Saturday, December 15, 2007

Feels Like Winter

Woke up this morning and it was 8 degrees outside. Heat is a wonderful thing, and thanks to the wonders of modern appliances I don't have to build and huddle by a fire to stay warm. The snow from earlier this week isn't going away anytime soon.

The snow allowed our local ski resort open back on Thursday, and now the town is full of tourists from Phoenix with their SUV's. This is good for local business, and a constant annoyance to the local population. The flatlanders driving habits don't translate well to icy mountain roads.

This is the first time in the past few years that the ski resort has been able to open on time. We've been in a drought, so all precipitation is welcome. Even when it brings tourists with it.

I don't ski or snowboard anymore. My knee stopped me about 10 years ago. I like snow, but I have personal issues with ice. Ice can be nasty, vicious stuff. Snow is democratic, pretty, soft, and fluffy. Ice is republican, hard, cold, and constantly trying to throw you to the ground.

I think I'll just stay inside with my heater.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Porch in Winter

This is the view on my front porch tonight. I dedicate it to all my friends in California, Florida, Costa Rica, and the Caymen Islands (you know who you are). It's cold enough to raise Slobdivinian Iceworms here, but nobody wants to.

Time to hide in my nice warm cave.


Congressman Robert Wexler has a petition for impeachment here:, for those who wish to sign on.

Friday Boobie

A red-foot for this Friday. Fellow blogger Sweaterman is off on a week long secret mission to procure more boobie photo's, the lucky bastard.


America's credibility, that is. When torture becomes the stated government policy, America no longer has moral authority in the world community. And that is exactly what is happening:

The House yesterday voted to pass a bill that would prohibit the CIA and
other intelligence agencies
, as well as the military, from using "waterboarding" and other torture techniques on anyone held in detention by our government. The bill would also require all detainees held in US custody to be treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, eliminating the hair splitting distinctions made by the Bush administration's legal team to justify ignoring our obligations under those treaties. The vote was 222 to 199 in favor (yes, that means some Democrats -- in this case numbering ten -- voted against an explicit ban on torture). Nonetheless, it's a empty gesture since, as anyone could have predicted, Bush has already stated he will veto the bill, known as the "Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008" (HR 2082) if it ever comes before him for his signature.


The bill now goes to the Senate where I predict that the provisions banning torture and requiring compliance with the Geneva Conventions will be stripped out or watered down, because I just don't think there are enough Senators, Democrats or Republicans, who will want to vote for a measure that will be portrayed as "coddling" terrorists. And should those provisions somehow be approved, President "I'm the Commander Codpiece in Chief" Bush will follow through on his veto threat.

The black eye from the destroyed torture tapes was bad, but it could have been healed by an aggressive investigation and a strong refutation of the use of "waterboarding" and any technique that is torture under international law.

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I remember when America was better that this. It was very simple: torture is wrong, period. I remember times when an American president could stand up and condemn another country for human rights abuses, and the rest of the world listened with respect. Now, other countries will sneer at our condemnation as rank hypocrisy.

There is only one way to restore America's prestige, and that is to immediately impeach the president and vice-president. It's not likely to happen, which I find appalling. We have an administration that is saying "we torture. we will continue to torture. we will not follow international law or our own constitution." If that isn't grounds for impeachment, then what is?

Yeah, I know.
Added: President Jimmy Carter agrees with me:
"Our country for the first time in my life time has abandoned the basic
principle of human rights. We've said that the Geneva conventions do not apply to those people in Abu Ghraib prison and Guantánamo, and we've said we can torture prisoners and deprive them of an
accusation of a crime. But you can make your own definition of human rights and say we don't violate them, and you can make your own definition of torture and say we don't violate them."
-- Jimmy Carter, caught telling the truth again, Link

I cannot believe that this is now a question.

Making a Scandal Disappear

I rarely link to anything from Dkos, as I assume that everybody has already seen it. But this diary amused me. "alysheba" explains how to make the scandal disappear:

Every now and then, your average celebrity - or, in the case of today's news, your average drug-enhanced baseball legend - just needs to disappear for a while. The "so-and-so entered rehab this morning" method has been particularly popular of late, counting among its proponents such figures as Mark Foley and Ted Haggard.
Time will tell if today's headline-makers will choose the same option.

