Afternoon thread: Even you, oh Prince

(I’m posting this as a thread, as I will be in and out, today only).
Luciano, Buona Notte.

Nessun dorma, nessun dorma …
Tu pure, o Principessa,
Nella tua fredda stanza,
Guardi le stelle
Che tremano d’amore
  E di speranza.
No one sleeps, no one sleeps…
Even you, o Princess,
In your cold room,
Watch the stars,
That tremble with love
  And with hope.

Ma il mio mistero è chiuso in me,
Il nome mio nessun saprà, no, no,
Sulla tua bocca lo dirò
Quando la luce splenderà,
Ed il mio bacio scioglierà il silenzio
  Che ti fa mia.
But my secret is hidden within me;
My name no one shall know, no, no,
On your mouth I will speak it*
When the light shines,
And my kiss will dissolve the silence
  That makes you mine.
Il nome suo nessun saprà
E noi dovrem, ahimè, morir.

No one will know his name
And we must, alas, die.

(The Prince)
Dilegua, o notte!
Tramontate, stelle!
All’alba vincerò!
(The Prince)
Vanish, o night!
Go beyond the mountains, stars!
At daybreak, I shall conquer!

How to Make Honor out of a Sow’s Ear

(Good enough for The Stamford Eagle Gazette, Mr Huntzberger – promoted by ek hornbeck)

I don’t write diaries much these days but I wanted to write this one this morning.  I don’t watch Fox News Republican debates,  I don’t even watch Fox News Democratic debates….heh! Sun Tzu is not impressed with my avoidance of knowing my enemy but did he get saddled with my gag reflex?  CNN was kind though this morning and while I was trimming my husband’s hair they put this clip up……Huckabee vs. Paul on the idea of an unsurge and leaving Iraq.  Mike Huckabee seems to know something about honor that I don’t.

Like most everything in my adult years now I must deal with the fact that honor is also in the eye of the beholder.  I think it is wonderful for individuals and nations to be responsible for their actions and a few Americans in charge of America did choose to break Iraq and then used the power at their fingertips to do so, but how is the surge fixing Iraq and what is our honorable mission in Iraq other than some slangy verb that is also the name of a really gross glow in the dark soft drink? And further more what happened Noble Cause?  I digress though, getting back to honor.

First of all Mike Huckabee wants us all to know that, of everybody on that Fox News stage, Senator McCain understands the word honor.  Senator McCain understands that Mike Huckabee is a pathetic nonserving rhetoric grinding chickenhawk loser who high jacked McCain’s own service and POW experience.  I notice John McCain making a note to self to pay Huckabee back for it and include a very high rate of accrued interest.

Then Huckabee directly confronted Texas Rep. Ron Paul on his position for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq starting with this:

“Congressman, whether or not we should have gone to Iraq is a discussion for historians, but we’re there. We bought it because we broke it,” he said. “We’ve got a responsibility to the honor of this country and the honor of every man and woman who has served in Iraq and our military to not leave them with anything less than the honor they deserve.”

Since honor can mean a lot of intended things to word flinging people I need to substitute the Merriam-Webster definition of the noun honor in this Huckabee spiel.

“Congressman, whether or not we should have gone to Iraq is a discussion for historians, but we’re there. We bought it because we broke it,” he said. “We’ve got a responsibility to the good name or public esteem of this country and the good name or public esteem of every man and woman who has served in Iraq and our military to not leave them with anything less than the good name or public esteem they deserve.”

After forged yellow cake documents and Downing Street memos and lies about Saddam’s involvement in 9/11 I’m not sure how applying more military force to Iraqis is being responsible to the good name or public esteem of the United States of America.  It is the application of military force that has brought us and bought us all this shame.  Are we going to use it and use it and use it until someday somehow we can point to one something “good” it has done, and will that one something then magically make all of the military force and murdering and torturing and collateral death and arresting/imprisoning of whole families to include children for nothing more than Baathist affiliation a good thing?  I was very good in Math, not so good in Language…..maybe that is why I just can’t get the Governor’s words to add up.  And just because we leave Iraq doesn’t mean that we haven’t left our soldiers who have served in Iraq or our military with the good name and public esteem they deserve.

Soldiering for the U.S.A. is a job.  Granted, some of us who are too selfish to imagine or pledge sacrificing ourselves for the protection of the tribe (that would be me) tend to aggrandize such selfless service.  See, I’m afraid that if I don’t talk these fools up a lot they might decide to not cover my ass for me and then I might have to pick up a big stick or something and foul my KARMA.  For my husband though it is a job, he accepts easily that real threats can and do exist out there for the tribe and it is fairly effortless for him to don the uniform.  Even with my bigmouth ways my husband’s career has done nothing these past few years but blossom.  I watch from the sidelines as several different areas of the Pentagon jockey to own him in his civilian years as he retires soon.  He understands the Geneva Conventions and has dedicated self to upholding them on the job and in all jobs he would ever hold, he has read the Constitution of the United States more times than I ever have and I’m sure in the next soldier’s opinion fight he has with another soldier they will all read it again ;), he has pledged his life to protecting the tribe USA and when other soldiers break the law the only thing that reflects badly on him is when those soldiers are not held fully accountable and the only thing that steals his good name and public esteem as a soldier is when his leadership isn’t held accountable for lawlessness.  He still feels that he can recover from such mishaps though because damn it America is a great place and when we have SHIT LEADERS we aren’t stuck with them forever and a new day is always dawning in America.  It is hard waking up daily to such sickening optimism but I’m working on it.

Sadly Huckabee had a second volley to fire at the only sane Republican candidate on the Fox News stage.

“Congressman, we are one nation. We can’t be divided. We have to be one nation under God. That means if we make a mistake, we make it as a single country.”

DRAFT?!!!  At this point with as broken as the military is and knowing that this spring we are completely sprung the only thing that Huckabee’s words can mean is DRAFT!  Prattle on thin boy!  All the boys in Iraq are even thinner!

