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Triage in Iraq

The other day my Post colleague Rajiv Chandrasekaran gave a talk at the Aspen Institute in a room full of think tankers and foreign policy gurus. There was a lot of brainpower in the place [insert deft joke about Walter Isaacson dining alone], and I went on the off chance that someone would produce an elegant, brilliant, rabbit-out-of-the-hat solution to the situation in Iraq. Or come up with even a halfbaked proposal. Anything. All ideas happily entertained at this point.

Rajiv talked about his book "Imperial Life in the Emerald City," which -- undoubtedly because of my adulatory blog items about it -- was just named a finalist for the National Book Award. (I am not trying to give Rajiv any additional hype, but I will note that I am shocked that he didn't win the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was robbed.)

Walter asked Rajiv to respond to the Dan Senor op-ed that ran the other day. Senor disputed the book's account of how GOP insiders, loyalists, hacks and well-connected novices (kids, practically) were preferentially hired for CPA jobs in Iraq. Rajiv, I thought, effectively dismantled Senor's argument by giving specific examples and naming names.

At one point Walter called Iraq "the worst, most disastrous" foreign policy action in his lifetime -- worse than Vietnam. I guess it's conceivable that Chris Hitchens is right and no one could have imagined the "evil" of those who would oppose democracy in Iraq, but Rajiv's reporting suggests that, at least initially, we didn't send our very best people to rebuild the country. We had not enough troops, not our best people, no real plan. And now, even though there are excellent people in place in Iraq, it's just too late, Rajiv said. He said the country is like a gravely ill patient in the hospital, beyond the reach of even the best medication. He suggested that a partial withdrawl of American troops might, in the short run, lead to more violence, but could hasten the ultimate political settlement.

There was some discussion of James Baker's bipartisan group that is drafting a report on Iraq. We need "a real, honest, nonpartisan discussion," Rajiv said. Obviously this is not a nonpartisan moment in our history, but in a few weeks the election will be over and as a nation we will have to do something -- quickly. Politically there will be a brief window of opportunity. There will likely be only a few short months before the '08 election cycle kicks in.

The president also talked about James Baker in his Wednesday news conference. Here's what the president said, as transcribed by the White House:

'I appreciate Jimmy Baker willingness to -- he and Lee Hamilton are putting this -- have got a group they put together that I think was Congressman Wolf's suggestion -- or passing the law. We supported the idea. I think it's good to have some of our elder statesmen -- I hate to call Baker an elder statesmen -- but to go over there and take a look, and to come back and make recommendations. Somebody said he said, well, you know, cut-and-run isn't working. That's not our policy. Our policy is to help this country succeed, because I understand the stakes. I'm going to repeat them one more time. As a matter of fact, I'm going to spend a lot of time repeating the stakes about what life is like in the Middle East....

'I look forward to listening how -- what Jimmy Baker and Lee Hamilton say about how to get the job -- I appreciate them working on this issue because I think they understand what I know, and the stakes are high.'

By Joel Achenbach  |  October 13, 2006; 4:54 PM ET
 
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Comments

Before we get into discussions on Iraq, just saw this notice about the large snowstorm that hit the Buffalo/Niagara area yesterday. Although I live very close, I am on the north shore of the lake and we missed the snow, I was told we only received a brief snow flurry.

Hope Dooley and his family has a safe trip.

We often joke around here that when you cross the border from Buffalo, the sun seems to come out, not because of any reason other than geography is quite amazing the difference in the weather just a few miles can make.

Posted by: dmd | October 13, 2006 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Yikes need more coffee here's the link.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20061013.wontsnow1013/BNStory/National/home

Posted by: dmd | October 13, 2006 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Oy! Get out the snow chains.

Considering all of the attacks on police stations and the general mayhem reflected about Iraq's security in the news, I wondered about the very subject of this byilne...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/12/AR2006101201669.html

Posted by: jack | October 13, 2006 9:21 AM | Report abuse

*quietly taking a few boxes of canned goods to the bunker*

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 13, 2006 9:22 AM | Report abuse


http://iraqbodycount.org/


Posted by: kbertocci | October 13, 2006 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Dooley shouldn't be afraid to come to Ottawa either. Weather forecast isn't exactly brilliant but it is tolerable for the season, no need for snow tires yet.
http://www.theweathernetwork.com/weather/cities/can/Pages/CAON0512.htm

Sky report : my glasses got covered by liquid precipitation when I looked up. However the maple trees in my street were showing up this morning. They extended their yellow masses to reach each other over the yellow leaves covered pavement and created real golden arches. It was beautifiul but it won't last; cold rain and high winds will soon put an end to this display. This past long weekend was just gorgeous, we have to pay for it now.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | October 13, 2006 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Jack for that link.

Here's what Ignatius says:

When you peel away the "stay the course" rhetoric, the Bush administration's best hope seems to be for a federal solution in Iraq in which the central government devolves power to the Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni regions; oil revenue is shared equitably; the Iraqi army maintains order in unruly areas such as Baghdad; and U.S. forces gradually pull back.

The biggest problem with that strategy is that it would leave the Sunni Triangle as a lawless zone from which terrorists could operate freely. U.S. officials were encouraged by a summit in Baghdad last weekend of Sunni tribal leaders who might be able to contain al-Qaeda forces in their region. But such tribal strategies have failed in the past.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 13, 2006 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps it is just my cynacism but doesn't this statement sound like a perfect world scenario? Is it realistic?

"the Bush administration's best hope seems to be for a federal solution in Iraq in which the central government devolves power to the Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni regions; oil revenue is shared equitably; the Iraqi army maintains order in unruly areas such as Baghdad; and U.S. forces gradually pull back."

Posted by: dmd | October 13, 2006 9:35 AM | Report abuse

How long will it take for Americans to realize that the war in Iraq has long been lost, and that no amount of strategy discussion is ever going to change that basic fact of life?

Posted by: superfrenchie | October 13, 2006 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Joel writes:
"Rajiv, I thought, effectively dismantled Senor's argument by giving specific examples and naming names."

Expand, please. Details, please. Counter arguments, pretty please.

http://www.usip.org/isg/members.html

The Iraq Study Group is a bipartisan group of prominent Americans supported by four premier institutions. It is led by co-chairs James A. Baker, III, the nation's 61st Secretary of State and Honorary Chairman of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, and Lee H. Hamilton, former Congressman and Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

The other members of the study group include: Robert M. Gates, Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Edwin Meese III , Sandra Day O'Connor, Leon E. Panetta, William J. Perry, Charles S. Robb, and Alan K. Simpson.

Dem members of the Iraq Study Group are Panetta, Jorfan, Robb. Meese and O'Connor seem to be throwbacks to the Reagan administration, as is the fact that Henry Kissinger, according to Woodward, is advising Bush and Cheney pretty much monthly. Why is it that only Hamilton and Baker are authorized to speak about the Study Group's activities? Will we have any meaningful information from the group, financed at taxperyers' expense, before the midterm elections?

Has there been any movement on the information front from this group of assembled politicos since Dana Milbank at the Washington Post filed this report on Sept. 20? (I am consternated that they seem to be constipated.):

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/19/AR2006091901341.html?nav=rss_print/asection

"We're not going to speculate with you today about recommendations," Baker announced at the session, hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Can the war in Iraq be won?

"We're not going to make any assessments today about what we think the status of the situation is in Iraq," said Hamilton.

Could they at least explain their definitions of success and failure in Iraq?

"We're not going to get into that today," Baker replied.

After more such probing, Hamilton became categorical. "We've made no judgment of any kind at this point about any aspect of policy with regard to Iraq."

A few minutes later, one of the organizers called out: "We have time for one or two more questions."

"But no time for any answers," one of the reporters muttered.

"This is pitiful," contributed one of the cameramen, as reporters' smiles escalated into audible chuckles.

Baker was bothered by the questioning. "Malicious," he whispered to Hamilton, unaware that it could be heard on the audio feed.

Posted by: Loomis | October 13, 2006 9:43 AM | Report abuse

the head of the British Military feels that its time to begin lowering troop numbers.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6046822.stm

As for Canada, we hear a whole lot about Afghanistan lately and far less about Iraq.

Who was it that said war is a failure of diplomacy?

Posted by: dr | October 13, 2006 9:44 AM | Report abuse

I've posted this idea before, but I would like to throw it out here again.

It seems to me that it is politically impossible to increase troop density to the level needed to establish security, and total withdrawal will likely result in a rapid degeneration into bloody civil war.

The only possible solution I see is a contraction and concentration of US-controlled regions and abandonment of the rest of the country. These regions should be selected according to a weighting function that factors in population density, infrastructure, and the ability to disrupt and isolate insurgent forces. They should not be based on religion to avoid defacto segregation.

The Shiite and Sunni noncombatants, who are already getting very scared of what will happen when we leave, will move to these safe regions where they can be protected. This will also give them motivation to get along. The gangs can fight it out in the rest of the country.

I believe this approach has the potential to limit US casualties, protect the civilians, isolate the insurgency, allow development of a sustainable infrastructure, and provide a buffer to Iranian expansionism and militant Islamic extremism. Eventually, the US should be able to transition control of most of these safe areas to the natives and come home.

I realize that this has more holes in it than Swiss cheese, but at least it breaks the wearisome dichotomy between "Stay the course" and "Cut and run" by combining what I believe is the best of both approaches. (As well as, it might be argued, some of the worst.)

As a pedantic note, both of these approaches represent the polar extremes of the strategy I am proposing. But at the very least, the notion of a weighting function introduces a mechanism for scientific thought in what is otherwise an intractable problem.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 13, 2006 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I'm reading Chandrasekaran's book. It's a great companion to "Fiasco" if you want to be depressed out of your mind. Like "Fiasco," I find I have to read it in little chunks as I keep getting up and walking around the house mumbling incoherently. The incompentency, wrong-headedness, and complete arrogance exhibited by this administration is criminal. But reading that quote from the Shrub makes everything perfectly clear (if one happens to be high on drugs). I have just one question, how did this moron ever make it through Yale and Harvard?
As for a solution for Iraq, I don't think there is one that doesn't involve many more senseless deaths and years of horror and upheaval. Heck of a job, Bushies!

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | October 13, 2006 9:50 AM | Report abuse

dr,
You beat me by a second.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2402666,00.html

This article has troop reaction to Dannett's stand:

Soldiers united in praise for general on web forum
By Devika Bhat

The comments from [British] General Sir Richard Dannatt that he wants his forces to leave Iraq sometime soon have met with overwhelming support on the Army Rumour Service website, where officers can air their views anonymously via forums which promote lively debate.

Many express shock about the frankness of his words and there are several references to Sir Richard's "moral" courage in speaking his mind, as well as calls for the Prime Minister to take heed of his remarks. "I hope Blair is listening," says user "Nigegilb".

"Sir Richard has made the call and said it how it is. Good on him. Stand by for incoming. Getting out of Iraq is essential if [Afghanistan] is going to work in the long run. God knows what will happen to Iraq, not sure it will be any worse though. He made the point that we were never invited in we kicked the door in. ...

Brewmeister adds: "I think even Teflon Tony is going to find it difficult to weasel his way out of this. If Sir Richard goes it's time for a coup."



Posted by: Loomis | October 13, 2006 9:51 AM | Report abuse

[Pssst. Fifth para: "over and as a naiton [sic] we will have to . . ."]

Posted by: Tom fan | October 13, 2006 9:52 AM | Report abuse

[But I will decline to make corrections to the text that was transcribed by the White House.]

Posted by: Tom fan | October 13, 2006 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Tom fan, please correct the White House text, I was having some difficulty understanding it!!

Posted by: dmd | October 13, 2006 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Ah. Right. Ok. Will fix.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 13, 2006 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Going right off topic, I keep NPR Books, on my desktop. Right now there is a story from 'Literature from the Axis of Evil' posted in its entiriety.

Well worth the time to read, midway down the page, Look for 'A Tale of Music'

Posted by: dr | October 13, 2006 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Doh! Another one:
First para: "situaton [sic] in Iraq]

[That Shiraz I drank with dinner must have dulled my proofing skills.]

Posted by: Tom fan | October 13, 2006 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Milbank's closing grafs--too good not to include:

It didn't qualify as a recommendation, but the two did have some advice for the Iraqi government. "The people of Iraq have the right to expect immediate action," Hamilton said.

Providing, of course, they don't expect it from the Iraq Study Group.

Posted by: Loomis | October 13, 2006 10:06 AM | Report abuse

SCC:
[sic] in Iraq"

[Hic.]

Posted by: Tom fan | October 13, 2006 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Heck, the only solution is to reinstate the draft and send another 200,000 troops in. I mean, the whole country should get behind our wise and loquacious President, and I'm sure that most of us who are elegible for the draft would be happy to go liberate the Iraqi people and find the WMDs. It's not as if there are longstanding, cultural and tribal conflicts in the Middle East. I mean, the Middle East is pretty much monolithic, right? Seems pretty straightforward.

Posted by: tangent | October 13, 2006 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Here's an interesting take on the current situation on the homefront from Candorville:

http://www.uclick.com/client/wpc/cand/

When both the current Maryland governor and his near-rival Democrat both urge voters to use absentee ballots, you know someone thinks there's a problem.

Posted by: ebtnut | October 13, 2006 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Although thinking seems to be leaning towards Federalism, this really makes me queasy. Once you define regions along ethnic or religious terms, minority rights become compromised. This can lead to forced displacements - or worse.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 13, 2006 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I heard that a bunch of Sunni sheiks got together recently and decided that the best course of action would be to restore Saddam to power.

Meanwhile it is conceivable that Iran would take control of the southern portion of Iraq where all the oil is.

I'm just passing along the stuff I hear on the street.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 13, 2006 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Were the Sunni and Shiite regions represented by a representative government a civil war may have brought some kind of resolution to Iraq's conundrum. It certainly did for the USA, at a hefty price for sure but it did bring some resolution. Being led by tribal and religious leaders this is hopeless; the country will go the African way and descend into a Somalian/ Congolean (sp ?)/Sudanese chaos. Religious states are dysfunctional, from the 17th century Massachusetts colony to the Taliban's Afghanistan; you just can't force people into believing and there will always be non-believers that will create havoc, the scoundrels. Who can name a great tribal government? Nominees are Rwanda, Sudan, Imperial Japan, etc.
Tribal governments disguised as religious/political form a fine group too, see North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sadam's Iraq and Hitlerian Germany for example.
Iraq is a mess and will remain so for a while. Until some mustachioed strong man from a minority takes power and whips it into shape...

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | October 13, 2006 10:47 AM | Report abuse

OT, but certainly appropriate for today (and maybe on topic after all...):

Is anybody on this blog a triskaidekaphobe?

If so, you're in good company. Napoleon, Mark Twain and Franklin Roosevelt also were...

Posted by: superfrenchie | October 13, 2006 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I think they also engaged in French-bashing, SF.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 13, 2006 11:00 AM | Report abuse

After yesterday's humid gloom with intermittent sun, today dawned chilly and crystal clear. It's still chilly and there were a few wispy clouds for a while but now the only object breaking the solid blue sky is a half moon in the west.

For those who need a break from thinking about Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Afganistan, Mark Foley, small plane crashes, et al, there is a great website for weather and skywatchers:

www.mountwashington.org/

Mount Washington is the tallest mountain in the northeast at 6,288 feet (not tall by western standards, but it's the best we've got). It holds the record for the highest windgust ever recorded (231 mph in 1934), and is considered by many to have "the world's worst weather." I love checking the site during the winter because however nasty it gets here, it's comforting to know that it's always much worse up there, the rime ice, windchill and temperatures are life threatening. They have great picture galleries of the sky and the flora and fauna too. And the 'observer comments' are fun to read, especially when they describe going out in extreme conditions to check the weather instruments.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | October 13, 2006 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Francophobe and triskaidekaphobe. Quick, a shrink!

Posted by: superfrenchie | October 13, 2006 11:06 AM | Report abuse

It's now accepted wisdom --i.e. Walter Isaacson -- that iraq is the biggest foreign policy fiasco since...vietnam, or even worse than vietnam. How about holding accountable all the folks who got us there? Is that too much to ask? Isn't that what democracy is all about?

