Saturday, March 31, 2007

Happy Birthday, Gordie!

79 today. Gordie is one of my heroes, and he’s in the “A” rank, too. Put aside the fact the man is a living legend; that’s a given. He’s just a first-class human being, in every sense of the word. An inspiration, in other words.

But Gordie was all about hockey, and there’s more than one reason his nickname is Mr. Hockey:

Gordie Howe was a skilled player. But, he also was a tough guy who would do whatever it took to succeed on the ice and, apparently, had no idea why he played the way he did. There is something to the "Gordie Howe hat trick" -- a goal, an assist and a fight in a game -- but Howe didn't pay much attention to it. Ironically, Howe achieved the "Gordie Howe hat trick" just once in his career.

There was no rhyme or reason to his game, he was just playing hockey. He was a just a hockey player doing his job.

Frank Mahovlich played with Gordie and Alex Delvecchio in the late 1960s on the last incarnation of the Production Line. With the newly acquired Mahovlich in 1968-69, Howe had his best scoring season in then his 23rd season with 44 goals and 59 assists and topped the 100-point mark for the first time. Nearly four decades later, Mahvolich still looks up to Gordie Howe with profound respect.

"It was great to have Gordie on your side. He was a great competitor and it was easier being on his side than playing against him," recalled the Big M in October 2006. "He kind of dominated the play. When he got on the ice, that puck gravitated to his stick and he set the pace of the game. He could slow the game down, he could speed it; he could do what he liked with it. He was that good."

Read the whole thing. It’ll do ya good.

(photo credit:

Perusing the New York Times...

Yesterday was quite the anomaly, weather-wise. And it was cold, too, what with a high of only 41 degrees. We got a lot of precipitation…in each and every form: snow, sleet, hail, and rain. I love the Weather Channel’s description of conditions when that happens: “wintry mix.” It was that, all right. And today? A high of 71 and bright sunshine…there’s not a cloud to be seen anywhere as I type. Oh, yeah, almost forgot: we had very heavy frost last evening.

Dang. Missed another trend: Video Games Conquer Retirees.

Anxious about the mental cost of aging, older people are turning to games that rely on quick thinking to stimulate brain activity. A step slower than in their youth, they are using digital recreations of bowling, tennis and golf.

Spurred by the popularity of the Nintendo Wii game system among older players, Erickson Retirement Communities, based in Baltimore, which manages 18 campuses around the country with 19,000 total residents, is installing the consoles at each location.

“A step slower…” Well, now… that’s being kind, isn’t it? Perhaps I can understand a video game version of bowling and/or tennis. But show me a golfer who will give up his game in favor of a simulation (barring illness or physical disability) and I’ll eat my hat. We all know a golfer or two and they just have to be among the most fanatical folks in the world when it comes to their sport. Yet again I digress.

SN1 has a Wii. He was going on the other evening while we were on the phone about how utterly cool Wii bowling is. I’ll take his word for it. Games based on motion sensors aside (I’ve not played any), I’ve never gotten in to video games at all. The simple reason: I suck at them. I dropped a pretty good chunk of change on various air combat PC games and controllers when the maid quit (there was all that time to fill), only to give it all away upon discovering I’d never progress beyond the first level, no matter what I did (or didn't do). I got SO frustrated over my inability to “get it” that I was afraid I was going to break something. Something expensive. So out they went, never to be replaced. I really don’t miss them, either. Guess I’m just not a trendy sort o’ guy.

Easy for YOU to say… A Double Standard for the Triply Wed:

But divorce experts say the stigma of serial marriages and divorces is on the wane. It is too early to tell how the idea of a thrice-married first lady may turn off conservative voters, but high divorce rates and longer life spans are making third marriages more common and socially acceptable, sociologists, family therapists and divorce lawyers say.

The article was prompted by the revelation that the current Mrs. Giuilani is on her third marriage. Personally I don’t give a big rat’s butt how many times other folks have been down the aisle, but as for me? I refuse…repeat: refuse…to be a three-time loser.

I know: never say “never.” But, in this case it’s a pretty safe bet.

While we’re on about affairs of the heart, this is amusing: It’s Not You, It’s Your Apartment. Seriously, it IS amusing.

Spring is here and the restaurants will soon be filled with anxious and hopeful couples, ordering wine, dusting off their most luminous lies, thinking they might finally have found love. Then they will see their dates’ homes for the first time. And suddenly some of them will realize that they cannot be with this person a moment longer — or at the very latest, because that wine was not cheap, beyond the next morning. A few whose homes have been romantic deal breakers may, like Mr. Podell, know what went wrong and choose to ignore it, seeing their apartments as a reflection of their brave refusal to bow to conventional taste.

“There have been at least 40 women who’ve said, why do you live here?” he says.

I can relate. Living in an RV is a romantic deal-breaker of magnificent proportions. That and not having a bed. But look at it this way: it’s an iron-clad insurance policy against becoming a three-time loser.

Ain’t that AmericaToo Busy to Notice You’re Too Busy.” Ah, a classic whine, this is:

In our busy, busy world, however, I sometimes feel as if I am the odd one out. Although those who are overworked and overwhelmed complain ceaselessly, it is often with an undertone of boastfulness; the hidden message is that I’m so busy because I’m so important.


Of course, it is not just in the work force that people are madly busy. Many people I know, who might be able to enjoy some downtime because their children are in school and they do not have paying jobs, pile errands on top of volunteering on top of working out on top of, well, you name it. When the children get out of school, they race from one activity to another, and if at some point life seems to calm down, then it is time to take on a big construction project, get a dog or have another baby.

Nancy Reagan’s exhortation comes to mind here: “Just say ‘No!’” Ah, but that’s oh-so-easily said, not-so-easily done. I have some experience here, in that I used to be among the terminally busy. Nowadays I’m much more like Randy Bachman, as he sang in that classic ol’ Bachman-Turner Overdrive song:

People see you having fun
Just a-lying in the sun
Tell them that you like it this way
It's the work that we avoid
And we're all self-employed
We love to work at nothing all day

But I’m still a slave to e-mail. Some things just don’t change.

Today’s Pic: Me, back in the day when I was terminally busy. The pic was taken around 2000 hrs; note that it’s dark outside. And that’s the way life was: dark when I arrived, dark when I left. Terminally busy, in other words.

San Francisco. October, 2000.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Haven't We Seen This Movie Before?

I certainly hope not. I’m not up for a replay of last Friday, thank you. I can deal with cold, rainy, and damp… but getting airborne in El Casa Móvil De Pennington just ain’t my kinda fun.

If you view the larger “closer to home” radar pic you can see Floyd, where Jenny lives. And note that sleet and snow ain’t too far away.

On a side note…I was watching the WX Channel last evening just before bedtime and noted they said we were victimized by 67 tornadoes across six states on Wednesday. I searched for an on-line article to quote but couldn’t find one. At any rate, as surprising as it may seem, 67 tornadoes isn’t the record for March outbreaks…last year was, with 70+ (76, if memory serves, which it often doesn’t).

