Later On

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

Archive for January 30th, 2007

Webb attempts to help Condi Rice with a question

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He carefully points out, since she’s struggling, that the question’s answer is either “yes” or “no.” She continues to struggle.

A couple weeks ago, Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) asked Secretary Condoleezza Rice if the administration thought President Bush had the power to take military action against Iran without permission from Congress.

She deferred an answer, saying, “I’m really loathe to get into questions of the president’s authorities without a rather more clear understanding of what we are actually talking about. So let me answer you, in fact, in writing. I think that would be the best thing to do.”

Well, it’s been two weeks, and Sen. Webb is still waiting. So he’s asked again, in a letter sent to Rice yesterday. To help speed a response, he even suggested the range of answers she might provide: “This is, basically, a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question regarding an urgent matter affecting our nation’s foreign policy.”

And to ensure that the administration got the message that Webb remained interested, he also asked the question of Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte during this morning’s hearing.

The full text of the letter is below.

January 29, 2007

The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Rice:

During your appearance before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on January 11, 2007, I asked you a question pertaining to the administration’s policy regarding possible military action against Iran. I asked, “Is it the position of this administration that it possesses the authority to take unilateral action against Iran, in the absence of a direct threat, without congressional approval?”

At that time you were loath to discuss questions of presidential authority, but you committed to provide a written answer. Since I have not yet received a reply, the purpose of this letter is to reiterate my interest in your response.

This is, basically, a “yes” or “no” question regarding an urgent matter affecting our nation’s foreign policy. Remarks made by members of this administration strongly suggest that the administration wrongly believes that the 2002 joint resolution authorizing use of force in Iraq can be applied in other instances, such as in the case of Iran. I, as well as the American people, would benefit by fully understanding the administration’s unequivocal response.

I would appreciate your expeditious reply and look forward to discussing this issue with you in the near future.

Sincerely,

James Webb
United States Senator

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2007 at 6:41 pm

This is plain bizarre

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Hard to believe this is true:

ORLANDO, Fla. — A Sanford mother says she will never be able to hold her newborn because an Orlando hospital performed a life-altering surgery and, she claims, the hospital refuses to explain why they left her as a multiple amputee.

The woman filed a complaint against Orlando Regional Healthcare Systems, she said, because they won’t tell her exactly what happened. The hospital maintains the woman wants to know information that would violate other patients’ rights.

Claudia Mejia gave birth eight and a half months ago at Orlando Regional South Seminole. She was transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center in Orlando where her arms and legs were amputated. She was told she had streptococcus, a flesh eating bacteria, and toxic shock syndrome, but no further explanation was given.

The hospital, in a letter, wrote that if she wanted to find out exactly what happened, she would have to sue them.

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Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2007 at 6:33 pm

Posted in Health, Medical

The Boeing 777 flight deck

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As it says, mouse over and click a control panel.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2007 at 2:22 pm

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Mark Kleiman of UCLA on our Drug War

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Excellent lengthy article by Mark Kleiman on the War on Drugs:

Thirty-five years into the “war on drugs”, the United States still has a huge drug abuse problem, with several million problem users of illicit drugs and about 15 million problem users of alcohol. Illicit drug-dealing industries take in about $50 billion per year. Much of the retail drug trade is flagrant, involving either open-air activity or identified, dedicated drug houses. Flagrant dealing creates violence and disorder, wrecking both the neighborhoods where it goes on and the lives of the dealers. Chronic heavy users of expensive illicit drugs steal and deal to finance their habits. Drug injection spreads HIV and hepatitis-C.

On top of all that, we have a highly intrusive and semi-militarized drug enforcement effort that is often only marginally constitutional and sometimes more than marginally indecent.1 That enforcement effort keeps about 500,000 Americans behind bars at any one time for drug law violations, about 25 percent of the total U.S. prison and jail population. A larger proportion of U.S. residents is doing time for drug law violations than is behind bars for all offenses put together in any country to which we’d like to be compared.

These are depressing facts that cry out for a radical reform to solve the drug problem once and for all. But the first step toward achieving less awful results is accepting that there is no one “solution” to the drug problem, for essentially three reasons. First, the potential for drug abuse is built into the human brain. Left to their own devices, and subject to the sway of fashion and the blandishments of advertising, many people will wind up ruining their lives and the lives of those around them by falling under the spell of one drug or another. Second, any laws—prohibitions, regulations or taxes—stringent enough to substantially reduce the number of addicts will be defied and evaded, and those who use drugs in defiance of the laws will generally wind up poorer, sicker and more likely to be criminally active than they would otherwise have been. Third, drug law enforcement must be intrusive if it is to be effective, and enterprises created for the expressed purpose of breaking the law naturally tend toward violence because they cannot rely on courts to settle disputes or police to protect them from robbery or extortion.

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2007 at 1:39 pm

Posted in Drug laws, Government

Something should be done

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Look at this story:

A woman who told police she had been raped was jailed for two days after officers found an old warrant accusing her of failing to pay restitution for a 2003 theft arrest.

