Sunday, July 31, 2005

I Shoulda Said ...

. . . "back in a few days". I was actually back in a couple before I was back in a few. Damn that sounded too much like John Kerry. Anyway, I've been on the road a bit lately and when I got home from the first trip, I thought about blogging -- and that's as far as I got when it was time to hit the road again.

Making a trip is even more fun with Lizzie. She is such a good listener. She just sits there listening to me ramble on ... until I start singing. She cocks her head from side to side, then licks my face as if that might stop me and when that doesn't work, she nips my ear -- and that does tend to get her point across. She seems to be telling me that she's pretty sure that Hank did not do it this a'way.

She prefers my running commentary on the scenery and other drivers. I'm afraid she's learned a few bad phrases, such as "put the fucking cellphone down!" I'm trying to check myself on that .. the bad language, that is .. but then it's not so much the words as my tone of voice. The first time I blurted that out, she looked at me as if to say: WhatdidIdoWhatdidIdo .. Idon'thaveafuckingcellphone .. Idon'tevenknowwhatafuckingcellphoneis. Then I felt like shit for making her think I was referring to her, so I petted her and told her that it's ok, girl, not you, you're a good girl, and then she licked my face and all was well in the world again.

She was in bad shape when I found her/she found me. She was malnourished, skinny, and hungry and had ticks, hot (raw) spots, and a thin, patchy coat. She smelled like the swamp water she'd evidently been traveling through.

She is much better now -- gaining weight, free of ticks and hot spots, and growing a beautiful new coat. She smells better, too.

Ain't she purdy?

She's learned "sit" and we're working on "stay" and "search". She's also learned other new words such as:
ball, tug, socks, gator (a stuffed toy .. but now that I think about it, teaching her to associate the word "gator" with a warm-n-fuzzy toy is probably not a good idea), Mobile Bay (she wags her tail and leans forward in the seat), biscuit, snausage, puperoni ... plus, bacon, eggs & grits (she approves of me sharing) and truck (she loves to ride) ... oh, and let's not forget "put the fucking cellphone down!"

Maybe I can teach her to growl when she sees drivers talking on cellphones. And maybe I can teach myself to growl instead of cussing. Probably easier to teach her to cuss.

The cats have accepted her. Doc, fully; Wyatt, begrudgingly. And she has accepted them, although when Doc started grooming her this morning, Lizzie pulled her head back and cocked her ears at weird angles. I don't think she was quite ready for that -- and no, I couldn't get to my video camera soon enough.

I've got a lot of blog reading to catch up on. I love reading blogs. There are so many interesting, talented people out there writing about this and that. I asked myself this question the other day: When was the last time you read the newspaper/magazine journalists you used to read all the time? With the exception of Ann Coulter and Michael Barone, and reporters, Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough, I haven't read, on a regular basis, any of the nationally-known journalists in a long, long time.

Anyway, I'm back for a couple of days before I leave again for a few days.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Swamp Bound

Back in a couple of days . . .


Putting Dignity Back Into Graft

Ferriday, Louisiana is the hometown of:

Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley, Jimmy Swaggart:

First cousins to one another -- their mothers were sisters

the late Howard K. Smith:

and the beautiful Campbell Brown:

What Ferriday has become should have Jerry Lee kicking out the footlights, Mickey singing the blues, Swaggart praying for Ferriday's redemption, Howard K. rolling over, and Campbell Brown investigating.

Ferriday has become a dump, a cesspool and one of the most notorious speedtraps in Louisiana .. and thus, the United States.

So far this year Ferriday has collected over $400,000 in traffic fines. The mayor seems to be shooting for $1 million before the end of the year -- that's about $840,000 more than the annual average of $160,000 before the present mayor took office.

To some, the new mayor's motto seems to be:

"Put Dignity Back Into Graft"

Mayor Allen's Money Machine

Oh, and Ferriday's population? About 3,700. A pissant of a place on a major route (US 65) to a major tourist attraction -- Natchez, Mississippi.

If you're coming from North Louisiana, you have to pass through Ferriday to get to Natchez. On the other hand, if you're coming to Natchez from South Louisiana, you have to pass through Woodville, MS -- another speedtrap, but nowhere near as bad as Ferriday.

I suppose you could go way out of the way to get to Natchez, but why should anyone need to do that?

I could very easily bypass Ferriday, but I don't. I like to live on the edge. Besides, it's interesting to see a piece of Haiti in the USA. Ah, the sights and smells of Ferriday, Louisiana -- Little Port au Prince!

The extremely low speed limits should be punishment enough. I mean to make anyone drive that slowly (25mph) through such an asshole of a place is sadistic.

Businesses are starting to react to Ferriday's new notoriety. At least one, Imogene's Restaurant, has moved to nearby Vidalia. Imogene says the move was due to lower rent in Vidalia. Well, the atmosphere is much better there, too. Wal-Mart is considering moving, but insists it has nothing to do with Mayor Allen's Money Machine.

Stories abound about drivers who swear they were not speeding and police who refuse to let the accused see the radar reading. Some have even claimed that the Ferriday Police Department are big on racial profiling -- of white people. I don't know about that, but I rarely see anyone but whites pulled over.

Will the Louisiana State Police or Attorney General eventually investigate? I doubt it.

Maybe it's something the U.S. Justice Department will look into. I mean, afterall, if people are being harassed based on race, that does seem to fall within the federal civil rights statutes.

I propose a billboard kinda like this on all roads leading to Ferriday:

Meantime, people should avoid doing business in Ferriday. Don't spend money with the businesses there. If enough people start doing that, then maybe the pain threshold will be reached.

Ferriday actually has potential to be a nice place, but they've chosen to be just another banana republic. I'd be ashamed to call Ferriday home.

Jerry Lee, Mickey, Jimmy, Campbell? Ya'll hear me?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Ann Coulter on the Supreme Court Nominee

I don't intend to blog much about Supreme Court justices. In fact, this might be the one and only post. Zillions of other blogs are doing it, to include the many lawyer-bloggers. I like reading about it and staying informed, but it ain't something that I get all fired up about. I reckon President Bush and his folks will nominate good people, although no one can be sure what a person will do when they sit on the high bench -- especially when that high bench is the highest.

