constant pain. The animal is not left in a bare cage to lick its wounds until the next fight. The animal has a chance to get away. And until close to the moment of death, the hunted animal has lived its life in freedom in its natural environment, rather than with constant cruelty.

Some may compare dogfighting to the human equivalent: boxing. (Which I also deplore, I'd like to add). But the big difference there is that human beings have a choice whether to go into boxing for a living. And they know, or should know, what they're getting into. Dogs being used for dogfighting don't have that choice.

The NAACP just doesn't get it. Neither does Stephon Marbury. Michael Vick is not being treated unfairly. Michael Vick deserves everything he gets and more. Perhaps he can redeem himself. But I doubt it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Bush Continues His Fight Against Health Care for Kids

According to the New York Times, the Bush administration is adopting new standards that will effectively prevent the states from expanding health care for children.

Administration officials said that "the changes were intended to return the Children’s Health Insurance Program to its original focus on low-income children and to make sure the program did not become a substitute for private health coverage."

Among the restrictions included in the new policy are:
- States must demonstrate that they have “enrolled at least 95 percent of children in the state below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.” (Currently no state has been able to achieve this.)

- States should charge co-payments or premiums that approximate the cost of private coverage and should impose “waiting periods” to make sure middle-income children do not go directly from a private health plan to a public program.

- If a state wishes to raise the income requirements to over 250% of the federal poverty level, they must impose a one-year period of non-insurance for individuals before they receive coverage.

Officials in New Jersey, New York and California all expressed dismay at the new restrictions, saying they will cause children to lose coverage and leave many others uninsured.

250% of the poverty level may sound like a lot, but keep in mind the poverty level is set at the federal level; in states with higher standards of living, being at 250% of the poverty level is still pretty low.

Weren't the Republicans always the party that wanted limited federal government? Weren't they the ones who used to claim that states' rights were so important?

But now if states want to do something they don't like, that it becomes OK for the federal government to butt in? It's all well and good to let states do what they want if they want to allow everyone to own a gun, but not if the state in question wants to allow assisted suicide, same-sex marriage, or, heaven forbid, allow kids to have health coverage.

The hypocrisy of this administration and the rest of the neocons is simply amazing.

A Very Special Contest - I Need Your Votes!

I have entered a contest over at Evil Spock's blog, The Needs of The Few. I am one of five chosen contestants (an honor in and of itself) who are competing for the privilege of becoming one of Evil Spock's "Authors of Evil." Evil Spock has promised me the coveted pen-name of Lt. Uhura, should I be so lucky as to win the contest. Oh, and I would get some free stuff from too.

I am shamelessly asking, in fact, begging you to go on over to Evil Spock's blog once a day and vote for me. I know the other entries are all very well-written and all deserve your votes. But hey, this is my blog, so I can ask you to go vote for me anyway!

The deadline is September 20 for all votes to be counted. You can vote early and often, as long as it's not more than once a day.

Thank you, blog friends, for any support you choose to give me!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Worried About Your Health?

Check out my latest post on Medicana,"When it Pays to be a Hypochondriac." In it I tell you a list of symptoms that should checked out by a doctor.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What's Wrong With This Picture?

I happened to log into the on-line version of the New York Times and saw the headline, "Dow Off 167 Points in Late Swoon." This, I knew, was on top of all the previous losses, and did not make me happy. I had been lulled into a false sense of security a month or so ago, as every time I checked my 401k balance, it had risen still further and was looking good. Now it looks sadly similar to what it looked like at the beginning of 2007. And did I mention I kind of need the 401k to keep going up in order to achieve my dearest goal: early retirement?

There is something wrong with a system that has the stock market going sky high, hitting new records of 14,000 points only a month ago, and now plummeting day after day. The conditions have not changed so much in the past month to warrant this big a difference. The leading economic indicators are looking good; so why is this not reflected in the markets?

As the Times article says, "Though the latest economic readings indicate that growth is steady, they also make a rate cut by the Federal Reserve less likely. And a rate cut is what many on Wall Street have been hoping for, underscoring the growing disconnect between what economic indicators are saying about the health of the American economy and what is playing out in the stock market."

The purpose of the stock market was once to actually sell shares in viable companies that had solid futures ahead of them. Under that premise, the success of the overall economy would likely lead to investment in the companies that make up the stock market. But now, as in 1929, people are just using the stock market as a fancy form of gambling. It seems to bear no reflection on either the state of the economy, or even the health of the companies whose shares are being traded.

