Friday, June 08, 2007

No butts

Here's another story about an heiress from Raw Story:

Deal may lead to charges against more Bush officials

"The founder of a Republican environmental organization pleaded guilty Friday to charges "of tax evasion and obstruction of justice as part of the continuing federal criminal investigation into lobbying practices in the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal."

"Italia Federici, president of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy, allegedly failed to pay more than $77,000 in federal income taxes from 2001 to 2003," Richard A. Serrano reported for the LA Times Thursday.

She was also cited for making 'false and fictitious' statements before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in 2005, which was investigating Abramoff's representation of Native American tribes."

"Federici becomes the 11th person, including Griles, ex-Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) and several Congressional staffers, to plead guilty in the ongoing Abramoff investigation. Abramoff is in prison on a separate charge but has yet to be sentenced in the Washington, D.C.-based investigation and is cooperating with prosecutors," Rachel Van Dongen and Paul Singer reported for Roll Call Thursday.

According to an Associated Press report Friday, "Federici's plea was part of a deal with the Justice Department that two people close to the case said could lead investigators to officials in Congress and the Bush administration."

"Federici served as a go-between for Abramoff, who currently is in prison, and J. Steven Griles, a deputy Interior secretary who also has pleaded guilty to lying to Senate investigators," John Heilprin reports for the AP. "In court Friday, Federici acknowledged lying about this relationship when she testified before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which in 2005 was investigating Abramoff's dealings with the Interior Department."

The wire service notes that the sources "believe Federici may be able to provide information about [former Interior secretary Gale] Norton, other Bush administration officials and the contacts that she, Abramoff and Griles cultivated in Congress."

Excerpts from Thursday's LA Times article:


Federici's lawyers said Wednesday that she would plead guilty to both charges. Federici "regrets her failure … to pay her individual income taxes" and "regrets her past trust and confidence in Jack Abramoff," said a statement by Jonathan N. Rosen and Noam B. Fischman.

Federal investigators have alleged that Federici acted as Abramoff's liaison to the Interior Department in helping tribes get meetings with top officials in return for high fees charged by the lobbyist. He is now serving a nearly six-year prison term. According to the charges filed Wednesday, Federici founded the environmental council in 1997 in Colorado with the help of Gale A. Norton, who later became secretary of the Interior under President Bush.

The charges said that much of the seed money for the group came from an inheritance that Federici received and that over the years she often paid herself back by directly withdrawing funds from the group's bank account "through ATM and teller transactions." From 2001 through 2003, the charges state, she received a taxable income of $233,955, and failed to pay the $77,243 in taxes she owed.


Many of us C-span geeks watched Italiana lie through her teeth to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee a few years ago. Byron Dorgan was incredulous. John McCain was incensed. And I, for one, would really like to see Gale Norton up the river. Here's hoping!

In other news you may have missed because you were busy looking at an heiress's butt:

"The warrantless wiretapping program has operated for over five years outside of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and without the approval of the FISA Court. The Committee has continued to ask for the legal justification for this sweeping and secret program, and has continually been rebuffed by inadequate and at times, misleading, responses from this Justice Department," said Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, in a statement sent to RAW STORY. "The information we have requested has been specific to the legal justification for this program and is firmly within the Committee’s oversight jurisdiction."

More here.

Oh, also, today is the 58th anniversary of the publication of George Orwell's 1984, for those of you fans out there.

Friday Music Blogging

Howard Jones - Things Can Only Get Better

Howard Jones is one of those artists who "gets it". From the very beginning of his rise to stardom, he seemed to understand the universe around him.

Friday Kitten Blogging

In ur tub, takeeng ur showurz

The Poster Girl For The Estate Tax

(hat tip to Hieronymous Bosch XIV for the image)
Mat 6:24-33 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
This is the Word of God. Amen.

The right wing Mammon-addicted economic royalists and their co-dependent Religious Right have long had a way of turning economic issues into "moral values." Take welfare, for example: it's immoral, because God talks about labor from the sweat of our brow as our birthright from Adam. Heaven forbid we should assist someone in dire need!

Or, a man lives and struggles (don't get me started!) all his life, and at the end of his days, as his body is lowered to its final rest, the taxman stands graveside, plundering his miserable earnings eked out across his life...assuming he stowed away more than $5 million dollars, minimum.

Most of that money having been untaxed during his lifetime, I should add.

