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SOTU: What did you think?

What did you think of the president's speech? All opinions welcome here. Heresies eagerly embraced. Non-sequiturs tolerated. Puns viewed askance. Palindromes revered.

This may be apostasy for a Washington journalist, but I'm wondering if the State of the Union address has ceased to be a useful event. I know it's in the Constitution, and the camera-work has gotten better, but as in all things there's a tendency for repetition to lead to standardization, and blandness, and the sense that we've been here before, and that they should have scheduled it for Groundhog Day. There aren't many surprises, there's an undercurrent of fraud (people clapping for someone they can't stand), and even the great tradition of watching the reactions and decoding the body language seems kind of stale, like professional tennis.

Of course maybe I'm just reacting to the workmanlike speech the president gave last night. Not great, not terrible. The big surprise, I thought, was Jim Webb's powerful response, helped greatly by the fact that Webb wrote it himself and didn't let the language get gummed up by a committee.

A few quick excerpts, annotated:

Bush: "What we need is spending discipline in Washington, D.C. We set a goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009 and met that goal three years ahead of schedule." I find that it's much easier to lose 5 pounds if I first strap on the feedbag for 6 months and gain 15.

Bush: "In 2005 alone, the number of earmarks grew to over 13,000 and totaled nearly $18 billion." On the GOP watch, someone might note. But here's a serious technical question that someone reading this blog can probably answer: Earmarks may simply specify how, precisely, already allocated or authorized money will be spent, correct? So even if you eliminated all 13,000 of those earmarks, you wouldn't come close to saving $18 billion. Earmarks are scapegoats. They're what Scooter Libby says he is.

Bush: "With enough good sense and good will, you and I can fix Medicare and Medicaid and save Social Security." And now let me quickly move on to another topic without offering a single suggestion for how to do this very difficult thing (since you slapped me down last time I came up with an idea, however cockamamie it might have been).

Bush: "We should establish a legal and orderly path for foreign workers to enter our country to work on a temporary basis. As a result, they won't have to try to sneak in. And that will leave border agents free to chase down drug smugglers and criminals and terrorists." Well put. We spend crazy amounts of money arresting farmworkers at the border and wanding grandmothers at airports.

Bush: "Let us find our resolve and turn events toward victory." We've had resolve aplenty for four years; the problem is that "victory" hinges on what Iraqis do. Still unexplained by Bush is how additional troops patrolling neighborhoods in Baghdad will lead to to something that can plausibly be called victory. The binary rhetoric of victory and defeat, winning and losing, seems to have very little correlation to the real options on the ground.

More reack after the jump.

[Here's a roundup of presidential hopefuls reacting.]

[David Corn: "He has defined his presidency with his war in Iraq. The state of Iraq is the state of the union. And he has nothing new to say about that." (See also Corn's report on the Libby trial.)]

[Michael Cannon in a roundup from National Review: "It would be difficult to overstate how dramatically the president's proposal would reduce government influence in the health care sector. The perverse tax incentives to over-consume health insurance and medical care? Gone. Tax penalties for those without employer-based coverage? Gone. Over 200 million consumers focused on cost-effectiveness. Competition forcing insurers and providers to be efficient and responsive."]

[Walter Shapiro at Salon: "Bush is no more likely to be taken seriously as a legislator than he is as the would-be monarch of Mesopotamia. What we are witnessing is the downside of the stability built into the American political system -- the inability of a four-year presidential administration to fall of its own weight. If this were a parliamentary system, all it would take would be a no-confidence vote in Congress to bring on a new presidential election. And probably even a significant minority of Republicans would support such a heave-ho motion. But instead -- keeping in mind that incompetence is not an impeachable offense -- we are saddled with Bush and Dick Cheney for another two years. "

[Bob Cesca on Huffington Post: "... this president won't recognize a genuine crisis like global warming until he's clearing out dead horseshoe crabs along with the brush on his Crawford beachfront property."]

By Joel Achenbach  |  January 24, 2007; 9:38 AM ET
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Next: McCain-Levin Steel Cage Death Match


Jim Webb of Virginia can write the pants and skirts off his Democratic colleagues.

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Webb palindrome:
Too hot to hoot!

Bush palindrome:
War-distended nets I draw.

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

[In the comment after the first excerpt, did you mean feedBAG?]

Posted by: Tom fan | January 24, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Hillary palindrome:
Sex-aware era waxes.

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

[Or was "feedback" intended as a viewed-askance pun?]

Posted by: Tom fan | January 24, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

In re: wanding grandmothers at airports. My neice (age 5) was terribly disappointed when she came to visit. She thought they were trying to make her disappear.

Posted by: LostInThought | January 24, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

SCC: niece

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Actually, "feedback intended as a viewed-askance pun" sounds like a cryptic crossword clue.
So does "sex-aware era waxes." [Ha, Loomis!]
And how about Sen.-aware era wanes? [I don't know what that means exactly, but aren't palindromes fun?]

Posted by: Tom fan | January 24, 2007 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Thankfully, Bush has Iraq to channel his emotions. Domestic issues only get in his way. Unless of course, he can put more money into his pockets. And those of his neocon war buddies. Otherwise, this dude just doesn't live in reality. His highness's new clothes have long ago been exposed as bare naked.

Posted by: Lee | January 24, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Reposted link re. SotU from previous Boodling:

Yes, it was "SotU Lite".

Same taste, less fulfilling.


Posted by: bc | January 24, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I'm a day late and a Kit behind *cough*, but this morning I went to the NYT link, Joel, that you included at the end of the last Kit about the "Alamo outpost" in Iraq and watched the video.

If you're going to play on the Alamo, Joel, let's really PLAY with the Alamo!

I want to share three paragraphs written by an e-mail friend of mine, Rev. Louis A.DeCaro, Jr., (Black History Month is just around the corner) who wrote a marvelous book on cousin and abolitionist John Brown, with yet another book about Brown by DeCaro to be issued very shortly.

(Please know that director Martin Scorcese was toying, and may already--at the time of of an earlier June 2004 e-mail DeCaro sent to me, have purchased the book rights to writer Russell Bank's far more b1oody portrayal of the Brown saga, "Cloudsplitter.")

The title of DeCaro's essay from which I have extracted these paragraphs is "Why We Remember the Alamo, But Forget Harper's Ferry." (I'm ducking at the anticipated umbrage from people in these parts.) Can we extrapolate anything from these thoughts and opinions to the current conflict in Iraq?:


Not long ago, I saw the latest film about the Alamo, which sentimentalized the famous incident in keeping with the myth of the heroism of men like Bowie, Crockett, and the rest of the founding figures of Texas. Although the latest Alamo film [I think he's referring to the one with Billy Bob Thornton, Patrick Wilson, Jason Patric--the premiere I attended--perhaps my good friend is chastising me a bit] is a bit more sensitive to the political landscape than the older Alamo film, it is nevertheless a glorification of the incident--which in reality took place when a group of pro-slavery people sought to seize Mexican territory in order to form an independent slave nation. In the end, of course, Texans had to settle for being a slave state in the troubled antebellum Union.

The Alamo and Harper's Ferry stand as polar opposites in U.S. history. Both were notable events tht aroused the passions of the white people of the U.S. But one was broadly condemned and disdained as a mad effort because it involved an attempt to liberate the black people by a small group of people who could properly be called "patriots of humanity." The other is glorified and uplifted, not only by Texans, but also by the mythmaking "historians" who have dressed up white supremacy to read like biblical justice.

In strict legal terms, perhaps the men who died at the Alamo and Harper's Ferry deserved their fates. Both broke laws of their respective lands in an attempt to advance their causes. But in the case of the Alamo, the motivation behind this independence movement was the expansion of slavery. In the early 19th century, the South was beginning to flex its muscles, hungry for more territory, and increasingly indignant and violent toward anyone that opposed their expansion. The same attitude that stonewalled a handful of Texans at the Alamo was brought to bear against the federal government in the arrogant secession and rebellion that resulted in the deaths of over 500,000 men in the Civil War a generation later.

Posted by: LindaLoo | January 24, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

It's so hard to watch the el Presidente Arbusto on tv anymore.

All that screaming, hair-pulling, invective-hurling, vitriol-spewing and throwing of objects at the television really interferes with the message he's trying to get across. And our neighbours tell us we frighten them when we do it.

Posted by: byoolin | January 24, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

The SOTU has been obsolete ever since they worked out the technical complexities of the copier machine. An oral presentation seems predicated on the notion that the Congress of the United States is unable to read. It has become political theater - an exercise in forced jocularity with more insincere applause than the Academy Awards.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 24, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Sen.-aware era wanes?

Oh, I like this much better. You are far too clever, Tom fan!

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

SCC: "the el Presidente" - feel free to ignore the/el definite article of your choice.

Posted by: byoolin | January 24, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

That said, Tom fan, let me give you two important grafs from MoDo today:

Why dwell on the most consequential elements of American strategy when they can linger over something even more repercussive: their own political reputations?

Hillary Clinton, who dodged a recent important Iraq hearing by flying to Iraq, did not have any questions at all for the general [David Petraeus at his hearing yesterday]. She simply lectured him crisply on her belated discovery that the administration has a "dead-end" and "blank check" policy, as she tried to seem like the kind of gal who could command the most powerful military on earth. This is odd from someone who is running infomercials on her Web site promising "a conversation."

Doctors' offices are opening. I must get on with my day.

May the best candidate rise to the top.

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I agree with RD that we don't need the speech now that we can spread the written word quickly. I do like the idea of presidents putting forth an annual agenda concisely enough that they can read it out loud in an hour. But I rarely listen, especially since my wife (Dr. Forty Eight) can't stand the sound of Bush's voice.

Any comments on the health insurance tax changes? Does he propose making employer-paid health insurance taxable and employee-paid health insurance deductible? Will employer-paid health insurance go the way of the defined-benefit pensions?

Loomis: MoDo metaquote from Bruce Reed, "Like Bill Murray in 'Groundhog Day,' George W. Bush seems doomed to wake up every morning in the same Maureen Dowd column about a father's shadow he can darken but not escape."

Posted by: Fifty | January 24, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Wind to the front, wind to the rear
our commander-in-chief is hard to hear
He stands before us, festooned in blue tie
His laughing remarks make many here cry
The war's a go, the country is up
We check our pockets, they seem mostly bankrupt
Debt to the ceiling, our children will pay
Our commander-in-chief asks us to pray.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Feedbag it is. Thank you.

Is MoDo joking when she says HRC dodged an important hearing to go to Iraq?? My irony-detector is on the fritz.

Heading to the Hill...

Posted by: Achenbach | January 24, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

There are flights from Naperville to the Hill? Who knew???


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 24, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

No, Scotty, I think he took the Fermilab Tevatron accelerator back home.

I'm surprised he could get himself back together for a trip up the Hill so quickly after such a rough trip.

Going further off topic, I found this interesting:

Mudge probably had plenty of Frilled Sharkfin soup back in the day, when they stayed closer to the surface and didn't mind being associated with humans.


Posted by: bc | January 24, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse


Not to mention all the haute couture possibilities 'Mudge could dream up with the frills...


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 24, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I was wondering,How many people work on a speech like that?

And there must be a whole lot of editors working constantly on tweaking it.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 24, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Repost from previous Boodle:

The most disingenuous line in a speech full of lies was this one:

"When we do that, we will have cut our total imports by the equivalent of three-quarters of all the oil we now import from the Middle East."

We import very little of our oil directly from the Middle East and since oil is fungible, the effect of this half-measure is likely to be insignificant.

There were some bigger and more outrageous falsehoods (there was no plot to blow up "the tallest building on the west coast") in the speech, but this one was the most weaselly.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 24, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Boy, that is one UGLY shark, bc. I suppose what made you think of me in reference to it was the line about it being a "living fossil."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 24, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Greeny--The answer is a lot and again, a whole lot. A couple of States of the Union ago, David Frum was fired after Frum's wife called all of her friends to announce that a memorable phrase (I don't remember it) was in fact written by her husband.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Further repost:

One subtextual meme that Dubya and Co keep trying to pass off is that everything was going hunky-dory in Iraq until 2006 when the en-serge-ants got their act together. No, chimp-boy, we have been sinking in this quagmire since Day 1. It's just that now we are up to the level where things are getting uncomfortable.

It's also still Warren Zevon's Birthday. Perhaps we can sync the SOTU to "Mr. Bad Example".

Posted by: yellojkt | January 24, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

If you find yourself stranded at the Alamo with Jamie Lee Curtis, DON'T GO IN THE BASEMENT!

Posted by: God's Selfless Dog | January 24, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

On the being searched at an airport idea rather than SOTU ((I didn't see it, was at a b-ball game watching our team beat our archrivals. Seemed like a better use of my time.))

I was selected for a random search on a flight from London to JFK. So, I did the whole go through a second metal detector, take off the shoes bit. Didn't get wanded fortunately, but I did have my carry-on bag searched. Or at least, began to have it searched. As the woman opened it up, and found that I had several books on top, including my Bible. She pulled them out, looked at the Bible, and then asked me if I was a Christian, to which I replied, yes. She said, "ok, you're fine, have a nice flight" and that was that. At the time, is was great, not having to repack the entire bag and waste time, but it did get me thinking: is that all that's required for a free pass? My bag was not searched, she didn't even flip through any of the books. I don't want to say that the Bible was the only reason I got through so easily, but it sure seemed to have helped. And while I was being honest with my profession of faith, it's not that hard to lie. Kind of scary.

Posted by: Tangent | January 24, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Still reading the Boodle but must compliment Loomis on palindromes. Excellent.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 24, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

More than a little scary, Tangent... *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 24, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Alamo? Goliad was probably more important.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | January 24, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

To all the simple-minded, the naive, and the incurious who remain firmly in Bush*s base, duh...there is not victory or success possible in Iraq*s civil war except to bring the troops home swiftly and safely. Join the March this weekend in Washington D.C. to do just that--bring the troops home swiftly and safely.

Posted by: cyngbond | January 24, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

EEP! tangent - don't let that get out!

Posted by: mo | January 24, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

After listening to the State of the Union speech and the onslaught of responses from talking heads, I'm convinced that what's needed regarding Iraq is a lesson in bonehead geography.

Since most everyone, myself excluded, has some sort of fetish about Afghanistan, start there. Facing north, look to the right and find Pakistan, teetering to Islamofacism and reportedly supporting the Taliban in moving back into Afghanistan. How can you blame them? We're getting cold feet and the survival instinct kicks in.

Still standing there in Kabul, look left, and there's Iraq in turmoil. Look north and there's Iran. Look further and there's Syria, firmly in lock step with Iran. And northwest? Lebanon where Hezbollah is now rioting and threatens to overthrow the government we support... sort of.

If we pull out of Iraq, it's like a house of cards. Iraq falls into the hands of Shiite extremists and they ally with Iran which supports Hezbollah in Lebanon and then the link up with Syria and finally the squeeze on Afghanistan and then Pakistan. Nuclear threats from both Iran and Pakistan defend the area and we lose influence over two-thirds of the area's oil reserves.

Will the Saudis be safe? No. Will Israel? No. How about Jordan and Egypt. No.

If the geographic scenario I sent happens, then the next stop is Mecca and Medina. The Islamo-fascists have made it very clear that they want control of the Holy Cities. And with that comes control of Saudi oil.

Will we do anything?

No. Perhaps nominally -- James Baker and friends may come out with another report but who would care?

What would result? Two things. First the new alliance would be in complete control of the oil in the Middle East. The West would be economically at bay, particularly Europe and Japan (Russia sees this coming and has been increasing ties with Iran; the Chinese are not far behind and they are gathering up oil in South America and in Sudan). Prices would go through the roof. And people would start looking for jobs close to home so that they could walk to work. Cars would be curbed or parked in garages.

Second, Iran and friends would be virtually in total control of Islam throughout the world. I needn't say more.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

We like to call that screaming , spitting, and throwing things at the tv during a Bush speech: "Bush Tourette's". Hubby and I didn't invent the term, though, but I can't remember where I heard it first.
Thank goodness for The Post printing the full speech (and for this blog) so I could take in the evening in small, manageable doses. I couldn't handle the broadcast.

Posted by: Piper | January 24, 2007 1:07 PM | Report abuse

This year's "State of the Union" speech followed the pattern of recent years. President Bush presented a mundane list of proposals that have little chance of being passed by the Democratic controlled Congress, or having any real effect on changing the State of The Union.

The President has a reputation of being a poor speaker, and once again he proved his critics right. The days of eloquent, passionate, stemwindng rhetoric is long gone. The great orators such as Senators Everett Dirksen and Daniel Patrick Moynihan are a thing of the past. The art of fine oratory is dead, replaced by speeches written by committee designed to offend no one.

The Democratic response, given by Senator Jim Webb was a rehash of the Party's complaints against the Bush administration, offering no real solutions to the Party's objections. Like Bush, Webb's speech seemed to be a committee project.

The difference between a Politician and a Statesman is, the Politician does what is necessary to get reelected, while the Statesman does what he thinks is best for the country. Both speeches were given by Politicians, in a time in which we need Statesmen.

Posted by: FrOutFish | January 24, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I found the speech interesting,but not as interesting as the president it projected. In the beginning he was rather low key, even gracious in his compliments and addressing of Speaker Pelosi.However, after some relatively moderate program proposals, he effectively told the world, "I don't care what you think. More troops are there,and they're going to stay there. The support he asked for was support for an accomplished fact. The 82nd Airborne is on the ground already. And,- I think-it was more a plea to his fellow Republicans, than it was to any Democrat.
He is a president who suddenly has to accept the fact that his party is out of favor, and it's largely his fault. No amount of delusional thinking can change any of that.

Posted by: Dan | January 24, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Watching the SOTU last night, I couldn't help but think that too much of a big deal was made of "Madam Speaker". I'm a woman (heck, I went to a women's college), but for some reason, the beginning of last night's speech by the Prez felt more like, "look at the little lady with the big gavel, isn't that cute?" than "I am so proud of all that women have achieved since the women's movement began almost 50 years ago."

Posted by: PLS | January 24, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Annoymous at 1:04, an interesting perspective on the geography of the whole area.

Posted by: dr | January 24, 2007 1:13 PM | Report abuse

The emporer still does not know that he has no clothes. Pitiful and what a tragic timing for America.

Posted by: CLG | January 24, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

PLS...during the applause for Madam Speaker, Dub looked like he thought it was one of HIS accomplishments. Which it kind of was.

Posted by: LostInThought | January 24, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Iran is north of Afghanistan and Iraq is directly to the west????

Try Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to the north.

I'd fax an atlas, but no address was provided...


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 24, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

For Loomis, et,
The State of the Union address was read to Congress in the form of a speech until the Wilson administration. He revived it, and subsequent presidents have helped change it into a "State of the Party," address, and of course, a wonderful opportunity to be seen on television.--Dan

Posted by: Dan | January 24, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Here are some truly profound responses by a few other parties:

Posted by: CRW | January 24, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

In response to Loomis et al, the State of the Union address was delivered to Congress as a document and read to the assembled body, by a clerk. Woodrow Wilson began reading it to them, and subsequent presidents have converted it into more of a "State of the Party," speech, and of course a wonderful opportunity to be seen on television.---Dan

Posted by: Dan | January 24, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Fifty - The WaPo has a good editorial about the health plan initiative, and there is an interesting Ruth Marcus piece on the home page. They both suggest that it is much worthier of serious consideration than some might assume, given the source.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 24, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

And "so to" the Democrats to have the "bird in the hand" in Hilary, but beware, for she is not exactly a barrel of laughs...

