Saturday, January 26, 2008

2008 Ice Palace III

G.W. Bush - Heroic Leader or Horse Thief?

I'm surprised this Bush story isn't better known. The President has a William Henry Dethlef Koerner painting hanging in the oval office. G.W. evidently has named it "A Charge to Keep", the same title he has given his autobiography. Here is what Bush said about the painting:
"I love it," Bush said, further explaining his intimate feeling for the painting to reporters and editors of the Washington Times, a conservative newspaper. He offered his interpretation: "He's a determined horseman, a very difficult trail. And you know at least two people are following him, and maybe a thousand." Bush added that the painting is "based" on an old hymn. "And the hymn talks about serving the Almighty. So it speaks to me personally." When he was governor of Texas and the painting hung in his office, Bush wrote a note of explanation to his staff: "This is us."
Indeed, Bush sees a gallant rider storming up a hill, leading two others to some glory. I'm pretty sure G.W. really sees this when he looks at the painting. But to G.W. this painting sort of defines his administration.

Unfortunately, it turns out that is not what the illustration is about at all. It was illustrated for a cowboy story called "The Slipper Tongue" and published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1916. Jacob Weisberg tells us the real story behind the painting in his new book The Bush Tragedy.
Only that is not the title, message, or meaning of the painting. The artist, W.H.D. Koerner, executed it to illustrate a Western short story entitled "The Slipper Tongue," published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1916. The story is about a smooth-talking horse thief who is caught, and then escapes a lynch mob in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. The illustration depicts the thief fleeing his captors. In the magazine, the illustration bears the caption: "Had His Start Been Fifteen Minutes Longer He Would Not Have Been Caught."

While no one could rightly claim that G.W. is smooth talking, there is some irony in that the cowboy in the painting is attempting to escape a lynch mob. The two cowboys behind the first rider are chasing the horse thief. This does sort of sum up the Bush administration.

However, Weisberg points out that the painting was also used to illustrate a story called "Country Gentlemen", a story that was related to a Wesley hymn that Bush referenced.
On this go-round, it was indeed used to illustrate a short story that related to Wesley's hymn. But the story's moral was a little off-message. According to Weisberg, it was "about a son who receives a legacy from his father—a beautiful forest in the Northeast and a plea to protect it from rapacious timber barons."

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hillary Wants MI and FL Delegates

The Democratic National Committee "punished" Michigan and Florida, for holding Democratic primaries before Feb. 5th, by taking away their delegates to the Democratic Convention. All the Democratic Presidential candidates agreed with this decision. Guess who wants those MI and FL delegates seated now.

From the Hillary for President website we have a press release:
"I hear all the time from people in Florida and Michigan that they want their voices heard in selecting the Democratic nominee.

"I believe our nominee will need the enthusiastic support of Democrats in these states to win the general election, and so I will ask my Democratic convention delegates to support seating the delegations from Florida and Michigan. I know not all of my delegates will do so and I fully respect that decision. But I hope to be President of all 50 states and U.S. territories, and that we have all 50 states represented and counted at the Democratic convention.

"I hope my fellow potential nominees will join me in this.

"I will of course be following the no-campaigning pledge that I signed, and expect others will as well."
Would she be so willing to see these delegates seated at the convention if she had not won Michigan? She was supposed to have removed her name from the ballot in MI just like the other Democratic candidates did. It appears Hillary is going to win the FL primary. I guess that is one reason to support seating the FL delegates.

Well, at least we know that if she is elected President she is going to play hardball politics.

2008 Ice Palace II

The size of the Ice Palace has doubled since yesterday. It must have been really cold work. It appears that the two front square towers are complete at 10 ft. high as they are now crenelated. A wall now connects the left square tower with the left round tower. The rear wall appears to be complete but is not yet crenelated. It's about 11 ft. high. Presumably the round towers will be connected to the rear wall. No new work has been done on the pyramid.

On Being a Democrat

As President Bush is wont to's hard work. He has no idea what is hard work. Being a Democrat is hard work! Especially over the last year when Democrats have controlled both Houses of Congress.