Posted by: chris m | October 13, 2006 11:09 AM | Report abuse

RD: ddid you see that fellow that was on CNN on Wed. IIRC, discussing how redeployment might be approached in order that entropy in Iraq be decreased ? An interesting take on strategy.

Posted by: jack | October 13, 2006 11:18 AM | Report abuse

The Pottery Barn rule should have been heeded.

Posted by: jack | October 13, 2006 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Hurray, Superfrenchie is still here. Quick before you go bicycle -- WHY do you feed the fleas? what does it mean? Does it fit in with rodents in Spain or the Cypriot mouse? I'd like to use this lovely phrase but want to know what I'm saying first. What is it in French? If I can say it in French it will REALLY annoy the Boy.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 13, 2006 11:20 AM | Report abuse

The only solution to our Iraq problem is to have Superman circle the globe really fast and then not invade. The neo-con bull has bought the entire Pottery Barn and nobody has enough cash to pay for the damage.

Someday, in the 100-500 year range, the invasion of Iraq will be listed with the Battle of Adrianople as a major turning point in civilization.

*sneaking back into the bunker behind S'nuke*

Posted by: yellojkt | October 13, 2006 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Oy. A lot of things bother me here.
The first of which is that I am not as knowledgeable about this as many other folks in here are.

With that said:
Any plans that rely on equitable sharing of oil revenues amongst Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis as a means to achieve ecomomic stability amongst them seems highly optimistic to me. Are violent extremists going to suddenly become moderates at an offer of 1/3 of the pie? Anything's possible, but nothing I've seen to date leads me to believe so. Control of billions of dollars in oil revenue with a goal of economic prosperity for one's people (at the expense of one's enemies) seems like a significant incentive to extrememists for contiuned war and violence. And al-Quaida has means and motivation for supporting (providing arms, ammo, intelligence, military training, etc.) whoever looks like they're going to win, as even a small percentage of the Iraqi oil reserves would be a handy revenue stream for funding global terrorism.

I would add that terrorists and insurgent groups seem to have significant freedom of movement in certain areas of that part of the world, with support from governments and other groups. Would the Sunni triangle really become lawless, or would it come under some law - tribal or otherwise - that we Americans would not like? I don't know.

So far, Western thought applied to the Iraq situation has not worked. Applying science to emotional faith-based issues such as sectarianism typically does not give anyone a satisfactory solution.

Ah, I wrote a lot more here that I deleted, because it was very depressing, but suffice it to say that I think three Iraqi states are a better solution than one tumultous one, the big question is how we can get them to peacefully coexist, all things considered. Hmmm. Apologies if I have not added much to the conversation.

bc

Posted by: bc | October 13, 2006 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Loomis: Rajiv Chandrasekaran makes a brief rebuttal to the Dan Senor op-ed at "Table for One" on the always interesting Talking Points Memo site. URL is http://tableforone.tpmcafe.com/blog/tableforone/2006/oct/11/my_response_to_dan_senors_washpost_op_ed

Posted by: silvertongue | October 13, 2006 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Superfrenchie, I would just like to point out that going bicycling for the weekend is the most stereotypically French thing you could do.

BTW: why do you say that Cyprus is more Asia than Europe (full disclosure: I spent 3 months there years ago).

yellojkt, that's a very interesting future historical thought (does that make sense?). As bad as it is, I still don't see Iraq as being France in Algeria class divisive (in the U.S.). In the Arab world, however, there are going to be a lot more people with a grudge against the US directly (as opposed to generally against the West or the Little Satan).

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 13, 2006 11:33 AM | Report abuse

ivansmom: I know, I'm running late. Still 4 hours driving...

"Nourrir les puces" (feed the fleas) or "donner a manger aux puces" is a slang expression for going to bed, which itself (the bed) can be called "le pucier".

I guess it comes from past times in the country when humans and animals were sharing a lot...

Posted by: superfrenchie | October 13, 2006 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Son, here is a map:

http://worldatlas.com/aatlas/infopage/medsea.htm

Isn't it clearly in Asia?

Posted by: superfrenchie | October 13, 2006 11:47 AM | Report abuse

It's off the Anatolian Peninsula, which is often called Asia Minor. It's certainly way east of the Bosphorus, which is traditionally the Europe / Asia demarcation line.

Posted by: superfrenchie | October 13, 2006 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Pardon the brief return to yesterday. LindaLoo answered my inquiry: "Can't say straight out that our family tree holds Cornelius Kingsland Garrison. Is he your antecedent five generations back on your mother's side, or a distant great-uncle on your mom's branch? Whatever your connection to Garrison, you and I do have an historical connection between families in the history of the USS Augusta." LindaLoo: I believe C.K. Garrison was a direct ancestor. My mother's mother was a Garrison. Mom tells me that Garrisons Landing, NY is named after the family. This makes sense since he was born just across the Hudson. Here is the Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornelius_Kingsland_Garrison

Posted by: ebtnut | October 13, 2006 11:53 AM | Report abuse

$0.02 (CDN)

Let the Kurds have their way (ha ha). Independence following a referendum. Remainder in a federal state. U.S. out of the cities (except maybe the Green Zone) but in-country for at least the next few years to support the state.

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 13, 2006 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Cyprus sure looks like it's the separated-at-birth twin of Jordan or Israel. I wonder how deep the water is between it and the Middle East?

All I want to say about today can be found here:
http://wilbrodthegnome.blogspot.com/2006/10/its-friday-13th-and-i-dont-have-normal.html

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 13, 2006 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Here is a much less humourous account of what Canadian troops are facing in Afganistan. Story is about a month old, but still relevant.

http://www.macleans.ca/topstories/world/article.jsp?content=20060911_133171_133171

Posted by: dmd | October 13, 2006 12:02 PM | Report abuse

SF: in terms of geography: St. Martin, Greenland, St.Pierre & Miquelon.

The ethnic composition is majority Greek, minority Turk (the cause of the current split begins with a movement to seek union with Greece).

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 13, 2006 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm quite surprised, but not terribly annoyed, that we're not on the home page yet. We'll see how long it takes Hal to push the little red button.

:-)

_________________________________

Oh, and JA? Please don't ever write about Culpepper. That REALLY makes people upset:

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/rawfisher/2006/10/you_be_the_columnist_steaks_an.html

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 13, 2006 12:14 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Culpeper *SIGH*

Is it 5 p.m. EDT yet???? :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 13, 2006 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Landrum must have lived aboard too long. Such umbrage sounds vaguely familiar.

By the way, I'm surprised the Canadian commander wasn't quoted as "you will receive death by yep-yep."

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 13, 2006 12:19 PM | Report abuse

wheezy: making fun of the president at the white house correspondents association dinner is not all that remarkable. that is, in fact, what he was hired to do. the correspondents assoc. dinner is a sort of roast of the president held every year. colbert was just a little more incendiary because everyone who watches his show knew he really meant it.

as for the war on drugs, it is deplorable that the government is waging a propaganda war which is causing far more deaths than if they did nothing at all. drugs would not even be a major problem if the government was putting that money into rehabilitation and honest education instead of putting people in jail for simple possession (of anything, not just marijuana). distribution is another story, as people who sell addictive and/or dangerous drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and meth are in fact hurting people besides themselves, but to jail people for wanted to get altered is a sin. there are schedule I chemicals which cause less physical damage than alcohol, and are less addictive than alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine. there are also schedule I chemicals with great potential as medicine, including marijuana, but also including psychotherapy drugs such as LSD-25 and psilocybin.

meanwhile, cocaine is available legally, as long as you've got a prescription signed in triplicate.

Posted by: sparks | October 13, 2006 12:22 PM | Report abuse

sf - if you click on the other maps on your provided site, asia and then europe, you will see that it is "technically" a part of europe, no matter how close it is to asia - europe has claimed it so it shall be...

Posted by: mo | October 13, 2006 12:23 PM | Report abuse

ebtnut:
Saw early yesterday evening Wiki link on Cornelius Kingsland Garrison. There were Loomises involved in the California Gold Rush, as well as the Austrailian Gold Rush. This is the part that truly interests me the most about CKG:

During the Civil War, he allowed the U.S. government to use most of his ships.

Do you have more detail? Contractual agreements and income derived? Who he dealt with? How this deal came about?

Also, is abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison on your tree? If so, there ia another link between our families' antecedents:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p1561.html

Posted by: Loomis | October 13, 2006 12:26 PM | Report abuse

BTW, S'nuke-- your comment was funny, thanks!

I once tried to teach Wilbrodog the concept of "important/worth" for some reason, wanting to tell him something was important, so I got out coins vs a 10 dollar bill and said this can buy soda (he's seen me do it), while this can buy dog food, and this is worth more than the quarter. Understand? YES.

Then I asked him if brushing was more important than petting, figuring he'd say no. He signalled YES, which surprised me. So I brush him and he looks ho-hum, and then he walks up to the treat box and waits. I realized right then I had been treating him for enduring brushing, because he isn't big on it, while petting is free.

Also, he had picked up on the comparsion-- this gets you X, but important gets you FOOD, and correctly indicated which would get him food, not what I meant to teach. Oh well.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 13, 2006 12:28 PM | Report abuse

SoC let me guess that you were wearing a blue hard hat during you stay in the home territory of the mighty Cyprus mouse. Are you a graduate of Shoeshine U. a.k.a. RMC btw? I use to work with many fine graduates of this facility of higher learning. Some of them were blabbering idiots but this is par for the course, I graduated in a class that also contained blabbering idiots.
I came upon a stash of go'ol Leopards parts yesterday; these are remnants of the decision to tear them apart a few years back when they came back from Germany. I wonder if someone at DND regrets this decision now that that an armoured platoon is heading for Afghanistan. For some bureaucratic reason DND had to render the tanks inoperable but can't seem to be able to dispose of this expensive scrap metal. This would be a he11 of a puzzle to put them back together, I can tell you that.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | October 13, 2006 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Do not get me started on the de Lusignan branch of my family tree and Cyprus:

http://countrystudies.us/cyprus/6.htm

Guy de Lusignan lived only two years after assuming control [of Cyprus] in 1192, but the dynasty that he founded ruled Cyprus as an independent kingdom for more than three centuries. In religious matters, Lusignan was tolerant of the Cypriot adherence to Orthodoxy, but his brother Amaury, who succeeded him, showed no such liberality, and the stage was set for a protracted struggle, which dominated the first half of the Lusignan period. At issue was the paramountcy of the Roman Catholic Church over the Orthodox church. Latin sees were established at Famagusta, Limassol, Nicosia, and Paphos; land was appropriated for churches; and authority to collect tithes was granted to the Latins. The harshness with which the Latin clergy attempted to gain control of the Church of Cyprus exacerbated the uneasy relationship between Franks and Cypriots. In 1260 Pope Alexander IV issued the Bulla Cypria, declaring the Latin church to be the official church of Cyprus, forcing the Cypriot clergy to take oaths of obedience, and claiming the right to all tithes. The papal ordinance had no more effect than the constant persecution or the frequent visits of high-ranking papal legates sent to convert the islanders. The Cypriots remained loyal to their Orthodox heritage, and by the middle of the fourteenth century the Latin clergy had become less determined in its efforts to Latinize the population. The dominance of the Latin church officially continued for another 200 years, but Cypriots followed the lead of their own clergy and refused to accept the imposition of their Western rulers' form of Christianity.

Posted by: Loomis | October 13, 2006 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Mo: well, it's now part of the EU. But then again, so are Martinique or French Guiana, and nobody claims they are geographically in Europe.

Anyway, wikipedia says it's part of Eurasia... That should settle it :)))

Posted by: superfrenchie | October 13, 2006 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Straying on-topic, I wish I had some coherent thought, much less a recommendation, on how to help resolve the Iraq mess. I agree with Superfrenchie that on some level that war is lost, but the mess remains and, having begun it, I think we have an obligation to try and not make it worse if we can't fix it. It doesn't appear to me that the Administration truly has a concrete goal for Iraq at this point. I think part of the problem is we went in there without any good understanding of the Iraqis themselves, and we still lack that. In addition to Rajiv's book and the others mentioned, I highly recommend Anthony Shadid's "Night Draws Near". He is a Post reporter who has worked in the Middle East for many years, and this book draws on his reporting of the Iraqi people before, during and after the initial "war" phase (the one we won, remember, or so they say).

I have a cousin currently reporting for the Post from Baghdad and she says many of the same things now as he noted earlier. The current descriptions of everyday life in Baghdad alone are almost unimaginable to one who never lived in a war zone of any kind. I am astonished that there has not been more public outrage over President Arbusto's recent comment about the Iraqis wanting freedom so much they are willing to tolerate this level of violence. That was truly shocking to me, and not much he says can shock me anymore.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 13, 2006 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Superfrenchie, for the information. I will enjoy using this expression tonight when it is bedtime. From his infancy I've spoken occasionally to the Boy in bad French (the only kind I speak) so this will add to his peculiar vocabulary.

Sky report: blue bleu bleu. The air was crisp and cool, the sun was shining, the grass and leaves are green (still) and it is a beautiful day to be stuck in a windowless office. Enjoy your bike ride, Superfrenchie.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 13, 2006 12:44 PM | Report abuse

mark twain was indeed a french basher. when he wrote "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County", it was a huge success everywhere, and in every language in which it was published, except in France. Twain read it in french, and discovered why: it wasn't funny. I believe he later took the time to translate the french translation back into english, just to prove that it was not, in fact, his fault that it had done so poorly in france.

Posted by: sparks | October 13, 2006 12:47 PM | Report abuse

silvertongue,
Thank you so much for the link!

You know who showed up in my mailbox this past week? Why none other than Usama bin Laden, Ayman Al Zawahiri, and Muqtada al-Sadr--their glossies on the front of a campaign brochure for Rep. Henry Bonilla, along with a lot of GOP talking points and blather about how this only Republican Mexican-American member of the House is keeping terrorists at bay, protecting our southern border, blah, blah, blah. Now that Bonilla's district has been reconfigured, he's pulling out the terrorists in turbans and robes, while meanwhile, about 10 miles from our home (My husband who rarely makes political statements, found this piece of direct mail advertising from Bonilla's camp way over the top):

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/stories/MYSA101306.01B.stashhouse.3590282.html

Migrants weren't first ones stashed at house

Web Posted: 10/13/2006 01:22 AM CDT
Hernán Rozemberg
Express-News Immigration Writer

Federal authorities say 12 people found in a near Northwest Side home had smuggled dozens of others into the United States before police dismantled the scheme Wednesday.

Immigration agents found 58 undocumented immigrants in three upstairs bedrooms of a home on the 200 block of Senisa Drive in the Jefferson/Woodlawn Lake neighborhood.

Police said the migrants were held in squalid conditions, with exposed feces in the house and sharing a single bathroom, and said they had been in the United States for two to eight days.
***

And Padouk, I find your use of the Republican terms "Stay the course" and "Cut and run" disingenuous.

Posted by: Loomis | October 13, 2006 12:50 PM | Report abuse

FWIW, I don't see how we can be part of the solution. If there were a credible Middle-Eastern-national force to take our place, that might address the "occupier" issue. Hmmm... Syria, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt... Then again, maybe not. *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 13, 2006 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Mark Twain is indeed a big time French-basher. But I had to come here to find out. AFAIK, his main body of work is reasonably popular in France.

ivansmom, have you taught verlan to the boy?

Posted by: superfrenchie | October 13, 2006 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Dooley, don't trust those Canadians for anything. dmd promised you good weather and she is probably snowed in as 6 inches of snow fell on Southern Ontario. Those people in the banana belt can't drive in the snow.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20061013.wontsnow1013/BNStory/National/home

L'Échelle de Jacob to which Steve-2 was referring yesterday is a good French restaurant in Alymer. It's barely a mile from my home but about 7 miles from downtown Ottawa. Other suggestions for a French restaurant : Le Panaché and Le Sans-pareil, both in Hull. You get good cuisine for less than the outrageously expensive French restaurants in Ottawa.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | October 13, 2006 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Loomis - I am confused by your comment. Perhaps I could have used different terms, but I see nothing "disingenuous" in pointing out that there are other legitimate options besides the two polar positions around which much debate has focused.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 13, 2006 1:02 PM | Report abuse

"have you taught verlan to the boy?" Nope. Help me out here! I'm guessing that's not Verlaine (I may have read him some Verliane in translation, I inflicted a lot of poetry of all types on him when he was too small to resist).

