Spring – It was nice to have met you.

Well, it’s official summer has arrived to SE Texas. The temperature when I came into the kitchen for coffee this morning is at 70 degrees and the humidity is above 90%. By my definition, summer has slunk in and it wont be leaving for a while. Luckily for us, we are just south of the storm line that has been dumping rain, lightning, and street flooding on the folks just a county or two away. For two days now heavy rains have fallen just a bit north of where we live here without a drop falling at our house.

I see from the morning emails that Tom Poston has died at the age of 85. I never really thought a whole lot about Tom but when I read the announcement his image immediately popped into my mind from the old Newhart Show. There are a lot of actors out there whose name I know but who I couldn’t picture on a dare, so I guess Tom made an impact o me at some level. Rest in Peace, Tom.

The President made this comment yesterday after he Vetoed the Iraq War Funding Bill…”Many Democrats saw this bill as an opportunity to make a political statement about their opposition to the war. They’ve sent their message.”

I suppose the real question is, did he hear the message and understand that it came from the American people and not just their Democratic representatives in Congress? I really doubt it.

While David Ignatius’ column is about Paul Wolfowitz, I think his insight is valid. Though I don’t know that it’s totally about the “we know best” as much as it’s about “you don’t know nothing”.

This disdain for career staff officers — whether at the Pentagon, the CIA, the Justice Department or an international agency such as the World Bank — is a defining characteristic of the Bush administration and a big reason for its undoing. Administration officials are arrogant — no other way to put it. They ignore the advice of the professionals, whom they regard as obstacles to their agenda of transformation. In their impetuous self-confidence, they become wreckers.

This hubris recurs again and again. We saw it in Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s high-handed management style, in Vice President Cheney’s continuous pressure on CIA analysts to bolster the administration’s message on Iraq, in CIA Director Porter Goss’s purge of agency officers suspected of disloyalty, in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s treatment of career attorneys at Justice.

Or maybe they are accomplishing exactly what they set out to do…

Source: David Ignatius – The Price Of ‘We Know Best’ – washingtonpost.com

Time to run…later

Scandals and Rumors of Scandals

And who said they were going to change the tone in Washington?

Putting industry insiders in charge of the agencies that govern and regulate the very industries they worked for is a good idea…Why?

Oversight of government is a bad idea…Says who?

“The Department of Education has been run as a wholly owned subsidiary of the loan industry under this administration,” said Barmak Nassirian, a longtime advocate for industry reform at the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. “They are running the federal loan program for the profit of their friends and not for the benefit of students and taxpayers.”

All it took to open this administration up to the light of day was for someone to ask a question, any question.

What will the next scandal be?

Source: Warnings On Student Lenders Unheeded – washingtonpost.com

Scandals and Rumors of Scandals

And who said they were going to change the tone in Washington?

Putting industry insiders in charge of the agencies that govern and regulate the very industries they worked for is a good idea…Why?

Oversight of government is a bad idea…Says who?

“The Department of Education has been run as a wholly owned subsidiary of the loan industry under this administration,” said Barmak Nassirian, a longtime advocate for industry reform at the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. “They are running the federal loan program for the profit of their friends and not for the benefit of students and taxpayers.”

All it took to open this administration up to the light of day was for someone to ask a question, any question.

What will the next scandal be?

Source: Warnings On Student Lenders Unheeded – washingtonpost.com

Fraudulant Fairness?

George Will is rapidly becoming an angry, strident voice on the conservative side of conservative politics. Now he is using name calling as a weapon against the Democratic Party. His use of the term “illiberals” over and over in his latest rant against liberals is almost funny…almost.

Some illiberal liberals are trying to restore the luridly misnamed Fairness Doctrine, which until 1987 required broadcasters to devote a reasonable amount of time to presenting fairly each side of a controversial issue. The government was empowered to decide how many sides there were, how much time was reasonable and what was fair.

I hate to break it to Mr Will, but the only reason anyone wants to re-institute the “Fairness Doctrine” is that the “Corporate Media” has abrogated the truthful reporting of the facts. The very ability of political groups to drop a smear with an add buy and then watch the story grow as the “News” is reported so often as to turn a lie into the accepted truth shows the need for “Media” to be held to a monetary responsibility for the “Fairness” they no longer feel.

