Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tagged, Again

I hate "meme's", but I've been tagged by DCup of PoliTits, and I tend to do whatever she asks me to. The "meme" is to tell you seven "untruths" about me. I'm going to try to do it in one paragraph.
Since I left my lucrative career as an opera singer and part-time porn star, I've been busy as a foreign policy consultant to Dick Cheney, and we've achieved some amazingly positive results in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. I hope to feature my latest symphony on "American Idol", but my mistress, Condaleeza, thinks it would be better to perform it at our church (Westboro Baptist) first.
Oh, and I refuse to "tag" anybody; but feel free to act like a Republican candidate if you want to.

Solar News

One of the little steps toward cheaper solar powar has been achieved:

The holy grail of renewable energy came a step closer yesterday as thousands of mass-produced wafer-thin solar cells printed on aluminium film rolled off a production line in California, heralding what British scientists called "a revolution" in generating electricity.

The solar panels produced by a Silicon Valley start-up company, Nanosolar, are radically different from the kind that European consumers are increasingly buying to generate power from their own roofs. Printed like a newspaper directly on to aluminium foil, they are flexible, light and, if you believe the company, expected to make it as cheap to produce electricity from sunlight as from coal.

Yesterday Nanosolar said its order books were full until mid-2009 and that a second factory would soon open in Germany where demand for solar power has rocketed. Britain was unlikely to benefit from the technology for some years because other countries paid better money for renewable electricity, it added.

One of my complaints about the most recent energy bill was that it didn't include any funding for solar or wind power, while spending billions on coal, oil, and ethanol from corn. While I'm glad to see a company like this, we need a much larger scale program to actually meet America's energy needs and address global warming.

Still, it's a start.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Why So Many Problems

This post is a pointless attempt to make a complex problem simple. It fails.
It starts in the European division:

I found myself in a discussion about "why there are so many problems" in the Middle East and southwest Asia. So I pointed to maps:

Notice where the Kurdish lands cross with the European drawn maps. This is where the problem starts.

Here's another:

But with the new emphasis on Pakistan, I thought this map was the best example:

When you are asked "why are there so many problems?" you can look at the maps.

A Veto for Iraq

My head is now officially spinning. Shrub will veto a defense spending bill at the request of the Iraqi's:

CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - President George W. Bush intends to veto defense legislation after Iraq objected to a provision that could freeze its assets in the United States if Americans sue the country, the White House said on Friday.

Iraqi officials raised their concerns with U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker about 10 days ago and when administration officials took a closer look at the provision they agreed that it could pose "grave financial risk" for Iraq, tying up assets needed for reconstruction, the White House said.

Iraq also discussed with the United States the possibility of pulling its assets, about $20 billion to $30 billion, out of U.S. institutions if the defense policy bill became law, a senior administration official said on condition of anonymity.

Congressional Democratic leaders House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the administration should have raised its objections earlier.

"It is unfortunate that the president will not sign this critical legislation," they said in a statement. "Instead, we understand that the president is bowing to the demands of the Iraqi government, which is threatening to withdraw billions of dollars invested in U.S. banks if this bill is signed."

The White House said it became more acutely aware of the potential consequences for Iraq and its relations with the United States after Baghdad raised its concerns.

WTF? Does this mean that Iraq can now tell shrub what to do? Can they tell us to leave Iraq? (please). The bill included a pay raise for troops, so maybe shrub was just looking for an excuse:

The broad defense policy bill also authorizes a pay raise for U.S. troops, expands the size of the Army and sets conditions on the Bush administration's plan to build a missile defense system in Europe.

Either way, this is one of the strangest political moves I've ever seen.

Added: Pelosi and Reid respond:

“Despite the Administration’s earlier support for the Department of Defense authorization bill, it appears that President Bush plans to veto this legislation, which is crucial to our armed forces and their families.

“The Defense bill passed both houses of Congress by overwhelming bipartisan margins and addresses urgent national security priorities, including a 3.5 percent pay raise for our troops and Wounded Warriors legislation to remedy our veterans’ health care system. It is unfortunate that the President will not sign this critical legislation.

“Instead, we understand that the President is bowing to the demands of the Iraqi government, which is threatening to withdraw billions of dollars invested in U.S. banks if this bill is signed.

Will they ever learn? If shrub is given a choice between our troops or rich cronies, he always sticks with the cronies.

Hello, New Visitors

We're seeing a major spike in traffic, thanks to monkeyfister, so I thought I'd give all you new visitors a nice picture to look at. Rafting the lower Grand Canyon this past spring. Thank you all for stopping by, and please feel free to hang out as long as you like.

The Friday Boobie Award

Celebrating our Monkeyfist award wont stop me from posting the Friday boobies, but its got me thinking: maybe I should create a "Friday Boobie Award." I'm thinking that it would be given for the most amusing small blog post of the week (that I've read, anyway). What do you folks think of this idea?

