Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year End Cleanup . . . .

Some end of the year cleanup is in order, and how fitting it is to feature the bush administration.

From Bob Herbert of the New York Times we get:

Add Up the Damage
By BOB HERBERT - December 30, 2008

anyone know where George W. Bush is?

You don’t hear much from him anymore. The last image most of us remember is of the president ducking a pair of size 10s that were hurled at him in Baghdad.

We’re still at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Israel is thrashing the Palestinians in Gaza. And the U.S. economy is about as vibrant as the 0-16 Detroit Lions.

But hardly a peep have we heard from George, the 43rd.

When Mr. Bush officially takes his leave in three weeks (in reality, he checked out long ago), most Americans will be content to sigh good riddance. I disagree. I don’t think he should be allowed to slip quietly out of town. There should be a great hue and cry — a loud, collective angry howl, demonstrations with signs and bullhorns and fiery speeches — over the damage he’s done to this country.

This is the man who gave us the war in Iraq and Guantánamo and torture and rendition; who turned the Clinton economy and the budget surplus into fool’s gold; who dithered while New Orleans drowned; who trampled our civil liberties at home and ruined our reputation abroad; who let Dick Cheney run hog wild and thought Brownie was doing a heckuva job.


The catalog of his transgressions against the nation’s interests — sins of commission and omission — would keep Mr. Bush in a confessional for the rest of his life. Don’t hold your breath. He’s hardly the contrite sort.

He told ABC’s Charlie Gibson: “I don’t spend a lot of time really worrying about short-term history. I guess I don’t worry about long-term history, either, since I’m not going to be around to read it.”

The president chuckled, thinking — as he did when he made his jokes about the missing weapons of mass destruction — that there was something funny going on.

Paul Krugman, winner of the Nobel prize in economics, also of the New York Times now weighs in:

Looking for a word
December 31, 2008

Unusually, I’m having a vocabulary problem. There has to be some word for the kind of person who considers his mild discomfort the equivalent of torture, crippling injury, or death for other people. But I can’t think of it.

What brings this to mind is this from Alberto Gonzales:

"I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror.

This reminded me of Laura Bush’s remark on carnage in Iraq:

"And believe me, no one suffers more than
their president and I do when we watch this."

Remember this. And remember, too, that for long years these people were considered heroic patriots, defenders of the nation.

And now it is time for them to go away . . . .

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bungling Bennie . . . .

This one's too easy, I'm not even going to bother:

Pope issues Christmas plea for end to child abuse Wed Dec 24, 2008 10:01pm EST By Phil Stewart

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict led the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics into Christmas at a midnight mass Thursday in which he appealed for an end to child abuse in all its forms.

Enjoy your various and assorted holidays, all.

No, seriously.

Hope you all are warm, dry and with loved ones . . . .

Monday, December 22, 2008

'Ya Just Can't Believe steve . . . .

Others more informed and educated than I on Canadian politics will no doubt give excellent commentary and analysis on harper's Senate appointments today.

To point out one glaring untruth in the press release from the Prime Minister's Office, however, check this out:

Harper said in the news release that the vacancies had to be filled “in order for the Senate to transact legitimate government business.”

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the Senate an integral part of Parliament? And, with the Parliament prorogued at stevie's request, just what the hell is the "legitimate government business" stevie's referring to?

Question for those more educated on Canadian government than I: Can the Governor General refuse to confirm harper's nominations based on the fact that Parliament is prorogued ? ? ? ?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Wailings . . . .

Our local news broadcast this evening included a report from a Boston, MA correspondent commenting on the severe winter weather gripping the northeast US.

It showed a clip of a man on his way to church whose vehicle ended up in the emergency median and couldn't move. He was quoted saying: "The Lord was driving!"

Wonder if The Lord had bothered to get snow tires and/or chains installed prior to taking the spin?

Just askin' . . . .

Saturday, December 20, 2008

"Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's off to War We Go!" . . . .

Per Reuters today:

Up to 30,000 new U.S. troops in Afghanistan by summer
Sat Dec 20, 2008
- By Golnar Motevalli

KABUL (Reuters) - The United States is aiming to send 20,000 to 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan by the beginning of next summer, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Saturday.

Washington is already sending some 3,000 extra troops in January and another 2,800 by spring, but officials previously have said the number would be made up to 20,000 in the next 12 to 18 months, once approved by the U.S. administration.

"Some 20 to 30,000 is the window of overall increase from where we are right now. I don't have an exact number," Admiral Mike Mullen told reporters in Kabul.


U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has pledged a renewed focus on Afghanistan, where U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban government in late 2001 after the September 11 attacks.

The United States now has some 31,000 troops in Afghanistan.


Mullen said beefing up U.S. forces in Afghanistan was linked to winding down in Iraq.

"Available forces are directly tied to forces in Iraq. As we look to the possibility of reducing forces in Iraq over the course of the next year, the availability of forces to come here in Afghanistan will increase," Mullen said.


Mullen said the attacks by Islamist militants in Mumbai last month showed the need to reduce Indian tensions with Pakistan and that would help bring stability to Afghanistan.

