Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for May 7th, 2007

If you eat chicken,

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I’m conflicted about this. In a way, it’s something you will want to know, but it’s also something you won’t want to know. It deals with the part of chicken you buy that’s not chicken—usually the figure is given as a percentage that’s water. The problem is, it’s not water, it’s what the chicken processors refer to as “fecal soup.” It’s why other countries will not accept US chicken. Details here.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 May 2007 at 6:51 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Food

The DoJ undermined

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Written by LeisureGuy

7 May 2007 at 3:10 pm

This is so bad it’s almost a parody

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Not an ethical cartilage in Schlozman’s body, much less an ethical bone:

Now that Bradley Schlozman is in the sights of congressional investigators for his allegedly partisan approach to hiring at the Civil Rights Division, it’s worth taking another look at how he ran the place.

As I reported last month, Schlozman made sure that attorneys underneath him knew that if they crossed him, they’d pay for it. But how? Partially by simply making life miserable for them, but also by providing negative performance evaluations for attorneys who disagreed with him. Performance evaluations are of vital important to civil service employees who may want to eventually work elsewhere in government or seek promotions.

Joe Rich, the former chief of the voting section, says that under Schlozman and Hans von Spakovsky, the two supervisors of the section, he was ordered to make changes to at least seven performance appraisals: “In several instances,” Rich told me, he was ordered to include negative remarks about the work of at least five attorneys who had apparently done nothing more than make recommendations with which Schlozman and von Spakovsky disagreed.

Rich also said that it also went the other way: “I was also ordered to remove any remarks which noted areas where there could be improvement from the performance appraisals of attorneys who were favored by and had become allies of Mr. Schlozman.”

Rich said that it was too strong of a characterization to say that he’d been ordered to “falsify” the evaluations, which would have been a crime. But he was clear that the orders, like so much of what the political appointees in the Justice Department has done, were a major departure from past practice. In his experience (he worked in the division for nearly forty years), Rich said, past political appointees had not inserted themselves into the evaluation process.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 May 2007 at 1:39 pm

Useful scorecard for indictments, convictions, etc.

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Take at look at TPM’s Grand Old Docket.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 May 2007 at 1:31 pm

YAKT: Peanut butter mixer

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Yet another kitchen tool, and this one looks quite useful if you like the kind of peanut butter that separates.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 May 2007 at 1:22 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

Kitty food update

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We’ve become fans of kitty food made by Natura after hearing their president on NPR and learning that their products required no recall because they use all domestic (US) foods in their formula and they hold those ingredients to the same standards as used for human foods. (They tried to find standards for pet foods, but there were none, so they just used human standards.)

Because little big Sophie has a sensitive digestive system, finding food for her can be a challenge. So we went shopping this weekend for something new for her, and I decided to give California Natural a try as a canned food. (Natura makes the Evo kibble that Megs likes, and I decided to discontinue ordering the PetGuard after a vendor stiffed me on an order, so I’m looking for local canned foods.)

Megs turned out not to like the venison and brown rice—too much left in the bowl by the next morning. But the salmon and sweet potato was another story. She practically elbowed me out of the way and scarfed down her whole portion (1/3 of a 6-oz can) before I left the kitchen. Sweet potatoes, BTW, are a good ingredient because they don’t have eyes, which is where problems arise with Irish potatoes.

You’ll note that the protein content of the canned food is low, but that’s because the moisture content is so high, which is part of the idea of feeding canned food in addition to kibble. That, and the kitty thinks it’s a great treat.

So: salmon and sweet potato will become the new food for Megs. YKMMV.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 May 2007 at 12:39 pm

Posted in Cats, Megs

Sophie practicing being cute

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Sophie being cute

She really doesn’t need the practice, does she? :)

Written by LeisureGuy

7 May 2007 at 11:49 am

Posted in Cats, Sophie

More media amnesia

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To correct a problem, you first have to recognize you have a problem. If you ignore the problems, they don’t get fixed. ThinkProgress offers an interesting example: on March 12, 2007, the LA Times took one editorial position, including a harsh indictment of “Gen. Pelosi” (their phrase) and her efforts to get through a bill that includes timelines for withdrawal.

Now, today, May 7, 2007—less than two months later (specifically, 56 days)—they have an editorial taking the completely opposite position. That’s fine. But what’s not so good is apparently they have no recognition whatsoever that they have switched positions, and no acknowledgment that they need to eat some crow and apologize to Speaker Pelosi, who saw the situation more clearly than did the editors of the Times.