You would never know it though. When G.W. tells the Democrat leaders of Congress to sit...they sit. It can be a bit frustrating, at least for me. Take the "economic stimulus package" for example. Do it G.W.'s way or else. So who gets the tax rebates that supposedly will stimulate the economy. Certainly not the people who need it the most. They won't get much of a tax rebate because they don't pay much in taxes and Bush sees that as a tax cut. How about people that are out of job and whose unemployment benefits have run out. Screw them! They certainly neither deserve help nor would they spend any rebate they might get. Besides, some undeserving person might be helped. At least that is the view in Bushworld.

But I blame the Democratic leaders for this poor economic stimulus package more than I blame G.W. or the Republicans. Sure, Republicans would filibuster a Bill not supported by G.W. And, G.W. would veto a Bill that contained some of the things that Democrats wanted. I also understand that if an economic stimulus bill was filibustered or vetoed...Democrats would likely be blamed for not moving quickly enough to stimulate the ailing economy. But let's at least try to play some hardball here.

How about telecom immunity? Why is Sen. Chris Dodd the only person speaking out against telecom immunity? He threatens to filibuster and is then threatened by Harry Reid that it will have to be a real stand on the floor and read the phone book type filibuster. Here's an idea. How about letting an investigative body determine whether telecoms deserve immunity or not? Also, I'd like to know where the Democratic Presidential candidates stand on this issue? Why hasn't anyone asked them?

And, what about the so-called "phase II" report from the Senate Intelligence Committee? This is the report on whether or not pre-war intelligence was misused or not. It's understandable that Republicans didn't want such a report released when they were in charge of the committee. Sen. Pat Roberts (with the input of Dick Cheney) has managed to delay this report for over 3 years. Sen. Rockefeller has been slow to act on this report because he didn't want to cause any hard feelings among Republican committee members. What a nice guy he is.

Yes, it's hard being a Democrat, but what are the choices? A third party? That would be great if we could ever get a viable third party off the ground.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Economic Stimulus Plan

The economic stimulus plan can be summed up in a few words. Screw the people who need help the most.

2008 Ice Palace I

This years Ice Palace will feature a pyramid with a square turret or tower on either side of the pyramid. Two round towers will also be on either side but a bit further back. A back wall will finish off the palace.

Lot's of campmen working this morning. Notice people are wearing life prservers. The last place you want to be is in the icy water although the cold would probably kill you almost as fast as you could drown. But it can be a dangerous job. I don't believe anyone has ever been lost though. I'll post some close up pictures later, when the campmen have left the job. The CO's don't like people photographing the campmen.

Bush Legacy

Here is a Table from the Democratic caucus.

Click here to see a larger version. Not much in that Table that we didn't already know, but it helps to see the comparison.

Spewing Hatred of Muslims

Hopefully the Michael Savage (real name Michael Weiner) show isn't aired in our region. I'm surprised at some of the companies that advertise on his radio show. Actually, I'm surprised he can find a single company that is willing to be associated with him. Savage defends himself by saying he speaks with sarcasm, satire and humor. Do you hear any sarcasm, satire or humor in his speech? Savage makes millions of dollars a year spewing his hatred.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Beautiful Science Video

Words cannot describe the effect this video has on me. It is so beautiful.

Still Reading Lots of Non-Fiction

I've finished reading Abusing Science by Philip Kitcher and Don't Believe Everything You Think by Thomas Kida. Still working my way through Snake Oil Science by R. Barker Bausell and Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer. I was browsing through the library the other day and I found a copy of Evolution of Infectious Disease by Paul W. Ewald. I had dinner with Paul and his teenage son a couple of years ago. He is a fascinating scientist who isn't afraid of looking at things from a different perspective.

Don't worry about the effects of reading all that non-fiction. I read fiction before going to least one novel a week. Just re-read The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy last week. Oh yeah, that reminds me, I have a copy of The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court by Jeffery Toobin. Had to wait 4 weeks for my turn to read it.

2008 Ice Palace Started Today

As I drove by Pontiac Bay on Lake Flower today I noticed a crew from Camp Gabriels clearing the ice of snow. The huge, ancient, gasoline powered ice saw was also sitting on the ice. Several volunteers were studying the plans for the palace, while others were laying out where the first course of ice "bricks" would be placed. Looks like cold weather for the next several days so conditions for Ice Palace building should be perfect. You can count on pictures tomorrow.

