Reasonably Ascertainable Reality

Thoughts and musings on current events and other random occurrences.

Location: South Jersey, United States

Monday, August 29, 2005


Some quick thoughts about things I haven't commented on, things that aren't worthy of a full post or things that interest me that I'm too lazy to write about:

Cindy Sheehan is everywhere. I feel she is entitled to her opinion. Her opinion does not mean more than any other parent of a wounded or killed soldier from Iraq. I do not feel Bush should meet with her again. I feel she is perfectly within her rights to protest in Texas. Its kind of like Hollywood syndrome...actors have opinions too, they just don't mean anything more than anyone else's...its just a bigger stage.

As Andrew Sullivan notes, its definitely on. If you enjoy your political punditry with an aristocratic accent, don't miss this one.

My prayers go out to people down south...New Orleans, Alabama, etc. I just can't comprehend worrying about the complete destruction of your home say, once every ten years. Mind boggling.

To echo a thought heard all over the northeastern US for the past week or so...I'M SO DONE WITH SUMMER. P.S. can't wait for football. Oh, T.O....your jackassery brings me so much joy.

I know I'll take a lot of heat for this, but I've been watching (and enjoying) CurrentTV. I find it really interesting and the little 'pods' of stories they do to be perfect. Sometimes its a bit silly, but I really like it. I have DirecTV (channel 366) so I dont know if anyone else gets it.

You gotta love quizzes

Hat tip Crooks & Liars (via Ballon Juice), its the worlds shortest personality quiz. Damn, I always find these really accurate. What do you think?

You are pure, moral, and adaptable.You tend to blend into your surroundings.Shy on the outside, you're outspoken to your friends.You believe that you live a virtuous life...And you tend to judge others with a harsh eye.As a result, people tend to crave your approval.

When will August be over?

The ridiculously slow news month of August is almost over and everyone is slowly but surely returning from vacation.
On Friday, there was a really wonderul and important piece written by Wesley Clark in the Washington Post on the reality of Iraq and what is needed. I really like Wesley Clark. At the moment, he is probably my favorite potential candidate for 2008. He strikes me as calm, cool, strong, compassionate and wise.

In the old, familiar fashion, mounting U.S. casualties in Iraq have mobilized increasing public doubts about the war. More than half the American people now believe that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. They're right. But it would also be a mistake to pull out now, or to start pulling out or to set a date certain for pulling out. Instead we need a strategy to create a stable, democratizing and peaceful state in Iraq -- a strategy the administration has failed to develop and articulate.

From the outset of the U.S. post-invasion efforts, we needed a three-pronged strategy: diplomatic, political and military. Iraq sits geographically on the fault line between Shiite and Sunni Islam; for the mission to succeed we will have to be the catalyst for regional cooperation, not regional conflict.

Unfortunately, the administration didn't see the need for a diplomatic track, and its scattershot diplomacy in the region -- threats, grandiose pronouncements and truncated communications -- has been ill-advised and counterproductive.

...The growing chorus of voices demanding a pullout should seriously alarm the Bush administration, because President Bush and his team are repeating the failure of Vietnam: failing to craft a realistic and effective policy and instead simply demanding that the American people show resolve. Resolve isn't enough to mend a flawed approach -- or to save the lives of our troops. If the administration won't adopt a winning strategy, then the American people will be justified in demanding that it bring our troops home.

As they say, read the whole thing. From a man that has won a war and knows a thing or two about it.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Environmental Corruption in NJ

A really interesting article today in the Courier Post.