"That's another big piece of the strategy, what I would call regional focus to include Pakistan, Afghanistan and India ... leadership in all three of those countries to figure out a way to decrease tensions, not increase tensions," Mullen said.

Well, yes, that's perfectly clear.

We'll just pump MORE troops into a volatile area. THAT should "decrease tensions", huh?

Is there an end to this lunacy in sight ? ? ? ?

Friday, December 19, 2008

"Inclusive" Is One Thing. "Homophobic" Is Another . . . .

Damn, I wish Kucinich or Feingold would have had the proverbial "Snowball's Chance in Hell" of getting elected President . . . .

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Goodbye George" from McClatchy . . . .

McClatchy's Washington Bureau bids an early farewell to george bush today.

Commentary: Bush makes a farewell tour. Good riddance
Joseph L. Galloway | McClatchy Newspapers

December 18, 2008

We've been treated to a real spectacle this week as President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney limped into the home stretch of their Magical History Tour, employing distortions, half-truths and untruths in a final, desperate attempt to pervert or somehow prevent history from judging them accurately.


The great gray eminence himself, Dick Cheney, of no known address, went on national television pleading guilty to committing a war crime. Yes, Cheney said, he participated in the White House discussions on the use of torture in the interrogations of suspected terrorists. Yes, he said proudly, he approved the use of such outlawed practices as water-boarding, the simulated drowning of bound and helpless prisoners to make them talk. So what?

Photo credit: Kevin Seirs of the Charlotte Observer


Over in the White House, the president was busy signing a flood of executive orders opening the gates to oil drilling on massive chunks of previously protected public lands in the West; protecting big corporations from lawsuits in state courts when their products harm or kill innocent Americans, and generally giving his fat cat friends one last shot at looting a national Treasury of any remaining table scraps.

The president and his spinmeisters keep talking about how, with the passage of time, historians will come to judge his presidency a huge success, much as history has come to judge the administration of Harry S. Truman.

Balderdash. Or as I much prefer to say in situations like this: Bullshit!


Bush told his War College audience that of all the things he loved about the job, he was proudest of all of his role as their commander-in-chief.

Why then did he and his minions oppose virtually every attempt to reinforce their numbers and shorten the time they spent in Hell? Why did they oppose virtually every attempt to increase their pay and their benefits, and those of millions of American veterans of these and other wars?

How could so proud a commander sit idly by while soldiers and Marines were sent off to war without the armored vehicles and body armor they so desperately needed in this new kind of war?

How could his administration pinch pennies when it came to funding and manning the military hospitals that treat the thousands of wounded troops flowing home from his wars?

How can this man talk about making the world a safer and freer place by his actions when so much innocent blood has been shed by civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan? When millions have been turned into homeless refugees inside and outside Iraq? When America is left with far fewer friends and allies among the nations of the world?

The only good news left to us this gloomy, cold December is that we only have to put up with this wretched spectacle for another 30 days or so.

George W. Bush should make a hurry-up call to his architect and see if it's not too late to substitute firing slits for the ground floor windows in his new Presidential Library in Dallas.

Good-bye George, and good riddance.

Well done, Mr. Galloway.

Well done . . . .

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Canadian Health Care, Take 2 . . . .

And further to the Canadian health care system, as it has applied to me so far:

Upon my first visit to my new General Practitioner back in October, he recommended me to a dermatologist to get some things checked out. It took 6 weeks to get the appointment - not unlike the time frame for the same specialist back in Florida.

Today was the appointment and it once again was a 3-bus, 24 minute trip to the office. The appointment was for 1:00, I got in to see the doctor at 1:03, and he came in the room before I even had my jacket off.
After checking everything out, he sprayed some liquid nitrogen on a few things, wants a "procedure" visit in January for another item and sent me on my way. All told, a 12 minute visit with the doctor who was very pleasant. When I asked him if I had to do anything special for the areas he had sprayed today, he says: "Just don't drink any alcohol for three weeks." I looked at him with obvious puzzlement and he says: "Kidding! Just kidding!" Thank the Universe! Talk about your withdrawal agony . . . .

At any rate, the whole trip was like an hour and half with very efficient results. Oh, and BTW, no charge as it's included in our BC health plan which costs us $96 a month for both of us. Not bad, eh?

Thus far we are very happy with the health care in our new home. Granted, my stuff has been pretty routine at this point. Our blogger friend mseh has had some specialist issues in New Brunswick which haven't been great, but so far so good for us.

We hope it stays that way . . . .

Bail! Bail! . . . .

In honour of what appears to be an impending Big Three bailout, this ad may come in handy:

H/T Dana

(Cross-posted from The Galloping Beaver)

Canadian Blog Award Results . . . .

Not surprisingly,
we failed to win the Best GLBT blog award in the Canadian Blog Award 2008 results. We came in fourth place out of five. Thanks to those of you who cast votes on our behalf. Actually, being nominated at all was a complete surprise, and we felt good about that.

Our congrats to the winner, Slap Upside the Head (which is an excellent blog if you haven't checked it out) and all the other candidates . . . .

