Friday

UPDATE V: I'm getting swamped with recruits for the Fighting Keebees! We're up to 66 members already, and I'm behind on adding more. (If you've already sent me an e-mail, be patient -- I'm trying to catch up.) I've posted the blogroll code below. Replace the bracket characters with the sideways-carat characters when you plug this into your website:

Pop Culture Update 4/28/06

Mourning Gene Pitney, That Hooters Scandal and a Movie Featuring Gnomes? An Ebay reality show looms.
Pic of the Day
Mad Nice Picture Test




Quote of the Day
A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.
- Hugh Downs



How to Look Great in Every Photo from Real Simple from From RealSimple.com:

With bridal showers, Mother's Day and school graduations around the corner, here's how to make sure you look your best in photos.

  • 1)Problem: Looking Too Posed
    Solution: "Engage the photographer in a conversation about some topic you both may find of interest," says photographer Michael Calas. If your mind is focused on something other than the photo, you'll appear less rigid. You can also lean against something, interact with a pet or a child or intertwine your arms with someone else's.
    Also, never keep your hands right by your sides, says New York Institute of Photography dean Chuck DeLaney. Clasp them in the front or in the back, or hold on to a glass or your eyeglasses to help relax your body.


  • 2) Problem: Visible Wrinkles, Shiny Skin from Real Simple
    Solution: Foundation and translucent powder are quick fixes, but it's equally important to get as much light on the face as possible. If you're indoors, pose near the closest light source, like a window.
    Also, use a flash inside and outside because "the light of the flash will bounce off the skin, illuminate it and conceal facial imperfections," says Walgreens photo specialist Jim Janis.
    Finally, make the most of your scenery. "Photographs taken on a white sandy beach or a snow-covered surface tend to be more flattering because the reflective qualities of those surfaces help de-emphasize wrinkles and pockmarks," says wedding photographer Denis Reggie.


  • 3) Problem: Double Chinfrom Real Simple
    Solution: Pay attention to the camera position. "If the lens is at your eye level or above, you're in the right frame," says photographer Michael Calas. "If the lens is below your eye level, then you run the risk of looking like you have an extra chin."
    Bend your knees so you're at least on an even plane with the photographer (assuming it's not a full-body photo). If you're significantly taller than the photographer, sit in a chair and look up toward the camera.
    Finally, project your chin out an inch or so more than you normally would. You may feel a bit awkward, like a giraffe, but "you'll have a long, thin neck in the photo," says photography-gallery owner Suzy Drasnin Orduna.


  • 4) Problem: Fake Smilefrom Real Simple
    Solution: Don't say "cheese," which usually conjures an artificial smile. Instead, ask the photographer to throw out an unexpected word, like "money." This will usually elicit a genuine laugh, and your expression won't look forced.
    "I always think of something funny, like my disastrous attempts at cooking, to achieve a natural smile," says Miss America runner-up Jennifer Dupont. "If you're self-conscious or critical of your smile, practicing before a photo shoot might be helpful, too."


  • 5) Problem: Red Eye from Real Simple
    Solution: Avoid appearing possessed in your next photo by affixing your eyes on a lamp or the nearest light source right before the photo is taken. (Red-eye usually occurs in a dim room when the irises have opened up so much that the retinas, which are red with blood vessels, light up when the flash hits them.) When the pupils fix on something bright, they shrink, reducing the potential for red-eye.




  •  Posted by Hello


    Gene Pitney Dies

    "I can see
    You're slipping away from me
    Cause your pity now
    Would be too much to bear ...
    So I'm gonna be strong
    And let you go your way"

    One can almost feel the ache in those words as voiced in my favorite Pitney song "I'm Gonna Be Strong".

    "The man who shot Liberty Valence
    He shot Liberty Valence
    He was the greatest of them all"

    Ah, Pitney sings a movie title tune.

    "I was only
    24 hours from Tulsa
    Only one day away
    From your arms"

    A man struggles and loses the battle of faithfulness.

    Gene Pitney looked like everyman. He dressed like the rest of us and sported no ponytail to his waist. He was not a rocking singer but his songs spanned a wide breadth of emotions and love lost.

    Pitney's death was evidently sudden and unexpected. He wasn't all that old when death claimed him-65- and he was still on tour and still singing.

    There will never be another half-feminine, half-masculine voice like Gene Pitney. A hero of my musical era, may he rest in peace.

    From Scotsman.com:
    Gene Pitney Young Pitney, 65, whose hits included Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa and Town Without Pity, was found dead in his hotel room in Cardiff last Wednesday following a sell-out performance at the city's St David's Hall the previous night.


    Hooters-Serving More Than Food?

    It would seem that every sexual harassment law ever enacted would apply to this Smoking Gun report on a lawsuit filed by a former Hooters' employee. The lawsuit complains of lewd comments made by a female employee who gives the Hooters' waitresses the green light to serve male customers more than hamburgers.

    Of course since the President of the United States had a lowly intern service him in this country's own Oval office and THIS was not considered sexual harassment I'm not sure any such thing still exists.

    Now I'm supposing there might be a burgeoning sub-service going on at the Hooters' restaurant chain. For sure there's always a bit of a giggle at the mere mention of the eatery. The chain's name doesn't help that image or does the outfits the waitresses wear.

    While many of us might have suspected, with a nervous snort, that Hooters might well be a brothel disguised as a restaurant chain, if the allegations as filed and the document as provided on Smoking Gun are true, then there's much at issue here.

    Americans tend to look the other way when it comes to prostitution so long as it is kept far away from neighborhoods and children. Or firmly in Sin City far away from happy families and middle America. But to have a restaurant chain fool us all with what they claim is good-natured sexual innuendo both in name and dress, well this is a whole different story.

    What's next, Delis with special meat menus in the back room? Perhaps groceries that serve vegetables and nubile women in the raw?

    We are NOT amused.

    Please note, however, that the fellow filing the lawsuit claims he was fired after complaining about these supposed comments. The key to truth here would be the testimony of Hooters' waitresses in attendance at this alleged X-rated meeting.

    From the Smoking Gun:
    APRIL 13--We've carefully read the Hooters employee handbook and it does not address what a manager is supposed to do when a corporate trainer tells waitresses they could earn extra money by sexually servicing customers. In a federal lawsuit, Jarman Gray, a former assistant manager of an Alabama Hooters, charges that he was fired last year after complaining about comments made to employees by a female "visiting training manager." In his April 7 U.S. District Court complaint, a copy of which you'll find below, the 31-year-old Gray claims that a trainer named Cat told waitresses that they were "the ones with the (redacted) and you are in control because of that." Then she reportedly added, "If you need the extra money, go ahead and (redacted) customer if the money is right."

    Hollywood Goes Literate

    Although an avid reader, I've not read a single thing by W. Somerset Maugham. His works are considered good enough to be sought after by the Hollywood celebrated, spearheaded by Naomi Watts but including Halle Berry and Meg Ryan.

    It's not clear why Maugham's works are suddenly all the rage by actresses looking for soulful roles. We do like that bit about Maugham donating his work to prevent a post-death fight between his daughter and his gay lover.

    What a wild and wacky life Maugham must have led.

    From the Australian News.com:
    Watts leads charge for dead author
    April 03, 2006

    SHE tangled with King Kong, now Australian actor Naomi Watts wants to wrestle with the works of one of Britain's greatest novelists.

    Watts, 37, is one of the actors behind a cinematic revival of work by W. Somerset Maugham, who was reputed to be the world's best paid novelist in the 1930s.

    Halle Berry and Meg Ryan are also combing through his stories in search of future hits.

    Maugham, who died in Nice in 1965, donated his estate to the Royal Literary
    Fund, partly to avoid an ugly court battle between his daughter and his gay
    lover.

    Arthur Winston-Carried the Country on His Back for 70 Years

    I've met a lot of people like Arthur Winston through the years, hard-working, dedicated average Americans who show up to work everyday with a smile on their face and a polite disposition towards the public around them.

    Winston Retire Age 100Every day I would go to mighty downtown Baltimore to earn my keep. All around me trash was gathered, bus drivers nudged along, pedestrians moved at a brisk place, receptionists greeted and life hummed on. Most law-abiding, earning their piece of the pie, holding their personal grief and turmoil inside, carrying the country on their backs just by existing and living and minding the common courtesy of daily life. This scene of life in downtown Baltimore was not unique. Every day in large cities and small towns, Americans work and smile and live orderly quiet lives.

    Arthur Winston was one such American hero and when I read his story I was compelled to include a tribute to this man I'd never met.

    In almost seventy years of employment the man missed only one day of work. This to attend his wife's funeral.

    Now Arthur and his wife are together, smiling somewhere in the celestial realm as they watch Americans like them continue to carry this country on their backs.


    He missed just one day of work in more than 70 years at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and that was to attend his wife's funeral in 1988. In 1996, he received an "Employee of the Century" citation from Clinton.

    He was born in Oklahoma and said he began picking cotton at age 10. His family headed west when droughts and storms ruined several crop seasons. In 1924, Winston found work with the Pacific Electric Railway Co., a forerunner of the MTA.


    Worth a Mention, Perhaps a Visit

    Well hey, a blogger designs a blog that will teach us celebrity makeup secrets. Why not? Celebrities are people whose appearance means everything. Give it a click. Could be helpful.
    Celebrity Makeup Blog

    Michael Jackson Trying to Avert Bankruptcy

    Michael Jackson, who has a strange fixation for young teenage boys, has been in financial trouble and this is no secret. Reports abound about non-payments to employees, even a veterinarian non-payment for Jackson's mini-zoo.

    So the tidbit below about an impending deal with Jackson and Sony that would have him giving up 1/4 of his extensive catalogue which includes many Beatles' songs, does not surprise.

    The latest sighting of Jackson has him not in the country. Last we heard he was hanging around with some sheikh in the United Arab Emirates. Once Jackson's welcome was worn out there, we hear that Jackson moved in with an old friend in Germany.

    An old friend who has young teenage male children.

    From Reuters.com:
    Jackson near deal to avert bankruptcy: report
    Thu Apr 13, 2006 04:05 AM ET

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Singer Michael Jackson is close to a deal that would help him to avert bankruptcy by refinancing hundreds of millions of dollars in loans, the New York Times said on Thursday.

    The paper, citing people briefed on the plan, said the ongoing negotiations would also require him at some point in the future to offer Sony Corp. part of his interest in a song catalog that includes scores of hits from The Beatles.

    Jackson would agree to provide Sony, which is co-owner of the Sony/ATV Music catalog, with an option to buy about 25 percent of the catalog, or half of his stake, at a set price, the Times said.

