Saturday, February 07, 2004

Questions this Sunday for Mr. Bush

Let's Be Tim Russert's Staff!: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal Quite interesting questions and the comments about the questions are even better (and funny as well). Will Russert's questions be vetted by the WH for approval beforehand? Tune in tomorrow morning!  

The Truly Brave Ones - A Hero in my Book, too.

I've often thought the medics who treated soldiers on the battlefield were unbelievably heroic. They don't get the chance to fire back - they're just sitting ducks out there while trying to save lives. Watch the beach scene in Saving Private Ryan, if you don't believe that. Better yet, here's a true story out of Iraq:

Now comes the story of Army Pvt. Dwayne Turner, a combat medic in the 101st Airborne Division whose exploits under fire in Iraq earned him the Silver Star for gallantry in action.

"I didn't figure myself a hero. I just wanted to make sure everybody came home," Turner said after the medal and 101st Airborne coin were presented to him. "Nobody was going to die on my watch."

Before the firefight in a suburb about 30 miles south of Baghdad, the Iraqis near the U.S. convoy were being friendly as usual, Turner said. But the scene quickly turned violent, and the soldiers were attacked with grenade and small-arms fire.

Responding on instinct, Turner went into action and repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire as he treated wounded soldiers. He was struck by AK-47 bullets in the arm and leg and was hit by shrapnel.

"When we got hit, guys were going down, and I was the medical guy on the scene. It was a split-second decision," he said.

During the 25-minute attack, Turner tended to the wounded until he finally had to be stopped. He was about to pass out from blood loss, said platoon leader Sgt. Neil Mulvany, who treated Turner's injuries.

"He risked his life to save 16 other soldiers," Mulvany said. "That's a hero in my book."

Lefties will like this column from Arianna

February 4, 2004 - Will Cheney Provide The Margin Of Victory... For Democrats? Interesting - first I had heard that Rudy Giuliani might be a possible VP for Bush in the upcoming elections. But Arianna believes Cheney is such a loose canon, that all Dems should pray he sticks around, so he can torpedo Bush all by himself. Sounds good, but Bush has a lot of moola and I wouldn't count him out yet and maybe he'll just hold on to ol' steely eyes Cheney. One thing about Cheney - you know where he stands. :)

Word of the Day:
vet - To subject to thorough examination or evaluation: vet a manuscript and seeking an order that his lawyer vet the documents to protect the solicitor-client privileges of his clients (And you thought it had something to do with someone taking care of your kitty, didn't you?) 

Oh, No! Homosexual Penguins? What will we do?

Love That Dare Not Squeak Its Name I wonder what sort of counselors penguins get to have? Who will tell them that all they have to do is "say no"? Mr. Bagemihl said homosexual behavior had been documented in some 450 species Could it be that humans are just "animals"? No, it can't be, we're above that - we get to discriminate!  

U.S. checking possibility of pumping oil from northern Iraq to Haifa, via Jordan

Ha'aretz - Article A friend passed along this article from an Israeli newspaper. This seems like a sure fire way to achieve peace in the region (NOT). Imagine Iraqis getting rich selling oil to the Israelis (the Iraqis will be getting all this money, right? hmmm....)
Just another move that will continue to irritate.  

Friday, February 06, 2004

The Virus Underground

For a great look into the underworld of the virus writer and "script kiddies", check out this article in the always entertaining NY Times Sunday Magazine. Amazing how easy this is to do, apparently.

But the prevalence of hard-drive-destroying viruses has steadily declined to almost zero. Malware authors have learned a lesson that biologists have long known: the best way for a virus to spread is to ensure its host remains alive.

A young woman who goes by the handle Gigabyte told me in an online chat room that if the authorities wanted to arrest her and other virus writers, then ''they should arrest the creators of guns as well.''

''All virus-spreading,'' one virus writer said caustically, ''is based on the idiotic behavior of the users.''

Bush on "Meet the Press" this Sunday

GW must be feeling the heat in the kitchen since he has agreed to appear on Tim Russert's Meet the Press show this Sunday morning on NBC. Tune in and see if Russert pins him to the mat or tosses him softballs. You never know for sure about Russert - sometimes he can be really tough, other times he can let them off the hook. And of course we will get a chance to see GW spin it with the best of them. Should be worth a watch. Check your listings for the time in your area. 10:30 EST.

