Saturday, February 25, 2006

Get The Feeling Yet Another Shoe Is About To Drop?

Iraq government warns of "endless civil war"

Attacks Surge in Iraq Despite Curfew

al-Qaida Threatens to Hit More Saudi Sites

State of emergency bites after foiled Philippine coup

(interesting side note about this last item: "Neighboring Malaysia, which is hosting informal peace talks between Manila and Muslim rebels from the Philippines' south, said the discussions would not be derailed by the emergency.")

Al Qaeda claims responsibility for Saudi attack

All this after this:
The bin Laden tape addresses the American people, both threatening fresh attacks and offering hudna, or long-term truce, if America withdraws from Iraq and Afghanistan. He knows that Americans, unconvinced by the arguments behind his attacks against the US, won’t buy his truce offer. In reality, the tape was for Muslim ears: bin Laden intends to establish himself in the eyes of his putative constituency as a legitimate leader, concerned with wartime diplomacy - that like George W. Bush, he is a wartime leader. The tape also answers Muslim critics who faulted him for violating Islam’s fundamental rule of war: Americans were not thoroughly warned before the September 11 attacks.
Endless civil war. Allies in trouble. And Al-qaeda suddenly rearing its ugly head outside of Iraq and vowing more.

Give Qaeda credit: they're a damn sight more persistent than the Bush administration has been. They've set an eye on a target, like the Trade Center, and have carefully chosen their plan, while we've rushed willy-nilly, sending boys and girls into harm's way only to change the target and focus of our activities. Al Qaeda does what they say they'll do: the Bush administration has to find post facto excuses.

We're seeing an administration that is wholly bereft of vision, having developed cataracts on their eyes even to their sworn goals-- kill bin Laden, reform Social Security, peace and democracy in Iraq, and so on-- when challenges to those goals have proven insurmountable. We're left, on this day of horrible international news, with headlines of Bush defends troubled Medicare drug program.

Sad, what this country has come to.

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Hey, Honey...You Can Trust Us!

It's interesting to me, an amateur social transactional psychologist (occupational hazard of acting), to see the nation's reaction to the whole "ports control" issue, more so for the dynamic of watching the Bush administration flounder about, realizing it has thoroughly lost control of the dialogue in the nation.

"Trust us," Bush says.

I'm not too comforted by those words, and I see the nation is not, either. This dynamic begins to play out in an enormous, classic "Battered Wife Syndrome" way.

Bush has been the abusive husband-- financially, emotionally, mentally, and even physically (sending troops to Iraq). He's squandered a lot of what he was given, both in 2000 and 2004 (we can say it was stolen, and it was, but it really should never have come to where the margins were so close that he could steal it. That's our responsibility.) And yet he asked us to trust him as President.

And we did. Despite the fact that he busied himself on August 6th, 2001, doing yard work, instead of mobilizing at least a stinking task force to meet inside the month to talk about this rather startling PDB he'd been handed.

Despite the fact that within days of September 11, he had already drafted war plans to invade Iraq on evidence of "crimes" that were dubious and sketchy at best, knowing full well "wifey" would never seriously challenge the evidence. And if "she" did, he had ways of shutting her up.

He spent our life savings, which we had preciously put away for that inevitable rainy day, and then took a cut in pay because it was "too easy to spend" the family fortune. Except on his toy soldiers, of course and give aways to the local garage, where they gas up his Hummer and change the oil daily for him.

And then he yells at us for driving too much and wasting gas.

He's promised us he would protect us from harm, yet there's at least three muggers lurking in the bushes (pun intended) outside the house, waiting for us to let the cat out so they can jump us. And he won't be around when it happens. Probably have an Elks meeting or will be out riding his bike. Hell, he got a phone call telling him we're about to be mugged again! What's he doing about it? Is he even standing up and telling bin Laden, "Enough! We're coming back to Afghanistan, and we're finding you this time?" Nope.