I'm (almost) Speechless

Wow! monkeyfister has chosen this blog for "this year's Golden Monkeyfist Award", more specifically "The Amber Brew (with excellent head) Award". Here's what the award is for:

These awards are given to recognize smaller, unsung bloggers who are giving there all to stop the lies of the Right Wing Machine-- thus the graphic of the fist choking the Flying "Morans!" Monkey in mid-flight. These people are DOING IT-- Locally, on a small scale, within their communities, no budget, and one-on-one. And they are succeeding. This is my way of recognizing them, and their efforts. For every awarded person, I am sure that there are thousands more yet unsung. To them I can only say that I hope your time will come. Let me know of you.

I am truly flattered. Just take a look at some of the other winners: Mahablog, WTF Is It Now?, The Newshoggers, , Pax Americana, Down With Tyranny, Whiskey Fire, and Blue Girl, Red State among others. That is some very heady company.

I must express my gratitude to monkeyfister, who was one of the first to comment here, I think the first to link to us, and is a constant source of inspiration, encouragement, and support. He's one of the best friends that I haven't met yet.

When I began this blog back in January, I joked that I was seeking "fame, fortune, and awards." Well, this is our second award (along with a "thinking blogger"), so now I just need the "fame" and "fortune" (OK, I'll take "fortune" first. "Fame" is harder to spend).

Now for the best part of the award: I get to nominate three small blogs for the "Au Peer" award, and I need your help. There are a whole bunch of you who I think deserve the honor, so I would like your opinion/help to narrow it down to only three. Please give me your input in the comments, and thanks.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Preventing War With Iran

The latest move by Russia may be a major step in preventing an American attack on Iran:
Russia is to supply Iran with a new and lethal anti-aircraft system capable of shooting down American or Israeli fighter jets in the event of any strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Iran yesterday confirmed that Russia had agreed to deliver the S-300 air defence system, a move that is likely to irk the Bush administration and gives further proof of Russia and Iran's deepening strategic partnership.

The S-300 had a range far superior to that of the US Patriot system, experts said. It could also shoot down cruise and ballistic missiles, they added.

"It's a formidable system. It really gives a new dimension to Iran's anti-aircraft defences," said one Russian defence expert, who declined to be named.

"It's purely a defensive system. But it's very effective. It's much better than the US system. It has good radar. It can shoot down low-flying cruise missiles, though with some difficulty."

The sale follows Russian president Vladimir Putin's visit to Iran in October to attend a meeting of Caspian Sea nations, the first trip by a Russian head of state to Tehran since Stalin attended a 1943 summit with Churchill and Roosevelt.

Putin has made clear his opposition to the US hardline stance on Iran, and has defended Iran's right to pursue a peaceful nuclear programme.,,2232345,00.html

This will make the Cheney's plan for precision air strikes a lot more difficult. Every time I've posted about a possible attack on Iran, I've expressed my hope that the wiser heads would be able to prevent it. Now the Russians have put up a very large roadblock. The top military brass has been opposed to attacking Iran, and will be much more reluctant to attack in the face of upgraded air defense. Maybe, just maybe, the Cheney can be stopped.

Riots and Paranoia

Rioting has begun in many parts of Pakistan, and martial law is almost certain to be imposed. While I never attempt to predict the future, this situation feels ominous.

As news of her death spread, angry supporters took to the streets in the northwestern city of Peshawar as well other areas, chanting slogans against Musharraf. In Rawalpindi, Bhutto's supporters burned election posters from the ruling party and attacked police, who fled the scene.

In Karachi, shop owners quickly closed their businesses as supporters from Bhutto's party burned tires on the roads.

Nawaz Sharif, another former premier and opposition leader, arrived at the
hospital and sat silently next to Bhutto's body.

"Benazir Bhutto was also my sister, and I will be with you to take the revenge for
her death," he said. "Don't feel alone. I am with you. We will take the revenge on the rulers."

Pakistan's ISI has its tentacles in a lot of places, including ties to Al-Qaeda. Nawaz Sharif was targeted earlier in the day. And while there may be no parallel, my paranoid side is remembering the assassination of Ahmed Shah Massoud two days before 9/11. I've got a really bad feeling about whatever follows this assassination.

Bhutto Assassinated

Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated. Pakistan is about to get even more chaotic. While the upcoming election was almost certain to be rigged in favor of Musharraf, Bhutto's presence as an "opposition" leader created a semblance of credibility. Now that is gone. Bet on riots and martial law in the coming days.
Update: Riots in Lahore. This is going to get very messy. (yeah, I know that's not profound)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Top 10 Scandals

It's that time of the year, when everybody has their top 10 lists. Here's CREW's Top 10 ethics scandals of 2007.