The other thing that always bothers me about the stock market's performance is that when a company lays off thousands of people, their stock goes up. To me, there is something wrong with a system that profits off of the ordinary working man's misfortunes.

Now that so many companies have gotten rid of their pension plans and are getting their employees into 401k's instead, investing in the stock market is no longer a real choice for many middle class people. They have to do it in order to save money for retirement. And saving that money in government securities or other low interest funds will never get them to the level of savings that will enable them to have as comfortable a retirement as they would have had with a pension, unless they invest in riskier funds, such as stocks.

In 401k's, we employees can't play the markets the way the rich do, selling short and performing various other clever maneuvers that I don't even understand. Our only option is to switch between funds, but we are always advised to remember we are in the market for the long haul, and not to move things around too much. But when you're nearing the magic age of retirement, you aren't in it for the long haul anymore. And that's when losses like this hurt.

So, we sit here and watch as our 401k's plummet and lose everything they've gained in the past year, all because of a bunch of rich gamblers who like to play in the stock market. Retirement now looks more and more like a vague dream rather than a future reality. Surely there must be a better way.

Moving on....

As many have already commented on Rove's departure from the Bush administration, I will be brief on the subject. This man was responsible for much of the small mindedness, the hostility, the partisanship, and general hatefulness of the political scene over the past generation. Here is a great article that details all of his dirty tricks over the past 35+ years. This is a man who started out with no integrity and went downhill from there.

The really scary part of the article is in the second-to-last paragraph, where it mentions that "Rove and his wife have built a house in the Florida Panhandle -- the "Republican Riviera" -- and that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will be 59 in 2012, a ripe age for a run for the White House."

Oh My God. Not that. Rove helping another Bush get into the White House would be more than I could take.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

My Run-Ins With The Law

Got your attention? Good! Now I can tell you all about my shady history with the criminal world of...speeding.

That's speeding on the highway, not with drugs.

Amanda over at It's All About the Walls recently posted about her successful escape from a speeding ticket. (You'll enjoy reading how she got out of it).

Me, I'm not so lucky. I used to get away with "just a warning" back in the day, when I was about 19 and weighed about 35 lbs. less and actually bothered to wear my contact lenses and some makeup. But not these days. (Yes, I really do think that had something to do with it; because I certainly haven't become any less befuddled and clueless when stopped by a cop now than I was then).

I have a long history of getting caught speeding. I am sure I don't speed any more than anyone else; I just have less luck.

I used to drive a 1979 Plymouth Horizon, which, for those too young to remember (since I never see any on the road anymore) was a small "econobox" designed to address the Gas Crisis in the late 70's. It was one of the early American front-wheel drive cars and I felt very cool driving it. A little too cool, I guess, because I constantly got stopped for speeding when I was driving it. After about three years of owning this car, I had racked up an impressive number of points on my license.

I met DH in the fall of 1981, and after a few years we got engaged. At that point my car was about 5 years old, still young by today's standards, but it had issues already. And his car, a 1980 Citation (one of the famous X-cars, also not seen on the road anymore), had literally started rusting away. So we decided to buy a new car - together - our second major purchase since our engagement. (After a china cabinet for our apartment).

The car we chose was our 1985 Saab, which we still have to this day, with 218,000 miles on it. It had to be a stick shift, since DH refused to drive an automatic.

So we put an ad in the paper and sold the little Horizon. A man and his wife came and looked at it and decided to buy it because the wife wanted to learn how to drive and she wanted a little car. The man was huge, about 6 foot 4 inches, and big. He looked a little sad and ridiculous driving away in my roller skate of a car. I hope his wife learned to drive it so he could go back to his Buick.

By the time the new Saab arrived (we actually ordered it from the dealer instead of taking what was on the lot) I had successfully learned how to drive a stick shift by practicing on the Chevy Citation, which drove much like a truck. Driving the Saab, with its hydraulic clutch, was a pleasure in comparison.

Since I was the one who drove to work and DH was taking the train, I got to drive the new car to work. The car felt like part of me; when I shifted and the car sprang forward it felt as if I myself were moving, with the car around me like clothing. It was sleek, it was pointy on both ends, and looked really weird compared to the other cars on the road. I loved it.

After a few years I started to notice a strange phenomenon. I was no longer getting speeding tickets. I saw cops on the side of the highway, having nabbed other people, so I know they were still out there. But I drove by blithely, unscathed.

