Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Take That, New Orleans

The congresswoman whose name sounds like a sneeze, sniffs at attempts to fund Hurricane Katrina reconstruction.
“Republicans have slashed* critical funding for child support enforcement, student loans, healthcare for children, nursing home care for seniors, and food stamps. This has been done in the name of funding hurricane recovery and deficit reduction, but it is neither. What drives this legislation are tax cuts.”
Congresswoman Achoo! isn't cutting, she's bringing home money for more 'vital' projects.
  • Bio-Info-Nano Research
  • Gender Specific Ranch
  • County Forensics Lab (remember when citizens of North Dakota didn't pay for this)
  • Dredging the Port of Redwood City
  • A Breakwater
  • Money to Study San Francisquito Creek (coming up on 7 years and still studying)
  • A Wildlife Visitor's Center
  • Money to Study Wetlands
Now we know the difference between critical and vital.

*The cut she refers to isn't really a cut, but merely slowing the increase.

Kerry's Very Dry Shoes--part 2

According the the liberal blog Daily Kos...
"There's a little kerfuffle inside the Democratic Senate caucus over John Kerry's insistance in being part of the official party response to Bush's hilarious "plan" in Iraq. Reid originally had designated Sen. Jack Reed to provide the official response. Reed did the "prebuttal" yesterday and had a press conference set up for today.

However, John Kerry stomped over Reed by deciding he was going to hold a press conference this morning as well in a naked bid to steal the limelight."
Now we know why Kerry got that shoe shine in Palo Alto on Saturday. We didn't know he planned to wear them naked.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

His shoes were so dry.

Celebrity worship coupled with a local angle is a surefire recipe for fun reading. Such is the case with this story (not online) by Luke Stangel in today's Palo Alto Daily News.
George Moon has seen his share of famous feet.

For more than 15 years, he has shined shoes worn by big name Stanford professors and Silicon Valley CEOs who know his shop is the only place in downtown Palo Alto to get a good shine. But even Moon was surprised yesterday when former presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry popped in and aked for a quick shine of his brown loafers.

"His shoes were so dry," Moon said. "It's probably because he's so busy."

Without announcement, Kerry quietly spent two hours in Palo Alto yesterday, enough time to grab a burger at the Palo Alto Creamery on Emerson Street and get his shoes shined at Moon's shop next door.

Around noon, Kerry sat down at a small corner table at the Creamery and ordered a $6.75 hamburger and spent the next hour or so in conversation with a man who waiters said is a regular customer.

Kerry's server said she managed to stay composed, but one of her co-workers "looked like she won a million dollars" when they both recognized the Massachusetts senator.

"When he left, they clapped for him," said the server, Danielle, 20, who declined to give her last name. "The entire restaurant was cheering."

Kerry then walked next door to Moon's California Shoe & Luggage Repair Co. and bought two pairs of black shoelaces and one pair of brown shoelaces for $3.95 each and asked for an $8 shine.

Moon said he deepened the brown in Kerry's loafers to make the senator look younger. Kerry asked several questions of Moon, including how long he had lived in the United States (31 years), what he did before moving here (veterinarian) and if business was good (it's good).

Moon asked Kerry when the war in Iraq would be over and the senator reportedly replied that he didn't know.

The pair took four photos outside of Moon's shop and the senator was whisked away in a black limosine.

Kerry was in Palo Alto to attend the Stanford vs. Notre Dame football game at the university's stadium.

The game is the last one for the stadium before it is torn down for downsizing and renovations.

Senator Kerry's busy schedule obscures the fact that he's available for an hour of casual chat with strangers at a greasy spoon--not to mention the local veterinarian/shoe shiner. For his part, the local bootblack seems to have it all over the senator when it comes to answers to questions. The senator, a Vietnam War veteran, fired off three quick bursts into a rice patty and received a sharp reply for each one. Whereas a single question to Kerry left him stumped. Next time anyone mentions voter fraud and Diebold electronic voter machines counter with the observation that dark brown shoe polish might have had a role to play too.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Slaughterhouse Jive

Lampooning the human condition is a time honored literary device and Kurt Vonnegut is a high practioner of this form. Unfortunately, Mr. Vonnegut has become what he lampoons. It is a shame that he cannot rely on his friends for guidance.
But in discussing his views with The Weekend Australian, Vonnegut said it was "sweet and honourable" to die for what you believe in, and rejected the idea that terrorists were motivated by twisted religious beliefs. "They are dying for their own self-respect," he said. "It's a terrible thing to deprive someone of their self-respect. It's like your culture is nothing, your race is nothing, you're nothing." Asked if he thought of terrorists as soldiers, Vonnegut, a decorated World War II veteran, said: "I regard them as very brave people, yes."
Those who witnessed Vonnegut's humorless and self-destructive tendencies on the PBS program NOW with David Brancaccio can attest to the value of a wise council and Mr. Vonnegut's lack of same.

