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Photos and text, unless otherwise noted, Copyright 2003,2004,2005,2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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Consider:

"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"







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Saturday, 7 January 2006

Topic: Breaking News

In All Seriousness: Late Week Catch-Up

No news happens on Saturday. That's the day to work on assembling the Sunday edition of Just Above Sunset. But on Saturday the 7th that wasn't to be. The ongoing lobbying scandal drew blood. And it's best to resign outside the normal news cycle, as in this:

AP - DeLay Abandons Bid to Remain House Leader - "Embattled Rep. Tom DeLay the defiant face of a conservative revolution in Congress, stepped down as House majority leader on Saturday under pressure from Republicans staggered by an election-year corruption scandal."

Washington Post - DeLay Abandons Bid to Remain House Leader - "Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) today abandoned his bid to remain House majority leader, bowing to pressure from a growing number of fellow House Republicans who wanted a permanent leadership change because of his indictment on campaign finance charges."

Well, late Friday house Republicans had stared circulating a petition to call for a vote to elect a replacement for him. He fell on his spear for the Party. This business was getting out of hand.

Ass to that this - Fellow Republican: Ney likely to be indicted - "Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, is likely to be indicted in an ongoing public corruption scandal, according to a fellow Republican congressman, Jim McCrery of Louisiana. - Ney has been linked by prosecutors to Jack Abramoff."

They're staring to drop. Next week should be interesting.

Then too the New York Times reported this -
A secret Pentagon study has found that as many as 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to the upper body could have survived if they had had extra body armor. Such armor has been available since 2003, but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials.
Everyone then picked up on the story.

A typical reaction here -
Christ almighty, if you’re going to send these people - kids, most of them - out on such a fool’s errand, at least give them a fighting chance of surviving their tour of duty. Repeal the goddamn tax cuts and buy them the basic armor they need. Or run up the deficit a little higher. Or just add on a special “armor tax” to this year’s tax return - I’ll pay it happily. Hell, I’ll throw in extra. Eighty percent might have survived. Eighty percent. Words fail me.
Yeah, and someone in the military is real unhappy, and leaking secrets to the Times. That's not good for the administration. The families of the dead may have something to say too. We'll see.

On the other hand, Forbes reports this - US Soldiers Question Use of More Armor - "US soldiers in the field were not all supportive of a Pentagon study that found improved body armor... " Mobility matters, of course. Forbes is a business magazine.

Then too, the same day there was this - the Congressional Research Service (CRS) has determined that the Bush Administration "probably" cannot claim the broad expansion of Presidential powers the President has relied on to justify the NSA intercept program -
President Bush's rationale for eavesdropping on Americans without warrants rests on questionable legal ground, and Congress does not appear to have given him the authority to order the surveillance, said a Congressional analysis released Friday.

The analysis, by the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan research arm of Congress, was the first official assessment of a question that has gripped Washington for three weeks: Did Mr. Bush act within the law when he ordered the National Security Agency, the country's most secretive spy agency, to eavesdrop on some Americans?

The report, requested by several members of Congress, reached no bottom-line conclusions on the legality of the program, in part because it said so many details remained classified. But it raised numerous doubts about the power to bypass Congress in ordering such operations, saying the legal rationale "does not seem to be as well grounded" as the administration's lawyers have argued.
That's push back. There's a train wreck coming.

There was that Rasmussen poll that showed the sixty-four percent of American has no problem with the government spying on its own citizens. But they didn't ask how anyone felt about doing that without probable cause or warrants.

Well, someone asked and the same Saturday we see the results -
A majority of Americans want the Bush administration to get court approval before eavesdropping on people inside the United States, even if those calls might involve suspected terrorists, an AP-Ipsos poll shows.

Over the past three weeks, President Bush and top aides have defended the electronic monitoring program they secretly launched shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, as a vital tool to protect the nation from al-Qaida and its affiliates.

Yet 56 percent of respondents in an AP-Ipsos poll said the government should be required to first get a court warrant to eavesdrop on the overseas calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens when those communications are believed to be tied to terrorism.

Agreeing with the White House, some 42 percent of those surveyed do not believe the court approval is necessary.
So fifty-six percent of us are cowards and traitors, who aren't sufficiently frightened?

Interesting, and this is all serious stuff.