    Gnomeo and Juliet, We're Not Making This Up

    Being a gardener and lover of all things resin, I am intrigued by a proposed new movie featuring a garden gnome.

    Garden gnomes, fanciful little men often fashioned from weather-proof resin and placed artfully amid the blooms as garden accent, are cute as buttons.

    There's even an old story about an abducted garden gnome which was held for ransom. The gnome somehow traveled all over the world with pictures sent to the gnome's owners warning of impending doom if the ransom was not paid. It was a hoot of a joke and indeed one can see commercials featuring garden gnomes traveling the world to meet unexpected consequences.

    So upon notice of a possible movie featuring those garden gnomes we were intrigued.
    Garden GnomesMiramax Films has inked a deal with Elton John's Rocket Pictures to develop Gnomeo and Juliet. The movie is exactly what it sounds like: a new take on the Shakespeare play "set in the world of tacky garden gnomes." Think it couldn't get any more bizarre? Kate Winslet is set to star, and John will be contributing music to the soundtrack.

    This animated movie has been in the works for some time, and Ewan McGregor and Judi Dench have also been rumored to appear. A couple weeks ago, though, Disney dropped the film like a hot, um, gnome. It was originally slated for release in 2008, but now that date may change.

    An Ebay Reality Show?

    It’s an intriguing concept. I can already see the melodrama unfolding as tends to happen with these reality shows.

    I’m guessing that a family that has suffered a tragedy gets to tell their story and then offer an item for bid on Ebay. The question is, what will these families offer for bidding? Grandma’s rocking chair? A cherished family heirloom?

    We’ll be watching.

    From Blogcritics.com:
    ABC and eBay have announced plans to team up for the creation of a new reality TV show. Currently dubbed Make It Happen, the show will help families realize their dreams by giving them a chance to place items on eBay where viewers of the show will then be able to bid on them.

    The show is expected to have two installments per week. The first one will air on Mondays to allow the families and their aspirations to be announced to viewers. The second show will air on Fridays and will basically be a follow-up to the five days of bidding. The joint venture between ABC, eBay, and Madison Road Entertainment is expected to debut this summer.


    More Gossip/Speculation HERE

    Thursday

    American Idol 06-An Opera Singer, Classic Love Songs, and It's Down to Five

    American Idol 2006 winds down to the final five. Paula gets crazy, Katharine and the boobs, a blind opera singer.
    Pic of the Day
    Tin Can Sculpture




    Quote of the Day
    It is a mistake to suppose that men succeed through success; they much oftener succeed through failures. Precept, study, advice, and example could never have taught them so well as failure has done."
    -Samuel Smiles-


    Try this...its really cool, only takes a minute

    1. Key in the first 3 digits of your phone
    number into a calculator (not the area code)

    2. Multiply by 80

    3. Add 1

    4. Multiply by 250

    5. Add the last four digits of your phone number

    6. Add the last four digits of your phone number again

    7. Subtract 250

    8. Divide by 2 at last

    Is that your phone number ??


     Posted by Hello


    American Idol 2006-Down to the Final Five

    American Idol 2006 winds down to its final five and two things. One the bulk of this missive is written before the elimination on Wednesday 4/26/06 and two-what's up with Paula Abdul?

    Andrea Bocell

    It was "Classic Love Song" night on Idol with famed opera singer Andrea Bocelli as the guest mentor/performer. It was also "Paula Abdul gets crazy, cries and causes Simon to be embarrassed" night.

    Paula Abdul is always the chosen judge to act nuts and thus bring publicity to Fox's vaunted reality series. On the night of the final six in this year of our Lord 2006, Paula really appeared to be filled with what? Booze? Narcotics? Nostalgia? Whatever the case, at one point the woman actually stood and cried over a contestant performance.

    But ah, onto the performances.

    I was a bit disappointed in that what with a theme of Classic Love Songs, I figured my ears would be treated to beautiful, dreamy music that would have me lapse into a state of reminiscing euphoria. Perhaps after lo these many weeks of this year's AI contest I have become more critical and my ears have become more sensitive. For I heard only one song that brought me anywhere near that euphoric state thus I might need some of what Abdul is taking.

    Katharine McPheeKatharine McPhee began the festivities by singing "I Have Nothing", a Whitney Houston tune.

    Katharine wore a lovely dress that artfully exposed her bosom and it's possible the dress might save her. Because the song, well let's just say Katharine shouldn't have attempted it. At one point the trill in the song sounded horrendous. In fact, Randy told Katharine that the song was "too big for you" and that pretty much sums up McPhee's performance.

    I predict Katharine will be in this week's bottom three.

    Net up, Elliott Yamin. Who sang a song I'd never heard before so I must ask just how classic are these love songs? Although consider it acknowledged that I am by no means the arbiter of classic love songs but I do know I didn't much like the song and had to ask more musically literate husband just who the hell was Danny Hathaway. I thought Yamin ended the song awfully and overall, well I was not impressed. Judge Simon, however, pronounced the performance "superb" and if super-critical Simon assessed Yamin's performance thusly, well what the hell do I know?

    Ah, country bumpkin Kellie Pickler. Well Kellie did sing a beautiful song. "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers is one of the more glorious love songs ever sung by human voice. Kellie sat down as she sang this classic tune.

    Now I thought Kellie did okay with this song. She sure sang it easy yet even still, the high notes just weren't quite there.

    I suspect Kellie will be sent home this round.

    To my surprise, Paris Bennett sang a Barbra Streisand tune "The Way We Were". The surprise was how incongruous that song is with Paris' songstress persona. Paris gave the song a special touch but singing in a husky voice that, hey, I thought sounded different and pretty. In fact, I thought Paris' performance was one of the two best of the evening. Alas when even goofy Paula despairs that Paris "oversang" the tune, I wonder whether I was hearing the same song.

    The absolute best performance of the evening was Chris Daughtry. Chris sang a song with which I am not familiar but goes to show familiarity isn't a prerequisite of a perceived fine performance. Chris performed the tune-"Have You Ever Loved a Woman"- accompanied by two guitars.

    I can easily see Chris Daughtry winning this thing. He has a unique voice as well as a unique look. He is a quintessential performer. American Idol has never had a certified rock singer winner and this year it might be time. And despite his genre of rock music, in every performance outside of his genre, Chris has done a bang-up job.
    Paris Bennett and Chris Daughtry


    Okay, here's a Taylor Hicks alert. I don't especially like this contender, don't think he should have even made it this far, and consider that far better than him have already been sent packing.

    On the night of the Classic Love Songs, Taylor sang "Just Once". As expected, I didn't like Hicks' performance at all.

    The judges all agreed with me. Randy didn't like it and Simon deemed it the fodder of hotel lounges across the country. I predict Taylor will definitely be in the bottom three and could possibly be eliminated.

    The Elimination
    Highest number of votes-Chris Daughtry and Katharine McPhee.

    Lowest two-Kellie Pickler, Paris Bennett.

    Sent home-Kellie Pickler.



    More American Idol Reviews Here

    More TV Reviews HERE

    Wednesday

    Political Tidbits 4/26/06

    Some Political Tidbits-Surprise from Chernobyl, Foggy Bottom strange diplomacy, Hillary’s war chest and a Valerie Natasha Plame tidbit. Plus a few political cartoons for giggles.

    Pic of the Day
    Mama and Baby Rabbits




    Quote of the Day

    It is not true that nice guys finish last. Nice guys are winners before the game ever starts.
    --Addison Walker



    An Old Farmer's Advice:

    * Life is simpler when you plow around the stump. .

    * Words that soak into your ears are whispered...not yelled.

    * Meanness don't jes' happen overnight.

    * Forgive your enemies. It messes up their heads.

    * Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.

    * It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.

    * You cannot unsay a cruel word.

    * Every path has a few puddles.

    * When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.

    * The best sermons are lived, not preached.

    * Most of the stuff people worry about ain't never gonna happen anyway.

    * Don't judge folks by their relatives.

    * Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

    * Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll
    enjoy it a second time.

    * Don't interfere with somethin' that ain't botherin' you none.

    * If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'.

    * Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.

    * Always drink upstream from the herd.

    * Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.

    * Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin' it back in.

    * If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.


    Political Tidbits

    Chain of Death Clinics to be Opened in Zurich

    It’s rare that we get to say “I told you so” so please indulge. In this editorial I ranted about Oregon’s new law and even described a burgeoning suicide industry that would have highways filled with suicide clinics, motels for the grieving relatives, perhaps little “death chapels” like the Las Vegas wedding chapels along this mythical “Death Highway”.

    Lo and behold, because for the right amount of money anything is possible, a fine Swedish entrepreneur, according to Times Online, is actually going to open suicide clinics that will, get this, offer physician-assisted suicide to anyone who wants one.

    Including the mentally ill and Alzenheimer’s patients. This is scary.

    Coming soon to a highway near you.
    A SWISS lawyer who runs a “suicide clinic” that has helped 42 Britons to kill themselves, intends to offer his services to people who are not terminally ill.

    Ludwig Minelli, founder of the Dignitas clinic in Zurich, says he wants to open a chain of high street-style centres to end the lives of people with illnesses or mental conditions such as chronic depression.

    “We never say no,” says Minelli in an interview in today’s Sunday Times Magazine. “Even those suffering from Alzheimer’s will have lucid moments in which they may choose to die once a certain point has been reached, such as when they can no longer recognize their children.”

    Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

    Can’t make this up folks. None other than Valerie Plame, the super secret spy, will be in attendance at the annual White House Correspondents Associated dinner. At least that is the rumor.

    Now it could be that this is all gossip to gin up interest in this rather boring affair. But if it’s the truth, go to hell already, how much of this “secret spy” stuff do we have to swallow out here in la-la land before the government drops this thing already?

    Cause when you show up at a major dinner event like this, you’re hardly a top secret spy and we understand this out here in la-la land.

    From Editor and Publisher
    Image hosted by Photobucket.com

    Plame, the former CIA operative whose outing by columnist Robert Novak sparked a U.S. Justice Department probe that has already sent one reporter to jail and brought a White House official under indictment, may take that role this year. It is unlikely she will be seated next to Novak, but perhaps Bush may have a good view of her from the dais.

    Mark Smith, White House Correspondents Association president and an Associated Press reporter, declined to weigh in on what Plame's presence might bring. "That's not for me to comment," he told E&P, also declining to reveal who invited Plame. "It comes at a time when we are wrestling over a lot of different things, like access issues."