Opinions and Editorials...

This is pretty interesting…From an op-ed in yesterday’s Der Speigel (“Evil Americans, Poor Mullahs”), one of Germany’s leading publications:

We've known just what they're like for a long time. The 19th-century German author Karl May taught us about the American Wild West, and Karl Marx warned us about unbridled capitalism. Besides, we've all been there at least once -- on vacation, of course. Be it in California or Florida (that's where you get the best deals on rental cars, you know), we can see right through the Americans.

For us Germans, the Americans are either too fat or too obsessed with exercise, too prudish or too pornographic, too religious or too nihilistic. In terms of history and foreign policy, the Americans have either been too isolationist or too imperialistic. They simply go ahead and invade foreign countries (something we Germans, of course, would never do) and then abandon them, the way they did in Vietnam and will soon do in Iraq.

Worst of all, the Americans won the war in 1945. (Well, with German help, of course -- from Einstein and his ilk.) There are some Germans who will never forgive the Americans for VE Day, when they defeated Hitler. After all, Nazism was just an accident, whereas Americans are inherently evil.


Not a day passes in Germany when someone isn't making the wildest claims, hurling the vilest insults or spreading the most outlandish conspiracy theories about the United States. But there's no risk involved and it all serves mainly to boost the German feeling of self-righteousness.

Not so safe

Iran is a different story. The last time someone made a joke on German TV about an Iranian leader, the outcome was not pleasant. Exactly 20 years ago, Dutch entertainer Rudi Carell produced a short TV sketch portraying Ayatollah Khomeini dressed in women's underwear. Carell received death threats. The piece, which lasted all of a few seconds, led to flights being cancelled and German diplomats being expelled from Tehran. Carell apologized. Jokes about fat Americans are just safer.

That last line pretty much says it all. Our kinder and gentler nature has just made America into a muscle-bound version of Rodney Dangerfield…we “don’t get no respect.” For all our inherent evil, the world understands there’s no penalty and little risk of retribution if you tweak our nose. No, you’ve got to kill 3,000 of us at a single go before we’ll kick your ass. And even then the outcome isn’t certain…especially if your tactics are to run, hide, and slowly bleed us… inflicting death and humiliation using the old Chinese “death by a thousand cuts.”

But, back to the op-ed. Given a choice between being loved or being feared, I’ll take fear every damned time. It seems to work pretty well for the mullahs, doesn’t it?

(h/t: Lex)

Charles Krauthammer, writing in today’s WaPo:

Thought experiment: Bring in a completely neutral observer -- a Martian -- and point out to him that the United States is involved in two hot wars against radical Islamic insurgents. One is in Afghanistan, a geographically marginal backwater with no resources and no industrial or technological infrastructure. The other is in Iraq, one of the three principal Arab states, with untold oil wealth, an educated population, an advanced military and technological infrastructure that, though suffering decay in the later years of Saddam Hussein's rule, could easily be revived if it falls into the right (i.e., wrong) hands. Add to that the fact that its strategic location would give its rulers inordinate influence over the entire Persian Gulf region, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Gulf states. Then ask your Martian: Which is the more important battle? He would not even understand why you are asking the question.

Al-Qaeda has provided the answer many times. Osama bin Laden, the one whose presence in Afghanistan (or some cave on the border) presumably makes it the central front in the war on terror, has been explicit that "the most . . . serious issue today for the whole world is this Third World War that is raging in Iraq." Al-Qaeda's No. 2, Ayman Zawahiri, has declared that Iraq "is now the place for the greatest battle of Islam in this era."

This, in part, is Mr. Krauthammer’s response to fuzzy Democratic thinking, to wit: “Let’s end the Iraq war so we can concentrate on the real war: Afghanistan.” The enduring mystery (to me) is Krauthammer’s logic and the points he makes all seem so obvious. But, obviously (sorry!) it’s not. At least not to Democrats, anyway.

Speaking of Democrats…As part of an op-ed (Pork Goes to War) the NYT has a great graphic illustrating the types and dollar amounts of pork included in the supplemental appropriations bills passed by the Senate and House:

Despite their campaign talk about earmark reform last fall, the new Democratic leadership shamelessly used pork to buy votes — before the vote, Representatives Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Peter DeFazio of Oregon acknowledged that add-ons for their districts would influence their decisions.

The heavyweights also led by example: the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, added $20 million to eradicate Mormon crickets, and David Obey of Wisconsin, the House Appropriations Committee chairman, came away with $283 million for the Milk Income Loss Contract Program.

This chart (PDF), which is a partial list of some of the most egregious earmarks, shows that the new bosses are already feeding at the trough, and “war pork” threatens to sink their fiscal credibility.

The pdf is informative, if nothing else. This bill deserves a veto on financial grounds alone, no matter how much of the pork survives the House-Senate reconciliation process. The Iraq “timetable” is just a veto-sweetener.

News you can use…101 Fantastic Freebies, from PC World. I’ve chosen to link the Reader’s Choice section of this article, but there are alphabetical lists of all 101 items and more. I use several of these “freeware” apps, most notably g-mail, Nullsoft Winamp (a cool player that turns the ‘puter into my oh-so-expensive radio) and Ad-Aware SE…an anti-spyware app. There’s lots of great free stuff out there.

Today’s Pic: Detail on a sculpture of an Indian woman that stands just off the Plaza in Taos. I posted a full view of the sculpture back in September of last year…here. As always, click for larger.

Taos. May, 2004.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Today's Pic

A bit of whimsy from seven years ago this month. I was wandering around Space Center Houston (not to be confused with the Johnson Space Center) when this particular display caught my eye. I titled this photo “My Riding Buddy” and used it to illustrate an edition of The Trailer Trash Report, an e-newsletter I put together and mailed to friends and family when I first hit the road. Blogs, as such, didn’t exist back in 2000. And neither did ubiquitous network connectivity. It was hard enough finding a network connection to get my e-mail and upload my newsletters; maintaining a blog on the road would have been next to impossible. Ain’t progress grand?

Houston. March, 2000.

US No Longer the World's Technology Leader?

US 'no longer technology king'.” That, according to a report issued by the World Economic Forum, as reported by the BBC.

The US has lost its position as the world's primary engine of technology innovation, according to a report by the World Economic Forum.

The US is now ranked seventh in the body's league (sic) table measuring the impact of technology on the development of nations.

A deterioration of the political and regulatory environment in the US prompted the fall, the report said.

I’m not sure what sort of wholesale political and regulatory deterioration we experienced last year, but the “net neutrality” debate couldn’t have helped any. But, I digress. Last year the WEF’s annual report on technology listed the US as number one; this year we’ve slipped to number seven. Who’s Number One? Here’s the top ten:

Denmark (3)
Sweden (8)
Singapore (2)
Finland (5)
Switzerland (9)
Netherlands (12)
7: US (1)
Iceland (4)
UK (10)
Norway (13)

Why is Denmark Number One?

