Later On

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

Archive for June 21st, 2007

Grilldome

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Does anyone have one of these? What do you think of it? It was suggested to me as an alternative to the Big Green Egg.

Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2007 at 6:38 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

More daily life

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Today I went to the dentist. A crown is to be placed atop the implant I got a few months ago. She told me, “Today is impressions day,” so I said, “Okay. Jimmy Cagney,” and went into my (very poor) Jimmy Cagney routine. I did get a weary smile.

Then I did some errands. The coffee mug you know about, but I also had followed this advice regarding the use of the grocery list generator. I saved the Tuesday flier, a first for me,  and went through it with glg. And, surprise, I did find bargains: broccoli crowns, Vidalia onions, and hothouse large tomatoes, all at $1/lb at Safeway, and pork roast at $0.99/lb at Albertsons. Good buys. So I swung by there and picked up those things. Lots of good food for very little money. I feel so proud.

Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2007 at 6:00 pm

Posted in Daily life

Becoming a curmudgeon

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Maybe not yet, but I seem to be headed there. The cleaning lady broke my large coffee mug—no problem, I’ve broken things myself—and so today I went to Starbuck’s to get another large coffee mug. I found one I liked, and I asked the woman at the cash register, “Does this hold a pint?” She asked to look at it, and she looked at the label (which didn’t show capacity, I had already checked), handed it back to me, and say, “It holds a grande.”

“Isn’t the grande 16 ounces?” I said. “I thought the tall was 12 oz, the grande 16.”

She turned to the barista for help. He glanced at the mug and said, “Grande. Sixteen ounces.”

She said, “It’s 16 ounces.”

“Right,” I said. “A pint.” She looked confused, so I shut up and handed her a ten.

She rang up the purchase and I saw on the machine that my change was $1.47. So I handed her three cents, and she looked at it like a deer in the headlights. “So you can give me $1.50 in change,” I explained. She still look totally puzzled, but did it. I’m sure she thought I was running some sort of scam.

Kids today!

Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2007 at 4:45 pm

Posted in Daily life

What are “Good Americans?” according to Schlozman

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From Obsidian Wings:

From the Washington Post, more on the politicization of the Justice Department:

“Karen Stevens, Tovah Calderon and Teresa Kwong had a lot in common. They had good performance ratings as career lawyers in the Justice Department’s civil rights division. And they were minority women transferred out of their jobs two years ago — over the objections of their immediate supervisors — by Bradley Schlozman, then the acting assistant attorney general for civil rights.Schlozman ordered supervisors to tell the women that they had performance problems or that the office was overstaffed. But one lawyer, Conor Dugan, told colleagues that the recent Bush appointee had confided that his real motive was to “make room for some good Americans” in that high-impact office, according to four lawyers who said they heard the account from Dugan.

In another politically tinged conversation recounted by former colleagues, Schlozman asked a supervisor if a career lawyer who had voted for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a onetime political rival of President Bush, could still be trusted.

Schlozman has acknowledged in sworn congressional testimony that he had boasted of hiring Republicans and conservatives, but he denied taking improper actions against the division’s career officials. That account was challenged by six officials in the division who said in interviews that they either overhead him making brazen political remarks about career employees or witnessed him making personnel decisions with apparent political motivation. (…)

Schlozman made little effort to hide his personal interest in the political leanings of the staff, according to five lawyers who spoke on the condition of anonymity because — like most of those interviewed for this article — they still work at the department. He and his aides frequently asked appellate supervisors whether career lawyers handling politically sensitive cases were “on our team,” the lawyers said.

Schlozman raised the question of partisan politics bluntly in the fall of 2004, they said, when asking appellate supervisors about the “loyalty” of division lawyer Angela Miller, who had once clerked for David. B. Sentelle, a conservative federal appeals judge. He told Miller’s bosses that he learned that she voted for McCain in the 2004 Republican primary and asked, “Can we still trust her?”