I like Ann Coulter. While I don't agree with her all the time (only about 99.9% of the time), I pay attention to what she has to say. She cuts through the bullshit like the 3rd Infantry Division cutting through the Republican Guard. She has a wonderful sense of humor -- and she is, more often than not, right on target.

Miss Ann is not fully embracing the President's first Supreme Court nominee:

So all we know about him for sure is that he can't dance and he probably doesn't know who Jay-Z is. Other than that, he is a blank slate. Tabula rasa. Big zippo. Nada. Oh, yeah...we also know he's argued cases before the supreme court. big deal; so has Larry fFynt's attorney.

But unfortunately, other than that that, we don't know much about John Roberts. Stealth nominees have never turned out to be a pleasant surprise for conservatives. Never. Not ever.


The only way a supreme court nominee could win the approval of NARAL and Planned Parenthood would be to actually perform an abortion during his confirmation hearing, live, on camera, and preferably a partial birth one.

It means nothing that Roberts wrote briefs arguing for the repeal of Roe v. Wade when he worked for Republican administrations. He was arguing on behalf of his client, the United States of America. Roberts has specifically disassociated himself from those cases, dropping a footnote to a 1994 law review article that said:

"In the interest of full disclosure, the author would like to point out that as Deputy Solicitor General for a portion of the 1992-93 Term, he was involved in many of the cases discussed below. In the interest of even fuller disclosure, he would also like to point out that his views as a commentator on those cases do not necessarily reflect his views as an advocate for his former client, the United States."

This would have been the legal equivalent, after O.J.'s acquittal, of Johnnie Cochran saying, "hey, I never said the guy was innocent. I was just doing my job."

And it makes no difference that conservatives in the White House are assuring us Roberts can be trusted. We got the exact same assurances from officials working for the last president Bush about David Hackett Souter.

I believe their exact words were, "Read our lips; Souter's a reliable conservative."

To The Moon and Beyond

It's hard to believe that it has been 36 years since the "Eagle" landed and Neil Armstrong first walked the lunar surface.

It's been almost 33 years since Gene Cernan, The Last Man On The Moon, and the crew of Apollo 17 explored the moon.

Since then, "no human being has set foot on another world, or ventured farther upward into space than 386 miles -- roughly the distance from Washington, D.C. to Boston, Massachusetts."

That is going to change. It'll take us a few years, but we're going back to deep space and the moon -- and from there, to Mars and beyond.

"Inspired by all that has come before, and guided by clear objectives, today we set a new course for America's space program. We will give NASA a new focus and vision for future exploration. We will build new ships to carry man forward into the universe, to gain a new foothold on the moon and to prepare for new journeys to the worlds beyond our own."

President George W. Bush
NASA Headquarters
Washington, D.C.
January 14, 2004

Goal 1: Complete the International Space Station by 2010

"We will finish what we have started, we will meet our obligations to our 15 international partners on this project. We will focus our future research aboard the station on the long-term effects of space travel on human biology. The environment of space is hostile to human beings. Radiation and weightlessness pose dangers to human health, and we have much to learn about their long-term effects before human crews can venture through the vast voids of space for months at a time. Research on board the station and here on Earth will help us better understand and overcome the obstacles that limit exploration. Through these efforts we will develop the skills and techniques necessary to sustain further space exploration."

Goal 2: Develop and test a new spacecraft, the Crew Exploration Vehicle, by 2008, and conduct the first manned mission no later than 2014.

"The Crew Exploration Vehicle will be capable of ferrying astronauts and scientists to the Space Station after the shuttle is retired (2010). But the main purpose of this spacecraft will be to carry astronauts beyond our orbit to other worlds. This will be the first spacecraft of its kind since the Apollo Command Module."

Goal 3: Return to the moon by 2020, as the launching point for missions beyond.

"Beginning no later than 2008, we will send a series of robotic missions to the lunar surface to research and prepare for future human exploration. Using the Crew Exploration Vehicle, we will undertake extended human missions to the moon as early as 2015, with the goal of living and working there for increasingly extended periods. Eugene Cernan, who is with us today -- the last man to set foot on the lunar surface -- said this as he left: "We leave as we came, and God willing as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind." America will make those words come true.

Returning to the moon is an important step for our space program. Establishing an extended human presence on the moon could vastly reduce the costs of further space exploration, making possible ever more ambitious missions. Lifting heavy spacecraft and fuel out of the Earth's gravity is expensive. Spacecraft assembled and provisioned on the moon could escape its far lower gravity using far less energy, and thus, far less cost. Also, the moon is home to abundant resources. Its soil contains raw materials that might be harvested and processed into rocket fuel or breathable air. We can use our time on the moon to develop and test new approaches and technologies and systems that will allow us to function in other, more challenging environments. The moon is a logical step toward further progress and achievement."

Goal 4: Human missions to Mars and to worlds beyond.

"With the experience and knowledge gained on the moon, we will then be ready to take the next steps of space exploration: human missions to Mars and to worlds beyond. Robotic missions will serve as trailblazers -- the advanced guard to the unknown. Probes, landers and other vehicles of this kind continue to prove their worth, sending spectacular images and vast amounts of data back to Earth. Yet the human thirst for knowledge ultimately cannot be satisfied by even the most vivid pictures, or the most detailed measurements. We need to see and examine and touch for ourselves. And only human beings are capable of adapting to the inevitable uncertainties posed by space travel.

As our knowledge improves, we'll develop new power generation propulsion, life support, and other systems that can support more distant travels. We do not know where this journey will end, yet we know this: human beings are headed into the cosmos."

Monday, July 18, 2005

NASA Space Shuttle Program: Rocket Science and More

The finer things in America only interest the mainstream media to the extent that they love to criticize and attack those things.

NASA, in my humble opinion, is one of the finer American institutions. Problems? Yes. Fixable? Yes. Heroic mission and people? Definitely.

The MSM are so predictable ... and boring ... and tiring. I suspect very few of them know anything worthwhile about our space program. I doubt they care.

NASA has some issues. Make no mistake about that. The Space Shuttle Program has some very big issues. How many people know that the shuttles are not, even yet, "fully operational" craft? And they are old and getting older.