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 13, 2006 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, your last re: cross border issues reminded me of this little nugget - a GOP election website in the form of a "thank you" from Canada, Mexico and China to the Dem incumbent:

http://mercidebbie.com/

SD: yes UN, no RMC (although the RMC crest was in my mind when we were proposing a coat of arms for the Achenblog): http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/ca%5Ermc.html

Ah, Cyprus. Good memories of the Scandinavian tourists; bad memories of the freakishly large-headed, bug-eyed mice.

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 13, 2006 1:06 PM | Report abuse

ivansmon:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verlan

Have fun. I'm off!

Posted by: superfrenchie | October 13, 2006 1:06 PM | Report abuse

And this:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1892853.stm

Bye!

Posted by: superfrenchie | October 13, 2006 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Quelle cheese. Superfrenchie has presented me with a challenge up to which I may not be. Merely reading the descriptions of verlan has addled my language receptors.

Back to Iraq -- could we pull out our stunningly incompetent contractors, make all the people who stole or got overpaid give the money back, and find some competent Middle Eastern contractors (oh there are too some) to bring in working electricity, water and some sort of infrastructure? I'm sorry to keep harping on this but the trappings of civilization help people act civilized.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 13, 2006 1:20 PM | Report abuse

SoC, you are making me all misty eyed with your reference to the Scandinavian tourists. A troop of German girls (senior high school/junior college age) came to Laval Univerty one summer to, allegedly, learn French. How those girls living in a town 50km from the French borders conned their way to Canada to learn French is quite beyond me. Their sunbathing habits made the nearby ballpark the most popular sporting venue on campus despite the pond in the left field and the quicksand pit in the infield.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | October 13, 2006 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Dooley, them Canadians is tricky, Ya gotta watch 'em like a hawk every minute.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 13, 2006 1:23 PM | Report abuse

The question remains, is it ustoarb, toarbus, stoarbu that is tres chanme?

Personally I think that the French are getting really bored with speaking French ever-so perfectly all the time.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 13, 2006 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Mudge! I was starting to think your daughter had led the aliens straight to you for assimilation, examination, and tagging.
You feeling a little woozy, amnesiac about last night, and wearing an odd earring this morning?

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 13, 2006 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Aw, crap, Shriek, I was getting a fair amount of work done today until you hadda mention that troop of sunbathing Rhine maidens...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 13, 2006 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Technically Shrieking I did not lie, no snow where I live, I am in the true banana belt nestled safely between the lake and the escarpment. We did get frost for the first time last night, but not a killing frost, impatiens still in bloom.

Saw this in the comments of G&B and it made me smile, I remember well Ottawa weather, on the days I was brave enough to emerge from the Carleton tunnels!

B A from Ottawa, Canada writes: Wow, the weird thing is somewhere else in this Province the weather is actually worse than Ottawa. Hhhmmm. Lemme check the date. Ah, Friday the 13th. That explains it. I knew this town was backwards

Posted by: dmd | October 13, 2006 1:29 PM | Report abuse

*peeking out* is the coast clear?

Posted by: mo | October 13, 2006 1:31 PM | Report abuse

(It's not stereotypically French to bicycle on the weekends...)

I wish I could say (regarding Iraq) that we could "work it out," but given who would be managing the war, I think any attempt to ameliorate things would just blow up in our face.

It's time to throw in the towel!

There are socio-cultural forces at work that change faster than organizations such as the US and Iraqi government can adapt.

It's a shame.

The least we can do (and we have not yet done even this) is sympathize with the loss of human life. We seem to be like children -- "perversely innocent" -- oblivious to the consequences of our (in)actions.

There is nothing good that can come of Iraq with this group in power.

We need to learn that there are limits to what we can do -- life is not always what we want it to be.

Posted by: Poéthique | October 13, 2006 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Just saw this article about air samples done after the N. Korea test, questioning the possibility it failed.

http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1160736367533&call_pageid=968332188492&col=968793972154&t=TS_Home

Posted by: dmd | October 13, 2006 1:39 PM | Report abuse

dmd - My understanding is that there are several definitive chemical tests being done in the next few days.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 13, 2006 1:45 PM | Report abuse

A headline on AOL news:

October Snow Breaks Record
Buffalo Buried By Two Feet

And a couple of mighty big feet they were, too!

Posted by: ac in sj | October 13, 2006 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Before I forget (it being Friday and all), here's a link to an interview with Richard Dawkins on the topic of religion (his most recent book being The God Delusion- consider yourself warned about the content). Article title: The Flying Spaghetti Monster.


http://www.salon.com/books/int/2006/10/13/dawkins/index_np.html

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 13, 2006 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Thanks RD, just read another article with more detail concerning the seismic results etc. Any chance N. Korea is playing a twisted version of chicken?

Posted by: dmd | October 13, 2006 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I finally read about the newly-discovered Cypriot mouse--it's just like ice-age fossils from the island. I'm sure the locals have known all about these mice for thousands of years. Just takes a while to realize that they're native, distinctive, and so forth.

I get a feeling that the island is "european" by a combination of
1. Being considered Greek by the Greeks
2. Not being on the Turkish or Syrian mainland, which the Greeks have always considered to be "Asia."

Anyway, the island is apparently also a geological and botanical wonderland, making it just the place for an English-style natural history vacation in spring.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 13, 2006 2:03 PM | Report abuse

NK is a tough nut to crack because everything is bound so tightly to the personal idiosyncracies of Kim Jung Il. It isn't a given that the so-called "rational actor" model applies here. What is most scary, frankly, isn't what NK is planning to do, but what the countries around NK might do in response.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 13, 2006 2:08 PM | Report abuse

From my Oct 9, 9:30 AM comment:

"Quick comment: I'm not sure that North Korea's actual detonation of a nuclear weapon actually changes anything, other than the media attention. They've said they have had capabilty for years, and we've believed them.

Russia says that they don't detect radiation indicative of an atomic bomb, so my Spidey-sense is starting to tingle. Could North Korea have actually detonated 5 or 10 thousand tons of TNT to make people *think* they have atomic weapons?

Hmmm. The North Korean Government *are* the #1 counterfeiters of American dollars in the world, to make people think that they actually have money (this is a big reason why the US has such stringent economic sanctions in place).

The folks I know in the Treasury dept. point to the North Korean bills as the best counterfeit dollars anywhere (and that includes the new "counterfeit resistant" bills), and are darn near undetectable in a cursory visual inspection.

Me, I'm not looking too closely at my money, but the next time I do, I'll be wondering if that $20 paid for a nuclear bomb, a big pile of TNT, or simply helped amortize the costs of a big, expensive, sophisticated printing press."

To paraphrase Capt. J.T. Kirk:
Not chicken, dmd. Poker.

bc

Posted by: bc | October 13, 2006 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Have a great weekend everyone! Gonna take off early. Got a new job to start Monday which, evidently, involves figuring out what crazy ideas to spend tax dollars on and what crazy ideas not to. So if you have any crazy ideas, I'm your guy.

I would like to pretend that I will be so busy doing real real important stuff that I won't be able to keep an eye on the Boodle, but my momma taught me not to lie.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 13, 2006 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Research on dog-human communications, bc. That's the way to the future.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 13, 2006 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Holy Cow, SonofCarl (this got my attention)!:

Dawkins once said, "I think a case can be made that faith is one of the world's great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate."

Thanks for this link and the Debbie link. I can let my imagination run wild and see doing something with Bonilla in like fashion with mariachi music in the background.

I am sleep-deprived today. A candidate for our state house, Nelson Balido, Cuban-born by way of Los Angeles, lives over our back fence. There was some big soiree on his patio last night, well past midnight. Last night was cool and delicious and we slept (or attemtped to sleep) with our windows open.

We're a neighborhood of working stiffs, and I can understand a large, loud group of people on a Thursday night doing their thing until, say, 10:30 or possibly 11 p.m. But at 15 minutes after midnight, I found myself in the backyard, barefoot in my nightie, hoping not to step on a doggie bomb, yelling at the top of my lungs across the lane that separates our dwellings "Be quiet! Shut the effing up! I'm voting for (Democrat) Joaquin Castro."

Balido was on two local TV stations last night claiming that the Castro camp had defaced his signage. Yet, the news showed a Castro sign (of this young twin--his brother ran for mayor in our last election--minor scandal called Twingate that went national) with horns, moustache and goatee, painted on in white. When Balido challenged Castro in the previous election, he broke all the neighborheed covenant rules by hanging a huge, oversized banner on his back fence and on the street. Since this sign was the view from my upstairs window, my phone call of complaint brought it down. Pobrecito Balido!

RD, what course to stay? What goals? What benchmarks? How many tours and years in Iraq for my best friend's son?

Cut and run? Will there any be troop reductions? When? Any phased withdrawals? Ever? And if staying makes our Pottery Barn hijinks worse?


Posted by: Loomis | October 13, 2006 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately bc, your reply and RD's confirms what I was thinking and it is not a comforting thought.

Posted by: dmd | October 13, 2006 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Do you suppose all the people on Cyprus have always thought mice had unusually large heads etc.? Perhaps they'd come back from vacation elsewhere and mention the puny and obviously mutant mice, so inferior to the Cypriot Mouse.

NYT today has a story with pictures about how nobody can effectively consistently pick up trash in Baghdad, given the danger. They even took away trash bins, because they might be used to hide bombs (now that is the job of the piles and mounds of roadside trash). It's all about the infrastructure, and the security which would allow infrastructure to function.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 13, 2006 2:25 PM | Report abuse

"L'Échelle de Jacob." I mangled it pretty badly, didn't I? Sorry for that. Glad to know it's still there.

As for the question of what to do in Irag. In my mind, the answer hangs on another question: is there an organization in Iraq (could be the existing government) that a) is supported by a reasonably large share of the population, and b) has a reasonable chance of creating a stable country (or countries) in that area if given support? If the answer is "Yes" to both questions then we (the US) have an obligation under the aforementioned Pottery Barn rule to provide what assistence we can, until either a) or b) is shown to be false.

Can the case be made that the al-Maliki government meets test a) and b) above? My opinion is no - it meets neither test. And to my knowledge there is no other organization in Irag that meets the test(s).

So, I'd leave Iraq. Sooner rather than later. Call it cut-and-run, if you like. Whatever. Not going to keep doing the wrong thing, just because some politician came up with a perjorative phrase. Let the Iraqis sort it out themselves. There will be bloodshed. Lives lost. We all should feel bad about that. But there's no time machine that can take us back now to undo what we've done. And I am pretty confident in predicting that the body count will be even higher, and the end the same, if we try to continue proping up an unpopular government through force.

Posted by: Steve-2 | October 13, 2006 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Here's some pictures of the snow in Buffalo and Michigan. The one of the lab in the snow is great.

http://www.ctv.ca/gallery/html/fall_snow_061013/photo_0.html

Posted by: linkydmd | October 13, 2006 2:32 PM | Report abuse

SCC Iraq, not Irag. Geez, they're not even close, on the keyboard.

Posted by: Steve-2 | October 13, 2006 2:34 PM | Report abuse

They're close in fingerspelling and general appearance, though. Something you're not telling us, Steve-2?

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 13, 2006 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Just that I didn't use the Preview button. The shame...

Posted by: Steve-2 | October 13, 2006 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I'm not advocating this, but in the Scriptures (Old Testament), and correct me if I'm wrong, when the Israelites went out to fight their wars, many times God told them not to leave anything breathing.

Now some are saying if we leave Iraq, then there will be a civil war, and many lives will be lost. If we add up the military might and clean the place up, meaning many lives will be lost, what's the difference? And I know I'm slow on a lot of stuff, but I'm serious, what's the difference? So many young people have lost their lives in this war, and many are so maimed, their lives will never be the same. Do the the people of Iraq really want freedom? Is that why we're there? Why are we there? Perhaps defining the reason for being there might lead to the solution of solving the problem or just simply leaving this place. I don't know. It is such a mess, and no one seems to know the answer as to what to do. If we're there for the oil, then that needs to be said. We certainly cannot put a pretty face on the situation in Iraq or Afghanistan.

And why are we burning dope? Did someone say that? I am so confused.

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 13, 2006 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I think I still come back to my original thesis that you can't create democracy at the point of a gun any more than you can force a change in religious beliefs. Our little excursion into the history of Cyprus is a good example. Many of the problems of the Middle East stem from the arbitrary partition of the Ottoman Empire after WWI. (And of course some of them go back to the Crusades). I guess I am still dumbfounded that the architects of the entire Iraq fiasco really believed that we would be showered with flowers and greeted as liberators by a country that was only held together in the first place by Baath Party terror. And that somehow a democratic government would suddenly appear where none has ever been before, in a region that had no tradition of representative government before the creation of Isreal.

Posted by: ebtnut | October 13, 2006 3:17 PM | Report abuse

To Shrieking Denizen and Mudge regarding the sighting in Canada of a "...troop of sunbathing Rhine maidens..."

Wow. Visual relief from what is happening in Iraq.

So, here is a poem about Die Lorelei, the queen of the Rhine maidens:

Translation of Heine's "Die Lorelei"

I don't know what it could mean,
that I'm so sad: I find,
A fairy-tale, from times unseen,
Won't vanish from my mind.

The air is cool and it darkens,
And quiet flows the Rhine:
The tops of the mountains sparkle,
In evening's after-shine.

The loveliest of maidens,
She's wonderful, sits there,
Her golden jewels glisten,
She combs her golden hair.

She combs it with a comb of gold,
And sings a song as well:
Its strangeness too is old
And casts a powerful spell.

It grips the boatman in his boat
With a wild pang of woe:
He only looks up to the heights,
Can't see the rocks below.

I believe the waves swallowed
The boat and its boatman,
That's what, by her singing,
The Lorelei has done.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorelei

Posted by: College Parkian | October 13, 2006 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Could all of these "stakes" Mr. Bush mentions really be the "MIStakes" that are so obvious and which he refuses to own up to?

Stay the course... yeah, right.

The horse is dead, the cows have all escaped and the barn is a burnt out shell. What more does this stupid monkey need to see before he'll 'fess up to being a stupid monkey?

He just makes me sick to my stomach (and can't blame Taco Bell today, because I came home for lunch and am cooking up some tomato soup).

Posted by: martooni | October 13, 2006 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe we're not on the home page yet.

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 13, 2006 3:45 PM | Report abuse

If rodents in Cyprus are any indication, there is a good survival strategy in keeping your big head down and out of sight.

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 13, 2006 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I know, scotty. Hal must be in a snit about Joel. Probably paybacks from all our complaining about timestamps.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 13, 2006 3:50 PM | Report abuse

It is now 9:32 p.m. UTC

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 13, 2006 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of disbelief, I just can't believe those dummies in Stockholm didn't give Bush the Nobel Peace Prize for attempting to remake and democritize the Mideast. What could they have been thinking?

Oh, right.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 13, 2006 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Dare I say it?

"Screw Hal."

He's just a single letter off from each letter of IBM, and IBM is at the top of my crap list today -- bad enough I gotta deal with the junk Microsoft unloads on my customers, but when "Big Blue" dumps their junk, we're talking a major dump.

Grrr...

Why did I choose "software development" as a profession? Maybe I'm the dumb monkey.

Posted by: martooni | October 13, 2006 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Martooni, there is a little monkey in all of us.

My best advice is of course, to leave it for Monday, go home, put the little one on your lap and read good stories like 'I'll Love you Forever'(Robert Munsch)and then snuggle. If you can't leave it for Monday, just do all the rest when you got home. A kiss from a little one makes a lot of stuff melt away.