He also warned section chief Diana Flynn that he would be keeping an eye on the legal work of another career lawyer who “didn’t even vote for Bush,” according to colleagues who said they heard Flynn describe the exchange. Miller told several of the colleagues that she considered Schlozman’s remarks a form of intimidation, and started looking for another job, the lawyers said. (…)

“When he said he didn’t engage in political hiring, most of us thought that was just laughable,” said one lawyer in the section, referring to Schlozman’s June 5 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Everything Schlozman did was political. And he said so.””

Remember: Schlozman is a political appointee, but the other people discussed in this article are not. They are career lawyers in the Department of Justice: people who sign on not because they support one administration or another, but because they want to make their careers in the DoJ, serving Democrats and Republicans alike. They are supposed to be neutral, and it is against the law to hire, fire, promote, or transfer them (not an exhaustive list) based on their political affiliation. It’s also incredibly destructive: it really matters that we have a competent Department of Justice whose commitment to the law is unquestioned. George W. Bush inherited such a Department, and his administration has done enormous damage to it.

***

I also have to remark on Schlozman’s distinction between women of color and “Good Americans”. It reminds me of good old Daryl Gates, LA’s old police commissioner, who said “that blacks might be more likely to die from chokeholds because their arteries do not open as fast as they do on ”normal people.”” As a result, people all over the city started calling LA’s black and white police cars ‘black-and-normals’. Ha ha ha.

So I wonder: what part of being a minority woman disqualifies you from being a “Good American”? Is it being female, or being non-white, or is it something special about the combination of these two things? Is there some extra special degree of double-plus-ungood* UnAmericanness achieved only by non-white lesbian Wiccans who are registered members of the Green Party?

And remember: the person who said this was our acting assistant attorney general for civil rights.

Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2007 at 1:20 pm

Psychopaths in politics

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Glenn Greenwald’s column today is extremely good. Read it, please.

Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2007 at 12:30 pm

Posted in GOP, Iran

Totally tasteless Bush

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Wonkette, via Froomkin:

The Wonkette blog reports: “Congress joined the Bush Administration for a nice little barbecue on the South Lawn [Tuesday] night. The theme was Mardi Gras, so everybody could enjoy memories of New Orleans being destroyed by the Bush Administration and then pretty much left in that same condition years later.

“Famous NOLA chef Paul Prudhomme catered the picnic and New Orleans jazz band Kermit Ruffins and the Barbeque Swingers played Dixieland.

“And then Bush told the black musicians to clean up after the politicians.”

From the transcript:

“THE PRESIDENT: Kermit Ruffins and the Barbeque Swingers, right out of New Orleans, Louisiana. (Applause.)

“MR. RUFFINS: Thank you. Thanks for having us. We’re glad to be here.

“THE PRESIDENT: Proud you’re here. Thanks for coming. You all enjoy yourself. Make sure you pick up all the trash after it’s over. (Laughter.)”

Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2007 at 11:35 am

Bush’s war on the fight against global warming

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Lengthy article in Rolling Stone. Read it all. It begins:

“That’s a big no. The president believes . . . that it should be the goal of policymakers to protect the American way of life. The American way of life is a blessed one.”– Ari Fleischer, White House Press Secretary responding in May 2001 to whether Bush would ask Americans to curb their first-in-the-world energy consumption

Earlier this year, the world’s top climate scientists released a definitive report on global warming. It is now “unequivocal,” they concluded, that the planet is heating up. Humans are directly responsible for the planetary heat wave, and only by taking immediate action can the world avert a climate catastrophe. Megadroughts, raging wildfires, decimated forests, dengue fever, legions of Katrinas – unless humans act now to curb our climate-warming pollution, warned the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “we are in deep trouble.”

You would think, in the wake of such stark and conclusive findings, that the White House would at least offer some small gesture to signal its concern about the impending crisis. It’s not every day, after all, that the leading scientists from 120 nations come together and agree that the entire planet is about to go to hell. But the Bush administration has never felt bound by the reality-based nature of science – especially when it comes from international experts. So after the report became public in February, Vice President Dick Cheney took to the airwaves to offer his own, competing assessment of global warming.