For people who want to know more about the issues surrounding the space shuttles, I highly recommend the Columbia Accident Investigation Board report. It should be required reading for anyone commenting on NASA and the Space Shuttle Program, particularly.

The CAIB went further than most investigations:

In order to understand the findings and recommendations in this report, it is important to appreciate the way the Board looked at this accident. It is our view that complex systems almost always fail in complex ways, and we believe it would be wrong to reduce the complexities and weaknesses associated with these systems to some simple explanation. Too often, accident investigations blame a failure only on the last step in a complex process, when a more comprehensive understanding of that process could reveal that earlier steps might be equally or even more culpable. In this Board's opinion, unless the technical, organizational, and cultural recommendations made in this report are implemented, little will have been accomplished to lessen the chance that another accident will follow.

Below are some funding figures extracted from the report. They don't necessarily speak for themselves (you'll need to read the report for details), but they do give a snapshot of one of many factors affecting NASA and the Space Shuttle Program.

And below those, I've pasted the table of contents of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board report to give you a better idea of what's in it. You can download it here.

(Click on photos to Enlarge)

Changes in federal spending

NASA Budget

NASA Budget as percentage of federal budget


Warnings of a Shuttle Accident

"Shuttle reliability is uncertain, but has been estimated to range between 97 and 99 percent. If the Shuttle reliability is 98 percent, there would be a 50-50 chance of losing an Orbiter within 34 flights ... The probability of maintaining at least three Orbiters in the Shuttle fleet declines to less than 50 percent after flight 113."
- The Office of Technology Assessment, 1989

"And although it is a subject that meets with reluctance to open discussion, and has therefore too often been relegated to silence, the statistical evidence indicates that we are likely to lose another Space Shuttle in the next several years ... probably before the planned Space Station is completely established on orbit. This would seem to be the weak link of the civil space program -- unpleasant to recognize, involving all the uncertainties of statistics, and difficult to resolve."
-The Augustine Committee, 1990

Shuttle as Developmental Vehicle

"Shuttle is also a complex system that has yet to demonstrate an ability to adhere to a fixed schedule."
- The Augustine Committee, 1990

NASA Human Space Flight Culture

"NASA has not been sufficiently responsive to valid criticism and the need for change."
- The Augustine Committee, 1990

Space Shuttle Program Budget

Space Shuttle Program Workforce

Columbia Accident Investigation Board


In Memoriam
Board Statement
Executive Summary
Report Synopsis


Chapter 1: The Evolution of the Space Shuttle Program
1.1 Genesis of the Space Transportation System
1.2 Merging Conflicting Interests
1.3 Shuttle Development, Testing, and Qualification
1.4 The Shuttle Becomes "Operational"
1.5 The Challenger Accident
1.6 Concluding Thoughts

Chapter 2: Columbia's Final Flight
2.1 Mission Objectives and Their Rationales
2.2 Flight Preparation
2.3 Launch Sequence
2.4 On-Orbit Events
2.5 Debris Strike Analysis and Requests for Imagery
2.6 De-Orbit Burn and Re-Entry Events
2.7 Events Immediately Following the Accident

Chapter 3: Accident Analysis
3.1 The Physical Cause
3.2 The External Tank and Foam
3.3 Wing Leading Edge Structural Subsystem
3.4 Image and Transport Analyses
3.5 On-Orbit Debris Separation – The "Flight Day 2" Object
3.6 De-Orbit/Re-Entry
3.7 Debris Analysis
3.8 Impact Analysis and Testing

Chapter 4: Other Factors Considered
4.1 Fault Tree
4.2 Remaining Factors


Chapter 5: From Challenger to Columbia
5.1 The Challenger Accident and its Aftermath
5.2 The NASA Human Space Flight Culture
5.3 An Agency Trying to Do Too Much With Too Little
5.4 Turbulence in NASA Hits the Space Shuttle Program
5.5 When to Replace the Space Shuttle?
5.6 A Change in NASA Leadership
5.7 The Return of Schedule Pressure
5.8 Conclusion

Chapter 6: Decision Making at NASA
6.1 A History of Foam Anomalies
6.2 Schedule Pressure
6.3 Decision-Making During the Flight of STS-107
6.4 Possibility of Rescue or Repair

Chapter 7: The Accident's Organizational Causes
7.1 Organizational Causes: Insights from History
7.2 Organizational Causes: Insights from Theory
7.3 Organizational Causes: Evaluating Best Safety Practices
7.4 Organizational Causes: A Broken Safety Culture
7.5 Organizational Causes: Impact of a Flawed Safety Culture on STS-107
7.6 Findings and Recommendations

Chapter 8: History as Cause: Columbia and Challenger
8.1 Echoes of Challenger
8.2 Failures of Foresight: Two Decision Histories and the Normalization of Deviance
8.3 System Effects: The Impact of History and Politics on Risky Work
8.4 Organization, Culture, and Unintended Consequences
8.5 History as Cause: Two Accidents
8.6 Changing NASA's Organizational System


Chapter 9: Implications for the Future of Human Space Flight
9.1 Near-Term: Return to Flight
9.2 Mid-Term: Continuing to Fly
9.3 Long-Term: Future Directions for the Space

Chapter 10: Other Significant Observations
10.1 Public Safety
10.2 Crew Escape and Survival
10.3 Shuttle Engineering Drawings and Closeout Photographs
10.4 Industrial Safety and Quality Assurance
10.5 Maintenance Documentation
10.6 Orbiter Maintenance Down Period/Orbiter Major Modification
10.7 Orbiter Corrosion
10.8 Brittle Fracture of A-286 Bolts
10.9 Hold-Down Post Cable Anomaly
10.10 Solid Rocket Booster External Tank Attachment Ring
10.11 Test Equipment Upgrades
10.12 Leadership/Managerial Training

Chapter 11 Recommendations

HeBeSheBeWeBe: Ebonics Be Real in San Bernardino County

Yo, check dis numba out, homies. Da San Bernardino Sun be reporting:

Ebonics suggested for district

By Irma Lemus Staff Writer

SAN BERNARDINO Incorporating Ebonics into a new school policy that targets black students, the lowest-achieving group in the San Bernardino City Unified School District, may provide students a more well-rounded curriculum, said a local sociologist.