Posted by: dr | October 13, 2006 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Martoon, it's a better job than being a peace activist in Iraq.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 13, 2006 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Despite the evilhood of Hal, I rather like the name.

Think of Shakespeare's Henry V, aka Prince Hal.

Also, "H A L" looks great on a work-overall.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 13, 2006 4:18 PM | Report abuse

It'll go on the home page over the weekend, maybe. There was some miscommunication.

Meanwhile, here's the text of Rajiv's response to Senor:


Several people have asked me to respond to Dan Senor's op-ed in today's Washington Post about an excerpt from my book, Imperial Life in the Emerald City, that was published in The Post on September 17. While I don't want to be drawn into a back-and-forth debate on the pages of The Post or in cyberspace, there are some significant misrepresentations and inaccuracies in his piece that need to be corrected for the record.

Yes, there were nonpolitical experts who worked for the CPA, and some of them even held senior-level titles, but it most cases, they were kept at an arm's length from Ambassador Bremer and, as such, were not involved in making the most important decisions of the occupation. In addition, many of them did not serve for the full duration of the occupation. Ambassador Jones, for instance, arrived in Baghdad after the November 15, 2003, agreement. By the time he arrived, the roadmap for the political transition had already been set. And, according to several senior CPA people I talked to, his influence was eclipsed by Bremer's younger, more political advisers.

Ryan Crocker was there only for the first few months. Yes, he played an important role in helping to select the Governing Council in the early weeks of the occupation, but then he left Iraq. His role was filled by Scott Carpenter, a former International Republican Institute staffer. He was sent to work for Jay Garner by Liz Cheney, the vice president's daughter. (In my book, I write that Carpenter "had not been involved in the Future of Iraq Project or the department's other initiatives with Iraqi exiles but, unlike some of his State colleagues, was a firm believer in Bush's effort to promote democracy in Iraq and the broader Arab world. Carpenter 'really wasn't what I wanted,' Garner said later.")

It's worth noting that Ryan Crocker doesn't even rate a mention after Page 85 of Bremer's memoir, "My Year in Iraq."

Redd and Kellogg were operations guys. They didn't deal with the governance of Iraq.

Larry Diamond and Noah Feldman weren't in Baghdad for extended periods of time. Feldman had no major role in shaping overall CPA policy. I've got quotes in my notebook from Senor dismissing Diamond's role in the CPA as insignificant. It's interesting that Senor seeks to tout Diamond's role now.

Senor claims that "the senior tiers of the CPA were populated with a bipartisan and generally nonpolitical corps of experts." In his op-ed, Senor cited a handful of individuals. Let's consider a few others:

One of the senior advisers for the Ministry of Education was Williamson Evers, an advocate for school vouchers and an education policy adviser to President Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns. The senior adviser to the Ministry of Higher Education was John Agresto, the former president of St. John's College in Santa Fe, N.M.; he had worked with Lynne Cheney at the National Endowment for the Humanities. The senior adviser to the Transportation Ministry was Darrell Trent, the deputy manager of Ronald Reagan's 1976 and 1980 presidential campaigns. The senior adviser to the Ministry of Health, as I detailed in the excerpt, was James Haveman, a 60-year-old social worker who was largely unknown among international health experts; he had been the community health director for the former Republican governor of Michigan, John Engler, who recommended him to Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense. The CPA's director of private sector development was Thomas C. Foley, who served as Connecticut finance chairman for Bush's 2000 campaign. Among Bremer's senior counselors was Tom Korologos, who served as an assistant to President Nixon and President Ford and was a member of the Bush-Cheney transition team in 2001.

It all depends on how you define "populated." Yes, there were some bipartisan and nonpolitical experts. And yes, there were even some Democrats. I said that in the book and in the excerpt. But there weren't that many of them.

Senor contends a "fairer book would critique our policy decisions." My book certainly does that. See Chapters 4 and 9. See also Chapter 16. In fact, see the whole book. It's one big critique of policy decisions.

In his op-ed, Senor doesn't even seek to defend the three principal subjects of the excerpt: Bernard Kerik, Jay Hallen and Haveman.

In his final paragraphs, Senor suggests that I prefer the rapid political transition plan favored by neocons at the Pentagon. Far from it. Yes, I quote an Iraqi political official as saying the occupation was a mistake, but I do not espouse the rapid transfer of power to exiles led by Ahmad Chalabi. Instead, I write in Chapter 16 that a better political transition could have taken several forms:

"The compromise between their desire for self-rule and the absence of a leader with broad appeal could have taken many forms, as the State Department's Arabists pointed out over the months after the invasion: a temporary governor appointed by the United Nations, an interim ruling council, or even a big-tent meeting--similar to the loya jirga convened after the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan--to select a crop of national leaders. There certainly was a role for a tireless, charismatic American diplomat to shepherd the process. It could easily have been Bremer, with a different title and a shorter mandate, with a viable political plan and meaningful resources for reconstruction."

Sure, there were people at the State Department who wanted the same sort of open-ended occupation that Bremer favored, but there were plenty of others who wanted a shorter, more modest, Iraqi-led process that didn't involve handing the keys over to Chalabi and his ilk. That's where I come down.

My book, contrary to what Senor contends, does acknowledge "the depths and ambiguities of the problem." That's what it's all about.

---R.C.

Posted by: Achenbach | October 13, 2006 4:39 PM | Report abuse

You'd half expect that Cypriot mice would have been displaced by mice arriving on Phoenician, Greek, Venetian, Turkish, or even British ships.

The Venetians and Ottomans apparently were prone to exterminate incovenient human populations on the Mediterranean islands that they contested. I wonder how many rats drowned in the naval battle of Lepanto?

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 13, 2006 4:41 PM | Report abuse

If the Democrats were smart, they would put national security and the war on terrorism front and center for this election. They would say: "Our troops are awesome, our commander-in-chief is not." And: "We can have the best army in the world, but if it is used for the wrong purposes, no amount of expertise and determination can bear a good result. It is time to end this war, and develop a new strategy -- a strategy that secures American interests and is responsible towards other peoples of the world." Also: "The war on terrorism has suffered a terrible setback because of the misguided war in Iraq. We need to set the record straight: our enemy is composed of loosely affiliated murderous gangs. They are capable of mass destruction but are no match for us! In terms of numbers, resources and above all resolve. Because we have a positive vision to offer the world (they only breed negativity). So we need to get on with business, but do things right! And the first step is to remove from power those who have mislead us."

Posted by: Poéthique | October 13, 2006 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Dave, not really. House mice are so dependent on man that they can't survive well in the wild away from human dwellings. The large head of the Cypriot mice likely is an adaption for various nuts and items too large for most mice to deal with.

Rats might outcompete them for the nuts, but come a famine year and the mice may well do better than the rats because of their smaller size.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 13, 2006 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Or the mice got so big-headed because they had to be brainy to avoid well-fed commando kitties...
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/04/040409092827.htm

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 13, 2006 4:51 PM | Report abuse

So much for commenting about mice and massacres just after Achenbach posted serious material about the American occupation in Iraq.

I thought I read somewhere, at least 5 years ago, that Karl Rove was impressed by the 19th century patronage systems in the US, and thought them better and more effective than the sort of professional, disinterested, non-corrupt bureacracies that were favored by the Progressive Movement and by Theodore Roosevelt. McKinley was a better model for a successful presidency.

If I remember correctly, Rove thought that patronage actually delivered benefits to voters (such as immigrants/ethnics in some of the big cities), while professional bureaucracies tended to end up in the hands of privileged groups. In the past, that would have been WASPs.

So Baghdad was to be run a bit like Boss Tweed's New York.

Washington had its own "Boss" Shepherd, but he seems a much more benign character, perhaps just what Baghdad needed. If the city was totally torn up for sewer construction, how could bombers get around?
http://www.exploredc.org/index.php?id=4

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 13, 2006 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Willbrod,
Years ago, I was surprised to see that a phosphate mine in northernmost Florida was full of house mice, along with the usual native Sigmodon rats. Blessedly, around here, we still have some sea oats-eating native beach mice on conservation lands. Much cuter than house mice--big ears, nicely colored coats.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 13, 2006 5:07 PM | Report abuse

It's all about the big ears (or the fluffy tails) -- that's why mice and squirrels are cute (respectively) and rats are so repulsive. If rats didn't have the beady eyes and the segmented tails -- and of course, if they hadn't wiped out what was it? two-thirds of Europe's population during the Black Death -- maybe they would have their own beloved cartoon characters now, too.

Been on jury duty -- too much to catch up. It's like the dead-tree version of the Post: when more than a couple of day's worth are in the backlog, it's time to grant yourself absolution and vow to keep up to date from this day forward.

Posted by: annie | October 13, 2006 5:16 PM | Report abuse

I did a quick check and housemice like cracks in rocks and so on for their nests, rather than beaches and such.

I did a rapid report and found that this cypriot mouse isn't the only bigheaded mouse found in recent years:

http://wilbrodthegnome.blogspot.com/2006/10/achenblog-is-all-agog-about-new.html

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 13, 2006 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Wow. I took a vacation day, and went hiking. & had a few random thoughts of reporting the beauty of the forest and the sun and sky, and nature in general, to y'all. But I return, and find that the boodle has become ultra-serious.

I have nothing to suggest as a solution for Iraq.

I will say, as a human with an oversized cranium (largest hat size in my high school graduating class!), that I feel a great deal of solidarity with Cypriot mice and wish them the best.

The woods were lovely. The trees, green and gold. The air, brisk and fragrant. I felt I was taking in more oxygen than I had in a week. I saw few humans, and the woods muffled their sound as soon as they dissapeared from view. Many times, I stopped walking, took off my hat and listened. The only sounds I heard were of the wind rustling in the trees, and a randon chipmunk squeek. Wilbrodog would have been intrigued. What a pleasure to be away from human sound! More than that, I cannot verbalize.

I miss the forest already.

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 13, 2006 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Good rule, Annie-- I often skim through blogs that are full of stuff that just doesn't sizzle my bacon at that moment.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 13, 2006 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Irak tends to wipe the grins off people's faces, Whirlygig.


Posted by: Wilbrod | October 13, 2006 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Annie, Re Rats: their own beloved cartoon characters.

That must be why the Ben-Rat thing in the movie Willard did not take off. (Now I hear the iMichael Jackson song in my mind....must cleanse with something.)

I told my students about this movie one day and they did not believe me about the concept, until they googled/wikk-ed it.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 13, 2006 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I dig your blog. I am short on time and concentration, but the little I have looked at, you are truly gnomic. I will read more during the "work" week.

Iraq....how will history judge us? The level of human suffering that our nation has brought on these people is astounding. History will surely look back on us and say things that would bring tears to our eyes.

Random thought: Around here, in Pennsyltucky, many folks still have those "W '04" stickers on their cars. My thought is to imagine that "W" stands for Wilbrod. Or Wilbrodog. Or, in extremis, whirlegyge, although I am sure Wilbrodog would make a better president than me.

Cheers!

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 13, 2006 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I don't know about commando kitties (although I seem to recall a movie of a different genre with a name to that effect), but an interesting phenomenon of cease fire zones is the return to nature. In Cyprus there were the Buffer Zone Dogs (feral, and often rabid). I've heard the DMZ in Korea is a real wildlife refuge.

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 13, 2006 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Just in case you thought that we, at least, were safe from this administration:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/13/opinion/13fri1.html

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 13, 2006 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, did you see this?

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/13/education/13galludet.html?ref=us

As you can tell, I am an nyt.com junkie.

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 13, 2006 5:48 PM | Report abuse

OMG! [Sorry, Cassandra.} This is so awesome!

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/13/us/13robber.html

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 13, 2006 5:50 PM | Report abuse

OK, I killed the boodle.

Please, someone come back.........!

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 13, 2006 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Offically, I have no opinion. But contact me at wilbrodthegnome at yahoo and I'll send you a "backstory" on the protest.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 13, 2006 5:53 PM | Report abuse

And in other news....

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/world/AP-Nobel-Peace.html?em&ex=1160884800&en=90a4646e03de18fd&ei=5070

This makes me think humans are capable of doing something right, after all.

Posted by: whyrlegyge | October 13, 2006 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of people doing something right, a good story from the front lines of the GWOT:

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2006/10/13/second-person.html

Have a good weekend, all.

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 13, 2006 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Annie! Jury duty -- what was it like? What were the dynamics? Civil suit or criminal case? I'm truly interested -- I've never sat on a jury and won't as long as I live in OK (lawyers exempt). As a former litigator I'm always fascinated by what & how juries decide.

Dave otCoonties, are you familiar with the Perdido Key Beach Mouse? Long ago and far away I worked on some case protecting the li'l rodent but left before the outcome.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 13, 2006 6:51 PM | Report abuse

dr... very true on the hugs from little ones. Mine has done a very good job of preventing me from destroying myself.

Last night I gave her her very first guitar "lesson" (she's only 4, so this is major, especially when considering her fingers are so darn tiny). We did "Mary Had a Little Lamb" (by who knows) and "Goo-Goo-Muck" by The Cramps. Mrs. Martooni was into it until the Cramps tune, then she just kinda shook her head and walked off muttering stuff. Funny... when I mutter stuff, they call me crazy.

We also worked on our new potentially #1 Billboard-smashing hit song -- "Snuggle Bug".

First verse:

Snuggle bug, snuggle bug,
I love you!

Snuggle bug, snuggle bug,
Yes it's true!

Snuggle bug, snuggle bug,
I really really really love you....

then there's a "boop-boop, boop-be-doop" and then we just repeat it for about three hours. Really have to get to work on verse #2.

In any case, Little Bean (or "Little Fart", as I've been calling her lately) is definitely what keeps my nose to the grindstone and looking forward to coming home everyday. If not for her, I would be dead -- and that's no kidding. Self-destruction and I wave at each other every day. She's not only fun, but very insightful for her four years and seems to instinctively know when her Daddy is falling apart and needs a hug (hence the "snuggle bug" stuff). Absolutely amazes me at least five times a day (she's amazing the rest of the time, but I don't want to brag).

Anyway... sorry for the sappy. Back to your regularly scheduled programming...

Posted by: martooni | October 13, 2006 6:54 PM | Report abuse

What a great way to end the week, with some really nice news.

First off, Mr. Muhammad Yunus proved the power of small things, small numbers of people, does great big things.

And then what can you say for that unidentified person. Whoever you are, thank you, we need more of you on both sides of whatever line there seems to be.

Posted by: dr | October 13, 2006 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm curious as well about jury duty. I'm summoned for jury duty in early November. No word what kind of jury-- grand, petit, hanging jury, jury-rigging.

I'll contact them and see if they give tree breaks to jurors. Hope Wilbrodog doesn't volunteer too much information.




Posted by: Wilbrod | October 13, 2006 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod... I hope you haven't given Wilbrodog the secret family recipe for baked beans. Dogs are wonderful but cannot be trusted with such things -- will sell you out for a tummy rub in a second.

Posted by: martooni | October 13, 2006 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Right now the engineering office is playing relic. They are copying long unused but now required data from a 486 with a 5.5 floppy. It took them all afternoon to find the 486, stored just for such archival purposes. Yes this is how we worked before servers. Keep the old computer just in case.

I'm not sure who is slower, the computer or the guys trying to remember the commands.

This is almost as good as my mastery of math yesterday.

Posted by: dr | October 13, 2006 7:14 PM | Report abuse

dr - You are archiving data? Bless you and your good work.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 13, 2006 7:21 PM | Report abuse

dr... If the old 486 happens to run Mentor Pro, I got all the old commands. Seriously.

The software my employer sells is based on roughly 25 year old code. Sure, they've added a GUI front-end, but it's like going on an archaeological dig whenever you need to debug something -- especially when you find comments dated 1982. One advantage is that the code has been around so long that it's damn near bullet-proof -- if a bug hasn't been found in 25 years, it probably is not going to surface (unless, of course, I'm the one manning the phones and everyone else has left for the weekend).

But that's what the Achenblog and email are for (Achenblog for a diversion, email to pass the buck).

36 minutes until freedom.