"Denmark, in particular, has benefited from the very effective government e-leadership, reflected in early liberalisation of the telecommunications sector, a first-rate regulatory environment and large availability of e-government services," said Irene Mia, senior economist at World Economic Forum.

I’m not picking on Denmark, but what does “…very effective government e-leadership…” and “large availability of e-government services” really mean, I wonder? I dunno about you, but I’ll take products and/or services from Microsoft, Apple, Boeing, and General Electric…just to name a few…over “e-government services” any day. I just did a quick mental inventory on the technology in El Casa Móvil De Pennington and there’s not a single example of anything from the top six countries on that list (I used to own a Nokia—Finland—cell phone, however).

And…in a rather mysterious turn of events, today’s BBC article conflicts with an article published this past Tuesday that said, among other things:

The US has regained first place in an annual global league table of countries making most extensive and constructive use of computers and the internet.

America has topped the latest Networked Readiness Index from the World Economic Forum, winning back its top position from this year's number two, Singapore.

Note that both BBC articles quote the “Networked Readiness Index.” Which one is wrong, one wonders? At any rate… consider the report’s source (the World Economic Forum) and who conducted it (“Insead, the Paris-based business school”) when accepting or rejecting its conclusions.

Outside the Beltway has more discussion, including links to the Global Information Technology Report resource page.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

More Dining Out Stuff

Today’s Pic: SN1 sends along a pic of himself and Madam Vice (he was Mr. Vice) at the grog bowl during a recent Hill AFB Dining Out. No other details available…you might could ask questions, if you have any, in the comments. No promises about answers, though.

March, 2007.
(USAF Photo)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Another Record

Making the playoffs: Who has the longest active streak in professional sports? Hint: it ain’t the Yankees, but if you guessed Yankees, you’re close.
NEW YORK -- The Detroit Red Wings have clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the 16th consecutive season, the latest milestone for a franchise that has set a standard for sustained excellence not only in the National Hockey League but for all of North American major pro sports. The New York Yankees, who have qualified for the Major League Baseball playoffs in each of the past 12 seasons, have the next-longest streak.
In addition, the Red Wings reached the 100-point mark last Thursday, marking their seventh consecutive season of 100 points or more and surpassing the stretch of six such seasons amassed by the Edmonton Oilers during the Wayne Gretzky era from 1981-82 through 1986-87. The Montreal Canadiens, who recorded an NHL-record eight consecutive 100-point seasons from 1974-75 through 1981-82, are the only NHL team with a longer streak.
Naysayers could (and probably will) remark that “everyone makes the playoffs” in the NHL. This is somewhat true compared to the other major sports, in that 16 of the 30 NHL teams qualify for post-season play under the current system. But that ain’t everyone, now, is it? But, more to the point, the linked article explains the “hows and whys” of the Red Wings' success…which boils down to management continuity, smart(est) drafting (even though the Wings have only had one top-20 pick since 1992), and good trades. In other words: a supremely well-managed team with lots of talent.
But making the playoffs doesn’t guarantee anything (read that: Stanley Cup), as the last few seasons early exits have shown. Let’s hope it’s different this year…


Augh. Up all night. Again. “Sleeping in shifts” would be a more appropriate term, actually. My head hit the pillow around 2130 last evening or thereabouts and I awoke around 0200. And stayed awake until 0530. The smart thing to do would have been to put today’s post up early…but Noooo. When 0530 rolled around I was well and truly tired, too tired to write anything…meaningful or otherwise. The good news is I slept well, once I got to sleep “for good.”
And now I find myself behind the power curve. A strange statement, that. How can one be “behind the power curve” if one has no responsibilities beyond those that are self-imposed? The answer, or the best answer I can muster, is residual Type A behavior.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
A Very Brief AAR Which stands for “After Action Report,” a misnomer if there ever was one, in this case. Mainly because there was no action yesterday beyond the normal rhythms of life: Get up, drink coffee, make the rounds, do chores, fix meals, clean up, recreate (Tee Vee, a little light music, reading), bed. I gave an ever-so-brief nod towards “my special day” in that I cooked (as opposed to nuked) dinner…kielbasa simmered in half a bottle of Fat Tire and sauerkraut…and enjoyed the last of the Partagas stash in conjunction with three fingers of single malt, both taken outside in the warm evening air.
Extra added attraction: The Wings were on Versus last night and beat Anaheim, 1-0 in a great defensive struggle. A much different game than the classic I posted about yesterday, but entertaining none the less. The win moved the Wings into a three-way tie for first overall in the league, along with division rival Nashville and the Buffalo Sabres.
Today’s Pic: More from the Family Archives. This lady is Estelle Wood, my maternal grandmother. The photo was taken sometime in the 1920s and that is an educated guess, at best. One would assume the photo was taken in Atlanta as my grandmother was born, raised, and lived her entire life in that city.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Day to Remember...

...for lots of reasons. This being among the best:
A simmering rivalry bubbled over in a game for the ages 10 years ago.
On March 26, 1997, while the Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings were positioning themselves for the upcoming NHL playoffs, bad blood from the previous postseason boiled into unadulterated fury at Joe Louis Arena. The teams combined for nine fights, 11 goals, 39 penalties, 148 penalty minutes, one hat trick, one "turtle" and two Stanley Cup champion goalies duking it out in an overtime thriller.
In a 2004 poll on the Red Wings' Web site, fans overwhelmingly voted this ultra-memorable game their favorite in the team's recent history, ahead of overtime playoff thrillers and Stanley Cup-clinching victories.
Good choice, Hockeytown.
Read the whole thing, even if you’re not a hockey fan. The story is a great one, hockey or no, and there are links to videos of some of the memorable ...uh... altercations. If you are a hockey fan?
What a birthday present that was! I did manage to watch the game although I wasn’t in Detroit. This was back in the day when the NHL’s TV contract was with a viable network (read that as: ESPN).
Photo: Patrick Roy and Mike Vernon mix it up. What’s unusual is they’re both goalies. Rare, that. Photo credit: ESPN.

The Recent Past

Today’s Pic: “Former Happy Days, Part Deux.” Three years ago, today. From left to right: Grandson Sean, SN1, the ex-girlfriend, daughter-in-law Erma, granddaughter Felicity.

The occasion? My 59th birthday BBQ.

Great weather for March, eh?

Clovis, NM.

Dining Out

Mike posted a series of excellent pics and a story about the Dining Out he attended recently. He cuts a fine figure in his Class A's, he does!

Reading Mike’s post and looking at his pictures fired off some long-dormant synapses in the ol’ brain. The Dining In is an old military tradition. I went looking for a little bit of a little background for you…

In a very rare occurrence, the Wiki lets me down. Their entries for Dining In/Dining Out are pretty danged poor, to say the least. There are better descriptions here and here (pdf).

