Have Big Hopes for 2006? Or Just a Resolution You Want to Share?

Post 'em here --- if you dare.

Me? I have no New Year's Resolution because the last one I made several years ago - I resolved never to make another silly New Year's resolution - I've kept successfully.

But I definitely have hopes and dreams (and a few evil thoughts about the whole White House staff and a good part of the top echelon of the Pentagon being frog marched to prison) for 2006. I did not enjoy 2005.


Well, as Yogi Berra (sp?) used to say, "Never make predictions, especially about the future."

But during the Bush years, with so much revisionist history afoot, it's been hard to make predictions about how even the past will be viewed. Ay carumba, oy vey and ugh.



Some of you may remember me as "PCKate", my online managerial persona on major online technical communities on AOL, MSN, and ZDNet.

Well, PCKate will be resurrected, although not - at least yet - tied to an external community. PCKate.com is already up but it's right now got old content from another site in place because I can't yet edit the current contents.

I'll let you know when it's up. It will include a blog where people can ask Windows based and PC hardware questions, we'll have a weekly chat, there will be articles, and links to other material.

Don't get all excited and wet yourself or anything. I know I won't (hey, it's like 2 degrees here, it's hard to get excited about anything except a hot draft up my panties; sadly, the last time that happened was when the dog got curious about me wearing a skirt and it wasn't even my dog but his girlfriend, Gimli, from next door - how's that for a long-winded description noone, including myself needed?).

BioWillie: Willie Nelson's Own Brand of BioDiesel

Biodiesel however doesn't necessarily (usually?) mean environmentally friendly.

But... well... I'd rather buy from Nelson, I suppose, than Exxon. But has anyone heard of what they're doing with hemp for fuel in Canada? Wowser.

And They Say Only Men Forget Anniversaries....

(and who says only men can make sexist remarks?)

Anyhoo, this blog turned three on Wednesday. It's teething and grumpy, completely unlike it's delightful, sunny dispositioned, and ever optimistic host (HA!).

Much of the Post 9-11 Help Money Went to Those Not Hurt in 9-11

Sickening. Disgusting. Ever so typically Bush.

A Preacher (of Sorts) I Can Tolerate

It's the Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping, who spent most of the last two months trying to get people to stop consuming for the sake of consuming.

I chose not to talk of him much during Christmas because everyone has to make their own decisions. Mine, however, was NOT to shop this holiday season. We actually survived a Christmas without presents beneath the tree.

Did it feel funny? Yeah. But I'm glad I didn't engage. I got more than a few unhappy comments from people I usually grace with gifts, but I discovered I often gave because I felt I must rather than giving something people needed, wanted, etc. Nor did I need anything this holiday season that could be wrapped up in paper and put beneath a tree. Probably like most of you, I have a house full of stuff. Stuff I rarely use. Stuff I have to dust and rearrange and store.

Enough with stuff just to have stuff - at least for me.

We're consuming way too much in this country, at least in part because it helps keep us from thinking about important questions or doing something more important.

I Haven't Disappeared

I've actually got a slew of items to post, but Blogger keeps... well, not quite eating them but they never seem to appear.

Heck, I'm not even sure THIS will appear.

But one can hope.


Public Opinion Survey 2005

Kevin posting at Preemptive Karma points us to Pew Research Center's public opinion survey for big issues in 2005. As you might expect, the president's (lack of) popularity, Katrina and Rita (hurricane, not Texas cheerleaders) damage, and the Terri Schiavo backlash make their way onto the list.

Check it out here, or here. Maybe worth the time.


The Enron Tango

This is all really nice, but after four years, are we supposed to believe this Justice Department is going to do anything to Ken Lay?

Enron's former chief accounting officer, Richard Causey, has struck a plea bargain with federal prosecutors and will avoid going to trial with the fallen energy company's two top executives, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

Causey was expected to plead guilty Wednesday to one or more of the 34 criminal charges pending against him, this person told The Associated Press Tuesday on condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the discussions.

Causey, 45, agreed to testify against his former bosses, Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling, in exchange for a much lesser prison sentence than he would receive if convicted on all counts.
Lay knows EXACTLY how this presidency was bought and sold. He knows EXACTLY how helpful Dick Cheney wanted to be to Halliburton and energy companies with "the president's visionary energy policy" that just gives whole new levels of corporate welfare (the only type of welfare Republicans like besides BIG tax breaks for billionaires) to energy companies.

Bush is never gonna let his "Kenny Boy" (who Bush later asked of, "Ken who?") stand up and talk.

How Many Reasons to Impeach Him?

Let me count the ways....

Anyway, I notice Keith Olbermann (finally, not a collection of cute shorts!) had John Dean on and they had fully 13 or 14 different events that are actionable for impeachment.

A Question?

If the air marshals are "all stretched so painfully thin", aren't we going to have more situations like we did in Florida where a mentally ill man makes them nervous and they end up emptying guns into him?