The Power Is Back

No, not me!

The power in my little town after Hurricane Henriette passed closed by.

Now all I have left is Tornadoes and a Volcano actually erupting, Locusts….and Frogs. I have been in earthquakes, blizzards, sandstorms, lightning storms and lived on or near two active volcanoes. It’s not my fault they didn’t erupt while I was there! In any case I have now been close enough and the effects severe enough to have claimed to have been in a hurricane, so my collection of phenomena is proceeding apace! It was just a small hurricane and the eye was (I think) abouth thiry mile s away so it was dramatic, but not very serious.

On the bad news front, I still have no power at my house and the guy who is supposedly working on it is not to be found. Without power, the satellite guy can’t hook me up. So I have read a Tim Powers book and am in the middle of a Tomm Robbins book…all by either sunlight or candlelight, and have been spending a lot of time drinking iced Pacifico. Oh and since my laptop battery gets used up pretty quick, writing the autobiographical section of my book in longhand, by candlelight, during a hurricane. Sometimes it is way fun being me….other times, well, not so much!

Which brings us to my major non-funish thing right now….The Launch! I fret.

I have pretty much decided that we will launch tomorrow….even if I have to do it from here at the internet cafe. I feel like it is sort of unfair to all you guys to hold it up waiting for me to be ready.

What think you?

Are we ready? Are you guys as chompy at the bit as I am? Or am I just being impatient…should we take our time and wait until all systems are go?

I will pop back over here tonight top pick up any answers.

In the meantime….Howdy everybody! I read the othe thread and am very glad that you all missed and it is cool that we have new people wandering in! A cople of specific replies….and garden, welcome! And en garde! Skrpy…..who says I WANT to control the weather….that hurricano was cool!

State of the Onion I

Art Link
Pencil and Wax

Words

The words take control
demand to be written
I help guide them
dress them up
slim them down
searching for
clarity, brevity, emotion
hopefully all three
I’m not sure
where they come from
perhaps from the pains
and joys of my life
The words are the blood
in the vessels of my mind
just as feelings are
the blood feeding my soul
Is there any separation
between me and the words?

–Robyn Elaine Serven
–January 10, 2006

I envision this becoming more of a community feature than it is right now.  Well, as much as I can envision anything at this time in the morning.

Last night, when the cops woke us up responding to some sort of folderol across the street at oh-dark-thirty, I was zapped by the inspiration to call this Muse in the Morning.

Several hours later, it still sounds like a good idea, but the complete conception and decoration will probably take a weekend.

The Morning News: RIP Pavarotti

From Yahoo News THE TOP STORY

Italian tenor Pavarotti dies at age 71
By ALESSANDRA RIZZO, Associated Press Writer
49 minutes ago

ROME – Luciano Pavarotti, whose vibrant high C’s and ebullient showmanship made him the most beloved and celebrated tenor since Caruso and one of the few opera singers to win crossover fame as a popular superstar, died Thursday. He was 71.

His manager, Terri Robson, told the AP in an e-mailed statement that Pavarotti died at his home in Modena, Italy, at 5 a.m. local time. Pavarotti had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and underwent further treatment in August.

“The Maestro fought a long, tough battle against the pancreatic cancer which eventually took his life. In fitting with the approach that characterised his life and work, he remained positive until finally succumbing to the last stages of his illness,” the statement said.

From Google News U.S.

Republican Candidates Make Thompson a Target
By MICHAEL LUO and MICHAEL COOPER, The New York Times
Published: September 6, 2007

DURHAM, N.H., Sept. 5 – The Republican presidential candidates clashed Wednesday night in their most contentious debate of the campaign, in pointed exchanges over immigration, the war in Iraq and who among them is the best prepared to be commander in chief.

It was a far cry from the previous debates, when the Republicans saved most of their fire for Democrats. Mitt Romney directly criticized Rudolph W. Giuliani, who has consistently led in national polls, for the first time at a debate. And most candidates got in digs at Fred D. Thompson, the former senator and actor who skipped the debate to announce his candidacy on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

The toughest sparring was over illegal immigration, an issue that has roiled Republican voters this year. Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, accused Mr. Giuliani of attracting illegal immigrants when he was the mayor of New York.

Senate Family Welcomes Cousin Tim . . . Not So Much Uncle Larry
By Dana Milbank, The Washington Post
Thursday, September 6, 2007; Page A02

Johnson’s return was the feel-good story of the summer: Feuding political factions unite to celebrate earnest lawmaker’s against-the-odds triumph over illness. “My speech is not 100 percent,” the senator said with a still-slurred voice, “but my thoughts are clear, and my mind is sharp.” Standing in front of the motorized wheelchair that carried him into the chamber, he brought tears to the eyes of Democrats, Republicans and even reporters in the gallery when he said: “Today, I come home to the United States Senate.”

Craig’s tale, by contrast, played out like a horror film: Villain’s bloodied corpse improbably comes back to life, and weary protagonists must kill him — again. Craig, only four days after announcing his resignation after his arrest in a sex sting in an airport men’s room, called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to revise and extend his resignation remarks.

“I heard from Senator Craig this morning,” McConnell announced in a tone that indicated he did not enjoy the conversation. While Craig now wants “to try to finish his term,” McConnell added coolly: “I thought he made the correct decision — the difficult but correct decision — to resign.”

Secretary of Education Criticizes Proposal
By DIANA JEAN SCHEMO, The New York Times
Published: September 6, 2007

WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 – Education Secretary Margaret Spellings on Wednesday criticized a Congressional proposal to soften provisions of President’s Bush signature education law, saying it would severely weaken the federal effort to raise achievement among poor and minority children.

In a speech before a business group and at a news conference, Ms. Spellings said that a series of proposals in draft legislation circulated by Democrats and Republicans on the House education committee, taken together, would allow states to remove children from testing regimes and tutoring services, and would make it too difficult for parents to know whether students and schools are making progress.