As an example, the wiki says absolutely nothing about The Grog Bowl, which, although watered down considerably from the Days of Yore, remains a central fixture of the Dining In/Out. One can devine the purpose of The Grog Bowl from the following:

The following rules will be strictly enforced. Violations will result in punitive action by the President of the Mess. He will be assisted by Mr.Vice and Madam Vice, who have in their possession a bottomless "Grog" bowl.

Break a rule (and there are many!), “win” a trip to The Grog Bowl. And here are the Rules of Engagement for The Grog Bowl:

Persons being directed to the grog bowl will:

1. Without talking, proceed directly to the grog bowl.
2. Station thyself in front of the grog bowl facing the head table.
3. Salute the President of the Mess.
4. Pour thyself a full cup of grog; about face, raise cup and state "To the Mess."
5. Drink the contents of the cup without removing [the bowl] from thy lips.
6. Show the cup to be empty by turning it upside down over thy head; remove cup.
7. About face; replace cup; about face again; salute the President of the Mess; return to thy seat.

Omission of any of the above steps will demand a repetition of the entire procedure.

Back in the day the contents of the Grog Bowl were designed expressly to be semi-lethal, in an alcoholic “you can’t partake of the Grog without getting seriously impaired” sort of way. Today? Not so much.

The contents of the grog bowl are best left to the imagination of the planning committee. The contents should be non-alcoholic as to not dampen the spirits and participation of those individuals who, for religious or personal reasons, do not consume alcoholic beverages. It is permissible to have two grog bowls, one alcoholic and one non-alcoholic.

I’ve seen (and imbibed) amazing alcoholic concoctions in those bowls and survived to tell the tale(s), none of which are forthcoming. Be glad!

Oh, by the way, about those long-dormant synapses… I was Mr. Vice at my NCO Academy Dining Out in 1977. Without going into any detail (OPSEC and memory-failure being the two chief reasons) I’ll simply say “A Good Time was had by ALL!” A memorable evening in each and every aspect.

Some days I really miss the Air Force.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Photos and More

Clovis tornado damage…photos here; pictures and narrative here. The damage appears to be more extensive than yesterday’s initial article in the Clovis/Portales News-Tribune seemed to indicate. I haven’t been over to the Big(ger) CityTM since the tornado and likely won’t be over that way until the middle of the coming week. So…no personal reports. I prefer to stay out of the way while people clean up and get their lives back in order.

There are more t-storms in the forecast today. Let’s hope today’s storms are more of the garden variety than the exciting variety. Excitement doesn’t rank high on my list of favorable emotions these days, especially when it’s paired with weather.

Speaking of photos: Iraq, thru the eyes of an American Soldier. Excellent photography, and a well-done site. (h/t: Chap)

George Will has a column in today’s WaPo that’s drawing a lot of comment throughout the ‘sphere: Anger Is All The Rage (nice play on words, that):

Many people who loathe George W. Bush have adopted what Peter Wood describes as "ecstatic anger as a mode of political action." Anger often is, Wood says, "a spectacle to be witnessed by an appreciative audience, not an attempt to win over the uncommitted."

Wood, an anthropologist and author of "A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now," says the new anger "often has the look-at-me character of performance art." His book is a convincing, hence depressing, explanation of "anger chic" -- of why anger has become an all-purpose emotional stance. It has achieved prestige and become "a credential for group membership." As a result, "Americans have been flattening their emotional range into an angry monotone."

Anyone who’s ever visited any of the prominent Lefty blogs recognizes the truth in Peter Wood’s statement about anger as “spectacle,” and the appreciative audiences the spectacle attracts. Not that the Right is immune or refuses to play the anger game. There are several prominent Right-Wing blogs I rarely frequent because I don’t like their tone…and my key reasons are anger and its close associate, insult. Both are counter-productive to rational discourse and (in my opinion) are off-putting.

So. I’ll give you three links to further thoughts on Will’s essay…the first being EIP fave Ed Morrissey, the second is moderate voice Joe Gandleman, and the third is moonbat extraordinaire Maha. All three are worth the read. And it’s no coincidence I listed them in order of my personal preferences. Captain Ed made me think, as did Gandelman, and Maha just made me laugh. But Hey! Laughter is good, nu?

Today’s Pic: More from the archives. This time it’s YrHmblScrb and his great-grandmother standing next to Dad’s pride ‘n’ joy: The Fabulous Hudson Hornet.

During 1952 Hornets driven by Marshall Teague, Herb Thomas and Tim Flock won 27 NASCAR races driving for the Hudson team. In AAA racing, Teague drove a stock Hornet that he called the Fabulous Hudson Hornet to 14 wins during the season. This brought the Hornet's season record to 40 wins in 48 events, a winning percentage of 83%, a remarkable feat for a six-cylinder car.

I come by my gear-head tendencies naturally, or put another way, “it’s in the genes.” My father was a BIG Hudson fan, owning three of the things. And he drove them hard. So much so, in fact, that the words I remember most from my childhood motor outings with my parents are these: “Buck! Slow down!” It’s amazing just how varied in tone that simple admonishment could be…ranging from a dry statement to a cry of sheer terror. Meanwhile, in the back seat, my sister and I just held on…

(Yeah, Dad was Buck, too.)

Sacramento, CA. Circa 1951.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


It was a wild, wild, night: Tornado slams Clovis. But no one was killed, Thank God.

The worst tornado in Clovis’ history struck the city’s southeast side Friday night, leaving more than a dozen injured and possibly hundreds of homes damaged.

No deaths were reported, but officials said at least three patients at Plains Regional Medical Center were listed in critical condition.

Rescue workers were still searching storm-ravaged homes early this morning in search of injured or trapped residents. Details related to damage were not immediately available.

“We don’t know what we’re dealing with until the sun comes up and the lights come on,” said Clovis police spokesman Jim Schoeffel at a news conference late Friday night.

The tornado, wrapped in heavy rains, hit the city at 7:54 p.m., the National Weather Service reported, about 20 minutes after tornado sirens warned of danger. Debris was strewn across U.S. Highway 70 and officials quickly closed the road and urged sightseers to stay away. It remained closed early this morning.


At least five tornadoes were spotted in the area before Clovis was hit, said National Weather Service Meteorologist Chuck Jones. Jason Boggs, a storm spotter from Amarillo, said he saw the twister that likely hit Clovis while it was still in Roosevelt County. He estimated it was one-half mile, but said he believes it was not that wide when it struck Clovis.


Portales received heavy rain, but no injuries were reported and no ambulance calls were made related to the weather, Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry said.

It could have been worse, as it’s said.

This morning dawned clear and cool, with bright blue skies and lots of puddles. We DID get some rain last evening, and lots of it. I think the next time we have a weather episode like this I’m gonna head over to the hospital with a book. It was very stupid of me to just stay put last evening. You’d think I would have learned by now, eh?