    Rumsfeld Knifed by Former Generals Cartoon

    Speaking of Valerie Plame…

    Let us not forget the British Butler report, linked to with narrative at Powerlineblog.com.

    Valerie sent her sweet husband on a trip to Niger to ascertain if Iraq was trying to seek yellowcake uranium. Wilson discovered that, in fact, Iraqi intelligence was trying to obtain yellowcake uranium but he came back to America and lied all over the place about it.

    BUT, the Butler report reveals that Iraqi intelligence not only tried to obtain yellowcake uranium from Niger, but ALSO, get this, from the Congo! And evidence suggests that by 2002 a deal was struck between Iraq and the Congo to complete the sale.

    The “forgery” referred to in the quote below is a forged document depicting a sale of yellowcake uranium between Iraq and Niger that surfaced around the time the U.S. was investigating the matter. The forged document was put out to cast aspersions on any link between Saddam and Nigerian yellowcake uranium. Frankly I think the French floated this forged document around but don’t say I said so.

    Looks like we brought Saddam down just in the nick of time.
    494. There was further and separate intelligence that in 1999 the Iraqi regime had also made inquiries about the purchase of uranium ore in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In this case, there was some evidence that by 2002 an agreement for a sale had been reached.

    503. From our examination of the intelligence and other material on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa, we have concluded that:

    a. It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999.

    b. The British Government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger’s exports, the intelligence was credible.

    c. The evidence was not conclusive that Iraq actually purchased, as opposed to having sought, uranium and the British Government did not claim this.

    d. The forged documents were not available to the British Government at the time its assessment was made, and so the fact of the forgery does not undermine it.

    Tony Snow to Replace McClellan?

    By the time this is being read the replacement for pathetic Scott McClellan might already have been announced. In either case, the possibility of the replacement being none other than soft-spoken Tony Snow is a pleasant thought.

    Fox News was not at all shy about announcing the consideration of Snow for the post. We didn’t know, as per the quote below, that Tony was a speechwriter for Bush the Elder.
    Tony SnowOne of the people the White House has approached as a possible replacement for McClellan is FOX News Radio host Tony Snow. The White House discussed the possibility with Snow as recently as this week.

    Snow, who hosts "The Tony Snow Show," once served as a speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush.

    Remember This When the Greenies Yelp About ANWR

    Chernobyl was a Russian nuclear reactor that had a serious meltdown in the mid-80’s. I remember the hysteria well. And Russia, God Bless Its Thieving Heart, kept all publicity about the accident under wraps from international scrutiny.

    So it seems that although the humans in the area have been evacuated, the wildlife is doing just fine in the area.

    While a large amount of radiation is a dangerous thing, it seems that a nuclear accident doesn’t destroy the earth forever and ever. As the greenies would have us believe. And I do believe that Hiroshima still exists as well.

    Which is not to take the gravity of a nuclear bomb or reactor accident lightly. But wild-eyed arguments that nuclear reactor accidents will destroy the planet need to be tempered with a little common sense and how about some truth?

    What’s even more mind-boggling about the “exclusion zone” around Chernobyl is that it was the disappearance of humans that aided and abetted the flourishing return of the wildlife. Never mind the radiation.

    From BBC.com:
    The exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power station is teeming with life.

    As humans were evacuated from the area 20 years ago, animals moved in. Existing populations multiplied and species not seen for decades, such as the lynx and eagle owl, began to return.

    Jack Anderson’s Papers Subject of Dispute

    Came across this tidbit in the Blogosphere and was immediately intrigued.

    For Jack Anderson was a journalist like none alive today. I recall the many times I eagerly opened Baltimore’s old “News American” paper to see what tidbits Jack Anderson had for us today.

    Back then we didn’t have the Internet and benefit of a gazillion blogger opinions to provide counterpoint. Thus I am reluctant to pour accolades on Jack Anderson that maybe he doesn’t deserve. I’ve found out about so many lies foisted on the American public by the mainstream media of their beloved Watergate era that I am reluctant to mention anything from that time for fear it was all lies.

    I do know that Jack Anderson was after the FBI big time and his columns were always interesting. Now the FBI is fighting Anderson’s heirs for access to his “papers”, whatever that means.

    I suspect Anderson had a rock-solid source in the FBI and who knows, given that many of Jack’s documents came from this source, maybe the government has a right to them.

    If access to these papers are given it could get very interesting.

    From C2ore.com:
    Jack Anderson on Time Mag CoverMr. Anderson's family has refused to allow a search of 188 boxes, the files of a well-known reporter who had long feuded with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and had exposed plans by the Central Intelligence Agency to kill Fidel Castro, the machinations of the Iran-contra affair and the misdemeanors of generations of congressmen.

    American Senator Hires a Terrorists?

    Washington state’s Jim McDermott is a certified Moonbat who traveled to Iraq before our invasion to comfort and aid Saddam. But now he has hired on his staff a known terrorist.

    Mustafa Khalfi, editor-in-chief of the Moroccan newspaper At-Tajdid, has a lengthy history of association with terrorism.

    Also, rumor has it that McDermott will be brought before the Ethics committee for his nefarious taping of Newt Gingrich about a decade ago.

    We’ll believe it when we see it.

    From Little Green Footballs:
    At-Tajdid’s website has a permanent link to the Union of Good, an umbrella organization of Hamas-funding charities. Five of these organizations have been listed by the U.S. Treasury Department as Specially Designated Global Terrorist entities (SDGTs):

    * The Al-Aqsa Foundation, Belgium and Holland Branches
    * Interpal
    * Comité de Benfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens (CBSP)
    * Sanabil al-Aqsa
    * The Palestinian Relief Society, Switzerland

    Where is Condoleeza?

    Seems the State department is opening up a dialogue between the U.S. and Muslim organizations here and abroad.

    A noble thing one supposes. And it is the job of the State department to open up and engage in diplomacy.

    But get a load of who the diplomats at Foggy Bottom are talking to!

    From the Counterterrorismblog.org:
    Ambassador Korologos’ main European partner is FEMYSO, the youth branch of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), the umbrella organization for various groups that are closely linked to the Brotherhood. FEMYSO’s cofounder is WAMY, a Saudi charity that has been widely suspected of links to terrorism (ironically, the US Senate itself solicited an inquiry into WAMY’s terror ties just two years ago). And FEMYSO’s long time president, Ibrahim El Zayat, came under investigation in Germany for having funneled more than $2 million to an al Qaeda-linked charity.

    The American partners in the initiative are no less worthy of suspicion. One of them is the ubiquitous Council on American Islamic relations (CAIR), whose unrelenting apology of radical Islam has become known to most Americans (less known is the fact that several of its members have been convicted for terrorist activities). Less known, but equally ambiguous, is the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a group that, in Senator Chuck Schumer’s words, has “disturbing connections to Wahhabism and terrorism.”

    Hillary’s War Chest

    To these retired generals looking at a spot on the next Clinton administration team in 2008, if they keep up the carping than it just may happen.

    For Hillary has money and money and more money. An awful lot of money, I’d assert, for a woman running for a sure seat in the Senate.

    From the NY Post.com:
    Image hosted by Photobucket.com WASHINGTON - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is raising a war chest fit for a president.
    She's raked in $39.4 million so far in a re-election race she leads by a landslide. But Clinton also has been spending at a frenzied pace, leaving her with only $19.7 million in the bank.

    Her cash stash is laughably large compared to her GOP Senate campaign rivals. Former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer and Reagan-era Pentagon official Kathleen "KT" McFarland each have less than a half-million in the bank.

    To fuel her massive political machine, Clinton has burned through $19.7 million during the campaign. She's spent $3.5 million in the past three months alone, more than half of the $6.1 million she raised during the period.

    Cheney/Bush with Iran in horizon-political cartoon

    More Political Tidbits HERE

    Tuesday

    True Crime Update 4/25/06

    Duke Update, the Keystone Aruban Arrest, Castrations for Pay and Is Lack of a Penis a Good Defense for Indecent Exposure?
    Pic of the Day
    Kitten Named Groucho




    Quote of the Day
    Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done".....Harriet Beecher Stowe



    What is claimed to be the world's most expensive sandwich goes ondisplay at Selfridges Department Store in London, Monday April 10,2006. Named the McDonald Sandwich, after it's creator, chef ScottMcDonald, the ingredients are Wagyu beef, fresh lobe foie gras, blacktruffle mayonnaise, brie de meaux, rocket, red pepper and mustardconfit, and English plum tomatoes, all packed into 24-hour fermented sour dough bread - and it sells for 85 pounds (US$ 148.33: euro
    122.53) each.(AP Photo/Tom Hevezi)


     Posted by Hello


    Castration. But Where Are the Victims?

    Seems a small township in North Carolina had a thriving S&M business that included, get this, castration.

    The problem is, there are as of this writing, no "victims". This threesome living on the outskirts of Waynesville, a small town in the mountains of North Carolina, are alleged to have performed castrations on six, possibly more, "consenting" patients.

    While these fine fellows have been arrested, I don't know how the case can go forward without the victims. And if the victims come forth or are located, are they really victims?

    The men say all of the patients volunteered to undergo the procedure. Only one of the S&M trio has any medical experience and this consists of only a brief stint in a veterans hospital, probably sweeping floors.

    Not to state the obvious here, but those fellows who volunteered for this procedure (and I do believe they volunteered, I doubt this trio pulled men off the street and performed castrations on them) are obviously troubled souls.

    It's a degrading form of capitalism, ladies and gems. Greatly tormented males resorted to castration by this trio of fellows willing to do it, likely for a fee.

    From Shoutwire.com:
    Master Rick CastratorAuthorities say they performed castrations and other types of genital surgeries on at least six people. Detectives searching the home found bloody scalpels, syringes, and prosthetic testicles in a room the men referred to as "the dungeon."

    Officers confiscated a video camera apparently used to record the procedures, as well as scores of CDs and computer files. They also seized a Tupperware container from the kitchen freezer holding what appeared to be human testicles.

    Mary Winkler and A Troubled Life?

    Mary Winkler shot and killed her minister husband on March 22. Some more tidbits are coming out about this crime.

    My two previous posts on this crime are below.
    First Entwistle Post
    AND
    Entwistle Timeline

    From the Jane Genova web site we learn two things. One that Mary Winkler had a troubled life before she even married her husband. Although the "trouble" depicted is a long estrangement from her father, hardly so unusual. Another interesting note from the same web site is the fact that Matthew Winkler was previously a youth minister at another nearby town. Speculation abounds as to why he left that position.