Of the seven streams that Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bradley Campbell has protected from developers by identifying them as "ecologically significant," at least four abut land owned by people with ties to the Democratic Party or to Campbell himself.
In one case, Campbell's department banned developers from a stream running through the valley shared by the circa 1730 Hunterdon County farm owned by former U.S. Sen. Robert G. Torricelli, a Democrat.
In another case, environmental protections went up along a stream below the home and farm pond owned by Carla Katz, president of Communications Workers of America Local 1034, which represents about 9,000 state workers, including 2,379 of the DEP's 3,450 employees. The DEP granted Katz an exemption from Highlands Act restrictions to expand and upgrade the 205-year-old farmhouse.
Katz has been in the news lately after it was disclosed that her former sweetheart, U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine, D-Hoboken, forgave a $470,000 loan to pay off a mortgage on her property. Corzine is running for governor against Republican Doug Forrester and eight third-party or independent candidates. Should the senator become governor, his administration would have to negotiate salaries and benefits with his former lover, among others.
A top aide to Katz is married to a deputy to Campbell at the Department of Environmental Protection. That couple, too, resides on a stream in Frenchtown that the department afforded protections against developers.
In a fourth case, an environmental activist who is a friend of Campbell's wife lives in Stockton. A nearby stream that babbles through a valley at the north end of town won state protections, helping preserve the calm that marks that community, which abuts a riffle-filled stretch of the Delaware River.

Some might be tempted to call this a 'victim-less crime'. After all, how could more stream protection against development be a bad thing. But it turns out, that there are other streams that don't maintain these C-1 protections against development that are more beneficial to NJ.

Tittel said there are stretches of the Ramapo and the Musconetcong that are more needy for C1 protections. "We asked for about 300 to be protected," Tittel said.

Political corruption and so-called 'pay to play' in NJ is about as old as dirt. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if these protections were given solely on the basis of who's property the streams abut.

Its a dangerous precedent though. New Jersey is a very unique state as far as its rivers, tributaries and creeks are concerned. Many areas of NJ are underlain completely by sand. This sand creates a filter through which huge amounts of contaminants and pollutants are able to be filtered out or at least decreased in concentration prior to reaching NJ's precious groundwater reserves. This is not an insignificant fact, especially in pollutant rich NJ.

Hunterdon County and areas northwest of Trenton generally are not underlain by this sand, as this part of NJ was either glaciated (i.e. covered by glacier during the last ice age) or is remnants of materials that the glacier pushed from farther north. These areas are underlain by large expanses of rock. It doesn't make these areas any less ecologically important, but one wonders how many of South Jerseys environmentally significant streams and tributaries and wetlands have not received these C1 protections from the NJDEP.

Taking a look around at the amount of development in South Jersey, and knowing the hundreds and creeks and streams that are down here, it would seem, not many. If I get a bug up my ass, I might check it out.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Lets just take a moment

James Dobson and the Focus on the Family organization...I don't even know how to finish that sentence! Lets just take a moment to examine a few of their tips on understanding your relationship and your children.

This lovely article is written by a women (reportedly) on communication between husbands and wives. Its purported purpose? Why, to help of course. Lets take a look:

A man defines himself by what he does, not by his relationships. When introduced, a man will say, “I’m John — I’m in retail sprockets and gears for Yada Yada Industries.” When it’s his wife’s turn, she’ll say, “I’m Judy, John’s wife, and we have three kids: John Jr., Judy Jr. and JJ.”

You know, because a wife's only definition of herself comes from her husband and children. In fact, after marriage and kids, wives generally stop answering to their given name and only answer to 'Mom'--even from their husband.

Guys like sports. That’s because there’s a goal involved: make baskets, get on base, score a touchdown. Most guys don’t like figure skating. “What’s the point?” a guy asks. “You spin around to music."

Because God knows figure skating isn't a sport. What? Its in the Olympics? What? They train all year round for their whole lives to become proficient in spinning around to music? They can execute triple spins in the air and land them perfectly...thats sissy stuff.

On the other hand, a man’s competitive nature often leads to insecurity and jealousy. It’s not uncommon for an unbelieving husband to be jealous of his wife’s church and the time she spends there, jealous of other Christians — especially other Christian men — and to be jealous of God.
A wise woman will make an effort to appreciate her husband’s competitive instincts and will take his reasonable display of jealousy as a sign that he’s afraid of losing her. The best thing she can do is to assure him by her actions that loving God with her whole heart means having even greater love for him.

And a wise women will know that when she gets the beat down from her jealous husband, he's doing it out of love for her and she will rightly keep her mouth shut. How is she to learn anything if she's always thinking about herself?