Meanwhile, all he's been able to do these past four and a half years has been to make empty threats, if even that. Oh...and he put that poor deluded crazy man down the block, Saddam, into a mental hospital, even though he hadn't done a goddamn thing to us, and called it a victory.

Sure. And crushing frogs under the wheels of your bike is hunting! Meanwhile, the kids are being sent to Iraq to clean up the mess he left behind. And dying. So he can claim he beat up the guy who beat up his daddy!?

When his drinking buddy, Kenny Boy, borrowed gobs of money from his "wives" and then hid it in his mattress, then said he couldn't pay it back, did Bush offer to help them out? Nope. He denied he ever even knew the bastard. Poor girls. Had billions tied up in that jerk, the same jerk that got Bush elected president of the Elks.

Even now, he's putting cousins of that damn mugger outside in charge of opening and closing the gate to the yard! And we're supposed to "trust him". What the fuck is up with that??? The last time he put his "reputation on the line," that poor Harriet Miers was all but called a lesbian when she ran for traffic court! Some reputation this asshole has! And he never even stood up for her beyond paying some lip service to her, and making her look like some moony-eyed starlet. Always wondered about that...

This guy is hiding behind the bodies of 6,000 Americans who serve one purpose and one purpose only: to cover the fact that deep down inside, this guy's a wimp who couldn't change a lightbulb on the doorstep if you didn't spot him the bulb, the fixture, a ladder.

And an electrician.

Now, we feel like we're the big-titted wife whom he trots out for his drinking parties, humiliates and then makes us take our top off for the guys.

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tags technorati :

Feeling Like A Sector G Drone?

You have good reason to:
Americans work more, seem to accomplish less

By Ellen Wulfhorst
Thu Feb 23, 9:52 AM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Most U.S. workers say they feel rushed on the job, but they are getting less accomplished than a decade ago, according to newly released research.

Workers completed two-thirds of their work in an average day last year, down from about three-quarters in a 1994 study, according to research conducted for Day-Timers Inc., an East Texas, Pennsylvania-based maker of organizational products.

The biggest culprit is the technology that was supposed to make work quicker and easier, experts say.

"Technology has sped everything up and, by speeding everything up, it's slowed everything down, paradoxically," said John Challenger, chief executive of Chicago-based outplacement consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

"We never concentrate on one task anymore. You take a little chip out of it, and then you're on to the next thing," Challenger said on Wednesday. "It's harder to feel like you're accomplishing something."

Unlike a decade ago, U.S. workers are bombarded with e-mail, computer messages, cell phone calls, voice mails and the like, research showed.

The average time spent on a computer at work was almost 16 hours a week last year, compared with 9.5 hours a decade ago, according to the Day-Timer research released this week.

Workers typically get 46 e-mails a day, nearly half of which are unsolicited, it said.

Sixty percent of workers say they always or frequently feel rushed, but those who feel extremely or very productive dropped to 51 percent from 83 percent in 1994, the research showed.
This is all happening as the work force is getting older AND getting laid off with more and more frequency.

Part of this relates to another story I mentioned yesterday, about family income declines. Working harder is easy to do when you're seeing the benefits in your pocket. It's not so easy to do when you've been shortchanged as your employer makes money hand over fist and pays less in taxes than you do, collectively.

Welcome to Republican America, folks!

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Happy Hit Count To Yooooooou!!!!

Damn nice prizes too:

The prize for the billionth song purchased:

- One 20-inch iMac
- Ten 60GB iPods (5 white/5 black)
- One U.S. $10,000 iTunes Music Card (good for any media type)

In addition, Apple will establish a scholarship to the world-renowned Juilliard School in his name to commemorate this milestone.

Are You Better Off Now Than You Were Five Years Ago?

Probably not:
Average American Family Income Declines

Thu Feb 23, 9:57 AM ET

WASHINGTON - The average income of American families, after adjusting for inflation, declined by 2.3 percent in 2004 compared to 2001 while their net worth rose but at a slower pace.