On the other hand, if all that is too heavy for you, when LA Weekly, the pretty much mainstream alternative weekly out here, hit the newsstands on Thursday the 5th, there was much to consider in their year-end (or year-beginning) Feuilletons Sketches - Whimsies, Curios and Ephemera of All Kinds.

This stuff will clear your head.

You could think about some of Dave Shulman's Unanswered Questions of 2005 - Why is there still no pornstar named Laura Bush? When will Osama bin Laden be captured from his perch at the Texas School Book Depository? Has the Taliban formally merged with the Religious Right, or are they just dating? Why, when the Easter Bunny rises from Lincoln's Tomb on Christmas Day, does it fail to obey Santa's shadow?

Yes, one wonders, and the same link will give you Judith Lewis' Things We Learned from the Intelligent Design "Controversy"
1. Some complexity is irreducible.

2. Evolutionary theory has gaps.

3. Gaps are evidence of God.

4. Naomi Watts is evidence of God.

5. God doesn't play dice, but he does play Life.

6. God is falsifiable.

7. What's religion in Delaware is science in Kansas.

8. Thirty-eight Nobel laureates aren't as smart as the Kansas Board of Education.

9. It's quite possible that humans rode dinosaurs.

10. Any crackpot theory deserves a hearing, unless it involves spaghetti.

11. A man is like a watch: If you don't wind him up, he doesn't work right.

12. Some people spell Creationism with only two letters.
Regarding the tenth item, see The Flying Spaghetti Monster from August 28th in these pages.

Wendy Molyneux offers Happy Endings for 2005 News Stories, and two of them are on target -
The Valerie Plame Affair

When Judith Miller was released, she proudly walked onto the Senate floor and said, "Gentleman, may I present my source, the magical psychic unicorn Corinne Jones?"

The unicorn turned to the committee and said, "I have been the source of the leak all along. The name Valerie Plame came to me in one of my psychic visions. I apologize for all the trouble I've caused, but rest assured that your government is as honest as the day is long. I'd like to make it up to the American people by using my magical powers to make everyone billionaires who live in houses made of candy."

The Terri Schiavo Incident

Just as the doctors were about to disconnect Terri from her feeding tube, Terri sat up and said, quite clearly, "Stop! I'm fine!"

The doctors, amazed, looked at each other. Finally one shrugged and said what everyone was thinking: "Call the Republicans and tell them they're right. Science isn't real."
Indeed.

Here Tom Christie offers his Annual Anagrams. The list is long, but some stand out -
America + Iraq = CIA REAM IRAQ
Rumsfeld = DR. FLUMES
Rumsfeld + Iraq = ALFRED SQUIRM
Bush + Rumsfeld = BLUSHED SMURF
Bush + Rice = U.S. BE RICH
Katrina = ANTI ARK
Tom Cruise = MR. SO CUTIE
And there's lots more, like The Year in Useless Products, a list which includes these -
Cheetos Lip Balm In a bold era of never-ending synergy between fast-food products - LAY'S ® KC MASTERPIECE® BBQ Flavored Potato Chips, Pizza Hut Cheese Pizza Popcorn, et al. - it was just a matter of time before salty snacks and personal hygiene would join forces. Cheetos Lip Balm is out in front of that trend with, well, a lip balm that tastes like Cheetos. Delicious, dusty Cheetos. But no orange fingers or powdery mess here! One application is all it takes to bring the taste of junk food to your lips for several hours.

Liquor in a Sword Ararat5 is a brandy that comes in a unique sword-shaped bottle. Pour it into your goblet or drink it straight from the hilt. Ararat5, made by a Polish company, contains 40 percent alcohol by volume and is guaranteed to work. And what better commercial pairing than alcohol and deadly weapons?

Aromatherapy in a Bottle Purifique is the name of a new beverage claiming to be "the world's first all-natural aromatherapy energy drink." Not just for drinking, Purifique is also an olfactory experience! Purifique's "botanical infusions" are supposed to deliver "pure plant oxygen" and a compliment of aromatherapy benefits to lift your spirits, regulate your system and focus your mind.

Boob Muffs Just what it sounds like - sort of. These are not winter wear for breasts but rather regular old earmuffs shaped like boobs. This one comes from Baron Bob's Boob Bonanza, where one can also procure the more common boob mugs. It's the muffs, however, that are Thinsulate approved.
There are more. There is more. Sometimes it is good to live in La-La Land.

Posted by Alan at 17:36 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 7 January 2006 17:41 PST home

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