A look at Kerry

For an in depth 7 part article on the person most likely to be the Democratic candidate, take a look at these feature articles from the Boston Globe .

And a few more Jabs from the Left

From Bob Herbert of the Times : What seems to be unsettling to large numbers of voters (not just hard-core anti-Bush Democrats) is the notion that events are slipping — or have slipped — out of control, that there is no endgame in Iraq, no plan to rein in runaway deficits, no strategy to put Americans back to work, and no limit to the Bush administration's willingness to shower its friends with favors and public dollars.

From Paul Krugman of the Times: By February 2002, when the administration released its fiscal 2003 budget, all of the bad news — the bursting of the bubble, the recession, and, yes, 9/11 — had already happened. Yet that budget projected only a $14 billion deficit this year, and a return to surpluses next year. Why did that forecast turn out so wrong? Because administration officials fudged the facts, as usual.

Gay Marriages - What's the Problem?
I find it personally amazing how many people get upset over this issue. I've lived 53 years and have yet seen where 2 gay people living together have affected my life. Isn't it time we just said, "live and let live?". Who made the conservatives (or for that matter - the liberals, as well) God? Geez, be happy people love each other rather than wanting to kill each other. And Ohio - shame on you.

Word of the Day:
- glowing and warmly enthusiastic praise; an expression of said praise. Seen in Krugman's article above - Ms. Mylroie's book came with an encomium from Richard Perle; she's known to be close to Paul Wolfowitz and to Dick Cheney's chief of staff. (I must say, this word's a new one on me, but I will pass on an encomium to those who invented it, as it will surely stump anyone who hears me use it. LOL ) 

Try this! Messing with your Mind!

An amazing testimony to the incredibly complex neurology in your nervous system. You have to try this out to believe it. While sitting in your chair, lift your right foot slightly off the ground and move it in clockwise circles. Now draw the numeral "6" in the air with your right hand. Your foot will involuntarily reverse direction. 

Did We Let One Go?

Wonder what's up with this story from Germany ? Why wouldn't the US release intelligence that would perhaps lead to the conviction of a suspected terrorist? Prosecutors blamed the acquittal on the Bush administration's reluctance to make captured terrorists available for testimony and to allow prosecutors to make use of intelligence information on the terrorist network. "They must have their reasons, which they did not communicate to us," said the chief federal prosecutor, Kay Nehm, The Associated Press reported. "I find this conduct by the United States incomprehensible."

"Somebody dropped the ball," said one co-plaintiff, Stephen Push, whose wife, Lisa Raines, was a passenger on American Airlines Flight 77, which was crashed by its hijackers into the Pentagon. "I have been calling ceaselessly to ask why the intelligence has not been made available in the German cases." 

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Exporting America

Want to see a list of companies that exports jobs overseas? Lou Dobbs of CNN keeps the list here. Check out more of Lou at Lou's CNN web page where you can read transcripts of prior shows. Lou, for those of you who don't get CNN, is one of the brightest guys in TV journalism . 

An Interview with Sidney Blumenthal

A timely interview with Bill Clinton's former Sr. Advisor - if you're a Democrat, you'll appreciate it, if you're a right-wing Republican, you will be shredding it. We are certainly a country of different visions.

Word of the Day:
fantastical - appealing to fancy, existing only in the imagination, conceived or done with no reference to reality or common sense. From the article - What kind of President is that? The picture that appears in Bob Woodward’s fantastical book ‘Bush at War,’ which includes reporting that is totally at odds with the image of Bush that Woodward swallows, has done enormous mischief, and really is the basis and the foundation stone of what remains of the public esteem for Bush. 

Women - Friday is RED Day!

Most women don't realize it, but heart disease is the #1 killer of women, more than all cancers combined. A woman dies of heart disease every single minute in this country, killing more than 500,000 every year. Signs are not always what you would expect either - you know - the crushing chest, pain down the arm,etc. Men often feel those symptoms, but women tend to come in and indicate that they feel like they've been having a stomach ache/indigestion, or have a backache or complain of dizziness or numbness. Some have had excessive fatigue, sometimes as long as 6 weeks before having their heart attack. So - do you know your blood pressure? Your chosterol numbers? Are you smoking, obese, or both? The new prevention guidelines aimed at women urge at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days; quitting smoking; and that high-risk women receive cholesterol-lowering drugs, preferably statins, and take omega 3 and folic acid supplements. For more info, read this article .