And some final parting tips from this 'wise' woman:

Go to his softball games and pay attention.
Tell him often that what he does at work is important to you.
Never belittle or trivialize his work.
Ask questions about his job. Learn what he does.
Determine what your husband does well and provide opportunities for him to perform and succeed. Ask him if he would: glue a chair leg, move furniture, change a doorknob, plan a trip, etc.
Say thank you often.
Watch your interactions with other men and avoid situ-ations that could be misinterpreted.
Ask his advice and then take it. If you're not willing to do that, it's better not to ask in the first place.
Ask for his help.
Build him up in front of your kids.
Never correct him in public.
Dream with him, even if you think his dreams are farfetched. That's what makes them dreams.
Touch him often, especially when you're listening to him talk.
Be loyal.
Enjoy sex.

Ladies, if your husband is wrong about something, don't correct him. Instead, let him go on looking like a total idiot in public..that is much better. And when you get home and he wants sex, you are to enjoy it regardless of the fact of whether or not you were in the mood.

Let's remember people, not only is this organization prominent and its leader, Dobson, a popular talk show guest, its opinion has been sought after regarding Supreme Court nominees and high ranking public officials pander to its members at nutfests like Justice Sunday. Just another day in the good ole USA.

The story of August

Alot of bloggers have been bemoaning the slow news month of August while others have been proclaiming the the news of the summer is the 'Able Danger' revelations or the Plame/Rove story.

For me, the story of August is the Israeli pullout from Gaza. Not only is the monumentally significiant, it could have implications, both good and bad, for years to come. I don't necessarily have much to say about it. My general feeling about things like this is to wait and see how it turns out, however, just the pictures alone are dramatic, heart-wrenching and unbelievable.

Israeli troops Wednesday entered the largest Jewish settlement in Gaza, Neveh Dekalim, to evacuate as many as 4,000 people, many of whom had barricaded themselves inside a synagogue.
In protest against the evacuations, a 54-year-old woman in the Israeli city of Netivot set herself on fire Wednesday, police said. She was taken to a Beer Sheva hospital in serious condition. A protest was being held at a junction nearby, authorities said.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

True definition of cat blogging

Kittens plus social commentary....

The masters show you how its done. Makes me want to not bother with cat blogging until I can figure out a way to be as funny as this.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Justice Sunday Redux

I was planning on what to write concerning the 2nd Justice Sunday (did we really need a 2nd?) and the pack of idiots that was there this time, when I read this article and saw this quote and realized, what more is there to say? This one quote shows exactly why these people should NEVER hold any power in the USA. Emphasis mine.

At the rally Sunday, Mike Miller, 54, of Gallatin echoed many of the speakers comments on judicial power, saying he believes Supreme Court justices try to create laws with their rulings instead of interpreting the Constitution.
"Activist justices -- we're trying to find out what we can do to stop that activity," he said. "Our laws are based on the Ten Commandments."

Friday, August 12, 2005

Friday Cat Blogging

To work...sleep...or play?

For more fun, try here and here

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Culture of Victimization

While I don't necessarily have something to say about the larger point in his post, the last line of Hindrocket's post at Powerline had me laughing my ass off:

Once again, it seems that the liberals have succeeded in capturing a key component of our culture, leaving conservatives to fight a guerrilla campaign from the outside.

Yes, poor conservatives. Fighting that 'guerilla campaign' from majorities in both houses of Congress, a two term sitting President who is appointing conservative justices to the Supreme Court, appointing conservatives to positions of authority at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, passing resolutions to criticize evolution in science classes and teach intelligent design, fabricating midnight legislation to save the life of one woman, inspiring pharmacists to refuse to sell medication if it goes against their moral beliefs---I could go on.

I mean, a little perspective...thats all I'm asking for!


The Carpetbagger Report has a post today on what it takes, as a General in the US military, to lose your job versus what it takes to get a promotion. Go read the post and the links.

Background: Four star general loses his job, three months from retirement, for having an affair with a civilian woman while he and his wife were separated, pending divorce (ostensibly adultery).