The Weather Channel and several local (i.e., Albuquerque) stations are still AWOL on the cable system as I write (1000 hrs). I noted in the comments to “Look What’s Headed…” that the WX Channel went belly-up last evening just as the second wave of storms moved through the area. I’m still pretty pi$$ed that the management at Cox Cable couldn’t be bothered to call someone out last evening and restore the satellite feed that’s (obviously) gone bad. The WX Channel is not just a luxury during severe weather, it’s a necessity. Shame on Cox Cable.

(Note: WX Channel restored sometime after 1100 hrs. That means it was out for well over 12 hours. And I pay $50.00 per month for this?)

Words that will fall on deaf ears:

If the goal of peace demonstrators is to influence public opinion and encourage an end to the war, the activists must connect with their fellow citizens — not repel them.

Most of the people who marched on Sunday fully understand this. And by singling out the few who didn’t, we don’t intend to place thousands of demonstrators under one label. But the actions of a few do create a public perception that at least some advocates for peace are anti-American, anti-police and far out of step with mainstream values.

The anti-war demonstrators who behaved responsibly this past weekend have an obligation to denounce — and distance themselves from — those protesters who purposefully offend others and consequently destroy the intended message of peace.

This from the Portland, OR Tribune. Portland isn’t exactly a conservative hotbed, but then again, it ain’t SFO, either. There are some truly disgusting details in this op-ed, details I won’t quote here.

From the Guardian (UK)… Supreme court ban on liberal party wipes out opposition to Putin.

Russia's next parliament is likely to have no genuine opposition after a court in Moscow yesterday banned a leading liberal party from standing in elections.

Russia's supreme court announced that it had liquidated the small Republican party, claiming that it had violated electoral law by having too few members. The party is one of very few left in Russia that criticises President Vladimir Putin.

The move against Russia's opposition came as pro-democracy activists prepared for the latest in a series of anti-government rallies that have infuriated Russia's hardline authorities.


The Kremlin argues that its new electoral law - which says that all political parties must have 50,000 members and be represented in half of Russia's provinces - is meant to streamline Russia's untidy political scene. Critics say the legislation is designed to kill off smaller parties that oppose the Kremlin.

Captain Ed is calling Putin “Tsar Vlad I.” Appropriate, I’d say. Putin’s outspoken opponents die mysteriously worldwide, the government shuts down independent media, and opposition parties are outlawed…things are looking pretty dark in Russia. I’m just not ready for Cold War Redux, yanno? But it looks like that’s what we’re gonna get.

Krauthammer on Gonzales:

Alberto Gonzales has to go. I say this with no pleasure — he’s a decent and honorable man — and without the slightest expectation that his departure will blunt the Democratic assault on the Bush administration over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. In fact, it will probably inflame their bloodlust, which is why the president might want to hang on to Gonzales at least through this crisis. That might be tactically wise. But in time, and the sooner the better, Gonzales must resign.

It’s not a question of probity, but of competence. Gonzales has allowed a scandal to be created where there was none. That is quite an achievement. He had a two-foot putt and he muffed it.

The linked article was published yesterday in National Review Online. The story gets even worse today, what with “new” documentation indicating Gonzales was deliberately deceptive about his role in the US attorney firings.

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales met with senior aides on Nov. 27 to review a plan to fire a group of U.S. attorneys, according to documents released last night, a disclosure that contradicts Gonzales's previous statement that he was not involved in "any discussions" about the dismissals.


Documents detailing the previously undisclosed meeting appear to conflict with remarks by Gonzales at a March 13 news conference in which he portrayed himself as a CEO who had delegated to Sampson responsibility for the particulars of firing eight U.S. attorneys.

"I was not involved in seeing any memos, was not involved in any discussions about what was going on," Gonzales said.

Perhaps I’m being hyperbolic when I say AG Gonzales was “deliberately deceptive,” but what else can one think? Can one even entertain the notion the Attorney General of the United States’ memory is so bad that he can’t recall sitting in a conference room for an hour with his staff in a meeting whose subject appears to be these firings? Well, you could believe his memory is that bad, but if that’s the case the man needs medical attention.

Once again, I’ll defer to Mr. Morrissey:

Have we had enough yet? I understand the argument that if we allow the Democrats to bounce Gonzales, they'll just aim for more, but Gonzales made himself the target here with what looks like blatant deception. I don't think we do ourselves any good by defending the serially changing stories coming out of Gonzales' inept administration at Justice. One cannot support an Attorney General who misleads Congress, allows his staffers to mislead Congress, and deceives the American people, regardless of whether an R or a D follows his name or the majority control of Congress.

When the story broke about the NSA terrorist surveillance program, Bush did not hide behind a morphable definition of "is" or "involved". He stood at the podium and told the press that he damned well did order the surveillance program and that he broke no laws in doing so. In that manner, he turned the leak into a net positive, showing that he had the courage of his convictions and that he intended nothing more than the security of the nation.

What he said.

Deceptive, inept, and incompetent. Time to go, Al.

Today’s Pic: SN3 and Grandson Sean at a Texas rest area just across the TX-LA state line. Kids just love to pose, God Bless 'em.

April, 2004.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Look What's Headed Our Way...

The weather outside is pretty wild at the moment. Dark gray, swirling, towering clouds driven rapidly across the sky by a very brisk breeze…it’s a warm breeze, too. If you check SE NM in the larger version of the map, you'll see a Meso-cell with clouds topping out at 55K feet, moving NNE at speeds of 31 mph. That's aimed right at P-Town...

Ah, Spring! It looks to be an interesting sort of evening in these parts.

Update: 1527 hrs. That cell is gonna track well to the east of us (you too, Jenny!). But the one behind it? Jury's out.

Calling In Well

When all else fails, Scott and James (usually) deliver. James isn’t all that great today, what with a rant about a malfunctioning new fridge that, save the colorful language, is just average for Mr. Lileks (I should be so “average”). On the other hand, Mr. Ott is pretty good today:

Army Desertions Rise to Near All-Time Average
by Scott Ott

(2007-03-23) — The Pentagon today admitted that, due to the Bush administration’s hugely unpopular war in Iraq, desertions from the Army have increased in each of the last two years, reaching almost 75 percent of pre-war levels.

According to a story in The New York Times, citing a National Public Radio report, the Pentagon has miscalculated desertion figures in recent years, in part because the Defense Department inexplicably misplaced personnel records during what officials called an “isolated incident at the office” on September 11, 2001.

His best line, however, is at the very end. Fair use” prevents me from posting the whole thing, but I’m sure you’ll go read. Right?

And then there’s this…an op-ed from the WaPo:

TODAY THE House of Representatives is due to vote on a bill that would grant $25 million to spinach farmers in California. The legislation would also appropriate $75 million for peanut storage in Georgia and $15 million to protect Louisiana rice fields from saltwater. More substantially, there is $120 million for shrimp and menhaden fishermen, $250 million for milk subsidies, $500 million for wildfire suppression and $1.3 billion to build levees in New Orleans.

