Monthly Archives: July 2005

‘Everybody for 500 miles knows the shuttle went up’

Wicked cool.

I’m a space geek. I’m a sci-fi geek, so naturally I’m a space geek who’s frustrated because we’re not colonizing Mars (bitches!) yet and finding all the aliens and forming a universal alliance to fight the Klingons and the Goa’uld and the Scarrans and the Cylons and the Shadows. I watched Space Camp once a day for an entire summer when I was 16. (“Three concentric circles spinning in different directions simultaneously. Object to stabilize from central point utilizing hand controls.”)

But at heart, I’m a space geek. I look up at the stars and I want to know where everybody else is. What they’re doing. If they’ve done it better than we have. Or worse.

I’m glad we’re going back up there, to find whatever might be found.

A.

Midsummer

From Tena:

Since I post much less frequently than Holden or Athenae at all times, the fact that I haven’t posted anything for quite some time now may not have been noticed by many. I couldn’t do anything while I was on the road, coming up here to the mountains. After I got here, I just fell into the habit of continuing to do nothing online.

There’s a whole lot going on this time of year up here, and I had guests twice. Both times, I went nonstop.

I usually end up the summer up here with one really wild adventure story. I’ve gotten lost in a wilderness area while hiking, I’ve had a bear in my house, I’ve driven a carload of people up to the Wheeler Geological Area – worst 24 miles of jeep road I’d ever seen. Until this year. Last Monday I drove 3 people over California Pass (roughly 13,000 feet), down to Hurricane Basin (where someone has helpfully towed and left a totaled jeep as a reminder) over Hurricane Pass and down Corkscrew Gulch.

I knew that two of my passengers were afraid of heights, but the plan was to take the jeep road over Cinnamon Pass and then on to Ouray by one of the jeep roads going that way. I had been told that the back ways into Ouray were rough. I knew there was one particular road that one should never attempt to take. It didn’t look too far on the map from Animas Forks, the ghost town at the foot of Cinnamon Pass, to the highway outside of Ouray.

I’ve driven over Cinnamon Pass a bunch of times and I find it easy. It took about an hour and we were down at Animas Forks. The road south to Silverton is clearly marked, but you’re on your own when it comes to the roads going northwest to Ouray. I hadn’t known that there were a half dozen jeep trails running all over the place. I didn’t realize none of them would be marked. I stopped a guy driving a tour jeep, and asked him which was the road to Ouray. He basically told me that there were two roads: one was so rough my Cherokee didn’t have clearance and if I went that way, I’d probably lose my oil pan. The other road went up and over California Mountain, Hurricane Mountain and down Corkscrew. Not as rough, but steeper.

Steep barely touches it. We climbed straight up California Mountain, and dropped straight down to Hurricane Basin. It was there beside the glacial tarn that someone with a quaint sense of humor had left the totaled vehicle he’d towed there. We went right straight up again from there. It was somewhere along after the summit of Hurricane that I hit a rock I never saw. I blew out the tire. We were going up a slight incline, but it leveled out and that’s where I stopped.

We started getting everything out – the spare tire, the jack – and then a jeep appeared, coming up behind us. The guy driving had a cigarette hanging out of the side of his mouth. Then I saw that his two passengers were smoking, too. Since I smoke, I notice other people who are smoking; we aren’t that numerous anymore. The man was stocky, looked 40 something. He stopped and just hopped out and took over and changed the tire. Hardly said anything. I wandered back to his jeep where my friend was talking to his passengers. They were a mother and daughter. The first thing the daughter said to me was that she liked my anti-Bush stickers. She hated him. She taught college in D.C., she said. We stood there and despised Bush together while we waited.

The gentleman had the whole thing finished in about 20 minutes. My passenger who is most afraid of heights, a retired surgeon who is my neighbor, must have said something to him while they worked on the tire, because the guy said he’d follow us for awhile as we got ready to leave.

He followed us up to the top of wherever the hell we were. The road going on from there disappears at the edge of a precipice. The only way down is over that edge. That is the start of Corkscrew Gulch. From there we went on alone.

I don’t know how I did, but I drove over the edge. The road dropped straight down to a hairpin curve so tight I had to back up to get around it. I could feel how scared my passengers were and the blown tire had rattled me, too. That corkscrew is endless, it is one steep hairpin after another down the bare side of a gulch that has to begin at close to 14,000 feet, because we were on a level with Red Mountain (the one south of Ouray, not the one outside of Lake City; they’re everywhere, really.) All I wanted was to get us all down. It took forever, I swear. The road eventually straightens out and goes into trees, but it promptly gets rougher, too – huge holes, huge rocks. It took about 20 years to finally get all the way down to the highway.

