Saturday, January 19, 2008

More Trees

(picture taken by Zymurgian on the San Juan river)
Pruning more apple trees today. Yesterday was cold, but not too bad as long as I kept moving, and today we should get above freezing, so I wont complain.
Strange Bumper sticker seen yesterday:

"I feel like walking on a pile of baby ducks"
I have no idea what that means, but it sounds way too angry.
Also, a graffiti sighting that I enjoyed:

"The Bush Doctrine: Speak incoherently and hit people with a stick"

Enjoy your day, and if your in Nevada or South Carolina, be political.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Boobie is Late

Sorry I'm late on the Boobie. Blame the trees.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Did I Complain Yesterday?

Today is even colder. With wind chill, it's between -7 and -17 degrees. Needless to say, I didn't work pruning Apple trees today. Instead, I took a dear friend to the airport. She's traveling back home to be with her Grandmother who's passing appears imminent (my sympathies, but this is the end of a long illness). Now I have her car for the next 10 days to 2 weeks. Regular readers know that I choose to live car-free (and driving today reminded me how aggravating driving can be), so I don't plan to use the car. But that wind sure makes it tempting.

Omar bin Laden

This is one of those stories that wont make the evening news, but that I found interesting. Osama's son Omar wants to be a peace activist:

CAIRO, Egypt — Omar Osama bin Laden bears a striking resemblance to his notorious father _ except for the dreadlocks that dangle halfway down his back. Then there's the black leather biker jacket.

The 26-year-old does not renounce his father, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, but in an interview with The Associated Press, he said there is better way to defend Islam than militancy: Omar wants to be an "ambassador for peace" between Muslims and the West.

Omar _ one of bin Laden's 19 children _ raised a tabloid storm last year when he married a 52-year-old British woman, Jane Felix-Browne, who took the name Zaina Alsabah. Now the couple say they want to be advocates, planning a 3,000-mile horse race across North Africa to draw attention to the cause of peace.

"It's about changing the ideas of the Western mind. A lot of people think Arabs _ especially the bin Ladens, especially the sons of Osama _ are all terrorists. This is not the truth," Omar told the AP last week at a cafe in a Cairo shopping mall.

Of course, many may have a hard time getting their mind around the idea of "bin Laden: peacenik."

"Omar thinks he can be a negotiator," said Alsabah, who is trying to bring her husband to Britain. "He's one of the only people who can do this in the world."

Not sure that it will have any impact, but I think it's certainly worth talking to him. If nothing else, he has an interesting perspective.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I got the "draft Bloomberg" email that, as far as I can tell, went to everyone who ever used the word "politics" online. While I can't imagine anyone supporting him, Andy Borowitz has the best take on it:

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is “still trying to decide” whether to buy the U.S. presidency, aides to Mr. Bloomberg confirmed today, with the sticking point reportedly being the steep price of such an acquisition.

In recent weeks, Mr. Bloomberg had been sending out positive signals about his interest in buying the highest office in the land, raising hopes among supporters that he might be preparing to throw his wallet in the ring.

In a speech in Oklahoma last week, for example, the mayor told an enthralled crowd, “In these divisive times, I believe that the American people are yearning for the
leadership of a whiny billionaire.”

Mr. Bloomberg even floated a possible campaign slogan: “Vote For Me and I’ll Give you $10,000.”

Aides close to the mayor indicated that there were other positive signs as well,
noting that Mr. Bloomberg had recently transferred $2 billion into his day-to-day checking account.

“With that kind of money, you could either buy the White House or ten Mitt Romneys,” said one aide familiar with the cash transfer.

But according to one of Mr. Bloomberg’s advisers who spoke on condition of anonymity, falling real estate prices in the U.S. may have given the mayor cold feet about buying the presidency.

“At this point, buying the United States isn’t looking like such a good investment,” the adviser said. “At the end of the day, Mike might be better off buying Canada.”

Actually, Bloomberg is the corporations relief pitcher if the Republican nominee looks like a loser and the Democratic nominee isn't Clinton.