No new enforcement mechanisms for congressional ethics;

Ted Stevens still sitting on Senate Appropriations;

Senate Ethics Committee looking into Sen. Craig, but not Sen. Vitter;

Millions of missing White House emails still unaccounted for;

Rep. Murtha’s abuse of the earmarking process remains unchecked;

Lurita Doan remains chief of GSA despite illegal conduct;

White House covering up its role in the firings of the U.S. Attorneys;

No Child Left Behind funds directed to Bush fundraisers who provide inadequate reading materials for kids;

Court decision regarding search of Jefferson’s office limits ability of DOJ to investigate other corrupt lawmakers; and

FEMA knowingly let Katrina victims live in hazardous trailers

I'm not sure that I agree with all of the list, but it's a good start.

Blocking Shrub

Once again, the senate is blocking shrub from making any recess appointments:

The US Senate is holding special one man sessions throughout Christmas and the New Year to prevent President George W. Bush from making appointments without the approval of the Democratic majority.

With the bang of a gavel, Democratic Senator Jim Webb declared the first session open on Sunday morning before closing it seconds later, without any of his colleagues present in the hall.

Good for them. As aggravating as the senate can be, at least they're stopping one travesty.

I Hate to Ask

Under the heading of things I hate to do, asking for help is possibly the toughest. But because I'm still unemployed, I have put up a paypal "donate" button on the sidebar. The job hunt continues, but shows no immediate prospect of fruition. So any contribution you could throw my way will help me eat this holiday season. In return, I'll try to be a better blogger (yeah, I haven't done as many posts lately as I try to find a job). Thanks.
Added: Or you can buy the whole blog for a mere $19,000 (see sidebar).
Added: I have to wait until after the holidays for a new job, so any help is appreciated.

Tiger Tragedy

This piece of morning news is both tragic and very strange:

Investigators trying to determine how a tiger escaped its zoo enclosure on Christmas Day — killing one man and mauling two others — plan a thorough sweep of the zoo grounds Wednesday to look for clues.

Authorities do not believe more people were attacked, but they want to inspect the area in the daylight. Zoo officials are still uncertain how long the tiger, which last year badly mauled a zookeeper, was loose before being shot dead.

The three men who were attacked Tuesday while visiting the zoo were in their 20s, police spokesman Steve Mannina said. The attack occurred just after the 5 p.m. closing time, on the east end of the 125-acre grounds.

Growing up in San Francisco, we often went to the zoo on Christmas. The thought of any of the animals getting loose never crossed our minds.

This undated file photo provided by the San Francisco Zoo shows Tatiana, a female Siberian tiger. Tatiana, the tiger that mauled a zookeeper last year escaped from its pen at the San Francisco Zoo on Tuesday Dec. 25, 2007, killing one man and injuring two others before police shot it dead, authorities said. Associated Press © 2007

I find this story tragic both for the people and for the tiger. Even as a child, I was troubled about the very concept of "zoos." It upset me to see such noble animals in cages. Now, the big question is how did this Tiger get loose?

The approximately 300-pound female did not leave through an open door, Jenkins said. But he could not explain how it escaped — the tiger's enclosure is surrounded by a 15-foot-wide moat and 20-foot-high walls.

"There was no way out through the door," Jenkins said. "The animal appears to have climbed or otherwise leapt out of the enclosure."

Something smells fishy. I find it unlikely that the Tiger was able to climb out of the enclosure, or she would have done it before now. But somehow she got loose, leading to a tragic end for both man and beast.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Yes, Virginia, there WAS a Santa Claus.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas in Tehran

A beautiful gallery of photos of Christmas in Iran is here:

We can also deduce from such things as Christmas trees being sold on Tehran sidewalks and big Merry Christmas signs hanging in Tehran stores that while American aggression in Iraq may have had the tragic "blowback" effect of driving out 90% of all Christians who once lived there, Muslim tolerance towards Christians is still alive and well in Iran.

Yes, there are christians celebrating Christmas in Iran. If you are spending the holidays with any "bomb Iran" wingnut relatives, you may want to show them this.

Added: found via Libby at

Heard on NPR

"None of the Republican candidates have really caught fire."
Having listened to them, I think this idea has it's merits.

Christmas in Serbia

How festive.

My Gift to You

My favorite Christmas piece:

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!

Don't we know archaic barrel,
Lullaby Lilla boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don't love Harold,
Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Polly wolly cracker n' too-da-loo!
Hunky Dory's pop is lolly gaggin' on the wagon,
Willy, folly go through!

Donkey Bonny brays a carol,
Antelope Cantaloup, 'lope with you!
Chollie's collie barks at Barrow,
Harum scarum five alarum bung-a-loo!

Walt Kelly was a genius. I can only wonder what he would satirize today.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Christmas Party

Going to a Christmas party/potluck this evening. It's shaping up to be a very low key Christmas this year for me (broke), but that's OK. I like Christmas, but then I like any excuse for food, drink, and camaraderie. My favorite holiday, New Years (for reasons I'll explain next week), is next.
Hope you and yours are enjoying the seasons bounty. Be sure to give out an extra hug for no specific reason. It's one of the nice extras that come with the Christmas season.