    Mary Winkler's attorney confirms that his firm is investigating this prior history of the Winklers and claims to have "corroborating evidence".

    Check out Genova's web site. She had an interview with Mary Winkler's attorney and while as of yet nothing earth-shattering has been revealed, there's plenty of innuendo.
    It's coming out in bits and pieces that Mary Winkler's life was not the perfect one she presented in Selmer, Tennessee.

    The Duke Rape Allegations-It’s Just Too Confusing

    Duke Rape Investigation LogoI’ve read everything possible on the Duke rape allegations and can make no sense of it. The Wise I has arrived at two conclusions, more on this later. For now, readers are directed to earlier posts on this subject below for background.

    First Post
    Second Post

    Below is a list of bits and pieces of information thrust into the public radar by prosecutors and defense attorneys. Make of them what you may:

  • One of the accused lacrosse players had been arrested for anti-gay slurs in D.C.
  • The second stripper had been arrested for embezzlement of $25,000 from her former employer.
  • The victim herself too has a police record for assault on a police officer when she tried to run him down with a cab she had stolen.
  • Both indicted lacrosse players allegedly come from a monied background.
  • Race-baiter Jesse Jackson has given the victim a full scholarship to college
  • The victim reported that $2,000 was missing from her purse.
  • The victim claimed the rapists used fake names.
  • A police officer responding to a call at a grocery parking lot reported the victim was passed out drunk.
  • Of course there’s the DNA test with nary a match.
  • How about that Duke lacrosse player’s awful email, covered in one of the above linked posts?
  • A cab driver has shown up who verifies transporting one of the accused the night of the alleged rape.
  • Pictures taken before the alleged rape show the victim had bruises on her body when she arrived at the home.
  • One of the accused, Finnerty, was allegedly eating at a Mexican restaurant when the attack supposedly occurred.
  • The other accused, Seligmann, has receipts that he wasn’t even on the property during the alleged rape.
  • More pictures show the victim was missing fingernails BEFORE the time of the alleged attack.

    And two of the most recent news items at the time of this writing:
  • The second stripper is seeking PR assistance to make the most of her sudden fame.
  • The victim chose her alleged attackers from a photo album with ONLY players on the lacrosse team to choose from. In other words, a few oddball pics were not thrown in as is normally done.

    I do not have a clue what is the truth in this mess but I do have two iron-clad conclusions.

    I find it easy to believe that the victim initially made a bogus rape charge. I find it very hard to believe that after all the public criticism and leaks that she is staying with her story. This with the aid of the prosecutor. In other words, her story is true as I see it or she’s being guided and encouraged by somebody who is keeping her strong during it all. If her story is false is what I’m saying here.

    There is also, with all the defense leaks and trying of the case in the public arena, one critical half an hour that has NOT been accounted for. There are no pictures, the second stripper says she doesn’t know what happened…nada, nothing, a big blank for the time span from midnight to 12:30. None of the defense spin has explained that half an hour.

    Two conclusions for now: 1)the defense attorneys for this lacrosse team is doing one bang-up job getting information out to the public about this case. They are on the job whether their clients are innocent or guilty. Every day a new prosecution argument is revealed and every day the defense team’s PR breaks it down to nothing. And example would be the fact that the two accused players DID have scrapes and scratches on their torso. Right behind this leak the defense comes out with pooh-poohing the meaning as might be interpreted by this fact by pointing out that lacrosse is a sport played with an exposed torso and such scratches are common on players of the sport.

    Finally, my major conclusion: If this prosecutor IS dealing with a trumped up case and IS continuing ahead to prosecute innocent people for benefit of an upcoming election, my faith in the justice system in this country will be forever marred. I am just silly enough to believe that there are plenty of real criminals out there that for a prosecutor to waste public funds and money going after the innocent, well I’m going to be really mad is what I’m saying here.

    Let us not forget, however, that these lovely lacrosse players do have a very murky history. There’s that awful email and the attack on a homosexual in D.C. Not to mention the la-di-da hiring of a stripper for a team party. Don’t tell me they all do it. Maybe they do. But they damn well shouldn’t and it’s about time public disapproval come down heavily for this boorish behavior.

    We’ll keep following the case.

    Guy Without Penis Arrested for Public Masturbation

    First, the arrestee is 81 years old. Second, he decided to represent himself during trial for public exposure. Third, he said he has itchy skin and he was only trying to relieve an itch. Fourth, he testified that he had no penis.

    Well this feisty geriatric does have a penis but got to admit, it's a different defense.

    From Shoutwire.com:
    Joseph "Donald" Scordato offered a rare defense when Ridgewood police charged him with masturbating in public.

    "That's not possible," the 81-year-old man told police after his arrest in September. "I don't have a penis."

    Fake Sextuplets

    It's not clear whether faking the impending birth of sextuplets is a crime though soliciting donations on the fakery isn't very nice.

    Which is what happened to this couple from Missouri. They perpetrated the fraud up to giving an interview with a local reporter and showing a nursery ready for the six babies just as soon as they come home from the hospital.

    The wife, pictured below and wow she looks mighty pregnant to me, alleges that she kept her husband in the dark. Wethinks she's trying to protect him. Kris Everson recently lost his job and it's not clear why. His co-workers were amongst the generous contributors to the Everson sextuplet fund.

    The lengths some people go to fool people and take their money.

    From MSNBC.com:
    Fake Sextuplets Pregnancy GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. - A woman who lied about having sextuplets - allegedly to cash in on neighbors' generous donations of money and gifts - said her husband believed for months that she was pregnant.

    Arrest in Aruba

    Right from the start I didn't think the vaunted new arrest in the Natalee Holloway case meant a damn thing.

    I'd seen the Keystone Kop Chief Dompig recently out and about and looking as inept as the police department he leads.

    Folks, Natalee Holloway's case will never be solved no matter how many fake arrests they make down there on that godforsaken island. It won't be solved because somebody's been paid off. It's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    Below is a list of posts I've made on the subject just for giggles and grins.

    June 2005
    June 2005
    June 2005
    August 2005
    November 2005
    March 2006

    And from CNN.com:
    ORANJESTAD, Aruba (AP) -- An announcement that police made an arrest in the disappearance of teenager Natalee Holloway left many islanders wondering Sunday who the suspect is -- and whether the arrest marked a real breakthrough in the almost year-old case.

    Aruban authorities would only say late Saturday that the person arrested is 19 years old and has the initials "G.V.C." In Aruba, when an arrest is announced, officials usually release only a suspect's initials, and not a full name.

    The bigger story in the Aruban story is that Dompig has been removed from the case (FINALLY!) and new investigators are looking into the story.

    I don't believe a word of it and am convinced that the recent flurry of activity in the Holloway case is just Aruba trying to keep those American tourist dollars pouring in.

    I suspect, though they'll never admit it, that Aruban tourism has dropped greatly. No there's been no great organized backlash of Americans to boycott Aruba. More I think it's a quiet thing. The bigger thing here is where will those young graduating Americans go for THIS year's graduation celebration trip?

    Hmmmmm.

    June's coming up and Aruba needs the teenagers to come back. So suddenly there's new activity on the case that we stupid Americans believe that Aruba really intends to do something about this crime.

    So now they arrest some dude who probably had nothing to do with it. We remember the black dudes the Aruban cops arrested based on Vandersloot lies. What a crazy justice system, instead of just questioning people they arrest them!

    All of this sudden Aruban investigative activity is a show for us American idiots that we send our children once again to the land of the Keystones for their graduating fun.

    I suspect many American teenagers will go to other ports of exotic call and avoid the Aruba island like the plague.

    Copied Exactly As It Came Into My E-Box

    Heh.

    True Crime and Exploding Biscuits


    More True Crime Updates HERE
    ================
  • Friday

    Pop Culture Update 4/21/06

    Britney’s Motherhood Skills in Question; Meows for Ann Curry, Blind Item Fun, In Honor of Perky Katie, Strange Mental Disorders
    Pic of the Day
    Husband of the Year




    ALL HAT AND NO CATTLE

    "We say, of course, that this will be the very last, very final, never-again, we're-not-kidding-this-time amnesty. The problem is that we say exactly the same thing with every new reform. And everyone knows it's phony."

    - Columnist Charles Krauthammer





     Posted by Hello


    What’s With Britney and Motherhood?

    Recently, as written about in this post, Spears was pictured driving a car allegedly away from frenzied popaparazzi. Only she was driving with the baby in her lap while she drove!

    Sure it was a violation of the law but the police, even with a drop-dead truthful pic, could not do a thing as they actually had to SEE the violation live.

    So okay, the child was running from mad photographers and had no time to fasten the baby properly in the car seat required by law. Now we hear that Spears’ baby fell from a high chair because of a broken piece. With all of her money one would think Britney could afford a sturdy high chair but hey, this kind of things happens with babies.

    Allegedly a physician was called to her home. The doctor pronounced the child in fine shape. Some time later the baby was taken to a hospital emergency room because someone, who knows it might even have been Britney herself, became concerned about the baby’s unusual sleeping habits.

    This required a trip to the emergency room?

    Image hosted by Photobucket.com
    The Department of Social Services paid an inspection visit to the Spears’ home as a likely result of a report required by emergency rooms when children show up with unexplained injuries. Spears’ attorney (why an attorney?) reports Spears has been cleared of any possible wrong-doing.

    Hey, babies fall out of high chairs from time to time. Although please note the report charges that Spears’ Nanny dropped the baby. Blame the help if at all possible.

    This is likely nothing but still Britney did drive with her baby held in her lap in a very dangerous manner. Back when I had a baby there was no requirement for special car seats but even then for sure anyone driving with a baby in the manner pictured would be stopped for breaking the law.

    She says the photographers were chasing her and hey, somebody did take that picture. But what could be more important than the safety of your child?

    From Reuters:

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Pop star Britney Spears and her husband were cleared of any wrongdoing by child welfare agents who visited their home in response to a hospital report of an injury to their infant son, her lawyer said on Wednesday.

    The statement from attorney Martin Singer did not give details about the mishap that led to Saturday's house call by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, or DCSF.

    But according to published accounts by the Los Angeles Times and People magazine, the Saturday visit to Spears' home in the beachfront enclave of Malibu came after her 6-month-old son, Sean Preston, fell from a high chair and hit his head.

    People magazine said the baby slipped from his nanny's arms and fell to the floor as she was lifting him from the high chair and "something snapped in the chair."

    Nothing Like a Good Meow on Occasion

    What with perky Katie going to CBS as news anchor, speculation abounded as to Katie’s replacement on the vaunted Today show.

    Meow. What’s with this intense dislike of Ann Curry?