The Reagan administration scrapped the doctrine because of its chilling effect on controversial speech, and because the scarcity rationale was becoming absurd.

It seems to me that the scarcity rationale has now swung full circle. With the media consolidation of the past few years, the publics access to get their voice heard is confined to the internet and not the “Public” airways or the newsprint of the cities of this country. Not everyone in this country has access nor the need to subscribe to multiple forms of information. The broadcast spectrum has, since it’s inception, been a special category of business. Access to spectrum has always been confined to a limited number of gatekeepers, and the “Fairness Doctrine” is all that kept the publics ability to gain the access to present opposing views.
It is time to take another look at all of the rules that have been relaxed in this mad rush to deregulate America.

Source: Newsweek
Author: George F. Will
Link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18366765/site/newsweek/

Saturday Morning Web Wandering

I slept in a bit today and I have to go in to work this afternoon to take care of a project we ship tomorrow, but this morning after reading my email I went link wandering. Here are some of the things I found I feel I should pass along…

Somehow I didn’t keep up with the schedule for the return of Bill Moyers to PBS so I missed his documentary on “The Buying of the War”. Somehow the regular schedule for his new show on Friday had permeated what I call my brain, and the fact that the special would be on Wednesday didn’t…Oh well, I’m sure it will be replayed at some point.

In my wandering this morning I did stumble on a site that is new to me, COA News. This led to a link to an Amy Goodman interview with Bill Moyers on Democracy Now this week, which led me to this quote…

Bill Moyers – “I would like to be nice about it. I would like to be diplomatic about it. But the fact of the matter is there’s a cancer eating at the heart of democracy, and it’s money in politics. If free speech means you have to buy it, then only those who can afford it have free speech. And that’s contemptible.”

If you have the time the video is very good.

Source: Independent News Portal COAnews: coanews.org : How the U.S. News Media Helped the Bush Admin Sell the Case for War

The link that led me to CAO News was an article about Local Foods by Brita Belli of The Environmental Magazine.

Local is the New Organic

It used to be that organic was enough. That organic label told consumers their food was safer, fresher and more likely to have come from a small, reliable farm than a mega-farm-factory. Then, last year, Wal-Mart started selling organic products. Suddenly, organic didn’t seem so special.

Last fall, an outbreak of E. coli bacteria in California- grown organic spinach that left three dead and hundreds sick shone the national spotlight on the question of where food comes from. Most produce people eat, organic or not, travels thousands of miles to reach the shelves of their local supermarket. The journey exacts a huge toll on the environment as refrigerated tractor-trailers packed with green tomatoes and bananas crisscross the country, burning diesel and spewing pollution and greenhouse gas. And the potential for unsanitary handling and nutrient depletion exists at every stop along the way.

I have been linking to posts like this for some time. It appears that the local food “movement” is on the verge of reaching viral status around the country and the world. If we have many more food disaster’s like the ones from the last year where we are beginning to understand that the people we once thought were protecting the safety of our food aren’t, for whatever reason, we will have to protect ourselves. You can’t do that if the food you are buying come from across the country or around the world.

Source: Independent News Portal COAnews: coanews.org : Local is the New Organic

Ballot barriers – Houston Chronicle

It looks like the Republicans feel the need to try to redden even this red state further. Could it be they really don’t think they can win an election without stamping on the voter’s rights? This is the same tactic that is getting them in so much trouble around the country.

In Texas, the biggest problem facing our electoral system is the voters’ shamefully low participation in choosing our representatives and leaders. Yet instead of encouraging more people to exercise this fundamental right, some lawmakers in Austin are hard at work trying to make it more difficult to vote.

With no proof of significant voter fraud in state elections, the Texas House is considering bills that would require voters to provide additional identification in order to register and cast their ballots. Not only is the legislation unjustified, if enacted it could disenfranchise large numbers of the elderly, the poor and minorities.

Republicans have promoted voter identification legislation as a cure for ballot fraud, though documented voter impersonation cases are rare. Democrats contend the measures are really aimed at suppressing Election Day turnout among their traditional support groups.