“It’s just too darn confusing,” Ms. Spellings said of the draft bill. “To make it more complex, less transparent, more obfuscated I think would be a huge mistake, particularly when we’re on the run, we’re on the move.”

From Google News World

German Police Arrest 3 in Terrorist Plot
By MARK LANDLER, The New York Times
Published: September 6, 2007

This article was reported by Mark Landler, Nicholas Kulish and Souad Mekhennet, and written by Mr. Landler.

FRANKFURT, Sept. 5 – German authorities said Wednesday that they had stopped a major terrorist attack against American and German targets in this country, arresting three Islamic militants and seizing a large amount of potentially explosive chemicals and military-grade detonators.

Those arrested – two German citizens who had converted to Islam and a Turkish resident of Germany – were in the advanced stages of plotting bomb attacks that could have been deadlier than those that killed dozens in London and Madrid, the police and security officials said. At least five lesser figures are still being pursued, they said.

“They were planning massive attacks,” the German federal prosecutor, Monika Harms, said at a news conference, outlining an intensive six-month investigation. She said the suspects had amassed hydrogen peroxide, the main chemical in the explosives used in the London suicide bombings of July 2005.

Guilty of murder, the author who based novel on his crime
By Peter Pophamin Rome, The Independent
Published: 06 September 2007

A Polish author, travel writer and intellectual whose best-selling novel described a grisly murder has been jailed for 25 years for committing the crime he had so vividly portrayed. The killing of Dariusz Janiszewski in 2000 was notably gruesome. The victim – a successful, popular professional – was humiliated, starved and tortured, before having his hands bound with a rope that was looped around his neck in a noose.

When fishermen scooped the body out of the river Oder, it was stripped to shirt and underpants and the limbs had been distended and bore marks of torture. The police had no leads and after six months the search for a culprit was abandoned.

But the murderer could not resist gloating over his cleverness. During the investigation, anonymous emails were sent from South Korea and Indonesia to Polish television’s equivalent of Crimewatch, describing the killing as “the perfect crime”.

8 U.S. soldiers slain in Iraq over 2 days
Six of the troops are killed in Baghdad, the other two in Salahuddin province. A bomb near a bus stop in the capital leaves 13 Iraqis dead.
From a Times Staff Writer, The Los Angeles Times
September 6, 2007

BAGHDAD — — Eight U.S. soldiers were killed in attacks over two days, military authorities reported Wednesday, and 13 Iraqis died when a bomb exploded near a bus stop during the morning rush hour.

Two soldiers working to capture militants in an eastern neighborhood of Baghdad were killed Wednesday, U.S. military officials said. Two others were killed the same day by an explosion while on patrol in Salahuddin province.

A total of 3,752 U.S. troops have died in the Iraq theater since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, according to the website icasualties.org.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

U.S. Marines ponder if “shoot first” justified
By Adam Tanner, Reuters
1 hour, 48 minutes ago

CAMP PENDLETON, California (Reuters) – Does a U.S. Marine serving in Iraq have the right to shoot first and ask questions later if hostile forces could be nearby?

The question is at the heart of the case against Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, 27, the U.S. Marine accused of leading a November 19, 2005, massacre of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha.

Witnesses who were on patrol with Wuterich in Iraq have testified that he told them to “shoot first and ask questions later” as they followed up the killing of a popular Marine in their unit.

Myanmar monks take 20 security forces hostage
AFP
11 minutes ago

YANGON (AFP) – Hundreds of Buddhist monks have taken about 20 members of Myanmar’s security forces hostage inside their monastery, one day after clashes broke out at an anti-junta protest, residents told AFP Thursday.

The security forces came to the monastery to apologise for the violence Wednesday in the central town of Pakokku, about 500 kilometres (310 miles) north of the country’s commercial capital Yangon, residents said by telephone.

At least three monks were injured after security forces fired shots into the air and used bamboo sticks to disperse a crowd of 300 monks who were protesting against a massive hike in fuel prices, they said.

From Yahoo News Most Popular Most Recommended

DHS ends criticized data-mining program
By MICHAEL J. SNIFFEN, Associated Press Writer
Wed Sep 5, 9:26 PM ET

WASHINGTON – The Homeland Security Department scrapped an ambitious anti-terrorism data-mining tool after investigators found it was tested with information about real people without required privacy safeguards.

The department has spent $42 million since 2003 developing the software tool known as ADVISE, the Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight and Semantic Enhancement program, at the Lawrence Livermore and Pacific Northwest national laboratories. It was intended for wide use by DHS components, including immigration, customs, border protection, biological defense and its intelligence office.

Pilot tests of the program were quietly suspended in March after Congress’ Government Accountability Office warned that “the ADVISE tool could misidentify or erroneously associate an individual with undesirable activity such as fraud, crime or terrorism.”

White House sued again over e-mail
By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer
Wed Sep 5, 6:57 PM ET

WASHINGTON – The White House abandoned an automatic archiving system for its e-mail in 2002 and did not replace it, says a lawsuit filed Wednesday against the Executive Office of the President.

The suit by the National Security Archive, a private group, is the latest effort to find out whether the Bush administration lost millions of electronic messages.

White House e-mail problems first came to light during a special prosecutor’s investigation into the leaking of CIA officer Valerie Plame’s identity and again during congressional inquiries into the role of presidential aides in firings of U.S. attorneys.

From Yahoo News Most Popular Most Viewed

Felix toll rises, Henriette hits Mexico
By ARIEL LEON, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 3 minutes ago

PUERTO CABEZAS, Nicaragua – Doctors treated storm casualties in a makeshift clinic Wednesday after powerful Hurricane Felix flooded their hospital and wrecked villages on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast. The death toll rose to at least 18 with dozens more missing.

