Mr. Taibbi, who became a must read during the 2008 presidential election, explains what happened to the economy;
Seriously, read the whole thing, if you can stomach it...
Mr. Taibbi, who became a must read during the 2008 presidential election, explains what happened to the economy;
Seriously, read the whole thing, if you can stomach it...
From Kung Fu Monkey;
I hadn't read Rand until the 90's when I started working for a company that owned a subdivision called John Galt. She's harder to read than Tolkien and makes less sense. If you're wondering what all the "Go Galt" nonsense is, save yourself time and read the Wiki. (h/t Tim at Balloon Juice)
By now you may have read about Chuck Norris and Glenn Beck's desire to secede from the Union (if not an excellent primer is located here). Obviously, talk of armed revolt is not only treasonous, but it's down right stupid. Allow me to explain...
In the Norris fantasy (warning! link contains powerful wingnut), Texas is the heart of the secession, so let's give him that. He also believes that "some in the military" will join their movement, so let's give him an unbelievably high number and say 25% will join him (honestly, they'd be lucky to get 5%, but I'm willing to give them a chance). So they've got a "country" of about 24.5 million people (compare to the USA at 301 million), but now the real questions start;
What about resources - Texas is currently the nations leading cattle producer, which would mean beef prices would go up. They also have a fair amount of oil, about 1/4 of our total capacity. After that comes commercial fishing, which would probably be contested now since they wouldn't be part of the US. The state of Texas is also a major technology and commerce hub, but both sectors would undoubtedly migrate to maintain their business ties to the rest of the world.
Speaking of the rest of the world, who would their allies be - When the secessionist of the Confederacy made their attempt they had hoped that Britain and France would step in. Texas would have no such hope. In fact, they could pretty much count out any of the US allies (who's a bigger trading partner, the US or Texas?). The best they could probably hope for would be countries that wanted to harm the US (North Korea, Cuba, maybe a very quiet China), but that wouldn't look good would it? Nope, they'd be pretty alone, which would be a problem considering the above paragraph.
Then there would be their economy - Even assuming that Texas could get some kind of recognition (and that's a HUGE assumption), they've got no real basis for an economy. They might have minimal assest to back a currency at the start, but as the Confederacy found out, that runs out very quickly.
In short, like most wingnut fantasies and B-movies, it wouldn't work even if they wanted it to. Mr. Norris, if you and your little band of friends don't like the current government, work to change it. If you don't like the current plan, come up with a better one. But until that time, shut the fuck up becuase this isn't "Invasion USA" and nobody is waiting for you to come to the "rescue".
I enjoy reading Paul Krugman a lot, but I don't always understand him (and I like to think that I'm a fairly smart guy), today there's no such problem...
Read the whole thing, then try to resist throwing something at your TV the next time a talking head tells us we're just one tax cut away from fixing this.
Everyone wants to lose weight in the new year, fortunately Sarah Haskins shows us how...
"...And for dinner I swapped a six pack of beer for a fifth of whiskey"
Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post is quickly becoming a must read for me, and again today he nails it...
More of the Bush Administration's "Support (for) the troops" (tm);
In 2004, the office of then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld set up ASY as a six-month effort to showcase the U.S. public's backing for the troops and their families. "If you're serving overseas, and you watch the mainstream media coverage, sometimes you can't tell if America knows you're there," one official overseeing the program says. America Supports You was seen as a way to counteract that sense.
Meanwhile, ASY began to spend millions — not to help the troops, the Inspector General says, but to help itself.
From fiscal years 2004 to 2007, the Inspector General's report notes, Barber funneled $8.8 million in contracts to the public relations firm Susan Davis International — to set up the myriad events, and to promote the ASY "brand." The work was incredibly lucrative; Davis' executives made as much as $312,821 to $662,691 per year. "Paying a public relations contractor annual salaries approaching three-quarters of a million dollars does not appear to be a cost-effective means to support the ASY program and the war fighter," the report observes.
You may remember 2004 as a time when front line Marines and Soldiers were purchasing their own personal body armor because the stuff the were getting from the DoD was horrible. Yep, "Support the Troops"... (h/t Balloon Juice)
Lisa Miller at Newsweek has written an excellent article titled "Our Mutual Joy" that looks at what the Bible really says about the issue of gay marriage. The opening paragraph really sets the tone;
It's well past time that these Biblical literalists be called out on their hypocrisy. They can no longer get way with saying that "the Bible is not open to interpretation" and yet treat it like an ala carte menu ("I'll be against gay marriage, but I'll have divorce). Seriously, go read Ms. Miller thoughtful work.