The goal of the district's policy is to improve black students' academic performance by keeping them interested in school. Compared with other racial groups in the district, black students go to college the least and have the most dropouts and suspensions.

Blacks make up the second largest racial group in the district, trailing Latinos.

A pilot of the policy, known as the Students Accumulating New Knowledge Optimizing Future Accomplishment Initiative, has been implemented at two city schools.

Mary Texeira, a sociology professor at Cal State San Bernardino, commended the San Bernardino Board of Education for approving the policy in June.

Texeira suggested that including Ebonics in the program would be beneficial for students. Ebonics, a dialect of American English that is spoken by many blacks throughout the country, was recognized as a separate language in 1996 by the Oakland school board.

"Ebonics is a different language, it's not slang as many believe,' Texeira said. "For many of these students Ebonics is their language, and it should be considered a foreign language. These students should be taught like other students who speak a foreign language.'

Texeira said research has shown that students learn better when they fully comprehend the language they are being taught in.

"There are African Americans who do not agree with me. They say that (black students) are lazy and that they need to learn to talk,' Texeira said.

Len Cooper, who is coordinating the pilot program at the two city schools, said San Bernardino district officials do not plan to incorporate Ebonics into the program.

"Because Ebonics can have a negative stigma, we're not focusing on that,' Cooper said. "We are affirming and recognizing Ebonics through supplemental reading books (for students).'

Beginning in the 2005-06 school year, teachers will receive training on black culture and customs. District curriculum will now include information on the historical, cultural and social impact of blacks in society. Although the program is aimed at black students, other students can choose to participate.

The pilot program at Rio Vista Elementary and King Middle schools focuses on second-, fourth- and seventh-grade classes. District officials hope to train teachers from other schools using the program as a model.

Board member Danny Tillman, who pushed for the policy, said that full implementation of the program at all schools may take years, but the pilot program is a beginning.

"At every step we will see positive results,' Tillman said.

Tillman hoped the new policy would increase the number of black students going to college and participating in advanced courses.

Teresa Parra, board vice president, said she worried the new program would have an adverse effect. [Ed: no shit, Sherlock]

Read more

This is a great example of liberal (and racist) thinking. It makes me want to throw up.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Those Wacky Google Guys

So there I was ... fondly recalling Mrs. Haley reading to us about the adventures of Little Britches many, many moons ago. (Yeah, yeah. My mind is a funny thang).

So I google Little Britches using Google Print where you can "Search the full text of books (and discover new ones)":

(Click on photo to Enlarge)

Emily Books Cancun

... or that's where she appears to be headed.

Say It Ain't So, Duke

Duke Cunningham is in hot water:

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., under investigation for his dealings with a defense contractor, will not seek re-election, Republican officials said Thursday.

These officials said the eight-term lawmaker planned a formal announcement later in the day in his home state. They spoke on condition of anonymity, citing Cunningham's desire to make his own public statement.

Cunningham, a Vietnam War veteran and eight-term lawmaker, has been shadowed by questions concerning his relationship with Mitchell Wade, the founder of MZM Inc., a defense firm.

Wade purchased Cunningham's 3,826-square-foot house north of San Diego in 2003, then put it back on the market and eventually took a $700,000 loss when he resold it a year later. During that span, home prices in San Diego County rose an average of nearly 25 percent.

At the same time, MZM Inc. was increasing its federal contracting business.

Cunningham is a member of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, both of which oversee the kind of classified intelligence work MZM does for the military.

The congressman also faces questions about the arrangement under which he has lived on a yacht belonging to Wade and moored in Washington.

The congressman has said that instead of rent, he has paid at least $13,000 to cover dock fees and other expenses at the club since April 2004. Living on Wade's boat for free would violate congressional ethics rules.

Cunningham has denied any wrongdoing.

Excerpts from Duke's official biography:

In 1966, at the age of 25, Cunningham joined the U.S. Navy and became one of the most highly decorated pilots in the Vietnam War. As the first fighter ace of the war, Cunningham was nominated for the Medal of Honor, received the Navy Cross, two Silver Stars, fifteen Air Medals, the Purple Heart, and several other decorations.

Duke's experience in Vietnam and his background as an educator prepared him well to train fighter pilots at the Navy Fighter Weapons School -- the famed "Top Gun" program at Miramar Naval Air Station. As Commanding Officer of the elite Navy Adversary Squadron, Cunningham flew Russian tactics and formations against America's best combat fighter pilots. Many of his real-life experiences as a Navy aviator and fighter pilot instructor were depicted in the popular movie "Top Gun."

He's got some 'splaining to do ... if his lawyers will let him. Duke Cunningham should have known that even the appearance of impropriety is gonna cause trouble. This looks bad for Duke's otherwise tremendous reputation.

As Drudge would say:

Developing . . .


Complete text of Duke Cunningham's statement:

In recent weeks, serious questions have been raised about my conduct in office. First and foremost, I want my constituents to know that I have acted honorably and honestly. I recognize, however, that I showed poor judgment in selling my home in Del Mar to a friend who does business with the government. At the time of the sale, I failed to adequately consider how this transaction might be perceived by others who don't know me. However, my work in Congress is and has always been directed at programs and policies that I believe are in the best interest of our nation and my constituents. I have always felt a duty to this country and its people -- a duty that motivated me to volunteer for the Navy, serve in combat in Viet Nam, and run for office. I would never put the interests of a friend or a contractor above the interests of my country. I trust that the facts will bear out this truth over time.

I welcome any and all appropriate investigations. I have faith that any investigation of these allegations will confirm that I have acted honestly. My constituents know me to be the same fighter that has always fought for this nation, whether in uniform or in the halls of Congress. They can be assured that I will continue to defend both my reputation and their interests in Washington.

Because there is now a legal inquiry underway, I do not think it is appropriate for me to publicly address all of the specific questions that may be the subject of that inquiry. However, I do want to explain my relationship with Mr. Wade, the sale of my home in Del Mar, and my support for human intelligence programs in the U.S. military. From this point forward, any further questions should be directed to my legal counsel.