Far to the northwest, Hurricane Henriette plowed into Mexico for the second time in two days, making landfall shortly before 9 p.m. EDT near the port city of Guaymas with top sustained winds of 75 mph. Seven deaths were reported from the Pacific storm, which hit Baja California on Tuesday.

Felix came ashore Tuesday in Nicaragua as a Category 5 tempest packing 160 mph winds and heavy rains that caused mudslides, destroyed homes, uprooted trees and devastated villages.

From Yahoo News World

Basra pullout will test Iraqi forces
By BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press Writer
28 minutes ago

BAGHDAD – The aftermath of this week’s British pullout from Basra will demonstrate whether Iraq’s nascent security forces have what it takes to keep the peace in a major city where Shiite militias and gangs have held sway.

If the Iraqis can keep rival Shiite militias at bay in the country’s second-largest city, that would significantly boost the confidence of the Bush administration in Iraqi capability.

But failure would raise serious questions about Iraq’s army and police as President Bush and leading Democrats prepare for a showdown over the future of the U.S. mission during congressional hearings next week.

Sixteen Saudis return from Guantanamo Bay prison
Reuters
1 hour, 23 minutes ago

RIYADH (Reuters) – Sixteen Saudis returned home on Thursday after the United States released them from a prison camp at Guantanamo Bay where foreign terrorism suspects are held.

The Saudi state news agency SPA said Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz “expressed his relief and appreciation for the cooperation shown by the authorities in the United States, hoping this leads to the return of the remaining Saudis.”

Saudi public anger over the treatment of Saudi detainees in Guantanamo Bay has been high in the Muslim kingdom, a key U.S. ally. Two Saudis were among three prisoners who hanged themselves at the naval base in June.

US air strike in Baghdad kills 14 sleeping civilians
by Ahmed al-Rubaye, AFP
5 minutes ago

BAGHDAD (AFP) – US air strikes on a Baghdad neighbourhood before dawn on Thursday killed 14 civilians while they were sleeping and destroyed several houses, angry residents and Iraqi officials said.

Defence and interior ministry officials said US helicopters fired on houses in the Al-Washash neighbourhood of Mansour district in west Baghdad between 2.00 am and 3.00 am while in pursuit of insurgents.

“The attacks on the houses took place while people were sleeping. There were no clashes. The area had been quiet,” said an interior ministry official who did not want to be named.

Israel Weighs a War in Gaza
By TIM MCGIRK/JERUSALEM, Time Magazine
1 hour, 53 minutes ago

As children in the southern Israeli town of Sderot toddled back to class after summer vacation on Monday, a Palestinian rocket exploded near a gaily painted kindergarten. None of the kids were hurt by the blast, but as one mother who rushed to the kindergarten says, “I found all the children terrified and in tears.” They were treated for shock.

A Gunboat Message to China
By SIMON ROBINSON/DELHI, Time Magazine
1 hour, 55 minutes ago

The six-day-long exercise currently underway in the Bay of Bengal is one of the biggest war games the world will see this year. But not all its participants want that fact broadcast. The exercise, dubbed Malabar 07-02, involves warships from the U.S., Australia, India, Japan and Singapore – more than two dozen, in all, including two U.S. aircraft carrier and India’s sole carrier, and a nuclear-powered submarine. Participants are keen to stress that the exercise will focus on anti-piracy drills and rescue missions and in no way threatens a certain growing Asian power to the north. “There is no military alignment,” India’s Defense Minister A.K. Antony said recently. “It’s only an exercise.”

But Beijing won’t see it that way….

Iraqi Progress: The View from Baghdad
By CHARLES CRAIN/GHAZALIYAH, BAGHDAD, Time Magazine
Wed Sep 5, 11:20 AM ET

President Bush made a politically astute choice by flying into al Asad Airbase in Iraq’s Anbar province for Monday’s surprise trip. His stopover allowed him to highlight the striking success the U.S. has had in Anbar this year turning Sunni groups against al-Qaeda in Iraq. But his decision to avoid Baghdad is telling: it is in the Iraqi capital, not Anbar, where America’s warming relationship with the Sunnis is running up against Iraq’s complicated and often savage sectarian conflict.

From Yahoo News U.S. News

Megachurch leader D. James Kennedy dies
By MATT SEDENSKY, Associated Press Writer
Wed Sep 5, 9:42 PM ET

MIAMI – The Rev. D. James Kennedy, a pioneering Christian broadcaster and megachurch pastor whose fiercely conservative worldview helped fuel the rise of the religious right in American politics, died Wednesday. He was 76.

Kennedy died at his home in Fort Lauderdale, said Kristin Cole, a spokeswoman for Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. The cause of death has not been determined, but Kennedy had not been seen publicly he suffered cardiac arrest Dec. 28. His retirement was announced last month.

Kennedy’s voice and face were known to millions through radio and television broadcasts, urging Christians to evangelize in their daily lives, while condemning homosexuality and abortion as assaults on the traditional family. His also preached on the major policy issues of the day, rejecting evolution and global warming.

Study finds U.S. Jews distance selves from Israel
By Michael Conlon, Religion Writer, Reuters
Thu Sep 6, 1:12 AM ET

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Young U.S. non-Orthodox Jews are becoming increasingly lukewarm if not alienated in their support for Israel in a trend that is not likely to be reversed, according to a study released on Thursday.

Blending into U.S. society, including marriage to non-Jews and a tendency to look on Judaism more in religious terms than ethnic ones, is part of what’s happening, the study found.

“For our parent’s generation, the question that mattered was, how do we regard Israel? For Generation Y (born after 1976) the question is indeed, why should we regard Israel?” said Roger Bennett, a vice president of The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, which sponsored the study.

Texas executes man for murder, rape
AFP
1 hour, 50 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A convicted murderer apologized for his crime and asked the victim’s family for forgiveness just before he was executed by Texas authorities on Wednesday.