The 111th Saranac Lake Winter Carnival will be held from Feb. 1st through Feb. 10th. Go here for the 2008 Winter Carnival schedule.

Back to the Lies About the Iraq War

Here is the link to the "false statements" report. Or you can enjoy this graph show number of lies by month:

Key false statements can be found here. And, you can search for your favorite lie here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Six More Months for Iraq

Yet another "six more months" (Friedman Unit) are being called for in Iraq. This time by Gen. David Petraeus. See, he isn't willing to say that we have won the Iraq War. He needs at least another "Friedman Unit" to determine whether we have won or not. Hope this doesn't disappoint John McCain and Joe Leiberman too much.

False Statements Preceded Iraq War

There they go again, as Ronald Reagan would say. Two non-profit journalism groups are claiming that hundreds of "false statements" (also known as lies) were made after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."

We're not talking about 5 or 6 "false statements" or even a couple of hundred. We're talking 935 "false statements" made during the two years following the 9/11 attacks.
The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.

Many of us didn't need this study to point out the fact that G.W. Bush lied us into the Iraq War. It's nice of these journalism organizations to finally make this report. Especially since journalists did so little investigating while the lies were being told. In fact the media help perpetrate the lies.

It's clear the lies worked however. The Senate approved the war resolution 77-23 and the House by 296-133. A significant portion of American citizens still think that it was Iraq that attacked us on 9/11. That's how well those lies worked.

Many Americans were initially supportive of the invasion of Iraq, as shown in this Pew Research graph. But that support for the war began to wane almost immediately after the invasion. It didn't take the American people long to realize that what they were told about how well the US invasion of Iraq would go, was a "false statement". Just about everything that was predicted about the Iraq War...everything... was wrong.

Disappointment or Exultation

Today is the first day of classes. I meet with my Pathology class at 3 PM. Last year it was a great group. What will I get this year? They are the survivors of the first year of the program, but we will see what they've got.

Tomorrow is Anatomy and Physiology with a class that doesn't have the greatest of reputations. Hopefully, I can turn them around. My plan....we are going to read the book and answer questions in the Socratic method. I don't see the sense in paying $140 for a textbook and not using it. I have no idea if this will work, but I'm going to try it.

Funds Rate Cut 75 Basis Points

I guess the Bush government is started to get a bit worried. In spite of all the talk of a strong economy by conservatives, the Fed decided to cut the Funds Rate by 75 basis points even before the stock market has opened. Let's hope they get those rebate checks in the mail soon....not that they will help the economy all that much. What we need to do is stop borrowing so much money, both as a population and as a government.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Canada Says USA Doesn't Torture

First Canada listed the USA as a nation that uses torture. Now they say it was all a big mistake. It was a mistake to say the USA uses torture. They will remove the USA from the torture list immediately.

Canada, the government of course, is a huge disappointment. All evidence indicates that the USA does use torture. Canadians shouldn't "enable" the Bush administration. We have the United Kingdom to do that job.

Bill Clinton vs Obama

Has Bill Clinton made anyone else uncomfortable with the way he is campaigning for his wife Hillary Clinton? He is acting more like a Vice-Presidential nominee, an attack-dod, than an ex-President of the USA and leader of the Democratic pary.

Speaking of a Vice-President...if Hillary wins the Democratic nomination for President - who exactly is going to want to be her VP considering that her husband is an ex-president. Will the VP really be the VP or will Bill Clinton be the VP.

Obama is also getting a little tired of Bill and his antics.
"You know the former president, who I think all of us have a lot of regard for, has taken his advocacy on behalf of his wife to a level that I think is pretty troubling," Obama said during his first morning television interview since coming in second in Nevada. "He continues to make statements that are not supported by the facts -- whether it's about my record of opposition to the war in Iraq or our approach to organizing in Las Vegas.

I don't think Bill Clinton is helping the Democratic Party or his wife with the way he has inserted himself into the Presidential campaign.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Only 365 more days and we will not have G.W. Bush to kick around anymore. What does the future hold? On one hand, I'm afraid of a possible President McCain (unlikely, but still scary). But on the other hand, it would almost be comical to give the next 4 years to a Republican considering the mess they've gotten our country into. On the other other hand, I'm not sure the USA could take another 4-8 years of Republican rule. Hopefully, we can stay out of war with Iran for the next year.