Friday, April 27, 2007

Riddle Me This...

Rick Renzi said this, late this afternoon:

"For several weeks, I have been the subject of leaked stories, conjecture, and false attacks about a land exchange. None of them bear any resemblance to the truth, including the rumor that I am planning on resigning," said Renzi, a Republican representing Flagstaff, Prescott and Casa Grande, in a statement.

Well, how did those pesky stories and conjecture get started? Maybe it's from Rick Renzi himself, who said this, earlier this week:

Renzi told The Hill earlier yesterday that he was “looking at” the prospect of resigning.

Mr. Renzi, you have no one to blame but yourself. A-and don't try spinning this as you meant you were resigning from your committees - we ain't gonna believe that anyway.

If you're really so foolish to start the rumor yourself and then get angry and deny it, you're too stupid to be the kind of person I want representing my interests.

If it's Friday, It Must Be Booby Time!

Behold the great blue-footed booby "sky pointing" as part of its courtship display. Quite fetching, I suppose, if you're another booby.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

See ya' in a week

added: with new pics.

Renzi's toast

Taking a break from loading gear, I see Renzi made the front page again!

WASHINGTON -- As midterm elections approached last November, federal investigators in Arizona faced unexpected obstacles in getting needed Justice Department approvals to advance a corruption investigation of Republican Rep. Rick Renzi, people close to the case said.

[Alberto Gonzales]

The delays, which postponed key approvals in the case until after
the election, raise new questions about whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales or other officials may have weighed political issues in some investigations. The Arizona U.S. attorney then overseeing the case, Paul Charlton, was told he was being fired in December, one of eight federal prosecutors dismissed in the past year. The dismissals have triggered a wave of criticism and calls from Congress for Mr. Gonzales to resign.

So it looks like they stalled the investigation until after the election.

...the investigation clearly moved slowly: Federal agents opened the case no later than June 2005, yet key witnesses didn't get subpoenas until early this year, those close to the case said. The first publicly known search -- a raid of
a Renzi family business by the Federal Bureau of Investigation -- was carried out just last week....

...the Renzi case -- like many that involve members of Congress -- is being handled jointly by the local U.S. attorney and the department's public-integrity section. In such cases, a senior department official must approve requests for wiretaps and warrants and other formal legal steps.

I would be so happy to see Mr. corruption gone by the time I get off the river, and take a few more down with him.
Update: Local NPR is reporting that he's considering resigning!

How to prepare for alien invasion

Busy day, and then gone for a week, so I leave you with the most useful advice I've seen today:

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - When the aliens finally invade Earth, you may wish
you had listened to Travis Taylor and Bob Boan.

And if the invasion follows the plot of a typical Hollywood blockbuster, they
might also be the guys called in at the last minute to save the day.

After all, they have written "An Introduction to Planetary Defense", a primer
on how humanity can defend itself if little green men wielding death rays show
up at our cosmic doorstep


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

and even more Renzi

I rarely pass on stuff from, because you already read it or you don't. It's not like they need more hits.

AZ-01: Renzi Resigns Committee Seats

Tue Apr 24, 2007 at 04:17:06 PM PDT

First Doolittle, now Renzi. This could get addictive. Another GOP target of an FBI raid (searching for evidence of a possible kickback received in a land deal), Renzi has decided it's time to lay low.

"For several weeks, I have been the subject of leaked stories, conjecture,
and false attacks about a land exchange. None of them bear any resemblance to the truth.

"So that no one can question the motivation behind the land exchange, which I and other leaders from both parties have argued is critical to the future of Arizona, I have spoken to Congressman Pastor who will introduce a new version of the Resolution Copper land exchange. In addition, I will take a leave of absence from all my committee assignments. I will continue to focus on important district work and issues critical to my constituents."

Renzi is taking leave from his seats on the House Intelligence Committee (this one announced last week), the Committee on Financial Services, and Committee on Natural Resources.

More where this came from, please, FBI.

But I'm glad they finally noticed.
See the archive for more.

minimal posting

Posting will be light, as I've got a river trip to prepare for. I have invited 2 more folk to guest post, and nagged Sweaterman to post more.

Monday, April 23, 2007

More on Mental Health

I've added BlondSense to the blogroll, after reading a great post on mental health by RedStateBlues.
We all would like to see the mentally ill receive treatment, even those, like my
mother for many years, who cannot or do not recognize that they need treatment. We want to see these folks receive treatment from our impulse to help, from a place of compassion. As we struggle to understand what could have been done to help Cho before he went off like the bomb he was, remember why the Supreme Court says that we cannot willy nilly lock people up, that there must be some due process before even the mentally ill are deprived of their liberty. You and I might want to see these people committed for the right reasons, because we want them to be helped. But
as a fundamental matter of our constitutional rights, it would be the wrong result.

Because we must recognize that when we grant the State the power to compel, to restrict and impinge upon one person's civil liberties, there is the possibility (indeed, with current regime, one might say probability) this power may be misused. As we struggle through the questions of why Cho wasn't locked up so he could not have committed this awful act, think of what the Supreme Court said in O'Connor and ask yourself whether you would want it to be easier for the current government to lock people up for being mentally ill? If you answer yes to that question, I'll leave you with this final thought. It was commonplace in the Soviet Union to institutionalize
political dissidents for mental illness. After all, they must be crazy if they disagreed with the perfect political state.