The truly cynical aspect of all this is that, in an attempt to lure suckers for tax cuts like moths to a flame, or more appropriately, addicts to a crack mountain, the Republicans have foisted upon their bases, the numbnuts who don't read the newspapers and the others who read the Bible only, to believe that this makes sense: giving more money to the rich, because one day, "you too may be this wealthy."

I was listening to the radio this week and heard a commercial for a seminar on how, you too can avoid the estate tax! Just a few hundred dollars is all you need to learn the secrets the really rich use to avoid paying any estate tax at all! GRATs! Family LLCs! Generation skipping trusts!

And I wondered how many people who are worth over $5 million dollars don't already have an estate plan--...oh!

Right. This isn't about them. This is about the morons who will never, until their death beds, get that $5 million is a LOT of money, and they never even achieved 20% of it...and they're now being ripped off by the bottom feeders who see the scam the Republicans pulled off and want a piece.

But Paris Hilton gets a pass because of this cynical abuse of the American greed. When she garners her inheritance, the only people who will see any portion of it are a couple of drug lords in Colombia, her boy toys, and now, the LA Sheriff's Department.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The judge who sent Paris Hilton to jail called a hearing for Friday on why the hotel heiress was released early and placed under house arrest in a move swiftly challenged by prosecutors and local politicians.

Hilton, 26, a symbol of privilege and the excess of American celebrity culture, was released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department for unspecified health reasons on Thursday after serving just three full days of her original 45-day sentence.

Hilton, whose term the sheriff already had reduced to 23 days citing state sentencing guidelines, was fitted with an electronic ankle bracelet to track her movements and ordered confined to her lavish home in the Hollywood Hills house for the next 40 days.

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said her "reassignment" from an 8-by-12-foot cell to house arrest was carried out after "extensive consultations" with doctors at the jail and others, including the sentencing judge.

But a court spokesman said the decision was made without the approval of Judge Michael Sauer, who later set a hearing on a request by prosecutors to send Hilton back to jail for the remainder of her sentence.
Forget about the fact that she's famous merely for being famous. Forget about the fact that she's fabulously wealthy in mammon. Forget about the fact that her soul is about as deep as the gene pool at a hillbilly family reunion, Uncle Dad.

Let's focus on what she truly represents: idle wealth creating nothing in this country but headlines and tabloids.

Jesus promised us that God would take care of us. Who cares if we have no clothes, no food, no shelter? If we believe, God will provide what we need. Let's face facts though: at some point, man was making enough mammon to be able to help his fellow man.

Maybe He said, "OK, I can slack off making rainment appear out of thin air. They seem to have things under control there."

At some point, He looked down at the bountiful harvests that man was growing and said, "You know what? They seem to have this feeding thing knocked out, as well. *Whew* Because it was getting hard making manna drip from the sky!"

At some point, He saw our builders and engineers making these massive houses and structures like churches, and God said, "OK, now, I guess I can stop strewing branches and reeds on the ground! Well, maybe not. Other animals use them. But these men got it going on!"

Don't you think He might, might, get a little miffed at the creation by our society of a Paris Hilton, who wastes our time, our money, and His resources with her antics, particularly since they are validated and by extension endorsed by our inane fascination with her lunacies, but moreover, our financial support by our tax code?

I'm thinking Jesus' job gets harder and harder the more and more Republicans get elected.
God Will Provide, Paris!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

A More Perfect YouTube

This video describes perfectly one of the most annoying and idiotic people it's ever been my displeasure to tangle with. Long may she rot in hell for her inanities:

Gaming Another "Ally"

The silence of the Bush administration regarding this recent story is interesting, to say the least:
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's chief justice wanted President Pervez Musharraf to dissolve the national assembly and let him oversee the election months before he was suspended from office, the head of military intelligence said on Thursday.

The crisis over Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry's suspension three months ago has resulted in the most serious challenge to General Musharraf's authority since he took power in a military coup eight years ago.

Chaudhry's suspension has sparked a countrywide campaign by lawyers and opposition parties for restoration of full democracy.

The timing is bad for Musharraf, as he has controversial plans to be re-elected by the sitting national and provincial assemblies later this year.
God bless Reuters, because in four grafs, they explain the entire story in a nutshell, so I don't have to.

But I will, because I pay myself by the word. Think about this: Musharraf wants to be re-"selected" by the Pakistani people, who elect the assemblies directly, and those bodies then select the President. The Chief Justice for Pakistan mentions he would prefer, for the people's sake, presumably, to oversee the election directly.