So wear your RED on Friday! National Heart Health Awareness Day!

If you're looking for a good Omega 3 supplement, I can recommend the following from Health from the Sun - 1-2 tsps a day will definitely be a boon to your heart, not to mention the anti-inflammatory properties if you're prone to arthritis,etc. Not that expensive and quite mild tasting.

Folic Acid tabs can be picked up at any drugstore/Walmart,etc and are quite inexpensive. Most multi-vits will have 400mcg in them, the daily requirement. I suspect taking twice that wouldn't hurt a bit. 

Defense budget doesn't include funds for Iraq, Afghanistan

Noticeably absent from next year's request is money for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. White House budget director Joshua Bolten estimated that another $50 billion would be needed to cover those costs next year. The White House expects to cover the war costs with supplemental funds after next fall's elections

Gee, a mere 50 billion left out - why doesn't that number appear in the deficit number as Josh Marshall points out in his Talking Points blog?

Serving your Country or ... ?

Following up on what many thought was a dead issue after the 2000 election, perhaps there is something more to President Bush's military record than he is willing to admit to? An interesting article here - seems like it would be easy enough for GW to prove where he was. This has suddenly surfaced as a hot topic again, although it is the last thing the WH wants to talk about

Are we a Nation of Cheaters?
An interesting look at cheating in society today. Are we truly worse than we used to be? Lots of good links here and good interviews - take the Integrity test at the bottom of the page. Something to discuss with your kids, perhaps? 

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Kerry Appeals across the Board

Thought a comment I heard from Bill Schneider, CNN's Sr. Political Analyst was interesting - he suggested that all the Democratic candidates were actually niche candidates, i.e, Lieberman - a "Bush" Democrat; Edwards - Southern appeal ; Clark- National Security ; Sharpton - Black Vote ; Dean - the "left" wing; whereas Kerry appeals to all of these issues and has thus become the more viable candidate. Hard to imagine someone is going to really stop him. Looks like a Kerry/Edwards ticket would be a formidable one. So much will hinge on the war in Iraq and Jobs, come November. If those are going badly, the Democrats have a very good chance, if they've both improved significantly (unlikely), Bush with all his millions will be tough to beat.

Was sorry to see Lieberman go - he just failed to understand how sick and tired Democrats are, when it comes to what is happening to the country. I always liked Joe and probably of all the candidates, he is the one guy who I felt was truly sincere in what he believed in and whom I could completely trust. I, too, am more of a centrist, but the mood is for more than that. It's really more about just getting rid of Bush than any serious "issue" discussion about how things can best be accomplished. Joe misses the "fed-up" component, something Dean capitalized on early, but didn't have the skill to completely carry off. All that said and done, I'm not convinced anybody can do anything in Washington, but I'll take a chipmunk over what we have now.

Quote of the Day:
All I was doing was trying to get home from work
Rosa Parks 

Nikon D70 Digital SLR

This looks to be a very interesting new addition to the line of digital SLR cameras. This might finally tempt me, although owning 2 Canon zooms does keep me back a bit. I'm sure by the time you added a few top quality lenses to this camera, you'd be in the $3000 bracket. You can read about it here . 

Monday, February 02, 2004

Another Bogus Budget

Krugman in the Times writes "The prime cause of giant budget deficits is a plunge in the federal government's tax take, which fell from 20.9 percent of G.D.P. in fiscal 2000 to a projected 15.7 percent this year, the lowest share since 1950. About 45 percent of this plunge can be attributed to the Bush tax cuts. The rest reflects the end of the stock market bubble, the still-depressed economy, and — probably — growing tax sheltering and evasion." And he goes on to say: "It's true that increased spending also contributes to the deficit, and that there has been a substantial increase in discretionary spending — spending that, unlike such items as Social Security payments, isn't automatically determined by formulas. But the bulk of this increase was related to national security.

Sure do appreciate all the help George. And with the tax cut, I'm finally able to buy that 2nd Jaguar. (the toy model , that is).  

Budgets of Mass Destruction

This article by Thomas Friedman in the Times is just too good! Wake up call!