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Winter Wonderland . . . .

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it's actually not winter yet. Looking outside this morning you couldn't prove it by us, however.

This is the first opportunity for the "Four Footed Child" to actually see snow. She was quite hesitant at first, but quickly got into the spirit and thoroughly enjoyed romping around in it . . . .

There 'ya go. Pretty nice to see once in a while, but it can go away now . . . .

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Animal Educators . . . .

Okay. I'm a sap for animal - especially dog - stories. A friend sent me one of those multi-forwarded emails this morning and it's a good one for dog lovers. I have no idea of authenticity, as it does not show up in urban legend clearing house. At any rate, enjoy as I did:

After the tornado ( Greensburg , Ks.)


The story begins with the rescuers finding this poor little guy they named Ralphie. Someone had already taken him under their wing but
weren't equipped to adopt.

Ralphie, scared and starved, joined his rescuers...

I wouldn't think anything could live through this.... but we were wrong.

This little lady also survived that wreckage.

Here she is just placed in t
he car - scared, but safe.

and then..they are no longer alone!

Instant friends, they comforted each other while in the car.

Add two more beagles found afte
r that...
the more, the merrier!

Oh boy, a new traveller to add to the mix...
(Note: the cat coming over the seat needing shelter...)

Now just how is this going to work? (and remember they are all strangers to one another )

It's going to work just fine, thank you very much!

Wow! The things we learn from our animal friends...
If only all of mankind could learn such valuable lessons as this. Lessons of instant friendship. Of peace and harmony by way of respect for one another -- no matter one's color or creed.
These animals tell you... 'It's just good to be alive and with others.

If only our elected political leaders would take a few lessons from our four-footed friends . . . .

(This post in honour of our "Four-Footed Child's 7th birthday today. She sends a wag of her tail and a wink of her big brown eyes your way . . . .)

Boys Night Out . . . .

No, not in the queer bars - we're past that stage in our lives. "drf" and I joined 4 other friends for a trip to the Pacific Coliseum to see our first professional hockey game last night. Although speaking of queers, half of our group would have been quite pleased if a locker room trip after the game had been included in our ticket price. But I digress . . . .

The Vancouver Giants of the WHL (Western Hockey League according to a young lady seated next to me) hosted the Seattle Thunderbirds. As luck would have it, the Giants annihilated the Seattle team by a score of 7 to 3 - Yay for our side! The last time either "drf" or myself had seen a live hockey game was in Atlanta, Georgia when the Flames were still there back in the late '70's. We both agreed that the Pacific Coliseum venue was much preferred to the large - at the time - Omni in Atlanta. At least you could actually follow the action and the puck here. We'll definitely attend more games as our life here progresses. (Perhaps next time we'll bring our pom-poms and join the limited cheer leading squad as they could use a little help.)

It was also announced prior to our leaving the strata for the game that local crooner Michael Buble has purchased a minority ownership interest in the Giant's operation. We're thinking the singing of "O Canada" may have some new talent featured in the very near future . . . .

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

That Didn't Take Long, Did It ? ? ? ?

Oh, goodie!

Only 20 years later, victims of the Exxon Valdez oil spill ecological disaster start getting some $$ in restitution.


Per the Anchorage Daily News:

Exxon Valdez spill payments reach claimants

Although less than hoped for, plaintiffs begin to receive share of $383 million in damages.


The millions of dollars Exxon Mobil Corp. has surrendered as punishment for the
Prince William Sound oil spill have started hitting the streets, nearly 20 years after the disaster.

Several commercial fishermen who joined in the lawsuit against Exxon reported receiving direct deposits in their bank accounts Monday. Paper checks are expected to go out in the mail in the next week.

The payments mark the beginning of a process to distribute $383 million among nearly 33,000 commercial fishermen and other plaintiffs.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs and Exxon continue to battle in court over whether the oil company owes interest on the punitive damages award. If so, the interest could roughly double the total payout.


Exxon long held that it didn't owe punitive damages, arguing it already had spent $3.4 billion as a result of the spill including compensatory payments, cleanup payments, settlements and fines.

Over the summer, however, the U.S. Supreme Court said the company owed up to $507.5 million in punitive damages.


An Anchorage jury originally decided in 1994 that Exxon owed $5 billion for the 11-million-gallon oil spill, which disrupted many of the state's commercial fisheries and sullied miles of beaches. Over many years, however, Exxon's lawyers succeeded in whittling down the amount to a fraction of the jury award."

Everybody's very disgusted because of the process and the whacking we got from Exxon and the Supreme Court," Mullen said. "Nobody's thrilled, but nobody's going to send the check back, either."

In recent weeks, lawyers for the plaintiffs filed long lists in court specifying the amount to be paid to each claimant. Most of the amounts range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, but some exceed $100,000.

Lawyers will deduct about 22 percent from each payment as compensation for pressing the epic class action against Exxon.

Well, well, well.

Only 22%.

That seems fair, don't you think? Typically the barristers would be demanding 50% . . . .

Tuesday, December 02, 2008