Archive for December, 2005

I’m not in Ohio anymore…

December 24, 2005

God help me, but I have a recipe that calls for Velveeta.

So I went down to the Deadhead Fred to buy that and a few other Christmas-related items.

I spent almost 10 minutes looking for the Velveeta. I finally had to ask a store clerk to point me to what aisle it was on — and even then I had to do some hunting!

I’m not really surprised. This is Portland. People don’t eat Velveeta in Portland. But I couldn’t help thinking that a supermarket in Ohio that hid the Velveeta like that wouldn’t stay in business very long.

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Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2005

I went over to a friend’s house on Mount Tabor today to look in on her cat. While I was walking home, I saw a holly tree!

Nothing puts me in the Christmas mood quite like that. Well, aside from drinking eggnog by a fire. Which I might just go do right now…

I smell lawsuit…

December 23, 2005

So I’m watching the Fort Worth Bowl, which this year matches my former employer, the University of Houston (Go Coogs!), against the University of Kansas. ESPN has sent their D team to provide commentary — before tonight, I had never heard of either person in the broadcast booth.

Midway through the first quarter, one of the broadcasters notes that a Kansas player is wearing a different number jersey than usual and says that the official reason is that the player reported the jersey as stolen. The broadcaster then accuses the player of having stolen the jersey himself, as an “early Christmas present”. On national television he says this! And he was serious!

Wow. I would hate to be the person at ESPN who has to field the phone calls from that player’s relatives.

Avocado milkshake

December 23, 2005

I had lunch with a friend today at Pho Hung, a Vietnamese restaurant on Powell. He recommended the avocado milkshake. After he assured me that he was serious, I went ahead and ordered it.

It was good. I expected it to taste like liquid guacamole, but it actually tasted like a milkshake, just one with a flavor I had never encountered before.

Give it a try some time!

The first step towards tyranny

December 20, 2005

Katherine at Obsidian Wings sums it up:

Look. We have a President here who is making a claim of unlimited power, for the duration of a war that may never end. Oh, he says it’s limited by the country’s laws, but they’ve got a crack legal team that reliably interprets the laws to say that the President gets to do whatever he wants. It amounts to the same thing.

I am not exaggerating. I am really and truly not.

September 11 started the war. When will it end? Maybe never. Where is the battlefield? The entire world, including the United States. Who is an enemy combatant? Anyone the President says is an enemy combatant, including a U.S. citizen–no need for a charge, no need for a trial, no need for access to a lawyer. What if they’re found not to be an enemy combatant? We can keep them in prison anyway, and we don’t have to tell their families they’re alive or their lawyers that they were cleared. What can you do to an enemy combatant? Anything you want. Detain him forever, for the rest of his life, because this is a war like any other and we have always been able to detain POWs for the duration of the war. But you don’t need to follow the Geneva Conventions, because this is a war like no other in our history. And oh yes–if the President decides that we need to torture a prisoner for the war effort, it’s unconstitutional for Congress to stop him. They took that position in an official memo, and they have not backed down from it. They have said it was “unnecessary” but they have never backed down from it.

They are not only entitled to do these things to people; they are entitled to do them in secret. When Congress asks for information about them, they can just ignore it. And they are entitled to actively deceive the public about all this.

 
According to my Webster’s, the 2nd definition of tyranny is:

a government in which absolute power is vested in a single ruler

 
Is that what we want? Because if we don’t stand up now, that is inevitably what we will get.

Write your Congressman. Write your Senators. Politely remind them that they are responsible for oversight of the executive branch, and tell them it is time to do that job.

80s band pix

December 20, 2005

These are great!

God bless the British and their cheesy, cheesy taste.

(My favorite band in the 80s? These wallies.)

Slush day

December 19, 2005

Today was supposed to be a snow day — icy roads, slippery sidewalks, stay inside unless your life depends on it — so I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up and found I could go out.

The weather was actually quite nice. I trudged carefully through the slush to the East Portland post office (second pleasant surprise: how quickly the snow-walking skills I’d learned in Ohio came back to me) and my uncovered ears never froze. I actually unzipped my jacket for the 30-block walk back.

The post office was a madhouse, of course: The line went all the way to the back and curled around. The last time I saw a line like that was in a Houston grocery store a few hours after Tropical Storm Allison. Bad news for me: I’m expecting to receive packages at that post office this week!

The slush should be gone by Wednesday. Not a bad trial run for the really nasty ice storms I’ve been told to expect.

It’s snowing!

December 18, 2005

The first snow of the year has arrived. The outdoors is like a fluffy white plush carpet with an invisible ice water spill in it: It looks so inviting to walk on until you’re actually walking on it.

But it’s nice to sit in a warm house and watch it fall.

Hiding behind the lawyers

December 17, 2005

One other note about the President’s speech today.

The President said:

The review includes approval by our nation’s top legal officials, including the Attorney General and the Counsel to the President.

 
Does anyone doubt by now that if the Attorney General and the Counsel to the President don’t tell the President what he wants to hear, then the President will find a new Attorney General and a new Counsel to the President?

Secret from whom?

December 17, 2005

In 1970, President Nixon secretly ordered the Air Force to bomb North Vietnamese supply lines running through Cambodian territory. When news of the bombing was published in the American press, the Nixon administration accused the press of harming national security by publishing secret information.

But to whom was the bombing a secret? The North Vietnamese knew they were being bombed. The Cambodians knew they were being bombed. The only people in the dark were Americans.

President Bush today harshly criticized the press for revealing that he ordered (and believes he has legally authorized) the National Security Agency to spy on American citizens without judicial warrant. He says that this revelation told terrorists things they hadn’t known.

Is he arguing, then, that terrorists hadn’t known that their telephone conversations might be monitored? Frankly, the United States has little to worry about from terrorists who are that incompetent.

No, the real news is not that terrorists are being monitored. The real news is that the President believes that his “oath to defend the Constitution” allows him to ignore his oath to preserve the Constitution.