And so they won’t learn a thing, and so our respect for them is diminished again.

On March 12, 2007, the Los Angeles Times published an editorial entitled, “Do we really need a Gen. Pelosi?” Employing harsh rhetoric, the Times condemned efforts by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to craft an Iraq redeployment bill:

House Democrats have brought forth their proposal for forcing President Bush to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by 2008. The plan is an unruly mess: bad public policy, bad precedent and bad politics. If the legislation passes, Bush says he’ll veto it, as well he should.

[…]

It’s absurd for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) to try to micromanage the conflict, and the evolution of Iraqi society, with arbitrary timetables and benchmarks.

In just 55 days, the LA Times has undergone a full conversion on redeployment. In an op-ed Sunday, the Times wrote that, now, the “the time has come to leave“:

After four years of war, more than $350 billion spent and 3,363 U.S. soldiers killed and 24,310 wounded, it seems increasingly obvious that an Iraqi political settlement cannot be achieved in the shadow of an indefinite foreign occupation. The U.S. military presence — opposed by more than three-quarters of Iraqis — inflames terrorism and delays what should be the primary and most pressing goal: meaningful reconciliation among the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.

[…]

The U.S. should immediately declare its intention to begin a gradual troop drawdown, starting no later than the fall. The pace of the withdrawal must be flexible, to reflect progress or requests by the Iraqis and the military’s commanders.The precise date for completing the withdrawal need not be announced, but the assumption should be that combat troops would depart by the end of 2009.

The LAT is one of a number of papers that have recently gone from supporting the war to backing a pullout. E&P notes a few others. These papers reflect an unmistakable trend: Public opinion is solidifying behind a withdrawal, proponents of the war are breaking ranks, and Bush is becoming more isolated in his position over time.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 May 2007 at 10:59 am

The one-pass shave

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Okay, I did it. Used a Valobra soap stick and lathered on my beard for quite a while with the wonderful little Simpsons Harvard 2 Best. Excellent lather.

The GEM G-Bar with a new Ted Pella blade, against the grain, one pass.

It worked better than I expected: quite an easy shave, except for my chin, which was odd: I thought the challenge would be my upper lip. Did get one tiny nick on my chin, but the alum bar took care of that.

Not a perfect shave, but interesting. I also discovered a little patch right at the edge of my jaw where the grain unexpectedly goes up instead of down. I had been taking care of that (without knowing it) on the usual first pass, but with one pass, what I thought was against the grain was with the grain at the one spot, which is now a little rough.

So: worth trying, but I get a better shave with my usual 3 passes. Since this technique was advocated by a ShaveMyFace member’s, I used Pinaud Clubman as the aftershave—my most old-timey aftershave.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 May 2007 at 9:01 am

Posted in Shaving

Defense worse than the accusation

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So the DoJ is told that its civil-rights division has only two African-American attorneys out of 50. (video at the link) The DoJ’s reply: that’s the most diverse division in the department. Oy.

“Since 2003…the criminal section within the Civil Rights Division has not hired a single black attorney to replace those who have left. Not one. As a result, the current face of civil rights prosecutions looks like this: Out of fifty attorneys in the Criminal Section – only two are black. The same number the criminal section had in 1978 – even though the size of the staff has more than doubled.”

ABC’s Washington D.C. affiliate WJLA-TV, who discovered the lack of diversity, reports.

As TPMmuckraker’s Paul Kiel points out, “The Justice Department responded to WJLA-TV’s story by saying that the Civil Rights Division as a whole is the most diverse office in the Department of Justice.”

Written by LeisureGuy

7 May 2007 at 8:07 am

Good profile of human garbage (John Doolittle)

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Via Crooks & Liars, a really good profile of a speck of human scum (the judgment of both Republicans and Democrats, BTW). It begins:

Whatever the ultimate outcome of the U.S. Department of Justice’s ongoing investigation into Congressman John T. Doolittle and his wife, Julie–and it’s been going on for three years now–clearly his political career is over. Even if he and his wife unexpectedly locate some loophole to avoid indictment or imprisonment for the two corruption cases in which their fund-raising activities are inextricably entangled, the Doolittles’ unsavory skimming of campaign contributions and personally pocketing more than a quarter-million dollars have forever finished off their reputations among their own conservative kith and kin. From Sacramento to Washington, the only discussion of the Doolittle case by political insiders from both parties regards strategy over when and how and by whom he should be replaced.