While she was behind bars, according to the college student’s attorney, a jail worker refused to give her a second dose of the morning-after contraceptive pill because of the worker’s religious convictions.

The 21-year-old woman was released Monday only after attorney Vic Moore reported her plight to the local media.

“Shocked. Stunned. Outraged. I don’t have words to describe it,” Moore said. “She is not a victim of any one person. She is a victim of the system. There’s just got to be some humanity involved when it’s a victim of rape.”

Moore said the woman was not allowed to take the second emergency contraceptive pill until Monday afternoon, a day late, after reporters called police and jail officials.

Tampa police said they were changing their policy to give officers more discretion on when to arrest a crime victim who has outstanding warrants.

“Obviously, any policy that allows a sexual battery victim to spend a night in jail is a flawed policy,” police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said. “So our city attorney is writing a new policy right now.”

The woman is not being identified by The Associated Press because she reported being the victim of a sex crime.

Moore said it was too soon to say if his client would sue. Her first priority was making sure detectives find her attacker.

“She is brave,” Moore said. “We are going to work with police to catch this monster.”

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Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2007 at 1:29 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government

White (chicken) chili

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From a comment in Simply Recipes:

WHITE LIGHTNING CHICKEN CHILI
Adapted from COOKS.COM

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 whole white onion, diced
1 cup frozen white corn
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 ½ cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
5-6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
6 habanera peppers (very hot in this quantity! I use 3)
1/2 cup white wine
1 can chicken broth
2 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. coriander powder
1 Tbsp. ground white pepper
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lime, squeezed for juice
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

Heat olive oil in large sauté pan to medium-high heat, and add garlic, onions, and chicken. Sauté for 10-15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.

In a large Dutch oven add chicken broth, cumin, coriander, ground white pepper, lime juice, habanera peppers (if mild chili is preferred, use fewer hot peppers, as desired – the quantity given is very hot!), and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover with lid, and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Add the chicken, garlic, and onion mixture, plus the corn, beans, yellow bell pepper, mushrooms, and white wine.

Cover and let simmer for approximately 30-35 minutes.

When finished, remove from heat and stir in the sour cream. Garnish with the shredded pepper jack cheese, and serve with crusty garlic bread.

Notes:

I poached the whole chicken breasts in white wine with the minced garlic until just done; let them cool and shredded them into small pieces with my fingers. I like the texture of the shredded chicken and it probably absorbs the other flavors a little better. Pour the poaching wine in with everything else, including the ½ cup already called for.

I served additional sour cream on the side at the table. Use if desired to reduce the “heat.” To turn up the heat use the pepper jack cheese and/or pepper sauce. I like Emeril’s green sauce with the “white” ingredients.

And yes, this seems to improve with every reheating! — Bob Lohrmann

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2007 at 12:52 pm

Posted in Daily life, Recipes

10 shopping tactics that stores hate

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Good list.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2007 at 12:19 pm

Posted in Daily life

Thinking about money makes you stingy

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Interesting post:

How much money do you really need? Nearly everyone, regardless of their wealth, responds with an amount higher than what they currently have. Many financial planners suggest that Americans need to save at least $2 million by retirement in order to maintain their lifestyles. Yet what if you die before you spend all that money? What would the point of all that scrimping and saving have been?

A new article in the New York Times suggests that most people can maintain their existing lifestyle while saving just a fraction of that amount — $400,000 will do for a couple currently making $125,000 per year, and most of that can be saved during the 10 years before retirement. If you save too much when young, “You could end up squandering your youth rather than your money.”

One problem is, the more we think about money, the stingier we get. Shelley Batts reviews some of the recent research:

In one experiment, it was suggested that just thinking about money made people greedy. Subjects were given $2 worth of quarters and then were asked to solve a word puzzle. Some of the puzzles were word-neutral, and others had words denoting money and wealth like “high-paying salary.” After finishing the puzzle, they were told they could donate some of their quarters to a student emergency fund. The subjects that completed the neutral puzzle donated an average of $1.34 while those who completed the money-centric puzzle averages a donation of 77 cents.

This might also partially explain the well-known phenomenon that people with lower incomes tend to donate a higher proportion of their salary to charity. In a second experiment, people with more Monopoly money were less likely to help a person who dropped a box of pencils. The more we have, it seems, the more we want to hoard — even when we could be spending the money on ourselves.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2007 at 12:03 pm

Posted in Daily life

The power of Congress WRT war

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Glenn Greenwald is particularly good today—three different posts so far, all worth reading. But I want to call particular attention to this one. It begins:

Russ Feingold today is chairing a Committee hearing in order to demonstrate that Congress has the Constitutional authority to compel the President to withdraw troops from Iraq, a power that is not merely confined to cutting off appropriations. Sen. Feingold is holding the hearing in the face of claims — mostly from Congressional Republicans and their supporters — that only the President has the power to make determinations about troop deployments, and Congress’ only power is one of appropriations.

