Later On

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

Archive for May 4th, 2007

Israel faces reality

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McClatchy Washington Bureau:

The parallels between the United States’ war in Iraq and Israel’s war against Hezbollah last summer are striking: Both stemmed from surprise attacks, both were overwhelmingly popular at their start and both grew widely unpopular as more troops died and victory remained elusive.

Israel, however, has done something the United States has yet to do: Assess what went wrong and assign blame for the mistakes and misunderstandings.

Credit Israeli law and culture for that. Almost from its inception, the country has embraced a candid culture of criticism, despite the fact that it has crippled some legendary leaders, including Golda Meir and Ariel Sharon.

Now Ehud Olmert, the prime minister who launched the 34-day war with Hezbollah, is being called to account by a special commission whose interim report this week could bring down his government.

“We have a tradition: Prophets go against kings,” said Efraim Inbar, the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, an independent Israeli research center. “It’s a society that has an ingrained disrespect for authority.”

There are many reasons to think that Israel would reject an invasive self-evaluation process that reveals its internal divisions and exposes its weaknesses. It’s nearly surrounded by armed adversaries, exists on the front line of the war on terrorism and rarely has gone more than a few years without some sort of major military confrontation.

That very fact, Inbar said, makes it all the more important that Israel correct its mistakes quickly.

“So what if America loses the war in Iraq?” he said. “If we lose a war, it’s an existential threat. We cannot afford not knowing the truth.”

At first blush, the American and Israeli watchdog systems are similar.

Both basically allow two tracks to investigate wrongdoing: One in which the nation’s leader chooses the investigators and one in which an independent body examines the problems.

There are important differences, however.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

4 May 2007 at 7:02 pm

A little do-it-yourself project for the weekend

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Get right to it.

Written by Leisureguy

4 May 2007 at 4:20 pm

Posted in Daily life

Private Life of a Cat

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A little something for a slow Friday afternoon. It’s silent, so it’s work-safe (if you’ve arranged your cubicle with care).

Written by Leisureguy

4 May 2007 at 8:49 am

Posted in Cats, Video

Obstruction of justice: it’s becoming more obvious

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From the NY Times this morning:

There is yet another United States attorney whose abrupt departure from office is raising questions: Debra Wong Yang of Los Angeles. Ms. Yang was not fired, as eight other prosecutors were, but she resigned under circumstances that raise serious questions, starting with whether she was pushed out to disrupt her investigation of one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress.

If the United States attorney scandal has made one thing clear, it is that the riskiest job in the Bush administration is being a prosecutor investigating a Republican member of Congress. Carol Lam, the United States attorney in San Diego, was fired after she put Randy Cunningham, known as Duke, in prison. Paul Charlton, in Arizona, was dismissed while he was investigating Rick Renzi. Dan Bogden, in Nevada, was fired while he was reportedly investigating Jim Gibbons, a congressman who was elected governor last year.

Ms. Yang was investigating Jerry Lewis, who was chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. Ms. Lam and most of the other purged prosecutors were fired on Dec. 7. Ms. Yang, in a fortuitously timed exit, resigned in mid-October.

Ms. Yang says she left for personal reasons, but there is growing evidence that the White House was intent on removing her. Kyle Sampson, the Justice Department staff member in charge of the firings, told investigators last month in still-secret testimony that Harriet Miers, the White House counsel at the time, had asked him more than once about Ms. Yang. He testified, according to Congressional sources, that as late as mid-September, Ms. Miers wanted to know whether Ms. Yang could be made to resign. Mr. Sampson reportedly recalled that Ms. Miers was focused on just two United States attorneys: Ms. Yang and Bud Cummins, the Arkansas prosecutor who was later fired to make room for Tim Griffin, a Republican political operative and Karl Rove protégé.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

4 May 2007 at 8:22 am

Chili-garlic paste blowout

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The Wife stopped by a Mexican supermarket in Gilroy and picked up a whole bunch of dried peppers for future batches of chili-garlic paste:

  • Chile Chipotle
  • Chile Negro
  • Chile Pasilla
  • Chile De Arbol (labeled “very hot,” whereas the Chipotle was just “mordita”)
  • Chile Ancho

So I’ll be making more today. Guess what everyone in the family’s getting for Christmas. 🙂

Written by Leisureguy

4 May 2007 at 8:14 am

Posted in Food

Another book?