Mr. Wade and I have been friends for many years and continue to be friends today. Though I first met Mr. Wade in connection with his work as a defense contractor, Nancy and I came to know Mitch and his wife Christiane personally over the years. My family and I have socialized with the Wades on numerous occasions. The Wades have also occasionally asked Nancy and me to support important charitable causes with which they are affiliated and we have willingly done so. This includes the Sure Foundation, which offers financial assistance to refugee children dislocated by war or civil unrest. Nancy and I have been pleased to assist the Sure Foundation's important mission with our time, charitable contributions and political support. I want my constituents to know that, despite my personal friendship with Mr. Wade, I gave his company, MZM, no preferential treatment.

MZM provides highly classified human intelligence support to the U.S. Military. While I am not at liberty to discuss the specifics of MZM's classified work, I can say that in 2003 MZM was actively seeking space for its operations close to Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. Mr. Wade shared with me that his company hoped to acquire space where he could locate highly secure communications equipment along with quarters for employees visiting from other cities. I informed Mr. Wade that Nancy and I were contemplating selling our home in the Del Mar Heights neighborhood, which is close to Miramar. After learning about the size and location of our property, Mr. Wade advised me that MZM would be interested in purchasing our house. I understood that MZM wanted the property for use as an office and as corporate housing until such time as MZM could locate more secure facilities for its operations at one of the military installations in the San Diego area. However, my understanding was that MZM would retain ownership of the property for use as corporate housing even if Mr. Wade was able to locate a more secure facility for their office operations at Miramar.

Elizabeth Todd, a realtor with the Willis Allen Company in Del Mar, set the asking price for our home. Ms. Todd and her husband are friends of mine and as a friend, she was kind enough to research the sale prices of similar homes in my neighborhood. Our home in Del Mar Heights was located in a desirable area west of Interstate 5 between the highway and the ocean. It was a large, two-story home measuring 3,826 square feet with 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths and a limited ocean view from a loft on the top floor. My understanding is that the asking price recommended by Ms. Todd was very close to the average sale price per square foot of other homes sold in my neighborhood in the six months prior to the sale. Based on the information provided by Ms. Todd about comparable sale prices in my area, I thought the asking price was fair and reasonable. When I gave Mr. Wade the asking price, he requested that I provide him with evidence of comparable sales to substantiate the price. I then asked Ms. Todd to send Mr. Wade the information he requested and my understanding is that she did so. After reviewing the information provided by Ms. Todd, Mr. Wade confirmed that he wanted to purchase our home in Del Mar Heights for use by MZM.

I did not list my home in Del Mar Heights for sale or hire a real estate agent to sell the property because Mr. Wade had already indicated an interest in the property and, like most people selling their own home, I hoped to avoid the additional costs associated with selling a house through a broker. Again, I recognize that I showed poor judgment in not listing the house publicly for sale. I should have given more thought to the perception that it might create.

Recent press reports have incorrectly suggested that I secured a government contract for Mr. Wade's company or that I improperly influenced the awarding of contracts to MZM. These reports are simply false. I do not have the authority or ability to award a contract to Mr. Wade's company and no single Member of Congress, no matter how influential, can dictate to the Armed Services who will be awarded contracts. In fact, my understanding is that the Defense Department awarded MZM a contract in May 2002, a full year and half before Mr. Wade purchased my home in Del Mar Heights. I advocated funding of a human intelligence program that was supported by the military, and confirmed with the Defense Department that the program had significant value to military effectiveness. Funding for this program was also supported by the full House Appropriations Committee, both Houses of Congress and the President. In short, I categorically reject any suggestion that I secured a contract for Mr. Wade's company or that I supported funding of this important human intelligence program because MZM purchased my home in Del Mar Heights.

Finally, recent news reports have questioned whether it was appropriate for me to live on a boat owned by Mr. Wade while I was working in Washington. It is important to note that I first came to Congress in 1991, and I only began living on Mr. Wade's boat in roughly April 2004. Mr. Wade and I agreed that, in return for me staying on the boat, I would pay the monthly dock fees and maintenance costs associated with keeping Mr. Wade's boat at the marina. There was nothing improper about my arrangement with Mr. Wade because I paid these monthly fees and costs in lieu of rent. Based on the records that I have been able to locate to date, I have paid well over $8,000 for the dock fees and well over $5,000 for service and maintenance. My attorneys are collecting the full payment records now and will make them available when they are all gathered.

I am deeply saddened by this distraction from my regular duties. However, I intend to focus my time and attention on the needs of the people of the 50th district. I ask only that my constituents reserve judgment until any investigation is concluded and I have had the opportunity to defend myself against these false allegations.

This year will mark the 36th year that I have stood in service to this nation ñ first as a young man volunteering to join the U.S. Navy at a time of war and great unrest, and more recently as a United States Congressman. I have had many proud moments in my career.

I am most proud of the work I do for and with the people of my district.

I continue to lead Congress' work to dramatically increase federal funding for health and medical research ñ promoting both our national healthcare needs and the economic health of our local bio-technology industry.

I work for economic security in San Diego and our vital national security through funding for important defense and homeland security programs that have created and protected jobs for thousands of my San Diego County constituents. And through road, rail and other transportation funding, I work to help get hard-working San Diegans home to their families as quickly as possible every day so they can continue to enjoy all the life that our beautiful region has to offer.

Perhaps most importantly, I believe the work I am doing with educators and policy makers nationwide to improve education in San Diego and across the country will help lead our children to a better life than their parents enjoy today.

I have always done this job in the interest of my nation and my constituents. And I want the people of California's 50th Congressional district to know that my drive to continue this work on their behalf is as strong today as it was when I first ran for Congress 15 years ago. I have always been humbled by the faith that my district has had in my leadership, and I will continue to work to earn their respect and endorsement.

Quote of the Day

Well, maybe not ... but it's fun to think so.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

How Can We Fool Them Today?

How can we fool them today?

Rush Limbaugh long ago said that that was the first thought of the Clintons when they woke each morning. It does seem to be a defining characteristic of the Left.

Matt Drudge gives us the latest example as he reports on's Washington, D.C. house party:

In a desperate bid to sanitize his house party and control how its attendees would be perceived by the POST, the MOVEON host emailed talking points to his guests. A copy of those talking points was obtained by the DRUDGE REPORT.

Fazio warned his guests: "Its very important that if you talk to the reporter, you stay on message. Remember, it is quite possible that our event will be the one the POST uses to represent the entire MoveOnPac effort this weekend."