Posted by: Douglas Cheverst | January 24, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

dr, I remember a poem that uses your favorite word:
There once was a young man from Tiel
Who set out to ride on his wheel
He traveled for days
Through crepuscular haze
And emerged feeling somewhat unreal

Posted by: CowTown | January 24, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I decided to try to watch the sotu last night, made it through maybe 5 minutes of his speech, to the point where he said 'democrat' instead of 'democratic.' At that point my instincts told me to change the channel before my head exploded. The cable channels spent all day yesterday hyping the speech and I guess hours more afterwards dissecting it. They must not have anything else to do. Yes I think the time has come to just send a report to Congress and print the darn thing on the Internets and newspapers for those who actually think any of it means anything. Joel, you are so right about the phoniness of the applause and backslapping, etc. The words obsequious and toady spring to mind. Sometimes I think this country is going to he11 in the proverbial handbasket and events like this just confirm it. Poeple are dying in Iraq, glaciers are melting, New Orleans is still a wreck, the deficit grows like a cancer, and we have a bunch of lying, clueless idiots running the show and the rest of the crew complains but is spineless.

That said, I have high hopes for some more interesting revelations in the Libby trial.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | January 24, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Scottynuke, got that, but the idea of encircling geographically is interesting.

Posted by: dr | January 24, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

It was harder than usual to stay focused on the speech, since most content had been 'leaked' beforehand. The topic no one is touching is the the "hydrocarbon law" the administration wants approved by the Iraqi legislature. "The Independent" newspaper in the UK did the only investigative reporting I've seen. The US-written and supported plan approves Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) that give oil conglomerates the lion's share of Iraqi oil profits for decades!!! Approval of this item is one of the benchmarks Iraq will have to satisfy. Doesn't anyone care that our country plans to allow oil interests to pick up these spoils from a country we have decimated? My 'hair's on fire' over the prospect.

Posted by: Loorraine Lilja | January 24, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Regarding earmarks. A lot of the money allocated by Congress to my organization is "earmarked" for specific purposes. To avoid inciting the wrath of oversight committees, that money must be spent in the appropriate area. Now if they were to simply give us the same amount of money to spend as we see fit, one could argue that some rather significant "earmarks" would be eliminated. But the money would still be spent.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 24, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Iran in control of Islam? The Indonesians may have different take on that.
The only thing that most Iraqi Sunnis and Shia agree on is that they want the US out of their country.
Using the term Islamofascit and displaying a profound ignorance of geography is the sure sign of a Dittohead.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 24, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I thought for a moment that the boy-man imitation of a President would get on his knees and plead for another chance. No more edge, no more arrogance, no more I'm in charge. Still, hard to feel sorry for the bloody bugger.

Posted by: lllefty | January 24, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Nice speech for Bush - particularly the gracious remarks about Madame Speaker Pelosi! I would like to recommend that Congress (or somebody out there!) pass a law requiring Presidents to write their own State of the Union speeches - no speech-writer assistance whatsoever! During the speech I find myself thinking, "this sounds pretty good, some nice phrases, he's smarter than I thought", but hey, wait a minute - he didn't write it! He's just reading it! No doubt the State of the Union speeches would disappear from some administrations - like this one - if it required original authorship!!

Posted by: Pat Boice - Little Old Liberal in Idaho | January 24, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

While not taking anything away from Webb's speech, I have spoken to a person (not Webb or on his staff) that wrote about a third of Webb's speech--a person that is normally one of the "committee" members that normally gum it up.

Not that it really matters.

Posted by: lurkgineer | January 24, 2007 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Lots of interesting stuff coming out of the new passport requirements. Hiccups in laws past, that are just palin goofy. It seems its easy to be Canadian unless you are umm... Canadian.

Posted by: dr | January 24, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Bush lied to us again.
Impeach Bush. Convict him. Send him packing.

Posted by: Remember 911 | January 24, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse


As a lifelong Democrat I offer my congratulations on your decision to run for President. However, more important than my party affiliation is the fact that I am an American - and though I do not live there, New Orleans is part of America and its' citizens are part of me, part of my heritage, part of my country.

You may be opposed to the war in Iraq and want to bring our US troops home, but I notice that you and your fellow politicians are quick to sign on to the proposal to spend billions of dollars for Iraqi "reconstruction." The City of New Orleans has less then half its' pre-Katrina population and no tax-base to speak of. The city doesn't have enough money to pay for a police force to protect the citizenry, let alone for housing, cleanup or its' own reconstruction...

I'm sure you will be able to raise the $150M or so to spend on your campaign, but when it comes time to vote I, and millions of Americans like me, will not support the candidate that best "positioned" themselves, or gave great speeches in front of the cameras - no, the candidate who gets my vote is the one who (whether Democrat, Republican or Independent) stands up now, fighting to get just one week's worth of the money we spend in Iraq and get it to New Orleans. One week of Iraqi money could rebuild the city from scratch! Get it in cash if you have to - send in the Army engineers, hell, hire Halliburton if you have to - JUST DO SOMETHING!

Posted by: Billy Clark | January 24, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

i have some umbrage i'd like to express to the person who called the contractors in iraq "mercinaries" - "The generic definition of a mercenary is a soldier who fights or engages in warfare primarily for private gain, usually with little regard for ideological, national, or political considerations."
my uncle was a contractor for the army corps of engineers and was killed in Iraq 3 years ago - he was not in Iraq for "personal gain" - he was a retired air force officer who was a highly trained and specialized munitions expert who was very proud of his country and his ability to do such highly specialized work to save people. the only "gain" my family recieved was the insurance from his death. i'd rather have my uncle.

remember - you are talking about people's families... just because he wasn't an active duty soldier does not make his work in iraq meaningless or his death justified.

just sayin...

Posted by: mo | January 24, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Wow,did anyone else notice that the Emperor was wearing no clothes. The amount bovine excrement that was hurling from the lips of this man was almost too much to stomach. From the first word to the last, appeared to continued a song and dance of how we are victorious or will be victorious. Scurting the issue that we're getting our asses handing to us everyday.

Who's really afraid of the enemy, whatever happen to, "We have nothing to fear, but fear itself?" Surely, 9-11, did not produce a country riddled will chumps ducking the fainted blow from the schoolyard bully? However, we can't continued to be lead down the garden path by some imbicile fighting the kid in the wrong nieghborhood because we received a bloody nose by a cousin.

I remember the days after 9-11, we were going to take it to the enemy no matter where they located, and that any country harboring the enemy would be dealt with. We ended up leaving one campaign to look for WMD's and topple this evil regime to stem the tide of terrorist before they came to us in USA. We were fed a line then, and we being fed a line continuously, and all the while we still continue to swallow.

I watched as the congressional audience respectfully sat there applauding for things they no longer believed. I wish that more people would be like Sen. Webb and even those who would present a stronger detestment of the handling of this pointless war. It has taken this country over 230 years to reconcile our very complex differences, and we still got quite a bit of things to fix. There is no way that this paper cobra government that we are alledgedly helping the Iraqi people set into place will be able to run itself upon us leaving or staying. Any country set up under the ideology of another is destin to turn on itself or the hand the set it inplace.

At what further cost in blood are we willing to stay inside a country in which we destroyed from without and now being destroyed from within? Can we win? Using the rules of engagement that we commonly use put us at a dissadvantage. I don't trust the current leadership will have the troops best interest at heart. And trust me when I say there is no way that the USA, will allow a Lt. General to run this war, he is being setup as a fall guy. Doesn't anyone remember a guy by the name of Westmoreland? Great General, wrong war.

I was not moved in the least by the president's speech. I felt like we as nation are continuously being treated like were idiots. We can't all be? We'll stay until we get tired of seeing our young men and women come home in body bags or broken mentally and physically.

Earthpig, sends.

Posted by: Earthpig | January 24, 2007 2:20 PM | Report abuse

RD, thanks for the WaPo pointers on the health insurance proposals. I'll go check those out. My first blush impression was overly simplisitic: that it wouldn't help low income folks who don't pay much in taxes and would motivate employers to offload health insurance to employees. (Employers would probably prefer to do that anyway.)

Anyone remember that Wall Street Journal op-ed piece that called those who earn so little that they pay no income tax "lucky duckies?" Heavens!

Posted by: Fifty | January 24, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

The question asked was what did we think of Bush's speech. I'm 78 years old, and I've probably watched/read 50 SOTU speeches. None were memorable, nor was this one. Pandering pie-in-the-sky platitudes and promises, the same old same old. Cutesy comments and strained palindromes aside, I'm inclined to agree that the SOTU speech has lost its usefulness. The salient point in this one was his forceful endorsement of private health insurance, a warning to the Congress to not propose any kind of universal health care system.

Posted by: olroy | January 24, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Wow, dr. That is really annoying for those people. It's so obviously a silly and unintended consequence of the laws, however, that it seems there must surely be a reasonable solution -- it's just a matter of deciding which solution does the job most efficiently. For the Mennonites, surely there is something like common-law marriage that could be applied retroactively. The border-baby case is a little tougher.

Posted by: Tim | January 24, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Think I'll sit this blog out. I didn't watch it, as Lon Chaney, Sr. unhappily didn't emerge from his grave to perform a silent State of the Union address in Bush's place.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 24, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Boko, if you get past the terminology and geography, there was something to think about in the anonymous 1:04. To expand on the groundhog analogy, you make a huge error when you assume that the groundhogs think and believe as you do.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 24, 2007 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I believe that most large (thousands of employees) employers self-ensure, and the Aetna or whoever the employees deal with are administrators -- they don't take the risks and consequently don't earn profits from taking those risks. If employees were to acquire that health insurance individually, would this not be an opportunity for the health industry to extract more profits? I know GWB spoke of how markets make everything wonderful and more efficient for everyone, but when I hear that I just think "Enron".

Posted by: LTL-CA | January 24, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse


Anonymous' lack of geographic understanding notwithstanding, I don't have a big problem with the term "Islamofascism." It is somwhat unfortunate that is has come to be associated with the unthinking blanket responses of the Rush Limbaugh set, becuase I think that in fact it does a pretty good job of calling a "spade a spade."

I'm not one of those idiotic "anti-political correctness" campaigners, but at some point we have to acknowledge that the goals of Islamic terror (at least the Qaeda "branch" of it) are somewhat described by the word fascism (at least as I understand it) and as modified by the inclusion of the prefix "Islamo-."

Fascism's central tenet is the emphasis on the primacy of the state. The Qaeda/Wahhabi/Iranian conception of "state" is so thoroughly intermingled with the idea of Islam, that they are indivisible in this instance and hard to dispute that they are advocating its primacy. One thing that is for certain is that a big part of the expressed motivation is (and has been for decades) the creation of a pan-Arabic Islamic state (aka the "return of the Caliphate).

Fascism is also defined to be reactionary, militaristic, anti-liberal, masculine and totalitarian. Check, Check, Check, Check, Check.

To say nothing of the undisputed fact that many of the founders of the modern Islamist movement make no bones about giving credit to Nazism as (a portion of) their inspiration. In fact, in the post-WWII era, actual honest-to-goodness German Nazis were active in Egypt and believed to have had interaction with Qutb, the "founder" of the militaristic Islamic movement in Egypt and, ultimately, al Qaeda.

So, in a nutshell, I'm a truth-in-advertising guy. I have no problem with calling the worldview of al Qaeda and the militant Sunni (and even some Shiite) factions "Islamofascism."

Don't construe any of this to be suggesting that I believe our policy in Iraq or our anti-terror policies in general are working, just to say that as shorthand for what "they" are thinking about "us", Islamofascism is not a bad constrution.

Posted by: Awal | January 24, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

The idea that the president should just give the SotU to Congress in written form is certainly a novel one. The biggest problem that I see with it is that the members of Congress rarely read anything they are supposed to. How many times have we heard about these folks voting on legislation they haven't personally read? If they really and truly read every single law and bill they vote on, that is all they would have time to do. Then there would be no actual voting, no fundraising, no running for president, just a lot of reading.

Wait a minnit... maybe that's not so bad.

I also hate the stoopid standing ovations after EVERY sentence. I have thought since my childhood that that was dunb, and nothing has changed since the advance of adulthood and reason.

Posted by: Gomer | January 24, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

SCC: constrution=construction

although I kind of like how it also implies "construe," so maybe it is an acceptable neologism.

Posted by: Awal | January 24, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

This speech showed what a slow learner W is. Past State of the Union's have been full of we are winning the war, we can drill our way to indepenence of middle east oil and other idiot statements. This time its we need to cut spending, gas mileage requirements must be raised, we must address climate change, read global warming, and we need more troops to win in Iraq. W needs to read a little Irish history. When England invaded Ireland they had no clue that after 500 years they would still be wondering WHAT HAPPENED. This is where we are in Iraq. IN THE MIDDLE OF A RELIGIOUS WAR. The only difference is we are in a country and area where our form of government is alien. Mr Bush as your party is so fond of pointing out one size does not fit everyone. Now we can sit back and see once again only one problem will be addressed by our idiot in chief. That will be WAR. You should take note not word about the real attackers of 911. The Taliban are back and we are pulling troops from the battle in Afghanistan. One another thing should be noted. The poppy fields are at an alltime high and new shipments of heiron are hitting the streets of America daily. At the same time the DEA has been cut back and communinty policing has vanished. More guns and more drugs. Whatever happened to the law and order Republicans?

Posted by: jack bishop | January 24, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Ah, New Orleans. I lived there for 22 years and on the MS Gulf Coast for 10 and commuted to NOLA. The Gulf Coast is rebuilding quickly, but NOLA is burdened with a Mayor who vetoes every suggestion; a Loyola associate professor who sues continuously; a relocated population who gave their children guns and sent them back on their own to play gangsta'; a power company who immediately declared bankruptcy; a city run sewer system that was terrible in the first place; an appointed Levee Board who received millions in oil royalties and cannot account for a penny of it; a School Board so incompetent that the State took over, but still hasn't opened most of the schools, etc. I could go on, but you get the picture. Lassiez les bon temps rouler, Cher.

Posted by: roscoe2k1 | January 24, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

This speech showed what a slow learner W is. Past State of the Union's have been full of we are winning the war, we can drill our way to indepenence of middle east oil and other idiot statements. This time its we need to cut spending, gas mileage requirements must be raised, we must address climate change, read global warming, and we need more troops to win in Iraq. W needs to read a little Irish history. When England invaded Ireland they had no clue that after 500 years they would still be wondering WHAT HAPPENED. This is where we are in Iraq. IN THE MIDDLE OF A RELIGIOUS WAR. The only difference is we are in a country and area where our form of government is alien. Mr Bush as your party is so fond of pointing out one size does not fit everyone. Now we can sit back and see once again only one problem will be addressed by our idiot in chief. That will be WAR. You should take note not word about the real attackers of 911. The Taliban are back and we are pulling troops from the battle in Afghanistan. One another thing should be noted. The poppy fields are at an alltime high and new shipments of heiron are hitting the streets of America daily. At the same time the DEA has been cut back and communinty policing has vanished. More guns and more drugs. Whatever happened to the law and order Republicans?

Posted by: jack bishop | January 24, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I did not watch the SotU, as I haven't for -- what is it now? Six? -- years. However, I agree with all who suggested the time for the broadcast SotU has long since passed. If the Powers That Be absolutely must have President personally address Congress, fine. Why not just have him come over and give the speech? Why inflict it on the citizens? Why have the dress-up, guesties, talking heads, etc.? The opposing party is free to respond on the floor or through the media, but why take up a whole evening?

I really wanted to use some puns, or emulate Loomis's palindromes, but my brain doesn't seem to be working today.

FrOutFish suggested that both speeches last night were given by Politicians, not Statesmen. I'm afraid part of the U.S.'s problem is that, by his own lights, Bush thinks of himself as a Statesman: he will do what he thinks best for the country (as he knows it) without regard for what the country thinks. Or reality.

Hi, PLS! Hello, Cassandra, if you're out there. I miss your daily conversation and sky reports.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 24, 2007 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Mo complained about people calling the security contractors in Iraq "mercenaries." The personal gain mentioned is the paycheck received. If you fight in a war (they are) and you are not in either warring country's military (they aren't) and you get a paycheck (personal gain) then you are a mercenary, by Mo's own definition.

Sorry if that chafes those who are related to these contractors, but at least they have a choice as to where they will fight, unlike the actual members of our military.

Posted by: Gomer | January 24, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Important detail I missed in the health care thing: you can deduct premiums up to $15K/year/family. Maybe I'm not up on health insurance costs, but that sounds like more $$/year than most of our employers pay. I'm not informed enough to gauge the effects on the poor or the budget.

LTL-CA: I have the same Enron reaction. An appeal to the free market has to include transparency and honesty -- the sorts of things we urge on emerging capitalist countries.

Posted by: Fifty | January 24, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I believe the total of my contributions and my employer's are pretty close to $15K/year/family. Hands up those who think all employers would pass on to the employees what they formerly spent on this.

Posted by: LTL-CA | January 24, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

For the record, I do spend a good amount of time in New Orleans and working on redevelopment projects there. roscoe2k1 hit the nail on the head. There are a couple of items that I would add to that.

1) In this age of politics, no one wants to be the bad guy. No one is willing to make the (highly rational) statement that there have to be some boundaries set for reconstruction. There have to be limits on rebuilding (at least governmentally financed rebuilding) namely types of construction and allowable locations. But neither Ray Nagin, Kathleen Blanco nor George Bush wants to be known as the one who prohibited people from rebuilding their houses. And even given current standards, the city government (and planning department) is so overwhelmed, that things are moving very slowly for your average construction project.

2) There is no money problem. The Federal Government is still throwing tons of money at New Orleans. As you saw in the immediate aftermath of Katrina (and in Iraq), one of the problems with throwing huge amounts of money at things like this is fraud. It's virtually impossible for a government to manage the outflow of billions of dollars at a time to finance tens of thousands of projects without wholesale corruption. It has actually slowed down to a more manageable rate, but there is no shortage of Federal monies still being spent there,

3) It is getting rebuilt. Actually, downtown NO is making great strides. The housing stock, not so much (See Number 1 above). But I am personally involved in a number of big commercial projects that are forecast to bring thousands of high-paying jobs back to New Orleans (and I'm talking about $50K+, not fast food). I'd have to imagine that there are many others like me working on the same things.

So, while Bush's conduct in the days immediately following Katrina can still be viewed as reprehensible, the blame is not solely his. And, things are slowly getting done. Rome wasn't built in a day, and it's not reasonable to expect that New Orleans will be done in a year (or even 5) given the scale of the catastrophe that struck it.

Posted by: Awal | January 24, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Anon @ 1:04 may not know his Kabul from the Kaaba, but he articulated the Bush administration's "domino" theory of the ME pretty well, although it glossed over the impact of the internecine Shia:Sunni conflicts. His concern about potential oil scarcity did not recognize that most US oil imports are from Canada, Mexico and Venezuela - not the ME. Even Ecuador exports more oil to the US than Kuwait.

Posted by: Shiloh | January 24, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

So I listened to another State of the Union address clearly reinforcing my believe that "King George"is a dilusional individual that has no clue or iota of reality.He droned on basking in the applause of our spineless representatives.
Sen Webb's rebuttal was a breath of fresh air in this farth of business as usual.

Posted by: christel fiore | January 24, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Currently all employer provided health care is tax-free. Individuals that buy health care can only deduct the amount of health costs that exceed 7% of their gross income. My guess is that this is some sort of end run on the part of big business to cap their cost for insurance and put the employee on the hook for the difference.