    From the NY Times.com:
    TV Watch
    A 'Today' Moment of Nostalgia and Anxiety
    By ALESSANDRA STANLEY
    Published: April 5, 2006

    - "...please, Lord, let the next co-host not be Ann Curry..."

    - "...customary cloying intensity..."

    - "...Outside her isolation booth at the news desk, Ms. Curry is
    downright unwatchable..."

    Ann Curry might not be anchor/interviewer of the year but goodness, Katie Couric’s not exactly the epitome of gravitas.

    Can’t Make It Up

    Came across this compilation of strange mental disorders and couldn’t believe my eyes. From Shoutwire.com:
    Triskaidekaphobia: fear of the number 13.

    Adolf Hitler was triskaidekaphobic. A specific fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia. Tetraphobia is the fear of the number 4 in China, Japan, and Korea.

    AND
    Exploding head syndrome: a loud noise in the head

    It causes the sufferer to occasionally experience a tremendously loud noise as if from within his or her own head, usually described as an explosion or a roar. This usually occurs within an hour or two of falling asleep, but is not the result of a dream.

    Now we’ve heard of that number 13 thing. But loud noises in the head? Visit the web site because there’s more strange mental disorders that you ever believed could be.

    BLIND ITEM FUN

    From: NY Post Page 6-4/10/06
    ASKED
    WHICH rocker is back on drugs? The supposedly clean singer has been hanging out in Hollywood clubs known for being dope dens - and with a
    fast crowd that includes a photographer and a bimbo, all of whom snort
    and shoot regularly . . .

    GUESSED
    Stephen Tyler? I sure hope not

    From: NY Daily News 4/9/06

    ASKED
    WHICH celebrity mom likes to partake in her daughter's pastimes? Not only will the mom do drugs with her offspring, she's got an eye for her men as well.

    GUESSED

    Dina Lohan makes sense, I see she is trying to get her younger
    daughter going as well, maybe to get younger men LOL

    ASKED
    Which perennial TV blond, recently linked in an unlikely romance, likes to get sozzled and make out with L.A. Four Seasons hotel barmen half her age? And not just the one, neither.

    GUESSED

    I'm thinking Heather Locklear. "Perennial TV blond fits." "Half her
    age" would be possible because she's in her forties and the "unlikely
    romance" would be the recent rumor of her hooking up with David Spade.

    In Honor of Perky Katie’s Great Promotion
    The NEW Network News Cartoon


    More Gossip/Speculation HERE

    The Next Food Network Star 2006-A Review

     Posted by Hello


    The Next Food Network Star 2006

    Before beginning this missive on a most pleasant and informative reality show, yon readers might want to check out my prior missive on Those Celebrity Chefs.

    Food Network Star 2006 Final 8


    I have a method for watching cooking shows. I do enjoy a fine show on the culinary arts but mostly I listen more than watch. Those times when the chef says something especially intriguing I might look up and I do tend to pay closer attention to Alton Brown’s show. This is not the first time I’ve tuned in to The Next Food Network Star. This reality show was featured last year and as I recall the “winner” was two fellows who cooked as a team.

    There’s also the problem of trying to follow a reality series on a cable show. For in one evening three variations of the series might be presented with one of them the newest version. If a cherished broadcast show is on during those times I go with the broadcast show, my assumption being that the cable show will re-air 73,000 times in the coming week.

    Throughout this year’s version I did tune into this Food Network reality series as often as possible but in the confusion the finale crept up on me before I knew it was even upon. Thus yon reader will be unable to vote by the time this is posted but there is time to catch the finale, scheduled to air Sunday, 4/23/06. The series is currently down to two finalists and frankly I like them both. More on these gentlemen later.

    For now let’s delve into why this series is so interesting and informative. So much so that I find I give the series my complete attention.

    This show is as much about producing a cooking show as it is about cooking. The information is provided thoroughly but quickly enough not to bore. I watch with unfettered intrigue. There’s so much I didn’t know about producing a cooking show.

    Yet it isn’t at all boring, at least to one who is a simple cook with no ambitions to produce a cooking show. Which is not to say that food is not cooked although frankly the cooking segments by the contenders are often quick and rushed as the intent is to determine, well who could be the next Food Network Star rather than teach the home viewer deep lessons on cooking.

    The viewer learns how a cooking show must be carefully prepped in advance, the components of the meal sliced, diced and pre-measured. A finished product must be ready so that the chef, once demonstrating ingredient prep and assembly can pull, voila, the result from a cold oven. But yea the TV Chef must wear oven mitts before pulling out this thoroughly cooled result and the would-be TV chefs often forgot this factoid. The audience is not stupid and understands the need for a conveniently ready finished dish. But to pull it out of the oven with no oven mitts is a bit too obvious.

    For each program in the series an established Food Network chef descends upon the scene to give the remaining contenders tips and tidbits on doing a cooking show. Rachel Ray was particularly entertaining when she did her bit for the contest. “Small bites are your friend”, she told the TV chefs in training.

    Just between yon reader and I, and please don’t tell the Food Network Gurus I told you this, but Paula Dean appeared to be heavily in her cups when she did her segment in the contest.

    In the matter of The Apprentice the contestants are given cooking assignments which range from preparing a dish in one minute to a six minute segment on The Early Show. After each challenge the camera segues to a vignette with the would-be chef where each laments what he or she did or didn’t do.

    The series began with eight finalists and the challenges got more complicated with each elimination. The eliminations up until the final two were done by a trio of judges that included Chef Bobby Flay, and two Food Network Gurus. The winner will be voted on by the public from the final two culled from the original eight.

    On another note, Food Network’s vaunted Emiril was nowhere to be found during this contest.

    From the initial entry of eight contenders, two made the finals.

    Food Network Star 2006 Final Two




    Guy Fieri is one of the finalists. He has spikey hair of platinum and black and resembles more a rock singer than a TV chef. Guy is married with one son, has a degree in restaurant administration and his cooking style is fun with a flair. I especially like his stories about how he adjusts his meals for his young son. I rarely hear TV chefs talk about feeding their children and this makes Guy a bit more appealing to the average cooking show viewer.

    During Guy’s preliminary show review he took the time to show the viewer how to properly peel a jalapeno pepper to take down the heat a bit. Guy inserts these informative tidbits throughout his cooking stint and he does it well.

    Reggie Southerland is 39 years old, has no formal education in the culinary arts and is currently employed as a cook in a Los Angeles café. Reggie’s cooking “specialty” is more his personality than his cooking. Which is not to say that Reggie doesn’t cook up some fine dishes with an emphasis on comfort food with a kick.

    Reggie has a sparkling personality that shines through the TV into our living room. He has a smashing and witty humor and by golly, I like him.

    Thus I have no preference as to which one wins and even hesitate to predict a winner. If push came to shove I’d go with Reggie but either one of these fellows could produce a cooking show I’d tune in to with eagerness.

    More TV Reviews HERE
    ===============

    Thursday

    American Idol 2006-The Classics and Ponytails

    American Idol 2006-Singing the Classics. What's with those ponytails?
    Pic of the Day.
    Portable Computer




    GasBuddy.com can help you find cheap gas prices in your city. It is a network of more than 173+ gas price information web sites that helps you find low gasoline prices. All web sites are operated by GasBuddy and has the most comprehensive listings of gas prices anywhere.

    Track Gas Prices HERE


     Posted by Hello


    Rod Stewart, the Classics, and Classy Singers

    It was ponytail night on the 2006 American Idol 2006 competition. Say what?

    Well I counted at least three ponytails this week on various contenders. Paris Bennett, Katharine McPhee and no less than Ace Young all sported a ponytail. The effect, however, added to the general aura of smoky lounges and sultry songs.

    As for Rod Stewart, hey I tuned in to hear rollicking versions of "Maggie May" and perhaps a chorus or two of "Do You Think I'm Sexy". Turns out that like Barry Manilow before him, Stewart is coming out with an album of classic tunes. What's with these singers, they get old and as a last resort put out some albums of old songs to keep it going? All in the name of good old capitalism, of course, but still, there you have it. Rod Stewart the guest celebrity singer and no damn "Maggie May".

    Which does not mean the evening's viewing was not enjoyable. In fact both husband and myself enjoyed this evening of the competition. Curmudgeon husband laments that all of the singers are "awful" to the point where I begin to lose any credibility in his assessment. The man makes Simon look like Pollyanna.

    The show did prompt husband to regale me with tales of seeing Rod Stewart sing, twice in Massachusetts and one time in the Midwest somewhere. According to the spousal lore, Stewart once showed up at a gig two hours late, astoundingly drunk and first thing, he poked a hole in the nightclub ceiling. And now Stewart is singing "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered"?

    On to the contestants. Who all performed very well and by this point in the series it's obvious that the singers who've made it thus far, seven of them, have grown comfortable on the stage and confident in their voices.

    There were some mishaps though. As usual, this missive is being written BEFORE the eliminations of Wednesday 4/26/06. I'll make my predictions and at the end will post the results of the elimination show.

    All in the interest of fair and balanced.

    Chris DaughtryChris Daughtry did NOT sport a ponytail last night. Heh. Chris performed "Wonderful World" and this rocker displayed nice, deep throaty vocals that surprised the hell out of me. I continue to see Chris as a very possible winner of this thing although at first he was way off of my radar.

    Simon said Chris gave a "great performance".

    Paris BennettNext up, little Paris Bennett wearing a suit and there's that ponytail. Paris sang "Foolish Things Remind Me of You". Here's a young girl singing an old song and yet her voice embraced that song perfectly.

    Randy declared it was Paris' "greatest night ever" while Simon pronounced Paris' performance as "terrific.

    Taylor Hicks too did not sport a ponytail and his hair remains salt and pepper. Taylor sang "You Send Me" and towards the end of the tune he did deliver an interesting riff that added some spice to that crooning tune. I don't particularly like Taylor in this contest and his performance didn't impress.

    The judges seemed to like Taylor's performance but they certainly were not effusive in their praise. I predict Taylor will be in the final three for this week in the competition.

    Elliott Yamin sang an unlikely song: “It Had to Be You”. Elliott sported some sort of outfit that looked like a tuxedo with jeans. His performance was okay, his outfit very strange.

    Simon said the “performance lacked personality”. I predict Elliott will be one of the bottom three for this week of the series.

    Kelly Pickler blew it. No not the song. She blew it by admitting on nationwide TV that she blew it. Kelly sang “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” and although the song started out pretty enough, I thought it was off-key and in places, kind of screechy.