Posted by: martooni | October 13, 2006 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrodog, how do you feel about the anti-pull harnesses? More comfortable than Gentle Leaders?

Wilbrod, we have to get your readership up so you can subsist on ad revenue, like dooce. Ideas, anyone?

Posted by: dbG | October 13, 2006 7:24 PM | Report abuse

RD? I thought you were off to a weekend bacchanal before ascending the throne Monday. If Cypriot mice are any indication, your Friday night is altogether too tame.

Like mine, of course. I'm waiting to open the wine until Ivansdad brings home the pizza. He loaded his pizza gun a few minutes ago.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 13, 2006 7:26 PM | Report abuse

And thank you, Martooni, for sharing your sweet bug song. Just keep holding onto that giggle, and wave at self-destruction from a distance. If you get tempted to beckon, Boodle instead. We're much more beckonable.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 13, 2006 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Archiving data isn't the problem. Retrieving it is!

Posted by: dbG | October 13, 2006 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Don't mention gentle leaders to me! I know 3 ways to get out of one. Grr.

Wilbrod says that antipull harnesses have good reps and probably are the best choice especially for little dogs. Wilbrod also says that I need to stay good so I will never have to wear one ;).

Will have to look around for juicy keywords ;).

Posted by: Wilbrodog | October 13, 2006 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Weekend bacchanal? Ha Ha HaHa - oh wait. You are serious? No, my son is going on an overnight band trip and my wife asked me to get home early and assist with the preparations. For without massive parental involvement he might forget little details like, you know, clothing.

I'm sure you know the feeling.

And in, what 35 months or so, he is supposed to be off to college?

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 13, 2006 7:33 PM | Report abuse

dbG - Oh so very true. Recently I had to extract some data without documentation and in an unfamiliar format. It dated all the way back to 1998, so naturally nobody had a clue how to do this.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 13, 2006 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Wilbrodog. Emma knows 3 ways to get out of a Gentle Leader too. We'll see how she does, although at 70#, she's not little.

Posted by: dbG | October 13, 2006 7:35 PM | Report abuse

My favorite method is to brush it with my paw just enough I can get a part of it in my mouth. Chomp chomp and then spit it out. No more GL. And a very angry Wilbrod. Whoops.

Guess that method's not so favorite anymore.
Guess I will have to blog, too.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | October 13, 2006 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it refreshing how the nuts and bolts (mostly nuts) of parenting can put one's non-family triumphs and difficulties in perspective? Out there folks may listen to me. Here, I sign the assignment notebook and pick up socks.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 13, 2006 7:42 PM | Report abuse

RDP, good thing you're clever!

I archive off about 9 GB a week from 1 db, all to be kept for 7 years, eom, eoy for 10. When they need something retrieved, it's always when I'm on vacation. When they find it'll take a day after I return, they always decide their own fiche will be sufficient.

Posted by: dbG | October 13, 2006 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Wow. There were five things in dbG's last post I didn't understand. Good thing you don't have to work with me! Even better thing that I don't have your job.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 13, 2006 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Hooray! Wilbrod said I could blog too. Except I forgot what I wanted to say.

http://wilbrodog.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Wilbrodog | October 13, 2006 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Hi, Ivansmom.

I'm a software engineer/database administrator for a large financial institution. On my main database (db), which is accessible to clients only through a web site, I keep roughly the past 30 days worth of data--all types of financial transactions. Every night more data is added in. The loads finish by 3 a.m. and our clients hit the site and think, "How will I manage wealth today?"

So at the end of every week, I archive out records that are >30 days old to special tables. Every month, I move everything in those archive tables to a new database (2nd archive process) states away and take them offline for easier storage.

Every week, about 9 Gibabytes (GB) of data is moved in, and 9 Gigabytes of data is moved off. End of month (eom) records and End of Year (eoy) records are kept longer than daily records. Everything I do is duplicated on an out-of-state disaster recovery server. Month-end/year-end reports are also put on microfiche, which our in-house people have available at all times.

I don't understand everything my lawyer says, either!

Posted by: dbG | October 13, 2006 8:16 PM | Report abuse

I called Ivansdad in to read the last series of posts (thank you for the excellent explanation, dbG!) and he said to write, "Ivansdad, who is an actor, understood everything in that post." He shook his head a lot too. Of course, he's more than an actor -- he started out as an engineer before he got bored and still does all our computer stuff.

I was trying to explain to him why I, the Luddite in the family, enjoy the Achenblog so much. I think I'll go find one of the Mr. Stripey archives and try him on that.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 13, 2006 8:22 PM | Report abuse

This is tongue in cheek, but the ex-HerrProfessor dbG would have pretended he understood it too.

I'm not sure you qualify as a Luddite. Destroyed any hardware lately?

Posted by: dbG | October 13, 2006 8:28 PM | Report abuse

I had to crack up when the first google ads were activated-- buying gnomes in naughty positions, and of course a website for all the garden gnomes you want. They're more boring now (sigh).

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 13, 2006 8:55 PM | Report abuse

I found the first Mr. Stripey thread (May 19) but Ivansdad very politely said he thought I'd showed it to him then. I tried to explain about Rovestorms and finaly described the vicious Mommy Blog when Pat posted, and our response. He was appropriately shocked at the Mommy Blogsters (Blonsters?) but I don't think I've really communicated the essence of the Achenblog's charm.

Luddite -- I haven't destroyed any equipment lately, but I did break a dozen eggs last week. Most satisfying and surprisingly loud and crunchy.

The Boy just buzzed through saying that majority ruled and he & Ivansdad agreed we needed a hi-definition TV. My response, of course, was that I vote no and I win.

Now I must go watch a Disney movie with my son. Vaya con queso.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 13, 2006 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom - I never bothered to keep my Mr. Stripey posts, but maybe I should search for them and make a compilation. I could pass them on to my children.

And they could pass them on to their therapists.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 13, 2006 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Also..and I am so ashamed to admit this..I have started to watch "Ghost Whisperer."

And....this is so hard....I, I like it.

Posted by: RD Padouk | October 13, 2006 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Ghost Whisperer, despite its premise, is not that badly written, really.

I particularly love the opening scene with that American Gothic and other artwork. It looks like that was done by the same artist for "Desperate Housewives." Just gorgeous.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 13, 2006 9:22 PM | Report abuse

dbg, I too have a 70# plus dog, in an effort to save me from a separated shoulder when he would spot a rabbit we have tried a couple of alternative to a regular leash. The anti-pull harness that goes on his front legs/shoulders. It works like a charm and completely halted the pulling, however, with our dog he became more aggressive when he would see other dogs (barking more). Now I know its his play with me bark but to a small dog it is not convincing. We have switch to a gentle lead, that is looped through his collar, it is a partial choke chain collar (small chain attached to strap on collar so it doesn't constrict past a certain point), he cannot get the lead off, does not pull and seems a little calmer.

Posted by: dmd | October 13, 2006 9:48 PM | Report abuse

What is Ghost Whisperer? Never mind, I don't really need to know. RD, I'm touched by your confession and will gladly give absolution with all my vast authority.

Back to Monsters Inc on Disney Channel (with commercials, ick).

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 13, 2006 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Joel's buddy, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, just won a National Book Award (and the $10k that goes with it) for his book "Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone." Congrats, dude.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 13, 2006 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Seems like Joel manages to buddy up to all those hot-shot writers.

Yet he won't drop by the BPHs. If I were you, Mudge, I'd start to feel slighted ;).


Posted by: Wilbrod | October 13, 2006 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Wilbrod, Wilbrodog & dmd. We went to Petsmart, she liked the harness even less than the GL, I refuse to muscle her into a harness every day.

My solution was somewhat like dmd's. Got an extra snap on each end piece, will put one on the GL and one on her collar. And walk pretty dodge fast, so she can't paw it all off!

Posted by: dbG | October 13, 2006 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom,
Good to hear you were aquainted with Gulf coast beach mice (Perdido Key beach mice). I'm barely acquainted with the Atlantic coast ones. Sebastian Inlet has nicely restored habitat (several intentional fires to control the shrubbery and promote sea oats), and another area south of there has beach mice further inland than you'd expect.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | October 13, 2006 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Good idea. I was trying harnesses (not non-pull) on Wilbrodog a while ago and I realized that I simply couldn't adjust (not fasten) the straps without bending over so long I got seriously dizzy. I gave up on the idea.

Keep the collar as backup and don't leave the GL on for long when unattended, or so long that the dog can plot how to get it off;).

Finally-- encourage your dog to learn heel position by your side, treat for that position and practice walking offleash at that proper position. It will really help your dog understand what you want. Won't mean his self-control is perfect, no, but a dog can't do the right thing if he doesn't know what it is. Very simple.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 13, 2006 10:48 PM | Report abuse

Wow.

Joel, please pass congrats to Mr. Chandrasekaran on his award. Clearly, it is well-deserved.

bc

Posted by: bc | October 13, 2006 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, the goofy thing is the dog made it easy to put on the non pull harness, he would sit and raise his paw to put the harness through. You are right about the heel position, my problem is he general uses an adjustable length leash, I only keep him close when necessary, other people around or other dogs, cars etc then he must be close or sitting. I like the idea of him being able to get as much exercise as possible on a walk and run a little. Ironically if we take him to the off leash park (doggy park) he is really good, no barking, first time didn't even leave our side to play with the other dogs.

By the way I really like the way you explain the dog tips.

One more thing Martooni - I loved your song for the little one. My husband made up a song when our eldest was born.

Posted by: dmd | October 13, 2006 10:56 PM | Report abuse

I think Emz was willing to try the harness, but I'm beginning to understand why she's on her 3rd family at 3 yo. I got her from a lab rescue mid-June.

She's incredibly sweet, smart, good with kids & dogs, affectionate, obedient and housebroken. I think she also has some elbow dysplasia, and while she could be trained to step into a harness, being put into it now must have hurt. She and the big guy usually just run in our fenced yard, but we're going upstate and she'll be walking on a leash this weekend. We'll have to start practicing staying by my side.

Her vet wants to wait until she shows real signs before sending her to an ortho, I figure this is what pet insurance is for. She is not moving onto family #4.

Posted by: dbG | October 13, 2006 11:04 PM | Report abuse

I've never used an adjustable leash more than once-- a friend bought one and I found the handgrip too big for my hand.

Also it rewards pulling at the leash. Instead I bought a long line (20 feet long) and used that for running exercises. It's harder to reel in, of course, and I rely on offleash romps a lot more now that Wilbrodog is obedient.

I'm glad you keep the leash short in crowds; Wilbrodog once nearly tripped over a bulldog on one of those flexileds running in between his legs. I'm very lucky the bulldog didn't run around his legs or he could have been hurt-- those leads are extremely sharp on skin.

Somebody once said to me, not sure if it was jokingly, that in those cases, she has a pair of scissors ready and snips the lead right there and moves on. That is certainly the safest alternative to attempting to physically unentangle from a flexi-lead, but it is very difficult to catch the dog by the severed lead in that case.

Whether that was true or not, that is a disturbing scenario.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 13, 2006 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Well, I'll say it.

RD, snap out of it, man! Get a hold of yourself.

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 13, 2006 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, the adjustable leash I have has the think strap not the wire, the pet store where I bought it mentioned how the others can hurt. The dog does occasionally get wrapped up so far no damage!

Posted by: dmd | October 13, 2006 11:19 PM | Report abuse

SCC Thick leash, time for me to go to bed.

RD, is the the good plot lines of Ghost Whisperer you like so much? :-)

Posted by: dmd | October 13, 2006 11:21 PM | Report abuse

I didn't even know they made those with wires, dmd. The ones I've seen have a 3/8 inch wide ribbon lead.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 13, 2006 11:33 PM | Report abuse

I watch Ghost Whisperer too - because of the hunky David Conrad. He doesn't act much, but he does spend lots of time in sleeveless t-shirts. Lisa de Moraes, the WaPo TV critic, said in a chat recently that J Love Hewitt's wardrobe (plunging necklines) propels the story line! So I know why you like the show, RD.

David Conrad was in Relativity, a short-lived TV series years ago - Kimberly Williams starred. It was short-lived because I liked it a lot.

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 13, 2006 11:41 PM | Report abuse

And please, no talk of data, archiving, retrieving, etc - too close to what I do for work! Just spent a few stressful hours because a network connection got unplugged - as it is the one that the automated tape library needs to function, a lot of data was not getting backed up. Took 3 hours and 4 phone calls for the automated ticketing system to get to the guy who could plug it back in. Yikes - sorry - I feel better now.

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 13, 2006 11:48 PM | Report abuse

*apprehensively checking online weather reports*

Thanks to everyone for the weather updates, and restaurant recommendations.

The aerial avalanche that hit Buffalo has caused an emergency reassessment of our itinerary. We've abandoned plans for the Buffalo Naval Park, and are spending an extra day in Cleveland to let the snowplows do their thing. We're driving to Niagara on Sunday instead of tomorrow, then on to Ottawa on Tuesday.

Visited the Cleveland Museum of Natural History today. Nice, relatively small museum, that includes a small zoo of local wildlife and a planetarium. The archaeology and cultural exhibits were completely integrated with ecology and biology exhibits, was was an interesting twist that worked quite well. The Devonian fossil fish are excellent (lots of Devonian rocks in the area). Also, the only mounted skeleton of the primitive sauropod dinosaur Haplocanthosaurus, and a very comprehensive, no-holds-barred human evolution exhibit.

Posted by: Dooley | October 13, 2006 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom,
yellojkt blogged about his jury duty experience (or lack thereof):
http://livebythefoma.blogspot.com/2006/10/dodging-bullet.html
Some pretty interesting comments. I've never been on a jury, but went through the process, kind of like yello's. I spent two days to see if I would get picked, and missed by about two people, thank goodness. They had to send all of us out the courtroom a couple of times, to talk about who knows what. It was sort of interesting at times - but mostly boring. Oh, and I tried to talk my way out of being picked because I had an early morning Japanese class (7 to 8), which would have made it hard to get downtown, in the courtroom by 9. The judge didn't buy it.

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 13, 2006 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Arrests at Gally going on right now. Some of the names of the people being arrested merely bear out some ideas I had about the origins of the protest.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 14, 2006 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Ah, midnight! and finally the Achenblog has made it to the WaPo front page. Stand by for an onslaught of vampires, insomniacs, and just-going-off-duty copy editors.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 14, 2006 12:03 AM | Report abuse

However the number of arrests are up to 93 then 80 more students sat down to be arrested. It's going to be a long night for campus police. This is mobile blogging, apparently.

http://www.scallionstallion.com/?q=node/7

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 14, 2006 12:14 AM | Report abuse

whyrlegyge,

I liked your 5:21 pm post. Fall is such a beautiful time...except maybe in Buffalo. Also agree the boodle became very serious today. Serious times deserve serious comments. Tick, tick, tick.

Posted by: Random commenter | October 14, 2006 12:22 AM | Report abuse

Uh, Curmudgeon, it could also be us folks out west. It's a big country.

Posted by: Random Commenter | October 14, 2006 12:31 AM | Report abuse

You're not all vampires, insomniacs, and just-going-off-duty copy editors out West?


Posted by: Wilbrod | October 14, 2006 12:45 AM | Report abuse

I have seen a few vampires lurking in the shadows...behind the pumpkins. Boo.

Posted by: Random Commenter | October 14, 2006 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Here is a SIMPLE plan for the US withdrawl from Iraq.

It is easy to understand because it is LOGICAL.

At CHRISTMAS, pull out all the troops who do not speak fluent ARABIC.

The remainder can improve the reputation of the United States and it's government with a daily programme of WINNING HEARTS AND MINDS. The language is a must.

Imagine an eskimo trying to run America. He would have to speak ENGLISH (etc). Well, its the same in IRAQ.

Posted by: hodgetts | October 14, 2006 1:20 AM | Report abuse

I shoulda been a copy editor...I coulda been a contenda...

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 14, 2006 1:21 AM | Report abuse

Dooley, good luck on your travels. If you get stuck in Cleveland, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (despite its glaring omissions) is worth a visit. I suppose you have to be somewhat interested in rock music, which I'm not sure you are, but still.