The Federal Reserve reported Thursday that the drop in inflation-adjusted incomes left the average family income at $70,700 in 2004. The median, or point where half the families earned more and half less, did rise slightly in 2004 after adjusting for inflation to $43,200, up 1.6 percent from the 2001 level.

The median, or midpoint for net worth rose by 1.5 percent to $93,100 from 2001 to 2004. That growth was far below the 10.3 percent gain in median net worth from 1998 to 2001, a period when the stock market reached record highs before starting to decline in early 2000.

The Fed's results were published in the 2004 Survey of Consumer Finances, a document which provides a comprehensive view of how Americans are faring on such pocketbook issues as incomes and net worth.
Loosely defined, "net worth" is the value of your assets: house, car, investments, and so on, after subtracting your indebtedness. I haven't seen the numbers underlying this study yet, but I can almost bet you that debt has far and away outstripped both income growth and the miniscule increase in net worth for the average American household. Most of that $93,000 is tied up in housing, I'm sure, and I'm also sure that net worth will plummet over the next five years.

I Am.....

Jean-Luc Picard.
You command your ship with an iron fist and the children love you. Bah!!! Humbug!! KIDS!!! >_<

Which Star Trek Character Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Aw Shit!

FCC renews tough indecency rulings


February 23, 2006

The federal government will ban another four-letter word and sanction Fox, NBC and CBS as part of dozens of upcoming indecency rulings, signaling a renewed crackdown by the Bush administration, sources said.[....]

The agency also decided to prohibit a common expletive for excrement after celebrity Nicole Richie used the word at the 2003 Billboard Music Awards, the officials said.
It took them three years to add this word-- OK, 43 years if you go by George Carlin's bit? Why? Were they making sure in case Bush said it during his re-election bid?

What is the deal with a word that most kids will hear by the time they're four from their parents or older friends or siblings? For that matter, why in the hell are kids up at that hour anyway? When I was a lad, coming from a strict family, when I was young enough to be influenced by words like "shit", I was already in bed and fast asleep!

What is it with the bluenoses on the right wing that they can't get their kids to sleep, hmmmmmmm? Or would that mean more time for marital sex, an activity they simply can't abide?

I've never censored myself in front of my child (I will out of respect for other parents, to be sure, but then again, they can't change my channel) because I feel that if it affects me strongly enough to "go there," then she ought to understand that it's OK to feel something that strongly.

Sure beats being some anally-retentive asshole who blushed when the word "damn" is uttered and has no handle on a real tragedy.

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I Said A Flip, Flop, A Flippity To The Flippity Flip Flip Flop....

Arab Company, White House Had Secret Deal

Rep. Peter King of New York, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the conditions are evidence the Bush administration was concerned about security.
Offered without comment.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Whew! Now I Can Relax....

Well, in the quarterfinals for Olympic hockey, the United States faced Finland.

I'm not sure how much information I should post here, as NBC has embargoed access on-line to nearly every bit of info, but suffice it to say that I can now rest easily: one of the two nations I've pledged allegiance to has won, and I can now focus my attention on the winner.

I remember back in 1980, during "The Miracle," nearly coming to blows with my folks during the gold medal game. I won't have that issue this time around.

PS It wouldn't have mattered who won, of course. ;-)

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People Who Know Me Well...

...know I am an huge fan of Monty Python.

I've searched for years for the best Python gag you probably never saw, and I finally found it! And here it is, without further ado....

Feel free to download it, and enlarge it. It's the funniest read you'll do today.

For the intellectually unGIFted:
I'll make you a MASTER of LLAP-Goch, ...the Secret Welsh ART of SELF DEFENCE that requires NO INTELLIGENCE, STRENGTH or PHYSICAL courage. The FANTASTIC SECRETS of the SECRET world-famous method of SELF DEFENCE, kept secret for centuries because of their DEADLY POWER to MAIM, KILL, SMASH, BATTER, FRACTURE, CRUSH, DISMEMBER, CRACK, DISEMBOWEL, CRIPPLE, SNAP and HARM are now revealed to YOU in the English Language by a LLAP-GOCH master AT HIS OWN RISK, PROVIDED you promise to MAIM, CRUSH, DISEMBOWEL and so on ONLY in SELF DEFENCE. (This is just to cover ourselves, as you will understand.)