$15K sounds like a lot of money, but a decent family coverage plan can easily exceed that amount. Inflation and rising costs will quickly erode that number into meaninglessness.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 24, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

As usual I'm forced to clarify previous posts. Maybe I should hire the gang the President has to "clarify " his remarks.
I don't think facsism is a helpful analogy for what is occuring in the mideast now, but a case could be made for both sides of the arguement. That the term Islamofacsist is being used as a propoganda tool to rally anti Islam sentiment by the Neo cons and Dominionists seems beyond dispute.

While I wouldn't call some guy flipping burgers in the Green Zone or trying to get the power on in Bagdad a mercenary, I think the term is appropriate for the private armed forces that Genenal Petreaus testified he would have to rely on in the future.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 24, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Awal, are you on the engineering side, accounting side, or what? I have, true to my nature, numerous (brilliant) observations and suggestions for things to do in the process of rebuilding NOLA. I'm sure that a million people offer you their so-called brilliant ideas every day, but of course, their ideas could not possibly be so brilliant as mine. If you are not overly terrified of another idiot dumping misguided brilliance on you, I would be happy to inflict my gems upon you.

There is a factoid that I have previously guessed at, but I would love to hear a reliable estimate. What is the designed probability for any individual segment of levee wall to fail in a Katrina-like event? 1 in 100,000? Better? Worse? With so many sections of wall (I estimated a total of about 187 miles of levee wall, with 10-yard sections), in a system which boasts only a single line of defense, it seems clear that catastrophic failure is inevitable. A reconstructed levee system should separate the city into cells or use a double-walled levee system. Anything short of that, and you can take it for granted that another mighty flood is in the offing -- only the timing is uncertain.

Posted by: Tim | January 24, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

mo, I was irked by the "mercenary" comment posted by Boko (methinks it might have been the fake boko, don't know), too, and agree with you about the term. But I was going to try to be a good little boy for once and be nice. But yes, boko(?) and Gomer are willfully misusing the term, or at least the facts. Yes, there may indeed be contractors over there who are doing some fighting, though I suspect not very many. There may be more who are engaged in some sort of "security" work, which bothers me quite a bit, but I'm not sure I'd say they were "fighting" in any sense of the word as I understand it. So, no, they aren't "mercenaries." My biggest objection is I think the vast majority of contractors over there are support people and reconstruction people, and so are in no way, shape or form "mercenaries."

(That too damn many are Halliburton people, or doing one lousy job, or ripping off the government, and/or may be neocon apparatchiks like the clowns who wanted to hire people based on whether they believed in Roe v Wade or not may all be true, in whole or in part--but that still doesn't make any of them "mercenaries." We can spend all day arguing about percentages and job descriptions, and political affiliations and loyalties, and who is doing a good job and who isn't. But it's all irrelevant to the question: the vast majority of contractors aren't merks.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 24, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

"Mercenaries" is an emotionally loaded word. It implies that one cares nothing about the conflict, just the paycheck. This is simply unfair.

Many contractors are in Iraq not because they somehow view it as easy money, but because they want to help. The division between contractors and volunteer soldiers (who get paid too) is increasingly blurry.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 24, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Mudge - you gotta stop posting better comments than mine while I am typing. Didn't you get the memo?

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 24, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Sorry RDP, I was reading the memo and hadn't faxed it over to 'Mudge yet.


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 24, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Memo? There was a memo? Why am I always out of the loop?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 24, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Mudge and mo, I am more inclined towards Boko's point of view, especially as clarified in his more recent posting. There appears to be a significant contingent of U.S. civilians who are paid to carry guns and to shoot people on our behalf without facing arrest and trial. That means that these contractors are empowered to act as a paramilitary force, but they do not fall under the purview of Iraqi civil/criminal law, nor are they under our Uniform Code of Military Justice, nor are they under our own criminal legal code (or at least, it doesn't seem to get applied). They are not within the military chain of command, nor do they take an oath to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution. Whether these are inherently lawless persons or not, we have created a situation in which the only applicable laws appear to be international law -- but they are U.S. citizens and we have asserted that international law and the international court system does not apply to U.S. citizens. It seems that the only laws that actually apply are the laws of public relations (no offense, Scottynuke).

The whole situation is deeply troubling. Whether these fellows consider themselves to be mercenaries is beside the point. We use them as mercenaries. When I look back at history (as a history buff, but not a serious historian), it seems that every time a great nation has gotten cheap and started using mercenaries instead of a standing army that answers to political leadership, that nation's greatness has not lasted too much longer. A few decades, at most.

Posted by: Tim | January 24, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Yellojkt and LTL-CA: thanks for bringing me up to date on the insurance costs. I'm years (nay decades) out of date!

I agree that employers would dish health insurance off to employees in an instant, given the chance. Mostly I fret about losing health insurance as a benefit. If it's going to happen anyway, please let it be soon so I have time to adjust before I retire.

Posted by: Fifty | January 24, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

From the many new handles I assumed the blog was linked to the home page - but I don't see it. However, I do see that someone either messed up the link to the Ignatius piece or is taking the title way too literally.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 24, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

The link is way way above the fold, following immediately after the offer of the full video presentation or transcript of the speech; attached, virtually, to the top story.

Posted by: Yoki | January 24, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Some of Mr Bush stuff sounded good about health care and things , but not about the war it needs to be over our Man and Woman need to come home .This is a civil war we should not be there , I,f we had a civil war we would not let any one come and tell us what to do .And that is how that Country is . As long as thay dont,t come hear and if thay do then we need to take care of them .There is way to much mayham in the world . I have Grandchildren and Sons and Daughters Just like the other Mother,s and Father,s and Gradparents our Children should live and love and not be in wars life is hard . And this war is unexceptable . I am not against the armed forces just against this war . I love my country .Thank you Marlis Kelleher ,

Posted by: Marlis Kelleher | January 24, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Stating that mercenaries are contractors isn't the same as saying contractors are mercenaries. It's the painting with such a thick brush that annoys me.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 24, 2007 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Anon 1.04's scenario seems too pat to me. Leave Iraq and all those things happen just like clockwork. And yes, US does depend on ME oil -- oil is fungible, and if ME were to disappear then everybody would be bidding for oil from Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador.

Posted by: LTL-CA | January 24, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Whoops - we are linked! Welcome new posters!

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 24, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Yoki! Man - you do have to be fast around here.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 24, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Thanks RD. It helps to have a 'situational memory.' I don't think my recall is photographic, but when I do remember something I've read, I know exactly where on the page it was. Makes it easy to look up quotations, and now I've found another use for it!

Posted by: Yoki | January 24, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse


(1) I'm not talking about all contractors, and I don't have a problem with the large majority (I am guessing) of contractors who provide civilian-type skills or military analysis and advice. However, once a contractor is allowed to strap on a gun and to use it without an expectation of a legal inquiry into every bullet fired, then that person becomes a mercenary, whether he is actually amoral or not. Similarly, if the contractor is permitted to command and order actions by regular troops.

(2) I put in the part about transient greatness in order to account for England (you will recall that they used Hessian mercenaries against us in the Revolution)-- England is still here, but there is no Empire (I didn't say that the loss of greatness is NECESSARILY a bad thing). In Greek, Roman, Persian history, nations turned to contracted civilian military forces almost as a necessary way-station on the road to collapse and dissolution. It's not clear whether despotic imperialism anticipated or resulted from such practices.

Posted by: Tim | January 24, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and Kerry won't run again in '08.

I'm shocked, I tell you. Flabbergasted.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 24, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Tim said what I said, but with much more eloquence. I did specify "security contractors" in my post, so I figured anyone reading would see that I am not referring to the truck drivers, power plant engineers, hydrologists, etc. I was referring to the people who carry guns and shoot people for pay and are not in the military of either warring country.

Posted by: Gomer | January 24, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

My mercenary comment was prompted by someone asking if the contractors killed in the recent helicopter crash would be counted a US casualities (no) and General Petreaus' testimony.
The following is taken from the provided link. Sorry it's so old I'm sure the situation has improved.

There are now 20,000 such mercenaries in Iraq. The number is expected to grow soon to 30,000, and they can be paid as much as $1,500 a day. They are there, in the words of the Washington Post, to perform tasks "too messy, too dull and too questionable" for the military itself to undertake. The Pentagon says it does not have enough specially trained troops or Iraqi policemen to perform guard duties. Senator John Warner, chairman of the Senate armed services committee, describes the private military recruits as "our silent partner". Rather than using highly trained US soldiers for the task, the security for L Paul Bremer, the chief US envoy in Iraq, is - astonishingly - provided by a private "security" firm. The "green zone" in Baghdad, where the US command is bunkered down, is also guarded by private soldiers, as are 15 or so other US regional headquarters.

Because the 20,000 guards theoretically perform only security duties, which in many cases escalate into deadly gunfights, the US authorities can claim that they are not, in fact, mercenaries. But the relevant international convention defines a mercenary as someone who "is specially recruited locally or abroad in order to fight in an armed conflict.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 24, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

On the other side, I assume that would include members of the various militias, would it not? They are certainly not accountable to law...

Posted by: Slyness | January 24, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

gomer - my bad - i just saw "contractors" not "security contractors" - my uncle was NOT a security contractor nor did he carry a weapon - he was part of an elite munitions team that disabled bombs (i'm not too sure about exactly WHAT he did b/c most of it was classified) but i know he wasn't in uniform nor did he carry a weapon. ironically, he was killed by a roadside bomb.

my definition of mercenary mainly focused on the part of the definition "with little regard for ideological, national, or political considerations." my uncle had great regard for our nation hence went back to help as a contractor as he could no longer serve in the military (aren't you forced to retire after so many years in the military? i'm not sure how that works...)

sorry - umbrage was misguided...

Posted by: mo | January 24, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Have you noticed that the juicy debates get going about now each day, 3:30'ish? Is it some kind of post-lunch rush of energy, or is Mudge winding down towards bus-time and finding that he needs something to keep himself occcupied? Or does it just take that long to get thoroughly off-topic and then find a new topic with some meat on it?

I gots your questions, but I gots no answers.

Posted by: Tim | January 24, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

The militias don't receive an actual, taxable paycheck, so they aren't mercs.

They're Freedom Fighters!

Posted by: Gomer | January 24, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Bush's words have no value because his actions often belie his words. And when your words mean nothing, where does that leave you?

I'm counting the days until he's gone. He has been our "long national nightmare."

Posted by: Eleanor Rogers | January 24, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

and to add to your point gomer (good point, sorry i misread it) - doesn't bush want to add a large amount of "civilian volunteer troops"?

Posted by: mo | January 24, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

No sweat, mo. I likes ya!

It takes me until 3:30 to read to the bottom of the boodle, then I'm so full of cr@p to spew that I might have started a juicer or two. Sorry,







Posted by: Gomer | January 24, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Mo | I accept your umbrage as well directed. I should have been more particular.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 24, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Dang, we are a civil crew!

Posted by: Tim | January 24, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

well - when i'm wrong i admit i'm wrong... i'm special that way... *grin*

Posted by: mo | January 24, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

And we plan to keep it up!

Posted by: Slyness | January 24, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

It's easier for me.

I am never wrong.

Posted by: Gomer | January 24, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Tim, I'm with you--all questions and no answers. To clarify my comment about anon 1:04: I don't buy that everything will happen, and in that order. But there surely will be consequences to our leaving Iraq. I don't like what happens when we stay; I don't like what happens when we don't. Like I said, no answers.

BTW, I prefer to read the SOTU--don't like the "stand up, sit down, clap, clap, clap." Watched the NHL Skills Competition instead.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 24, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Except for that one time when I was a little wrongish.

But I'm definitely never the wrongest.

Posted by: Gomer | January 24, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Roland was definitely a mercenary:

Roland was a warrior from the land of the midnight sun
With his Thompson gun for hire, fighting to be done
The deal was made in Denmark on a dark and stormy day
So he set out for Biafra to join the bloody fray

Posted by: yellojkt | January 24, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I thought I was wrong once. That was my only mistake.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 24, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

We could call the Iraq adventure the "war of unintended consequences" although that probably applies to all wars ...

Posted by: Fifty | January 24, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

So much for juicy debate.

Try this: Dick Cheney; evil puppetmaster, or misunderstood voice for moderation within the neocon White House? Discuss.

I have sometimes wondered -- why is Dick so universally believed to be evil? He seems to work so far behind the scences that it would be hard to specifically identify something evil that he has done. It seems to be an aura that he simply exudes. Like methane. Now Robert Novak, there's a guy who actually looks like he drinks the blood of babies and skins puppies alive for entertainment. I suppose he actually collects China patterns or something sissy like that, however.

Posted by: Tim | January 24, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse



Posted by: Tim | January 24, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Hey, now, I resent the implication that methane is evil. Far as I have read, it is a clean-burning fuel that can be made from cow patties and garbage and is a far more efficient greenhouse gas than our measly CO2 could ever be. Also, it performs the basic funtions of water on Saturn's moon Titan. That said, I think it's Cheney's sidemouth manner of speaking that people distrust. That, and the fact that he shoots his friends in the face and doesn't tell anyone about it. That's pretty evil.

Posted by: Gomer | January 24, 2007 4:29 PM | Report abuse

SciTim, your Robert Novak description has me laughing.

Follow up on an old story that has been discussed here before the Arar story. Apparently the efforts of the Canadian government to have Arar cleared by the US watch list are not being appreciated.

Posted by: dmd | January 24, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

The one thing I thought different about last night's speech, was that it was the first time I have ever watched and listened to George Bush that he didn't have a stupid smirk on his face the entire time. I wonder who finally convinced him that the smirk just makes it look like he is laughing at us all.

I know, he was laughing at us all.....

Posted by: Steve | January 24, 2007 4:37 PM | Report abuse

"...misunderstood voice for moderation within the neocon White House?"

Tim, that's a good one. What an imagination.

Carl Bernstein is currently having a chat about Howard Hunt, and is really using some very tough language about Bush and Iraq--

"In the current administration we have seen from the President down--especially Vice President Cheney, Attorney General Gonzales, Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld--a willingness to ignore the great constitutional history of the United States --to suspend, really, the many of the constitutional guarantees that have made us a nation apart, with real freedoms unknown elsewhere, unrestricted by short-term political objectives of our leaders."

"Then there are the Geneva conventions--Who would have dreamed that, in our lifetime, our leaders would permit their flagrant abuse, would authorize torture, "renditions" to foreign-torture chambers, suspension of habeas corpus, illegal surveillance of our own citizens...."

"But perhaps worst, has been the lying and mendacity of the president and his men and women--in the reasons they cited for going to war, their conduct of the war, their attempts to smear their political opponents."

Nixon and his men lied and abused the constitution to horrible effect, but they were stopped.

The Bush Administration--especially its top officials named above and others familiar to most Americans--was not stopped, and has done far greater damage.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 24, 2007 4:43 PM | Report abuse

In my opinion, people are ignoring the most earth-shatteringly important part of the President's speech... Baby Einstein! Seriously, that's the biggest corporate plug I've ever seen in a SotU address.

Posted by: Jeff | January 24, 2007 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Is/Was Cheney evil back in his Nixon Days? Or is/was Cheney only evil when he was standing nest to Rumsfeld? Or are/were they an secret axis of evil?

See Tim, I'll disscuss anything.

Posted by: dr | January 24, 2007 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Can you call someone evil if they never show any emotion? Or would that be the height of evil?

Posted by: Tangent | January 24, 2007 4:53 PM | Report abuse

SCC Next

Sigh. If only I could spell.

Posted by: dr | January 24, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

I'll give him an A+ on Environment and an F- on Iraq.

Posted by: Reinahrd Schumann | January 24, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Reinhard, Reinhard, Reinhard. You are thinking too small (although I am having trouble getting my brain around the concept of Bush as having done well for the Earth's or the U.S.'s environment). Bush has opposed taking action on the environment, and he has opposed even implementing technologies that would tell us more about global climate change, as part of a long-term strategeric operation to grasp the short hairs (eewwww!) of our Islamic foes/allies/whatever. Those desert countries all have coastlines and many of them are quite low-lying. Sea-level rise will rewrite the geography, drown many of the most cranky persons -- and relocate the borders of international waters. 50 years from now, the off-shore drilling rights will belong to the nation who rules the waters. That will be us and our nuke-powered Navy.

Who says George Bush is interested only in short-term political gain? That sucker is making a play for a Nebuchadnezzar-like place in world history. Millennia from now, the descendants of today's Arab and Persian peoples will speak of the wicked King George who drove their ancestors from their homeland and drowned their fertile Edenic valleys (poetic license) beneath the harsh and salty waters of the sea.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 24, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

The classical Dungeons and Dragons definition of evil is based on motivation. Good is done for the betterment of all humanity (or elfdom or orckind, or whatever). Evil is done solely for the gain of the individual.

Independent of good or evil, one can be lawful or chaotic. Ends and means distinctions. Superman is lawful good; Jack Bauer is chaotic good. Donald Trump is lawful evil; The Joker is chaotic evil.

Since much of what Cheney advocates directly or indirectly benefits him and his cronies in the resources extraction industries at the expense of the environment, the taxpayer, and the lives of American soldiers, he could easily be classified as evil. Whether he is chaotic or lawful depends on what importance you attach to the ideals of the Constitution.

Geekdom and politics shouldn't be mixed this way.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 24, 2007 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Every once in a while the CBC does good. They are have arrested someone in the case of 2 murders in Mississippi from long long ago because of an upcoming CBC documentary.

Posted by: dr | January 24, 2007 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Tim, you are advancing the messianic complex school of thought concerning Dubya's motivation. I subscribe to the MoDo father conflict theory. Not that they are mutually exclusive.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 24, 2007 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Gee, Tim, did you and I both see the same History Channel program? In many instances, Middle East history is conveyed orally and I am sure this current war and saga will be added to their annals--storytelling or otherwise.:

The Crusades had a very deep impact on Arab society. On one hand, they were seen as a barbarian incursion. And stories of those crusades are still told in cafes and families, as if they happened yesterday -- which I think is quite striking. And so whenever the West has invaded that region again, people say it's another crusade. Which is why, after the awful events of 9/11 when the American President, inadvertently said, one assumes, that we now have to wage a crusade to stop this, a shiver went down the collective spine of the Islamic world, because they felt they knew what was coming.

(Good catch, Storyteller Tim!)

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2007 5:18 PM | Report abuse

I think Bernstein said pretty much the same things or sentiments or opinions in Uvalde, Texas. (One of the three best speakers I heard in 2006--Vidal and Dowd included.)


Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2007 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Yello, would you not also agree that evil can be done simply for its own sake, "for fun," as well as "the gain of the individual"? I'm thinking of serial killers, Manson, etc. (Granted, I'm defining "gain" as material gain, not non-material twisted amusement.)

On a separate matter (or maybe not), I have trouble with the notion that Bush is somehow worried about his future "legacy," how history will view him, etc. I don't think he is thinking that far ahead, and/or the notion that he would put his own reputation and "legacy" ahead of his near-term goals (read: delusions, but you see what I mean). I see him as thoroughly committed to whatever squirrely notions are running around in his brain, a la the MoDo thesis as well as idealogical claptrap. A great thinker and futurist he ain't. He's just trying to get his a$$ out of the sling he put himself in.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 24, 2007 5:27 PM | Report abuse


Not to get all epistimilogical, but your examples of evil are also valid since these people place the pleasure they receive from their acts as being more important than the safety and lives of their victims.