WashPo editorializes:

From this incident, it is possible to draw only one conclusion: It's okay for officers to oversee units that torture civilians and thereby damage the reputation of the United States around the world, do terrible harm to the ideological war on terrorism and inspire more Iraqis to become insurgents. Having an affair with a civilian, on the other hand, is completely unacceptable and will end your career.

Um, my sentiments exactly. I'll be waiting for some clarification on this so I can sleep tonight.

Marking devastation with celebration

This is an interesting and particularly disturbing idea if you ask me.

The Pentagon would hold a massive march and country music concert to mark the fourth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in an announcement tucked into an Iraq war briefing today.
"This year the Department of Defence will initiate an America Supports Your Freedom Walk," Rumsfeld said, adding that the march would remind people of "the sacrifices of this generation and of each previous generation".
The march will start at the Pentagon, where nearly 200 people died on September 11, 2001, and end at the National Mall with a show by country star Clint Black.

The discussion of linking 9/11 with support for the current war is a discussion well over three years old. I'm not going to get into it--we all know where we stand and where our opponents stand and I think not many people are changing sides anytime soon.

More importantly, when did it become fashion to mark anniversaries of tragic events with concerts and freedom marches? What happened to good ole 'moments of silence', solemn vigils, dedication of memorials....the list could go on and on and I feel that NO WHERE on it would be a 'freedom march' and a f*&king country music concert. Think Pearl Harbor, think Oklahoma City.

I'm putting out the call now. Conservative bloggers--you know who you are--you were all outraged over the 'hijacking of Ground Zero' (as was I) for the freedom memorial. We all said "if it isn't about the victims of 9/11, what else could it be about?". We screamed "it doesn't belong here" and that people were using 9/11 to further their own political agendas and called them the 'blame America first' crowd.

September 11th was a tragic day--perhaps one of the most tragic in our history. At no time in the future, certainly not a mere 4 years since that day, is a f&%king concert and freedom march an acceptable marking of that anniversary.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Another reason to love NJ

Notwithstanding the important issues she's raising in her column about diversion of 9/11 funds and John Corzine's money dealings, here's one more reason to love New Jersey.

Apparently, Michelle Malkin was originally from the Garden State...and...left! Michelle, please feel free to never return and darken our shores with the spectre of your wingnuttery. The post is headlined 'NJ & Sleaze: Perfect Together'. We all know that if you are looking for an expert on sleaze, look no further then Malkin.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Don't speak ill

...of the dead. Isn't that the right thing to do? Maybe it's just me. I don't know. At least give them time to get cold eh? Never in my life would I characterize this as 'right wing' opinion-- although my fellow bloggers on the right take every single leftist post to characterize the entire liberal population-- I'll just say, this guy (and his commentors) needs to step away from his blog and re-enter humanity.

Peter Jennings is dead, may he rest in peace. Lest we forget, however, while he was alive Peter Jennings did considerable damage to the cause of civilization and human deceny by his sympathy for Jew-hating terrorists and their supporters.

It only gets worse in the comments:

Peter Jennings’ on screen persona was that of a smug, superior, know it all. He evidenced a barely hidden smirk on his face in confronting any point of view not similar to his or his employers. He wallowed in moral equivalency,and he brought one more new low to post-modern journalistic endeavors.
He expressed his first humanity in his reporting of the 911 attack. For this single efort he gets no more than an honored boot on his grave-the same symbolic honor given Benedict Arnold for the wound he took Before he betrayed America. Jennings goes down in American history as another talking Canadian head for whom makeup and the right camera angle were paramount. I wont be a hypocrite and shed tears at his passing. I was revulsed by him when he was alive and am indifferent to him in death.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Downfall of Religion

I believe, during the last two elections, that the issue of religion has gotten more play politically than at any other time. I'm not trying to compare the last two elections to something akin to when Kennedy was elected and the anti-Catholic backlash that was evident then, however I think the importance of someone's moral beliefs, their personal religion and the role that plays in their election/re-election efforts has never been so great.

I can not tell you how wrong I think that is. Even more wrong, when churches involve themselves in politics. Political figures being refused communion for holding certain political views about freedoms that should be granted in our society is just the beginning, and low and behold, we've moved one step further down the path.