WHY "At his own risk?"

BECAUSE if his fellow masters of LLAP-GOCH DISCOVER his IDENTITY, they will PUNISH HIM SEVERELY for revealing the DEADLY secrets he had promised to keep SECRET, without giving them a piece of the ACTION, and also BECAUSE of the TERRIBLE risk of PUNISHMENT he runs under the Trades Description Act.


IT is THE most DEADLY form OF SECRET self-DEFENCE that HAS ever been widely advertised and available to EVERYONE.


Because THE most likely kind OF person TO answer THIS sort OF advertise- ment HAS less trouble under-STANDING words if they ARE written in BIG letters.

WHAT is LLAP-GOCH again?

It is an ANCIENT Welsh ART based on a BRILLIANTLY simple I-D-E-A, which is a SECRET. The best form of DEFENCE is ATTACK (Clausewitz) and the most VITAL element of ATTACK is SURPRISE (Oscar HAMMERstein). Therefore, the BEST way to protect yourself AGAINST any ASSAILANT is to ATTACK him before he attacks YOU... Or BETTER... BEFORE the THOUGHT of doing so has EVEN OCCURRED TO HIM!!! SO YOU MAY BE ABLE TO RENDER YOUR ASSAILANT UNCONSCIOUS BEFORE he is EVEN aware of your very existence!

No longer need you feel WEAK, helpless, INDECISIVE, NOT fascinating and ASHAMED of your genital dimensions. No more need you be out-manoeuvred in political debate!! GOOD BYE HUMILIATION, wisecracking bullies, Karate experts, boxing champions, sarcastic vicars, traffic wardens; entire panzer divisions will melt to pulp as you master every situation without INADEQUACY. PROTECT YOUR LOVED ONES. You will no longer look pitiful and spotty to your GIRL FRIENDS when you leave some unsuspecting passer- by looking like four tins of cat food! They will admire your MASTERY and DECISIVENESS and LACK OF INADEQUACY and will almost certainly let you put your HAND inside their BLOUSE out of sheer ADMIRATION. And after seeing more of your expert disabling they'll almost definately go to bed with you, although obviously we can't ABSOLUTELY guarantee this, still it's extremely likely and would make learning LLAP-GOCH really worthwhile al- though legally we can't PROMISE anything.

Why WELSH Art?

LLAP-GOCH was developed in Wales because for the average Welshman, the best prospects of achieving a reasonable standard of living lie with the acquisition of the most efficient techniques of armed robbery.

HOW do I learn?

No, you mean "How do YOU Learn." I know already.

HOW do You Learn?

You receive ABSOLUTELY FREE your own special personal LLAP-GOCH Picture Book with hundreds of PHOTOGRAPHS and just a very few plain, clear and simple, easy to understand words. Only a FOUR-SECOND WORK-OUT Each Day! And you will be ready to HARM people!


WHAT Does it Cost?

This, like LLAP-GOCH, is a SECRET but you will find out sooner or later, don't worry. MAIL DARING HAIR-RAISING MONEY-SAVING HALF-PRICE NO-RISK FREE-TRIAL COUPON NOW!

O.K. Hounourable Master, I accept your daring, hair-raising, mind- boggling, blood-curdling, no-risk, half-price, free-trial offer to reveal the secrets of LLAP-GOCH in a plain wrapper at once. Yes Master, I never again want to be 'Weak In The Knees' and 'Chicken Out' and 'Wet My Pants' when insulted and attacked. I agree never to abuse the principles of LLAP-GOCH or consult a lawyer. I am over 4. I have an extra Y chromo- some. Bill me later. I understand that if I am not completely satisfied I have been had.
NAME ______________________________ AGE __

ADDRESS ____________________________________

CITY _____________ STATE ____ ZIP _______

Please also enroll me under your special Car Insurance Scheme. I under- stand that I do not have to sign anything to make this completely binding to me.