"Is your future better off now than it was four years ago?" That's what's on people's minds. It should be coupled with the bumper sticker: "Read My Lips: No New Services. Bush Gave All the Money Away." And it should be backed up with a responsible Democratic alternative on both taxes and spending.

And please don't tell me the tax cuts are working. Of course they're working! If you put this much stimulus into our economy — three tax cuts, loose monetary policy and out-of-control spending — it will produce a boom. Eat 10 chocolate bars at once and you'll also get a rush. But at what long-term cost? 

A Varied Look

It was a busy day for the couch potato yesterday. Morning political talks shows for 3 hours - that was enough cranial overload to last me for a bit. George Stephanopoulos (one of the best news talks shows on tv, imho) had a good panel on to discuss the upcoming timetable for Iraq (former UN ambassador Holbrook, former CIA Chief Woolsey, Fareed Zakariah (Newsweek editor), and George Will. Bottom line of their discussion - no way will this timetable be met and the US is facing a very serious and critical situation. It needs to be postponed but the Iraqi's may well have no patience for that - we are in deep, deep do-do. None of the panelists really had a solution - we have worked ourselves into a mess from which there is no easy way out.

Tim Russert had Howard Dean on for the full hour. Howard did a good job, despite tough questions from Russert. But I'm afraid for Howard, it's too late. He self destructed before his Scream when he made the mistake of scrapping with Gephardt in Iowa. I also think he miscalculated that his Internet surge represented the wishes of the general populace - actually I'm inclined to think it was just a fringe element of ardent "geeks" who were very good at getting the younger crowd to cough up lots of small donations. This, however, does not necessarily translate into a campaign for the masses. The media has also painted a picture of him that he has a tendancy to get mad and fly off the handle and the public has this image seared into their mind now. And in this world of "appearance is everything", Howard, quite frankly, looks too goofy for the average voter - something he can't help, but should we need to be reminded that that matters - just think back to Dukakis and his tank.

Who knows? Maybe Kerry will go down for some unknown reason yet (catering to special interests?)? It's a tough spot for the candidates , because any attacks they use now, will be used by GW in the general election, so if they get too rough, they may doom themselves unintentionally.

In the meantime, head on over to the Democrat's web site and pledge some money - this will be the first time I think I've actually kicked in money to a political party - believe me, the Democrats will need every bit of money they can get to beat Mr. Moneybags. I shudder to think what 4 more years of GW's policies might mean.

Uncharitable Care: How Hospitals Are Gouging and Even Arresting the Uninsured
A friend passed along the following article the other day which is worth the read. What I would like to know is what do these hospitals do with all this money given to them by the States that is supposed to help poor people who have no insurance? It smells like a big fat RAT. Would be very interested to hear the answer to that question, something the article strangely omits.

The Superbowl
Finally, a great Superbowl! One of the best Superbowl games I've watched (not that I can easily determine that, since my memory is good for about a day - don't even begin to ask me next year, who won this year!). Was hoping for Carolina to pull it off, but that last kickoff out of bounds doomed them by giving New England just enough field position to get it done.

The hyped half-time show was crap - rappers grabbing their crotches (try some Gold Bond, Nelly or perhaps a visit to the doc for a crabs checkup?) and a surprise "boob" shot from Janet Jackson, which appears to have been planned all- along. I Think that was the fastest cutaway in TV History. Where's my TIVO when I need it? (For a funny story on this event, check out ESPN's Page 2 ) The better music came from Josh Grogan and Beyonce (singing the Nat'l Anthem). Now those two have some pipes!  

Vote and the Pols will listen

Bob Hebert of the NY Times points out an important issue - getting lower income people out to vote . I've said this time and again that if you could get low income people past their skepticism of the system and get them out to vote, they could become a potent force in politics. They are the ones truly left behind and have the most to gain by becoming a political force. I find it interesting that all the talk I hear on the campaign trail is about the "middle class" - what about all those milions who fall in the lower class? (how's GW's tax cut help them? - I can tell you - NOT AT ALL). Most Americans are unaware of the extent of the suffering that has fallen on the bottom 20 percent or so of the population. Many low-income Americans are leading lives of grim and sometimes painful determination, struggling to survive from one day to the next. The contrast between the real lives of families sinking beneath the weight of economic distress and the headlines that continue to insist that the economy is doing famously is extraordinary.

Where's that compassion ?