I got us to Ouray. We went back on the highway, the long way round. I was upset for a couple of days because I had never had a 4 wheel drive trip go wrong before, and I really love driving these roads. Then all of the insanely lucky things about it starting occurring to me: that I blew the tire in a relatively good place, instead of say, on the way down Corkscrew. There had been room to maneuver and the road was pretty smooth. And most amazing of all, that we were saved by a jeep full of chain-smoking Bush haters. And people say there are no angels.

All Apologies

The family of Mr. De Menezes received an apology today:

LONDON — Prime Minister Tony Blair apologized Monday for the police killing of Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian electrician mistaken for a terrorist who was shot eight times in a subway car.

The family of Mr. Dilawar is still waiting.

Dilawar was a shy, frail, uneducated cab driver who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time — driving past a base that had been the target of a rocket attack earlier in the day. He was arrested by Afghan militiamen who turned him over to the Americans. This past February, the commander of that militia was himself arrested. He is suspected of attacking the base and turning over innocent men like Dilawar to the Americans in order to curry favor with our military. Before Dilawar’s final interrogation, the one that finally killed him, most of the interrogators had already realized that he was innocent.

A.

Your Idiot Cornyn Quote Of The Day

On Judge Roberts’ membership or lack thereof (he won’t say) in the Federalist Society:

“Obviously it wasn’t central in his life. But it’s not like being a member of the Communist Party,” Cornyn said after meeting Roberts. “The Federalist Society is an organization that hosts debates from people with a lot of different viewpoints. I think serves a very useful purpose for lawyers and people interested in these viewpoints. But I don’t think that should be a limiting factor at all.”

Thank God the senator was around to clear that up. Because I hear people say every day that the Federalists are just like the Communists, in a way.

Seriously, can somebody get that guy a nice warm blanket and bowl of oatmeal and just turn on Sesame Street or something? Like before he hurts himself.

A.

Today on Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle, Holden’s On Vacation

But we can’t let an opportunity to poke fun at Scotty go by: First, we have a segment I like to call “John Roberts: In or Out (of the Federalist Society, That Is)”

Q It was reported, as you know, that he was in the Federalist Society, which is an important legal group in the conservative — on the conservative side. Then the White House said, no, it was not the case. And now it appears that he was part of the leadership group. What is the real story here?

MR. McCLELLAN: He has no memory of ever joining or paying dues to the Federalist Society. He has no recollection of that. He has participated in events and panel discussions. He’s given speeches at Federalist Society forums. But he doesn’t have any recollection of ever paying dues or joining the organization.

Q Isn’t that kind of a simple thing to nail down, prior to now?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, David, he’s answered this over the last few years the issue has come up, and he certainly has participated in some of the events that they’ve sponsored or that they’ve hosted. But he just doesn’t have any memory of ever paying any dues to the organization.

Then Scottie decides just what is and is not appropriate for those pesky Senators to see:

Q Scott, are memos and documents written by Judge Roberts when he was working for the Reagan and the first Bush administration, are they fair game for the Senate to examine during the confirmation hearings?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, I think, in terms of documents it’s all speculative at this point, because the Senate Judiciary Committee has not made a request of any specific documents from the administration at this point. As you heard from the Attorney General and Senator Thompson yesterday, we intend to work closely with the Senate Judiciary Committee to make sure that they have the appropriate information that they need to do their job, and that’s what we have done in the past and that’s what we will do as we move forward.

Q So the question is, though, then you’re open to talking with them about giving them documents that Judge Roberts wrote during the previous two Republican administrations?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we want to work with the members of the Senate to make sure they have the appropriate information so that they can do their job. They have an important role to play. Now, Senator Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the committee, yesterday indicated that he has not made any requests at this point. So let’s see what the requests are, and then we’ll work with them as we move forward. I think you heard from Senator Thompson yesterday and he talked about information that could be related to attorney-client privilege, and I think that raises certain privacy concerns, and that’s the point that Senator Thompson was making yesterday. And so we hope that people aren’t going to be asking for things that they know, as he said, would be considered out of bounds.

Then we move on to Karl Rove, and Scottie continues to evade the question of whether or not accused traitors in the West Wing have access to classified information:

Q Do Karl Rove and Scooter Libby still have top secret clearance here, access to classified documents?

MR. McCLELLAN: You asked this question last week, and —

Q I did. And I’m asking again.

MR. McCLELLAN: — the President has said what our answer is to these questions. We’ll be glad to talk about all these issues once the investigation is complete.