I started to have a suspicion. I looked at the pictures of the Stealth Bomber that had been plastered in various newspapers from time to time. It had the same pointy shape as the Saab. I said to DH, "Do you think the Saab is, like, a stealth car? Because of its shape?" DH responded that if he told me, he'd have to kill me, but that I might have a point.

For all the time I drove that car, I never, repeat, never, got a speeding ticket. But that doesn't mean I didn't get tickets. Oh no. I can always manage to do that.

My worst offense happened one Friday afternoon on my way home from work. I was tired, burned out, in a mental fog. I just wanted to get home. On my way home, there is a corner with a particularly lengthy red light, right where I needed to make a right turn. It's one of those that has arrows to the left, delayed green, no turn on red, and all kinds of things. When you stop at that light you're there for awhile. As I was arriving at that intersection, I saw to my dismay that the light was just turning red. On impulse, I pulled into the gas station on the corner, and fiendishly cut across to the exit on the other side, hoping to avoid the light altogether. I took a quick glance at the corner intersection and saw cars going across. Thinking I was home free, I quickly turned right onto the side road...and slammed on my brakes as I almost hit the car that had just made a left (on one of those darned green arrows) into my lane. And the car...was a county cop car. Driven by a county cop.

At first I thought it didn't matter as I had some kind of misguided notion that county cops could only give you a ticket if you were in the county parks. Apparently not.

This cop got out of his car and came over to my car. He looked a lot like this:

He was not pleased. I weakly said something about not having seen his car, and he accused me of having cut through the gas station to avoid the light. I couldn't deny it so I didn't say much after that. He wrote me out a ticket and I was on my way, much chastened.

I got home and read what the ticket said - he had put me down for "Reckless Driving." Reckless Driving! It wasn't reckless was, um, stupid driving. Isn't there a ticket for Stupid Driving? I actually don't think there is a law against "cutting through a gas station to avoid a light," so he had to put something, and he was pissed. So that's what he put.

I looked into it and discovered that Reckless Driving is worth a whopping 6 points on one's license in New Jersey. This was not good. So I called up the only lawyer I knew, who was the guy who managed the closing on our house, and asked him for help. A $125 fee later (sounds cheap now, but this was in 1988 or so), he determined that the statute on the ticket didn't match the written words, "Reckless Driving." The statute my county cop had written down was the statute for "Careless Driving" (only 2 points). My mouthpiece then called up said cop and asked him about it and he grumbled "Well, I MEANT Reckless Driving." As a result of this negotiation, the ticket was downgraded to Careless Driving, I paid my fine (and the $125 to the lawyer) and took my 2 points happily. And learned a lesson. No more cutting through gas stations.

But that was not the end of my run-ins with The Law. On my way to work one day (in my 1991 Saab which was exactly like the 1985 Saab and therefore not prone to speeding tickets), I nevertheless managed to get yet another moving violation. For tailgating. Yes, tailgating, on a side road; and it wasn't even during a busy time of day.

I usually would have been going 50 miles per hour on this road, but some idiot was in front of me going very slowly. Like about 30. And he kept speeding up and slowing down. At one such point, we passed a side street and I saw the cop sitting there. I gleefully thought to myself "It's sure lucky I am behind this idiot who is going so slow or I would've been speeding as I went past that cop. Ha ha, I'm lucky today!"

As I went along the guy in front of me suddenly pulled over to the side of the road, I slammed on my brakes, cursing at him, and then looked in my rear-view mirror to see the flashing lights. Mr. Cop was pulling me over. When he got out of the car, he looked a lot like this:

Yes, they all look like that here. Don't ask me why. And he wasn't happy either. I seem to have that effect on cops.

Bemused, I inquired what on earth he had stopped me for. He responded "Tailgating," and proceeded to write me a ticket. Tailgating, because I had been behind the idiot who kept slowing down.

I arrived at work even later than usual, and in a very cranky mood. I checked on line (because by now on line was an option) and discovered Tailgating is another Very Bad Thing. It is 5 points. This time there was no way out of it so I just took my lumps. And I think I signed up for some kind of Defensive Driving class to take the points off my license.