Altogether the House Democratic leadership has come up with more than $20 billion in new spending, much of it wasteful subsidies to agriculture or pork barrel projects aimed at individual members of Congress. At the tail of all of this logrolling and political bribery lies this stinger: Representatives who support the bill -- for whatever reason -- will be voting to require that all U.S. combat troops leave Iraq by August 2008, regardless of what happens during the next 17 months or whether U.S. commanders believe a pullout at that moment protects or endangers U.S. national security, not to mention the thousands of American trainers and Special Forces troops who would remain behind.

The Democrats claim to have a mandate from voters to reverse the Bush administration's policy in Iraq. Yet the leadership is ready to piece together the votes necessary to force a fateful turn in the war by using tactics usually dedicated to highway bills or the Army Corps of Engineers budget. The legislation pays more heed to a handful of peanut farmers than to the 24 million Iraqis who are living through a maelstrom initiated by the United States, the outcome of which could shape the future of the Middle East for decades.

I know: politics as usual. Happens all the time, right? Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. It’s the way things get done in the real world. Still and even…I’ve not seen an example of political behavior lately that’s more reprehensible or more disgusting. It will be most interesting to see which representatives take the bait and sell the country out to get peanut storage, among other things. Damn.

But…kudos to the WaPo for taking a principled position on this issue. I hope they manage to shame those reps that just might be willing to eat the bacon. Fat chance.

Today’s Pic: An example of an art time has passed by: the hand-colored portrait. This particular example is a photo of my sister and me, circa 1957 in Ankara, Turkey. I was 12, my sister was six. Interestingly, the artist didn’t know the shirt I was wearing was tan, not green as colored. My Mom was furious with the results, my Dad much less so. It’s strange how one can remember the angst associated with an event, but not the event itself. I have absolutely NO recollection of sitting for this picture, but I well remember my Mom’s outrage over the color of my shirt. I don’t think she ever got over it!

Short post today. I thought about calling in well* but decided against it. But on the whole? I need a mental health day.

* “calling in well” is when you just feel too good to go to work. Some people can pull this off, some can’t.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Catching Up

So…during the first “drain and refill” operation after taking today’s pic I discovered, much to my chagrin, that the roof vent in my bathroom was wide open during that tropical rain squall that blew over El Casa Móvil De Pennington this morning. Which, of course, led to an impromptu mopping up operation. I now have a spotless (but still soggy) “facility.” It’s truly amazing just how much water can pour through a 12-inch square opening in the roof in such a short time. “Stupidity R Us…”
It’s pi$ing down rain as I type, yet again. But: the vent is closed now. This is a good thing.
Captain Ed, writing in response to this article in the NYT:
The Democrats thought they rode to power on a wave of anti-war sentiment, but they have discovered that their victory had much more to do with Republican failures than with Democratic platforms. Most of their new members come from center-right districts where Democratic messages about corruption and abuses resonated -- but where they see Congress' role in Iraq as limited at best. Boren represents a typical Democratic pickup district in that respect.
Now that the Democratic leadership has gone on record as wanting to limit options for victory in Iraq, Nancy Pelosi and company find that these new representatives will not play along with them. The Blue Dogs understand that timetables represent nothing more than defunding efforts under another name. They will not vote for anything that smells of defeat and retreat, and their numbers indicate that the Democratic supplemental -- even filled with hometown pork for those on the fence -- will likely fail.
On top of that, the Out of Iraq caucus threatens the bill on the Left because it gets too cute with its defunding efforts. The Left wants a clean break -- complete defunding and an end to the deployment now. Maxine Waters has assumed the leadership of this faction, and her threat to withhold support of the supplemental would also doom the bill on just that basis alone. The Democrats have only a fifteen-seat majority, and while they may get a handful of Republicans to cross the aisle for this bill, they cannot hope to make up for the losses from the Blue Dogs and the antiwar caucus.
A lot of us have been writing that the “mandate” on the war, as claimed by Madame Speaker and Harry Reid, is ephemeral at best, and non-existent outside of the ultra-Liberal Left wing of the Democratic party, at worst. And Representative Boren (more or less) proves that point. Thank the Lord for those Blue Dog Dems. I suppose I should offer thanks for the twisted logic and/or rationale being used by the “Out of Iraq” caucus against this bill, too. But I just can’t.
Both Captain Ed and that NYT articles are worth your time…here are the lead grafs from the NYT:
WASHINGTON, March 21 — Representative Dan Boren is a Democrat, but after visiting Iraq last week he announced a decision that puts him at odds with his party’s leaders: he intends to vote against their plan to set a deadline for troops to leave Iraq.
“A timeline, in effect, is cutting off the funds,” said Mr. Boren, a conservative second-term lawmaker whose territory covers the eastern swath of Oklahoma, from the bottom of Kansas to the top of Texas. “That is not the solution.”
His views have barely caused a ripple in his home district, but the House Democratic leadership has been working to keep Mr. Boren’s views from spreading through the party’s jittery conservative wing. At the same time, the leaders are trying to persuade liberals to support the legislation, even though it does not end the war nearly fast enough for their liking.
As the House prepares to vote Friday on a $124 billion Iraq spending bill, which calls for American troops to come home before Labor Day of 2008, an intensely private and anguishing debate has played out for many lawmakers through handwritten letters, telephone calls and conversations. Dozens of representatives have traveled to Iraq, even as antiwar activists staged protests in their district offices or at their homes.
The consternation among Democrats on the left and the right has made the outcome of the vote far less certain than leaders had hoped, particularly after respected figures like Representative John Lewis, a liberal Georgia Democrat, declared his opposition, saying, “I will not and cannot vote for another dollar or another dime to support this war.”
It’s getting pretty danged ugly, ain’t it?
Smash is posting a series of articles (up to Part III, now) about his adventures in infiltration. That would be him as covert operator inside last Saturday’s Moonbat March in Washington. Great writing, great pictures. Great big Brass Ones, too. Moonbats can be violent if provoked, so Smash infiltrated the march with a certain disregard for his safety. Do go read if you haven’t already been.
It didn’t get past me that Algore testified before Congress about global warming climate change yesterday. I watched a lot of his testimony (if you wanna call it that) on C-SPAN last evening, as a matter of fact. And I was pleased as punch that House and Senate Republicans didn’t just give Big Al a pass:
Al Gore, star of an Academy Award-winning film, was in town for a double feature on Capitol Hill yesterday. But instead of giving another screening of "An Inconvenient Truth," the former vice president found himself playing the Clarence Darrow character in "Inherit the Wind."
"You're not just off a little -- you're totally wrong," Joe Barton (Tex.), the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told the former vice president at a hearing on global warming yesterday morning.
"One scientist is quoted as saying, 'This is shrill alarmism,' " said Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.). The reviews only grew more savage when Gore crossed over to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in the afternoon for a second hearing. "You've been so extreme in some of your expressions that you're losing some of your own people," announced Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), the committee's ranking Republican and the man who has called man-made global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."
Senator Inhofe is rapidly becoming one of my heroes where this subject is concerned. He’s outspoken on the issue and brooks no fools, especially world-famous, Academy Award-winning and Nobel-nominee sorts of fools. Algore’s stuff may wash well in Hollyweird, but I’m not too sure how well his message plays on Main Street. Especially when there’s serious economic constraints waiting in the wings if Algore’s recommendations are accepted and implemented. The “freeze” on greenhouse gases is specifically worrisome, from my point of view. It reads and sounds like a freeze on new economic activity…pure and simple. Do we need that? I think not.