Couple of good articles - Canadians preserving (I didn't know diamonds had been discovered in the NWT):
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/13/AR2006101301704.html

And a biography of Andrew Carnegie:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/12/AR2006101201097.html
He's a favorite of mine because so much of his history is in western PA - and because of the Carnegie libraries, and the museum. There is a Carnegie library building here in Seattle that is not too far from me, which I have used on occasion. I love libraries.

dmd, thanks for explaining why you thought the border patrol using horses was funny - I wondered, because I read the article and didn't find it particularly funny. But then, I always take things about horses too seriously. Now, an aerospace company with a contract for a "virtual fence" - I think that's hilarious!

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 14, 2006 1:39 AM | Report abuse

This is a quote that made me chuckle. JKF stands for Jane K. Fernandes, who is keen on being president of Gallaudet despite overwhelming opposition-- because she's allowed to be.

"One of the cops told a student if JKF were here - he'd arrest her personally!
The DC cops (the ones who love us) are just lounging around while the RENT A COPS are doing the arrests."

From http://www.xanga.com/TheTate/

Over 135 students arrested so far and they are winding it up right now. Whatever one may thinks, you gotta admire them for sticking up for their beliefs.

It makes me wonder uneasily if 2000 could have gone a different way. But then, JKF had a 70% no-confidence vote from the faculty. Big difference.

Lovely video here:

http://www.mosdeux.com/unity/youmustnotquit.html

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 14, 2006 1:58 AM | Report abuse

Sir, Mr. Joel Achenbach,

here is the "Model Communities" approach to attaining stability and security in western Iraq.

Remember how General Casey met with leaders of the resistance in ar-Ramadi in November 2005 to ask them what it would take for them to quit attacking our troops ? They said that if he would turn over control of the communities and neighborhoods to the authentic local leaders, withdraw US troops, and leave them alone, they would not only quit the attacks, but they would go after the terrorists, protect infrastructure and even guarantee the safety of our convoys.

Sounded like a pretty good deal. But Casey then said that, if US occupation troops pull out, they must be replaced by occupation forces from the central government, either Shi'a or Kurdish. So a brutal occupation would be followed by genocide. The leaders of the resistance declined the offer.

We solve the problems in the al-Anbar Governate by giving them back their communities. We take money from USAID, money intended to be squandered on crooked aid programs run by US bureaucrats, and give it to the authentic local leaders to squander as they see fit. We arm and equip these forces that have been fighting us, train them up, conduct joint patrols for 2 weeks and then turn over responsibility for local security to the only folks actually capable of achieving local security.

We supposedly went in there to liberate the Iraqis, but now our troops are fighting to repress them and subjugate them. We are currently fighting against freedom and democracy.

This new approach would get our efforts back in line with our values, our objectives and our goals.

We can be out of the Anbar in 60 days. That cuts our casualties by more than half. It only solves half the problem, but isn't that better than "stay the course" or "wait for James Baker."

Posted by: Brian Scott | October 14, 2006 3:27 AM | Report abuse

Insomniac non-vampiric long-haired leaping gnome just checking in on the way to the loo...

Really... I'm NOT boodling at 2:30am. It only looks like I am. And I can quit anytime I want.

Yeah.

Right.

So...

Dooley... sounds like you've found some of the better trees from my neck of the woods. Cleveland is highly under-rated. The rivers around here might catch on fire occasionally, but we know how to display dinosaur bones (speaking of which, mine just made a very alarming and unusual noise).

dmd... me and Little Bean/Fart's toon is actually a rip-off/mash-up of "Rubber Ducky" and "Don't Fear the Reaper". We've obviously changed the meter and I play it in a weird minor key, so I guess we can call it "ours", but that "boop-boop-boop-be-doo" must be credited to Jim Hensen & Company. I should add that because of the weird minor key, we've noticed a significant increase in the number of chanting monks hanging around the front yard.

Fortunately, none of them have spontaneously combusted or otherwise attempted to make a flaming political statement.

(I am NOT boodling. I SWEAR I am NOT boodling.)

So...

Back to Iraq.

Bob Woodward's choice for the title of his latest just couldn't possibly describe this situation any better -- "State of Denial". Unless, of course, he were to add the subtitle "An Exercise in Futility, Narcism and Oedipism". Or better yet, "Pull My Finger".

Most people with two brain cells still on speaking terms already know that invading Iraq should never have happened. The Big Question is what the heck do we do now?

Prince George & Company obviously don't have the answers.

Unfortunately, my political party of choice doesn't seem to have any either.

Personally, I'm leaning toward a half-trillion-dollar funded loan program similar to the SBA (as in small business administration). We're already spending something like a trillion dollars on this fiasco and have so far succeeded in only blowing things up. Why not spend half that amount and give the locals low-cost, easy-to-attain business loans? I see that a Nobel was recently awarded for what's ultimately a microloan program. Why can't we do something similar -- on a larger scale, of course -- and cut out the Haliburtons and instead give the money to Iraqi entrepreneurs? If they blow it all on hookers and booze, so what? For what it costs to build a single Apache helicopter, we could throw one heck of a party for half the dang country. You want to win hearts and minds? Bongs instead of Bombs.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

And NO, I am NOT boodling at (holy sh...) 3:30am? It took me an HOUR to compose this rambling post? I am such a sick puppy.

G'night all... see you at the AA meeting (as in Achenbloggers Anonymous) tomorrow. I'll bring the donuts.

Posted by: martooni | October 14, 2006 3:35 AM | Report abuse

We're experiencing a glorious sunrise here in south Florida--the orange clouds that I usually see over at the eastern horizon are extended up past the middle of the sky and there are more on the western horizon, too. The places where the light is reflecting are orange; the other clouds are lavender. The atmosphere is still and cool and everything has an air of happy expectation: a new day is coming, and it will probably be a good one. It never hurts to start the day with a little optimism...

martooni, I don't know what you were doing up in the middle of the night when you should have been getting your beauty sleep, but that post from the wee hours was great. I hope this doesn't make me a co-dependent, or wait, can a fellow addict be a co-dependent too? Anyway, alcoholism kills brain cells, but Achenblogging makes new ones, or at least freshens up the connections between the ones you already have. So blog on...

I read your post out loud to my husband, which means I have cashed in my Achenblog chips for the next two or three weeks (I can only mention the blog about three times a week, and reading out loud from it counts as much as at least three mentions). It was worth it, though. He was duly impressed and agreed with everything you said about Iraq.

Posted by: kbertocci | October 14, 2006 7:27 AM | Report abuse

Dooley, sorry you had to alter your plans, watched the local news last night on the snow it was quite incredible. The temperatures should take care of the snow more than the plows, not sure about Buffalo/Niagara but the contract often don't start for snow removal before mid November (if that early).

Down power lines seems to be the biggest problem, since many trees were still covered with leaves, the combination of wet heavy snow and high winds caused a lot of damage.

With luck you should still be able to take the Niagara Parkway, even with the snow it will be worth it, and the tourist crowd should be less due to the weather.

Once you are past about 15 miles from the border you should be out of the snow, just Niagara on the Lake.

Here the weather for Hamilton for the next few days, not warm but not too bad.

http://www.theweathernetwork.com/weather/cities/can/pages/CAON0100.htm?CAON0100

Posted by: dmd | October 14, 2006 7:52 AM | Report abuse

Totally off topic and the last you'll hear from me today, this article from Bill Maher, inspired by the Mark Foley brouhaha, really tells it like it is--YOU ARE HEREBY STRONGLY CAUTIONED that the article contains crude language and a potentially offensive amount of candor.

http://bellsouthpwp2.net/k/a/karenbertocci/Salon_com%20%20The%20real%20menace%20to%20American%20kids.htm

Posted by: kbertocci | October 14, 2006 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Is it just me or does anyone really hope that we will see anything important from the Iraq Study Group.
It is being billed as bi-partisan, but if you look at the roster, the Dems on the group hardly are representative of the party. Perry, Jordan, and Panetta are all part of the Clinton Administration, and Robb is a founding member of the DLC and conservative (voted for Thomas on the Supreme court, pro death penalty). And yet they are being portrayed as impartial arbiters. Geesh.
In fact, O'Conner may be the liberal of the group.
From an interview on Hardball:
Kean agreed that the war is "part of the war on terror in the sense that, if we fail, Iraq will become another sanctuary for terrorists. There's not much question about that. If Iraq goes into chaos, that's the kind of situation that bin Laden and al-Qaida like. So we've got to stop that from happening. So in that sense, it's a part of a worldwide view where we've got to get a hold of these areas that are ungoverned where terrorists work."
So, I predict, all we are going to get from this commission is not "How to Get Out", but "How to Stay the Right Way". After the election.

Posted by: capeman | October 14, 2006 8:13 AM | Report abuse

I have said this before:

For us to divide the country is no solution.
Anything we do is no solution.
We are the problem.
It is up to the Iraqis to come up with the solution without our interference.
That means we must leave.
Leave without pre-conditions, without draw downs, without grand solutions in place.

I have said before.

Look at the pottery barn comparison.
We are going to put all of the wine glasses on wall, all of the plates on another wall and the tea cups in the middle and solve the problem. Come On!

That solution requires a set of troops to maintain the wine glasses, a set to maintain the plates and a set to police the tea cups. This all without breaking anymore. Come On!

We made a mistake!
End it now!
Do a respectful bow to the rest of the world with an apology then leave!
An promise never to do it again!
Then back it up with the governmental checks and balances to stop it before it happens again!

Posted by: Bluetiger | October 14, 2006 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Apart from bluetiger and capeman and the other couple of commenters, I have to say I'm disappointed in the production from our vampire/insomniac/copy editor lurkers.

'Mudge, we gotta get the shop rules posted somewhere so people know how to pick up the slack.

martooni, take two Kits and call us in the morning...


:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 14, 2006 8:52 AM | Report abuse

The sun is just coming up. Looking to the east, a crescent of clear sky, blue and blush, reveals the browining prairie in impressionist glimpses. To the west, the fresh snow on the peaks of the Rockies reflects the red of the rising sun like a badly-rouged actress in the footlights. Above, midnight blue with Venus sparkling and Orion wheeling to the horizon.

I think I should go back to bed.

Posted by: Yoki | October 14, 2006 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Good quote from Tim Rarus, one of the DPN student leaders as he was led to the paddywagon.

"King, we helped you in 1988 and now you're arresting me."

http://xe6.xanga.com/36fd11013743582938215/z56764924.jpg


http://photo.xanga.com/thetate/240cf82935264/photo.html

This had to pull this protestor's shirt up and ripped it partway in order to arrest him.

This is unbelievable. Many deaf people told me last night that JKF is now their enemy for what she did last night.

Posted by: Wilbrod | October 14, 2006 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. A lot of opinions about Iraq, perhaps the administration will read the "Achenblog" and at least consider some of the options posted here. Of course, who believes in fairy tales?

Did not walk this morning, so cold. I don't usually walk on the weekends anyway. I'm suppose to be slowing down, yeah right.

Pat, yesterday when I walked to the lake the sky was like a painting in crayons. I love crayons, even now. There was all the blues etched in the sky. You know in the big box of crayons one has every color imaginable. And there was blue gray, jean blue, light blue, and all this surrounded by just a light mist, with a background of fall colors of dark red and golden browns. Yet there are still those dark green trees to finish the picture. The sun was not up yet, but one could see just a tad bit of orange outlining all of this wonderful picture. And the lake, there were ripples everywhere, and smooth places in between the ripples. And it was so cold, Pat. I could not stay long, for I yearned for the warmth of my abode, and all the while making a mental picture to take with me so I could pull it out anytime I wanted to.

Have a good weekend folks. Tell your family you love them, and try showing them that too, give God some of your time, and get some rest. And keep this little gem in mind during your weekend, that God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 14, 2006 10:33 AM | Report abuse

We go there and destroy a country, however weak, evil, etc... it may have been.

On side we have cut and run, sorry redeploy. This group is essentially saying we destroyed you country, now if you have not been able to get together to rebuild, its your problem and we are leaving.

On the other side, we will give you minimum possible help to the extent our politics allows, and its not our fault that you are in this mess. This groups rational that we are fighting them there instead of on US soil clearly implies that one American life is worth many thousands of foreign lives and then we wonder why whole world does not love us.

If this were your house, instead of a foriegn country, what type of conversation you think you will have with the person or group that pulled down your house.

Perhaps, only perhaps, if house was brought down by accident, perperator might say, I am sorry, I will take care of it and give you back a house at least as good as the one you had before. But if there is no sense of individual or national accoutability, it is too much to expect.

Posted by: Ash | October 14, 2006 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Very interesting proposals for the right way for the US to exit Iraq in October 2006 Harpers. Written by George McGovern and William Polk, the long article tackles security, reconstruction, government, etc. Worth a look.

Posted by: Yoki | October 14, 2006 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Will do, Cassandra! Joel, I see why you dawdle over kits sometimes.

I'm continually cursing myself for not getting the blog copy clean the first time, or the second.


Posted by: Wilbrod | October 14, 2006 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Sky report: We played a piss-poor game of authentic football (beautiful game not brutal US version) under a brilliant blue sky. Off to the South East the Boss hung two candyfloss clouds. Sister Wind teased the fibers into a mad-hair day.

Sound report: In the field next to us at play are two adult teams. I hear the flashing Spanish of Central America; punctuated by British-Caribbean Englisht,crisp yet lilting on the last syllable.

Gesture report: The ref sports a striped uniform including black and white Bermudas, calling the game with perfect gestures. Soccer uses an international sign language, like most sports.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 14, 2006 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I assume Achenbach's intent in quoting Bush at such length at the end of his post was to show just how deluded and helpless the man now sounds.

If so, mission accomplished.