“We’re going to see a big debate on it going forward,” Cheney told ABC News, about “the extent to which it is part of a normal cycle versus the extent to which it’s caused by man.” What we know today, he added, is “not enough to just sort of run out and try to slap together some policy that’s going to ‘solve’ the problem.”

Even former White House insiders were shocked by the vice president’s see-no-evil performance. “I don’t see how he can say that with a straight face anymore,” Christine Todd Whitman, who clashed privately with Cheney over climate policy during her tenure as the administration’s first chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, tells Rolling Stone. “The consequences of climate change are very real and very negative, but Cheney is not convinced of that. He believes – not quite as much as Senator James Inhofe, that this is a ‘hoax’ – but that the Earth has been changing since it was formed and to say that climate change is caused by humans is incorrect.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2007 at 10:54 am

Their defense: “Not everything we did was illegal.”

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Good one. Read more:

In private, Bush administration sub-Cabinet officials who have been instrumental in formulating and sustaining the legal “war paradigm” acknowledge that their efforts to create a system for detainees separate from due process, criminal justice and law enforcement have failed. One of the key framers of the war paradigm (in which the president in his wartime capacity as commander in chief makes and enforces laws as he sees fit, overriding the constitutional system of checks and balances), who a year ago was arguing vehemently for pushing its boundaries, confesses that he has abandoned his belief in the whole doctrine, though he refuses to say so publicly. If he were to speak up, given his seminal role in formulating the policy and his stature among the Federalist Society cadres that run it, his rejection would have a shattering impact, far more than political philosopher Francis Fukuyama’s denunciation of the neoconservatism he formerly embraced. But this figure remains careful to disclose his disillusionment with his own handiwork only in off-the-record conversations. Yet another Bush legal official, even now at the commanding heights of power, admits that the administration’s policies are largely discredited. In its defense, he says without a hint of irony or sarcasm, “Not everything we’ve done has been illegal.” He adds, “Not everything has been ultra vires” — a legal term referring to actions beyond the law.

The resistance within the administration to Bush’s torture policy, the ultimate expression of the war paradigm, has come to an end through attrition and exhaustion. More than two years ago, Vice President Dick Cheney’s then chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and then general counsel David Addington physically cornered one of the few internal opponents, subjecting him to threats, intimidation and isolation. About that time, the tiny band of opponents within approached Karen Hughes, newly named undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, hoping that the longtime confidante of President Bush, now assigned responsibility for the U.S. image in the world, might be willing to hear them out on the damage done by continuation of the torture policy. But she rebuffed them.

Two weeks ago, Hughes unveiled her major report, extolling “our commitment to freedom, human rights and the dignity and equality of every human being,” but making no mention of detainee policy. The action part consists of another of her campaign-oriented rapid-response schemes, this one a Counterterrorism Communications Center, staffed by military and intelligence officers, to rebut the false claims of terrorists. Asked whether the administration’s policies might be a factor contributing to the problem, Sean McCormick, the State Department spokesman, replied, “You’re always going to get people criticizing policy.”

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Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2007 at 10:49 am

Waterloo

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Thanks to Alert Reader for pointing this out over at Firedoglake.

Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2007 at 10:44 am

Why does the military LIE so much?

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“Duty, Honor, Country, and Lies Galore” — that’s the motto, I guess. Latest are their lies about their torture techniques:

There is growing evidence of high-level coordination between the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. military in developing abusive interrogation techniques used on terrorist suspects. After the Sept. 11 attacks, both turned to a small cadre of psychologists linked to the military’s secretive Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape program to “reverse-engineer” techniques originally designed to train U.S. soldiers to resist torture if captured, by exposing them to brutal treatment. The military’s use of SERE training for interrogations in the war on terror was revealed in detail in a recently declassified report. But the CIA’s use of such tactics — working in close coordination with the military — until now has remained largely unknown.