Q Do they have a clearance?

MR. McCLELLAN: We’ll be glad to talk about all the issues relating to the investigation once it’s complete.

Q Why can’t you talk about it now?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that question I addressed a couple weeks ago.

We also have Scott answering the question that Think Progress asked yesterday:

Q I know that none of you are speaking about this because it’s an ongoing investigation. Can you explain why Alberto Gonzales would go on TV yesterday and do that, and talk about it?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, what he said was already said from this podium back in October of 2003, and I don’t think he got into commenting in any substantive way on the discussion. But the President has said that we will be glad to talk about this once the investigation has come to a conclusion, but not until then. And there have certainly been preferences expressed to the White House that we not get into discussing it while it is ongoing.

Well, that clears that right up.

A.

Joe Wilson History Lesson

Stephen Crockett reminds us of something I think is getting a little lost in all the back and forth blather about what Joe Wilson said and when he said it. Namely, what an unbelievable badass this guy was during the First Gulf War:

Wilson had served as an Ambassador to Iraq. He had faced down Saddam Hussein on behalf of the American government. Wilson understood both the power and limits of Iraq’s threat to peace under Saddam Hussein. He was certainly no friend or supporter of the Iraqi dictator.

The freepi and their “grown up” minders aren’t just smearing any old political opponent. They’re taking on a genuine American hero of the kind they’d be lionizing if he hadn’t uncovered a truth that was inconvenient to their worldview. From one of my favorite books, Live From Baghdad:

“Jesus, this place is surreal. This morning Wilson turned up at the briefing wearing a noose around his neck. I told him he was the best dressed man in Baghdad.” What prompted Joe to go off the deep end was a note delivered to Western embassies by the Iraqi government reminding diplomats that anyone sheltering foreigners was subject to hanging. Baghdad had also asked for the names of nondiplomats who had sought refuge in the [ambassador’s] residence.

There’s a reason this has gone as far as it has. Joe Wilson’s faced down Saddam Hussein. Compared to THAT, what are the 101st Fighting Keyboarders?

A.

Winning is Good

Steve Clemons tells us why Bolton is toast.

Savor it, kids. They’ve had so many victories. We’ve had so few, but we did good work here, and it paid off.

A.

Mmm … Velveeta

It’s 101 degrees here. I’m huddled in front of the television in the dark, next to a fan.

Watching this.

Cheeseball movies that suck but that you love anyway. Discuss.

A.

Judgment

The procedure of the judgment is described in Matthew 25:31-46, and in the Apocalypse 20:12. Commentators see in those passages allegorical descriptions intended to convey in a vivid manner the fact that in the last judgment the conduct and deserts of each individual will be made plain not only to his own conscience but to the knowledge of the assembled world. It is probable that no words will be spoken in the judgment, but that in one instant, through a Divine illumination, each creature will thoroughly understand his own moral condition and that of every fellow creature (Romans 2:15).

— From New Advent

Four o’clock and all’s well.

Honestly, sometimes I look around and do not recognize my fellow men. I’d like to say it’s just Gibson, and Gibson’s nine parts insane (and one part pig-ignorant), but the thing is, he’s not saying anything I haven’t heard in bars and at barbecues, over coffee and the telephone lines. Just get them. I don’t care which them. Just get them. And once you’ve got them, do what you like, do whatever is necessary for my comfort, for my anger, for my need to be revenged of a wrong not even done to me. Do whatever you think is necessary, what I think having clearly become irrelevant as I’ve apparently ceased thinking at all.

We say to the innocent, this is what you get. For living in a time of heightened awareness to a problem about which we could not have given a tinker’s damn until it came to us and we had no choice but to no longer ignore it. This is what you get, because we’ve just got to shoot somebody, and we’ve judged you, and the facts are irrelevant, and truth is irrelevant, and in fact truth doesn’t even exist anymore, because our paranoia rules the day. We say to the innocent, this is what you get when you step out of line, when you run, when you so much as look like you’ve done something wrong. This is what you get, because we care about appearances of evil now, we judge appearances because we won’t put the time into understanding terror to be anything but.

This is what you get, so that they can feel safe in John Gibson’s house, in Alabama, in Wyoming, in Utah and Idaho and Ohio and Arizona. This is what you get, so that people who would otherwise have to wonder what on earth was going on can be reassured that at the very least we know how to shoot. And if the target of our bullets turns out to be innocent, turns out to have nothing to do with anything, well, all’s well, five in the noggin, and innocence is over, is so five minutes ago, and what’s one life for our comfort? What’s one life for our cheerleaders of war, for those of us who grasp at the bravery and sacrifice of others yet offer nothing of themselves?