It's a very thoughtful piece.

The Clergy get it

I would have expected Whig to be all over this:
Clergy join push to OK medical marijuana

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois' latest attempt to legalize medical marijuana is getting support from a surprising source — religious leaders.

"The moral issue is relief of suffering,'' said the Rev. D. Jay Johnson of the Union Avenue
Christian Church in Litchfield.

Johnson is one of more than 40 state religious leaders named in a letter distributed to legislators as they consider changing Illinois law to allow use of marijuana for treating pain and nausea in
medical patients.

Keeping medical marijuana illegel is just plain cruel. Amen.

Drying up the rivers

Southwestern North America and other subtropical regions are going to become
increasingly arid as a consequence of rising greenhouse gases.

I'm rather busy preparing for my river trip, but I would be remiss if I didn't note this study:

Projections of anthropogenic climate change conducted by nineteen different climate modeling groups around the world, using different climate models, show widespread agreement that Southwestern North America - and the subtropics in general - are on a trajectory to a climate even more arid than now.

Seems that my home region is in real trouble.
Imminent drying of the Southwest and subtropics in the models is such a robust
result because it does not depend on poorly understood and highly parameterized
parts of the model (such as cloud physics) but instead arises as a response of the large scale atmospheric dynamics - which we think is quite well represented in models - to a warming world.

So I better enjoy my river while I can.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


I've been trying to compose a post about the many things that are wrong about our current society. But I keep getting overwhelmed. I'm not sure where to start. I mean, there are so many things going wrong (and, FWIW, so many good blogs about them), that I'm overwhelmed. So here's a short list of things that are wrong:
Drug Laws.
DPA is the nation's leading organization working to end the war on drugs. We envision new drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights and a just society in which the fears, prejudices and punitive prohibitions of today are no more.

Health care
Americans pay more for health care per person than citizens anywhere else in the
world, doling out half again as much in medical expenses each year as the
second-highest-cost country, according to a new study.

Foreign policy:

CAIRO, Egypt: Iraq's prime minister said Sunday that he has ordered a halt to the U.S. construction of a barrier separating a Sunni enclave from surrounding Shiite areas in Baghdad after fierce criticism over the project at home.

The challenge to the U.S. initiative came as Nouri al-Maliki began a regional
tour to shore up support from mostly Sunni Arab nations for his Shiite-dominated
government as sectarian violence persists despite a nearly 10-week-old security

The U.S. military announced last week that it was building a five kilometer
(three mile) long and 3.6 meter (12 foot) tall concrete wall in Azamiyah, a Sunni stronghold in northern Baghdad whose residents have often been the victims
of retaliatory mortar attacks by Shiite militants following bombings usually
blamed on insurgents.

U.S. and Iraqi officials defended plans for the barrier as an effort to protect the neighborhood, but residents and Sunni leaders complained it was a form of discrimination that would isolate the community and a large protest was
scheduled for Monday in the area.

In his first public comments on the issue, al-Maliki said Sunday that he had
ordered the construction to stop.

Justice (or law enforcement)

NRO's Byron York: "It has been a disastrous morning for Attorney General Alberto

It's really true. Quite apart from the substance of what we've learned since
mid-January and Gonzales' past false statements, Gonzales has been surprisingly
unable even to keep his made-up stories straight. As near as I can tell, only two Republican members of the committee have been even remotely sympathetic to
his testimony. At least two Republican senators called him a liar. One gently -- Graham, and another not so gently, Specter.

Sens. Hatch (R) and Cornyn (R) have been pretty embarrassing in their effort
to clean up Gonzales's mess on his behalf. But what's been most telling is how
much they're the exceptions to the rule. None of the others are making much of
any effort to cover for him.

In a weird way, let us remember that on Earth Day, Richard Nixon died. The ol' bastard did create the EPA. And, as much as I hated him, he was reasonably competent.

Some thoughts

In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre there seems to be a lot of debate on gun control, but not enough about the state of mental health care. I'm rather neutral on the gun issue, believing in the right to own guns but supporting the assault weapons ban. I believe that if you own a gun, you should be responsible for what happens with that gun. The old wisecrack that "guns don't kill people, bullets kill people" always made sense to me.
But I'm not neutral on mental health treatment. As I related in an earlier post, I'm a former mental health counselor. One of the reasons that I left the field was my frustration with the chronic underfunding of the mental health system. The lack of resources available to provide proper treatment drove me crazy. To watch people suffering and dying, knowing that it could be prevented or alleviated if more resources were available. With budgets cut repeatedly, case loads grow. Counseling sessions are cut. Medications become the only treatment provided by the system, the only tool left.
Mental health treatment isn't a sexy political issue. As a society, we tend to avoid and shun people with mental illness. It's the victims and their families who suffer.
Would better treatment have prevented this massacre? It's impossible to know, but the lack of treatment was obvious in this case.
added: The weakness in our mental health system is only one symptom of the weakness of our health care system in general, which is itself just a symptom of our fornicated society. With the greedheads in charge, peoples lives don't matter.