UPDATE: Oh. My. God. Why didn't I know about this???? Tomorrow night (Thursday) at 10 PM. I'll be there with popcorn and salve for my abs...major frikkin' hat tip to PoP, whom I'll name my oldest living male relative after...

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Interesting Take On Race In America

I stumbled across this article, groping for Gov. Pataki's appendix:
Author explores idea of 'white privilege'


"If you use the term underprivileged, there has to be an overprivileged," [Tim] Wise said, adding that most white people aren't comfortable with that notion.

Wise, a Nashville native {ed note: who wrote the book "White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son," had been invited to address students as part of Farmingdale State University's Black History Month events}, said segregation allowed his family to gain home equity faster than people who lived in segregated black neighborhoods. His family used that equity to pay his tuition at Tulane University.

"I'm reaping the benefits of white privilege simply because my family was white," he said, adding, "the same is true for millions of other white Americans."
It's a logical, if largely unspoken point about race and economic class (because most poor people are white, of course) that if you speak about "unprivileged," you presume a "privileged" class.

My first job in freshman year of college was working as a messenger in Midtown Manhattan. I am the son of a working class, blue collar laborer (and thanks to unions, and obviously being white and male, I managed to lift myself far above my roots,) so it's not like I was slumming to take that job. Most of my peers that summer were black and Hispanic, including a high school classmate of mine (remember, I went to one of the top three academic high schools in the world, so this kid was smart).

I was white. I got the plum assignments, like dropping off scripts at TV studios, and agents and casting directors. My co-workers? Mostly got the drudge assignments, delivering letters to lawyers' offices (and sometimes not even being allowed up in the building, something I personally witnessed.) I worked my ass off, but so did they. At the end of the summer, my boss pulled me aside and handed me a hundred bucks (back in 1974, that was real money,) and wished me luck in college.

None of my black co-workers, who worked as hard if not harder than I did (they would ask for overtime, I rarely was asked to,) got anything extra.

I told you that story, because of this argument you'll hear from the right about this premise:
But one student said he thought Wise overstated any advantage America's racial climate gives to white people.

Kurt Wall, 19, of Bethpage, who attended as part of an assignment, said, "Some of the advantages he is talking about are more economic than racial."
Clearly, it's more about race than economics.

More on this topic in this insightful essay. (PDF file) (Tip of the hat to "ap")

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I Really Hate Doing The Media's Job For Them

Pataki undergoes second surgery

Governor is moved to city hospital, where abdominal problems after appendectomy require additional care


February 22, 2006

Five days after his appendix was removed, Gov. George Pataki underwent a second operation to relieve a blockage in his digestive system.

The surgery lasted a little more than an hour yesterday afternoon and was completed without incident at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia in Manhattan, Pataki spokesman David Catalfamo said in a statement.[....]

The operation took place about four hours after Pataki was transferred to the Manhattan facility from Hudson Valley Hospital Center in Westchester County.

Describing the move as "a precautionary measure," Quinn said doctors at the Manhattan hospital evaluated the governor's condition when he was admitted, and then decided to operate.[...]

Some disruption of intestinal processes is not uncommon after an appendectomy, said Dr. Marc Shapiro, a chief of general surgery at Stony Brook University, who is familiar with the procedure.

Sometimes, Shapiro said, the touch of a surgeon's hand can send the bowel into spasms that disrupt its normal function for up to five days - a condition not normally treated by surgery.

Other times, scar tissue or adhesions can lead to a kinking or twisting of the bowel, he said.
You know the question I'm going to ask, but let me ask it anyway: Why?