A role playing game popular with adolescents is a poor rubrik for philosophy, but it has its uses.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 24, 2007 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to all new bloggers to the Achenblog.

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2007 5:41 PM | Report abuse


While its clear that Dubya knows he is in a hole and is is just trying to get out, the question is why did he start digging in the first place. I say he wanted to prove that he was made of sterner stuff than his daddy. Since so many of his cronies had their own motives, they encouraged him on this Oedipal campaign that we find ourselves quagmired in.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 24, 2007 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Yello, would you not also agree that evil can be done simply for its own sake, "for fun," as well as "the gain of the individual"?

...your examples of evil are also valid since these people place the pleasure they receive from their acts as being more important than the safety and lives of their victims.

Two words: Abu Ghraib.

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2007 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I favor this theory.
Gotta admit it answers a whole lotta questions.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 24, 2007 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Since when has The Onion abandoned humor and gone in for straight reporting, Padouk? I'm impressed.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 24, 2007 5:53 PM | Report abuse

I wish it were that simple, rd. It does pass Occam's Razor.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 24, 2007 5:54 PM | Report abuse

I started to watch the speech but found the clapping over and over even though it might be only a phrase to be just too annoying, also I was annoyed at President Bush's attitude. He presented himself with so much confidence with had no basis in what the facts are. If he been a bit humble I might have wondered that maybe, just maybe, he could find a way to salvage his presidency and the shambles he has made of governing this country.
Ruth Beazer

Posted by: Ruth Beazer | January 24, 2007 5:58 PM | Report abuse

I started to watch the speech but found the clapping over and over even though it might be only a phrase to be just too annoying, also I was annoyed at President Bush's attitude. He presented himself with so much confidence with had no basis in what the facts are. If he been a bit humble I might have wondered that maybe, just maybe, he could find a way to salvage his presidency and the shambles he has made of governing this country.
Ruth Beazer

Posted by: Ruth Beazer | January 24, 2007 5:59 PM | Report abuse

At what point is someone going to challenge W's continued asinine assertions that he doesn't govern based upon poll numbers. I don't personally know of anyone who is suggesting that he do so. I do believe though that he should be reminded that we live in a democracy and that political leaders should weigh heavily in their decision making the expressed will of the governed. In earlier world democracies, because of the slow speed and general unrealiabilty of communication systems, it was often difficult to accurately discern the will and desires of the citizenry. That is obviously no longer the case. Therefore, in asserting that he will not be dictated to or influenced by poll numbers, W is taking the position that once elected to the Presidency, one is entitled to do completely as he or she wishes even when entirely credible evidence of overwhelming opposition to his doing so is presented to him. If he is not to allow himself to be dictated to or even influenced by evidence of the will of the citizens who elected him, then by whom or by what is he being influenced? If the answer is by what little gray matter resides between his ears, then God help us all.

Posted by: ToledoGlen | January 24, 2007 6:07 PM | Report abuse

dr, great link, although you were perhaps a little harsh on the CBC, or maybe I just have a soft spot for them - the history of media here was one of my favorite subjects at university - both interesting and at times comical.

Posted by: dmd | January 24, 2007 6:15 PM | Report abuse

When a politician bucks the prevailing view of the electorate and I agree with him, he's showing leadership. When I disagree, she's perverting the will of the people.

Posted by: BadBoko999 | January 24, 2007 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Dr's valiant efforts notwithstanding, this blog remains depressingly on-topic.

(Thanks Loomis for the palindromes etc.)

To top it off, a walking achenblog of a friend wants to discuss recent politics, too.

I am going into pointy-sciency withdrawal. Somebody pass me the methane!

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 24, 2007 6:42 PM | Report abuse

My husband and I once spent weeks trying to outdo each other with palindromes. But we always came back the one that made us laugh the hardest. Picture yourself introducing two men to each other:

Bob, Otto. Otto, Bob.

Then there's this one you'll find on our fridge door that my daughter found on a website. It takes the old classic a little further:

A man, a plan, a cat, a ham, a yak, a yam, a hat, a canal--Panama!

But my son sent me this link yesterday to this one written by Dimitri Martin called "Dammit I'm Mad"...

Posted by: TBG | January 24, 2007 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod will this fulfill your methane quotient for the day - and its good for the environment! Could be better though.

Posted by: dmd | January 24, 2007 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I didn't watch the SOTU address. I was too busy splitting my time betwee Jeremiah Johnson and Napoleon Dynamite, the latter in Spanish just for s&g's. Considering all of the papers that have been excerpted of late on the topic of the impact of global warming, Presidente Arbusto's proposal to limit greenhouse gas emissions is laughable. I can't help but think that a global effort such as the Kyoto Protocol should have been undertaken a generation ago. Of course, the biosphere will recover. In the mean time, however, environmental policy and energy policy needs to be planned and implemented along the lines of a decades long plan, as opposed to the reactive policies of the past and present. Cartographers can't even keep up with the changes in the Greenland coastline due to the ice sheet melting and the island is, in parts, 400 miles or more above the Arctic Circle.

Posted by: jack | January 24, 2007 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Its an important story, and I await the documentary eagerly. I do hope that there will be some US national coverage on this. Its an important part of history.

Continuing my efforts to go off topic, dmd, the history of the cbc is interesting. I do come down hard on them because I am from the west. Too often CBC forgets that there is life in Canada outside of Toronto and points east. They might get back in my good books once curling season begins if they improve curling coverage over last year.

Which reminds me, its hot and heavy this curling season. The World University games are currently being held. John Shuster's Team USA will play Canada in the men's semifinals Thursday.

Posted by: dr | January 24, 2007 7:34 PM | Report abuse

BTW, 'Mudge, you've hit the nail on the head regarding the propensity of the administration to thumb their collective nose at the Constitution. As always, well done, young lad.

Posted by: jack | January 24, 2007 7:37 PM | Report abuse

dr, glad you are here have you seen the Scotts ad for curling - done at a grocery store - quite funny. Yes I guess if you are from the west it would seem out of touch. Honestly we love westerners!

Re curling could be worse CTV could be doing the coverage :-)

Posted by: dmd | January 24, 2007 7:43 PM | Report abuse

The same old Terrorist Boggyman scare tactics seem to be the reason that we need more than 4 years to turn things around.

Posted by: Betty Dudas | January 24, 2007 7:55 PM | Report abuse

The Pre's speech?.....? Bush didn't give a speech. He read what his writers prepared for him. Do you think that anybody with any sense what let him GIVE a speech?
If he did, it would have to go down in history as the most............ and the..............ever gave. IMHO, of course.

Posted by: Ron Richot | January 24, 2007 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Cheney on Iraq:

Not going perfectly but lots of progress.


Posted by: bill everything | January 24, 2007 8:14 PM | Report abuse

As always, the President's domestic proposals were elitist and his war policy was a continuation of the idiocy.

But he's much more appealing, now that he's left off with the smirking and strutting. Humbler is better.

Posted by: Jerome | January 24, 2007 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Since palindromes are revered here...did you catch the palindrome in Bush's State of the Union speech?

About midway into it, Bush uttered this memorable phrase:

Drat Saddam, a mad dastard!

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2007 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, you're on a roll here!

What did the Latino man say when you asked if you'd just heard a cow?

"Si, 'moo,' Loomis."

Posted by: TBG | January 24, 2007 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Wikipedia on palindromes:

Favorite palindromic artist: Yma Sumac

Posted by: bill everything | January 24, 2007 8:55 PM | Report abuse

I just read RD's post from 5:47 and the Onion link that was in it. Reminds me of the prank from "Real Genius" where they replaced Ken's filling with a speaker so that he was hearing God's voice telling him to stop touching himself.

Arbusto... No lo toca.

Posted by: Gomer | January 24, 2007 9:07 PM | Report abuse

What did the cow say when it spotted LindaLoo whilst it spoke a crossword clue for "dregs"?

"See Loomis as I moo 'lees.'"

God, that is awful.

Posted by: bill everything | January 24, 2007 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Or is it "Arbusto... no tocaste?"

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 24, 2007 9:22 PM | Report abuse

World's longest palindrome:

[The author of the site *loves* palindromes, and has a good sense of humor to boot: ". . . it was the best of times, it was the tseb of times, it was a palindromic time."]

Posted by: Tom fan | January 24, 2007 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Bush's Baby Einstein Gaffe
The president lionizes a mountebank.
I love the last sentence.
"There's a sucker born every minute, but only a select few get to be president of the United States."

Posted by: Boko999 | January 24, 2007 9:31 PM | Report abuse

I was going for "don't touch it," but you're probably right. Mi Spanglish no es el mas bueno.

Posted by: Gomer | January 24, 2007 9:39 PM | Report abuse

I prefer anagrams.

"'Twas I delivered the State of the Union"

"--What? Onion thief, treat lives dusted. "

I could make a better anagram, but I couldn't resist using "Onion Thief.".

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 24, 2007 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Me neither. I'm not even sure that'd be accurate Spanish idiom, but Arbusto would probably understand.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 24, 2007 9:52 PM | Report abuse


Joel's Napierville, Illinois, iceberg lettuce dilemma:
Dad, "Alas a salad ad!"

Dissolute thespians:
Rot can rob a born actor.

Theological conundrum:
Dogma: I am God.

Vote today on non-binding Senate subcommittee resolution on the Iraq war:

Doom an evil deed, liven a mood.

*laughing at your palindrome, TBG*

On the news tonight, more, but sketchy, update on the fire nd related issues from Jessie Degollado at our local ABC affiliate station:

The hotel voucher program is indeed running low on money. Families who are now in hotels have been notified that the remaining budget will now cover only those who have the most critical health needs. [How will this be determined?] (The earliest appointment I can get with an allergist is Feb. 6, I discovered this morning.)

So far, 900 hotel stays have been provided to 800 people in a number of local motels, depleting the majority of the $150,000 budgeted by the Bexar County for temporary housing for those who need to escape the heavy smoke. Those who will no longer be sheltered by the county at motels are being given three options: stay with friends or family, go back to your home if your condition can be medically managed, or head to the group shelter [WHAT group shelter?].

The last portion I didn't hear at all well or didn't understand at all, being involved in the kitchen--and my past hour of Googling has yielded little except phone numbers where I can call tomorrow for followup: something to the effect that there is a $23 million damage [or eligibility] threshold...blah, blah...federal and state money...blah, blah...disaster [or emergency] declaration.

Posted by: Loomis | January 24, 2007 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who actually watched the moron's speech with the intent that they would actually hear something worth listening to should be in the entourage - the one that includes Cheney and Leiberman and Condi and Rove and Frist etc. - the entourage that is pushed out thru the big green doors of the Green zone - naked - to fend for themselves - the excrement from their fear the grease that propels them to their violent deaths.

If you dont get it by now you dont deserve to live either...................

Posted by: John Post | January 24, 2007 10:26 PM | Report abuse

I was tempted to join into the discussion of the various uses of the term "mercenary", but I think that ground's been covered fairly well.

For general info purposes (I think that a post by LTL-CA asked about the death toll among contractors), I've done some poking about to come up with my best guess about some numbers. Since this is a compilation of numerous sources of (in my estimation) varying degrees of reliability, I won't bother sourcing the numbers, and you should therefore take them with a few heaping tablespoonsful of salt!

I think the the total U.S. gov't-funded force in Iraq is about a quarter of a million, of whom roughly 60% (140,000 or so) are active-duty military. The great majority of the rest (100,000 or so) are civilian contractors of one sort or another, and only about 5,000-15,000 are other direct-hire government employees (State Department, various intelligence / crime-fighting agencies, academics & scientists, etc.). Another 2,000 - 8,000 Americans are unconnected to U.S. government activities in any direct way (missionaries, more academics & scientists, tourists [!!! Yeah, it's estimated that a few hundred are wandering around at any given time!!], some extremely hardy capitalists, and the odd aid worker or two), and even a few pissed-off souls who want to be there just to bask in the unhappiness.

Of the actual government contractors, there have been 700-800 deaths, & 5-10 times that many serious injuries. (This compares to a little shy of 3100 combat-related deaths of U.S. military members since March 2003).

It doesn't seem easy to pin down, but roughly 20-25% of the U.S. contractors are engaged in security work of some sort, carrying weapons & what-not. About 35-45% are involved in logistics work (moving crap from place to place), and most of the rest are actually trying to accomplish some work with the aid & protection of the logistics & security folks.

Again, don't put too much faith in these numbers, but they were the best I could come up with on short notice.

Posted by: Bob S. | January 24, 2007 10:27 PM | Report abuse

C'mon, the SotU is at this point simply raw material/fodder for YouTube mash ups.


Posted by: bc | January 24, 2007 11:00 PM | Report abuse

With an eye toward the actual subject of the Kit, I think that the esteemed Joel (if he was a woman, I'd never dream of being so condescending as to refer to him by first name alone, but, what the heck!) is pulling our collective legs here. I don't believe for one second that he has thought that the State of the Union address has served any useful purpose in his lifetime. And (my lifetime covers roughly the same timespan as his, although certainly less productively spent!), I certainly feel that way.

Posted by: Bob S. | January 24, 2007 11:03 PM | Report abuse

the 10:26 PM post is a great example of gender name discrimination.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | January 24, 2007 11:19 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | January 24, 2007 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Lurk... Yeah, it's pretty glaring, but... Condoleeza (and the shortened "Condi") is SO unique that it's gonna be used. I'm pretty sure that LaGuardia was regularly referred to by some variation of his first name, and I definitely remember that Agnew, Brezhnev, and Rockefeller were all regularly referenced by first-name shorthand.

I'm pretty sure that the "gender theory" for this has been adequately explored and found (for the most part) to be lacking, due to the inexhaustible supply of counterexamples. It's rather more subtle, I fear.

Posted by: Bob S. | January 24, 2007 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE simple explanations, especially those that are based upon the unthinking ignorance of, well, you know... everyone but me!

I'm just not entirely sure that it really flies here. But we've managed to get several days worth of discussion out of it!

Posted by: Bob S. | January 24, 2007 11:40 PM | Report abuse

I thought L.A. Lurker was being ironic and pointing out one of the, shall we say, less consequential problems with the 10:26 post. So as not to have to mention the excrement and dying parts again, please?

Posted by: Wheezy | January 24, 2007 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and by the (pedantic) way, for those who wish to get real traditional about formal address & all:

"The Honorable (first name _ last name), United States Senate" is the proper way to handle the address. "Senator (last name)" is sufficient for a salutation, or a reference in informal writing (you know, casual stuff like newspapers!).

Posted by: Bob S. | January 24, 2007 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Wheezy - I'm pretty certain that was the case! I thought that it was rather charitable of LAL to restrict the analysis to that aspect of the post. That's why I did likewise!

: )

Posted by: Bob S. | January 24, 2007 11:52 PM | Report abuse

The only sufficiently unique man's name in the news I can think of is "Scooter."

What other male first names instantly bring the subject to mind, other than tabloid fodder du jour?

Posted by: Fifty | January 24, 2007 11:56 PM | Report abuse

I couldn't say anything today on this boodle, so I updated my blog instead to share some videos of puppy training, dog friends, and a pic of Wilbrod.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | January 24, 2007 11:59 PM | Report abuse


Shaq. Prince. Rudy. Arsenio. Liberace. Elvis. Ah-nold. Curmudgeon.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 25, 2007 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Sadly (and tiredly), I find that the excrement from my fear is the grease that propels me to my bed. G'nite, all!

Posted by: Bob S. | January 25, 2007 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, you're sneaking two by me with Liberace and Ah-nold, (last name and Austrian pronunciation), but ya got me on the others. I didn't realize until you pointed it out that The Artist Formerly Known's first name was Prince.

Except, who is Rudy?

Posted by: Fifty | January 25, 2007 12:54 AM | Report abuse

yes, the rest of the 10:26 post is very worth ignoring. it bothers me, though, that some people seem inclined to try to explain away an underlying problem with the exceptions to the rule. i agree that the example of hillary clinton is different, but the 10:26 clearly refers to condoleeza rice by first name because she is a woman. if we've gotten used to the sound of that "interesting" first name in the press, it's still because she's a she. if this is informal discourse on a blog, then why are the men referred to by their last names?

maybe the reason this particular example strikes me is because once upon a time a classmate had her as an academic advisor. to me she is dr or prof rice.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | January 25, 2007 1:42 AM | Report abuse

L.A. lurker, I agree with your core point. I meant to say that you can hardly find examples of famous men referred to by first name only, while it's quite common with women.

Posted by: Fifty | January 25, 2007 2:04 AM | Report abuse

By following these suggestions, an estate auction can be not only a place of great bargains but also enjoyment and fun. Listening to and watching others can also prove beneficial. More often than not, they will furnish you with clues about a great many items. The more you learn, the better your buying habits become and you learn more each time you go to an auction. Having worked a lot of sales in my time, I can tell you that an auction is a wonderful place to meet people, find good deals, make connections and learn a lot about buying, selling and

Posted by: william tanoe | January 25, 2007 2:34 AM | Report abuse


How sad my first post of the day has to be a request to zap the spam at 2:34.

And of course, once that's gone there's no reason to keep my post up.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2007 3:54 AM | Report abuse

Here's something worth discussing, especially here...

For the science, obviously.


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2007 4:15 AM | Report abuse

All I can say is that the President was an idiot before his speech and he is still an idiot after his speech. That basic fact means that most of what he says can be tied to idiocy and incompetence. He has driven this country to an all time low standing in the world and ensured that whoever takes over after him will probably spend half of their term trying to re-establish some assemblance of respect for our country again and will still inherit a foreign policy nightmare that will be very difficult to correct. As far as domestic policy goes, we need to get back to thinking about the middle class again and focus on building up the economy and doing something about the tremendous debt we have built up.

Posted by: G Russ | January 25, 2007 6:39 AM | Report abuse

I think someone's mining the Boodle for story ideas again... *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2007 7:28 AM | Report abuse

Scottynuke - Yeah, I see some of that with my son and his friends. He is pushing to take certain courses not because he really needs them, but to keep up with the pack.

Very pretty young lady in the slideshow. Makes me kinda wish I were that age again- but a whole lot better looking.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 25, 2007 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Hey RDP! *waving*

Sometimes peer pressure's a GOOD thing! :-)

And yes, the Post had a most photogenic subject for the photos accompanying the article.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2007 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Ooooooh, Fisher's got a live one today!!!


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2007 8:20 AM | Report abuse

I'll get out the zapper later (it takes a while to assemble) but first am trying to get to an Obama talk. Or should I say Barack.

Posted by: Achenbach | January 25, 2007 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Morning, Scotty!

I'm shaking my head at Fisher's piece. But then, we are talking about Cuccinelli.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 25, 2007 8:29 AM | Report abuse

I'm wondering (and please take no umbrage here... well maybe just a teeny bit) if anyone would have mentioned the attractiveness of the subject of that AP/IB/Cambridge article if he had been male.

She scored 2nd among 11,000 students worldwide and you could only point out that she is cute. Hmph. You didn't even mention her HUNDRED-DOLLAR gift certificate!

Posted by: TBG | January 25, 2007 8:30 AM | Report abuse

More wackiness in the Post today. Parents objecting to their kids seeing An Inconvenient Truth--and the school is listening...

"No you will not teach or show that propagandist Al Gore video to my child, blaming our nation -- the greatest nation ever to exist on this planet -- for global warming," Hardiman wrote in an e-mail to the Federal Way School Board.

The 43-year-old computer consultant is an evangelical Christian who says he believes that a warming planet is "one of the signs" of Jesus Christ's imminent return for Judgment Day.