“I just pray that some day you will find forgiveness in our heart. Know that your loved one is in a good place,” said Tony Roach, addressing his last words to the family of the woman he murdered and raped nine years ago, Ronnie Hewitt.

“I am sorry for what I have done,” Roach said, according to a transcript of his last statement released by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Moment Of Truth in Iraq
By MICHAEL DUFFY, Time Magazine
19 minutes ago

It is a measure of how vaporous the ground truths in Iraq have become that George W. Bush had to sneak into the country he conquered. Extra security was needed to proclaim that Iraq was more secure, the surge was working and the country was worth more American blood and treasure. Before the surprise trip on Sept. 3, a TIME correspondent was summoned to a Starbucks in downtown Washington, where he was informed of the Iraq mission – and then prohibited from telling anyone other than his spouse and his boss. At dusk on Sunday, Sept. 2, passengers boarded Air Force One inside its massive hangar at Andrews Air Force Base. Once darkness fell, the hangar doors opened, and the plane pushed out onto the runway for takeoff, its lights off and its window shades drawn. Laptops were returned in midflight, but their owners had to disable the wireless functions to prevent the President’s plane from being tracked across the globe. Twelve hours later, Air Force One touched down, and Bush stepped out onto the tarmac of another well-secured U.S. air base for an eight-hour visit to Anbar province.

Much of what happens in Iraq is bewildering and contradictory. A surge in U.S. troops has helped secure the capital – but seems to have pushed the violence elsewhere. Casualties among U.S. troops were down slightly in July and August but are surpassing last year’s levels. An avalanche of new progress reports is interpreted by both proponents and opponents of U.S. policy as validation of their positions. Even the President’s comments about troop levels can be confounding: Bush made the trip in part to pressure a reluctant Congress to permit his 30,000-troop surge, announced in January, to continue a while longer. And yet it was Bush who, during his brief visit to Anbar, hinted openly that troop withdrawals might begin soon. He told reporters that General David Petraeus informed him that “if the security situation continues to improve the way it has, we may be able to achieve the same objectives with fewer troops.”

Americans sense intuitively that Iraq has a way of reducing what was once solid and certain into sand. Lawmakers from both parties expected September to be a month of reckoning for the President’s Iraq policy – a stop-or-go moment when the U.S. would decide whether to continue the surge or begin an inevitable pullback. But even before Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker utter a word to Congress, that debate looks almost moot. Bush appears ready to continue the surge for another six months or so, and the Democrats lack the votes to check him. So what will unfold instead in Washington this month is not a debate about the surge but the beginning of a debate about what comes after: How long will the U.S. be in Iraq? (Probably a decade, possibly more.) How many troops will be needed? (Probably 130,000 to start, hopefully less.) What will the mission be after the surge? (Get in line – it’s anyone’s guess.) Will the Iraqis get their act together? (Not soon, as things stand now.)

Thompson Enters, Stage Right
By JAMES CARNEY / WASHINGTON, Time Magazine
21 minutes ago

Tonight, as every other G.O.P. candidate for President appears on a stage in Manchester, N.H., for a debate on Fox News, Fred Dalton Thompson – actor, ex-Senator and irrepressible political flirt – will be 3,000 miles away, sitting next to Jay Leno and finally announcing his commitment to audition for the role of a lifetime: commander in chief.

That Thompson would choose a Hollywood venue to declare his candidacy makes sense. After all, to the extent that voters recognize Thompson, 65, it’s as Arthur Branch, the gruff-but-charming District Attorney in the long-running NBC series Law & Order. Or as Joshua Painter, the gruff-but-charming rear admiral in The Hunt for Red October. (Dramatic range is not his calling card.)

Political junkies know that Thompson was a twice-elected Senator from Tennessee; that he served as G.O.P. counsel during the Watergate hearings in 1973; and that he had a successful career as a lawyer-lobbyist in Washington for years in between. But rather than present himself as just another politician running for President, Thompson will try to turn his fame into a bankable asset. Hence the decision not just to skip the New Hampshire debate in favor of The Tonight Show, but to take the audacious step of airing a campaign ad on Fox News during the debate he will have so conspicuously skipped. “There is no question that Senator Thompson’s celebrity affords us some communications opportunities that aren’t necessarily available to every candidate,” says Todd Harris, the nascent Thompson campaign’s communications director. “We intend to exploit those.”

Earth tones

Well, it’s a big change, but I want you to see just what a little change in background color can do.

The main color is based on Patriot Buff, but is even lighter- fffffa

This is the color of the outer border and the main column.

The Recent Diaries Column and the Menu Column are a little yellower than Patriot Buff- ffffee and they are now both the same color instead of one being darker than the other.

So this is ‘earth tones’ and browns, yellows, greens, and reds should work and play well.

I’d like you to live with it for a while (like today maybe) and we’ll try something different tommorow.

No, I’m not afraid of anything, why do you ask?

It occurs to me for those not up to speed on this debate that you might like some background.

Up until now we have been relentlessly gray.  That is to say that contrast has been achieved by equally suppressing Red, Green, and Blue.

Yellow colors are achieved by disproportionately suppressing Blue.

Blue colors are achieved by disproportionately suppressing Red and Green.

Green colors are achieved by disproportionately suppressing Red and Blue.

You get the picture.

Light background colors are ABSOLUTELY necessary for adequate contrast unless you want to look like some Gamer site.

And did I mention…

Last I heard OTB was going for a Monday 9/10 rollout.

Current cast of characters-

Guest Bloggers
  Jerome a Paris
  kestrel9000

Editors
  breathingstill
  Cronesense
  exmearden
  Jay Elias
  jillian
  ksh01
  LithiumCola
  LoE
  Magnifico
  melvin
  Nightprowlkitty
  noweasels
  occams hatchet
  pfiore8
  pico
  pinche tejano
  pyrrho
  Robyn
  srkp23
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The violence grows worse, and the Democrats won’t stop it.

Here’s the problem, as defined by two front page newspaper stories.