    As I listened to Kelly sing the first thought in my head was that she is not going to win this thing. This is the first time I realized this as concerns Kelly. Although Pickler isn’t considered a final contender in most circles, hearing her sing a song without the benefit of her cute twang not to mention her inability to keep on key so late in the show, I could FEEL Kelly slipping away from the contest.

    Paula, ever the nice judge, said Kelly “looked exquisite”. Simon said, simply, that Kelly’s performance “wasn’t great”.

    Kelly, God bless her pea-picking heart, then totally agreed with Simon and then admitted on nationwide TV that she got ahead of the track at times.

    I’ve said time and time again, these American Idol contestants need to adapt the attitude of a politician. Never, ever, ever admit a mistake, even if it pops up bigger and brighter than the morning sun. Be vague about it. When Simon says a performance wasn’t great, mumble and say something like “I thought I did pretty good”. The great American public watching the show might have missed a boo-boo, but if a contestant admits it, than they know it’s true because the contestant said so! I predict Kelly will be one of the bottom three this week and will likely get sent home.

    Which might give Ace Young another week as I see it. Ace was another ponytailed AI contestant and with Ace, it looked so odd that it shocked. I do not know the song Ace performed or did my husband. I do know he made good use of his famous falsetto during the tune. The falsetto coupled with the ponytail and that dashing suit caused Paula to declare Ace “did great” and Simon to call it a “charming performance”.

    Katharine MCPhee sang “Somebody to Watch Over Me”. McPhee also sported a ponytail for this performance.

    As I listed to Katharine I thought she wavered on the low notes although I know there’s that throaty classic female singer of the 40’s going on. While I wasn’t all that impressed with Katharine’s performance, Simon said Katharine “made the others look like amateurs”.


    The Eliminations

    The bottom three this week consisted of Ace Young, Paris Bennett, Chris Daughtry.

    I really had this wrong.

    Next week is scheduled to feature the "greatest love songs" and will likely separate the wheat from the chaff and get this contest down to the top five.

    More American Idol Reviews Here

    Wednesday

    Political Tidbits 4/19/06

    France Caves Again; Seymour Hersh’s Non-Scoop; Iraqi Propaganda Photographer; More.
    Pic of the Day
    Sidewalk Chalk Drawing




    AS PREDICTABLE AS THE RISING SUN

    "Tax and spend politicians will always hold up images of police cars, playgrounds and paramedics, promising a litany of pie-in-the-sky services in exchange for just a little bigger piece of your paycheck."

    - Carl DeMaio of the Performance Institute


    Political Tidbits

    Can’t Be Fired Even If Caught Stealing on Tape

    For a day or so I almost had some admiration for France. This past week the brats, oops, students, rioted and France had some big machines on the job, including some neat water cannons that were fun to watch. I began to think the French government grew a spine or some such strange thing.

    Alas it was not to be. The thugs, er, students, won.

    Scuttlebutt has it that even if an employee is caught stealing on videotape he/she can’t be fired in France. Subsequent investigation reveals it to be more complicated than that. But it’s not like an employer can give a thieving employee an immediate boot and that’s the whole point. Once government goes around mucking in private capitalistic enterprises there’s rarely a good result.

    France has over 10% unemployment and maybe this is why.

    But the thugs, er students, ruled the day. It’s democracy by mob rule. Long live the spineless French that we know how NOT to govern.

    From the Gateway Pundit:
    French Riot for DemocracyFrench President Jacques Chirac announced that France would scrap its planned youth job contract CPE that allowed companies to fire workers up to two years into their employment:

    The announcement was aimed at ending a political crisis for the government of Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin because of opposition to the First Job Contract (CPE). Villepin has been closely linked to the CPE and damaged by the controversy.

    "The president of the republic has decided to replace article 8 of the equal opportunities law with measures to help disadvantaged young people find work," said a statement from the presidency.

    Seymour Hersh Gets Another Big Scoop

    What’s to stop me, a humble blogger, from writing an article quoting “former defense department officials”, “Pentagon civilian security consultants”, and “retired intelligence agents” on all manner of things? Sure there’s the fact that the vaunted “New Yorker” won’t publish my bit of nothing but beyond that …?

    Hersh was featured on Meet the Press the Sunday before last and this gave his information and secret sources more credibility than they deserved.

    Which is not to say there’s not a kernel of truth to Hersh’s assertions. His article mostly details alleged behind-the-scenes actions at the pentagon, including a plan for covert operations, sabotage scenarios and intelligence plants into the Iranian population to foment unrest.

    I can practically see Madeline Albright, Richard Clarke, General Zinni and what is obviously a disgruntled democrat who complains that the administration does not like to notify the minority party of anything. But this is just me guessing here and even if, maybe ESPECIALLY if, Hersh had used these names his article would mean essentially nothing.

    The biggest revelation in Hersh’s article is the assertion that the Joint Chiefs of Staff intend to ascend en masse into the Oval office and as a group demand that any plans for pre-emptive nuclear strikes be taken off the table.

    Well, duh.

    I don’t believe anyone espouses any military action as regards Iran that embraces a pre-emptive nuclear strike. But Hersh reveals this as if the Joint Chiefs are fighting President Bush tooth and nail to prevent just such an eventuality.

    To add to this latest shot by the “drive-by” media, we had mine own fine Senator Joseph Biden on Hardball last week. When asked what warning Biden would give to Bush as regards taking any action on Iran, Biden launched into what had to be the most laughable tirade. He pretended to be, well a Democratic Senator from a blue state with ½ an electoral vote, all angry and warning the President not to “screw up again”. The whole scene was hilarious and for a moment I thought that Biden would ascend into a state of ecstasy as he play-acted his dream of armchair general so wonderfully for all the world to see what a kook he really is. Perhaps his hairplugs are starting to get to him.

    It’s just anything with these people, anything at all. Even if they have to make up scenarios that MIGHT be happening, or even real ones that the commander-in-chiefs must assume, on some level, MIGHT happen, well it’s all about sound bites, folks. The stupid American public busy carrying this country on its back are expected to hear “nukes, Bush, bomb and Iran” in the same sentence and deduce that the president has plans to annihilate the planet.

    As for Iran, those mullahs running that joint know their days are numbered. They’ve got America right next door in Iraq and a populace that desperately wants to be out from under the oil-stained thumbs of the religious clerics who use a religion to govern them.

    Follow the money. Those mullahs have gotten right rich on all that Iranian oil wealth and they don’t want to lose their power. They know that soon enough Iraq will get on its feet and soon after their own citizens are going to get all uppity. So they must have nukes to control both their own citizens and scare the rest of the world with threats of usage. The new Iranian president is the puppet sent out to scare the world with grand shows of enriched uranium in vials carried by belly dancers and threats of attacks on Israel.

    This does not mean that Iran’s nuclear program is a joke. Not at all. Follow the money, follow the power. Folks who’ve had total control of the entirety of a country’s oil revenue don’t want to give it up.

    Hersh’s New Yorker article.

    Baltimore Sun Gets Some Competition

    For lo many years my birth state of Maryland has been stuck with one newspaper, “The Baltimore Sun”. This such a liberal newspaper it’s almost unreadable. The paper is the Baltimore Examiner. It appears that this is a generic type of newspaper that has a local section for whatever local area it serves.

    Hey we’ll take anything at this point.

    A Propaganda Photographer?

    Michelle Malkin clued us in on Iraqi freelance photographer, Bilal Hussein.

    Here’s an enterprising fellow who travels around Iraq taking pictures of the action then selling his wares to journalists safe in the green zone. Ooops. Wait. Could Hussein actually be selling faked pictures to the naïve AP and others who purchase his photos?

    Michelle queried the AP who responded that the very honest Mr. Hussein has been detained by the U.S. military.

    Below a photograph Hussein took.
    Possible Staged Photo by Bilail Hussein

    Was it staged? Who knows? But it doesn’t matter. The AP will buy any pictures that make America look bad, real or set up.
    We are looking into reports that Mr. Hussein was detained by the U.S. military in Iraq but have no further details at this time.
    Jack Stokes
    The Associated Press
    Corporate Communications

    Babs Streisand Psycho-elaminates President Bush

    It couldn’t be that Bush decided to invade Iraq, with almost ALL of the U.S. congress voting for it as well, because common sense determined a man who habitually attacks his neighbors and defies U.N. sanctions needed to go now could it?

    From Newsmax.com:
    Noted political psychologist Barbra Streisand says she has plumbed the depths of President Bush's psyche, and has come up with his deep-seated reasons for toppling Saddam Hussein.

    In her latest "Truth Alert," Dr. Streisand explores what she describes as the "psycho-social reasons relating to Bush’s decision to invade Iraq."

    Turns out, according to the oracle of Malibu, Bush has "a long-standing father and son competition based on feelings of jealousy and inadequacy."

    Posits Streisand: "Bush saw the opportunity to emerge from his father's shadow and no longer be seen as the perpetual underachiever who consistently failed under the watchful eye of his accomplished father."

    Barbra fails to mention why all the congress critters too agreed an invasion of Iraq and toppling of Saddam was prudent.

    We must suppose they all too had father issues.

    Delay to Replace Bolten?

    Josh Bolten has been promoted to the position of White House press secretary.
    Powerlineblog.com reports that Delay may be in line to replace Bolten in his former position.

    As opined on Powerline:
    UPI reports that former Majority Leader Tom DeLay is one of a handful of candidates to replace Josh Bolten as Director of the Office of Management and Budget. If we could get the spending-hawk DeLay of the 1990s rather than the "no more fat to cut" DeLay of more recent years, he'd be a good choice. No one knows more about the budget. And I'd like to see the administration show some support for DeLay.

    Flight 93 Transcript

    If the trial of Zacharias Moussaoui has given up anything, it would be the complete transcript of the final moments of Flight 93.

    Well there’s Moussaoui’s fine performance as a defense attorney, of course.

    Let the record show:
    Transcript-Flight 93

    Immigration Political Cartoon


    More Political Tidbits HERE

    Tuesday

    Political Tidbits 4/18/06

    Those Armchair Generals-Some Revelations Using the Internet and a Bit of Common Sense
    < Political Tidbits

    Investigating the Anti-Rumsfeld Generals

    Image hosted by Photobucket.com"The fact that two or three or four retired people have different views, I respect their views," he said. "But obviously if, out of thousands and thousands of admirals and generals, if every time two or three people disagreed we changed the secretary of defense of the United States, it would be like a merry-go-round."
    …Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense.



    It’s called “common sense” for a reason.