Chaudhry, according to statements by Major-General Mian Nadeem Ijaz Ahmad, Director-General of Military Intelligence, had been cozying up to the Pakistani intelligence and security know, the same guys who helped fund Al Qaeda attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center? an effort to pressure Musharraf (and perhaps save his own hide).

Six of one, half a dozen of the other, if you think about it: neither Musharraf nor Chaudhry would have American interests completely at heart unless it was more expedient to their own political future to do so.

Interestingly, Chaudhry may end up winning by default:
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has berated his coalition for leaving him isolated in a crisis that threatens to destabilize a country on the front line of a global anti-terrorism campaign, a newspaper reported.

Musharraf, who is also army chief, is facing the biggest challenge to his authority since he took power in 1999, over a crisis he precipitated by suspending Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry on March 9.

But his government backed off new powers to shut down broadcasters following widespread criticism of media curbs introduced since protests erupted over Chaudhry's suspension on misconduct accusations.

[...]"I bluntly say you always leave me alone in times of trial and tribulation," the paper, citing unidentified participants at the Wednesday meeting, quoted Musharraf as saying.

"I see the party nowhere. You people are not mobilized," he was quoted as telling ruling Pakistan Muslim League members.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, I guess. It seems astounding to me that, given the power this man yields, that his best bullying tactic is...whining?

Contrast that with the Bush administration, practitioners of the art of ruthless politics: "you're either with us, or with them" is not just a mantra for the Global "War" On Terror, you see, and it would be foolish to think otherwise.

In fact, one reason cited for the stunning Democratic victory in 2006 was the dilemma faced by moderate Republicans who were coerced into backing in lockstep the GOP agenda. You can't run from a vote, and as John Kerry's campaign proved, you can't even run from the "right" vote. Karl Rove's biggest blunder in this administration was not having the political savvy to realize that hegemonies of any stripe never last very long, and that his client would have been better served had he allowed even a modicum of dissent on issues that really didn't matter to the true base, like Terri Schiavo, like abortion, like gay marriage.

Like the Iraq invasion.

And yet, with his popularity in the toilet and the country literally turning its back on him and the page on his administration, Bush isn't whining.


He's certainly not whining about the Republican party, despite the fact that they are defecting (including their voting base) in droves now, and choosing their next poison for 2008.

Perhaps that's a benefit of a democracy just starting to decline, as opposed to a democracy in shadows already. Knowing we have at least the sham of free elections ahead of us next year, it likely makes office holders on their way out resigned to the facts on the ground, rather than making them more desperate to tighten their grip on power.

I was watching the Stanley Cup finals last night...good on you, Ducks...and as the game wound down, Mike Emrick started to talk about the feelings of players on both sides, and how do you get yourself up to playing out the last several minutes of the biggest game of your season, if not your life, knowing you've already lost?

I guess you try to find something you can build on next season, or salvage some dignity, if there is no next season for you.

Bush is trying to salvage some dignity, which is kind of like watching a small puppy try to drag a car with its teeth. His desperate attempts to form coalitions with Democrats to enact mealymouthed legislation so that his entire legacy isn't "Iraq, Iraq, and Iraq" is cute.

Musharraf is trying to find some moral victory, even if the game doesn't appear to be lost. He gambled on the US despite a large Islamic population, assisted us without assisting us, and pissed both sides off.

And that's just sad for him.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Hump Day Comedy Blogging

Best of "Family Guy"

I got nothing.

The Bush Energy "Policy" Takes Shape

When President Bush insisted in his various State Of The Union addresses that America needed to break its addiction to oil, many people, many sober, rational people, thought he meant finding and using alternative energy sources that would be less polluting than oil.

Apparently not. Two stories snuck under the velvet rope of the mainstream media that clearly delineate what the administration is thinking (and more important, doing) about energy policy, as well as global warming. Item #1:
HEILIGENDAMM, Germany (Reuters) - The United States will refuse to agree to targets and timetables for cutting greenhouse gases at a summit of the Group of Eight starting on Wednesday, a senior adviser to President George W. Bush said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been pushing for an agreement at the June 6-8 meeting that global cuts in greenhouse gas emissions of 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 are needed to curb global warming.