Rain on the Roof...

You and me and rain on the roof
Caught up in a summer shower
Dryin' while it soaks the flowers
Maybe we'll be caught for hours
Waitin' out the sun

—John Sebastian & The Lovin’ Spoonful (lyrics)

Today’s Pic: I threw open the door and took this quick snap of rain pounding the roof of my neighbor’s travel trailer. “Apropos of what?” you ask, Gentle Reader? The beautiful noise, GR, the beautiful noise! Rain…hard rain…can be deafening inside an RV. An RV’s roof is in close proximity to your head and it’s flat, both traits conspiring to create a racket in a hard rain that can only be described as cacophony. And so it was for a brief few minutes this morning. I love it.

Too bad it didn’t last all that long…but that’s the way rain happens, here on The High Plains. And now we return to regularly scheduled programming.

Back in a few.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Still Slow, But Passable

In the NYT: House Panel Authorizes Subpoenas for Top Bush Aides

As the war of words escalated, people on both sides acknowledged a legal fight carried political risks. Beth Nolan, who was counsel to President Bill Clinton and twice testified to Congress under subpoena, said she suspected the clash would lead to more negotiations, and not a court fight. “There’s the legal path to the fight and the political path,” she said. “It’s much more likely that you’ll see a political path.”

One would hope. There’s way too much on both parties’ plates—real, serious business, such as getting the supplemental DoD appropriation passed, minus the vote-soliciting pork—than to be mucking around in the political mud. But, just to mix my metaphors, the Dems smell blood in the water. I don’t think they’re gonna back down. So, folks, we appear to be heading towards a side-show of spectacular proportions. {sigh}

News you can use… It Boils Down to This: Cheap Wine Works Fine

And so we came to a new gospel: Never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink.

For my generation of home cooks, this line now has the unshakable ring of a commandment. It was the first thing out of the mouth of every expert I interviewed on the subject.

But it is not always helpful in the kitchen. For one thing, short of a wine that is spoiled by age, heat or a compromised cork, there are few that I categorically would not drink. (Although a cooking wine, which is spiked with salt and sometimes preservatives, has never touched my braising pot.)

I’ve been a subscriber to that ol’ saw for years and years and years, having learned it at my Daddy’s knee (Mom, too). And I’ve never purchased anything labeled as “cooking wine.” I don’t know if my parents got it from Julia Child (who is credited by the NYT as establishing the meme), but they probably did. Ms. Child was one of my parents’ minor heroes, and for good reason. I cook with wine a lot, when I cook. And one of the greatest pleasures in so doing is having a glass of the wine I’m using…most often a cheap(er) but pleasing burgundy. So…bottles of cooking wine don’t last long around El Casa Móvil De Pennington.

The linked article is a little too much “inside tee-ball” for my tastes, to wit:

I made the dish three times in one morning: first with a 2000 Barolo ($69.95), next with a 2005 dolcetto d’Alba ($22.95), and finally with a jack-of-all-wines, a Charles Shaw cabernet sauvignon affectionately known to Trader Joe’s shoppers as Two-Buck Chuck. (Introduced at $1.99, the price is up to $2.99 at the Manhattan store.)

I’ve never bought a $70.00 bottle of wine. Ever. (I have bought $50.00+ bottles of single-malt, however.) Still and even, the article is an interesting, if somewhat “out there,” sort of read.

Makes me wonder, though. Would my guests be offended if they knew they were drinking my cooking wine?

More PC excess: Huffing and Puffing - Is smoking a cigarette now enough to give a movie an R rating?

That's only the tip of the Marlboro, though. If every piece of filmed entertainment featuring tobacco usage is to be slapped with an R, the ratings board might want to borrow a trick from the kids and call in a few pizzas and some kegs of Red Bull. They'll have to either airbrush or give the scarlet R letter to the entire Marx Brothers oeuvre and the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby pictures. Also out will be "Meet Me in St. Louis," "Lady and the Tramp," "E.T.," Bugs Bunny cartoons, "The Parent Trap," "Chariots of Fire," "Superman," "The Chronicles of Narnia," "Elf" and the World Series (which should be banned for its tediousness, not its players' incessant tobacco chewing).

Christmas won't be the same without you, Frosty--unless you replace your corn-cob pipe with a stick of Dentyne. And some Grinch had better get to work ridding every children's library of its copy of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" ("The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth/And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.")

Good Lord. Has it come to this? Really? Just in case you choose not to follow the link, the proposal to ban smoking in movies was voted down by the MPAA. This time. The prudes are persistent, if not exactly smart, though. Just like Ahnold, “they’ll be baaaack.”

Today’s Pic(s): El Palacio Real, Santa Fe. As the sign says, “…the oldest public building in the United States.” And the haunt of many, many craft vendors. I’ve literally spent hours in the vicinity waiting for my women friends to finish shopping this long, long line…

Santa Fe. June, 2004.
(click for larger. I posted "small" photos coz I wasn't quite sure how long they'd take to upload. If ever.)

Marking Time

Yesterday I opened with “Ah…the coffee is good this morning!” Today? Not so much. I awoke at 0530, stumbled over to the kitchen counter and lit off the pot. I returned to bed to await the steaming results and immediately fell back asleep. Two hours later I was awakened by the beep-beep-beeping of the pot, signifying the automatic shut-off had engaged. Thus: coffee that was two hours old when I poured the first cup.

Yea, I could have poured it out and started anew, but that seems is so wasteful. And that’s not me. So, I just dealt with it. And it was wonderful, compared to the freshest Air Force coffee I ever drank. Gotta keep one’s perspective about things.

The coffee’s not the only thing that’s second-class today. My net connection is having another one of its periodic fits of intermittency. It’s there one minute and gone the next. The net result (ed: groan...) is making the rounds has been slower than slow, I’ve lost and had to retype three comments on various blogs, and have re-booted twice, all to no avail. And although I have made it through my usual and customary reads I’ve yet to begin getting caught up on what’s happening in the world according to the MSM.

Dang, but I hate it when this happens! Hopefully things will get back to normal in a bit.