Posted by: billmon | October 14, 2006 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I want to recommend some books that can broaden awareness:
"The Persian Puzzle," Kenneth Pollack; "In The Shadow of Hizbullah," Nazir Ahmed Hamza; "The Shia Revival," Vali Nasr;
"Fiasco," of course, and "State of Denial," and Robert Fisk's .. is also superb for a long running account of war in Lebanon.
Lebanon would seem the most relevant model to compare with a federalist system. Christians are now also being threatned to leave Iraq. 1/20th of the population of Iraq (1million) Iraqis have left, most middle class & upper class. Their losses are serious to success. Wtih good security, I think most would return.
More American troops COULD be sent, but that is a political matter I think is DOA.
At some point, someone should explain to the American people this proposition:
Resource wars will be THE prime reason for conflict. Attempts to aquire nuclear weapons is about protecting resources, or national welfare.
Oil is the critical resource.
What do YOU, the American people, want to do about that?
I propose a $1.00 PER GALLON tax on gasoline and fuel oil, starting Jun, 08. We will make provisions for the poor. We will concentrate on: solar & wind for homes; biodiesel for trucks and farmers; second gen ethanol for cars; a national high speed rail and mass transit for cities.
We can either do this or fight resource wars. If we fight resoure wars, we'll be in MORE Iraqs, not fewer.
If we stay connected to oil, we'll turn our power over to the Middle East. Do you REALLY want to continue doing that?
The ultimate consequence of neocolonialism or imperialism is WAR. If you want to continue that, we'll need a draft.
My perspective is this based on our reactions to September 11; Afghanistan; Iraq: if we're attacked, we are committed, focused, keen on winning.
If a President has to sell a war like a used car, we're split, and normally, the split worsens. Do you remember those who said Bush was selling a war like a used car?
Do you remember how YOU reacted?
Isn't it now clear that those who were more skeptical about invading Iraq were right that the intelligence was bad, the civilians leading were arrogant, liars, and incompetent; the military divided; the reasons specious?
Do you remember how you voted for Bush AGAIN, because you liked his tough rhetoric?
Are you now willing to reinstate a draft, so YOU, YOUR KIDS, OR FRIENDS' KIDS ARE DRAFTED?
IF NOT, WHY NOT?
If you want to pick complete incompetents for war-making, pick Bush, et al. If you want to pick others, who aren't so eager to see your kids die, pick people who've been in war. They're more likely to talk to the enemy. Talking is not appeasement.
Clinton and Carter got results with N. Korea. MOST important, people didn't die in North Korea. Same in Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzogovina.
We can detach from MIddle Eastern oil, but we must all share the burden.
I believe Americans, focused on a clear concept of difficult choices, will CHOOSE to work together, rather than fragment into demonization of each subgroup.
We must stop demonizing each other.
There is EVIL in demonizing "the other."
It's fine to disagree: demonization implies spiritual or moral authority with one group where it most likely does not belong.
We won WW I, II, the Korean War, and the Cold War without torture. No one who advocates for torture is working any longer in the LIGHT within (Quaker). They have begun dabbling in darkness. Those who advocate torture should be suspected of danger. This is NOT a joke.
Torture dehumanizes all.
If we won all of those wars, including the Cold War, but are losing this war, what's wrong?
If we choose to tax fossil fuels, we're going to suffer. If we choose not to, we are going to suffer more, including, bringing the Angel of Death to YOUR doorway through MORE wars.
I believe Americans are now ready to work together. A reconciliation process is needed for US, to heal.
We've made a grave error in Iraq, and thousands of Iraqis have been killed or maimed for the hubris of our leaders. We need to ask God's forgiveness for setting that calamity in motion and
also forgive one another.
As we pull out, Iraqis either WILL stand up, or they will not.
No one stayed behind after OUR revolution. The French LEFT.
The Brits, left.
We've had a long & checkered history since the Revolution.
It's reasonable to expect the same for Iraq. Our main concern should be to deal with the horror show we have set in motion in Iraq, and attempt to save Afghanistan.
In order to deal with our complicity, we should begin a phased withdrawl, with only Special Forces and highly elite trainers left, IF Iraqis want them there.
The Drawdown begins January 1, 2007. It will look like the last three years of Vietnam.
In the end, we can't make Democracy take hold in Iraq. Only Iraqis can do that.
WE need to decide, finally, whether we are ready to stand DOWN from being a superpower.
Being a superpower implies willingness to fight wars. Are we tired of war? Look around. Which nation has been engaged in so many wars since the end of WW II?
Look around at the thousands of places we could spend $2 BILLION every week!!! Is it worth it to be a Superpower, with massive defense department bills?
England did o.k. when it's Empire collapsed. We'll be o.k. We will defend ourselves if China emerges or anyone attacks us. But whatever happens, we will have looked into the belly of the beast with 20/20 vision.
If things don't work out so well, perhaps being united with each other will be enough.
It's often said we're a nation of church (synagogue, mosque) goers. If that's so, then we have SOME KIND OF CONNECTION with God as we each understand God.
Is that good enough?
The next ten years will be rough.
I think we'll be surprised at the end of those ten years.
We are good people.
We are buffaloed easy and many think with the head between their legs more than the head on their shoulders.
If you want to kill people, join some army that's fighting a war.
If you want to talk tough, please, enlist in OUR armed forces.
What gives YOU the right to talk tough, and shun enlisting?
**I'm a combat infantry vet (70% disabled) ... I volunteered to serve in Korea in 1965 and volunteered to fight in Vietnam in 1966. Badly wounded, with malaria and PTSD, I won't let anyone tell me why war is needed until they tell me they've been there, or, are on their way to the recruiter's office. People need to stop and think about hypocrisy if they're not willing to fight, and that is men AND women, 18 - 42.
I came out against the Vietnam War in 1967, while recovering from serious wounds in Army hospitals. Someone turned me in either to Army Counterintelligence or the FBI for writing that letter, and I was bounced out of the hospital like a ping pong ball.
I have stood firmly against this war since fall, 2002, and was a leader of an anti-war/peace group for a year and a half. The attacks on John Kerry were so depressing for me that I contemplated setting myself on fire in the Swift Boat Veterans office in TX.
War is deeply painful. I cannot watch "Born On the Fourth of July" without crying the entire way through. In fact, I can't watch it. Nor, "Coming Home." Nor, "Platoon." YOU who demand tough action have NO right, none at all, to send others to fight for your tough talk.
You should never demand men and women, with perhaps less options than you, or a sense of patriotism, or glory, nonetheless, fight for you. Having nightmares 40 years after Vietnam is NOT fun.
My deepest deepest concern is: there's not a single man or woman in our political system with the balls to speak this truth.
For that reason, I am not optimistic.
If you share these views, please, pass them on.
U2Scoop1.

Posted by: Jerry | October 14, 2006 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod,
You're doing a fine job on your blog. Take it from a blogless one, contemplating my bloglessness (thanks, Scottynuke!).

The sky has come down to ground level here again. When I first went out on my covered deck, er, back porch, I couldn't tell if it had rained, or if the fog was so heavy that water was dripping off the roof into the rain barrel. After ascertaining that the driveway and sidewalks were not wet, I concluded it was the latter. This is the kind of fog that explains why Starbucks started here and did so well. Nothing like cold, clammy fog to make you crave a big cup of strong, hot coffee. That's my sky report, and I'm sticking to it.

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 14, 2006 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Blogs, plural. Wilbrodog keeps complaining he'd rather romp outside than blog.
So I have to do the work for that lazy cur. Even culling from old achenblogs takes time. But it was nice to revisit the Mr. Stripey one (Michael Pollin) and the Whale legs' blog.


Posted by: WIlbrod | October 14, 2006 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Many of you posted here "assuming" an honest thought and comments about how to solve the Iraq (not Iraqi) problem. It is totally unfair (to the level of impertinent) that US administration decides how to democratize an occupied Iraq. This problem is "the worst, most disastrous" foreign policy action by the current US administration.

The solution is very simple to be truthful with the facts in occupied Iraq. First fact is that the Iraqi people are not Sunni, Shiit and Kurds. Now, the Iraqi people are traitors (US collaborators with the US occupying force) and the patriots (who are against the US occupation). The current government is an outcome of very will orchestrated "election" which was riddled with millions of pre-ticked papers. The US occupation is illegal and wouldn't stand one millisecond in the history of human kind. It is a total shame for the current US generation (writers, scientists, engineers, judges, lawyers etc) if they don't stand to force the current US administration to leave Iraq immediately and handed it back to the last legitimate Iraqi government and pay full compensation for not only destroying Iraq infrastructure but for killing (and causing the death of) at least 650,000 Iraqi citizens since that start of the US occupation. The son and daughters of the current US generation will disown you because you stood silent while such genocide is going on. There is no US strategic interest in Iraq but there is a lot of strategic policy deception by the current US administration. This policy deception reached a level that indicates the US Admin team is a bunch of idiots who are not.

If the current "Iraqi" government is truly elected by the Iraqi people, why they can't go outside the green "pond"?. On the contrary, the current patriotic Iraqi resistance will not be able to function freely if it hasn't enjoyed the popular support from the Iraqis.

I am an Iraqi and I know the background of most of the pervious and current "Iraqi" governments. At best, they are criminals and most of them have Iraqi blood in their hands. Some labeled themselves with the label Dr. and they hadn't finished their degrees. The current "Iraqi" prime minister, while he was in Damascus, was involved in smuggling people to Europe and getting paid for issuing forged passports. Most of members of the "Iraqi" parliaments don't live in Iraq (I wonder why? Most of them have Iranian origin). Most of the police force are ex-thief and criminals (that is what the US force managed to recruit - no surprise). We hear about death squads. This is familiar tactic that used before by the US force and CIA in South America. In Iraq every body knows that those death squads are paid by the US force. Death squads kill only the people who are suspected to be supporting the resistance and through their bodies. There is no sectarian violence there is resistance supporters' eliminations. This is a guaranteed policy by the US forces to minimize their losses. The list is long and brings nothing but disgrace to every US citizen.

This occupation will not stand. Freeing Iraq could take months, years or even decades but Iraq will be back to the Iraqi people and they will get the pride in history while this US generation will get the dishonor.

Posted by: Nasrey,Richmond, Canada | October 14, 2006 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Since the boodle is the collection of the smartest and best read people I know, I'm asking for your help. My 17-year-old, #2, is asked to write an essay on the question, "To what extent should governments protect the expression of minority opinions?" She has specific examples of how various regimes have answered it, and she knows what she thinks, but she needs some readings on the philosophy of protected speech and its limits (basically looking for her two paragraph introduction). I have a lot of legal background on free speech and its limits (e.g. hate speech and the slippery slope that is defining it) and I have many in-depth philosophical works. We need something both simpler and more general; what is a minority, what is expression, how are we to think of the modes of speech, why is it important that we ask the question at all. Any suggestions for a short course (I do know this is ridiculous, but here we are), preferably using texts available free on the internet, or something our Calgary public libraries are likely to have on the shelf?

Heck, for #2 I'm even willing to buy a few books at the better independent book shops!

Posted by: Yoki | October 14, 2006 9:23 PM | Report abuse

is the best hope for the United States.


That the people see that that have been hoodwinked and arrest bush and the rest of the executive branch apologize and treat Iraq as_if all the hype about terrorists were manufactured.


Remove Negroponte and Chertoff.


Send the arrested parties to Guantonamo to await trial. Attach their properties and funds until resolution of their charges. Search the homes and properties for _illegal_ aliens.


Apologize to the United States Citizens who have been marginalized for the past few years and to the world for foisting a lie upon them.


Begin acting as_if the America that we all grew up working in and for is retrieveable by acting responsibley, and arrest those that don't.


Do not ask Congress People to be less responsble than yourselves. Any engineer, computer person, military personell or secretary, liason inside of 90% of Washington DC jobs gets a _background_ investigation, often with poly for anything above Secret.

Your Complicit Congress people that pass laws, even your president could not work in DC with their records.


Don't let them, hold them responsible, fire Hastert for not being a responsible leader and hiding bad news. Smile as you ask him to clear his desk and ask him if he's worried about Jefferson or himself in the FBI probe of bribing scandals.

Posted by: actually the best hope for Iraq | October 14, 2006 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Quite the wee manifesto, inn'it.

Posted by: Yoki | October 14, 2006 9:50 PM | Report abuse

blemish upon her forhead,

asking to be let off she declined to be interveiwed.

He waved, and moved on.

Posted by: there was a small | October 14, 2006 9:54 PM | Report abuse

freedom of speech is defined by the culture that the question is asked from within.


Socrates was asked to drink hemlock tea after inciting federalization of the republic....Socrates was the first Republican....if I'm not mistaken.

Posted by: to some extent | October 14, 2006 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, point number 2 in the direction of the Ernst Zundel case for limits on free speech. As for minority rights are they examples within Canada or worldwide? Going back to the roots of multiculuralism may help for that study the early Trudeau era and his beliefs in the philosophy of it, whether number 2 agrees or not it is a good starting point. Or on a more general level discussions on the melting pot versus the mosiac. Multiple university flashbacks are going through my mind. Another area of study, and this goes to my post university days and could be very dated, was the example of the Toronto School board that at the time had a book of prayers that were said during the morning it was a complilation of just about every religious belief you could think of, the purpose of which was to be as inclusive as possible without eliminating any form of prayer.

Its an awesome question and I will try to think of some of the examples I used in school, dated as they may be, as I spent a lot of time on it in university.

Hope this helps.

Posted by: dmd | October 14, 2006 10:00 PM | Report abuse

The freedom to say anything you want as long as it jibes with the majority opinion, or in fact, the government's preferred opinion is no freedom at all.

As for minority speech protections, I don't know much about Canada but the infamous instance when the KKK chose to march in an neighborhood made up of holocaust survivors springs to mind.

What about the right to speak whatever language you choose? That must be a particularly hot topic in Canada given the french-language protections in Quebec and the large number of native american tribes in Canada.


Posted by: Wilbrod | October 14, 2006 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod that is a good point, Yoki I apologize for all the Toronto/Ontario references but it is what I am most familiar with. After university I did a short summer job with the Ministry of Education and remember seeing their list of languages that were available outside of french/english. If I recall correctly there was at least 47 different languages available for study including many natives languages, again 47 could be a conservative estimate.

Another example, again local for me, would be the recent Ontario decision concerning sharia laws (sp). A quick check on Hanzard for Ontario will call up the debates.

Posted by: dmd | October 14, 2006 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Americans have had a dubious claim from
the very start over the legality or ethics
of invading Iraq. American "exceptionalism"
seldom being very exceptional and often not
moral,ethical or actual.
It is clear that any invasion of Iraq by
Americans would only succeed if on all
counts the results were demonstrably always
better and improved. Otherwise the effort
could never claim the high ground and make
meaningful progress towards what it claimed
were its goals and objectives.
Americans now see the Bush2WH never fully
invested itself in the military,political
and financial undertaking required in Iraq
to either overcome problems or succeed at
real genuine successful outcomes.
Americans chose to invade Iraq evidently
very unaware or unprepared for how events
might unspool upon doing so.
This is a matter of record now. Clearly
G.W.Bush authored a terrible exposure to
severe setbacks for all Americans in the
Middle East over his careless invasion of
Iraq. That failure now so very clear.
The story on the newly "discovered" waterfall
in Peru was a genuine delight to
read. The photo gallery also providing some
very nice views of this remarkably unknown
natural world site. Thanks WAPO for a very
nice exposition story on a truly most
wondrous reveal of South American natural
world.
In the interest of location free signoff
for visiting blogsites I will no longer use
"an american in siam" and will post here at
A-Blog with the non-specific locale signoff
of R.Ashen. Still in Siam I am though. :-)

Posted by: R.Ashen | October 14, 2006 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Ah, minority opinions -- definitely worth protecting, in my [often minority] opinion. What a great topic for an essay.

Yoki, perhaps your #2 would care to include this quote from Bertrand Russell [and I realize I have posted this one on the Boodle before, so I apologize for the repetition]:


"The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it isn't utterly absurd. Indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible."

-- Bertrand Russell

Posted by: Dreamer | October 14, 2006 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, just thought of another couple of good examples, the ability of Sikh students to bring their Karpans (sp?) to school is a great examples of the discussions that occured in to what extent you go to accommodate minority rights and to what extent you can put limits on those rights. If I remember their was an important legal decision on that case this past summer. (SoC help!).

The accommodation for native trials is another example.

Posted by: dmd | October 14, 2006 10:32 PM | Report abuse

dreamer, I love Bertrand Russell quotes, in my younger days I had a book where I collected favorites poems and quotes, I had many from Bertrand Russell and Edmund Burke.

Posted by: dmd | October 14, 2006 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Yes yes yes! This is awesome. We have the Bertrand Russell, and also Voltaire's "I disapprove of what you have to say, but defend to the death your right to say it." And dmd, I was working as an editor at Queen's law school when Ernst Zundel's case was first debated (1980?) so don't at all resent the Eastern Canadian references (they are, after all, Canadian references and in the common discourse, and I have spent much of my life in the East). Wilbrod and dreamer, thank you. We're on the right track (tack, for sailors).

What we are looking for now is not examples, but the over-arching philosophy; why does it matter that expression is free? What does it matter if *thinking* is free? Again, we have the example (the subpoenas of library lists, for instance) of encroachments on free thinking, but what is the *point* of it all? Why do we care? We know the answer, all of us, but we need to make the basic argument. Voltaire has it, and I have Voltaire and Smith and Mill and Hume and Descartes, but all that in full-text is beyond #2 right now. Is there an encapsulated exposition in a readily available text she can study?

I give you some background. #2 has been studying government systems. When presented with two possible essay topics, the one she chose and another more closely tied to "government systems" she chose "protection of minority opinion" because it gave scope for exploration. And then she panicked (panic-ed??) because it is a large and slippery subject to tackle in 900 words. It took Himself and me talking to her about the underpinnings of the question for her to understand that she can deal with it, as an essayist, by presenting the problem, giving examples, and then, as all good essayists do, saying what she believes, based on the arguments made. Now the question is, how do we present the problem to her in a way that is useful to her? And that is where your well-readedness comes in.