They need this, so this is what you get.

A.

Newspaper Blogging

Atrios is wondering why alt weeklies haven’t been all over the blogging thing.

For my part, it’s pet peeve of mine, newspapers’ “official” blogs. I think a lot of them either have nothing to say or say such good stuff it shames the rest of the paper’s commentary and criticism.

I’d rather newspapers (alt weeklies included) do what newspapers are good at, or better yet, come up with something new all their own instead of jumping on the latest fad in yet another more-desperate-than-a-prom-date attempt to garner new readers. Not all journalists make good bloggers.

But, since I’ve been meaning to point this out anyway, here’s one who does:

Phyllis Long called me today to talk about last night’s town hall meeting. We both heard most of the comments at the Miracle Center on the south side of Racine.

And she pointed out something I’d been thinking. While it was crucial to have a meeting like that, the focus seemed to be on elected officials. They got several minutes to speak.

Great for sound bytes, not for doable solutions. Besides, we hear their opinions all the time.

The residents are the ones who’ll have to do the legwork to fix this. They got only one minute each, and they didn’t get to ask the people they really wanted to answer their questions: the first panel, which included the highest-ranking officials. What Long would’ve liked to see was a bunch of the city’s nonprofit agencies and community programs there. I agree. Since these murders, I’ve heard of boatloads of programs I never knew existed. I’m sure few of the people who really need them know about them, either.

We heard of multiple re-entry programs and mentoring programs fighting for the same dollars. We need these groups to meet, so we can stop duplicating efforts and maximize the effect we can make with the dollars we have. Then we have to get the word out. Communication is usually a big part of the battle.

I grew up with the Racine Journal Times and there’s plenty of things about the paper I’m not wild about. But this guy’s blog is precisely what a local news blog should be: full of local voices, interesting tidbits, a little fun, perspective on current events (including a horrifying series of murders), a tone that sounds like the people I grew up with. I don’t always agree with Moore, but he does a damn fine job. If newspapers want to blog, they might look at this guy for a lesson how.

A.

The Rules

A writer friend of mine, recently published after years of trying, often says that getting published is just like dating:

You send a query to an agent or house, and then you wait.

Should I call him?

Is it too soon to call?

Will I sound desperate?

But if I don’t call maybe he won’t think I’m serious. I’d better call.

You call, get halfway through the number, hang up.

You go shopping. There is no problem that does not look insignificant in comparison to the search for the perfect black skirt.

You rehearse a short spiel, breezy, casual, as if you couldn’t care less if he got the manuscript you’ve been slaving the last two years to perfect. Oh, no big deal, just wanted to make sure you’ve seen it. You call friends and practice your speech on them.

You ask your friends questions: Do I sound overconfident? Arrogant? Timid? Hysterical? Am I overanalyzing this? Am I not analyzing it enough? HOW can I not be analyzing it enough? Your friends ply you with cigarettes.

You fume. He said he liked authors JUST LIKE YOU, with adjectives all high up and the best verbs of their lives to waste on somebody, so why hasn’t he bloody well called you? Is it you? Are you not good enough for him? Maybe it’s him. No, there’s no way it’s him. Got to be something wrong with you.

But the thing is, you just know you’d be perfect together. If only you could make him see that.

You start doing vodka shots at noon.

A publisher friend chimes in that after you’re together, officially a couple, sign a contract, it’s like marriage with no hope of divorce. You realize you’ve saddled yourself with a crazy person, somebody who’s stuck on chapter six for two months and won’t stop angsting about it, somebody who leaves bits of their outlines all over the bathroom floor. And you can’t get out of it, you have to deal with this nutball author artiste-type and you really wish you’d signed a pre-nup.

All of this is by way of saying, Jason, if it’s any comfort at all, it’s not you. Godspeed.

A.

Free Stuff

Laurie King giveaway.

*goes off to address envelope*

A.

Out of Pocket

From Holden:

I’m leaving the country for a week or so beginning tomorrow. Last time I took a week off of blogging, just after Memorial Day, the identity of Deep Throat was revealed. One wonders what will happen next week.

I’m sure Athenae and Tena will ably handle this place while I’m away.

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.

Bush Blocks Release of Abu Ghraib Images

From Holden:

I’m sure no one is surprised that the dead-enders in the Bush assministration made this move late on a Friday.