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Some years back I wrote my senior essay on Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, using the title “The Education of Huckleberry Finn.” It was good enough, but I couldn’t include all the aspects I wanted. For example, the whole Tom Sawyer : Huckleberry Finn :: Achilles : Odysseus, for example. Or the way that Tom Sawyer replicates Don Quixote (with Huck Finn as Sancho Panza?) in the raid on the Sunday School picnic.

And there’s quite a bit to chew over in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, as well: some odd and intriguing Christian imagery and analogies.

So this morning I got to thinking about it. A fair amount of work, but…

Written by Leisureguy

4 May 2007 at 7:59 am

Posted in Books

Sophie finds a new spot

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Sophie’s new spot

Kitties seem to have favorite spots, and these favorites change over time. They also seem to be constantly on the lookout for a new spot. Sophie found a cozy little spot right there, under the desk. She looks slightly paranoid, but then, these days, who isn’t?

Written by Leisureguy

4 May 2007 at 7:54 am

Posted in Cats, Sophie

Nice site for Indian cooking

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Via Frugal Cuisine, this nice site.

Written by Leisureguy

4 May 2007 at 7:40 am

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

Trafalgar — the T&H line, not the battle

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Truefitt & Hill has a thing for Nelson, I think. Today I used their Trafalgar shaving cream with a Simpsons Duke 3 Best Badger brush. I have to say that T&H produces a superb lather: thick, creamy, and wonderful on the beard—plus a fine fragrance.

I used the Merkur Hefty Classic (“HD”) with a new Israeli blade—three passes to perfect smoothness, no nicks or irritation. I wish I had some T&H Traflagar aftershave:

A captivating spicy wood fragrance that reveals its distinguished heritage with top notes of cedar and sandalwood complemented by subtle hints of jasmine and spice.

I got close, though, by using a tiny sample of their Trafalgar cologne as the aftershave.

Strange that more men don’t try traditional wet-shaving. Are they all in thrall to Gillette’s modern marketing?

Written by Leisureguy

4 May 2007 at 7:34 am

Posted in Shaving

Another Bush oddity

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From the NY Times:

In a two-page letter sent to the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Mr. Bush said his veto threat would apply to any measures that “allow taxpayer dollars to be used for the destruction of human life.”

This is astounding. Apparently Bush is totally backing off on the war in Iraq—his veto of the spending bill was not, as people thought, because of the timeline for US withdrawal. No, it’s because he won’t accept any spending in Iraq because he’s determined not to “allow taxpayer dollars to be used for the destruction of human life.” Wow.

Oh, wait. He’s talking about stem-cell research. Oops. No. It’s about abortion. From the story:

Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to Life, characterized the president’s message as “drawing a bright line.”

Bright, perhaps, but also extremely fuzzy.

Written by Leisureguy

4 May 2007 at 7:22 am

8,500 pet deaths and counting

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The FDA under Bush got seriously broken. It will require a Democratic president to fix it. The story so far:

Consumers have reported the deaths of as many as 8,500 dogs and cats as a result of tainted pet food, federal officials said Thursday.

In the two months since reports of a few pet deaths led to a massive U.S. pet food recall, the Food and Drug Administration said about half of the calls to its hot line were from owners of deceased cats and dogs.

Officials said the agency had not confirmed those reports but added that the numbers of allegations were likely to rise as it caught up with a backlog of calls reporting sick or dead animals.

The statistics came as the FDA tried to reassure consumers about the food supply for both pets and humans. The pet food recall was expanded, food safety agents were dispatched to U.S. food manufacturers for inspections and Chinese authorities reportedly detained the head of a Chinese company suspected of shipping contaminated wheat gluten to U.S. pet food suppliers.

Canada-based Menu Foods Income Fund, which first identified a health risk in its products in March, expanded its recall list Wednesday to include 3 million more cans and pouches of pet food. The new list, adding to the company’s previously announced recalls of more than 60 million cans and pouches, includes foods that may have been tainted by cross-contamination, Menu Foods said.

More at link.

Written by Leisureguy

4 May 2007 at 5:59 am

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