Occasionally, though, a scandal is simply so big, so utterly interwoven into the primal fabric of a nation, so completely relevant to the daily lives of 300 million citizens, that none of the usual remedies will do. Surely, baseball players being caught on steroids in December of 2007 is such a case. And, in this instance, the only way to salvage a celebrity's career - and bring comfort into the hearts of all the nation's citizens - is to effect a complete and total media blackout.

Her suggestions for specific players:

ROGER CLEMENS: Call a press conference and immediately demand the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney.

It may sound paradoxical, but in order to disappear, Clemens needs to put in some serious face time hammering this issue. I call it my "Crazy Ivan" maneuver (patent pending) - turning headlong into the media's prurience before their corporate handlers have time to retask them. One serious marathon session of putting that big, square jaw in front of every camera he can find and talking incessantly about the need for impeachment?? 24 hours later it'll be: "Roger who?"

DAVID JUSTICE: Join forces with Robert Kennedy and announce a speaking tour to raise the nation's awareness of election fraud in 2004.

As a retiree, David Justice has time on his side - time to think, time to plan, most of all, time to sit through a crash course in the ConyersReport at the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport, and then take his newfound knowledge on the road! It may sound cliched, but making one's self the poster-child for what the mainstream media prefers to label a "conspiracy theory," well, that's the high road to a low profile.

LENNY DYKSTRA: Quickly orchestrate and, if necessary, self-finance, an endorsement deal for Johnathan Goodwin's 100 mpg diesel-electric Hummer.Nothing says "media blackout" like the phrase "alternative fuel." And for Dykstra's money, he couldn't find a better place to hide than under a 7,000 lb. car that scares the shit out of Detroit. I mean, a right wing loon like Arnold Schwarzenegger joining forces with an energy independence advocate like Goodwin? Plus the endorsement of a tobacco chewing millionaire like Dykstra?? There's no way to shoehorn those oddities into the stock media narrative! And you know what

ANDY PETTITE: Join the Army. Go to Iraq. Stay out of combat if possible, but upon your return have someone pen a book on your (fictional) traumatic brain injury. Stay away from Bob Woodruff at all costs!

Pettite's got a lot to lose. Given that Bonds was already done prior to today's news, and that Clemens was close to retirement anyway, Pettite, in my professional opinion as a newly minted publicist, is the real loser today and it appears he may have to go for the sacrifice fly.

He may get some press initially over the whole "celebrity enlistment" thing, but say he's done with his obligation in three years, he'll still have a good half-decade of throwing ahead of him. And, again, coming home
with the whole sourpuss TBI-thing
- that's a guaranteed "C-ya" in the press and next thing y'know, he's back on the mound.But, again, Pettite must stay well clear of Bob Woodruff. The last thing he needs is to get swept up in another one of those "intrepid reporter" plots. That's the kinda airtime no fallen hero needs!

BARRY BONDS: Rent out the "House that (You) Built" and stage a public hearing on the Sibel Edmonds case, signing autographs as necessary to increase attendence.

If none of these work, I would suggest that the accused players become advocates for alternative energy as a way to address global warming. The media will then completely ignore them.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Columbus, plugged, is my favorite dry-hop.

These days, all the ale I drink is either locally microbrewed, or i made it myself. Nice, eh?

Tonight the Geminids

Tonight is the Geminid meteor shower, and it's supposed to be a good one:

The Geminid Meteors are usually the most satisfying of all the annual showers, even surpassing the
famous Perseids of August.

Studies of past find the "Gems" have a reputation for being rich both in slow, bright, graceful meteors and fireballs as well as faint meteors, with relatively fewer objects of medium brightness.

Generally speaking, depending on your location, Gemini begins to come up above the east-northeast horizon right around the time evening twilight is coming to an end. So you might catch sight of a few early Geminids as soon as the sky gets dark.

There is a fair chance of perhaps catching sight of some "Earth-grazing" meteors. Earth grazers are long, bright shooting stars that streak overhead from a point near to even just below the horizon. Such meteors are so distinctive because they follow long paths nearly parallel to our atmosphere.

The Geminids begin to appear noticeably more numerous in the hours after 10 p.m. local time, because the shower's radiant is already fairly high in the eastern sky by then. The best views, however, come around 2 a.m., when their radiant point will be passing very nearly overhead.