On July 22, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) denounced the latest efforts of the Bush Administration to block the release of the Darby photos and videos depicting torture at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison facility. On June 2, 2004, CCR, along with the ACLU, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense, and Veterans for Peace filed papers with the U.S. District Court, charging the Department of Defense and other government agencies with illegally withholding records concerning the abuse of detainees in American military custody. Since then, the organizations have been repeatedly rebuffed in their efforts to investigate what happened at the prison.

In June, the government requested and received an extension from the judge stating that they needed time in order to redact the faces of the men, women and children believed to be shown in the photographs and videos. They were given until today to produce the images, but at the eleventh hour filed a motion to oppose the release of the photos and videos, based on an entirely new argument: they are now requesting a 7(F) exemption from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act to withhold law enforcement-related information in order to protect the physical safety of individuals. Today’s move is the latest in a series of attempts by the government to keep the images from being made public and to cover up the torture of detainees in U.S. custody around the world.

[snip]

“This is absolutely unacceptable,” stated Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “We can not move forward from this scandal until we have a full public accounting and independent investigation into what happened at Abu Ghraib. The government cannot continue to hide evidence of torture. The time to release these photos and videos was a long time ago.”

Expectations are that the FOIA request will release more than 100 photos and 4 videos, all believed to document deplorable human rights violations by U.S. military personnel against Iraqi civilians.

Barbara Olshansky, Deputy Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, stated, “The public must be informed of what is being done in our name. It is this Administration that has put our troops at risk and caused world-wide anger by fostering policies that promote torture and refusing to hold those responsible publicly accountable.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights once more calls for a complete, transparent independent investigation into the torture and abuse of detainees that goes all the way up the chain of command and demands that the Administration apply the Geneva Conventions to every detainee being held in U.S. custody around the world.

Those photos and videos will come out eventually. If not now, then perhaps at The Hague.

Our Children Is Finally Learning

From Holden:

Via Rorschach America may be waking up a bit.

Nearly half of Americans say the war in Iraq has hurt what the White House calls its ”war on terror”–the highest percentage since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003–according to a major new poll released Thursday in the immediate aftermath of the latest bomb attacks in London.

The survey, by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, also showed that 49 percent of respondents now believe that Washington should set a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq. President George W. Bush opposes such a move, as did 45 percent of the 1,502 American adults surveyed July 13-17.

[snip]

Forty-five percent of Americans believe that the war in Iraq has increased the chances of terrorist attacks in the United States, up from 36 percent last October, the Pew survey said.

By contrast, 22 percent of citizens said they agreed with Bush that the Iraq war has lessened the chances of terrorist attacks on home soil.

A new low of 27 percent of the public–and only 23 percent of political independents–said they believe that Bush has a plan for bringing the Iraq war to a successful end. However, 64 percent said they now believe that Bush has no clear plan.

[snip]

On whether and when to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, a slim majority said American forces should remain until the situation in Iraq has stabilized. Forty-three percent said the troops should be brought home as soon as possible.

skippy!

From Holden:

skippy is less than 1,000 hits away from 1 million.

Push him over the top!

Schedenfreud and the Man Who Did Not Take His Own Advice

From Holden:

News of Ari Fleischer’s possible legal problems flashes me back to a classic edition of your Daily Les.

Q As Commander-In-Chief, what was the President’s reaction to television’s Bill Maher, in his announcement that members of our Armed Forces who deal with missiles are cowards, while the armed terrorists who killed 6,000 unarmed are not cowards, for which Maher was briefly moved off a Washington television station?

MR. FLEISCHER: I have not discussed it with the President, one. I have —

Q Surely, as a —

MR. FLEISCHER: I’m getting there.

Q Surely as Commander, he was enraged at that, wasn’t he?

MR. FLEISCHER: I’m getting there, Les.

Q Okay.

MR. FLEISCHER: I’m aware of the press reports about what he said. I have not seen the actual transcript of the show itself. But assuming the press reports are right, it’s a terrible thing to say, and it unfortunate. And that’s why — there was an earlier question about has the President said anything to people in his own party — they’re reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do. This is not a time for remarks like that; there never is.

Finally, A Prominent Republican Speaks Out Against On Traitor Karl

From Holden:

And the prominent Republican is Karen Hughes.

Speaking of Hughes, in her acclaimed book “Ten Minutes from Normal,” the former White House counselor opines about the investigation into the leak on Valerie Plame . She suspects columnist Robert D. Novak ‘s sources may have been in one of the agencies, not the White House.

“But regardless of the source, the leak compromised the confidential identity of a longtime public servant, which was wrong, and unfair to her and those who worked with her. Whoever did it should come forward and not hide behind journalistic ethics for his or her self-protection.”

Link via Dan Froomkin.