Posted by: TBG | January 25, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

No umbrage, TBG, good point. I did say "photogenic," however, and both RDP and I mentioned the benefits of having advanced classes be a point of positive contention. Who knows, there are many Boodlers of the female persuasion who might have commented on a high-acheiving male student.

Raysmom, some people seem to get elected solely on the basis of how high they score on the blowhard scale... *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2007 8:42 AM | Report abuse

One of the most insightful comments I have ever read about the complex relationship between a grieving family and a reporter was posted here:

"When I was an intern in Key West in 1982, a local couple died in a plane crash. My editors said: Go knock on their door and talk to the family members. I did. The children of the deceased were there. They said go away. They had the reaction you'd expect: Get out of here. But someone in the house said, wait, let him in. I wound up sitting there in the living room for about 2 hours and learned about this fascinating couple, and I hope I did justice to them in the story the next day.

Posted by: Achenbach | January 4, 2006 01:20 PM"

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 25, 2007 8:42 AM | Report abuse

I really miss Cassandra and Error. This place just isn't the same without them.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | January 25, 2007 8:44 AM | Report abuse

TBG, that article sounds like a case where "in loco parentis" applies in an entirely different way... *rolling my eyes*

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2007 8:46 AM | Report abuse

TBG - True, I wouldn't have mentioned it if the subject were male. I mentioned it as part of a particularly lame running gag about me and redheads. And I tried to make it clear that what I was feeling was not innapropriate attraction, but the longing for one's own youth characteristic of a pathetic middle-aged man.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 25, 2007 8:48 AM | Report abuse

TBG - I grew up within a stone's throw of Federal Way. And after reading that article I kinda wish I had thrown more stones.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 25, 2007 8:50 AM | Report abuse

RD.. I sure hope your wife is a redhead (I almost wrote readhead... ha!). I know that you and S'nuke have the best intentions (and I did notice that you were pining for your youth--not the young redhead/readhead).

In other news, here's what I posted on Fisher's blog about Ken Cuccinelli's kooky bill...

And silly me.. I thought Republicans were all for getting government out of our faces.

One of the kindest people we met when my father died last year was the reporter from the Post who called to write Dad's obituary. He spent an hour each with my sister and me. It was better than therapy.

Posted by: TBG | January 25, 2007 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Several grafs from NYT Select columnist Bob Herbert's op-ed today (on topic):

I wanted to hear him [President Bush] talk about the suffering of the soldiers he has put in harm's way, and the plight of the residents of New Orleans. I wanted to hear him express a little in the way of sorrow for the many thousands who have died unnecessarily on his watch. I wanted to see him slip the surly bonds of narcissism and at least acknowledge the human wreckage that is the sum and substance of his sustained folly.

But this is a president who runs when empathy calls. While others are monitoring the casualty lists, he's off to the gym. At least Lyndon Johnson had the decency to agonize over the losses he unleashed in Vietnam.

It's time for thoughtful citizens to turn off their TVs and step into the public arena. Protest. Attend meetings. Circulate petitions. Run for office. I suspect the public right now is way ahead of the politicians when it comes to ideas about creating a more peaceful, more equitable, more intelligent society.

The candidates for the most part are listening to their handlers and gurus and fat-cat contributors, which is the antithesis of democracy. It's not easy for ordinary men and women to be heard above that self-serving din, but it can be done.

Voters should listen to Dwight Eisenhower, who said in 1954:

"Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage."

Posted by: Loomis | January 25, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

I was watching the local news last night and saw something that literally knocked the wind out of me. By now we have all heard about the Blackhawk helicopter that went down with 12 soldiers this past weekend. Well, the local news in Austin reported on the pilot last night, a National Guardsman named Capt. Sean Lyerly. That was when the fist hit me, right in the stomach. Since I was in the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M, I knew that this war would eventually have a personal effect on me, but I never thought it would take my roommate of three years. The really sad thing is that Sean and I had lost touch with each other over the past six years or so. I had no idea that he lived in Pflugerville, TX, where I have been living for the past seven years. I had always meant to reconnect, but figured I had time. I didn't know he was still in the Guard, that he was flying helicopters (he was a horticulture major!), or that he married and had a son, now three years old. Now I have the awkward situation in which I must make contact with a woman who doesn't know me from Adam to request the honor of being a pallbearer (I'm taking suggestions on how to do that).

Moral of the story:

Don't wait. Tell whoever it is you are thinking about whatever it is that you are thinking RIGHT NOW. There may not be a tomorrow.

Posted by: Gomer | January 25, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

S'nuke and Raysmom, this is all about the reporter's approach, isn't it? Joel or Marc or newbie knocks on the door, expresses sympathy, and asks respectfully about the deceased and gets a great human interest story.

The local paper has a reporter whose beat is obituaries. She goes out a week or so after a death and talks with the family. Her stuff is dynamite: stories about ordinary folks who do extraordinary things quietly in the course of their daily lives.

Posted by: Slyness | January 25, 2007 9:04 AM | Report abuse

No TBG - my wife is a brunette. Yet both my high school and college girlfriends were redheads.
Which I still claim was, like, entirely unintentional.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 25, 2007 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Oh Gomer - such a sad story and such good advice.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 25, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Gomer... I'm so sorry. Just call, introduce yourself and ask. You'll be amazed at the reception. She'll love you right away because you're a part of who Sean was. Go for it. And let us know how you're doing.

Slyness... that is the key. I'd much rather read stories about the interesting people in my community and life. That's what Matt Schudel and and his coworkers at the Post do well every day. I often turn to the obituary page first because some of the best stories in the paper are there and I get to meet so many interesting people.

Posted by: TBG | January 25, 2007 9:13 AM | Report abuse


Straightforward and polite is the way to go. At the very least you'll be thanked for the thought.


Speaking as a former obit editor, it's absolutely in the approach of the reporter. Rude boobs should never have their questions answered, period.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

More things I've learned about RD Padouk today"
1: He only watched the Flintstones because of Wilma.
2. We know where he stands on the Ginger/Maryann question.
3. He, too, is irresistably drawn to The One We Dare Not Speak Of, Jessica Rabbit.


Posted by: bc | January 25, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

bc... RD would probably be a big fan of I Love Lucy if it weren't in black and white.

Posted by: TBG | January 25, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Please, please tell me it doesn't go as far as what's her face...teenage screen queen. Somebody Lohan

Posted by: LostInThought | January 25, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Scottynuke, thanks for the link to the article about sheep. Scientifically interesting, and it pretty much confirms the general level of concern that Wilbrod has raised regarding PETA, its antics, its tactics, and its philosophy.

Regarding your 9:23 -- it wouldn't be a very appropriate blog handle, but "Rude Boobs" would be an excellent name for a certain sort of rock band.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 25, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Oh, Gomer, I do feel for you. It's such an awful feeling, realizing things were left unsaid or not done. I'm so sorry for your loss. As to what to say to the widow--I think you just did a very good job of it right here.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 25, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse


I think "Rude Moogs" would be even better...

LostInThought, I don't think anyone even knows what Lohan's hair color is anymore.


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I found the link to the Dick Cheney hunting game which justs cracks me up.

Enjoy it as much as I do

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 25, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Lohan is too scary, skinny, and sad.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 25, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Gomer, I'm sorry I posted that inappropriately frivolous 9:25.

I'm sorry to hear about your friend.

I agree with TBG and others that if you approach the family in a straightforward and polite manner, they will appreciate it.
Your own advice here is good - if you have something to say, say it now.


Posted by: bc | January 25, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Liz Kelly. Excpet I hear someone else is already secretly in love with her.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 25, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

SCC: Except. 'k I'm done.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 25, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Gomer, I'm sorry to hear about your friend.

In all honesty, the war in Iraq has remained an intellectual abstraction for me. I am not aware of a personal impact, no one that I know or love has been hurt, injured, or killed. I suspect that this is true of a lot of Americans, and it strikes me as a major problem. War is a lot easier to countenance when it is seemingly "victimless." There are relatively small patches of America that bear the brunt quite heavily, and then huge swaths that know nothing of it. This is why I'm in favor of a draft, so that the burden can be borne more evenly.

I am aware that the military leadership doesn't want a draft, because they don't want to deal with whiny and contrarian conscripts. I would certainly have been one of those contrarians; I like to fancy myself as resistant to mindlessly taking orders. That's probably just vanity. The prospect of getting shot by an enemy can sober-up a soldier rather quickly, I'd think. The military leadership didn't want to deal with blacks in the military either, and they gave a wide range of "professional" reasons for why a mixed-race military would be a disaster. What do you know, it was all a load of hooey. My impression is that, like most people, the military can be creative and effective in dealing with what they have been given, but they are lost when it comes to deciding what it is that they need or want.

Posted by: Tim | January 25, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I think of Lindsay Lohan as the female Todd Marinovich.


Posted by: bc | January 25, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

bc, funny you should mention The One We Dare Not Speak Of. When I first saw the picture of the young lady who instigated this line of discussion, that's who I thought of.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 25, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Raysmom: I'm not funny, I'm just drawn that way.


Posted by: bc | January 25, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the support, my strangerfriends of the ether.

Tim- I thought I had no personal connection to this war either, until I saw the news last night. Now I find out from my 1st period class that one of my kids' mom was his commanding officer. Small world.

Posted by: Gomer | January 25, 2007 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Gomer, my deepest sympathies, I am sure the family will be touched that you are reaching out now.

Posted by: dmd | January 25, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Sorry to hear about your friend, Gomer. I hope that you're able to find peace quickly.

You've been busy this a.m., S'nuke. Interesting link to the sheep story. It was kind of like an interview with a politician in the sense that the article didn't mention what the scientist thinks the biological basis is for the behaviour in question. Lots of questions with nary a direct answer, except that the sheep are euthanised for the purposes of tissue analysis. The folks shooting such vitriol through e-mail ought to think twice.

TBG: I'm not surprised that some would object to the content of An Inconvenient Truth. I hardly think that the second coming needs a warm-up act.

Posted by: jack | January 25, 2007 10:28 AM | Report abuse

jack, I am standing and applauding your last sentence at 10:28. Bravo.


Posted by: bc | January 25, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

A sub-millimeter wavelength People Zapper:,,3-2565312,00.html

I need one. That would be helpful to clear myself a sretch of beach

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | January 25, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Cassandra, where are you? I'm getting a little worried.

Gomer, sorry to hear about your friend. I never know what to say to ppeople who grieve, so I take the safe road and say nothing. I could never be a reporter.

I turn 42 today. So far nothing special except I want to mention that my dear mom gave me a book as a present. I'll never read it, but my mom is a very clever woman and she well knows that the book, in itself, is not the gift. It weighs almost 10 pounds and "The Complete Works of Winnie the Pooh" by AA Milne will not only teach my kids to read with expression, but I will thoroughly enjoy listening to the stories of that silly bear as I fall asleep at night. That's the gift.

Posted by: Pat | January 25, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Someone beat me to the AP/IB face-off in the WaPo this morning. The IB program is a huge long-term commitment, while AP tests are more cafeteria style. Lots of kids that could take the English AP course are not prepared for the Calc or Chemistry tests. AP programs are more easily tailored to the individual. The AP program does confer various titles on kids that do well on multiple tests. No cash prizes though.

The Baby Einstein plug in the SOTU perplexed me until I realized that Dubya was honoring her for selling a completely useless program to the general public by preying on their fears and anxieties. It was sheer admiration from one grifter to another.

In high school, I had a teacher that made constant leering jokes about me wanting to make red-headed babies with a very attractive fellow red-head in the class. The mechanics of recessive genes make for very awkward assumptions sometimes. I had no hope of having red-headed children, but someone somewhere in my progeny may be startled someday.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 25, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Gomer, I'm sorry to hear of your friend's death, and thanks for the sound advice.

Pat, many happy returns! Your mother gave a wonderful gift indeed. Here's a sky report: more lovely, high, clear blue. There is bright sunshine today. This sounds unremarkable, but a few days of gloom sharpened my appreciation for sun. Also, my driveway is still mostly ice, and any warming trend is good. Got our water back, too.

I also miss Cassandra. Say howdy if you're lurking! The same goes for others who haven't posted in a while.

I admit, if the AP/IB story photo had been of a handsome young man, I might not have mentioned it but I would have noticed.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 25, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse


Any time a press report includes casualties from Iraq, such as the Post's roll of the fallen today, I'm far too likely to see someone from N.H. or someone from the unit I used to serve in. Not Gomer's level of personal impact, but it still affects me.


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Shieking, it would seem some people have a different definition of harmless than I do.

Posted by: dmd | January 25, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

*Hugs* to Scotty.

Posted by: dmd | January 25, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

RD Padouk, re. redheads
I once voted for the candidate of the Communist Party of Canada-Marxist Leninist but I have a few excuses:
1-She knocked on my door.
2-She had green eyes and gorgeous red hair.
3-She smelled great
4-It was the Spring and I was 19.

She lost. The Liberal won locally and Joe Clark was elected in a minority government nationally. Joe Who ?

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | January 25, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Gomer, I'm sorry to hear about your friend and I'm sorry that my going for the quick one liner offended Mo who lost her uncle in this lousy Iraq conflict.
However I have noticed that the general negative reaction in the States didn't manifest until it became clear it wasn't going well.
The media reveling in "Shock and Awe" after the TV graphics worthy of the World Wrestling Federation in the run up to this fiasco completely disregarded the fact that there were people being killed under that bombardment. Their dead weren't even deemed worthy of being counted according to the US military and still when a non-governmental agency estimates the number of Iraqis deaths their findings are disparaged and if it's a US organization it's accused of being unpatriotic.
I realize that most of the boodlers know all this and that even the ones that originally supported the effort didn't do so for base motives. I'm not sure whether I'm trying to explain my own apparent insensitivity or why other nationals' sympathy for your losses seems rather muted.
The following is from a man who counts himself a friend of the United States, as I do.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 25, 2007 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I have a lot of trouble with the fact that I feel smug about how the war is going. I don't want this feeling, but it is the feeling of, "I told you so." I (and many others more vocal than I) told anybody who would listen that this was a bad idea from the get-go. It shouldn't have surprised me that people of our ilk were then denigrated as terrorist appeasers and traitors right up until the last election. It shouldn't surprise me because even with a national election, and both houses of Congress against him, Fearless Leader still won't listen to reason. Calling us the traitors is just so bass-ackward. I didn't get us into an unnecessary, deadly, divisive war.

You did, Mr. Shrub.

Posted by: Gomer | January 25, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

There you go again Gomer with that *fearless leader*

I can't help but laugh....Thanks

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 25, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

I feel your (lack of) pain, Shriek. I'd have voted for her, too, under the same circumstances. Hell, I've have donated money to her campaign. Why, she could even have been (horrors!) a Republican.

There are no depths below which a man will not sink for a great-smelling gorgeous green-eyed redhead. Leave it those wily commies to come up with a candidate like that. The b@st@rds!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 25, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Green eyes, red hair, thats all I need for political success, slight hair colouring change and I am a shoe in!!

I am guessing there is more involved right? :-)

Posted by: dmd | January 25, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

There's the whole selling your soul issue. If you can get past that, go for it.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 25, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

dmd, GWB got elected on less than green eyes and red hair. With those and your other most excellent qualifications, you are a far superior candidate.

'cept that whole Canadian thing, of course...

Posted by: byoolin | January 25, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

byoolin, I would run up here of course, selling your soul is much cheaper up here!

Did anyone see this, another Hollywood star going into rehab - Isaih Washington.

Posted by: dmd | January 25, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Ha, you guys are reminding me of how I ended up working on the Anderson campaign in '80 (my senior year of high schol).

Tall blue-eyed blonde, her parents came to the US from Sweden. Was a heckuva volleyball player too, IIRC.


Posted by: bc | January 25, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

boko - the sad truth is that i was against this war from the beginning - go after the b@st@rds in iraq that committed the 9/11 crimes (and only those that did - not some arbitrary "enemy" with dark skin and a funny name) but innocent iraqis? absolutely no! i never thought we should have gone into iraq and don't think we should stay - that article made me sad about the prospect, tho, of pulling out and leaving them there with nothing but violence and a shattered country - bush promised them liberty - not this! and i feel guilty b/c even tho i did not believe in the war, and do not believe in killing innocent people caught in the unforunate position of being in a warzone - the pain of death and loss did not hit me until it happened TO me...

Posted by: mo | January 25, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Apparently there is another guy, Duncan Hunter, interested in the GOP nomination for the next Presidential.
Now is there any kind of limit on the number of players in that game ? Like 12 per side or something. Geez. That will be a crowded field.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | January 25, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Is K.C. Summers a secret Achenblog reader?

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 25, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

All this talk of redheads puts me in mind of the "ginger kids" episode of South Park. Not be offensive, (after such a phrase ALWAYS expect to be offended) but redheads without eyebrows have always kind of wierded me out.

Actually, anyone without eyebrows wierds me out. Grandma, you wierd me out.

Posted by: Gomer | January 25, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

HAH gomer - i had shaved off my eyebrows in college - of course, i was in NYU tisch school of the arts and i had bright blue hair and wore combat boots, so it was ok... yeah, it looked weird but they grew back! *grin* besides, in art school you wanna/get to look as weird as possible! *snort*

Posted by: mo | January 25, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry to her about your friend. As the war drags on, the degrees of separation will become shorter and shorter.

I'm an unlucky person to live next to. In Gulf War I, my next door neighbor was a USAF weatherman and got sent to the Persian Gulf.

My current next door neighbor left Jan 3 for 6 months in Balad, north of Baghdad. I hope he returns, he is a great guy.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 25, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Little boys pining after little red haired girls has been the bane of my existence.

Posted by: Snoopy999 | January 25, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

nah Gomer, I think the traitor moniker fits just fine....

Posted by: Tee hee | January 25, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Robert Novak thinks that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are rude "unmodified Democrats."
I gotta go change my undies.

Posted by: Leaky999 | January 25, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

More blather from the idiot. I found a fascinating program on the Documentary Channel about artists who survived (or didn't) the Nazi death camps. But Sen. Webb was good-- "predictable-- and predicted-- chaos" right on!!

Posted by: rfmilly | January 25, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Robert Novaks thinks??? Who knew???


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Yellojkt, that teacher sounds like a sleazeball.

Blond can be dominant to redhair, but such a combo usually shows up as faint ginger or auburn blond, unlikely in your case unless you've been dyeing your hair.

Mmm, now I'm tempted to blog about redhead genetics... M1CR gene, lethal yellow mice, how to identify a fellow redhead gene carrier, and all that. No Jessica Rabbit, alas.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 25, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

scotty, I think that was only a figure of speech, not to be taken literally. I read the Novak piece, too, and had smoke coming out of my ears. Apparently in NovakWorld, failure to kowtow to the commander-in-chief is rude. A polite letter saying "thanks but no thanks" is apparently considered rude.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 25, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Snoopy999, you're funny. Can we go play in the snow sometime?

Posted by: Wilbrodog | January 25, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

That teacher was a hippie. I had him for Honors Philosophy. His pantheon of great thinkers included Jim Morrison. One day he turned off the lights and we listened to a Doors album while he read the lyrics out loud. There was also a day when one of the other students brought in secret ingredient brownies for the class. Good times, good times.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 25, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse


Did you hear about the kid last year who brought in some special brownies and left them in the teacher's lounge? A bunch of teachers ended up in the hospital thinking they'd been poisoned. God, I wish I worked there.