Why was it necessary to perform this second surgery? Why was it necessary to move Pataki over a hundred miles, from a hospital that clearly had the facilities to handle an appendectomy and what amounts to a not-uncommon post-surgical condition, reading Dr. Shapiro's comments? Why doesn't the 100-mile ambulance ride (assuming he wasn't choppered in, in which case, there's another "why?" on the horizon) constitute its own peril to the governor of the state? Was the risk to his health that great? Why isn't he taking a dump? I mean, the man is full enough of shit to begin with!

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

When You Lose Peter King and George Pataki...'re in serious trouble, Mr. President:
GOP Governors Threaten to Block Port Deal

Associated Press Writer

February 21, 2006, 6:51 AM EST

WASHINGTON -- Two Republican governors are threatening legal action to block an Arab company from taking over operations in major U.S. ports and some GOP lawmakers say the deal should be closely examined.

In the uneasy climate after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Bush administration decision to allow the transaction is threatening to develop a major political headache for the White House.

New York Gov. George Pataki and Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich on Monday voiced doubts about the acquisition of a British company that has been running six U.S. ports by Dubai Ports World, a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates.

[....]Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina said on Fox News Sunday that the administration approval was "unbelievably tone deaf politically." GOP Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia said on ABC's "This Week," "It's a tough one to explain, but we're in a global economy. ... I think we need to take a very close look at it."

Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey said Monday that he and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., will introduce legislation prohibiting the sale of port operations to foreign governments.

[....]Nearly all of the lawmakers who have weighed in represent states that contain one of the ports involved. In New York, Republican Gov. George E. Pataki voiced doubts yesterday about the acquisition and Republican Rep. Peter T. King, the House Homeland Security chairman, was one of the earliest and loudest critics.
Even Rick Santorum says this is a dumb deal.

So why was it approved? Questions are being raised all over the place, and those questions will continue, raising new ones.

Not least of which should be, why in the HELL isn't an American company in charge of operations at six major American ports? And, why, four and a half years after 9/11, are over 90% of containers entering American ports still not being inspected?

The UAE are nominal allies (like the Saudis,) yet they provided two hijackers for the 9-11 attacks (not unlike the Sauds.) The UAE has been a financing link for Al Qaeda (like the Saudis) and has provided haven for various Al Qaeda operatives and operations (like the Saudis.) Think this isn't raising some disturbing questions from Sept. 11 all over again?

Hullo? Is this thing on?

This is now two straight weeks that the "adults" have bungled a major news story and turned it from a minor story (company gets sold, big whoop) to raising serious and unanswered questions about how this country is being run (WHO is overseeing our ports now???)

Who's being rewarded here?

So Why Are We In Iraq?

Fafnir has the answers.

My favorite:
Q. There are more terrorists now than before the war. Is the occupation causing more terror?
A. Well, nobody can say for sure if that’s a man-made terror increase. It may just be a periodic shift in the natural terror cycle.
Q. Tell me more about this “not our fault” theory – I find it oddly compelling.
A. Like weather, terror is affected by seasonal fluctuations. The jet stream carries hijackers from continent to continent; El Niño causes suicide bombers to condense in the upper atmosphere. Is this affected by human activity or just part of a natural warming trend for terror? We just don’t know!
Q. Your ideas are boldly nonconformist, yet conveniently reaffirm my desire to do nothing. I like it!
Tip of the hockey helmet & bang of the stick on the ice to Miss Cellania

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Monday, February 20, 2006

In Dishonor of President's Day

Scholars Rate Worst Presidential Errors

Associated Press Writer

February 18, 2006, 2:06 PM EST

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- From engaging in sexual relations with an intern to letting the Vietnam War escalate, U.S. presidents have been blamed for some egregious errors.

So who had the worst blunder?
Sadly, out of deference to a sitting President, they don't include Dumbya, which would probably take up the top five spots, off the top of my head
President James Buchanan, for failing to avert the Civil War, according to a survey of presidential historians organized by the University of Louisville's McConnell Center.

[....]Scholars who participated said Buchanan didn't do enough to oppose efforts by Southern states to secede from the Union before the Civil War.