While I plan to go outside and watch some of it, tonight's forcast is for it to be 12 degrees. So I doubt that I'll stay out very long.
Added: Went out, saw a few, got cold, went back inside. Yeah, I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to cold.

A Black Eye For Baseball

It's a sad day for those of us who are baseball fans. The Mitchell report on steroid use shows that the entire system was involved:

Dec 13 (Reuters) - Some key points made in former Sen. George Mitchell's report on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball, released on Thursday.

* There was widespread use of illegal steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs by Major League Baseball players for more than a decade, in violation of federal law and baseball policy.

* Some of the game's biggest stars -- home run king Barry Bonds and top pitcher Roger Clemens, among them -- used drugs.

* Players from all 30 teams were found to use drugs at some time in their careers.

* Baseball's response to drug use by its players was "slow to develop and initially ineffective."

* Report recommends a year-round, unannounced drug testing program that should be administered by an independent authority.

It's been clear to those of us who watch that this has been going on for a long time. In the past couple of decades players have grown and records have fallen at an unnatural pace. But now the truth is out.

Baseball has overcome scandals and strikes before, and I believe that baseball can overcome this, but a lot of work will need to be done to restore integrity.
added: The list of names in the report is here:

A Major Endorsement

Obama may have Oprah, Clinton has Streisand, and McCain has Schilling, but to my mind this is the biggest endorsement yet. Luis Tiant endorses Bill Richardson:

Richardson's campaign announced today that Luis Tiant, the portly pitcher with the whirling-dervish delivery, will be the guest of honor at a "Mi Familia Con Richardson" Posada Celebration in Manchester on Sunday evening.

"Governor Richardson has earned my respect," Tiant, known at "El Tiante" and for his stellar performance in the 1975 playoffs, said in a statement issued by the New Mexico governor's campaign. "Bill Richardson’s experience, vision and record of delivering in the clutch make him the best qualified candidate for president."Richardson said he was thrilled to have Tiant's support.

"For a guy who dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player as a kid, to have the active support of a real Red Sox legend like Luis Tiant is truly an honor," he said in the statement. "Luis and I share an affinity for Red Sox baseball and maybe the occasional cigar."

Any baseball fan old enough to remember the '75 series knows Tiant. While the Sox lost, Luis pitched with the heart of a lion. His whirling-dervish windup is indelibly imprinted on my memory, and he played with class and style that earned the respect he received. His endorsement should move Richardson up at least 2 points in the polls.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mall Santa

So I guess I have a the short run. I have agreed to be a "mall santa". Lousy pay, dye my hair and beard, deal with children. We'll see how this works.

Beyond Absurd

Just the title: "ABA journal names Gonzales lawyer of the year":

A magazine published by the American Bar Association on Wednesday named former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales its Lawyer of the Year for 2007 — mostly for creating so much controversial news.

Truly, truly bizarre. By that standard, Barry Bonds would be "sportsman of the year."

Shrub Still Hates Children

Having already vetoed one SCHIP bill, shrub is sticking to his guns (for Iraq):

President Bush on Wednesday was ready to veto legislation that passed with bipartisan support to dramatically expand government-provided health insurance for children.

It would be Bush's seventh veto in seven years. Bush vetoed an earlier version of the health insurance program.

The bill passed the Democratic-controlled Senate by a veto-proof margin, but the same was not true in the House. Even after the bill was approved, negotiations continued on a compromise version.

A major point of contention with the White House was Bush's demand that nearly all poor children eligible for the program be found and enrolled before those in slightly higher-income families could be covered.

Bush also has opposed using an increased tobacco tax to fund the program expansion. The bill includes a 61-cent rise on a package of cigarettes.

The replacement measure was designed to meet Republican objections to the first bill. But it was little changed.

It would increase funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program by $35 billion over five years, in order to add an estimated 4 million people to an existing program that provides insurance coverage for children from families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private insurance. The joint federal-state program currently provides benefits to roughly 6 million people, mostly children.