Source: Ballot barriers: Legislation requiring Texas voters to present extensive identification would create far more problems than it would solve. | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle

It’s A Beautiful Sunday in Spring

After a wet and blustery start to the weekend, the clouds blew out yesterday evening and today has started bright, clear, and beautifully blue skied. It is also one of those always surprising days when we a cooler than Boone and Floyd. I will probably be out playing catch up on the yardwork after the last few wet weekends.

I saw in the paper that Alberto Gonzales is using an op-ed to try and explain away his responsibility for the mismanagement of his department. I can hardly wait for his testimony in Congress this week…I’ve just watched the Vice-President of the USA call me irresponsible for I don’t know how many times because I disagree with his opinion of how well the administration is doing in running their “War on Terrorism” in Iraq.

Let me get this straight, we are supposed to trust and agree with the people running this administration as they strip the constitutional guarantees we have that protect us against just these kind of people.

Sorry for the rant, I should know better by now than to listen to Cheney or read opinions by the man who approved torture and discounted the Geneva Conventions.

See ya’ll tomorrow…

Today – Thursday – April 12, 2007 – Day 19,423

Kurt Vonnegut, the satirical novelist who captured the absurdity of war and questioned the advances of science in darkly humorous works such as “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “Cat’s Cradle,” died yesterday. He was 84.

Source: Writer Kurt Vonnegut, Voice of U.S. Counterculture, Dies – washingtonpost.com

I know I read some of his works many years ago, but it’s the movies that stick in my mind. Seems they were mostly made about the time I was coming of age…

Indoctrination is supposed to be a predicate for action commensurate with professions of seriousness.

Source: George F. Will – Fuzzy Climate Math – washingtonpost.com

With a sentence like the one above in the first paragraph, you know George Will is on a roll. His disdain for climate change and global warming is well know, almost to the point of being a cliché. The points he makes about the “media-entertainment-environmental complex” are almost as comical as the standard “liberal media” label thrown out regularly by the “conservative” talking heads. His point seems to be that if the cost is higher than he wants to pay to clean up our act, then lets not do it. Why should we clean up our act if the “developing” countries wont clean up theirs?

George, look at the developing countries…Who are the big polluters? Aren’t they, to a large extent, the same corporations that are being forced to clean up their business over here? Should they not be held accountable for their actions no matter where they take place? Bad corporate actors are bad whether they are in the USA, India, or SE Asia. By moving bad practices to poor countries you do not mitigate the action. At some point we must take responsibility for the damage our lifestyle does to the planet…Hopefully while there is still time to repair the damage. But the action will not happen as long as the talking heads with the megaphones keep preaching about how unfair it is to take action while the rest of the world does not.

This whole argument is a lot like the conservative argument against progressive tax systems. Why should those with the resources pay to help those without? Isn’t that the argument in a nutshell. I made my fortune (or my daddy or my great-granddaddy), why can’t the poor slob down on the corner do the same? I bought my place in the Rockies with the pristine views and the cold clean air, let the rest of the world find their own. Some attitude, eh?

As if the war in Iraq wasn’t enough the Administration’s surrogates are pushing us into Syria and Iran…

At the same time Syria is terrorizing Lebanon, it is facilitating the flow of insurgents into Iraq, supporting the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, and allowing its territory to be a foothold in the Arab world for Iran’s belligerent ambitions. It continues all this despite scores of trips by senior diplomats to Damascus to “talk to the Syrians.”

It is time to face facts. Talking to the Syrians emboldens and rewards them at the expense of America and our allies in the Middle East. It hasn’t and won’t change their behavior. They are an outlaw regime and should be isolated. Members of Congress and State Department officials should stop visiting Damascus. Arab leaders should stop receiving Bashar al-Assad. The U.N. Security Council should adopt a Chapter VII resolution mandating the establishment of an international tribunal for the Hariri murder.