"At this point in time we are not prepared to adopt that proposal," James Connaughton told reporters hours before a lunch between Bush and Merkel. He said he hoped the G8 would come up with a "common vision" rather than details of cuts.

Connaughton, the head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said Bush was working on his own plan announced last week to get the top 15 greenhouse gas emitters to agree to cuts in emissions by the end of 2008.
OK, just sounds like typical Bush intransigence, a sign that the cowboy lives on, despite the fact he rides sidesaddle.

Item #2:
LONDON (Reuters) - Hedge funds are only likely to participate in coal once it has become a fully liquid commodity, but the banks are already active players, the head of electronic trading platform globalCOAL said on Wednesday.

"Over the last year, we have seen more involvement from the banks," Eoghan Cunningham, Chief Executive Officer of globalCOAL, told the Reuters Global Energy Summit.

Speaking in London, he said Morgan Stanley (MS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Merrill Lynch & Co. (MER.N: Quote, Profile, Research and Australia's Macquarie Bank Limited were involved in physical trade and others were "coming in behind."

"It's partly because of the difference between physical and financial. They can arbitrage," he said.
Admittedly, this story arises because there is, finally, a commodities market for coal.

Coal is far and away the most abundant energy source on the planet, and the United States has been called "the Saudi Arabia of coal" (China would have to be Iraq or Iran, in that analogy).

The interesting part of that story revolves around the involvement of hedge funds. Hedge funds will generally stay directly out of this market as much as possible, to avoid as many regulators as they can. Hedge funds make money in ways that are, while perfectly legal, not necessarily for the fainthearted, often investing in contrary positions in the same market, industry or even company, and then making a profit on timing discrepancies.

In short, they devour information and find the weak spots. Sometimes this means finding out things the general public will not know for quite some time and loading up big bets on the outcome.

That this commodities market is coming on-line worldwide now, and that hedge funds have started sniffing the waters, AND the Bush administration stance going into the G8 summit regarding Angela Merkel's proposal, cannot be coincidences.

Indeed, a quick persual of the advertisers who bought air time on the Sunday morning talk shows this past weekend indicates that the American coal industry has starting selling its line of bullshit that coal can ever be made less polluting that natural gas or oil.

And yet, you may recall that in May, Bush called for a "Twenty In Ten" program to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% in the next ten years.

Depends on what you call "reduce". Here's how they will measure it, from his own words:
was pleased to receive the Energy Information Administration's report today, which includes its "flash estimate" of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions for 2006. The report shows that emissions declined 78 million metric tons over 2005, or 1.3 percent, while our economy grew 3.3 percent. That means CO2 intensity decreased by 4.5 percent - the largest annual improvement since 1990 - putting us well ahead of what is needed annually to meet my greenhouse gas intensity reduction goal of 18% by 2012.
So while greenhouse gas emissions declined by only 1.3%, Bush is claiming more than three times that gain by adding in economic growth! My god! What's he's claiming then is that even activities that in no way contribute to greenhouse gas emissions (online sales, let's say) will be used to amplify an insignificant reduction in those emissions!

This is cynicism at it's uberworst, but it does open the door to allowing the shift to coal, in any form, as a legitimate "greenhouse gas reduction".

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Keeping Half An Eye On This....

In light of the current hoopla over US-Russian relations...obviously, Bush didn't look deeply enough into Pootie's eyes...comes this intriguing little sidebar:
BISHKEK (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Tuesday Washington's agreement to use a military air base in Kyrgyzstan was necessary to support the war in Afghanistan.

Last month Kyrgyz lawmakers urged the government to evict U.S. troops from the base which is an important hard currency earner for the impoverished Central Asian state.

"I think what's important for the people of Kyrgyzstan to understand is that our use of Manas (Air Force Base) is in support of a larger war on terrorism in which Kyrgyzstan is an ally of virtually every other nation on earth," Gates said.

"We are all working to try and prevent a resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and our use of Manas is one way in which Kyrgyzstan can play a very important and constructive role in cooperation with many other nations, just not the United States," he told reporters after meeting Kyrgyzstan's minister of defense.

The United States has about 1,200 U.S. troops in Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyz officials have demanded Washington pay more for the use of the base.
Not much to this, is there, huh? Think again: Kyrgyzstan is one of the former Soviet states, and still has relations (however frosty) with Russia. By proxy, Putin is holding the war on terror as ransom in Kyr...Kryg...this place.