The key message for the event: "The momentum is finally shifting away from extremism. We will not accept a extremist nominee. This is not about conservatism vs liberalism or Republicans vs Democrats, this is all about extremism vs moderation and we're on the side of moderation."

The MOVEON host reminded his guests: "We don't want to come across as leftist, liberal activists. We want to come across as we are- regular folks who are finally saying enough is enough to the extremists; that we're not falling for their extremist rhetoric anymore and we're finally going to expend the effort necessary to get our country back."

Fazio: "Please stay on message and just know that ANYTHING you say can be taken out of context and used against the effort."

One last suggestion from Fazio to his liberal MOVEON party-goers: "Oh, because a photographer will be here, might I suggest we put away our ‘Bush is a Liar’ t-shirts. Let's look like they do."


Saturday, July 09, 2005

Hurricane Dennis

UPDATE 14 (Sunday, 1:28pm Central):

Yeah, I skipped that other number.

Lights are starting to flicker more. I heard what sounded like a tranformer being tripped.

Not sure how much longer we will have power here. But I'm not even going to worry about that. We were extremely lucky this time. We're not out of the woods yet for damaging winds, tornadoes, etc. But the big bullet dodged us. Lucky. Thankful.

UPDATE 12 (Sunday, 1:10pm Central):

Dennis veered even more away from Pensacola. Headed due North. Now looks like Okaloosa and Santa Rosa Counties -- between Pensacola and Ft Walton Beach -- are going to take the hit.

About an hour and a half from landfall.

See how sudden hurricanes can change. It almost always comes down to the last 2 hours until anyone knows for sure.

It looks like Mobile and Baldwin County will be spared a head-on collision. The winds have not increased noticeably in the last 10 minutes are so.

Lights flickered just now for the first time.

UPDATE 11 (Sunday, 12:50pm Central):

I can't help but think of combat: Here they come!

Except this is Dennis and there's nothing we can do to stop him.

Gettin' pretty ugly out there.

20 seconds between gusts. Wind speed about 30mph with about 40mph gusts.

No flickering lights ... yet. That won't last.

Dennis is about 50 miles SE of Pensacola, moving N-NW at 16mph.

Has veered a little more to the North.

Hurricane force winds: 135mph with higher gusts. Extending out 40 miles.
Tropical storm force winds: Extending out 230 miles.

He's less than 2 hours from landfall and it's looking like Pensacola head-on, but that can change.

UPDATE 10 (Sunday, 12:10pm Central):

Dennis is about 60 miles SE of Pensacola, moving N-NW at 15mph.

Expected to hit between Gulf Shores and Pensacola.

Maximum sustained winds: 140mph with higher gusts.

Here the wind gusts are now up to about 35mph. Rain moderate. Tropical storm force winds are really starting to come on now. Gusts are more frequent. Separated by about 30 seconds.

Pretty sudden change, huh?

UPDATE 9 (Sunday, 11:58am Central):

No significant change here. Winds are picking up.

It got very still and stopped raining for a spell about 45 minutes ago. Probably a funnel cloud, but no reports of tornadoes.

Little to no reaction from the grrr-animals, yet. They have extraordinary senses, of course. When Lizzie and I stepped out about 15 minutes ago, she held her head up sniffing the air. Other than that, no indications of an impending hurricane.

Still think Dennis's winds will increase more abruptly than Ivan's. Kinda like going from Winter to Summer with no Spring in between.

I'm getting a little sick of the insurance company commercials -- especially given that some of them have yet to pay out for Ivan. That was 10 months ago.

UPDATE 8 (Sunday, 10:22am Central):

Tropical storm force winds are arriving here. Wind speed about 20mph with 25-30mph gusts from the East. So the cycling winds have begun -- about 90 seconds between gusts.

Rain is getting heavier. Tornado watch in effect for Baldwin County.

Dennis is about 80 miles SE of Pensacola, about 125 miles SE of Mobile. Moving at about 18mph (that is fast!)

Hurricane force winds have dropped a little to 140mph sustained. Still Category 4.

UPDATE 7 (Sunday, 9:38am Central):

Latest from National Hurricane Center is that Dennis is tracking NW ... tracking to hit .... Gulf Shores/Pensacola.

Hurricanes wobble and weave and can make several turns shortly before landfall depending on things like water temperatures, air temperatures, other weather systems, etc.

The TV weather guys know this. Why are they babbling? BTW, I'm not watching TV. It's being broadcast on radio.

UPDATE 6 (Sunday, 9:08am Central):

Dennis is different from Ivan:

Dennis is not as large, but is more compact and potentially more powerful.

Dennis's winds have not had the reach of Ivan's. Ivan's hurricane force winds extended out to about 100 miles. Dennis, about 50 miles. Ivan's tropical storm force winds extended out to about 240 miles. Dennis, about 185 miles.

Ivan's effects were felt well before he made landfall. It was a gradual increase in wind speed.

Dennis looks to make his presence known by a more sudden, radical increase in wind speed.

As for damage, what's worse? Long, drawn-out high winds or a shorter, more powerful blow? Dunno, but we'll probably see damage that'll be different than Ivan's. Not necessarily less damaging.

Dennis does seem to be shifting more to the North which means he could very well hit East of Pensacola. TV babe says this is "fabulous". Yeah, I guess she'll want to review tape of her remarks later ... maybe with the folks who live in the area that takes the brunt of Dennis.

Dennis could still go back to a NW track and hit Gulf Shores/Pensacola. That's what it looks like to me, anyway. Landfall just about where Ivan hit.

UPDATE 5 (Sunday, 7:48am Central):

TV dude is saying that latest Water Vapor data shows dry air nudging Dennis slightly north and if that shift continues, Dennis would hit east of Pensacola. New update from Hurricane Center due in about 15 minutes.

TV babe has joined in and now the mood is almost celebratory. Did I already say TV dudes and TV babes are idiots...generally speaking?

Seems to me that it would have to be a pretty radical turn for that to be so, but hurricanes are known to do that. Then again it could just be the eye reorganizing.

I spent about 10 minutes outside. Light rain. Wind picking up-- about 15mph. Can already feel the easterly gusts ... slightly, but they're there.

