Thursday, April 24, 2008

Mid-week Thoughts

It's Thursday, and here in paradise, we're still waiting for spring to arrive. It's slowly getting warmer, albeit after a week of record lows recently along with the record for the latest day of snow in the lowlands of paradise. Yes, snow at sea level, and it stuck in some inland areas too. In April. Although it's not new to Coloradans and Denverites, where the record latest date is Memorial Day weekend and the earliest is Labor Day weekend, it's new to us here.

And while the snowfall normally levels off in early April and the snowpack is starting to melt at low elevations, slowly increasing and rising in elevation, we're continuing to get new snowfall and more snowpack. That's the view at Paradise at Mt. Rainier NP above. We have about 20 feet there. That's almost 50% above normal. Not a record but in the top few for sure. And if the snowmelt is delayed and maybe slower than normal, we'll be seeing snow on the trails well into June and perhaps July for higher elevations. That's not a record either, just interfers with the hiking season.

Ok, enough. We're not whining, although a few sunny days would be nice. Cool is ok, just sunny would be appreciated.

The news?

Well, when do politicians say a lie isn't a lie? When it's a false statement. Jimmy Carter said the the Secretary of State Rice was "mistaken" when she told him they didn't want him to meet with Hamas, you know the elected government of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. She and her staff repeatedly said they advised the former President because they considered Hamas a terrorist organization. An elected government too. Mr. Carter said the Deputy Secretary of State, Ms. Rice refusted to meet with Mr. Carter, didn't advise him against it in any form or manner.

So, we can lie but politicians make false statements or mistruths?

Listening to Ms. Rice over the years as the Secretary of State and then National Security advisor to Bush, I've learned she is very intelligent but also not very bright. She is one of those people who can talk about something without actually saying anything. You get to the end of her statements and go, "Huh?" Really. Don't watch her but listen, just listen. She either says nothing to twists things to say nothing.

When she spoke one time about meetings with Middle East leaders she spoke of the meetings but not of the content. She talked about the framework and the conduct of the meetings, like they were important, like, "We had a very cordial meeting about the issues and agreed to speak about the issues in future meetings." She does the one thing I argued in meetings when I was a senior technical manager.

I made a notepad with the saying I found, "Don't mistake discussion for answers." printed in big letter across the top, and kept the pad in plain view of everyone. This is the same thing Ms. Rice does, she talks a good story but there's no story in the story. She talks about a story but not the story itself. She mistakes her presence for importance. It's all a self-delusion of a person and her words.

That's why the Lebanonese government uninvited her to their homeland after she meet with the isreali government before they attacked and invaded Palestinians in southern Lebanon. She tried to convince the Lebanonese government the US were behind them too, and they saw through her words to reply, "Goodbye and don't come back." Every leader in the world must think she's a joke, pander to her then send her on her way with some verbal political candy.

Why have we elected a President who's blind to reality and the truth, a Vice President who is worse than Darth Vadar on his worst day, a Secretary of Defense (Rumsfeldt) who had no ears, only a mouth that never stopped, and a Secretary of State who can't understand anything beyond what's she told and sells herself than solutions? I don't get it.

Ok, enough. Onward.

Did you know the Government Accounting Office found that 60,000 federal contractors owe $7.7 Billion in back taxes and $1 Billion in health care benefits to employees. The IRS estimates that about $300 Billion in taxes every year don't get collected or paid. Your tax dollars not at work.

Did you know the Veterans Administration lied, oops misreported, to Congress the number of suicide attempts by Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. Ok, you say, they fudged the numbers a little. They reported 800 attempted suicide. According to an audit, internal e-mails and reports showed 12,000 attempted suicides. Big difference.

Why would they do that if not to reduce the impact of the effect of these war on our troops. What happened to support our troos?

The Union of Concerned Scientists said that more than half the scientists at the EPA have been pressured by supervisors, aka. political appointees, to rewrite reports to be less critical or even positive about negative effects and impacts of their findings or got involved in or interferred witth their research. And these are the same studies and reports the Administration has been using to assert their view that things aren't as bad as people, aka other scientists, report.

When is a scientific misstatement or mistruth not a lie?

This one I love. Not. Did you know that many debt collection agencies are moving work to India? It's cheaper, costing only about a quarter of staff in the US. But the serious side of this is that along with getting the work, they're getting your credit information too. Your credit information. In India which does not adhere to US privacy laws or have any of their own. Your credit history is an open book to anyone there.

I've never been bothered with credit problems but this is serious and Congress should step in to fix this.

This I really do love. The generals and senior officials in Iraq say that 73% of the attack on US soldiers are committed by Shiite militia, supplied by the US gov't through the Iraqi government and by Iran. And subtracting the percentage done by Sunni militia, criminals and other groups, that leaves about 5-10% of the attacks on US soldiers by Al Qaeda. The same Al Qaeda that, according to Cheney and Bush, are the real enemy in Iraq and responsible for everything.

When is a fact not a fact? When the President decides to ignore it, and make up his own facts.

The way things are going, have you considered we'll be at war with Pakistan in the near future? The generals in Afghanistan want to attack the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan against the decisions of the Pakistani government, and even the President we support and pay for with $6 Billion in miitary aid (2002-06, last known numbers). We're currently using drones to attack sites in Pakistan but now they want troops on the ground there.

What don't they understand about history? Think Laos?

And now they want to increase the forces to do this, except they don't know where they'l come from in the Army. They can't reduce forces in Iraq, and many troops have done two tours already, along with half the National Guards and Reserves with at least one tour. So, where? Stop-loss orders.

Secretary Gates is issuing new stop-loss order, up from 8,540 May 2007 to 12,235 March 2008. Nearly a 50% increase, which is projected to increase as more and more mid-level enlisted troops are wanting to leave the service than reenlist or stay to retirement. The endless war is becoming the Army's worst enemy. Not just disenfranchised troops, but departing ones.

The answer, always in the corner of people's mind? The draft. Any bets?

Well, George set a record. The lowest approval rating in history. Only 28% like his work, 69% don't. Not just disapprove but think his tenure is a failure. And the numbers are slightly higher for the war. This was his war and it's home to roost George. How does it feel, or do you even know enough to feel?

Did you know when Congress gave the Homeland Security Administration the rights to build the border wall they forget to say it had to be fair enforced to landowners? So Secretary Chertoff is pushing the wall through the middle and especially low income landowners but not through the private resorts or rich lanndowners. Own a few acres and you'll see a wall, own a big resort and you won't be bothered.

Be a political donor with land along the US-Mexico border and they won't build a wall through or along your property. So the illegal immigrants will know where to cross the country, the resorts and private estates. Do you think Google earth will show the wall to make crossing easier?

Such is the news so far this week. I've updated my waterfall map and latest access Web pages. Have a good weekend.

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