A friend from the Ride had sent several of her friends an e-mail a while back inviting us to see a movie about a young man in the US Army. Corporal Jonathan Santos was deployed to Iraq in September of 2004 and on October 15th of that year, after being in-country for 38 days, he was killed when the convoy he was working in was attacked. Corporal Santos was 22 years old.
Prior to his deployment Cpl Santos purchased a video camera which he used to capture life around his Company's "home in Iraq. He also (much to his mother's surprise) kept a daily diary, which along with the video make up the bulk of the movie "The Corporal's Diary". In addition to Cpl Santos and his family, the movie also features Specialist Matthew Drake the only member of Santos' Humvee's crew that survived, albeit with TBI.
This movie isn't for the War or against the War, it doesn't judge the job our military is doing in Iraq, that's for us to do. Instead this movie provides a glimpse into the life of one young soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice and paid the ultimate price. One of the unfortunate side effects of our all volunteer military force is that most Americans don't know anyone serving (or who has served) in Iraq and Afghanistan, this movie affords them an opportunity to see what that looks like on a very personal level.
Do yourself a favor and take the time to see this movie. Regardless of what you think of the US' Iraq policy this is unlikely to change your mind. What it will do is give you some insight into the "instruments" of those policies. Because of the movie's subject matter and short running time (60 minutes), it isn't likely that it will go into wide release, but if you live in an area with a local film festival I'd check there. It will also be released for sale on October 28th and hopefully be on Netflix.
Many thanks to our friend Miko for sharing this movie with me.
I was very surprised to hear that the President has ordered a second carrier group into the Gulf on Tuesday. Pair that with Adm. Fallon's departure as Commander U.S. Central Command (CentCom) and, pending confirmation (scheduled for later this spring) Gen. David Petraeus' promotion to that same post. Well, it doesn't take a big leap to see where this might be a prologue to a larger conflict that included Iran.
Also, 4 U.S. soldiers were killed today.
…It's 10:27 PDT on April 18, 2008, and I kid you not, we have at least 5" of deep powder and it continues to come down. I have to be honest and say that I'm totally depressed by this. The fact that it's April gives us an added bonus – The increased likelihood of a quick thaw which adds the very distinct possibility of flooding our basement and backyard.
As I'm fond of saying "I wish I was making this up." Where'd I put my Scotch? I really need a drink…
I stewed a lot about whether or not to post something about the fact that the fine men and women of the US Military are starting their 6th year in this seemingly endless boondoggle that Mr. Bush got us into, and the truth be told I'm not going to do much of the writing. But I did want to point out two pretty interesting pieces, written by two gentlemen who were originally in support of invading Iraq, but with the passage of time have seen the folly of it.
There's a temptation for some to say, "well that was the past, but we're beyond that now. No sense going over it all again", but I strongly disagree, and not because I want to hear them say "I'm sorry". Think of it this way – There's a problem with the wiring in your house, the electrician comes over, tells you how to fix it, and after you follow the advice your house burns down. An apology and restitution would be in order of course, but when the new house was being built, would you ask the same electrician to do the work? Of course not, equally if not more germane to the apology would be finding out if the electrician had learned from his mistake.
Look we all make mistakes, and God, the L&T, and my friends and family know that I've made more than my fair share, but just saying "let's not think about the past, but you can trust me going forward" isn't going to cut it. I need to know that you've learned. I think these two guys have;
John Cole – "My Iraq war retrospective"
Andrew Sullivan – "What I got wrong about Iraq"
Two very important points need to be made before I go further –
1 – I think it's fantastic when anyone goes out and does any distance at any speed. As far as I'm concerned, unless you're one of the pros there's no difference between any of us regardless of the speed at which we finish the course. This is not an indictment of people who walk, which leads me to my second point.
2 – There are times during some 5k's and 10k's when I walk. Again, this isn't about speed, it's about common courtesy, and when I have to walk on the route I follow these guidelines myself.
Having said, and meant, all of the above; if you walk, and by "walk" I mean that you're at the start planning to walk the whole course with no intent to run, but if you walk at these types of events, would you please try and follow some simple rules which will make everyone's day a bit more pleasant;
– If the event you're participating in has "flights" or "seeding" try to respect that. It's really not done so that you'll finish even later than the pros, it's so that those who are trying to run, maybe for an age group prize, or maybe just a personal best, but it gives those people a chance to realize their goals too.