TV babe just reminded us that the Gulf Coast is a major tourist destination. My "idiots" remark stands.

UPDATE 4 (Sunday, 7:09am Central):

Light drizzle, light breeze, hot coffee, fat cats, wild kittens, quiet piggie and a good ol' dog. It's good.

Tropical storm force winds will be here in a few couple of hours.

Dennis remains a Category 4 hurricane. Sustained winds are now 145 mph with higher gusts.

About 150 miles SE of Pensacola and moving N-NW at 15 mph.

Category Four Hurricane:
Winds 131-155 mph (114-135 kt or 210-249 km/hr). Storm surge generally 13-18 ft above normal. More extensive curtainwall failures with some complete roof structure failures on small residences. Shrubs, trees, and all signs are blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Extensive damage to doors and windows. Low-lying escape routes may be cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore. Terrain lower than 10 ft above sea level may be flooded requiring massive evacuation of residential areas as far inland as 6 miles (10 km).

UPDATE 3 (Sunday, 1:01am Central):

The cats and kittens and guinea pig are sleeping. The Legendary Leopard Dog is looking at me as if to say: catch the clue train.

OK. Time to get some sleep. More tomorrow if power is still on.

UPDATE 2 (Sunday, 12:15am Central):

The local TV babes are reporting that the Health Dept is recommending not to drink water with fecal matter in it. Well, damn. They do think we're stupid.

Here's the track map from 9pm (CDT):

It's cool outside. Gentle breeze. Ah, if only all summer nights could be like this.

Dennis is now a Category 4 hurricane, blowing at 135 mph (sustained). Continues to intensify.

Still moving NW, about 280 miles SE of Dauphin Island.

Storm surge is expected to be 10-15 feet.

TV babes are also reporting the largest evacuation in the history of Mobile County. Hmmm.

UPDATE 1 (Saturday, 10:45pm Central):

It's beautiful outside. Light breeze. Cool. Quiet ... and deserted! Hey, where did everybody go??

Even Beth lit out fer Hotlanta. Heck, I had room over here. What's two more cats and a couple of kids? Don't say it.

See whatcher missing, Miss Beth? He's headed right for us.

I think she would say: that's the point.

Hurricane Dennis is still about 300 miles SE of Dauphin Island, strengthing and blowing at about 125 mph with higher gusts.

Original Post (Saturday, 7:15pm Central):

OK. Dennis has my attention now. Want to see how narrow-minded I can be? I don't care what's going on outside of Baldwin County unless it's south of here (which would be the Gulf of Mexico, for those not familiar with Alabama). I don't even care what's going on in Baldwin County north of I-10.

Narrow-minded is not always a bad thing. It has such negative connotations, though -- "focused" is better. I'm focused -- narrow-mindedly focused. Hurricanes like Dennis tend to cause that.

Dennis. I hate that name for a hurricane. Ivan -- now there's a name befitting a terrible force. Dennis makes you think of Dennis the Menace. Cute cartoon character. But like El Jefe, I can't help but think of it as Dennis the Menace, if in name only.

Hurricane Dennis has rapidly regained strength and is now a Category 3 hurricane. Hurricane force winds extend out about 40 miles and Tropical Storm force winds extend out to about 185 miles.

He's blowing at about 115 mph with stronger gusts. Weaker than Ivan at about this time last September, but still strong and growing stronger.

Dennis is about 350 miles SE of Dauphin Island and moving NW at about 14 mph. He's expected to make landfall somewhere between Panama City, FL and Biloxi, MS between 2pm - 4pm Central Daylight Time (CDT).

Guessing exactly where Dennis will hit is ... well ... guessing. Hurricanes can be tracked with some precision, but they have a habit of veering this way and juking that way. Hurricane Ivan was tracking to come right up Mobile Bay for hours, then in the last 2 hours before landfall, he did a headfake and hit east of the bay and smack dab up the middle of Baldwin County. So, you just never can tell.

It was very hot and humid here most of the day. Cooling off some now. No precip. No wind. Very still.

Many more people have unassed the area earlier than with Ivan. I-65 southbound lanes were redirected to the north at about 6am. Northbound traffic is now relatively light.

As with Ivan, I'll continue to update until I lose power.

Oh, and this time I have 2 tomcats, 2 kittens, 1 guinea pig and 1 Catahoula Leopard dog riding it out with me. Lizzie the Legendary Leopard Dog is the latest addition to the family. She is something else. The cats like her. She likes the cats. The kittens (who are hurricane guests) want to play with her and she wants to play with the kittens, but I'm not sure that's a good idea. I have them "partitioned" off. The guinea pig is being vewwy, vewwy quiet. He looks a lot like lunch to the Leopard dog and he knows it.

Are we having fun or what?

A Prayer for Carol

Oh Heavenly Father,
Thank You for blessing us with Carol.
Lord, we pray that You will give her strength, that You will comfort her and her children.
We pray that this smart, witty, wonderful woman will feel the power of our prayers.
Lord, she shares her faith in You with her readers and has touched many people.
We pray that You will send Your angels to the Marks family to help them through the loss of a husband and father.
We give these thanks and offer these prayers in the name of Jesus Christ, Who suffered the cross so that we lowly sinners would have hope of life everlasting. Amen

Friday, July 08, 2005

Forgot To Say

. . . I'd be away.

It started out as a coupla days... then morphed into a few days.

Anyway, I'll be blogging later after I've caught up on reading all the good folks linked on the right.