Since that time I am VERY careful not to go too close to another car's bumper. But I have acquired a certain lack of fondness for the police.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


OK, I admit I found this link on Left of Centrist's blog. Go to the Simpsons Movie website and you can upload a picture of yourself and "Simpsonize" yourself. Here I am standing in the Nuclear Plant with Santa's Little Helper. You can pretend it's really me at the Big Corporation with Diva.

Speaking of the Simpsons Movie, we went to see it on the night it opened, and it was hilarious! If you're a Simpsons fan, it will be everything you expected and more! Highly recommended!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Meandering Among the Blogrolls

I am still a new blogger, and as such, am still exploring this strange new world that has opened up in the computer age.

I have already discovered so many great blogs, and yet there are thousands more, all linked, one to another, like pearls strung along on a thread.

I was checking out Blue Gal tonight, and came across her post linking to Politits, written by DCup. After reading her blog for awhile with great relish, I then clicked on a link in her comments section and found Pygalgia. And on Pygalgia's website I found a link to Axis of Evel Knievel. (With a name like that, how could I resist?) All are so interesting that I know I'll be back again and again so I felt that I might as well add them all to my link list - which I did. Another recently-added blog is Fran I Am.

I know many of you are already reading these sites, but if you haven't seen them before, please do check them out!

I am becoming a blog addict. I admit it freely. There are so many more to explore. So many blogs, so little time. At this rate, I may give up sleeping altogether.

Continuing Coverage of this Administration...

For your amusement, here is a probing Jay Leno interview...this one is with Vice President Cheney!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Dark Side

The summer heat is upon us and I have become blogthargic. That's a word I made up to indicate the lack of mental energy that would be required to write a long, thoughtful, outraged post about Congress passing the legislation that will allow W to continue his assault on the rights guaranteed by our Constitution.

The fact that a goodly number of Democrats went along with this makes it even more outrageous. As usual, the fear that they might be painted as "soft on terrorism" drove them to abandon their principles and go along with W's plan. When are they going to learn to stop falling for this ploy? No matter what they do, Republicans will frame them as being soft on terrorism anyway. So why not stand up for what is right?

I also want to mention I find it suspicious that Chertoff made his pronouncement about his "gut feeling" that something would happen during the summer not long before this issue was coming up for a vote. Sure, both he and the White House said there was no actual evidence of any concrete plots. But you can bet the announcement of his concern was no accident. It always pays to rile up the people and get them worried about possible terrorist threats so that W can get another law passed to increase his powers. Interestingly, it didn't seem to work on the American people. They may have finally gotten wise. After all, the boy only cried "Wolf" so often before no one believed him anymore. But apparently the Democrats haven't learned the lesson yet.

Last night's Colbert Report's "The Word" segment was really hard-hitting and pointed out how far we have fallen from our ideals since 2001. Colbert recalled that after 9/11, "Darth" Cheney said we may have to go over to "The Dark Side" and do things that are beyond what we usually condone, in order to win the War on Terror. Since Colbert presented it so well, in his inimitable satirical manner, I'll let him do the rest of the talking:

The Dark Side

(Be patient. There is a commercial first.)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Can we believe him this time?

The White House website is always a treasure trove of information about what "W" has said in recent days. I've learned to check it out occasionally to make sure he's not up to something we wouldn't want him to be, um, up to. (Yes, ending sentence with a bad).

In today's posting, the site has his complete radio address in which he speaks about the tragic collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis. In the speech, he pledged the following:

"On Thursday morning, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters and Federal Highway Administrator Richard Capka traveled to Minneapolis. They announced $5 million in immediate federal funding for debris removal and to help restore the flow of traffic. This is just the beginning of the financial assistance we will make available to support the state in its recovery efforts. Several federal agencies are on the ground aiding state and local officials, including the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Coast Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency."

I recognize how important the I-35 bridge is to the state of Minnesota, and my administration is committed to working closely with Governor Pawlenty and Mayor Rybak to rebuild this bridge as quickly as possible."

While I realize that "past performance is no guarantee of future results" in the stock market, based on this president's past performance in post-Katrina New Orleans, I could only wonder whether anything he says will come true for the citizens of Minneapolis/St. Paul.

DH just got back from a business trip down south. As part of his trip, he engineered a stop in New Orleans for the last night. This is a route he has taken several times in the past year or two. Having visited New Orleans in its pre-Katrina years, he is acutely aware of the differences he sees now. After this week's trip, he reports that everything is still on sale cheap - hotels are cheaper there than in the town in Mississippi where he stays for the business portion of his trip.