– If for some reason you just have to start in the first wave, or with the 7 minute per mile folks, please try to stay to the edge of the route. You know you're not going to run there's no reason to be in the middle of the street in the middle of the pack. At that point you just become an obstacle.
– The subset of that is not to walk 5 abreast. It's great that you're all together, and shared suffering is one of the really cool things about group events like these, but again you become an obstacle for others to try and get around.
– If you ignore both of those and just decide that you've paid your fee and that entitles you to walk in the middle of the road from the front, then don't be angry when you get bumped and jostled and cut off. See the thing is, I paid my entry too, and I followed the event organizers' recommendations and I'm trying to run. There's a critical mass of bodies trying to fit into a small space, and you've become a very slow fish in a very fast tide. You're going to get bumped. I'm sorry, I'm not aiming for you, but honestly, I don't usually feel too bad about it either.
With that off my chest, the L&T and I did the annual St. Patrick's Day Dash this morning and with the exception of trying to dodge the reasons for my rant above, we had a good time. The weather wasn't great, but it wasn't raining so that was nice. This is a point to point run, with the start at the Seattle Center and the finish near Seahawks Stadium so you park at the finish and bus to the start. The line for those buses was unbelievable, it took us about 45 minutes just to board, but had the benefit of getting off the bus and starting within 5 minutes. Thanks to my offseason workouts (InCycle rocks!) my time was the best I've done in a long while (splits of 9.22 / 9.04 / 10.14 [I'm not sure what happened there]). After the run it was breakfast at the Blue Star Café, which we've decided to tell everyone is the worst place for breakfast in Seattle. It's horrible, and you should never eat there which will make it much easier for us to get a table…
The L&T's cousin has been home for a very short break recently. Why is this important? Well, because the break is from serving in the U.S. Army's Stryker Brigade in Iraq. He's on a 12 month (for now, it'll probably be increased) deployment at the very tip of the spear. I thought about his visit home, to see his wife and baby girl for a few short days, and then threw up in my mouth when I read this:
"I must say, I'm a little envious," Bush said. "If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed."
"It must be exciting for you ... in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks,"
Really Mr. President?!?! What is it that you're envious of? The incredibly long hours? Getting shot at or possibly blown up in a vehicle that doesn't have enough armor? Or maybe it's the sleeping in tents (if you're lucky) or in a shelled out house? Oh I know, maybe it's the food, or being away from your family? What about watching good friends die or have their body parts blown off, is that it? Really, what part of the "romance" are you wishing you could experience?
Back in the day I was part of the Navy/Marine Corps Mobile Medical Active Response Team which was basically a rapid (well, rapid for the military) deployment force of medical personnel that could be sent anywhere in the world within 72 hours. One weekend, shortly after the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, we got an activation notice which basically meant to get all your shit in one sock, report to the base, and be prepared to deploy somewhere. Obviously we all thought we were going to Lebanon. Once everyone had mustered, gotten our gear squared away, and were ready to board the aircraft we were told to stand-down and that this was a drill. 99.9% of us were relieved as hell, but I remember one young officer who was disappointed because he just knew we were "going to war" and was pretty vocal about it. An old school Marine Gunnery Sgt, that I know spent time in Vietnam, took the young officer aside and while I don't know what he said exactly I can guess. Let's just say we never saw the officer make another outburst like that one again.
Why do I tell this story? Because it ain't like the movies. There is nothing "romantic" about war. The only people that want to go to war are either too young and stupid to know better, or those who are in no danger of being called to fight in it. And, as Matthew Yglesias noted, Mr. Bush had an opportunity to participate in the "romance" and "fantastic experience" of being on the front lines during Vietnam, and we all know how that went…
Two great quotes about war by guys who've been there;
"I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell." – Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman
"When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war." – Gen. and President Dwight D. Eisenhower
The fight over FISA has a bunch of different aspects, the fear portion of which my friend Mr. Jones covers quite well here. I'd like to look at a slightly different talking point that is popular with the administration and its enablers - That Congress needs to grant retroactive immunity because failure to do so will make companies less likely to comply with future requests.