Bush's veto in early October of a similar bill was narrowly upheld by the House.;_ylt=Atb0B6CJaqETxrNT4I8p4fgGw_IE

Here's hoping that congress can find the spine to override, what with an election year ahead.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Shrubism's 2007

Here's a nice little list of the 10 dumbest things our shrub said in 2007:

10. “And there is distrust in Washington. I am surprised, frankly, at the amount of distrust that exists in this town. And I’m sorry it’s the case, and I’ll work hard to try to elevate it.” –interview on National Public Radio, Jan. 29, 2007

9. “I fully understand those who say you can’t win this thing militarily. That’s exactly what the United States military says, that you can’t win this military.” –on the need for political progress in Iraq, Washington, D.C., Oct. 17, 2007

8. “One of my concerns is that the health care not be as good as it can possibly be.” –on military benefits, Tipp City, Ohio, April 19, 2007

7. “Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your introduction. Thank you for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit.” –addressing Australian Prime Minister John Howard at the APEC Summit. Later, in the same speech: “As John Howard accurately noted when he went to thank the Austrian troops there last year…” –referring to Australian troops as “Austrian troops,” Sept. 7, 2007

6. “My relationship with this good man is where I’ve been focused, and that’s where my concentration is. And I don’t regret any other aspect of it. And so I — we filled a lot of space together.” –on British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Washington, D.C., May 17, 2007

5. “You helped our nation celebrate its bicentennial in 17 — 1976.” –to Queen Elizabeth, Washington, D.C., May 7, 2007 (Watch video clip)

4. “The question is, who ought to make that decision? The Congress or the commanders? And as you know, my position is clear — I’m a Commander Guy.” –deciding he is no longer just “The Decider,” Washington, D.C., May 2, 2007 (Watch video clip)

3. “Information is moving — you know, nightly news is one way, of course, but it’s also moving through the blogosphere and through the Internets.” –Washington, D.C., May 2, 2007

2. “There are some similarities, of course (between Iraq and Vietnam). Death is terrible.” –Tipp City, Ohio, April 19, 2007

1. “As yesterday’s positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured.” –on the No Child Left Behind Act, Washington, D.C., Sept. 26, 2007 (Watch video clip)

Written by Ron Chusid

Can we at least make sure that our next president can speak english? Is that too much to ask?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Real Snow

Woke up to about 6 inches of snow. Which is usually a good thing. Except I have a bunch of things to do today, and I have to go out to do them. The weather gods are not on my side today.

Santa Isn't Coming this Year.... least for Uncle Sam.

From Bloomberg:

Iran, the second-biggest producer of crude oil in the Middle East, has ``completely halted'' all oil transactions in dollars, the state-run ISNA news agency said, citing Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari.

Nozari said the U.S. currency was no longer reliable as the dollar continues to depreciate. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has set up a team to study pricing oil in another currency, the INSA cited Nozari as saying. The measure is designed to prevent further losses in revenue to oil exporters, ISNA reported.

At the last OPEC meeting, Iran and Venezuela were pushing hard for a switch away from the dollar. Saudi Arabia was against this move and blocked further moves away from the dollar. In other words, there are a ton of politics involved with this as well. (h/t,

Since it has been bandied about until we're all blue in the face, let's just say that this could be spectacularly bad for the U.S. And, while we'll harp to the press and the international community about evil Iran having "nookular" weapons, we're really going to take this as a slap in the face as our currency devalues even more (if that's even possible), especially if other OPEC nations follow Iran's lead.

Those speculative plans for a March/April 2008 strike don't seem so implausible now, do they? Let us hope the Joint Chiefs are ignoring them.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

More on the Hops Crisis

I've posted before on the world wide hop shortage, but there's more news today:

In the world of beer, you can't skip the hops -- even when the price goes up 400 percent in a year.

That jaw-dropping hike in the price of the twining vine flower -- an ingredient used to impart flavor to many brews -- is the result of market correction, bad crops and China, among other things. For beer lovers at the bar and the distributor, it may boil down to price hikes ranging from a quarter a glass to a few dollars a case in coming months.

''We use about 12 different varieties of hops, and they went up 350 to 400 percent, each one,'' said Dan Weyerbacher, president of Weyerbacher Brewing Co. in Easton.
That translates to a jump from about $4 a pound to about $23 a pound.,0,3091573.story?coll=all_tab01_layout

This is a serious problem for my local brewery, Zymurgian, and all my friends who brew (I found out in the comments last time that a lot of our readers are also brewers), and there's no quick fix as hops take several years to grow.

Can we blame shrub?