Posted by: Gomer | January 25, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse


(1) They took a LOT of pictures of that same young woman, and they seem to be cycling through them on the WaPo home page. Whenever I refresh the page to see if they have updated the headlines/stories, a new picture of her shows up. Admittedly, she photographs well. But surely there were other people that they interviewed, maybe even took a picture or two? She appears to have a wedding ring in the last picture that I saw (and women say that men are not observant).

(2) I read that Novak column. It was obvious throughout the column that Novak was critical of SOMEbody; but I couldn't tell who. In his summation, it appears that he is critical of Bush and is stating that the refusal that the Democratic leadership delivered to Bush is exactly what Bush should expect as a result of his own "leadership." The headline implied that he wanted to rebuke the Democrats, but the content of the column never really got around to substantiating the headline. It was not an example of clear writing. I think Novak was lost and adrift without his usual targeting. The "unmodified Democrat" jape was a reference to the silliness of hyphenating various descriptions for excessive specificity. He tried to make it sound like an insult, like "unreconstructed Nazi", but it was actually more like a Kerry-esque botched joke.

(3) Hooray! In my last home-page refresh, it showed an older boy helping a younger boy with reading a book.

Posted by: Tim | January 25, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Marc Fisher reports: A Senate committee has killed Cuccinelli's bill. (The one prohibiting reporters from talking to grieving family members).

Posted by: Raysmom | January 25, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

SciTim, thanks for mentioning that piece as another example of PETA's idiocy.

Jeez, the scientist isn't trying to give those gay rams psychotherapy, electroshock, etc to solve their sexuality issues or any of a number of ridiculous issues.

The simple point is no farmer wants to pay big bucks for a nice ram that won't do his basic job.

If they can establish how it occurs, they can breed rams who will pass their genes on. And the gay rams can be happy remaining merely sensitive friends to the ewes instead of being pressured to be who they aren't. They can join Fernindad the bull in munching flowers happily in big fields owned by little old ladies, etc.

Bisexuality in mice has been identified as a genetic insensitivity to male repelling pheromone, causing the mice to see other males the same as females. But that doesn't explain pure homosexuality, which is obviously in the brain, not the nose... we think.

There is many a slip on the path from female to male during gestation. Homosexuality might look unpromising, but it can sometimes occur with other gender development problems.

If a gay ram with gender identity dysmorpha could be identified, that would be helpful. But to identify that, you'd have to identify normal gay male ram behavior.

Gender identity dysmorpha research could be helpful. Very few people want to feel like they're stuck in the wrong gender all the time, even if they're normally attracted to the opposite sex. It's just miserable and can cause suicidal urges.

So I say, the world should lay off the bloke. He's looking at what nature has provided.
Female cows routinely indulge in bisexual behavior as part of their nature.
Stallions indulge in bachelor homosexuality before they mature, in order to learn the proper technique for 1/2 ton animals on spindly legs to successfuly mate.

It's thought a lot of sex-based aggression in horses are caused by deprivation sex role modelling by being reared away from a herd.
Research on this would improve animal husbandry by pointing out the key ingredients for a happy, healthy and manageable stallion.

And we're not touching the whole issue of dogs, who routinely indulge in pseudocopulation almost like they're handshakes.

Anyway, here's an article on crayfish of all critters.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 25, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Nothing's new anymore, eversince 2003, the day our soldiers went to war, a war that seems endless, and hastily begun, one that only God can stop, with our prayers and sufferings of our own, which are the very soldiers'lost lives that multiplies by the day,to 3000 plus!Jesus, who is the world's savior, took 5000 plus blows and wounds to his death.Our poor soldiers took evrything-- not only a limb, a leg, or two,but their their youth, dreams, and happiness into limbo, all rolled into one-LOVE for their country, and for their friends outside their own land.If I were the US president, with all the present circumstances we are all in, I would look like an old, haggard man mourning for all those brave young heroes, unable to face the nation due to tears swelling my eyes, flowing down to the recesses of my broken heart, only scribbling my deep sympathy to the bereaved families, and praying vigils day by day, for them, until the good news has been attained, with the soldiers safe return.
These are my comments from the speech last tuesday
1-Affordable insurance for the low-income peolpe can never be affordable, because their basic necessities are unaffordable themselves, like housing,heat, car insurance,education, education.
Exemptions on poor people, and seniors must be implemented.Health personnel motto is to save lives and promote health.Business has no business into that, which pertains to life and death.Just like going to war, it is the soldiers' duty to safeguard people and their lives from the enemy, and we, the civilians can only pray
for their protection and success, guided by the Almighty.
2- on social security, why pay for it, when retirement comes, only one of the spouses' ss benefits is used , and not to exceed beyong $1600.00.This is unfair, as there are many(high-ranking officials in gov't and private sector)who are getting beyond the beyond, in benefits.I, for one , will decide with my spouse, who will use their ss benefit.We are working very hard most of our lives, not to mention the rigors of motherhood, and working mom, at the same time.It will benefit the family more, if at the start, only one of the spouse will pay for their ss, and be able to use that money to meet their needs, in raising the family, like food, clothes, or education purposes.
3-strict enforcement of immigration laws, to the illegal aliens.Their problems should not become our problems.Send them back and let their leaders answer to their needs or problems.We have enough of our own, already.(charity begins at home)therefore, the borders must be guarded closely, by the army, as terrorrists are striking everywhere they can)
4-regarding the private contractors who are in harms way, executed by the terrorists-there is no need to hire them, since this is wartime.the military has their own engineering brigades, all over.SECURITY is the main cause of civilian deaths.The army is the head controller in a takes top and sole responsibility in all activities in the war zone.That is why there is the ARMED SERVICES.During peacetime, it is the gov't officials who control the nation, but not during war, in the war zone, particularly Iraq and Afghanistan.They are learned and skilled in battlework, let them be, with our prayers, AGAIN, and ALWAYS.That reminds us of the famous generals who won the last world war-the late Gen.Douglas MacArthur, and Gens.Powell and Korsakoff, from the desert storm war, in 1992.
4-increased diplomatic ties and cooperation from the muslim countries is needed, especially securing the border points.Air patrols(not helicopters)must be a regular daily routine, like 24 hours a day.not MP,
or humvee patrols, which have proved very risky ,expensive and fatal (did they not do air raids in the europe war,in London, Paris?)This requires bomb shelters, in Iraq.where else?
5-business activities must be minimized in Iraq cities, curfews must be enforced, to easily detect terrorist activities.Uniforms with color codes for the civilians must be enforced, too, to tighten security, and easily distinguish the enemy.Only those authorized must be up all day.Women and children must stay at home, doing home-schooling, and people worship all at one time, together, with tight security.Security must be controlled only by the Army, not police, or civilians.
Businesses have strict rules,hours and identification(hospitals and restaurants).Chldren must stay in one place-at home, only.This is wartime, not peacetime.The rule after curfew is-SHOOT TO KILL.Therefore, only the ARMY is moving, 243 hrs. a day.This way, the civilians know who is who, and what goes on, 24 hrs.a day, and the terrorists cannot bother them, since thay are in one place with tight security and strict surveillance all the time. This is the time for the modren gadgets tombe used- for security reasons.Everyone should have a radio battery-operated, and cellphone, for easy communication, and in emergency.
6-since the speech, many troops have died again.Let us seek divine intervention in this war.Let us also seek repentance and penance from the God who created us for good, and reach out for the needy and the sick, esp the wounded soldiers.....let us spend our days helping one another achieve PEACE, that which our heroes died for, and did not live to witness it, instead of bickering and complaining.
6-let us elect statespeople who work for a better America, a peaceful world, PROLIFE officials, who will die to themselves, and follow the natural laws of man, embodied in the bill of rights and the american constitution, surrendering to the power of the almighty above us, at all times, Amen.
thanks for this very democratic exercise, brethren.God bless America, and the whole world< esp.Iraq and Afghanistan!

Posted by: normajun01 | January 25, 2007 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Happy birthday, Pat, and many more happy ones! Ah, 42. The year I married my husband. The year my body fell apart. No connection between the two, that I know of.

Gomer, I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. I know - slightly - two young men who are currently serving in Iraq. The selfish old men who start wars are the ones who should fight them.

Cassandra, come home! You too, Error! We miss you!

No sky report from me today, as it is obliterated by big, fluffy snowflakes. We made it to the mountains for the weekend and will see how well the heat works tonight. It's supposed to the 8 degrees F tonight, with winds up to 50 mph.

Posted by: Slyness | January 25, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Snowing here. That means tonight's rush hour will feature bouts of mass panic, terror (make that "terra"), and fenderbenders. How much snow? you might ask? It doesn't matter. In Washington there is no statistical correlation between the actual amount of snow and the level of panic and madness on the streets. A bad case of dandruff can cause it.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 25, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday Pat!!! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I susprised a friend with my reaction to his explaination of Robert Novak appearing on CNN with a black smear on his forehead.
I misheard when he said it was Ash Wednesday, I figured Novak had been to a midweek resin fest and the knife had slipped.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 25, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I, for one, was very happy to see snowflakes as I was jogging at lunch...

On a treadmill inside.


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

My wife just called. The waterheater blew. Oh well, nothing that money can't fix.

Posted by: Pat | January 25, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Snow has stopped. But all local stores are now sold out of milk, bread, and toilet paper.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 25, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

*faxin' Pat a very large hot water bottle so he can take some home*


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Pat I was just about to wish you a Happy birthday when I saw your note, have a good day anyways.

Posted by: dmd | January 25, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Sky/landscape report from 9:30 AM this morning (sorta). Temperature: 9 degrees farenheit.

A landscape of snow, divided by a street that is grey where tire tracks show. The trees are all tipped with grey-white-- ice on the top of trees. Below, the trunks and branches gradually emerge as brown against the snow. The evergreen pines also are frosted with ice and some snow. The houses are well set back from the street, and driveways have an encrusting of snow since they were last shovelled. Smoke or steam rises from cars running their motors to warm up. The sky is light blue, seemingly cloudless, yet a few stray snowflakes come down.

Going past the river landing, you can see a snow-coated driveway going down to a river half-frozen, with the unfrozen water running dark and deep. The other side is Canada. The tall trees lining the Canadian bank are eeriely silver with iced tops.

Now the sky has become grey and snow may come again; I just ran my dog outside, black against the snow. The snow is like very dry, fine sand, except where it is extremely crusted. I cannot make snowballs; whenever I apply pressure, the snow crumbles into very hard, fine bits, almost like tiny sleet.

Temperature: 19 degrees farenheit.

I have to find chunks of snow for my dog to chase and "fetch". My dog runs, selecting bushes to pee on, and sniffing at deer tracks, which I note because their hooves make twin crescents in the snow.

A day ago, I noticed some tracks of something like a bunny, or perhaps a small cat or large squirrel-- I can't see the specific paw prints, just holes in the snow, running, then spaced out, and then close together-- and terminating suddenly in the middle of an opening, with no animal nor any clue in sight. A crow, owl, or eagle swooped down on this furry snack, I assume.

A cold snap is on its way. I am buying a ski mask, since I hate my glasses fogging up, and in "TRUE cold" they may frost over instantly and the metal stick to my cheeks something like that boy's tongue and the post in "A Christmas Story." No thanks.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 25, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse


I sent an email to a bunch of college buddies last night informing them of my roommates untimely demise. I have started to receive replies, almost all of them stating that they had intended to keep in touch too, but haven't. Suffice to say, I feel better about not knowing my friend lived around the corner.

Also, I wanted to sincerely thank those of you who responded to my post with such kind words. It is strange how a community can form around a simple online column (no offense intended, Joel). I don't even know you people as human beings, yet you have helped me immeasurably today. Consider yourselves kings (and queens) among men (and women).

Posted by: Gomer | January 25, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I'm very jealous, but take some comfort in knowing I'm using a ski mask, too, when I jog outside.

Gomer, you're very welcome. I hope your efforts bring comfort to you and your friend's family.


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

That is funny boko. I now have a picture of Novak & friends around a glowing red burner in my head.

Mudge, It is a Capital thing this panic for three flakes of snow. It's the same here in Ottawa, and it snows every other day from January to the end of March. Idiots driving on slick "all season" tires are a big part of it. As well as the nice folks from warm climates posted here by their government. You have to keep your cool with them, since they have diplomatic immunity they can shoot at you if you ram them on purpose when they drive at 10km/h with their emergency blinkers on.

Posted by: Shrieking Denizen | January 25, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, that crayfish article is interesting. I wonder if it will be noticed by the same people who were angry about the sheep? I have noted that amateur evolutionary theorists (like my cousins) like to speculate upon the evolutionary forces for or against homosexuality in humans; I am not sure whether this is begun as an attack on the logical consistency of evolutionary theory, or as an attack on the notion of homosexuality being an inherent trait. Probably both.

Anyway, the crayfish researchers propose an evolutionary advantage for a lineage in which nondominant males submit to pseudo-copulation rather than unproductive aggression that kills one of the males and may wound and weaken the survivor. However, it also could be interpreted (if one chooses to see a direct link between the behavior of arthropods and humans) as an evolutionary advantage to submission to rape. Thus, we get back into a dispute between a camp that would see it as a genetic predispostion to weakness (and perversion!) that should be stamped out vs. a camp that would see it as a productive adaptation that encourages social structures that benefit the whole species. And, of course, a third camp that says that they're just crayfish, after all.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 25, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse


The fourth camp just reaches for the gumbo mix, of course...


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

The idea that morality is found in natural behavior was popular in the 1800's-- that the pelican bled to give youngsters food, etc.

Mark Twain wickedly skewed this perspective in his essay on the Ichneumon wasp where a little girl narrates excitedly to her mother about how good the wasp is to inject, paralyze a caterpillar to keep it alive so the eggs which she lays in it will have fresh food when they hatch and grow.

Likewise, I doubt people would gain much moral understanding of themselves from bedbugs' mating habits (let's just say "buggery" is very apt.).

I think people WANT explanations for homosexuality, more than "it happens."

I think there is considerable societal pressure against pure homosexuality, but strong positive pressure for bisexuality (or being on "the down low"); or heterosexuality.

Societies change their norms too often for us to say that there is an absolute evolutionary trend, since evolution works on thousands of years or more, but if we look at it from an antropological perspective, we can see most societies have some room for those who don't fit in the normal sexual mold. Whether the attitude is good or not varies a lot.

I think there is a positive evolutionary pressure in humans for human males to get along and form more complex social relationships. That's all I would say about the subject of homosexual behavior.

It may be that as we evolved, language and other ritualized body language displays are in the process of replacing more primitive and crude signals to enhance male bonding. Think of the back-slap verus a mount, etc.

Then we could say that homosexual rape, in fact, is highly repulsive because it indicates primitive male behaviors that have been negatively selected for in our species as a drive towards higher sociality.

It is also worth noting that in many societies, men will rape female relatives of lower-status men that have offended them, knowing the men will react emotionally as though they were the one raped themselves (The psychological impact of the loss of power and the threat to their family can be highly devasting).

Therefore, rape in all its dimensions can indeed be used to force other men to submit.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 25, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Happy birthday, Pat!!! The big four two. Ah, to be younger again.

I read the Novak column this a.m.. One has to admit that Mr. Novak has a pair of brass ones. At least the Honourable Speaker had the courtesy of replying. I might be wrong, but every time the Democratic opposition wanted something important from the administration the reply was very often in the negative and communicated by something or someone other than a direct message from the President. IIRC, wasn't Mr. Novak somewhat complicitous in the Plame gig??? That's not just rude, but, in most cases, criminally so.

Bon chance to all of you in DC metro who have to deal with the snow. The sky broke this morning to reveal a Carolina Blue lining.

Posted by: jack | January 25, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Not all adaptations are evolutionary advantages. Some are decidedly disadvantageous. Evidence for a physiological root to homosexuality seems to be popping up in many different species in recent times. Since this seems to not be limited to our own species, I propose that perhaps it is a limiting factor that animal life forms have evolved to control the size of their own populations. If there are too many breeders, there will be too few resources to support all of the offspring. Therefore, life limits the breeders. Simplistic and untouched by actual research or experimentation, but the idea seems to work. Any obvious flaws in my hypothesis?

Posted by: Gomer | January 25, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

gomer, my condolences.
pat, happy birthday.

cassandra, please come back and speak your blessings. maybe that will cure the mahna mahna toon cootie that is still rolling around in my head.

novak can go jump in a lake. i had the same reaction when i read that article. like the administration has been trying to work with the dems at all for the last 6 years? like they didn't already ignore the recommendations of the iraq study group? under the circumstances i would say that the democrats are being incredibly civil.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | January 25, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I just realized what I wrote could cause umbrage among the easily offended. (Sigh).

I'm merely trying to explain why bisexual behavior in fact is not the norm in human males, being replaced by various signals (and language), rather than to say that homosexual or bisexual behavior is an evolutionary hold-over.

I personally think it's just one of those things that happens, just like deafness happens without it necessarily meaning I'm a throwback to an era where ears didn't exist.

There is a notion that there is always the highest level of variance and environmental impact in the most recently evolved behaviors-- such as language, brain size, math skills, etc.

Sexual behavior seems so open to change and variation, that it's reasonable to think that this is also still evolving as the human brain continues to evolve.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 25, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I used to know a redhead (with no eyebrows *shiver*) whose name was Ginger.

Her folks were jerks for that.

Posted by: Gomer | January 25, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Just finished reading this piece over at Rolling Stone and must say that its given me quite a bit to think about:

Why Gore Should Run

I'm still cypherin' my $0.02 to add to it and have to get my butt back to work, but trust me... well worth the read.

Posted by: martooni | January 25, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I become just as excited as any school kid gets when significant amounts of snowfall is predicted. I still get a thrill from sledding, but my days are numbered as my kids get older and I'll run out of an excuse to go to the sledding slopes.

I'm growing up to be but a bbig kid. I think it's this toy computer I play with all day that's doing it to me.

Posted by: Pat | January 25, 2007 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Gomer, fertility decreases in females due to stress, so you're correct on physiological mechanisms to overcrowding.

Female mice will re-absorb their fetuses (miscarry) under crowding, and there are multiple instances where stress, malnutrition, etc. adversely affects fertility.

Not all traits within a population are positive. For instance, there's a species of endobacteria carried inside cells of fruitflies that can be transmitted to the next generation. This is called Wolbachia bacteria. There are strains of bacteria that are male-killing-- that is, they will destroy male embryos or make them develop as female so they can lay eggs and perpeutate the next generation.

Syphilis, among its many effects, has been known to make suffers megalomaniac and hypersexual. This boosts the spread of syphilis.

Schizophrenia seems to be caused by toxoplasmosis infection, but its effect on behavior seems to increase the chances of being eaten by a predator-- toxo-affected mice often walked right up to cats or otherwise lay themselves open to being chomped.

Rabies is also an famous zoonotic that causes abberrant behavior including biting that helps spread the disease.

But the research indicates that homosexuality may be genetic, with factors carried through the female line, perhaps boosting female fitness at the expense of male reproduction.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 25, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Pat, Pat, (waving arms madly) If at all possible, spend the extra money and get one of the water heaters that heats as water is used. No tank to keep hot. My sister has one, and for the price of gas or electricity, the savings make it worthwhile. They cost a lot more up front, but in a couple years they, you get that back in extra energy savings.

She got hers in the peak teen showering years, so she may have saved more than average, but she said they never ran out of hot water.

Posted by: dr | January 25, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

The sky in Greenbelt is uniform gray. No lumpiness, no uneven colors. The beam of sunlight that fell across the neighboring building just an hour ago... uh, just came back. Must be a hole in the clouds, somewhere. Snow was blowing horizontally a moment ago, now it seems to be swirling around, just past my window.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 25, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Where, Oh, Where, Have the Helotes Funnymen Gone, Where, Oh, Where Can They Be?