The Washington Post has a report that undercuts claims that violence in Iraq is dropping:

The U.S. military’s claim that violence has decreased sharply in Iraq in recent months has come under scrutiny from many experts within and outside the government, who contend that some of the underlying statistics are questionable and selectively ignore negative trends.

Reductions in violence form the centerpiece of the Bush administration’s claim that its war strategy is working. In congressional testimony Monday, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is expected to cite a 75 percent decrease in sectarian attacks. According to senior U.S. military officials in Baghdad, overall attacks in Iraq were down to 960 a week in August, compared with 1,700 a week in June, and civilian casualties had fallen 17 percent between December 2006 and last month. Unofficial Iraqi figures show a similar decrease.

Others who have looked at the full range of U.S. government statistics on violence, however, accuse the military of cherry-picking positive indicators and caution that the numbers — most of which are classified — are often confusing and contradictory. “Let’s just say that there are several different sources within the administration on violence, and those sources do not agree,” Comptroller General David Walker told Congress on Tuesday in releasing a new Government Accountability Office report on Iraq.

Of course, cherry-picking the intel was one of the ways the Bush Administration sold the war to the gullible public, in the first place!

The article makes clear that compliant military officers have been questioning the methodology of the recent pessimistic GAO report and the similarly negative report in the recent National Intelligence Estimate. For example, the NIE reported on the worsening warfare between rival Shiite factions, while the military simply doesn’t track Shiite-on-Shiite or Sunni-on-Sunni attacks. Violence is apparently invisible and inconsequential if it isn’t perpetrated by pre-selected factions. One wonders if there’s an actual application form they’re supposed to fill out, before their murder and mayhem can be officially recognized. Similarly, acts of violence by Sunni tribesmen who have been recruited as U.S. allies aren’t counted at all. In other words, being a U.S. ally means never having to say you’re a murderer.

The December 2006 Iraq Study Group also reported that violence was being underreported, as the Los Angeles Times explained:

Bombings, sectarian slayings and other violence related to the war killed at least 1,773 Iraqi civilians in August, the second month in a row that civilian deaths have risen, according to government figures. An Associated Press tally put the August figure even higher, at 1,809.

And, according to that AP tally, those August casualties represent  the second-highest monthly total of the year.

The NIE was also edited, to paint a more positive picture. As the Post article explains:

A senior military intelligence official in Baghdad deemed it “odd” that “marginal” security improvements were reflected in an estimate assessing the previous seven months and projecting the next six to 12 months. He attributed the change to a desire to provide Petraeus with ammunition for his congressional testimony.

Now, to anyone paying attentio, none of this is exactly a secret. We all know that the facts are being fudged, and we all know that the reports to Congress will be as dishonest as the reports that first got us into this war. You would think Congress would be ready to call bullshit and take a stand to end this continuing atrocity. But, of course, we already know what’s going to happen.

As the New York Times reports:

With a mixed picture emerging about progress in Iraq, Senate Democratic leaders are showing a new openness to compromise as they try to attract Republican support for forcing at least modest troop withdrawals in the coming months.

After short-circuiting consideration of votes on some bipartisan proposals on Iraq before the August break, senior Democrats now say they are willing to rethink their push to establish a withdrawal deadline of next spring if doing so will attract the 60 Senate votes needed to prevail.

Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, said, “If we have to make the spring part a goal, rather than something that is binding, and if that is able to produce some additional votes to get us over the filibuster, my own inclination would be to consider that.”

Rather than something that is binding? Because it is better to do what amounts to nothing than to try to do something that will actually hasten the war’s end? What’s most baffling is that Senator Levin voted against the original war resolution, so many wasted lifetimes ago. He knew it was wrong, then; so, what could possibly have convinced him that it’s necessary to continue the war, now?

Some Democrats have concluded that their decision earlier this summer to thwart votes on alternatives left them open to criticism that they were being intransigent.

Criticism from whom? David Broder? Fred Hiatt?

So, the current plan seems to be go along with Senator John Warner’s proposal to set a start date for withdrawing troops; and never mind that the proposal offers no end date. And never mind that the proposal comes from a retiring Republican. Democrats want time to “digest” the upcoming reports by General Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker before making any final decisions. Apparently, the fact that literally everyone knows what those reports will say doesn’t matter. And neither does the fact that we all know what thorough digestion leads to.

Usernames

As people begin to drift in, I think we should establish a policy on usernames. Otherwise, we might end up with some of the games being played at peeder’s place. I think we should say, up front, in our Faq or whatever we come up with, that people who have established UIDs on other sites should be given the presumptive right to use them, here; and that if anyone takes the UID of someone well-known on other sites, they should make clear on their user page that they are not that person. I realize this is another subtle meta issue, but it’s another that I think needs clarification, before people start using UIDs to abuse their previous enemies. And they will. And it could create another type of headache that would disrupt the site’s smooth flow.

Thoughts?

What falls away is always

(Nightwatch promote – promoted by exmearden)

I never mentioned to him, during those four years that we knew each other, that I was familiar with Theodore Roethke. I never recall Murray saying a word about Roethke to me. It is the greatest irony to me; a small thing to you, of course. But when you meet someone, and see them many, many times over the course of four years, and your lives cross paths in both big and minuscule ways, you’d think that “knowing” Roethke would have been a topic that might have been shared.

Theodore Roethke Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Some people you know wide, some people you know deep.

Wide is knowing a lot of small details about someone and knowing the right details may fit together in a mosaic that makes sense of a person and their character. Maybe that mosaic gives you background enough to maintain a mere acquaintance, a sometime connection; or perhaps, instead, you grow a true friendship, a deep camaraderie.

When you know someone deep, the details you know fall together in a pattern that allows your own pattern to synchronize with their pattern on some familiar level. 

Some folks you never know at all.

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?