Here's the thing that's so stupid about this meme; they don't get a choice! If a government organization, be it FBI, NSA, or local law enforcement, has a duly authorized court order to get information companies don't get an option to say no! They are legally compelled to comply. It would be as if you were pulled over while driving and decided that you didn't want to take the ticket (or stop your car). That's not an option. You can fight the ticket and protest being pulled over, but you still have to follow the rules. There is a lot of stupidity in this debate, some from both sides of the aisle, but continuing to parrot the administration's talking point that companies will decline to submit to a legally obtained court order is both silly and disingenuous.
My doctor decided that I had been on, and been taking too much of the anti-diarrheal drug that I had been on and requested that I try an over the counter alternative. The results have been mixed. On the downside, I'm taking a fair amount of the OTC one, still having the "problem", and having a hard time getting away from a bathroom for more than an hour or two. On the upside, I've dropped below 180lbs for the first time in years, and if my scale is to be believed, some of the weight I'm losing is actually fat.
Who says I'm not a glass half-full kind of guy?
There's an old adage that "all politics is local" and I think that applies to sports just as much. You root for teams based on connections, and based on that, as much as I dislike dynasties, I'll be rooting for the Patriots. Why? Two reasons – Eckel and Belichick.
While certainly not the best student (he was the Class of 2005's "Anchor Man", finishing last in his class) Kyle Eckel was an absolute beast at Navy, and as a fullback was instrumental in returning Navy Football. In addition to being named the Army Navy game MVP twice he is among the all-time leaders in carries, yards, and touchdowns. He was signed to the Patriots' active roster in October of 2007, and in addition to seeing some playing time with the offense has had a very good year with special teams.
As for Belichick, his ties with Navy football go back over 50 years. Bill is the son of legendary Navy coach Steve Belichick. Coach Belichick was involved with the Naval Academy for 50 (yes, that's correct, Five Zero years) including 33 years as an assistant football coach and professor of physical education. Bill has in the past discussed his connection with the USNA and speaks fondly of his time learning the game by watching his father in Annapolis, and in 2006 moved his family's historic football book collection to the Naval Academy.
Tomorrow, I'm a Patriots fan.
The L&T makes an impassioned plea to change the University of Washington's logo back to a Husky from the current Fighting Weasels here. It's definitely worth a read. I've always wondered why a team that was in the middle of a successful streak decides that it's time to change things (see Padres, San Diego), better to make a change when things aren't going so well (see Seahawks, Seattle).
I don't know retired U.S. SFC Red Thomas, I've never met the man, and until yesterday had never even heard of him before. But, I'd sure like to by him a beer. The World Wide Web is a strange and wondrous place, and it's amazing how following a little path can take you to great sources of wisdom, and so it is that I found "Words of Wisdom About Gas, Germs and Nukes by SFC Red Thomas, Armor Master Gunner, U.S. Army (ret)".
The 2004 article is maybe the best piece of writing about civilian responses to what the military calls NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) Warfare, all of which could probably be boiled down to don't panic and use your head, but the whole thing is really worth reading. Look, if there's an NBC attack, that would be very bad, but realistically, except for the psychological effects, it would be limited in scope and there are a lot of things you can do to minimize your exposure and risk.
Seriously, go read SFC Thomas' article, I promise that it's well worth your time…
Between the last playoff game and the Super Bowl there are two weeks. Two weeks of interviews, press conferences, practices, pundits, and buildup to the biggest football game of the season. I used to read about the teams and the game during those two weeks, but it was never a big deal to me. That changed in January of 2006…
Growing up I wasn't a big football fan, instead it was mostly baseball. Still living in Northern California my parents, and by extension I, followed and rooted for the San Francisco 49er's. The 49er's won Super Bowl XVI in 1982, which was nice, but nothing too exciting. Years and events passed, and I'd watch a game if it was on and usually watched the Super Bowl, but it still wasn't something I was passionate about. Then I met the L&T who was passionate about football and in particular "her" Seattle Seahawks. She was a fan, so I became a fan (which wasn't easy back in those days because the team wasn't always that good). In 2002 I took it to the next level join 4 of the best guys on the planet
The 2005/2006 Seattle Seahawks' season was a magical thing to be a part of. By finishing the regular season 13-3 (including a meaningless week 17 loss at Green Bay) the Seahawks had secured the #1 seed in the NFC and the road to the Super Bowl would go through Seattle, and the 5 of us would be there to watch it. After the bye week, Seattle opened the post-season beating Washington 20-10 and the next week beat the Carolina Panthers to win the NFC and the right to go to the Super Bowl.