    For there are truisms that are accepted by the middle class who carry this country on their collective backs and they are accepted by the wisdom of experience and via lessons learned the hard way.

    The “elite” class does not operate on common sense nor does the underclass. This is not to cast aspersions on any class, just to state a fact. The elite, including our political class and the Hollywood celebrated, do not live the sorts of ordinary lives of the middle class. The underclass generally is involved in all sorts of activities not in any way part and parcel of a middle class citizen, including crime and/or living off of the welfare state paid for by taxes on the middle class. The political and celebrated class are granted access the middle class can only dream of and having a lot of money is certainly different from the bank accounts of the middle class minions.

    The mainstream media, as I’ll call it kindly, used to be part of the middle class, sent to monitor the political class and report back in an unbiased fashion to the peons of the middle class. Alas this is no more. The media, once appointed by the middle class and trusted to be our soldiers against an upper and political class takeover of all those things the mighty in numbers but anemic in power middle class cherish, have let us down.

    Common sense has not gone away but if one wants to see it best not look at the handsome pundits and blow-dried news anchors to find it.

    Thus this blogger, middle-aged and with no military experience and little knowledge of the jargon, decided to investigate the sudden ascension of various and sundry former military types, all of them ranting for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld, the country’s Secretary of Defense. This with the hysterics of hyenas about resignation of one of the highest civilian authorities over the military in the land while we are still battling it out in Iraq and with Iran on the horizon.

    I figured this was serious.

    First, using common sense, let us re-visit just why the military reports to civilian authorities as delineated in our constitution. The Commander-in-Chief of the military is elected by the people, yay the common man who mostly pulls the lever based on the common sense that has guided this nation for lo these many years.

    We don’t want a military that runs itself. Simple as that. Our country’s military is run by a commander-in-chief elected by the people. The common sense logic is that the elected commander-in-chief will not likely sic a mighty army on the very citizens who elected him or her. The commander-in-chief, being leader of the free world and very busy, appoints a cabinet member to oversee military operations. This position, the Secretary of Defense, STILL reports to the populace in that his or her decisions are guided by the commander-in-chief.

    Without this duly elected civilian oversight, an army could decide to attack its own citizens, perhaps with the help of a few nut cases like Zacharias Moussaaoui who might have wended his way to top authority in the military by nefarious means.

    So common sense first point, those military generals now out and about and carping for the removal of the Secretary of Defense (our quasi-ELECTED Secretary of Defense) were not allowed to run the military as they saw fit, attack wherever they wanted, abscond with taxpayer money for any far-fetched scheme, FOR A REASON.

    Which is not to say that those retired generals don’t have a right to express their views and it is in no way denied. I have the right to investigate the stories behind these generals and using that old stand-by, Mr. Common Sense, try to ascertain just what’s going on here.

    The very first thing my good common sense told me that the sudden appearance, en masse, of a bunch of retired generals all at the same time, looks suspicious. Out here in la-la land, such sudden convergence of similar groups is usually well-planned. The parents of a certain school’s students tend to congregate on a designated PTA night. A group of architects will call for a meeting to change by-laws or industry standards via the group’s membership’s newsletter or a widely-published notice. It’s how these things generally go out here in the land of the common man and any situation that would have a passel of architects suddenly show up in the same place with no prior notice or plan is suspect. Save cherished watering holes or such that certain occupations might frequent but there’s rarely any business activity enacted under such settings.

    The American Thinker suggests a possible motive for this sudden convergence of armchair generals.
    Are the generals strutting for Hillary?

    It's a degrading spectacle for the military. If the general officers are back-stabbing their civilian leaders in public, what is to keep the grunts and NCO from doing it to the generals? The answer is: Nothing. The political generals are risking a return to Vietnam, when "fragging" became a term of art. This is not good for the country, and it's terrible for the military.

    James Lewis 4 15 06

    A light bulb of common sense blinks on. Well there is an election coming up in a few years and most of these sniping generals did come up the ranks during the Clinton administration. This doesn’t mean I think this is the case but common sense tells me it should be part of my concerned citizen analysis.

    I begin to wonder that if these mighty generals are all upset about the Secretary of Defense than how must the poor soldier grunts view this ineffective man so maligned by their former superiors?

    From Strategypage.com, I discover:
    In the last six months, the U.S. Army is seeing 15 percent more soldiers re-enlist than expected. This continues a trend that began in 2001. Every year since then, the rate at which existing soldiers have re-enlisted has increased. This despite the fact that 69 percent of the troops killed in Iraq have been from the army. New recruits continue to exceed join up at higher rates as well.

    Common sense thus tells me that something is starting to smell real bad here. For if the Army is seeing such a high re-enlistment rate, 15% MORE than expected, well things can’t be too bad, right?

    I then ponder are there other retired generals with an opinion and how do they stack up against this barrage of disgruntled armchair generals of late.

    From Townhall.com:
    Richard B. Myers, the Air Force general who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs from 2001 until last fall, dismissed criticism that military leaders failed to stand up to Rumsfeld and President Bush when they disagreed with those civilian officials.

    "We gave him our best military advice and I think that's what we're obligated to do," Myers said on "This Week" on ABC. "If we don't do that, we should be shot."

    Now I know the argument is that the generals of the complaints are freed to speak by their retirements but Richard Myers is retired and he’s not joined the chorus. Another retired General, Tommy Franks, has also been heard from, more on him later. I read Franks’ book as a matter of fact and I don’t recall any criticism of his civilian leader within.

    Finally, still holding onto my common sense, I begin to wonder what’s the story behind these carping generals.

    We have jobs out here in la-la land. Most times these jobs replaced someone else who once held that job. Some times the person we replaced had been fired from that very same position.

    Unlike the President of the United States, we don’t necessarily have to tolerate the carping of the employee who once held our position. Given an unusual scenario where we were forced to work alongside of an employee that had either been fired or held our job in any capacity, we understand criticism is often sour grapes and an attempt by the former job occupant to keep their reputations pristine.

    I did a little investigating, all information found on the Internet, and found some interesting things about the current and sudden crop of carping ex-generals.

    EATON

    Paul Eaton was a Major General responsible for rebuilding the Iraqi Armed forces. He was given this assignment in June of 2003. So far as I could discover, Eaton has no book coming out or does he appear to be a dinosaur of the old military.

    From DefendAmerica.mil, I did discover this tidbit:
    Eaton recognized the parallels between his career and the huge assignment to rebuild the Iraqi Armed Forces and civil security forces. A duty that brought him here June 13, 2003 - and one which true to his modest reputation, he quietly handed over to the current chief, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, on June 6, 2004.

    Now I don’t know under what circumstances Mr. Eaton was relieved of his job of supervising the Iraqi Armed Forces but I note that word “quietly” to describe his handing over the reins to David Petraeus. It’s also a subject of much discussion, this training of the Iraqi armed forces as the plan is that the U.S. will train an Iraqi army and in due course, leave the country for that trained army to defend. Often the discussion is very negative in terms of how quickly the Iraqi army is being trained and the problems involved in this difficult endeavor.

    Common sense makes me suspect that Mr. Eaton was not doing such a good job with his task as assigned and perhaps he’s a bit bitter about being removed from this job.

    Of course Mr. Eaton could have simply retired as per army normal and my suspected motives are not at all true. Common sense tells me that combined being relieved from this very important job perceived by so many as not going so well then coming out swinging against the man responsible for this removal is more than just coincidence.

    RIGGS

    John Riggs spent 39 years in the Army, earning a Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery during the Vietnam War and working his way up to become a three-star general entrusted with creating a high-tech Army for the 21st century.

    There’s a world of information out there about John Riggs. Though the above describes him as a three-star general, it seems Mr. Riggs lost one of those stars.

    From Truthout.org:
    "That's the coldest way in the world to leave," Riggs, 58, said in a drawl that betrays his rural roots in southeast Missouri. "It's like being buried and no one attends your funeral."
    So what cost Riggs his star?

    His Pentagon superiors said he allowed outside contractors to perform work they were not supposed to do, creating "an adverse command climate."

    The report prompted Gen. John M. Keane, the Army's No. 2 officer, to write a disciplinary "memorandum of concern" to Riggs. The memo found that a female contractor was allowed to draft congressional testimony, respond to congressional correspondence and communicate with Capitol Hill staffers.

    Allowing a contractor to perform functions that should have been undertaken only by government employees was improper, Keane wrote.

    Common sense tells me that John Riggs, witness his quote about being buried with no funeral attendees, just might be a bitter man.

    I’m not at all sure what jobs those “outside contractors” performed that left Riggs with one less star but read on.

    SWANNACK

    Retired Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack Jr. is the second general who served in Iraq under Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to call for Rumsfeld's resignation.

    I didn’t find much of import about Mr. Swannack. However, here’s two quotes from Swannack long before he began building a career bashing our elected civilian military leaders.

    1. Swannack, 11/18/03:
    "So where we are on a glide path now to the future in Iraqization. I talked to you about governance. We're doing a great job. We're on the glide path to go ahead and get the security situation under control. We are infusing jobs into the society to reduce the unemployment numbers. And the one bright spot is that essential services out there in Al Anbar are better now than they were during the -- prior to the war."


    2. Swannack, 01/06/04:
    I also can tell you that we're on a glide-path toward success as attacks against Task Force All American forces have decreased almost 60 percent over the past month... We have turned the corner, and now we can accelerate down the straightaway. There's still a long way to go before the finish line, but the final outcome is known. There certainly will be some friction along the way, but we will continue to kill or capture enemy forces, train Iraqi security forces to work independently, continue to create jobs, reduce the availability of weapons and ammunition, and finally, transfer the governance to local control that is legitimately recognized by the people."

    The argument is, of course, that generals currently serving are not as free to speak as generals retired. Common sense tells me that when speaking on a subject one is not all that enthusiastic about but must act as if they are, such eloquence and enthusiasm isn’t usually part of the pitch. Here’s this guy going on about how better essential services are in parts of Iraq, talking about turning corners and so forth. If he had been so disillusioned I would think a simple “things are going along as planned” would have sufficed.

    However I found Swannack with no obvious cross to bear. Except, who knows, maybe the guy means it. Or he’s trolling for a job with the 2008 Democratic administration.

    Batiste
    John Batiste commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq in 2004-2005.

    Batiste denies having discussed anything with the other armchair generals though he states this sudden appearance of disenchanted former generals is happening for a reason.

    Common sense tells me someone might have planned it and that’s the reason.

    From Townhall.com:
    Earlier Friday, retired Gen. John Batiste, who called for Rumsfeld's resignation, said the recent criticism is "absolutely coincidental" and said he did not know of any coordinated effort to discredit the defense secretary.