Posted by: Yoki | October 14, 2006 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Yoki,
I looked on the ACLU's website and found this (from an American perspective, of course):
Freedom of speech, of the press, of association, of assembly and petition -- this set of guarantees, protected by the First Amendment, comprises what we refer to as freedom of expression. The Supreme Court has written that this freedom is "the matrix, the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom." Without it, other fundamental rights, like the right to vote, would wither and die.
http://www.aclu.org/freespeech/gen/21179pub20051031.html

You might be able to find some things there. I also thought about Lani Guinuire, Clinton's nominee for Attorney General, who was villified (and not confirmed) for her ideas about minority representation. You can find some of her writing at:
http://www.minerscanary.org/pubs/pubs_by_lani.shtml


Posted by: mostlylurking | October 15, 2006 12:45 AM | Report abuse

Beats me, I sometimes wonder if our speech is as free as we think it is.

Speaking of books:
Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
Or 1984 by George Orwell?

Both deal with censorship; in fact in 1984 Big brother goes as far to censor the words people use, creating "newspeak" that removes the words signifying liberty and other cherished concepts.

On a more Young Adult yet enduring level of literature, "The Day they Came to Arrest The Book" By Nat Henoff is good.

But realistically, restricting freedom of speech= limits freedom of thought, which can hinder science or spread of disturbing but vital information for the survival of a society.

Jared Diamond in his book "Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed" tries to analyze why the Greenland norse settlements failed. I saw a documentary on this, and they thought an overly rigid culture contributed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Greenland#The_Demise_of_the_Greenland_Norse_settlements

Adaption in evolutionary terms requires pre-existing variation. While culture is a much more rapid vehicle of adaptation than genetics, it works better with a broad base of ideas, too.

Since the math of genetics also has been found to have relevance to linguistics, both being forms of information spread throughout populations, I feel free to draw the comparsion a bit further.

Evolutionarily stable Strategies (ESS) often are used to refer to heterogenous mating behavior patterns in a single population. for instance, in a given species of fish, there may be 3 types of males-- big territorial fish, pairs of average-size males, and sly lurker males.

It's literally like rock, paper, and scissors, and they tend to exist in stable ratios; if one year there's too many big bullies beating up the average males, then this favors lurkers who slip in and out. Then the lurkers increase and the bullies dwindle, and the average males have a competitive advantage and flourish again.

That's just one instance where multiple "ideas" can coexist in a population. The times may be such that it seems dangerous or foolish to spout peace, say in times of war, but the concepts, behavior patterns, and ideology HAVE to be preserved for when war ends.

Likewise, human societies need to adapt to an ever-changing world. We are already so resistant to new ideas such as germs causing ulcers, that we don't really want to strangle ideas and facts for our own survival. Politics is bad enough already.


Posted by: Wilbrod | October 15, 2006 12:51 AM | Report abuse

yoki, have a look at the aclu site. it has some articles on free speech that might be relevant, as well as many other issues pertaining to rights protection.

http://www.aclu.org/freespeech/relatedinformation_publications.html

hope that helps.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | October 15, 2006 12:51 AM | Report abuse

SCC - Guinier

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 15, 2006 12:53 AM | Report abuse

i actually have a sky report. i haven't been ignoring the tradition, but skies in l.a. are pretty boring. they come in three basic varieties - blue, smoggy or foggy/cloudy - and are rarely interesting.

fri night we had the first rain of the season, but the storm was fairly localized and occurred late in the day. as the sun was setting behind the edge of the storm, the clouded sky glowed this mellow but bright golden color, slightly tinged with pink, even though it was pouring rain. it's hard to describe the effect because the sunlight wasn't hitting the underside of the clouds directly, but more shining through them or causing them to glow brightly.

besides boring skies, as sciencetim mentioned, we are relatively seasonless. we do, however, have fire season, rain and mudslides, etc. - people even talk about "earthquake weather" here. seriously.

anyway, in a former life on the east coast, fall was my favorite season, so fall foliage reports would be appreciated if anyone feels like giving them.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | October 15, 2006 1:24 AM | Report abuse

i should add that the weather in l.a. is really nice most of the year, so i'm really not complaining, but it does lack variety.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | October 15, 2006 1:28 AM | Report abuse

Raining here - thank goodness, we really need the rain, which probably sounds strange, but we've had a very dry Sep and Oct so far. Also maybe it will get rid of the bone-chilling fog.

L.A. lurker, I almost moved to San Diego years ago, but after spending 3 weeks there, the constant sunny, dry, warm weather got to me. So I moved to Seattle, where I have constant gray, wet, cool weather - most of the time anyway. Ha!

I started reading Le Carre's new book, The Mission Song, today. I'm halfway through it and enjoying it. I started Updike's Terrorist earlier this week - it's more of a slog through the first two chapters - not very sympathetic characters so far, but I'll get back to it.

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 15, 2006 2:18 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, friends. It is cold here this morning. The kind of cold wherein one brings in the flowers. I have mine sitting in the middle of the room.

I read the op-ed piece this morning of the journalist that was killed in Russia. I thought about us. Does what this woman went through happen here in our wonderful America? We pride ourselves so much on our freedoms, and especially the one about speech, yet I wonder is there a basement where the ugliness takes place and we just don't see it? Are journalists in any country really free to speak the truths they see around them? As citizens of this country, so many times we walk around unaware of what is going on around us. Journalists feel in the blank spaces, and by doing that, are their lives really in jeopardy?

I believe that when one decides to tell the truth, your life becomes seriously endangered, no matter where you live.

I do hope the weekend is going good for all. I want to go to church this morning, Sunday school and morning worship service. I hope there will not be a return of the emergency room scenario that took place a couple of weeks ago. I will take the medicines before going.

My prayer for you and me this morning is that we all come to know that God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | October 15, 2006 7:21 AM | Report abuse

'Morning Cassandra.

Pat, not much of a sky report here: the morning is crisp, chilly--and a totally cloudless, beautiful blue sky ("cerullian blue"? Isn't that what the old TV commercial called it?) It'll probably warm up and be semi-glorious, like yesterday (supposeded to be in low 60s). The leaves are not quite turning yet (here) but you can tell they're thinking about it and getting ready. Any boodlers been out in the Shenandoah lately? Can we have a Skyline Drive report from someone? The leaves in the Shenandoah Valley and Skyline Drive are the gold standard around here for autumnitude. If I have one (and it's the only one) grievance against environmentalists, it's that I dearly miss both the ritual and especially the smell of burning leaves in October. Ahhhh. Couldn't the air quality people make that one, teensy-weensy exception? How about if we call the byproduct "incense" and claim it as an autumnal religious ritual?

(Now I've probably gone and provoked a mini-Rove storm of umbrage from everybody who suffers allergies, blah, blah blah.)

John Murtha has a great column this morning on Iraq, at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/13/AR2006101301425.html

Now, to throw some water on my face, and go and scout out some sort of breakfast. Perhaps cream-dried beef on toast?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 15, 2006 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Yoki, here's an interesting book: "Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech". The author says that the original intent of guaranteeing freedom of speech, as proposed by James Madison, was to facilitate the democratic process. Madison was thinking of political speech, and he had no way to foresee the type of commercial speech that would be ubiquitous 200 years later.

============
FROM A READER REVIEW:

"Madison's view of freedom, and free speech, was always balanced with his ideas about Democracy, Sunstein says. Under Democracy, we expect freedom, equality, and justice, all three together. This expectation comes from the second paragraph of our Declaration of Independence and was reinforced by those last few, and very inspiring, lines of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. In terms of modern consumerism, we'd call it a package deal.

"But, the court decisions in many free speech cases promise only freedom. There is not enough thought given to equality and justice. Thus, the longterm survival of free speech is threatened by court interpretations of freedom that are too narrow and do not consider the actual results. One of the worst of those results is the obvious frustration of serious discussion of the public issues by the influence of money."

===============

Amazon lets you "Search inside the book" so you might be able to use it without having to buy it.

http://www.amazon.com/Democracy-Problem-Free-Speech-Sunstein/dp/0028740009/sr=8-4/qid=1160915894/ref=sr_1_4/104-8171982-0773525?ie=UTF8&s=books

Posted by: kbertocci | October 15, 2006 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Sky/Sound Report: Single goose honking; flying south.

Last night, I could only hear 3 lonely crickets chirping.

Report from the ground, Pet turtle Report: Both box turtles sighted yesterday. they are no longer interested in eating.

Posted by: Pat | October 15, 2006 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Rain. Happy, happy rain. In the words of the immortal Robert Louis Stevenson,

The rain is raining all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here
And on the ships at sea.

And we're very happy to see, feel, smell and hear it.

Posted by: Ivansmom | October 15, 2006 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Leaf report for the LA-seasonally challenged lurker: the Sweet Gum tree, which you may know as the smaller seedless variety "Liquid Amber" is dropping some leaves early. These ruby or sunset orange jewels lay against the grass.

I am mowing this weekend, for the last time before fall descends in the next two weeks.

For Mudge's daughter, I tried the double-diagonal mowing of the ball field. My neighbor, who considers lawn tiddiness a virtue, is very happy: Such compliments to me, as never before.

Smell report: just a whiff of decaying leaves. Since I hit a marigold bush-let while mowing, that pungent warning to insects spikes every time I walk by that injured plant.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 15, 2006 10:20 AM | Report abuse

lawn tiddiness....did I write that?

tidYNess....but somehow "tiddyness" fits his personality. If he reads this, he may withdraw his praise.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 15, 2006 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Morning all!! *wave*

Yoki;

Sorry to be late to the discussion, but how's this for an overarching reason to allow many points of view --

If a person is only allowed a monolithic point of view, adapting to something new becomes difficult if not impossible. You can substitute "learning" for adapting if you'd like.

:-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | October 15, 2006 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Baldemar Huerta died yesterday. A member of the Texas Tornadoes and also Grammy winner, like Huerta himself, Flaco Jimenez asked for a moment of silence for Huerta last night during San Antonio's 6th Accordion Festival. Flaco spoke in English only when he used the two terms, "legend" and "Grammy winner." Most of you probably know Huerta as Freddy Fender.

I stood relatively close to Grammy-winner Jimenez last night--about seven arms-lengths. The only other Grammy award winner I was physically closer to was Dolly Parton in 1980--backstage in South Lake Tahoe, but she didn't get her Grammy until 1987 for her work on Trio II.

My husband and I put our umbrellas in the trunk of my car at 4:30 yesterday afternoon. The sky was high and kight grey in the downtown, so we didn't think we'd get rained on, like we had been in our part of town, on and off during yesterday, so we left the umbrellas in the car. I knew that dancing was out if we moseyed downtown for this music event, as my husband's foot is still bothering him.

We arrived just in time to see Spanish-speaking Joaquin Diaz, a Black from the Dominican Republican living now in Canada, perform. I still slightly prefer his merengues to local conjunto. The nitwit woman who introduced the group to the folks seated on the ascending grassy banks of the Arneson River Theater said, "Here's Flaco from the Dominican Republicans!" People laughed. I want to know where the island is for Domicican Democrats?

The crowd yesterday was so thin because of the spritzeling rain compared to past years. But Flaco is our hometown boy, so around 6:30, the crowd began to swell somewhat.

We had just bought a bite to eat from one of the madre and padre food stands, and had grabbed a German ale, when it began to rain in earnest. About 6:45, we sidled under the a large outstretched limb of a giant oak tree, but we were still getting drenched. We saw that there was still plenty of standing space at the back of the main stage, which had a large sheet of plastic over it. The rain was blowing, so our backsides got soaked, but we inched around the far side of the stage for a great view.

We couldn't have danced even if we had wanted to, because the downpour closed down the open-air Arneson River Theater stage on the River Walk and all the attendees there--some with umbrellas and rain gear, some without--flooded into the plaza where Flaco and gang were performing.

I say gang, because there were three accordionists on stage. Flaco, and locals Joel Guzman and Sunny Sauceda. Dueling accordions put dueling banjos to shame. Visually, it was quite a night. The bright, multi-colored stagelights glaring into our eyes, coupled with the strings of small multi-colored bulbs of lights draped between the big braches of oaks ringing the plaza, intersperesed with thousands upon thousands of reflecting raindrops. The sound danced between the drops.

Posted by: Loomis | October 15, 2006 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Loomis, I couldn't believe you went to an accordion concert; in fact, I couldn't believe ANYONE would go to an accordion concert. But then I realized that was because of my early childhood prejudice against accordions, and Lawrence Welk, and this kid in our school system who we all disliked, in part because he played the accordion at school assemblies, and the only song he knew was "There Is a Tavern In the Town."

But a Tex-Mex accordion, and perhaps some Cajun accordion as well, I can understand. And I'm sorry to hear about Freddy Fender. I went looking for his obit, but couldn't find one when I googled him; however, his wikipedia entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freddy_Fender) is up-to-date, gives the cause of death as lung cancer, and says he died at his home in Corpus Christi.

(Sorry about the rain, but you've been complainin' about drought for months now, so...)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 15, 2006 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I am really not complaining about the rain--Bill and I were laughing about it--about what a night of memories last night would hold. Having attended four years at Humboldt, I am hardly daunted by rain, Mudge. Last night, I really was delighting in it. The atmospherics, the mood.

Flaco and ensemble opened with the song:
In Heaven there is no beer
(No beer?!)
That's why we drink it here
And when we're all gone from here
Our friends will be drinking all the beer.

(Blech!) Some accordion tunes are obviously better than others. Obviously the first song--what one hears at the local Wurstfest over and over, was a nod to the beer vendors--like ads for popcorn at the movies. But when the trio of accordians broke into conjunto, they went wild. Flace is quite the improv artist--locally he is known as the B.B. King of conjunto accordion.

Here, Mudge, is your Fender obit:

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/stories/MYSA101506.pm.fenderobit.3bf02f13.html

Also:
Musicians salute Fender at accordion festival

Web Posted: 10/14/2006 11:03 PM CDT

Jim Beal Jr.
Express-News Staff

Halfway through a Saturday night set by accordion champs Flaco Jimenez, Joel Guzman, Sonny Sauceda and their band, Jimenez stepped to the microphone to ask, in Spanish and in English, for a minute of silence in memory of his Texas Tornados partner Freddy Fender, who died earlier in the day.

As the large crowd at the International Accordion Festival in La Villita's Maverick Plaza grew quiet, Jimenez said, "Baldemar Huerta, Freddy Fender, he was a legend all over the world. Gracias, amigos."

And then it was back to squeezebox-driven music and dancing in the rain. Through intermittent showers, the sixth edition of the IAF, staged throughout La Villita, proved its worth as a showcase for accordion music of many kinds, a chance to dance on the River Walk and a good time all around.

Accordion aces from as far away as Brazil, Poland and France and as close as Louisiana, Austin and practically next door also drew fans from near and far.


Posted by: Loomis | October 15, 2006 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Yoki,

"Now the question is, how do we present the problem to her in a way that is useful to her?"

The current cases have been commented on already, and are good examples. Minority rights are not a natural occurrence. My two cents is that the 17th century wars of religion provided all the necessary examples and the basis for the principle that private confession and expression should not be persecuted.

Posted by: SonofCarl | October 15, 2006 5:00 PM | Report abuse

LA Lurker, Philadelphia is turning quickly, the Poconos and northwest are like Cassandra's box of crayons. Drove home from Williamsport today; the curves on 80E and the PA Turnpike towards NJ made me feel as if I were driving in a red-gold tree tunnel. Have a neutral address? I'll send you a box of leaves from Washington's Crossing or Valley Forge.

This week's joy: to snatch boxfuls of fallen ginko leaves from Pine Street and snip nasturtium leaves from my garden, seeking the most interesting to cast.

Posted by: dbG | October 15, 2006 10:04 PM | Report abuse

toasted the marshmallows of the early morning...


fetid breath of dead but still moving politcians destroying the innoncence of life lived as an art form....


the stink of living death drowned out the perfume of active thinking,

rear guard actions to make same old same old


substitute for spring.


no changing seasons.

.

Posted by: small scrapings of endearment | October 16, 2006 12:36 AM | Report abuse

RDPadouk succinctly articulates above what many of us believe is the only possible solution to the Iraqi situation. Could Joel make this the subject of a column some time?

Posted by: Pundit | October 17, 2006 4:38 PM | Report abuse

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