First, the good news - the French Quarter on a Thursday night was busy, coming back from the almost deserted streets he walked last year. But the bad news is, much of the outer part of New Orleans remains a wasteland, only slowly coming back from its devastation. The New York Times recently had a series on New Orleans, and the very slow process of rebuilding that is taking place.

The Times-Picayune DH brought home with him is still filled with articles pertaining to the rebuilding process in the New Orleans area. It features articles talking about how best to withstand the upcoming hurricane season. Headlines like "It's time to hold someone responsible" and "City stands tall as risk rises" dot the pages of the New Orleans Metro section. Discussion continues about the levees and their condition.

Remember 2005? "W" went to New Orleans a couple of weeks after the storm had ravaged the city, and made a lot of promises:

"President Bush promised Thursday night the government will pay most of the costs of rebuilding the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast in one of the largest reconstruction projects the world has ever seen. “There is no way to imagine America without New Orleans, and this great city will rise again,” the president said."

Didn't happen. Yes, there are processes in place to help people rebuild, but the system is so inefficient that much of the money has never gotten where it needs to go.

But "W" has moved on. To a new disaster that threatens an area much more interesting to him. An area that is important to his political party. So New Orleans is on its own.

According to an article in yesterday's New York Times, "W" seems to be poised to respond more efficiently to this crisis than to the New Orleans situation...which is just so yesterday to him now.

As the article mentions, Minnesota has a Republican governor, and the 2008 Republican convention is scheduled to be held there. Think this situation may just get a wee bit more attention than New Orleans? Yeah, I think so too.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Diva Misses Her Daddy

DH has been away on a business trip since Tuesday, which means I have been in charge of all dog and house-related tasks (such as watering all the outdoor potted plants).

No one will be happier when DH comes back than Diva.

You see, DH is the one who ordinarily gets home first, feeds her and takes her for her walk. When he is away, this task falls to me. And I don't live up to her expectations. In fact, I fall woefully short, in her estimation.

It's not that I begrudge her her fun. I know she deserves it after being cooped up all day. And on weekends I'm happy to go for long walks with her. It's just during the week we have a different perspective on things.

When I get home from work, Diva is all excited. She is ready to rumble. She comes to the door barking, picks up her ball, and comes running out, wagging all over. She anticipates her dinner (Dinner! Oh boy! Dinner!) and then her walk (Walk! Oh boy! Walk!).

I, on the other hand, am coming home from work. I'm tired. And my feet hurt. (As usual, I've been wearing flip flops and sandals all summer, and because I have flat feet, by August I always develop a pain in my left ankle. This year I have added a new phenomenon: plantar fasciitis. Both of my heels kill me when I first stand up and start walking. I know the only cure is to wear regular shoes with the expensive $300 orthotics that I have somewhere in the house, but I refuse to do this during the summer. So I suffer.)

So, needless to say, I try to get away with as little as possible in the walk-the-dog department. Of course I do walk her. I have to; she refuses to do anything in the yard unless she is desperate, because then she knows I might con her out of walking somewhere at all. Her mother didn't raise any foolish puppies.

But instead of taking her all around both sections of the park, which would be about a mile round trip, I try to take her in different directions so that she doesn't have a route all mapped out in her mind that she is intent on completing. If I try to take her to the park and not go as far as she expects, she'll put her brakes on when I try to turn back toward home, and it is often impossible to move her.

So tonight I managed to keep it fairly short, by reversing the usual direction I take her. After having had a very long day of work, I was looking forward to a relaxing evening.

But because Diva has not had, for the past three nights, the usual one-mile walk that DH takes her on, she was full of energy tonight and would not leave me in peace.

After having had cereal for dinner two nights in a row, tonight I decided to actually make myself something healthier and had a salad. But could I eat it in a relaxed manner? No. Diva wanted me to play ball with her. So I did that while I tried to eat.

Then I wanted to watch a very interesting program on reincarnation, a favorite possible philosophy of mine, on Channel 21 (PBS). Did I get to concentrate on this program? No. Diva decided to bark randomly and loudly throughout the second half of the show. It was never clear what she wanted of me, other than attention (which of course she got). It is possible she was just ranting at me and telling me that I am extremely boring.

I finally gave up and we went up to bed, where she is now sprawled out in her usual manner, her energy finally used up.

Yes, Diva will be very glad when her daddy is home. So will I.

But at least I watered the plants.