Politicians who support issues like abortion and gay rights have been banned from speaking at Catholic churches in the Phoenix Diocese.
Olmsted's decision followed a policy passed last year by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Olmsted is among a number of Catholic bishops nationwide who have chosen to take a strict interpretation of the June 2004 statement called "Catholics in Political Life."

The church, my church, any church, does not belong in politics. Its mission is to educate, to comfort, to allow for communication with God, to bring people together. Lately, all the church has been doing is pushing people apart. This pains me as a Catholic.

I have a great idea for the Phoenix Diocese, or any other diocese who wants to ban politicians from speaking. BAN THEM ALL. They do NOT belong in the house of God. Do I even have to mention how eerily similar this is to Jesus tossing the money lenders out on their ear? People shilling for votes do not belong in church. Their are plenty of opportunities for Catholics and other religious people, to educate themselves on where a certain candidate might stand on an issue and decide for whom to vote.

I will continue to fight for the real Catholicsm to make itself known. A religion that should be following the words of Jesus and loving everyone, having compassion for everyone and welcoming everyone into Communion with Him. I think Jesus will have a few strong words for the fakers that are in charge of the churches across the world at this point in time.

Hat Tip-- Ya Gotta Be Kidding. Good to see you back Z.

Friday, August 05, 2005

NY Times and Adoption

Why, oh why??? Why in the hell would the adoption records of the Roberts' kids be any business of anyone else's?

Literally, other than wondering if John Roberts bought the kids on the black market (which I'm still not sure I would care about)...what is the point?

Not sure I care...

So John Corzine took some change from his pockets and gave some to a woman who he was in a relationship with, who happens to be the head of one of the largest unions in the State of NJ.

Senator and gubernatorial candidate Jon S. Corzine loaned the president of New Jersey's largest state workers union $470,000 when the two were romantically involved three years ago, then forgave the debt last year.

I have to say, I'm a bit underwhelmed by this story. Some might call me naive or say I'm being partisan, but I have to disagree on this one. First, I'm well aware of the pay-to-play legacy in NJ and the all too little reforms happening. Secondly, I'm not exactly sure I'm voting for Corzine come election time. I was really hoping Republican Diane Allen would run, but she didn't, so Corzine might be my only choice. Certainly not hapless Doug Forrester. I would welcome Christie Whitman back with open arms! Where are you Christie!!!

I would definitely be more outraged if they weren't in a relationship. But money lent, from a man worth as much as Corzine is, to his significant other at a time when she was attempting to buy out her husband from her house, seems to me to be on a personal level.

If more information comes out, then I might re-examine, but on the outset, I'm not too worried about this one.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Must Reads

I don't think I can recommend enough these things today:

The Washington Posts frightening articles on torture by the US Military and US-trained Iraqi special forces in Iraq.

Secondly, Marty Ledermans analysis.

At a preliminary court hearing in March for Williams, Loper and Sommer, an interrogator who worked with Welshofer in Iraq, and the Colonel who commanded the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, both told the court that stuffing a detainee in a sleeping bag and putting detainees in a wall locker and banging on it were "appropriate," effective and approved techniques that were used "to frighten detainees and make them tense." White further reports that the "claustrophobic technique" was even used "for some time after" Mowhoush's death, according to sources familiar with the interrogation operation. "The interrogation techniques were known and were approved of by the upper echelons of command of the 3rd ACR," said Williams's attorney. "They believed, and still do, that they were appropriate and proper."

I'll be commenting more later but for now I'll say, ya know, whats the big deal? Its like hazing right Rush? Lets call it Club Iraq right? They aren't entitled to Geneva Convention protections right Bill? Ooops, this is Iraq, and yes they are. This is how we want to win a war? Maybe we could try the Washington Post for treason since they reported something that could ostensibly be used as propaganda for the enemy.

Its disgusting.