"Proxy" was how wars in Viet Nam, Korea, and Afghanistan were fought during the Cold War. "Prozy" is what the Cuban Missile Crisis was all about.

This particular Asian country is important to maintaining a presence in the region, since the Afghan campaign has hit a rocky patch, and as troops are pulled out of Iraq over American disgust with that invasion, troops may be pulled out of Afghanistan as the failure to really take down Al Qaeda and the Taliban becomes more apparent.

So we have Putin and Bush tossing verbal jabs at each other, a failing war in Afghanistan, a very unpopular and toxic occupation of Iraq, and Iran taking hostages again.

Sounds like the 1970s have returned in earnest...

Monday, June 04, 2007

Three More, And I Get The Toaster

Please welcome Mr. Doggity to Blogtopia (© Skippy)

Conned another one....hehehehehehehehehehe

Monday Afternoon Inanity

So I'm scanning the website, looking for information on how to get a copy of my dad's death certificate, when I stumble across this paragraph:
If you are applying for a certificate on behalf of someone else, you must provide us with an original, notarized letter signed by that person authorizing release of their certificate to you. You must also bring with you that person's photo ID as well as your own.
Huh? So I would need the deceased's signature?

Um...what?(hat tip to Donna Lethal at Martini Revolution for the heads up on

Bizarre Global Warming News

How long before they come this way?:
HELSINKI (Reuters) - Global warming is bringing more warmer-climate creatures to Finland, including moths that feast on human blood, according to nature researchers.

Insect-watchers are spotting more and more calpe moths in the Nordic country, which used to be considered too cold for the insects from southeast Asia, Finnish nature magazine "Suomen Luonto" (ed. note. Literally, "Nature of Finland") reported in its June edition.

The journal published what it said were the first pictures showing the moths -- calyptra thalictri -- sucking human blood.

The species was first sighted in Finland in 2000, but more than 100 of them have been counted since then, the journal said.
It's not often I get to write something this goofy-yet-scary about my "other" homeland.Lest you think this is some opportunistic moth, preying on open wounds, make no mistake: It's a true vampire. I just hope the notorious Finnish alcohol abuse doesn't kill it off...

There will be a flux of stories about global warming this week, as tomorrow is "World Environment Day" and of course, the G-8 summit in Prague on Wednesday, which will focus on global warming, and Europe's continuing, frustrating struggle to drag Bush by his ear into the 21st Century from the 19th Century Old West.

Among the stories today:

Melting ice, snow to hit livelihoods worldwide: UN

Global warming threatens New Zealand "dinosaurs"

China could lose western glaciers by 2100: Xinhua

Well, there's some pleasant Monday morning reading for you...

Sunday, June 03, 2007

This Is Very Distressing

Although not unexpected:
WASHINGTON - After promising unprecedented openness regarding Congress' pork barrel practices, House Democrats are moving in the opposite direction as they draw up spending bills for the upcoming budget year.

Democrats are sidestepping rules approved their first day in power in January to clearly identify "earmarks" — lawmakers' requests for specific projects and contracts for their states.

Rather than including specific pet projects, grants and contracts in legislation as it is being written, Democrats are following an order by the House Appropriations Committee chairman to keep the bills free of such earmarks until it is too late for critics to effectively challenge them.

Rep. David Obey (news, bio, voting record), D-Wis., says those requests for dams, community grants and research contracts for favored universities or hospitals will be added to spending measures in the fall. That is when House and Senate negotiators assemble final bills.

Such requests total billions of dollars.

As a result, most lawmakers will not get a chance to oppose specific projects as wasteful or questionable when the spending bills for various agencies get their first votes in the full House in June.
We did elect the Democrats to reform "business as usual" and to give government back to the people, but it seems all they've done is rearrange the furniture and lowered the moral mortgage payment they might have to make.

Very disturbing

Sure, Let's Fight Them There...

So we doesn't have to, you know, fight them here:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Four people, including a former member of Guyana's parliament, have been charged with planning to blow up New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, U.S. officials said on Saturday.

This was "one of the most chilling plots imaginable," Roslynn Mauskopf, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said at a news conference in New York. "The devastation that would be caused ... is just unthinkable."

The plotters sought to blow up the airport's jet fuel tanks and part of the 40-mile (64-km) pipeline feeding them from New Jersey. Three of the four suspects, who included a former airline cargo handler, have been arrested, federal law enforcement officials said.