And thus begun two of the most fun (and probably least productive) weeks I've ever had as a sports fan. When I was home, the NFL channel was always on, away from home there was a ton of Seahawks talk, the web the sites that I frequent were all talking about the game. It was fantastic! Media day, team practices, interviews with players on NFL Total Access, features on the team, replays of all our games, as well as planning to go to Vegas to watch the game. It was just fun to be a Seahawks' fan.
The problem is, now that I've experienced it once, it's hard to watch all the same stuff, but about a different team. Sure, I'll read the articles, and I'll watch the game, but unlike all those years before 2006, now I know what I'm missing…
In October of last year I signed up for a fantastic offseason workout program at Cycle U, called InCycle. When asked what "it" is the only thing I can say is imagine the hardest spinning class you've ever done, and then do it for 90 to 120 minutes. Three times a week. And this week the coaches turned it up to 11.
I understand the philosophy and some of the physiology behind it, next week is a scheduled recovery week for the class (more technique, less "hard" time") so the general idea is to stress the rider's system to the breaking point this week and then allow us to recover next week. Like I said, I get the idea, but damn this week was difficult on the system! I have class Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays and besides feeling wiped out, it's wreaked havoc on my GI system! The three days following class have just torn me up. Look, if this makes me faster (and I think it will) and if it makes me able to compete (ditto), then it will be completely worth it, but "Jim's Guts" aren't happy about it right now…
BTW – I really like all of my coaches at Cycle U, they're excellent coaches and really great people, so when I say this it's with the uttermost respect, but Coaches Craig, Tammy, and Toby, I hate you… ;-)
…"Even a blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut"…
A friend made a post wondering who the audience was for his writing, and in posting a comment in response I mentioned that we, ourselves, are our own biggest audience. I then noted;
Blogs are electronic dairies, but instead of hiding the key, we leave it out there so anyone can find it
It's true, sometimes, even if it's by accident, I can be remotely profound.
As some of you know GYGIG had to change the dates of our Texas ride because in late 2007 (well after we had chosen our date) the Lance Armstrong Foundation chose the same weekend as GYGIG to have their huge fundraising ride. I understand it, the LAF has to scheduled the ride around when "The Man" is going to be available, but still, it was a little disheartening, because it means we have to reschedule, reprint flyers, etc (to answer a frequent question, no, we can't have it the same weekend as the Livestrong event, they're just too big, and all of the Austin based cycling support goes to them). Suffice it to say, that even as big a Lance and LAF fan as I am I was a little disappointed.
Then I read about Lance's trip to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kyrgyzstan as part of the USO's 2007 holiday tour. The USO is a fantastic organization, and for the troops the morale boost, support, and yes, entertainment they provide is hugely important. As a guy who spent many a weekend at various USO facilities, I owe them a ton for making my first few holidays away actually enjoyable. If you'll indulge me, here's a quick story – In November of 1982 Mr. Stout and I were still in Hospital Corpsman School and on the same duty schedule, so neither of us would be making it home for Thanksgiving. It was our first big holiday away from home, so when we heard that they were going to be serving Thanksgiving dinner at the San Diego USO, we jumped at the chance to go. Fantastic! We ate wonderful food (and as much of it as we could stuff in our belly), were served by wonderful people, they even had cards and decorations on the table made by local kids. For our first Thanksgiving away from home and family, we were surrounded by home and family.
Suffice it to say that I have nothing but praise and love for the USO, and for those performers who are willing to give up some of their time and comfort to give some good times to the men and women out at "the tip of the spear". So yeah, Lance gets a pass…
...This - It's not about whether you support the war or not, and it's not about the all too frequently hollow "I support the troops". It's about the fact that every war has costs, and those costs are the lives of young men and women like Andy. We would all do well to remember that.
Fair winds and following seas Andy.
It's pretty well documented that 2007 was one of the toughest and weirdest that I've experienced in my nearly 44 years on this planet. And yet, even with all of the bad times, I can't help but feel blessed. People significantly wiser than I (you can insert your own joke here) have said that the true measure of a man is the company he keeps and the people he counts as friends. I believe that's true, and it makes me one of the fullest people on the planet.
Thank you to everyone who has touched my life in the last year. It's because of you that I can look back and say that, even with all of the bad times, 2007 was a good year. I wish everyone a joyous, healthy, and peaceful 2008.