Reflective of this reality are two headlines about the man recently published on the conservative editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal: “Doolittle, Too Late” and “Republican Residue.” The point repeatedly made there is that the FBI could have raided Doolittle’s home, as they did on April 13, “only after a judge has issued a search warrant in response to government claims that there is probable cause that a crime has been committed.” California Democratic Party strategist Bob Mulholland has little doubt about what’s happening. “I think the Republican Party will try to throw Doolittle to the wolves,” he said in an interview. “Once you get a ‘Dear John’ letter from the FBI, no one returns your phone calls.”

Doolittle’s fall from being a member of the ruling Republican leadership in the House of Representatives to becoming a target in a U.S. Department of Justice corruption investigation follows a pattern similar to that of his Republican congressional brethren who are already in jail or might soon be. Doolittle’s wife set up a company–Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions–of which she was the only officer and employee. Suddenly Julie Doolittle had the “expertise” to obtain clients for “consulting” and “fund raising.” Most clients had business before committees on which her husband sat. (We don’t know for certain because the Doolittles refuse to release a list of her clients.) So far, over $150,000 from Doolittle’s campaign contributions has been paid out to his wife’s company. And his committee statements claim she is owed more than another $120,000. With California’s community-property law, it is the equivalent of Doolittle putting the campaign cash into his own bank account.

Whether Doolittle used his office and performed specific acts in exchange for monies paid to his wife’s company is the central legal issue at hand. But whatever the resolution of the question, nothing can wash the stink off a clearly corrupt arrangement.

The interesting question, though, is whether, after more than a quarter-century as a rising, and then prominent, political figure on the Sacramento and national scenes, the downfall of Doolittle means something more than the latest corruption of a politician.

Avalanche of animus
First, the personal qualities and character of Doolittle must openly and frankly be dealt with, for there is no figure currently on the California political stage who has consistently engendered as much overt loathing and disgust as Doolittle–as much from members of his own party as from his ideological counterparts. When he was fined by the Fair Political Practices Commission for laundering money to swing his 1984 election, his defeated opponent, former Senate Republican colleague Ray Johnson, foresaw that it would not be an adequate penalty to stop future misbehavior. “Oh God,” Johnson lamented in 1987 in the California Journal, “can’t we just drown him and get it over with?” A year after that comment, on the verge of Doolittle winning re-election based on another vicious campaign, Sacramento Bee columnist Pete Dexter couldn’t constrain his contempt. In print he pronounced Doolittle “a lying, unprincipled, crooked piece of human garbage.” Even for Dexter, this was strong stuff.

What evoked these and other expressions of outrage was the combination of characteristics that arises with regularity in American political life: the religious hypocrite, the sanctimonious scumbag. In Doolittle’s case, it is the devout Mormon with a highly selective ethical compass, which since the very beginning of his career consistently has drawn out such a continuous avalanche of animus toward him.

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 May 2007 at 7:55 am

Posted in Congress, GOP

Is single-payer national health insurance coming?

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From the LA Times today. This development will be interesting, since if these companies are seriously interested in national health insurance, they will have to ally with the Democratic party—I see no way that the GOP will ever back such a plan, and already the Democratic presidential contenders are talking seriously about this, most notably Edwards.

Abandoning the business lobby’s traditional resistance to healthcare reform, a new coalition of 36 major companies plans to launch a political campaign today calling for medical insurance to be expanded to everyone along lines Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing for California.

Founded by Steve Burd, chairman of the Safeway grocery chain and an ally of the governor, the coalition could boost efforts in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., to overhaul healthcare laws. It also formalizes a growing division over the issue among businesses.

The coalition includes some of the nation’s largest companies: PepsiCo, General Mills, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., The Kroger Co., a number of Safeway vendors and grocery item manufacturers such as Bumble Bee Seafoods LLC.

It also includes insurers and drug firms that probably would benefit from mandated health insurance: Aetna, Blue Shield of California, Cigna HealthCare, Eli Lilly and Co. and PacifiCare.

Such large firms already provide medical coverage to their employees and have become increasingly frustrated as premiums have increased over the years. That has made them more willing to look to the government for solutions.

More at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 May 2007 at 6:03 am

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