White House Recycles

In the most environmentally friendly move yet by this administration, the White House is recycling:

The White House has acknowledged recycling its backup computer tapes of e-mail before October 2003, raising the possibility that many electronic messages — including those pertaining to the CIA leak case — have been taped over and are gone forever.

The disclosure came minutes before midnight Tuesday under a court-ordered deadline that forced the White House to reveal information it has previously refused to provide.

After all, we wouldn't want those backup tapes to end up in a landfill, or worse, littering Henry Waxmen's office.
Added: I should just leave the snark to the pros. dday at Digby:
Look, if you want to criticize the White House for actually showing bold leadership in controlling our runaway back-up computer tape consumption in this country, fine. But don't turn around and claim that you want to stop global warming then. You know how much carbon is released into the air through the production of back-up computer tapes? Maybe you want to see Florida sink into the Atlantic Ocean, and if so, go ahead and keep using those computer tapes!

I wrote my post before I read this. I should know better.

A Milestone

This is the 1,000th post on Pygalgia, less than a full year after I started blogging. When I began, I had no idea where this thing would go. I still have no idea where it's going, but it's been an interesting little forum along the way, and we even have awards for making the journey. Thanks to Gandhisxmas, Sweaterman, and Zymurgian for your contributions. And a VERY BIG thanks to readers and commentors; you make it feel worthwhile.

Thoughts on Last Nights Debate

I watched last nights debate, with the interest only a political junkie could generate, and here are a few of my thoughts:
* The moderators were terrible. Tim Russert tried so hard to generate conflict with "identity politics gotcha" questions, but he failed. And he looked small and petty in the end. The thinly veiled "are you a racist", "are you a sexist" questions were an attempt to provoke a fight, but Clinton, Obama, and Edwards all chose to remain above that fray, and instead seemed to be laughing at him. Brian Williams threw in the email spam "Obama is a secret muslim" as a question, but it merely made him look foolish.
*Clearly, Obama and Clinton settled on a truce. Along with Edwards, they repeated a message that "we're all family as Democrats", and there were no cheap shots during the debate. The differences expressed were policy based, not personal.
*While not as substantive as I would have liked, the debate was more substantive than previous debates. On economic issues, Edwards shined, but Clinton and Obama were also solid. The differences were more of nuance than policy or belief.
*I'm not calling a winner, but it was a bit of a step forward overall. Less trivial, more policy. The media really wants the petty trivia to dominate, but all three candidates articulated their positions well. The current media climate doesn't want a serious policy debate, or we'd still be hearing Biden, Dodd, and Richardson.
*It ain't over yet.

Too Damn Cold

My plans for today have been shot down by the weather. I had planned on working today, back pruning more apple trees. But the friend that I was working for decided "it's too damn cold", so not today. It's 15 degrees with 15-20 mph winds, so it feels like zero. My response is mixed. I really need the money, and was ready to layer up enough to make the temperature bearable. But I wasn't enthusiastic. Worse, tomorrow is forecast to be even colder. Maybe Friday.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Scimitar Rattling

I couldn't resist posting this AP photo of our shrub in action. He almost looks dumb enough to cut his own head off.

Taking the Fun Out of Michigan

Today's Michigan primary lost all it's fun for us political junkies, given the lack of Democratic participation. Too bad. I would have been interested in how Obama and Edwards fared, but it's hard for me to get excited about a race between Clinton and "uncommitted" (and Dennis Kucinich). For the record, I'll root for "uncommitted", but I don't like their campaign style.
On the Republican side, it looks like a race between Romney and McCain, with Romney desperate for a win. Given that both scare me, I can't generate any enthusiasm about the race. I'll predict/guess that McCain wins by a small percentage by picking up some Democratic voters who aren't enthusiastic about either Clinton or "uncommitted."
Update: Called for Romney before the polls were closed? Strange. And on the Dem side, "uncommitted" is coming in second.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Rejecting Reality

Our shrub has decided that mere facts shouldn't be enough to prevent a war with Iran. As he travels the middle east trying to push an Israeli-Palestinian "peace plan" by demonizing Iran (yeah, I have no idea how that works), he's now rejecting the NIE:

In public, President Bush has been careful to reassure Israel and other allies that he still sees Iran as a threat, while not disavowing his administration's recent National Intelligence Estimate. That NIE, made public Dec. 3, embarrassed the administration by concluding that Tehran had halted its weapons program in 2003, which seemed to undermine years of bellicose rhetoric from Bush and other senior officials about Iran's nuclear ambitions. But in private conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week, the president all but disowned the document, said a senior administration official who accompanied Bush on his six-nation trip to the Mideast. "He told the Israelis that he can't control what the intelligence community says, but that [the NIE's] conclusions don't reflect his own views" about Iran's nuclear-weapons program, said the official, who would discuss intelligence matters only on the condition of anonymity.

Bush's behind-the-scenes assurances may help to quiet a rising chorus of voices inside Israel's defense community that are calling for unilateral military action against Iran. Olmert, asked by NEWSWEEK after Bush's departure on Friday whether he felt reassured, replied: "I am very happy." A source close to the Israeli leader said Bush first briefed Olmert about the intelligence estimate a week before it was published, during talks in Washington that preceded the Annapolis peace conference in November. According to the source, who also refused to be named discussing the issue, Bush told Olmert he was uncomfortable with the findings and seemed almost apologetic. (bolds mine)

The whole confrontation with Iran is the worst possible idea that has come out of shrub's little mind. Given that both Russia and China have strong ties with Iran, and that the current American economy can't support another war, how the hell can shrub get away with this kind of bullshit?

I wish we could just lock him in a rubber room with a bunch of toy soldiers for the next year, and that we'll elect a sane president who will actually engage in diplomacy with Iran.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Peace Promotion

More on the shrub's work to promote peace in the middle east:

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The United States has agreed in principle to provide Israel with better "smart bombs" than those it plans to sell Saudi Arabia under a regional defense package, senior Israeli security sources said on Sunday.

Keen to bolster Middle East allies against an ascendant Iran, the Bush administration last year proposed supplying Gulf Arab states with some $20 billion in new weapons, including Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bomb kits for the Saudis.

The plan has angered Israel's backers in Washington, who say the JDAMs, which give satellite guidance for bombs, may one day be used against the Jewish state or at least blunt its power to deter potential foes. Israel has had JDAMs since 1990 and has used them extensively in a 2006 offensive in Lebanon.

The only American industry that is thriving is the weapons industry. And we're only too happy to sell to all sides. Buy war bombs now!

Shrub and Iran

Our shrub is in the middle east, trying to tell everybody how evil Iran is, and spreading his version of democracy.

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Jan 13 -- President Bush accused Iran Sunday of undermining peace in Lebanon, funding terrorist groups, trying to intimidate its neighbors and refusing to be open about its nuclear program and ambitions.

In a speech described by the White House as the centerpiece of his eight-day trip to the Middle East, Bush tried to speak directly to the people of Iran as he urged nations to help the United States "confront this danger before it is too late."

"You have a right to live under a government that listens to your wishes, respects your talents and allows you to build better lives for your families," Bush said to Iranians. "Unfortunately, your government denies you these opportunities, and threatens the peace and stability of your neighbors. So we call on the regime in Tehran to heed your will, and to make itself accountable to you."

Lovely piece of rhetoric, telling the Iranians what sort of government they should have. We could use a government that listens to our wishes, too.
Meanwhile, shrub shows the world how we get our allies to help in the "peace" process:

Bush is trying to persuade Arab countries to join U.S. efforts to pressure Iran, though many have displayed ambivalence about the administration's campaign amid a new U.S. intelligence report that concluded Iran stopped a nuclear weapons program in 2003.

The president will travel Monday to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, viewed by many inside and out of the administration as the lynchpin of its efforts to develop an anti-Iran coalition. As part of an effort to show its commitment to Saudi Arabia, a senior administration official said the White House plans to notify Congress about a substantial package of arms sales for Saudi Arabia; it seemed likely to be on the order of $20 billion.

A $20 billion arms package is just the thing to help pacify the middle east, isn't it?