Where, oh, where has my litle dog gone?
Oh, where, oh where can he be?
With his ears cut short and his tail cut long,
Oh, where, oh where can he be?

John Largent is offering a variety of consumer goods at the website that poke good fun at Texas' efforts to put out the month-old mulch fire in Helotes, a neighboring community to San Antonio.

Largent, who claims not to live far from the supersized burning compost pile, calls his virtual enterprise the Helotes Mulch Fire Mega Mart Online Store and promises that all proceeds from online sales will be donated to the Helotes Volunteer Fire Department. Largent was interviewed earlier this week by Steve Linscomb, weekend meteorologist with the local NBC-alffiliate station, WOAI. [Have you ever wondered what meteors have to do with the weather?]

Problem is, folks around Helotes have never heard of John Largent.

The question of "Who is John Largent?"--much like a Daily Double on the quiz-and -game show "Jeopardy," stumped several people in Helotes when I posed the question to them.

The first person I asked was 31-year-old, tall, trim and athletic Jack Quipp, a captian and four-year veteran with the Helotes Fire Department, who was out in the sunlight this morning scrubbing a bright red fire truck with three other employees at the Helotes Fire Station, a short city block from Helotes City Hall.

Quipp (I asked him if people ever made quips him about his name. He winced and laughed.), said he's never heard of Largent and was unaware of the televised story that showcased Largent's enterprise and promised proceeds to his very own fire department. He was, however, thrilled at the prospect that his firefighting team might be the beneficiary of a charitable endeavor.

The Helotes Fire Department is comprised of eight full-time employees, seven part-time employees, five volunteers, with 12 new volunteers joining the crew very shortly. When the mulch fire began late on Dec. 25, the Helotes Fire Department responded that night and worked on extinguishing the blaze the following morning. On the third day of the fire, Quipp said that his firefighters worked with equipment to attempt to extingish the blaze by pulling the 80-foot high pile apart in small sections. When the fire department's efforts produced no results, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality took over the job.

The Bexar County Sheriff's Department has been questioning "persons of interest" since arson has been alleged and the site of the fire is in the county's jurisdiction, according to Tiffany Singleton, secretary to Helotes Chief of Police Morton Ault. [Sign on the Helotes Police Deaprtment glass-door entrance: No Smoking.]

In the meantime, the Helotes Fire Department has had its hands busy answering phones. The fire department has fielded approximately five calls a day--for a rough total of 125 calls, from people across the United States and as far away as Mexico who have ideas about how to put out the blaze. Calls from professional firefighters or from those representing firefighting productrs are transferred to the Fire Marshal Walton Daugherty in the station house, who then refers them to TCEQ, Quipp said.

Ernest Cruz, permit clerk at the Helotes City Hall where the city staff is small, hasn't heard of John Largent either. "We know Fire Chief Daugherty hasn't heard of Frank Largent," Cruz says. Individuals from Helotes and San Antonio have called Helotes City Hall attempting to purchase Largent's merchandise, Cruz explained, since he has taken those phone inquiries. Cruz, who saw Linscomb's broadcast on the local NBC news, said, "We've looked, but we can't find out who he [Largent] is."

Last night at 8:45 p.m., I sent an e-mail to Largent at the web address posted at seeking more information about his product line and requesting an interview. Largent has yet to respond to my attempt to contact him.

Meanwhile, at the TCEQ Strike Force trailers, some progress is being made. The faces within the trailer were as stony as those on Mt. Rushmore when I stepped briefly inside. Cameron Lopez, TCEQ environmental engineer in charge of the command post since it was established, called me "the Washington blogger." "The blogger," I countered.

I was trying to learn when TCEQ would be making its next statements to the press and to the public. Helotes Mayor Jon Allen and City Council will be holding a meeting for citizens on Monday night. Allen has also issued two press releases this week.

Lopez said all statements from TCEQ will be issued by Terry Clawson, the organization's finger-flickin' public information officer, who is working in Austin today.

This two-trailer compound might as well be called "The Big Chill" because the atmosphere inside is about as icy and frigid as the fire is smoky and hot.

On the schedule: important interview early tomorrow afternoon.
Holding back: One great joke.

Posted by: Loomis | January 25, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

SCC: captain

Posted by: Loomis | January 25, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I keep waiting for former Senator Santorum to opine that studying gay sheep will inevitably lead to sheep-man relations. Or that sheep-man relations have inevitably led to gay sheep.

Finally, is it sheep-man relations, or man-sheep relations?

Posted by: byoolin | January 25, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

My reply to Gomer was eaten by the ACHENHOG.

I was going to point out females (and males) suffer loss in fertility due to environmental stress, malnutrition, disease, etc. which helps limit populations without homosexual behavior in males.

I was going to say the evidence suggests that male homosexuality is carried in the female line, and the factors might be advantageous for females, but disfavor males, something like the concept of Dawkin's "selfish gene."

There is proof of such unfair evolutionary practices, especially in fruitflies. Not only do fruitflies have genetic mutations that affect sex and courtship behavior (fruity, fruitless, etc.) that are well studied... many strains carry an species of endobacteria (bacteria carried inside the cells) that can be male-killing.

Those endobacteria are passed through eggs, not sperm, so it is to their advantage if they can manipulate the female into having female-only eggs. These bacteria kill male eggs or cause them to develop as female. The interactions between genetics, mating, and various lines of wolbachia are under intensive study.

The more we learn about how our diseases can manipulate us, the more skeeved we will be. We already know that syphilis can cause megalomania and changes in sexual behavior without treatment that enhance the chances of the disease spreading.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 25, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, your reports of the Great Helotes Mulch Fire remind me of the writing style of another great Texan, Kinky Friedman.

Perhaps you should end each report with "I ankled it out of there and left the cats in charge."

Posted by: byoolin | January 25, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Sigh, looks like the AchenHOG spit the post back up after all. My apologies for repeating the information.

Byoolin, it's not about "relations"... it's about "man-on-ram action."

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 25, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod: founder of the North American Man-Ram Love Association.

Posted by: byoolin | January 25, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Gomer, So sorry to hear about your friend.

Pat, oh, no. On your birthday? Well Happy Birthday anyway. Everyone might not like it, but may there be enough snow to sled this evening. That is my birthday wish for you. If its going to snow, it might as well be useful.

Linda, its a crying shame you aren't being paid for reporting this story. Cause you should be.

Posted by: dr | January 25, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Something I sincerely never goes down in my biography, Byoolin.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 25, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Snow gone. Sky blue. Clouds fluffy and gray. It's a mighty variable day, today.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 25, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

In Australia, someone with red hair is likely to get a nickname like Bluey.

Posted by: LTL-CA | January 25, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse

What amazed me of the President's speech was how much was supported by John Burns on the Charlie Rose Show. I think that anyone who wants what to do in Iraq ought to pay attention to what John has learned from four and a half years in Iraq.

I can only conclude that our Senators have gone mad. They are hotter to rush out with out fact or reason than I could ever imagine.

Posted by: Gary Masters | January 25, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

What amazed me of the President's speech was how much was supported by John Burns on the Charlie Rose Show. I think that anyone who wants what to do in Iraq ought to pay attention to what John has learned from four and a half years in Iraq.

I can only conclude that our Senators have gone mad. They are hotter to rush out with out fact or reason than I could ever imagine.

Posted by: Gary Masters | January 25, 2007 4:49 PM | Report abuse

And now... lots of snow. Blowing all around. Big flakes. Sky darkening. Apocalypse upon us. Not the fire, but the ice. We're all gonna die, frozen like Uncle Walt! Blizzard conditions, burying us beneath the crispy water, our cries of woe slowly, gently muffled as the gelid layers grow ever deeper. Or, it may stop in a minute or two. Whatever.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 25, 2007 4:52 PM | Report abuse

"point where he said 'democrat' instead of 'democratic.' "

OK, he should say Democratic. But they should let him say "surge" without "correction."

One can always ask "Do you really mean they will not stay long?"

We all could be more polite.

Posted by: Gary Masters | January 25, 2007 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Gimme a minute, I'm looking up "gelid" in the dictionary...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 25, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse

hang in there, global warming will kick back in soon enough.

Posted by: L.A. lurker | January 25, 2007 5:04 PM | Report abuse

"Gelid" is a word used by folks who are familiar with methane in states other than gas (snow, oceans, etc.).

Icy, frosty, etc.


Posted by: bc | January 25, 2007 5:06 PM | Report abuse

I should have added, 'Good word, *Tim.'

Makes me think of extraterrestrial seas...


Posted by: bc | January 25, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

*wiping brow* Thanks, bc. For a minute I thought it was that thing they did with male horses to,"un-horse" them, as it were. After Wilbrod's numerous posts on gay rams (not that there's anything wrong with them), and all, well, I've been a little hypersensitive today. If you know what I mean.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 25, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Ummm, doesn't gelid just mean "danged cold and, like, frozen?" If not, then I have used the wrong word.

Mr. Masters, sir, the problem is that with both "Democrat Party" and "surge," Mr. Bush is playing the part of Humpty-Dumpty. He wants to redefine words to suit his preference, choosing them to mean something other than what they plainly mean, while avoiding the words that actually say plainly what he means but doesn't want to say. The practice of sending additional troops into a combat zone has a long and honorable history. It's called "reinforcements;" or, occasionally, "temporary reinforcements." The only purpose of introducing a new word is to mask the plain meaning, which is unpalatable to the American voters. The Democratic Party is called the Democratic Party because that is their own name. To call them otherwise would be like me calling you Gary Mast because I do not like the association between your last name and the practice of slavery. It's a silly and intentional misreading for the purpose of giving me the chance to rudely express power over you by trying to force a new name upon you. The verbal equivalent of crayfish pseudo-copulation.

Snow gone, again. Sky blue but darkening. This is getting ridiculous.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 25, 2007 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Tim wrote: "for the purpose of giving me the chance to rudely express power over you by trying to force a new name upon you."

Excellent point, Tim. And it's part and parcel of Arbusto's manipulative psyche when he's forever giving people nicknames--reporters, mainly, but also his staff and "Turd Blossom" Karl Rove. It's how Bush "invades your space."

Hmm. We need a professional shrink to work on this.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 25, 2007 5:17 PM | Report abuse

...And we all caught that pseudocopulation with the German PM on tape in the form of an aggressive massage.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 25, 2007 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Whenever I'm uncomfortable 'down there, I go sit on my Taurus. Old truck driver, you know.
Happy Birthday Pat!

Posted by: Boko999 | January 25, 2007 5:29 PM | Report abuse

I posted earlier in palindromic pseudonym: God's Selfless Dog. I have been blown away by others palindromes. Excellent.

I made up a new word the other day: blogsquabble. Know it, learn it, love it.

It's not often I find the entire huge boodle rewarding. It is today.

Posted by: Jumper | January 25, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

So much for Mr. Suddenly Bipartisan.

If he's going to speak out of both sides of his mouth, he should practice in front of a mirror for a while before trying it in public.

He's either the stupidest man on the planet or has balls the size of the state he calls home. He has repeatedly gone out of his way to badmouth Democrats, then says "let's be friends" while giving exagerated winks to his buddies -- yet he still has the nerve to act surprised when the Dems tell him to kiss their collective asses (pun intended). Where was Bipartisan Man when the Dems were locked out of any meaningful participation over the last 6 years?

Of course, this is the man who once said "There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again."

Posted by: martooni | January 25, 2007 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Birthday blessings to Pat. Snuggle up with the kidlings and have them read to you: great picture.

Hi Wilbrod: redheads metabolize drugs differently, especially anesthesia.

Sorry Gomer. Write down some memories, so she can review them later. The rush of funeral time is full of heartfelt felicities from others, but then the long winter sets in. Words can warm, again and again.

SOTU address: Students are reporting on on the energy component in class tomorrow. Last year's students reported on cellulosic ethanol, mentioned in the SOTU.

Friday will be bitter-cold here in DC Metro area. Take care.

Posted by: College Parkian | January 25, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Tim, are you sure you are not experiencing some kind of chinook? Maybe some sneaky Alberta person faxed you one, and has caught you unaware.

I am currenly becoming educated in many matters Potomac, and Virgina of the late 18th century. I've been reading a certain book and am learning a lot about those eastern mountains of yours.

Posted by: dr | January 25, 2007 6:01 PM | Report abuse

You can fax salmon, dr? Mind faxing a couple to my house?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 25, 2007 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Alas, Mudge, I suspect dr means the Chinook wind that howls down from the mountains and strips the freeze-dried flesh from your bones for wolves to feast upon.

Then again, maybe it's a fish.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 25, 2007 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon, re: your 5:17 post about the nicknames, add that Bush tolerates no nicknames for himself. It's Mr. President, if you please.

Seems ungracious for the Most Powerful Man on Earth to make demeaning nicknames for others and stand on formality for himself. And, hey, wasn't he going to restore dignity to the office?

Posted by: Fifty | January 25, 2007 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Chinooks are warm winds that melt Albertan's exteriors but leave their hearts frozen.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 25, 2007 6:29 PM | Report abuse

SCC: should have been "thaws" not "strips" the freeze-dried flesh.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 25, 2007 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Grover Norquists in mukluks.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 25, 2007 6:36 PM | Report abuse

I am so very sorry about your friend, Gomer. This war sucks.
Happy birthday Pat, I think your Mom's gift was exactly right. Hope you have hot water soon. I remember the last time it happened to me, I had bad cold, it was a Friday night, and I was looking forward to a long soak in the tub...

You are all so right about Bush and the nickname thing. It's infantile as well as presumptious to call someone by anything but their given name until or unless you are told to do so.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | January 25, 2007 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Happy birthday, Pat. What a gift-- SNOW!!!! Don't forget to romp in the snow with your kids.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | January 25, 2007 6:58 PM | Report abuse

I can't remember if I asked this before, Wilbrod, but it seems as if my dog is more sensitive to smells when it is cold. I have a theory that it is because certain background smells are suppressed, so other interesting smells become more obvious. Sort of an increased olfactory signal-to-noise ratio. Or is it possible that canine noses get more sensitive and she can detect previously masked odors? Or am I simply becoming senile?

I realize that these are not mutually exclusive.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 25, 2007 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I'd have faxed you hot off the smoker BC smoked salmon had I thought of it last week. Sadly, its all gone now.

Boko, had you said brains, I might have agreed with you.

Wilbrod, no I think you were right the first time.

Posted by: dr | January 25, 2007 7:07 PM | Report abuse

We used to refer to the hot winds as "Chinooks" in Washington State too. When I was in California the same kind of wind was called a "Santa Ana."

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 25, 2007 7:12 PM | Report abuse

I don't believe that you are correct. If you look at Wikipedia, you see that they come from different directions. But, my knowledge of science, geography, and meteorology is practically neglibible, so I could be incorrect.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | January 25, 2007 7:18 PM | Report abuse

I really gotta talk to dr about the licensing fee for that fax...


(pre-apology if this posts twice)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2007 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Cured Whitefish is a delicacy not to be missed. Happily I have Inuit friends.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 25, 2007 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Maggie O'D - Perhaps they weren't the same winds, but the term "Chinook" and "Santa Ana" were certainly used for dry seasonal winds.

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 25, 2007 7:23 PM | Report abuse

I'd have asked first, really I would. Its so much faster than fedex.

Posted by: dr | January 25, 2007 7:25 PM | Report abuse


It's not bound by physical reality, either!! *faxin' the instruction manual on CD*


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2007 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Scotty.

boko, I have 30 pounds of whitefish in my freezer at this very moment, waiting for just that kind of treatment. However since I am resistant to learning the fine art of filletting (and proud of it) and mrdr finds it an evil task on this relatively fatty fish, so production of the delicacy has been sluggish.

Posted by: dr | January 25, 2007 7:34 PM | Report abuse

dr, if you are having a chinook out there please fax here, current temp -16c before windchill - yikes. First real cold of the year and I am not used to it.

With Scotty's permission of course.

Posted by: dmd | January 25, 2007 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Why would anyone be proud of the inability to run a knife along the spine of a croaked fish? No one asked you to put it back together.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 25, 2007 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Off topic and bizarre.

I came home to a bill from an ambulance company for a copay ($53.) for the *Estate of (insert name here)*. The bill was addressed to the Estate, c/o me @ my address, and detailed service from a nursing home to a hospital.

Not only have I never heard of this person (who has passed away within the past week, apparently) but my phone number isn't listed, and I'm at a loss to explain how my name ended up in conjunction with this estate. I'll call and make inquiries tomorrow. A web search didn't bring up an obituary.

IF I am someone's executrix (calm down, boys!) wouldn't I know by now by some lawyer? I have a very uncommon last name, perhaps some old friend of my aunt's without relatives? A scam, perhaps? What do you guys think?

Posted by: dbG | January 25, 2007 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Occam's Razor? Does that mean it's possible the DUB doesn't realize it's called the *Democratic* party? Can we call them the *Republans*?

Posted by: dbG | January 25, 2007 7:58 PM | Report abuse


That screams "scam" to me. Might want to check with the police before calling the company.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 25, 2007 7:58 PM | Report abuse

As someone who also has an unusual last name, I sometimes get weird things like that too. When it has happened to me it has always been an honest mistake. That said, heavens to betsy don't give out any "confirming information" over the phone!

Posted by: RD Padouk | January 25, 2007 8:02 PM | Report abuse

dbG, check with the Better Business Bureau also. That does sound scammish.

Posted by: Slyness | January 25, 2007 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Executrix. Not a lot of repeat business.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 25, 2007 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the advice.

Boko, Boko, Boko. That was the funniest thing I read all day!

Posted by: dbG | January 25, 2007 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Have you been killing Nigerians?

Posted by: Boko999 | January 25, 2007 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Boko999, dr has exposed a very important secret to living with a fisherman: never learn to clean or fillet. He caught it, he cleans the darn fish.

I actually was foolish enough to show some interest in filleting fish and asked my Dad how.

Watching my dad use a extremely sharp, jagged knife on a board slippery with smelly fish guts over the sink made me realize the wisdom of women who pretend not to know how to clean nor fillet fish that they didn't have the leisurely pleasure of catching.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 25, 2007 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Happy birthday, Pat!

Gomer, it's sad to hear about your friend. I hope you and your friends are able give his widow support. College Parkian's idea about writing down your own remembrances of him sounds like an excellent idea.

The story about the Washington state school board brings to mind the truth of the Mark Twain quote "First God made idiots. That was for practice. Then He made school boards."

Posted by: pj | January 25, 2007 8:23 PM | Report abuse

My Grandma would take a catfish, drive a nail through it's head into the "fish tree " and skin and fillet it. She also taught me on rainy days at the cottage to sew "Barbie clothes" for all my miserable female cousins and sister. She said that when my Grandpa was a prisoner of the Germans during the Great War he became a prodigous knitter because that was the only way they could keep warm.
Any man that can't cook or keep himself properly clothed is not worth a moments of anybodys time.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 25, 2007 8:40 PM | Report abuse

My dad said when they caught perch as kids, they'd just use a board with coke bottle caps on it to scale the fish and clean it. Sounds a little easier than a slippery wood board to me.