The second worst mistake, the survey found, was Andrew Johnson's decision just after the Civil War to side with Southern whites and oppose improvements in justice for Southern blacks beyond abolishing slavery.

"We continue to pay" for Johnson's errors, wrote Michael Les Benedict, an Ohio State University history professor emeritus.

Lyndon Johnson earned the No. 3 spot by allowing the Vietnam War to intensify, Gregg said.
Obviously, there's a certain amount of Vietnam-era bias in these boomers, as you can see from the rest of the list...
* 4: Woodrow Wilson's refusal to compromise on the Treaty of Versailles after World War I.

* 5: Richard Nixon's involvement in the Watergate cover-up.

* 6: James Madison's failure to keep the United States out of the War of 1812 with Britain.

* 7: Thomas Jefferson's Embargo Act of 1807, a self-imposed prohibition on trade with Europe during the Napoleonic Wars.

* 8: John F. Kennedy allowing the Bay of Pigs Invasion that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

* 9: Ronald Reagan and the Iran-Contra Affair, the effort to sell arms to Iran and use the money to finance an armed anti-communist group in Nicaragua.
Believe it or not, the Lewinski affair ranked tenth on this list. You'll note that every other scandal on this list in some way threatened the real security of the United States (save perhaps LBJ's intensification of the Vietnam war,) but a blow job by an intern affected Clinton's marriage more than the security of the country.

No, the real error during that era was the blue-nose reaction of the Republicans, distracting this country on the eve of the global war on terror. Imagine if Clinton, who had done yeoman work keeping us safe from Islamist terror attacks on American soil, had been allowed to focus on his job instead of a job he got?

THERE'S your error!

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Bird Flu Spreads Again

India, France Confirm 1st Bird Flu Cases

Associated Press Writer

February 18, 2006, 10:41 PM EST

BOMBAY, India -- India and France both confirmed their first outbreak of the deadly strain of bird flu among fowl, and on Sunday health officials and farm workers in western India began slaughtering a half-million birds to check the spread of the disease.

Tens of thousands of chickens have died from bird flu in recent weeks in western India, and people suffering from flu-like symptoms in the region were to be tested for the infection, officials said.

Saturday's announcement from France and India came as other nations fought to contain outbreaks of the H5N1 strain, which has spread from Asia amid fears of a worldwide flu pandemic if the virus mutates into a form that is easily transmitted between humans. Bird flu has killed at least 91 people -- most of them in Asia -- since 2003, according to World Health Organization figures.
Estimates are that 200 million birds have been killed or died as the result of bird flu so far in this epidemic.

I haven't paid much attention to poultry prices at the store. Has anyone noted an increase yet? My suspicion is no, since the pandemic had been confined to Southeast Asia, an area of the world too far for American poultry (well, East Coast, at any rate) products to travel easily. But now that it's firmly established in Europe, I anticipate a rise in chicken prices shortly.

India has slaughtered 500,000 more birds this weekend alone, bulldozing them into a mass grave (I'm trying to keep the picture of that out of my head.) That's on top of another 300,000 reported deaths in the Navapur region. Keep in mind we're talking about family farms, not big conglomerated commercial farmers. These are people who depend on poultry for their livelihoods, and watching their "crops" being destroyed wholesale.

The French case was a wild duck carcass found in Lyons, meaning it was a migratory bird, not domesticated fowl. Naturally, since France values its poultry, nearly everybody eats some regularly, this was cause for concern, but not wholesale slaughter. The domesticated birds are being kept indoors and given vaccinations.

It's probably too late. Germany had ordered all poultry kept indoors, yet discovered another 28 cases last week. Wild birds, but we all know that nature operates in the fringes of chaos, and that this situation is rife with those fringes. Seven more cases were revealed in Egypt on Friday.

Also, a man died in Indonesia, bringing that country's total of bird flu dead to 19, and the world total to 91, or something on the order of twenty already this year. Only 30 or so died in 2004, and 40 or so in 2005.