According to congressional sources and mental healthcare professionals knowledgeable about the secret program who spoke with Salon, two CIA-employed psychologists, James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, were at the center of the program, which likely violated the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners. The two are currently under investigation: Salon has learned that Daniel Dell’Orto, the principal deputy general counsel at the Department of Defense, sent a “document preservation” order on May 15 to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other top Pentagon officials forbidding the destruction of any document mentioning Mitchell and Jessen or their psychological consulting firm, Mitchell, Jessen and Associates, based in Spokane, Wash. Dell’Orto’s order was in response to a May 1 request from Sen. Carl Levin, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who is investigating the abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody.

Mitchell and Jessen have worked as contractors for the CIA since 9/11. Both were previously affiliated with the military’s SERE program, which at its main school at Fort Bragg puts elite special operations forces through brutal mock interrogations, from sensory deprivation to simulated drowning.

A previously classified report by the Defense Department’s inspector general, made public last month, revealed in vivid detail how the military — in flat contradiction to previous denials — used SERE as a basis for interrogating suspected al-Qaida prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, and later in Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover, the involvement of the CIA, which was secretly granted broad authority by President Bush days after 9/11 to target terrorists worldwide, suggests that both the military and the spy agency were following a policy approved by senior Bush administration officials.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2007 at 10:38 am

Woohoo! Printed my first USPS postal label

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People frequently denigrate the US Postal Service, but I’ve found it to be a heads-up organization that truly—literally—delivers, and metaphorically delivers as well. Lots of innovation over the past few years, and today I availed myself of one of the services that’s been around for a while: printing shipping labels with postage already in place. A few advantages:

  1. The package can just be dropped off—it’s ready to go. No waiting in line.
  2. Priority mail is $.05 cheaper, and delivery confirmation is free. Total savings: $0.70.
  3. It makes me feel very cool and knowledgeable.

The site is http://www.usps.com, and you can order (free) shipping supplies, such as priority mail boxes and envelopes, priority mail stickers, etc., and also (not-free) equipment (digital scale, rubber stamps) and postage stamps.

Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2007 at 9:45 am

Posted in Daily life

Sunning Megs

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Sunning Megs

With the long summer and the higher orbit of the Sun about the earth, Megs can enjoy a splash of afternoon sunshine is the bedroom. Here she is making full use of it.

Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2007 at 8:26 am

Posted in Cats, Daily life, Megs

View from the balcony

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View from the Balcony

Now that the screen door onto the balcony is in place, I find myself using the balcony more. Here’s the view yesterday. On Wednesday and Sunday afternoons the sailboats are especially numerous on the bay.

Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2007 at 8:18 am

Posted in Daily life

Bush acts decisively

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Bush vetoed a bill yesterday to that would have allowed embryonic stem cells, smaller (as the NY Times editorial put it) than the period at the end of this sentence, to be used for research. Instead, the embryos will be discarded and destroyed.

In other news, 14 US troops were killed in Iraq in the past 48 hours. Sixteen civilian deaths were also reported.

Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2007 at 8:04 am

Shaving experiment

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Valobra

Remember this guy and his Rolls Razor? Well, of course I had to do the same thing—in my bathroom, though, not in the garden. (In my case that would be the parking lot.)

Very nice almond-fragrant lather from Virgilio Valobra’s shaving soap: it comes in a bar, but is the consistency of Play-Doh, so you mash it into a suitable container. Makes a fine lather with the Sabini ebony-handled brush. I had honed and stropped the little Rolls razorblade, and slid the handle into place.

Much more resistance from the whiskers, and it took me a while to get the right angle—which turns out to be like the GEM G-Bar, with the razor—the blade, in this case—almost flat against the skin. The with-the-grain pass left a lot of stubble, and the across-the-grain pass reduced it some. I chickened out at the end, and used the trusty HD for the final, against-the-grain pass. The result is that my curiosity is satisfied and I will shave again with the Rolls. Someday. Perhaps.

Smooth shave except for some roughness on the chin. Finished with TOBS Bay Rum, and I’m having a nice cup of coffee to calm my nerves.

Written by Leisureguy

21 June 2007 at 7:36 am

Posted in Shaving

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