    "I have not talked to the other generals," Batiste said on NBC's "Today" show. But, he said, the demands for Rumsfeld to step down are "happening for a reason."

    One of General Batiste’s major criticisms of Rumsfeld, as he indicated during an interview with Jim Lehrer, was the decision to disband the existing Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein. This was a bad decision as Batiste saw it.

    Only problem, the decision to disband the Iraqi army was not made by Rumsfeld and indeed, wasn’t made by the Department of Defense at all! Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, made that decision.

    At any rate, this is an issue that cannot be proved. I’m not at all convinced, again that common sense thing, that keeping the enemy’s army intact after invasion with the hopes that these same troops could be turned around to fight a different enemy than the one they’d been trained for is such a great idea. I’ve heard the argument on the political pundit shows but this looks to me like a stretch. The decision was made to disband the enemy’s army and it wasn’t made by Rumsfeld as Batiste asserted. Whatever the case, I don’t see it as being such a stupid move as common sense tells me that I’m not sure I’d want to be working with a former enemy who still has guns and mortar shells.

    Batiste too seems to speak out of both sides of his mouth. Here’s some quotes and dates by this Rumsfeld basher.
    Batiste, 10/06/2004:
    PHILLIPS [CNN]: General, while we watch the successful operations go down side by side with Iraqi troops, of course we continue to see a lot of violence throughout Iraq. We see children being targeted and, most recently, Ambassador Paul Bremer coming forward saying there was a mistake in the strategy in Iraq, and there just weren't enough troops post Saddam Hussein.

    Do you agree with that?

    BATISTE: Let me answer that by saying that while we were conducting the operation in Samarra, at the same time we were conducting a battalion task force level air assault into an objective in the vicinity of Sharkak (ph), at the same time we were conducting a battalion level operation in the vicinity of Muqdadiyah. And at the same time, we were conducting a battalion level operation south of Balad. So, I think we had plenty of flexibility. Add to that the Iraqi security forces. They really do bring a lot to the fight now.


    2. Batiste, 12/24/2004:
    Afterward, Rumsfeld flew off for Tikrit in a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter flanked by an aerial security escort. Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, met Rumsfeld in Tikrit, where the secretary also met with troops. Batiste told Rumsfeld that he was "comfortable we're heading in the right direction" regarding security issues for the upcoming Iraqi elections slated for January.


    SHINSEKI

    This guy is one of the generals who right from the start clashed heads with Rumsfeld. From the NY Times, Feb. 28, 2003:
    February 28, 2003

    In a contentious exchange over the costs of war with Iraq, the Pentagon's second-ranking official today disparaged a top Army general's assessment of the number of troops needed to secure postwar Iraq. House Democrats then accused the Pentagon official, Paul D. Wolfowitz, of concealing internal administration estimates on the cost of fighting and rebuilding the country.

    Mr. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, opened a two-front war of words on Capitol Hill, calling the recent estimate by Gen. Eric K. Shinseki of the Army that several hundred thousand troops would be needed in postwar Iraq, "wildly off the mark." Pentagon officials have put the figure closer to 100,000 troops.

    Common sense tells me Shinseki has been in the pockets of the Democrats right along judging by his original determination that almost half a million troops would be needed to secure post-war Iraq. We have nowhere near that amount now so how was he more right than Rumsfeld?

    Another tidbit, from Truthout.org, in its article about Riggs and the loss of his stars:
    One of those was Shinseki, who himself had a stormy relationship with Rumsfeld and battled with the secretary over troop levels and spending programs. At his retirement ceremony in June 2003, Shinseki warned "our soldiers and families bear the risk and hardship of carrying a mission load that exceeds the force capabilities we can sustain."

    Neither Rumsfeld nor his top deputies were in attendance.

    In his letter of support for Riggs, Shinseki said, "There was no one who was more professional, more honest, more selfless, more dedicated, nor more loyal to the Army and to its soldiers than John Riggs.

    Oh, and General Shinseki is a former commander of the peacekeeping operation in Bosnia. Well wowie, wowie, that military operation was an unqualified success wasn’t it?

    Finally, we have this from General Franks on Hardball.


    MATTHEWS: Do you remember -- I`m sure you do, you`re the fighting man and the general who won the big war when we went in there -- do you remember how Shinseki was treated?

    I keep reminding myself of generals who have spoken out, gotten picked up in the press, they haven`t been treated so well.

    FRANKS: I think that`s fair comment.

    I think, Chris, you will find personalities that get along and you find personalities that do not get along.

    My personal appreciation was that the personalities of Rick Shinseki, a friend of mine, and Don Rumsfeld, a friend of mine, were not exactly -- well, I`ll describe it this way.

    It was sort of like oil and water, and this was not something that, as many in the mainstream media presented, well, Rick Shinseki spoke out against the war and Don Rumsfeld canned him.

    Come on, Chris. You know better than that.

    How long was Rick Shinseki the chief of staff of the Army?

    Rick Shinseki retired on time. That part of this discussion has been blown out of proportion.

    Now, the fact of the matter is that there was friction, and the fact of the matter is that Rick Shinseki had concerns about this effort. From my memory, the concerns had to do with logistics support.

    But be that as it may, there certainly was friction there, and I think you`re going to find that. That does not imply that from time to time there was not friction between Don Rumsfeld and myself, because there certainly was.

    ZINNI

    Pic General Zinni BookAh, General Zinni. I know him well as every week he is on my TV lambasting the administration, Rumsfeld, Bush…name it.

    Zinni was commander of the U.S. Central Command from 1996-2000. Common sense tells me Zinni was summarily fired by Rumsfeld. Zinni was in charge of that pathetic missile in the aspirin factory nonsense during Monica Lewinsky’s testimony during the Clinton Administration.

    And goodness, in April of 2006, imagine this, Zinni just released a new book.

    Common sense tells me that anybody who stands to benefit by book sales as a result of grandstanding to remove the Secretary of Defense already has very suspect motives.

    And then there’s this. From Dawn.com:
    ISLAMABAD, Oct 7, 2003: Former US Centcom chief, General Anthony Zinni, is arriving here on Oct 24 in his capacity as a director of a multinational company which wants to invest in Pakistan's telecommunication industry.

    A Pakistani-American who is a partner in Gen Zinni's company, claims that the initial investment will be between $120 million to $150 million that might expand to $5 billion over a period of 10 years.

    Talking to Dawn he said Gen Zinni would stay here for two days. He said the general, who is special envoy of President Bush on the Middle East, would meet Pakistani high-ups but his schedule was still being worked out.

    Asad Kazmi, the Pakistani American who represents the company in Pakistan, said the general was coming here "on the call of the people and the government of Pakistan." President Musharraf, he said, in his visits to the US had urged the Pakistani community to invest in Pakistan. "And here I am," he told Dawn . "I have brought a major American company with Gen Zinni as its director to come and invest in Pakistan."

    According to Mr Kazmi the major area of their interest is wireless local loop, long distance international, PTCL privatization, particularly GSM cellular license. He said his company is also exploring avenues in energy sector.

    He claimed that the company he is representing was telecommunications giant with branches in 42 countries. This will be major investment venture in Pakistan after the controversial IPPs and, more specifically, 9/11.

    Now I don’t know what all this means but in 2003 Zinni felt cozy enough with this administration to be depicted as a “special envoy of President Bush on the Middle East”. Maybe he had to wait until this deal was in the bag before beginning the carping.

    NEWBOLD

    Retired Marine Lieutenant General Newbold, was the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff until 2002

    Tommy Franks reported, again on Chris Matthews’ Hardball
    FRANKS: Well, my memory -- and of course, I mean, I`m an older fellow, but my memory does not embrace a single event wherein Greg Newbold told the secretary of defense anything like that. I was in a number of sessions.

    MATTHEWS: He`s saying it now.

    FRANKS: Yes. And the fact of the matter is that I said a great many things to Secretary Rumsfeld over the course of our professional relationship, as I think military people and secretaries of defense will.

    There was friction. In fact, I think if you look at some of the reporting of that time, there is mention of the fact that -- or the suggestion that Franks was thrown out of his office and this and that, and that`s all foolish, that absolutely did not take place.

    But one-on-one, face-to-face dialogue, wherein we discussed the puts and the calls associated with Iraq planning, certainly did take place. And I must tell you that I don`t recall Greg Newbold having been involved in many of those sessions.

    Tommy Franks could be lying, I suppose, about Newbold’s non-participation in those fractious meetings with Rumsfeld and the military poohbahs. Common sense tells me to go with Franks here.
    ================================================
    Blog Corrections This Week
    As a result of a comment on my post on Those Armchair Generals (see below), and through some more research, I was mistaken when I alleged that Mike DeLong was one of the generals out and about and lambasting Donald Rumsfeld. I’ll not change the original post but note this correction on the cover page and will note it within the original post as well.

    In fact I really didn’t find much on DeLong whereas the other carping generals had a load of baggage to carry. DeLong has authored a book on his military experience but it was published in 2004, two years ago and hardly a new release to be hyped at this time.

    Apologies to General DeLong and thanks to commenter SV.
    Lt Gen Mike DeLong has come out in strong support of Rumsfeld. He was on many talk shows SUPPORTING Rumsfeld.

    ================================
    DeLONG

    Lieutenant General DeLong has led a distinguished, 36-year military career, most recently serving as the Deputy Commander, United States Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. He is the most recent entrant into the Bash-Rumsfeld genre.

    DeLong, goodness me, also has a book he’s hoping to sell. And his co-author is…tada..General Anthony Zinni!

    I tried to find some quotes from DeLong’s book but found not much of substance. Most reviewers said his book wasn’t all that earth-shattering. Below is one such review with what I thought a pertinent assessment bolded.

    Review by Seth Labadie
    Lieutenant General Michael "Rifle" DeLong, USMC, Ret. is author of INSIDE CENTCOM: THE UNVARNISHED TRUTH ABOUT THE WARS IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ (Regnery, 2004).

    This book is a quick and interesting read, in which the author points out some interesting facts that might not be apparent to the reader. Unfortunately, the book is a little short, and I couldn't help but feel that the author isn't sharing nearly enough of his experiences at CentCom as he should. On the negative side, there does seem to be a small amount of hubris in the book.

    So there you have it. A bunch of armchair generals all of a sudden out and about and demanding, demanding I tell you, the resignation of this country’s quasi-elected Secretary of Defense.

    Most of them with some serious water they’re carrying.

    Common sense tells me to take it all with one very large block of salt.


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