The Good News? It’s Spring. And it’s a beautiful day, weather-wise. Now give me back my ‘net!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Same...uh...Stuff, Different Day

Ah…the coffee is good this morning! It should go without saying the coffee’s good every morning here at El Casa Móvil De Pennington, but it’s seemingly better than usual today. Same coffee, made in the same measure, but somehow different and more vibrant. Could it be my taste buds are recovering from all those years of all that smoke? Possibly.
The coffee may be good today, but the reading is sub-par. Just one example: more, yet still more, about the federal prosecutor firing “scandal,” a scandal that just might take down the Attorney General. As for Gonzales getting the boot, I agree with Mr. Krauthammer:
KRAUTHAMMER: When the boss is -- when the boss says -- is asked about the chances of you escaping his firing you and his answer is "I hope so, you better start packing.
Look, I said earlier, last week, he's a dead man walking, and it's on the grounds of incompetents. He had an easy way to defend the administration on this issue early on. I would not have the president waste his ammunition in defending him now at the beginning he should have said -- Gonzales should have said, was the White House involved in this, if it was, I'm not sure, if it was, so what, it's perfectly legitimate.
The district attorneys are appointed by the president. Election are fought over priorities in law enforcement, we want that to be known by our district attorneys. Every administration ultimately changes over to enforce, those priorities. It's a perfectly legitimate executive function. We don't have anything to hide or be ashamed of. He didn't say that at the beginning, and now it's too late.
Charles is referring to the President’s response yesterday when asked about Gonzales’ future. I’d be cleaning out my desk too, if my boss said something even remotely similar regarding my prospects for continued employment. As Mr. Krauthammer says, it’s all about “incompetents.” (That’s an easily-explained error in transcription, btw.) I’m simply aghast at the incompetence displayed by Alberto and his staff in this brouhaha. This whole thing could have been cut off at the knees if Gonzales had simply said “so, what?” when the Left began shouting. Incompetence. Gross incompetence. One cannot imagine, say, the Nixon White House (or even the Clinton White House, for that matter) being such rank amateurs.
Dubya needs a win…any sort of win…and soon. There’s just too damned much bad news these days.
This may be a small win for Dubya, the US, and the world at large: Russia Gives Iran Ultimatum on Enrichment:
PARIS, Mar. 18 — Russia has informed Iran that it will withhold nuclear fuel for Iran’s nearly completed Bushehr power plant unless Iran suspends its uranium enrichment as demanded by the United Nations Security Council, European, American and Iranian officials said.
The ultimatum was delivered in Moscow last week by Igor Ivanov, Russia’s Security Council Secretary, to Ali Hosseini Tash, Iran’s deputy chief nuclear negotiator, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because a confidential diplomatic exchange between two governments was involved.
For years, President Bush has been pressing President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to cut off help to Iran on the nuclear reactor, which is Tehran’s first serious effort to produce nuclear energy and has been highly profitable for Russia. But Mr. Putin has resisted.
Recently, however, Moscow and Tehran have been engaged in a public argument about whether Iran has paid its bills, in a dispute that may explain Russia’s apparent shift. The ultimatum may also reflect Moscow’s increasing displeasure and frustration with Iran over its refusal to stop enriching uranium at its vast facility at Natanz.
“We’re not sure what mix of commercial and political motives are at play here,” one senior Bush administration official said in Washington. “But clearly the Russians and the Iranians are getting on each other’s nerves — and that’s not all bad.”
“Not all bad,” indeed. I’d say two more things…(a) ‘bout time the Russians got on board and (b) Russia’s threat to withhold fuel probably won’t have any measurable effect on Iranian intransigence. But Captain Ed thinks the Russian threat, if it materializes, may result in Ahmadinejad’s downfall. My first thought is that wouldn’t be all bad, either. My second thought is “be careful what you wish for.”
More potential good news for Dubya: Betraying their base -- the Democrats can do it too:
The GOP grew sweaty and bloated like a fat man at an all-you-can-eat pasta bar, and the voters were right to pry the Republicans' white-knuckled grip from the hot table's sneeze guard.
So here's the ironic part. Suddenly, it looks as if the Democrats are the Republicans on fast-forward. It's early yet, and the Democrats did finish their mini-Contract with America — the so-called first 100 hours — with mixed success on the substance but great fanfare in the media. Yet items like upping the minimum wage and shafting oil companies, although certainly not insubstantial, were primarily symbolic.
The most important issue in the November elections, as every single political observer with a pulse will tell you, was the war in Iraq. The weasel words and euphemisms — "strategic redeployment," "course change," whatever — couldn't conceal the simple fact that the Democrats were elected in large part to end the war. That was certainly how the party's liberal base saw it, then and now.
But look at how the Democrats are behaving. They've completely failed to stop the surge, and their latest efforts to derail the war are so convoluted — timetables on top of timetables — that even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.), a cosponsor of legislation to withdraw troops by September 2008, can't explain them.
No kidding. It’s hard to stay on message when there are 17 variants of that particular message, ain’t it?
Speaking of the surge… THE IRAQ SURGE: WHY IT'S WORKING
March 20, 2007 -- 'I WALKED down the streets of Ramadi a few days ago, in a soft cap eating an ice cream with the mayor on one side of me and the police chief on the other, having a conversation." This simple act, Gen. David Petraeus told me, would have been "unthinkable" just a few months ago. "And nobody shot at us," he added.
Petraeus, the new commander managing the "surge" of troops in Iraq, will be the first to caution realism. "Sure we see improvements - major improvements," he said in our interview, "but we still have a long way to go."
What tactics are working? "We got down at the people level and are staying," he said flatly. "Once the people know we are going to be around, then all kinds of things start to happen."
More intelligence, for example.
Good things come in threes, yes?
This is pretty cool: more customization of your search page from the Googleplex. I’ve set my “theme” to Japanese Tea Garden (see the screenshot on the right, click for larger). I haven’t found any Easter Eggs yet, but Hey! It’s only been 30 minutes or so.
Sad news, via Lileks: Blogger and Left-Coast writer Cathy Seipp is in the hospital with terminal cancer and only has days to live. Ms. Seipp was one of the first blogs I ever read, and I’ll miss her.
Today’s Pic: A red rose in a Houston botanical garden… taken in March, 2000. I forget exactly which botanical garden, so I can’t give you a link. I will give you another Houston link, however. When I went and fetched the MFAH link for yesterday’s post, I came across this: The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800-1920. From the description of the exhibit:
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is the sole venue in the United States for this sweeping exhibition of French masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibition will present 135 works from New York´s Metropolitan Museum´s treasured collection of French painting. The Metropolitan Museum´s French masterpieces are among the best in the world, and are by the greatest artists active in France between 1800 and 1920, with many, such as Ingres, Corot, Courbet, Delacroix, Millet, Monet, Degas, Cézanne, Renoir, Van Gogh, Matisse, and Picasso, represented by multiple works.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a road-trip. I’m nearly certain about it. The exhibit is running right now, through May 6th. I can’t miss this…