Stupid is as stupid does

In light of President Bush's recent comments on teaching 'intelligent design' in schools across America, I thought it would be fun to examine the lunacy of this idea, and of course, heap a ton of scorn on Bush for being a gigantic idiot. Now, I'm not one for calling Bush names like fascist or Hitler or whatever, but I'm sorry, this is completely ignorant, irresponsible and embarrassing.

President Bush said Monday he believes schools should discuss "intelligent design" alongside evolution when teaching students about the creation of life.
During a round-table interview with reporters from five Texas newspapers, Bush declined to go into detail on his personal views of the origin of life. But he said students should learn about both theories, Knight Ridder Newspapers reported.
"I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought," Bush said. "You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, the answer is yes."

There are reactions all over the blogosphere. (right and left) Don't forget to check out Charles Krauthammer and his smack down of this looney-fest.

I wasn't going to post on this subject, because I have before, but this is complete and outright lunacy. SCIENCE class should not be addressing ID or creationism AT ALL. I'm not sure I can say that more clearly. If you want to talk about the holes in evolutionary theory that fine. But holes in evolutionary theory do not prove ID or creationism (henceforth ID = creationism). You want to talk critically about other ideas? Get your school a philosophy class. Get it a critical thinking class.

This is total irresponsibility on Bush's part. I'm so angry right now that I can't really post a coherant thought. I'm a scientist and ID is NOT SCIENCE. The Bible is not scientific evidence no matter how much Bible-thumping assholes want it to be. This is nothing more than a way to push (their) Christian agenda into schools and states like Kansas and others should lose any federal dollars for every school where they attempt to teach this in science class.

To fundamentalist Christians, Fox said, the fight to teach God's role in creation is becoming the essential front in America's culture war. The issue is on the agenda at every meeting of pastors he attends. If evolution's boosters can be forced to back down, he said, the Christian right's agenda will advance."If you believe God created that baby, it makes it a whole lot harder to get rid of that baby," Fox said. "If you can cause enough doubt on evolution, liberalism will die."

Its a mockery. Its a sham and personally, I think, its not using the f*&king brain cells that God gave a fly, let alone what he blessed us humans with.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Whats in a name?

When I saw the story about the administration re-tooling the 'global war on terror', henceforth known as GWOT, to the new and improved 'global struggle against violent extremism', I have to admit, I chuckled.

I mean, this is classic Bush Administration semantics. What, the idea is failing? Just change the name silly! Its not social security privatization, its personal accounts! I reacted with the same amount of disdain mixed with ennui. Ho, hum...another play on words.

Having read Ezra Klein's take on the Orwellian nature of the change, I find myself wishing for the good ole days of the GWOT.

But even so, there was a comforting definition to it: terror, as used in the label, was a verb. We were going after those who plunged nailbombs down subway holes and entered cafes with dynamite strapped to their chest. Broad it may have been, but it made sense and it denoted something relatively specific.

But the struggle against extremism? What the hell is that? Whose extremism? Only Arabs? What about Palestinians? Israeli settlers, anti-abortion protestors, socialists? Those weird folks who plaster college campuses in anti-circumcision propaganda?

The war on terror promised a fight against a tactic universally recognized as savage. The war against extremism is a war against ideology. Againt opinion. Against thought and feeling and belief. And as many of us domestically could be called extremists -- Dobsen and Robertson certainly fit my definition, and Tom Coburn would certainly like to lead his very own fanatic legion --
that means we'll be defining what opinions are out of bounds and in sights of this struggle.

I'm not one to call the Bush administration fascists. I've never thought they'd cancel the 2008 election or declare martial law. Hell, I don't think they've the balls to institute a draft. But my comfort with them, with anybody, is not so great that I don't get chills when they switch to a rhetorical formulation of obvious use in turning an external struggle inward against domestic enemies. "The struggle against extremism" could as easily apply to Morocco as Montana, Saudi Arabia as Southern California, and that, frankly, should scare us all, at least a little bit. Words, as Orwell always said, are important. If the public begins to believe in the struggle against extremism with the force that we all believed in the GWOT, the later step of some charismatic leader, to turn that phrase and frame against a homegrown group he considers dangerous or unwanted, becomes a small one indeed.

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