I didn’t really know Roethke, any more than I knew Kennedy. I link this because Roethke died in 1963, a signal year in history and the turning point for so many things this country is identified by. The loss of Kennedy and “Camelot”. The start of the ramp-up to Vietnam. Just over the horizon, the British invasion in music. Growing heat in the civil rights movement. 1963 was a pivotal year.

1963 was the year Roethke died in a swimming pool at a friend’s house on Bainbridge Island in Washington State.  55 years of age, and Theodore Roethke’s heart gave way. A heart of deep and longing sadness. A heart of lyrical, spare words, organic and questioning emotion. Uncut, unpruned, Roethke lived his adult life almost solely confined to an academic forest.

Portrait of Roethke, Blue Moon Tavern in Seattle's U District. Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Roethke was a poet. Murray was a local icon.

Murray has died, and he and I, we never spoke of Roethke.

I have not seen Murray in almost five years. I’m sad at that loss, a loss like so many other losses, a failing of time and place and circumstance. I found his obituary in the paper online and I know the loss of his family and friends and I’m sad for it.

Murray In 1990, his friend Terry Gleason suggested creating a poetry club with just two rules, Mr. Ferguson recalled in a UW newsletter last year: “First, that we start every meeting with a drink. That, of course, got me interested. Second, that whoever is host sets all the other rules. That’s worked perfectly all these years.”
A model neighbor and father on Queen Anne

It happens; so often you drift away from people who’ve charmed you the most. Sometimes there is no possible recovery of the friendship, or the acquaintance; no continuance in the story you have both started, for in the meeting of every new person, there is a first chapter of a story. This story that might have grown into a wonderful tale of anecdotes and as years passed, we’d add more curious and whimsical events to the narrative.  Not to be. I’ve found that the last chapter has already been written, the book is closed.

Some of the “wide” of knowing Murray came from listening to the stories he related – of his own life or his perspective on other lives. Such tales were often whimsical in nature, told in a self-deprecating fashion.  Murray had a way about him and a story was always related with wryness and evident humility. You knew Murray was completely aware of the many angles from which a story could be perceived. Amusement and gentle evaluation of his listener lurked there, behind his unfailingly graceful demeanor.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

One story of whimsy was how he went on a bike trip with one of his sons a few years back. It was a journey across Ireland on what I seem to recall was a five speed bicycle.  Murray had brought the wrong kind of shoes for the trip. Unlike other folks who might outfit themselves with expensive touring shoes or at least with new footwear more personalized and made for biking, Murray simply picked up a pair of old oxfords at an Irish thrift store along the way.

Those beat-up shoes carried him across that green island, only because the spirit was willing.

I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

When it was time to talk serious with his sons, Murray would schedule a trip to Thirteen Coins, a restaurant close by the Space Needle and across the street from the Seattle Times building. This was a Dad tradition. If it was time for the “Dad” talk, it meant dinner downtown. Here was where he sought to set things straight for his children, on the straight and narrow at least from his perspective. I would assume that he never raised his voice. I knew Murray briefly enough, but I can envision a gentle terror, a frisson of anxiousness settled on the shoulders of each of his sons before the talk with Dad. Thirteen Coins, with its anachronistic high-walled leather booths, dark wood on every other surface in a gentlemen’s club kind of way, was secluded and perfectly discreet enough for Murray’s come-to-Jesus moments.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

There are other things I could tell about Murray, the little I knew of him. How he canvassed all his neighbors each year for a community home tour, the Tour of Homes on  Queen Anne Hill, a fundraiser that benefits the school that his seven children attended, and the heart of the significant Catholic community on the hill.  He greeted each and every Trick-or-Treater each year at Halloween at his front door with the bowl of candy and an invitation to come into the foyer for the annual picture. There, in the corner near the second floor staircase, he’d place a poster board of years past featuring pictures of many of the previous scary ghosts, pirates, goblins, and other dreadful creatures who tromped down West Highland Drive each Halloween night.

There are other stories, the bits and pieces that one can absorb from another’s life.  But in all these pieces I’ve picked up and not let go,  I never learned until after he died that Murray had studied with Roethke.

It’s one thing I would have liked to have shared with him. But the book is closed.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

(Scattered, displaced excerpts from The Waking, Theodore Roethke)

Harry Reid: Republicans Agree Senate is Where to End Iraq

Mr. Reid, I know you are tired of getting these letters, but I offer you a ray of hope tonight. I offer you validation from the Republicans in their Presidential debate this evening. When you are looking for justification for bringing a plan to end the mistakes of the Iraq War to the Senate floor, look no further than presidential hopeful, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul.

Now, truth be known, my guy in this fight is Ron Paul. And he, as I am sure you know, is against the war. Always has been. Well, tonight he got into a tangle with Huckabee as to if it is time to end this war. Huckabee, though a decent man, was using the old “you break it, you bought it” stance. Paul, as you know, is strict on the Constitution and wants out.

Let’s see how this played out:

Ron Paul:

“Going into Iraq and Afghanistan and threatening Iran is the worst thing we can do for our national security. I am less safe, the American people are less safe for this. It’s the policy that is wrong. The people who say there will be a bloodbath are the ones who said it will be a cakewalk or it will be a slam dunk, and that it will be paid for by oil. Why believe them?

Huckabee response:

“Congressman, whether or not we should have gone to Iraq is a discussion the historians can have, but we’re there. We bought it because we broke it. We’ve got a responsibility to the honor of this country and to the honor of every man and woman who has served in Iraq and ever served in our military to not leave them with anything less than the honor that they deserve.”

Paul response:

“The American people didn’t go in. A few people advising this administration, a small number of people called the neoconservatives hijacked our foreign policy. They’re responsible, not the American people.”

Huckabee response:

“We can’t be divided. We have to be one nation, under God. That means if we make a mistake, we make it as a single country: the United States of America, not the divided states of America.”

Paul response:

“No, when we make a mistake – when we make a mistake, it is the obligation of the people, through their representatives, to correct the mistake, not to continue the mistake.”