In a recorded conversation one suspect predicted there would be few survivors and that the attacks would result in the destruction of "the whole of Kennedy."
That's a pretty dubious claim, of course, but to say a billion dollars in damage and a few hundred lives lost, not to mention disruption of national air travel for several weeks, would not be out of line.
Targets in the airport plot included terminal buildings, aircraft and fuel tanks, as well as the fuel pipeline to the airport. Pipeline operator Buckeye Partners L.P. said it had been cooperating with authorities since the investigation started in January 2006.

Spokesman Roy Haase declined to comment on security measures but said speculation the plotters hoped to destroy large parts of the pipeline were unrealistic, since any damage would be confined to the area where fuel leaked and the pipeline was almost entirely underground.

"There's no oxygen in the pipeline. It's completely full of liquid and you need oxygen for ignition," Haase said.
(Full disclosure: I have certain investments with Buckeye, which is part of the Carlyle Group)

The tanks themselves blowing up would have been the biggest concern, of course, as well as any above ground piping and hoses that lead from them. Since fueling operations are generally done as passengers off-load and re-load, minimal passenger deaths would have resulted if any planes had been affected at all.

This does, however, expose a huge hole in America's philosophy in battling terror crimes: waging a war against whom you believe to be the most likely adversary comes nowhere close to preventing terror attacks, full stop. Moreover, waging a war that can easily be painted as a "Crusade" (and you'd think those master media manipulators would have thought this aspect out a little better) is not going to ensure your adversaries will all gather in one place to battle you.

In fact, if anything, by having such a bloody-minded focus on one place, you allow all sorts of flanking manuevers and indeed, every year since 2002, we've seen more terror attacks in more places killing more people, and that's after factoring out Iraq and Afghanistan from the statistics.

The one-percent theory-- you know, that we have to be right 100% of the time, but if terrorist are right even once out of a hundred, we lose-- is a bit of a farce, as well, when applied here. The Iraq invasion increases the likelihood that we will be wrong, and fairly frequently.

What should have happened after September 11-- find Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants, roll them up, bring them to a trial-- would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives, made many more friends out of our potential adversaries, prevented any number of plots around the world, and garnered the good will of a world grateful to see that the big bully can keep his gun in his holster.

What I see in the Islamist world is not an organized state of war, but ad hoc cells itching for revenge against us. Those would all have gone away as the cells realized there was no safe haven for them anywhere to operate with the blind eye of local governments.

Would there still be terror attacks? Sure, but fewer and smaller scale, with less financial support and emotional blessings attached, which means more chance of catching them before they strike. And truly, we could have established a coalition of the willing to create strike forces that by treaty could stop terrorist attacks anywhere, because who wants Sharm el-Sheik to happen in their backyard?

Led by America's vast and unnecessary military power, we could easily have signed up countries frm Lebanon to Indonesia to Mexico and Canada in the blink of an eye, anyone of whom could invite us in to deal with terorist cells.

What happened after September 11 has only left America exhausted, vulnerable, and morally bereft at a time we can ill afford to have our flaws examined by the entire world, as our star begins to wane and other stars rise to replace us at the top.

And now we have what we have.

My Deepest Thanks

First, I wanted to thank you all for your kind thoughts regarding my father's passing. It's been very comforting to see names that I don't usually see here posting, and to read the shared stories of loss. And thank you in particular to those who have e-mailed me your thoughts and cards. I'm grateful for those.

Never having lost a family member before, it's been a different experience for me. The initial-if-not-unexpected shock has passed, and I guess I'm finally mourning my loss, and the odd timing of his death has me a bit off-put: his 61st wedding anniversary, leading me to feel that somewhere deep in his fantastic dementia, he believed he was giving my mom the ultimate anniversary gift.

It's been hardest on her these past four years, and while I'm not about to recount the sufferings she's had in detail, traveling miles with her own disabilities to see him, forgoing his entire pension and Social Security to pay for his nursing home fees, while also seeing to my brother's well-being (and then living through his heart surgery, and near firing), I'm sure she's more relieved right now than anything.

Too, it was just about a year ago today that my cat died, and that's been instructive for me, because if not for that event, then I would never have had ThumbPer, who has been an absolute joy. So in our losses, I think, we must learn to find, no, expect joy.

Finally, I've been a little short and cross with friends who, altho meaning well, have said some things that I felt were a bit inappropriate at the moment. I'm sorry for discounting your intentions.