Oh, we've got a hurricane tracking this way. Dennis, as a name, doesn't sound quite as intimidating as Ivan, but Dennis seems to be packing as much punch. Looks to be at least a Category 10 on the Murphy-Mazda Scale.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Man On The Street: Q&A

Overheard in Anytown, USA

Q: Sir, could I take just a few moments of your time?
A: Are ya paying me?
Q: Ha-ha-ha, well no but--
A: That's funny to you?
Q: My apolog--
A: Yeah right. OK, make it quick. This is my day off. I'm with the wife and kids here.
Q: I'm sorry to have bothered you?
A: Yeah, yeah. What can I do for you?
Q: If you could take a few moments to answer a few questions.
A: Yeah, OK. You ain't one of them pollsters that's always asking the slanted questions, are ya?
Q: No sir. I'm with the local paper. We're just doing a survey, kind of a man-on-the-street interview.
A: Yeah, yeah. The local paper, huh?
Q: Yes sir. Do you happen to subscribe?
A: Ya gotta be shittin' me. That rag fed by the leftwing Associated Press? Hell, no. And you make sure you quote me on that. So go ahead ask your questions.
Q: How would you rate the President's job performance?
A: He's doing a good job. It's a hard job. People need to get off his back. What a wonderful First Lady, too. How come you guys never ask about her? Nevermind. Just leave her alone.
Q: Do you support the War on Terrorism?
A: Of course. Absolutely. No question. It's sad that you even have to ask that question, but I guess you gotta separate out the loonies, the America haters.
Q: What about Iraq? Do you support the President's policies?
A: Didn't I just say that I support the War on Terrorism??
Q: But Iraq and the War on Terrorism are--
A: the same thing, mack. Just ask the questions and quit trying to preach to me.
Q: So you support the President's policies?
A: I don't give a rat's ass what the policies are. Well, I do, but I'm not real concerned about it. OK? We've got a lot of pretty smart people attending to that. We oughta just let 'em do their jobs.
Q: But some would say that it's the polici--
A: Look, I done said. Screw a bunch of policy. It's us or them. My nephew's over there and Frank's boy's over there--
Q: Who is Frank?
A: My neighbor. Hell, half the people in this town got someone over there and the other half knows someone that's got someone over there.
Q: Well, don't you think we need to have an exit strategy?
A: Why do I need to think about that? We just re-elected a president, a commander-in-chief. We'll leave when he gets good and damn ready for us to leave. I don't understand why you people find that so hard to deal with. He's the commander-in-chief ferchrissakes!
Q: Senator Kennedy has been very critical of President Bush. Yesterday, Senator Kennedy had this to say abou--
A: Ted Kennedy should be down on his knees every day praying for his soul. He acts like we've forgotten that he let that poor girl drown.
Q: He says we need to get out of Iraq--
A: He needs to get out of America.
Q: Get out of America?
A: Why not? Yeah, get out. That's what I said.
Q: You sound like you hate Senator Kennedy.
A: No, I don't hate him. But he sure is a sorry excuse for an American. Not like his brothers Jack and Bobby, God rest their souls. Good men. Both of them.
Q: And recently Senator Dick Durbin had this to say--
A: Dick who?
Q: Durbin. Senator Durbin--
A: What state's he from?
Q: Illinois
A: Huhmph
Q: Senator Durbin had this to say about Guantanamo--
A: Wait, ain't he the idiot that compared American soldiers to the Soviets, the Nazis, and the Khmer Rouge??
Q: Well, he did make that remark, but in the context of--
A: Context, hell! He's another one that needs to get out of America.
Q: Well, now in all fairness, the Senator is free to say what he--
A: He's giving comfort to our enemies. The bastard is endangering our men and women in the military. He oughta be tried for treason.
Q: Treason? That's a very serious charge
A: Indeed, as that ol' Tennessee boy would say.
Q: So you would lock him up and throw away the key?
A: Last time I checked, the penalty can be death.
Q: Are you saying--
A: Look, let's give him a chance to leave the country first. Let him go live in France. And if he don't want to then let's try his ass for treason and let the chips fall where they may.
Q: Don't you think the Democrats have a say in what--
A: Don't give me that horseshit, son. They've got a say. Everybody's got a say. But what they're saying ain't making any sense or worse, it's sounding too much like what the gotdam terrorists and the French are saying.
Q: Excuse me, that's the second time that you brought up France in somewhat of a disparaging way. Do you--
A: You gotta problem with that?
Q: Well, no but--
A: France can kiss my ass. We've pulled their nuts outta the fire on more than one occasion. Do they show any gratitude? Knife in the back. Rotten whoremongers, the French. Fuck with their tongues and fight with their feet. You can quote me on that, too.
Q: Thank you for your time, sir.
A: Yeah, yeah get a haircut.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Food For The Fourth

These 2 dishes are easy to do and deeeeeeeelicious.

Bar-B-Q'd Oysters

1 quart oil
2 dozen shucked and drained oysters
½ teaspoon liquid smoke
¼ cup chili powder
½ cup all-purpose flower
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (I put more, but then I grew up in La.)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon hickory-smoked salt

Preheat the oil in a large deep fry pot to 350°F.

Place the oysters in a mixing bowl, add the liquid smoke, and let them soak about 10 minutes.

Sift together the chili powder, flour, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and hickory salt into a small bowl or small paper bag.

Add the oysters and shake to coat well.

Deep fry for 3-4 minutes or until brown.

Drain on paper towels.

Whooooooooooo Boyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Grilled Pork Loins

This is as close as I could come to Carlos'N Charlie's in Acapulco. It might be even better than theirs. I haven't been back there in quite awhile to compare :)

Note: Buy the thinly-sliced (¼-inch or less) "Breakfast" pork loins or ask the butcher to slice 'em breakfast-thin (a good butcher will know what you mean). You can slice the thick ones yourself, but it can be a pain by hand -- literally -- pork loins are very hard to slice even with a sharp knife. If you have to do it that way, put the loins in the freezer to firm them up --don't freeze them-- just enough to make slicing easier and safer.

12 breakfast pork loins (feeds about 2 as main dish -- I ain't joking -- 3-4 as side dish)
2 tablespoons of liquid smoke or marinade (I use Figaro Mesquite Marinade)
1 basting brush
1 barbeque grill, charcoal, lighter fluid, etc

Salt and pepper the loins

Pour liquid smoke in a small cup

Put loins on grill, close cover and grill 'em for about 3 minutes -- then flip 'em over

Brush the liquid smoke on the side that's been grilled and then close cover and grill for about 3 more minutes, then flip 'em again and brush with liquid smoke again and close cover.

Now you're about 9 minutes away (or longer if pork was sliced thicker than ¼-inch) from some great tasting porkies. Oh yeah -- depending on what type of grill you have, you might want to flip 'em one more time.

Bring it on home now... call the law!

Other Ideas

Alabama-style Shrimp Bake

Apples in Wine & Cinnamon Sauce