Chickenhawks and the Speech Police

Comments made by politicians last week highlight the foolishnesss involved in making certain types of speech off limits.

On Thursday Congressman John Murtha (D) PA called for pulling troops out of Iraq. In his press conference he was asked to comment on a statement made by vice president Cheney; "The President and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone -– but we’re not going to sit by and let them rewrite history." Murtha responded; "I like guys who got five deferments and [have] never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

Murtha's statement is of course the 'chickenhawk' arguement; only those with military service are entitled to make pro-war statements. According to this thinking, since Cheney did not serve in the military his comments must assume a lesser position when compared with those made by Murtha who served many years in the Marines. Left unresolved was how Murtha's comments, which came after those of the vice president, applied to him specifically.

Then, on Friday, the House was asked to vote on a measure declaring support for immediate troop removal. During the floor debate statements were made in support of and opposition to the war, but when congresswoman Jean Schmidt (R) OH rose to quote a Marine colonel "send Congressman Murtha a message: Cowards cut and run. Marines never do", she was forced to recind the remark.

The speech police have their rules. Still, you'd have thought that even these people would acknowledge that a serving Marine had standing to speak on behalf of the war.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Star Struck

Yesterday we read that the Vatican's chief astronomer (who knew there was one) came out against intelligent design. Rev. George Coyne the director of the Vatican Observatory said "Intelligent design isn't science even though it pretends to be...God in his infinite freedom continuously creates a world that reflects that freedom at all levels of the evolutionary process to greater and greater complexity...He is not continually intervening, but rather allows, participates, loves."

In otherwords the headline might well have been "Scientist Claims God Created Universe". But that wouldn't do would it?

The Doctors are In

Its begining to look like Iraq war intelligence was indeed being doctored. Today the Washington Post carries the cherry picked memories of former Florida Senator Bob Graham. However, knowing who the real surgeons are isn't too hard when you commit to using Google. Powerline reports on the selective memory of Bob Graham. Why Washington Post readers are not entitled to know this is puzzling. Apparently Bob Woodward isn't the only one hiding things.

Also today, the Los Angeles Times dredges up old news from German intelligence sources and hoses it off in order to suggest that the Bush administration deliberately mis-used it. Isn't it interesting what gets left off of the story--such as these facts from a previous New York Times article that clearly says the CIA never passed it along to the administration. The LA Times cleverly blurs this information. You know the doctors are in when they've amputated history.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

You Can't Trust Me

The Palo Alto Weekly (published bi-weekly) features a question posed to several people along with their answer and a photo. They call it Streetwise. Today the question is "Were you surprised or disappointed with any of the results from the November 8 special election?" One of the people questioned is Charles Halleck who answered "I figured the governor had it coming, since he wasn't interested in working with the legislature." Governor Schwarzenegger had proposed, among other measures, that a panel of retired judges be selected by the legislature to re-draw the electorial district map. Streetwise contributor Halleck is a retired judge. Draw your own conclusions.

Let's only do easy things.

President Clinton now says that invading Iraq was a big mistake, although some good came of it, such as the removal of Saddam, a new consitution and parlamentary elections. Taking this sort of statement seriously glosses over the ex-president's judgement during his 8 years. Among the items included in this memory hole would be refusing to deal with Bin Ladin, compromised intelligence and military intelligence transfers to China, ignoring the pending slaughter in Rwanda and his wife's backing of the invasion. Yes it has been difficult in Iraq, but can he seriously be suggesting that having Saddam back in power with no sanctions in place is better? Clinton's faulty judgement suggests just that. Apparently, difficulty is a reason to avoid the necessary.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Finding Her Religion

The Dalai Lama visits Washington and some Democrats see it as an opportunity to close the values gap:
"About 16,000 people filled much of MCI Center to hear his talk, "Global Peace Through Compassion." Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House minority leader, introduced him and gushed over the chance "to breathe the same air, in the same room, as His Holiness, the Dalai Lama."
Or is it a corrective to that pesky greenhouse gas problem?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Juan Valdez Needs a Crutch

According to this editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle, President Bush went to the Summit of the Americas last week in order to extend economic assistance to Latin America. Some of the countries at the meeting chose to reject the aid because the president has low approval ratings. If that reflects how Latin American countries actually think, you'd have to conclude that they're hopeless. Effectively, the Chronicle wants us to believe that shooting yourself in the foot is a reasonable way to respond to economic policies intended for your own benefit. And that, somehow, the president was to blame.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Loose Lips

After being released from her self-imposed prison sentence and subsequently from her job at the New York Times, Judy Miller finally seems free to blab. : )

Trust The Voice in Your Head

It nearly makes your eyes bleed to read Maureen Dowd say to a reporter in Austin Texas that you can't trust blogs. Not because it isn't true, but because of how baldly it serves the purposes of job protection.
The bloggers have done some great investigative work, and some hilarious work – I love Gawker, they do some hilarious things and some very original columns. It's hard sometimes, because blogs also have a lot of misinformation. I'm never quite sure when you're using it as research, you never quite know how verified it is. It's like the Wild West.
Sure some people have difficulty with the truth, but that has nothing to do with their employment status. Jayson Blair worked for her employer as did the reporters who bungled the Wen Ho Lee story. It seems like a couple of days ago that Times public editor Byron Calame was scolding the editor of the Times opinion page for allowing lying privleges to Dowd's fellow columnist Paul Krugman. The presumption of trust that newspeople award themselves with flys in the face of polling data that make George Bush's numbers look great.