Huckabee:

“And that’s what we do on the floor of the Senate.”

Okay, Harry, when the Republicans start their usual talking points, point to this exchange in their own presidential debate. Paul ceded the point, because Constitutional, Huckabee is correct.

Point out one of their own said we fix the mistake of Iraq on the floor of the Senate. As Paul pointed out, the people fulfilled their obligation and have placed you and other Democrats into a majority in both houses to fix the mistake that is Iraq.

Now fix the mistake, even the Republicans agree.

Watch:

Let it load and watch at 4:59 to 5:45, that is where the exchange is.

Midnight Cowboying – My Front-Porch Theory of America

Having the great fortune of growing up in place that was free and independent of the nothing we called the creeping American culture in Texas, I can tell you stories about people in my area that would make Faulkner blush and Roy Rogers laugh and do rope tricks. But the key to any good yarn is a community to base one upon, and I’m sorry I would rather look at Dick Cheney Glamour Shots where he wears a fluffy, all be it fun, red boa than listen to any more tales of suburban disturbance.  People are under the spell of suppression through opulence, whereas the quality of life is up to such a level the populace is in fear of change in fear of losing their mall food courts which daily have banquets the Romans would have called decadent. But the sacrifice was a common bond with their neighbors; just because a city has a name, it is not a town until there are a people.

The alpha point for this culture was rather simple and, at the time, viewed as a keen idea. In the swell years of America, the post-war family explosion ignited a need for place for these fine Americans to call home. They would also have to be fast produced to accommodate both the baby boom, and a longer living older generation.

At this time it would be convenient time to discuss basic home building. Up until this era, all homes had a dominating front to the street, with a front porch as the primary portal into the home (See Figure 1). They also had nice front lawns with actually used lawn furniture and always with a Norman Rockwell shady tree. The front porch was a focal point of social interaction that can still be seen on stoop fronts of Brooklyn.


Now when the suburbs started to spread across the land like some kind of biblical plague, they did something very interesting to the house. This also coincided with mass personal auto use. Instead of a brilliantly planned set of plans to build an automated train-based transport system, we decided to ride around alone with only the radio to talk to. And the houses needed a place for the autos, so the front porch was scrapped in favor a garage, but when the people complained about the lack of porches, they gave them a back patio.

This was also an interesting time for mass communications. Without a front porch to act as the center of family activity, the epicenter was then placed on the television. Isolated in their backyards, the basic social fabric began to fray, and two major fabrics were broken and went under media control. No longer were their local farm teams, and neighborhood pick games went the way of watching the local big city team on television. Since women were no longer on the porch passing tales, the local grapevine was supplanted by Soap Operas. If you look at the rise in popularity of network daytime dramas and the rise of major sports franchises in correlation to the removal of front porches one can see a direct relation.

Once you take these to vital strings out of the blanket of a town, it is only obvious that America would evolve into the detached isolated world it has become. Once media took these two over and TV had become must see, other aspects of our culture feel like dominos. Forget love thy neighbor; we don’t even know thy neighbor any more. But wait, there’s more!

Recently, Phase 2 has started to follow in the prototype’s footsteps. Now the structure is complete. Due to land value and space maxination, the houses have been elongated from the garage to form a basic railroad style, with no porch at all (See Figure 3). In the last fifty years we have managed to rotate the basic American home 90 degrees, and destroy our culture in the process.

That would only level the dreaded Phase 3. Instead of simple fences, 20-foot security walls block the view of all your neighbors and a 30 foot electrified fence obscures the front to the street (See Figure 4). You are finally secured. TV has evolved into a virtual reality SIMS type environment where the only social reaction occurs on Internet 2. Since you telecommute and food is delivered by Wal-Mart online, there is no reason to ever leave. Your whole life is now bought out of a virtual catalog. So ends the land of the brave, or does it?

So check this out, and remember how simple we all are. I was searching online about solar planes for a home power source, and found a freaking kids toy to where you can build such a thing. It even has an add-on for an electric car? Are you trying to tell me kids can do it, but adults can’t? A child can build a self-efficient home, while we still pay the electric company to do it for us. Gotta hand it to media control and home rotation.

———-

My Top Five Favorite Things

1) A Case Study in Group Think
http://www.dailykos….

2) World’s Most Unique Sculptures
http://www.oddee.com…

3) Armageddon Flowchart
http://www.listaholi…

4) Sci-fi novelist William Gibson reveals his latest predictions
http://www.belfastte…

5) Pink Dolphin

http://www.calcasieu…

NYT: Dems to Cave for ANY “Compromise”

Crossposted from Daily Kos. let me go for some substance this time

Well, this didn’t take long. Here’s a couple of paragraphs from the story to make you angry:

The willingness to consider alternatives represents a shift by Democrats and is a recognition of changing political and practical realities they face in grappling with Iraq and its future.

Democrats had been counting on more Republicans to make a clean break from the president after the summer recess, but the White House has managed, at least temporarily, to hold on to much of its support.

Got that, the Republicans aren’t caving in magical September, and the Democrats are SHOCKED. So what are we getting in place of a date certain?

Republicans and Democrats are also discussing ways to tweak a bipartisan plan by Senators Ken Salazar, Democrat of Colorado, and Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee [. . .]

more

That plan, which would enact the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, is drawing new backing in the House from Republicans looking for an alternative to the status quo.

“I think there is a general feeling that people would like to pull something together that would have bipartisan support,” Mr. Salazar said.

Do we need to warn the Democrats against false compromise again?

Let me say what I think will happen with this plan, if the Democrats try to go forward with it. 1) It will get something close to 60 votes in the Senate, and perhaps a few more in the House, but not nearly enough to override a veto; 2) George Bush will veto it; 3) there will be another blank check.

The power of the purse is all that Democrats really have, and they need not to be afraid to use it. False compromise like this will simply empower Bush.

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