Source: Liz Cheney – The Truth About Syria – washingtonpost.com

Now, after all that has happened in the past few years, who doesn’t see Dick Cheney’s voice behind this push to confront another country. How do these people decide which bad acting country is good and which one is evil? Who in this administration isn’t living in the proverbial glass house as the cast stones at the world? The really sad part is they seem to enjoy throwing the stone while still inside their own glass house…

The clock on the wall say I now have my blood pressure up enough to go face Houston traffic…later…

We the people of the United States

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Source: LII: Constitution

The preamble to the Constitution…The one thing the folks who seem to think they are “ruling” America seem to have forgotten. Doug Thompson turned in a good “rant” today. He set me to thinking about the above words.

Somewhere along the line, too many of our elected officials forgot the concept that the government of the United States is “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Our founding fathers, tired of rule by an English King who tried to impose his will on the people, envisioned a government that answers to the wishes of the majority.

When our leaders defy the will of the people, they chip away at the foundation of an American democratic republic. President George W. Bush says he’s “the decider.” That’s not the way democracy is supposed to work. The people are “the deciders.” Presidents and Congress are supposed to the “enforcers” of the decisions of the people.

Source: This is still our country | Capitol Hill Blue

Add to this the request for a royal audience by the Decider-in-Chief…

“We can discuss the way forward on a bill that is a clean bill — a bill that funds our troops without artificial timetables for withdrawal, and without handcuffing our generals on the ground,” Bush said in a speech to an American Legion audience in nearby Fairfax, Va.

On the one hand, Bush extended an offer to meet with lawmakers Tuesday. On the other, the White House bluntly said it would not be a negotiating session.

The president said if lawmakers don’t send him a bill he will sign — one that does not include timetables or money for pet projects in their home districts — it would be Congress, not the White House, that will have to answer to troops.

“The bottom line is this: Congress’ failure to fund our troops will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines,” Bush said at American Legion Post 177. “Others could see their loved ones headed back to war sooner than anticipated. This is unacceptable.”

Source: Bush invites Dems to meet about Iraq – Yahoo! News

I have begun to wonder…Has anyone checked to see what kind of signing statement George W gave when he was inaugurated this last time? Seems that with his record of telling the world what he wasn’t going to do, he might have left a record of what he isn’t going to do in 2008…

Wednesday Morning Coffee Muse

I was reading what President Bush had to say in the Rose Garden yesterday. The dichotomy between what he says and what is happening has always been a factor with this man. From the days he was Texas Governor till today, he has a streak of self-denial as wide as Texas.

“I do fully understand the anguish people go through about this war,” Bush said about adviser Matthew Dowd, who has deserted him. “It’s not just Matthew. There’s a lot of our citizens who are concerned about this war. But I also hope that people will take a sober look at the consequences of failure in Iraq. My main job is to protect the people, and I firmly believe that if we were to leave before the job is done, the enemy would follow us here.”

“Failure in Iraq”, from the day we went to “War” in Iraq it has been a failure. Mr. Bush, your main job is not to protect the people, if it was your record of failures would place you in uncharted territory of failure. I won’t even start to enumerate here. Mr. President, your main job is to lead. If you can’t show the leadership the American People require of their President they will turn away from your chosen path. You have one choice at that time. You can change your direction and get out in front and lead, or you can keep doing what you were (and are) doing and watch the gap between you and the country grow into a chasm.

Your obstinacy doesn’t show character. Whoever told you it did, did a disservice to you and this country. You claim to feel our anguish…Show it. Show some guts, really listen to your critics. Hear what they are actually saying and not just the criticism in the way they say it. Getting your back up every time someone asks a critical questions serves neither you nor this country.

Mr. President, grow up.

“Congress shouldn’t tell generals how to run the war,” he said.

And for the record, Presidents shouldn’t tell Congressmen how to run the government. Oversight belongs to the Congress. When they do not exercise that duty they do both themselves and the Executive Branch a disservice. Mr. President, you should be thanking the members of Congress for faithfully executing the duties of their office. If it sheds light on failures in your offices, that is the reason the oversight was designed into our system of government. Thank them for the help…I do.

Source: For Bush, Fighting Democrats And Doubts – washingtonpost.com

From Sundays Backroad trip…Both sides of the road. Washington County, Texas.