Posted by: Wilbrod | January 25, 2007 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Perch are a lovely eating fish if cooked gently.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 25, 2007 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Whoa!!! Really good episode of Grey's Anatomy just ended. It'll repeat tomorrow night at 8, so I won't spoil it for anybody. But there were two, count 'em, two marriage proposals made. And a really good plot line about a 23-year-old girl with uterine cancer.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 25, 2007 10:06 PM | Report abuse

And here I was watching reruns of "My Name is Earl" and "The Office"...

I forgot to mention it earlier; Happy Birthday, Pat!


Posted by: bc | January 25, 2007 10:32 PM | Report abuse

A man, a plan, a canal - Panama!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 25, 2007 10:34 PM | Report abuse

In regards to your fishy conversation, I was hoping for something a little more halibutish.

Posted by: Anne Elk | January 25, 2007 10:36 PM | Report abuse

When I look at Mr. Columnist Achenbach's headline, my brain becomes confused.

"SOTU: What did you think," sounds (inside my head) like, "So what do you think?"

Many and various different things.

Posted by: Yoki | January 25, 2007 10:46 PM | Report abuse

It's people like you what cause unrest.
Personal freedom infringed? Ring Slater/Nazi 050

Posted by: Boko999 | January 25, 2007 10:58 PM | Report abuse

That is right. OR left. Yes, us do cause unrest or merely restless.

Posted by: Yoki | January 25, 2007 11:05 PM | Report abuse

I've been thinking that all day too, Yoki. My s-i-l sent us an article last year about a study showing that people usually only read the first and last letters of words. One can still read, easily, a paragraph in which the inner letters are scrambled or exchanged for other letters. I read the sample without even noting the errors.

Posted by: Wheezy | January 25, 2007 11:06 PM | Report abuse

So where can I get my copy of the Boodle recipes. Just asking.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 25, 2007 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Gomer -- just write about your friend, everything you can think of, and send it. You have NO IDEA (sorry for yelling) how helpful this is.

You may think: it is silly, it is nothing -- but your friend's wife will cherish every bit of it, and it will help her.

Posted by: nellie | January 25, 2007 11:26 PM | Report abuse


I am still transcribing the recipes willingly sent. I think I said to the Boodle that it would take me six months or more to produce a real cookbook (with proceeds to go to a good cause).

I do believe I am now at 3 months.

If you would like to send some recipes in, contact

If you would rather receive a copy of the Kitchen Caboodle, (and make a donation to the charity of our choice), send me a message at the same email addy and I shall put you on my waiting list. (hahahaha).

Posted by: Yoki | January 25, 2007 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Mate, it's snaps like this what cause unrest to my mind:

Who ya gonna call about this, then?

Posted by: Wheezy | January 25, 2007 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Can somebody set me straight here... In his State of the Union Address the other night Bush said, "What we need is spending discipline in Washington, D.C. We set a goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009 and met that goal three years ahead of schedule."
So, 2009 minus 3 is... now! Did I miss something here? When did this happen? I just checked and we're at 8.6 Trillion. When he came into office it seems to have been less than 6 Trillion. What the hell is he talking about?
What we need in Washington is honesty, and if we can't have that, maybe we need a more agressive press corps.
Again, am I missing something?

Posted by: Ar | January 25, 2007 11:29 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | January 25, 2007 11:33 PM | Report abuse

That the state of the union speech was given by george bush, made me laugh out loud. His molecule sized brain does not send or receive the usual messages which are required for awareness of anything or in his case, about anything. His stupid lies and cynical make-believe plans have become actually nauseating. Most people, the entire middle class, puts on the mute button instantly as soon as they hear his voice.
James Webb, gave the Democratic response. It is a powerful voice with an agenda that confronts the very serious and corrosive issues we face as citizens and as a nation.
The war mongering blood lust and the obscene greed of this white house and all its cronies have made the legacy of the Bush presidency nothing less than the worst president in U.S. history.

Posted by: Judith Grayson | January 25, 2007 11:37 PM | Report abuse

If you are partial to flatfish with a travelling eye, may I direct you to Gunter Grass's "Flounder"?

Posted by: Boko999 | January 25, 2007 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Gomer, I have to apologize, because I did not read the whole Boodle before becoming factitious.

I'm so sorry you lost your old roommate to the 'war.'

I'm not being bad to you, but I would not ask to be a pallbearer. Wait to be invited.

Posted by: Yoki | January 25, 2007 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Boko, did you read that in the original German?

Posted by: Yoki | January 25, 2007 11:43 PM | Report abuse

I believe this two term presidency will go down in history as the time in which the American people were lied to more than any other time in History!; and everyone knew it, and did nothing.

Posted by: Ar | January 25, 2007 11:46 PM | Report abuse

re Boko's 10.58: Also, Swedish magazines. See everything.

Posted by: byoolin | January 25, 2007 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, my computer shuts down if it accesses any site containing the words Marie Osmand and priapism.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 26, 2007 12:09 AM | Report abuse

Ar, he said cut the deficit in half and you've quoted the national debt figure.

Still, about that deficit ... someone remind me what the deficit was when Bush took office?

Posted by: Fifty | January 26, 2007 12:16 AM | Report abuse

No I didn't read it in German on account of I can't read German and David Magarshack can only understand Russian.
Waddling penguins indeed.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 26, 2007 12:21 AM | Report abuse

You can find a quick debunk of "cut the deficit in half" at

Key quote: "Bush's deficit, call it deficit 'lite', counts borrowing from the 'public' (financial markets) but does not count borrowing from Social Security--which is huge."

In other words, it's an accounting trick.

Posted by: Fifty | January 26, 2007 12:39 AM | Report abuse

Imagine my disappointment at finding out the party of Lee Atwater wasn't telling the truth.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Fifty. You're right. Although I'm still pissed. "cut the national deficit in half!". Some goal to cut it in half by 2009!!! The debt would still be going up, just not as fast, and on top of that it doesn't count everything. Nice.

Thanks again.

Posted by: Ar | January 26, 2007 1:28 AM | Report abuse

Oh, my... so much that deserves comment, and so little ability (on my part) to do it justice. Maybe I'll leave some of my ignorance undiscovered for the moment!

One quick note on evolution:
["I think people WANT explanations for homosexuality, more than "it happens."
Posted by: Wilbrod | January 25, 2007 03:13 PM]

Alas, evolution attempts to explain how things happen. The only explanation that it offers for WHY things happen is... "it happened!" Oh, and, "then it lasted!"

Posted by: Bob S. | January 26, 2007 2:41 AM | Report abuse

Ooops, couldn't even make one little comment without my ignorance shining through brightly!

I meant (I think) that "modern neo-Darwinist theories of evolution" attempt to explain how things happen ...

Posted by: Bob S. | January 26, 2007 2:48 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod is right. I am proud because I have maintained my lack of knowledge of how to filet a fish for 27 years. This does take some skill, and a willing unbeliever. I think mrdr likes doing it so he maintains my fiction with me.

Posted by: dr | January 26, 2007 5:50 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, after all this faxing of chinook, please advise if there is a special technique to clean the fax. I can't seem to find the information in the manual. There seems to a residue on the surface and its getting a little pungent in here.

Posted by: dr | January 26, 2007 5:57 AM | Report abuse

Hi Dreamer, Happy Australia Day ...

Posted by: omni | January 26, 2007 6:58 AM | Report abuse

Morning all! *waving(

Dreamer, please allow me to piggyback on omni's Happy Australia Day! :-)

dr, I find faxing a Lysol wipe to someone does wonders for cleanup. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 26, 2007 7:55 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, all. A colleague (female) just sent me the following linked story. Men, if you are a bit squemish, you may want to pass by this one (especially if you are a "lounge lizard"):

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 26, 2007 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, guys.

Of course, I should point out that to some it is known as Invasion Day, or, more recently, Aboriginal Sovereignty Day:

Posted by: Dreamer | January 26, 2007 8:39 AM | Report abuse

I'm squeamish just looking at the URL!!! EWWWWWWW!!!


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 26, 2007 8:40 AM | Report abuse

BOO: Sorry Dreamer, I meant 'Mudge's URL, of course!!!! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 26, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of lizards, did you all hear about the komodo dragon virgin birth?

I guess the occasional viagra-induced amputation is neither here nor there to these critters.

Posted by: Dreamer | January 26, 2007 8:47 AM | Report abuse

A female colleague sent that? Isn't that in the official handbook as a no-no? Look under the harrassment policy. I doubt you could have sent it to her. Having said that, two yet only one tongue seems a cruel irony.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 26, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

New kit coming mid-morning, fyi (which, to me, means closer to noon than dawn). Achenblog Standard Time.

Posted by: Achenbach | January 26, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Isn't parthenogenisis wild? I knew aphids and other insects use this reproductive strategy, but I didn't know (more likely, forgot) it was so prolific anong reptiles.

Mr. Krauthammer is of the opinion that ethanol teshnology could be the magic bullet that saves us from ourselves. Zero CO2 technology and smarter urban planning seems a better strategy to me.

Posted by: jack | January 26, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, might you consider that most male lizards, after having carried an erection for over a week, would love to have it whacked off?

Posted by: Pat | January 26, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Keith Obermann did the lizard story last night, his comment on the surgery, considering that the creature has a 'spare,' was "what's the big deal,then." In how many species does this extra appendage occur?

Seriously cold here with a low windchill today and all the weathermen warning people about being outside uncovered for long. I checked the noaa weather site and the term they used on the graphic is 'breezy.' Breezy! I think of that word as applying more to gently summer airflow, not frostbite type conditions. Who writes those things?

I still miss Cassandra and Error.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | January 26, 2007 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Pat... you owe me a new monitor and keyboard.

Posted by: martooni | January 26, 2007 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Ha! A new *monitor*! Get it?!?

[D'oh! I almost forgot -- puns viewed askance. Sorry.]

Posted by: Tom fan | January 26, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Cleaning fish and lizards with erections,sounds like a mans type of kit.

My cat caught a good size lizard last year and brought it to me,his offering to feed the family I guess.Well the lizard's tail fell off and he scooted across the porch and to freedom.

I didn't check to see if he had and erection.....

Posted by: greenwithenvy | January 26, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Morning all.

A good news update on the Arar story here, later today our government will announce a compensation package for Arar (10 mil Cdn). It cannot undo what he endured but hopefully he can begin to rebuild his life.

Posted by: dmd | January 26, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Finally, finally, finally...the mulch fire story if front page news today, above the fold and under the banner. The subject is also the lead-op on the opinion pages.

Front page story:


I will make only several remarks.

The San Antonio Express-News, as well as local television stations are beginning to give the mulch fire the coverage it deserves--between the infotainment, propaganda, infoganda and propatainment, especially on the television news.

There are several significant developments in the story as reported by our local paper:

The individual now speaking about the Texas Commission on Environmenal Quality's new plans for fighting the mulch blaze is Kelly Cook (whose name I heard several times in the group huddle following the closed-soor meeting last Monday). His title is TCEQ *homeland security coordinator*.

Today's story by Anton Caputo details the plan to dig a sluice on the quarry side of the mulch pile and provides plenty of detail, including estimated time to complete the effort and TCEQ methodology to put out the fire in the clay-lined sluice pit.

Hugely important in my opinion, officials are starting to be realistic and honest about how long it will take to complete the work involved in this revamped plan--revised estimate of March or mid-March.

Ten local lawmakers have sent a letter, as of yesterday to Gov. Rick Perry, requesting that he declare the mulch fire a state emergency.

Television reporters in the past two days--one at 10 p.m. last night, mentioned the shelter where Helotes residents and those beyond Helotes with health problems can go to avoid the smoke. I spoke by phone yesterday afternoon with Mac McNell of our local Red Cross, and he say that there currently is no shelter. As of yesterday afternoon, the Red Cross was still on standby as far as opening one, McNell said.

I wake up between 3 a.m. amd 4 a.m. just about every morning coughing or snezing and turning over in my mind the many unanswered questions yet about this whole debacle. I look forward to the interview I will conduct this afternoon.

In some respects, I am having fun and the blog format provides so much more artistic leeway and license (in a Jon Stuart vein, to be used carefully) than conventional reporting. To use the Texas saying, "I haven't had this much fun since pigs ate little sister."

Posted by: Loomis | January 26, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

SCC: is front page news
Also: subject is the lead op-ed

*stressed and tired, no faxes required-- just some fresh air and activities that take my mind off the subject*

Posted by: Loomis | January 26, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Coincidentally, I'm currently reading Carl Hiaasen's "Basket Case," which includes a great passage about a monitor lizard called -- also coincidentally? -- Colonel Tom. The lizard has a fondness for beer and rich desserts, which eventually kills him. The owner stores the lizard's dead body in the freezer and later uses it to clobber an intruder in his home.

I loved this para:

"Lizards are not strung with the high emotions of, say, a cocker spaniel. On a good day Colonel Tom's mood ranged from oblivious to indifferent. Only at mealtimes would he respond approvingly to a human presence, blinking a cold eye while cocking his knobbled saurian head. The rest of the time he skulked inside a toy cave that Carla had found for him."

[How adorable!]

Posted by: Tom fan | January 26, 2007 10:02 AM | Report abuse

A co-worker just clued me in to one of today's remarkable obits...

Remarkable for the writing as well as the subject.


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 26, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Wow, Scotty -- for a moment there I thought I was still reading Hiassen.

Posted by: Tom fan | January 26, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

That IS a great obit, scotty. I particularly like the fact that she portrayed "the dog food murderess" in a B-movie, that the jury acquitted her of the "streaking" charge (jury nullification?), and she had seven marriages, the second of which produced a son named John McLain. Wonder if that's the same John McLain of the "Die Hard" movie series? It would explain a lot.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 26, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Tom fan | January 26, 2007 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Scotty, now THAT was a life!

Posted by: Slyness | January 26, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Hi all... Just checking in from Tulsa. Here with the family to attend the funeral of my husband's wonderful aunt who died last weekend at age 95. We'll soon be driving an hour or so northeast of here to see the family.

Of course, we'll probably wait until our luggage arrives from Detroit first.

Anyone know a good breakfast spot in Tulsa?

Hey... whatever happened to Tulsafan? Is he/she still here with a different handle, or just another boodler from our past?

Posted by: TBG | January 26, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Paging Ivansmom, paging Ivansmom!!!

TBG's tossing you a softball!!!


Posted by: Scottynuke | January 26, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I think Ivansmom is in Oklahoma City, no? Although the huge piles of plowed ice on the airport runway (and mean HUGE) mean we couldn't be too far.


Hi Ivansmom!

Posted by: TBG | January 26, 2007 10:33 AM | Report abuse

TBG--I'm with you in spirit; have a safe trip. Sights to watch for: the oil wells along the interstate, the buffalo ranch, the sailboat bridge (you can't miss that one...) When you drive past the Port of Catoosa, obligatory remarks about how you could put a boat in there and row/sail/motor all the way to New Orleans...

Posted by: kbertocci | January 26, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Hi, TBG! Unfortunately I'm down the turnpike so don't know a good breakfast place. Sounds like you're heading to Grand Lake area. You might not want to wait for your luggage, though, unless you have a day or two to spare. I'm sorry for the reason for your trip, but glad you're visiting. The ice is still piled up, but I think everywhere you'll visit has power now, and a lot of the trees will eventually recover.

If you have a little time and you're near Grove (you'll know if you are), visit the Har-Ber Village. It bills itself as a reconstructed turn-of-the-century village. There is a large collection of old buildings, and it is really just amazingly full of all kinds of junk - antiques to the owners - which has been preserved or retrieved from attics, etc.

Then of course there's the gun museum in Claremore, which also has a lot of old musical instruments and china doohickeys.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 26, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Well, I've never been to Heaven;
but I've been to Oklahoma.
Yeah, they tell me I was born there,
but I really don't remember.

-- Three Dog Night

I've been to Broken Arrow (suburb of Tulsa) twice. But I have no advice for you, TBG.

Posted by: Tim | January 26, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Aww, folks beat me to the Austrailia Day thing. Hi, Dreamer.

TBG, have a safe trip. Please pass my condolences to the family.

Scotty, thanks for pointing out that obit. I hope I merit something 1/10th as interesting and amusing.

Dang, *Tim, you planted a heckuva tune cootie on me. It's all I can do to not sing that out loud at my desk here.


Posted by: bc | January 26, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

But its a good tune cootie.

Wilbrod this is for you, a sad story of a massacre of gnomes in Australia.

Posted by: dmd | January 26, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

The gnomes had it coming.

Pixies, you're next.

Posted by: byoolin | January 26, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

darn dmd! you beat me to the punch! wilbrod, i'm glad you aren't a gnome in aussie!

tomfan - happy aussie day!

my sincerest condolences to gomer and tbg!
it's COLD here in DC!! (sadly, the snow didn't stick around last nite - no accumulation! i love snow)

ivansmom - now you got me wanting to go to an antique store! i remember when i was a kid there was this HUGE antique/junk store in alexandria on rte 1 named "aladdin's lamp" (i think)... my cousin and i used to play hide and seek around the huge planters and they had one of those antique coke machines that actually worked... man, i miss that place! anyone know any good antique/junk shops in the DC area?

and i wanted to put my $.02 in on men who are known by their first names - Misha or Mikhail... (baryshnikov... geez!) (he bumped into me (literally) once in a museum in nyc - i thought i was gonna PASS OUT! he's a lot shorter than i thought he would be... course i'm short too soo...)

Posted by: mo | January 26, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Sorry mo, you made me think of a one name, male politician up here, say Pierre and everyone over 35 will have a good idea who you ment, their reactions to the name will vary.

Freezing here and snowing.

Posted by: dmd | January 26, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Currently 28 degrees and clear, up from 14 at 7:45...The spouse and I shortly have to make a decision about tubing. The exercise should keep me warm enough!

Posted by: Slyness | January 26, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Perfect tubing weather Slyness.

Posted by: dmd | January 26, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

In the Poconos today, and it's 5 degrees. Beats the -6 it was at 9am.

Posted by: LostInThought | January 26, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

LostInThought, whadda ya doin' way up there? :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 26, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Hey, is it just me, or has the "Name:" box for posting comments suddenly turned yellow? Might we expect more Curb Appeal Makeovers from Hal the Schemer? A mauve Comments box, perhaps? A periwinkle Preview button? A Submit button in Arbusto brown? Perhaps even (be still, my heart!) *italics*???? (the asterisks indicating italics, if we had italics)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 26, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

NEW KIT! :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 26, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Appears to be a new kit!

Posted by: Curmudgeon | January 26, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Loomis: the non-coverage of the Helotes mulch fire illustrates a blind spot in our attention and thus the news. That fire is a slow-moving catastrophe and mostly quick-moving catastrophes catch our eyes (explosions, train derailments, etc).

I looked for pictures of the mulch fire last night and found surprisingly few. Thanks for reporting the story; it's fascinating. I hope they get your clean air back soon.

Generalizing wildly, the same phenomenon explains the relatively mild coverage of the excesses of the Bush administration. A reporter reveals some new secret program and you see a spike of coverage. Then we all become accustomed to the new reality and things quiet down. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Posted by: Fifty | January 26, 2007 12:03 PM | Report abuse

just curious ... has anyone heard/seen any proposal to make all of bagdhad a 'green zone', actually building a wall around it like a fort, making everyone walk out the front while a clean sweep is done? Not allowing any vehicles except for military and police vehicles and bikes? Sounded promising, but I don't recall king george saying anything so I'm wondering who proposed it. I'm against the war but if this was true I would support a a one-time campaign to make this happyen and then get out. Like North Ireland, Iraq citizens have to decide for themselves if they want peace, safe place for it children, etc. Would be nice to give them a taste of this (without the dictator) before we leave them to figure it out for themselves.

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