Back in September, when Chris Wallace falsely accused Bill Clinton of emboldening the Terrorists by prematurely cutting-and-running from Somalia (a favorite right-wing meme), it was documented here (as Clinton himself pointed out to Wallace) that it was actually Republican Senators who forced Clinton to withdraw troops by imposing troop withdrawal deadlines on him and threatening further restrictions on his ability to keep troops there. But if one goes back and reviews that debate, it is quite striking that Republicans back then certainly did not seem to believe that Congress lacked the ability to restrict the President’s power to deploy troops. They argued exactly the opposite – that they had that power — and they used it to force Clinton out of Somalia (all excerpts are available here, by searching “Somalia):

John McCain’s stirring pro-withdrawal Senate speech about why it was urgent that the Senate force Clinton to leave Somalia is particularly interesting in light of all of his completely contrary claims today about Iraq:

Continue reading. (And read the other posts, too.)

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2007 at 11:13 am

Froomkin misses one point

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From Froomkin’s column today (emphasis added):

From the first time the White House was asked about allegations that senior officials had exposed a CIA agent’s identity as part of a plot to discredit an administration critic, the answer was consistent.

As spokesman Scott McClellan put it as early as July 22, 2003: “That is not the way this President or this White House operates.”

But in the course of the Scooter Libby trial, one thing has become quite clear: That is precisely the way this White House operates.

Faced with accusations that they had marched the country to war on evidence they knew was suspect, White House aides evidently responded with little if any restraint in attempting to discredit their critics.

That lack of restraint, now exposed for all to see, is likely to leave a bad taste in the public’s mouth.

But generally speaking, it has served Bush and his aides well. The White House’s ferocity — compounded by an easily distracted press corps and a Republican-controlled Congress not the least bit interested in oversight — successfully kept crucial information about the administration’s use and abuse of prewar intelligence out of the public sphere through the 2004 election and, arguably, to this day.

My complaint is that being “easily distracted” is the effect, and the root cause is incompetence. A competent press corps would not be “easily distracted.” So I believe Froomkin should call a spade a spade and say “compounded by an incompetent press corps…”. An easily distracted press corps is worth about as much as an easily confused programming staff.

UPDATE: Later in that same column, Froomkin asks, “Why wasn’t the White House press corps a little quicker on this story? I don’t know.” Well, readers of this blog, you know: they’re incompetent: I-N-C-O-M-P-E-T-E-N-T.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2007 at 10:48 am

Bush: he’s a good ol’ boy, but he don’t think so good

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You’ll recall the many statements made by the White House on how Bush, increasingly dissatisfied with his generals in Iraq, finally had to roll up his sleeves and, in his role of commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy, put together a new plan: the Surge (aka “Escalation”). The plan he created has a substantial flaw. From Salon:

As the Senate nears an unprecedented debate on President Bush’s escalation of the Iraq war, almost all the public criticism has been aimed at the inadequate size of the new forces being sent to Baghdad (21,500 troops) and the extreme difficulty of reversing the course of the civil war. But last week, little noticed by the press and public, the Bush plan began to be attacked on a surprising new front — by Iraq hawks, like Sen. John McCain, concerned that the split command structure for the operation violates basic military doctrine.

The Baghdad surge plan, announced by the president on Jan. 10, calls for the new U.S. soldiers to be embedded with Iraqi forces, who will take the lead. But while the U.S. troops would report to American officers, their Iraqi counterparts, in an apparent sop to national sovereignty, would report to Iraqi officers. The potentially disastrous result: two separate and independent command structures within the same military operation.

I know of no successful military operation where you have dual command,” McCain told Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, the new commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last Tuesday. Petraeus, heralded by the Bush White House as the man who would make the surge work, signaled his agreement, telling McCain, “Sir, I share your concern.”

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Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2007 at 10:24 am

Honeybee Sue Coffee Mocha

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Used the wonderful Coffee Mocha Shea Butter shaving soap again this morning, with the Schick Injector. Pashana aftershave.

I got a wonderful shipment of Mama Bear soaps yesterday, and later today I’m going to list those whose fragrances most bowled me over. One will certainly be her Turkish Mocha. That I will use tomorrow.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2007 at 9:44 am

Posted in Shaving

The proverbial fat cat

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Fat cat

Via Healthbolt. Chubby little guy, clearly not a soccer player. But you can tell he loves that ball. Cats seem to grow emotionally attached to some of their toys. The Wife points out that he’s holding it as though it were his Teddy bear.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2007 at 9:39 am

Posted in Cats

Spoon-tender veal shank

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This recipe sounds absolutely delicious, with the added benefit of being easy to make. I love slow-cooked food.

The recipe in question is a recipe for veal shank that one braises for three to four hours in sweet white wine, surrounded by a benevolent court of onions and/or shallots, until the sauce has turned to a simmering amber, and the meat is so mellow and succulent it can be served and eaten with a spoon — hence the name.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 January 2007 at 9:25 am

Posted in Daily life, Recipes

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