No one expects Maureen Dowd to be perfect--that's why they have a corrections page. But it's a bit much having to listen to a woman, whose column is constructed entirely out of the voices within her head, suggest to readers that her employer guarantees accuracy.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Welcome to your new research facility professor.

John Robert Schrieffer is a Nobel prize-winning physicist who'll now get the opportunity to explore the conseqences of social inertia.

Jump or be pushed?

Time for a seven part series on professional suicide at the Chronicle.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Super Sized Riots

Is this the best anti-globalization-radical-Islamic visual to come from the recent rioting in France?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Maybe He Thought They Said Violins

The Dalai Lama came to speak at Stanford University and the topic was non-violence. You'd expect a large number of his followers to be in sync. After hearing it you'd also wonder if they agree with his following comments.
"History shows the second World War protected the Western world -- protected democracy," he said, sometimes speaking in English and other times through his longtime principal translator, Geshe Thupten Jinpa. "The Iraq war -- it's too early to say, right or wrong."
When the topic turned to television violence heads must have been spinning.
"If you switch off the TV completely," he said, "then it will be quite a boring society."
For someone who seems not to notice mandates from the tolerance community he gets unusually good press. Is it too soon to start the chant 'Dalai lied, people died'?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Pen Pals

The Palo Alto Daily News, like many papers on this day, chose to run a story about emails sent by former FEMA director Michael Brown. According to reports some of these emails, when seen next to the devastation of hurricane Katrina, seem silly. I'd imagine anyone can be made to look foolish by a selective review of such communications. Another level of silliness comes from those whose reporting was miles from reality. Stories that kept rescuers at bay while authorities had to contend with phantom reports of roaming gangs of rapists or reports of 10,000 dead residents.

Sometimes you don't even need to resort to selectivity. Take for instance this exchange of email between the Palo Alto Daily News publisher Dave Price and Burning Squirrel in response to my post titled Local News, Stuck on Stupid .

Dave Price: "I think our readers would benefit from your commentary on this subject. Would you mind writing an oped about Wilson's speech that we might publish. Be as hard on us as you'd like. Give the readers some background on this complicated case. 750 words."

Burning Squirrel: "Isn't this why you employ reporters? Seems to me the facts are easily gotten. My opinion has nothing to do with it. As I've pointed out, Jean Whitney has already written commentary into her story. Your obligation is to correct it."

Dave Price: "What facts are "easily gotten" in this case? A grand jury has been working on it for two years and didn't accomplish much except accusing a witness of lying. From what I can tell, the story was a report on what Wilson said at Stanford. The purpose of the story wasn't to analyze his speech, comparing it to other statements made in Washington, or anything like that. It was a report about what was said at a local event. Period. BTW, I agree with you that Wilson has been dishonest in many instances And while the MSM reported that once, it seems to have ignored in later reports. So help me out. What should we correct? How would you write the correction?"

Burning Squirrel: "Dave, I think you're confused. As much as you'd like to believe that, Patrick Fitzgerald wasn't given the job to determine the veracity of Joe Wilson's account. His only job was to determine whether a crime was committed in revealing the identity of Wilson's wife and who should bear responsibility--that's all. You're referring to the job that was completed by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the 9/11 Commision. For someone in your line of work not to know that is astonishing."

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Terrorists for Peace

Inspite of overhauling nearly the entire editorial product to produce love notes that satisfy their leftist audience, the San Francisco Chronicle can't catch a break. How much farther can you go in order to avoid being the target of molotov cocktails? The irony here is that the anti-war crowd behaves more like advocates of unconventional warfare. You'd think that communists such as these would recall that molotov cocktails were weapons Finish dissidents used against the Soviets--not the other way around.

Calling Craig

The largest stockholder in Knight Ridder--owners of the San Jose Mercury News and a host of free daily newspapers in the area--wants the company sold. According to the Wall Street Journal, there doesn't seem to much interest in the company because rivals to Knight Ridder are having their own problems. Wonder if they've considered approaching this rival?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Beyond Parody

From an editorial in the Washington Post;
SO WIDE-RANGING, and so comprehensive, is the Volcker commission's final report on the U.N. oil-for-food program in Iraq that -- paradoxically -- there is a danger that its significance will be ignored.
Uh...isn't that how it's been played up to this point? Just what is it with comprehensive reports that requires them to be ignored...unless, of course, it's your way of offering cover for a corrupt organization.