Before someone tells me the air marshals were correct, not a SINGLE person on the plane within earshot of the incident says they heard ANY mention of the word "bomb" that the air marshals insisted the man said repeatedly. The media dropped the story about the time no witnesses confirmed the air marshal account.

My second question is, "Why the fuck would anybody fly?"

If I want a deep cavity search, pat down, lie detectors, handcuffs, intimidation, and to be treated like an idiot by someone who R one, I'd marry a Texas Republican. ;)

Good Night to That Other Diebold

Arrive derci, baby:

NEW YORK (AP) — John Diebold, a business visionary who preached computerization during the era of Elvis and Eisenhower as the future of worldwide industry, has died at the age of 79.

Diebold died of esophageal cancer Monday at his home in suburban Bedford Hills, said a nephew, John B. Diebold.

Although Diebold is now hailed as a prophet of the computerized future, his zeal for computers was not widely shared in the 1950s.

After graduating from the Harvard Business School in 1951, he was hired by a New York management consulting firm and fired three times for insisting that clients consider computerizing.

"I was too early," he once said. "It was before the first computer was installed for business use."

Diebold laid out his vision of a computerized future with his 1952 book, Automation, which presented the then-radical notion of using programmable devices in daily business.

Whenever the People in Power Investigate Themselves, They Always Rule "Innocent"

Arnold Schwarzenegger did it: investigated himself on charges of no less than boorish behavior toward women (the women charged much worse), but decided there was insufficient evidence to try himself.

The Bush Administration forever does the same.

And now the Russian government has declared that it has found it did nothing wrong in the school siege in September 2004 which ended with so many of the children and other hostages dead when Putin ordered stormtroopers in.

On that score, Bush was right: he and Putin really do operate very much like they share the same heart and mind. Both limited, both brutal.

Too Much

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” — Gertrude Stein


WaPo: The Bushies' Attempts to Reform Intelligence Gathering Has Made it Worse

From the Washington Post, which I believe is LONG overdue in reporting this, in an editorial entitled, "Saga of Incompetence" (indeed):

IN THE WAKE of the catastrophic performance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency during Hurricane Katrina, it was hard not to heap opprobrium on the head of Michael D. Brown, the FEMA boss who sent joking e-mails to an aide in the middle of the storm ("Can I quit now? Can I go home?") as well as his boss, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who seemed to know less about the plight of New Orleans than the television reporters asking him questions about it. But as Post reporters Susan B. Glasser and Michael Grunwald showed in their two-part series last week ["Prelude to Disaster," Dec. 22-23], the failures of FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security predate Hurricane Katrina by several years. Although both Mr. Chertoff and Mr. Brown made mistakes during the storm, far more fingers should have been pointed at the haphazard, irrational and unabashedly political process that led to the creation of DHS, as well as the inept leadership of the department's first boss, Tom Ridge.

Four years ago, there was a case to be made for a government department that would group together different elements of border security -- the Coast Guard, the immigration services and customs -- in a more streamlined way. But, as the Post series documents, that wasn't what happened. Instead, White House officials anxious to prove their boss was more gung-ho about preparedness than congressional Democrats threw a lot of agencies together without much consideration of whether they belonged together, even at one point including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which carries out nuclear weapons research. Other agencies and tasks that should belong to homeland security, such as managing the nation's emergency vaccine stockpile, were left out. The result was bureaucratic redundancy and a mystifying command structure. One example: Even today, it still is unclear who in the government -- the White House, DHS or the Department of Health and Human Services -- is really in charge of defense against bioterrorism...

By far the most disturbing aspect of the DHS saga is how familiar it sounds: After all, the administration's attempts to reform the intelligence services have been no less political, and apparently no less clumsy. It stumbled in Iraq for two years. Will incompetence be remembered as the salient characteristic of the Bush presidency?

Appeals Judges Very Critical of Asylum Case Handling by Bush Judges

From The Times today - it's not good but I'm glad we're hearing about it, anyway:

Federal appeals court judges around the nation have repeatedly excoriated immigration judges this year for what they call a pattern of biased and incoherent decisions in asylum cases.

Rise in Immigration Cases In one decision last month, Richard A. Posner, a prominent and relatively conservative federal appeals court judge in Chicago, concluded that "the adjudication of these cases at the administrative level has fallen below the minimum standards of legal justice."

Similarly, the federal appeals court in Philadelphia said in September that it had "time and time again" been forced to rebuke immigration judges for their "intemperate and humiliating remarks." Citing cases from around the country, the court wrote of "a disturbing pattern" of misconduct in immigration rulings that sent people back to countries where they had said they would face persecution.

The harsh criticism may stem in part from a surge in immigration cases before the federal appeals courts. Immigration cases, most involving asylum seekers, accounted for about 17 percent of all federal appeals cases last year, up from just 3 percent in 2001. In the courts in New York and California, nearly 40 percent of federal appeals involved immigration cases.

Conservatives Who Hate Immigrants Pushing for Big Changes in Laws

If the Bushie types have their way, children born in this country to immigrant parents will no longer have the safety net of US citizenship.

Story here from US Toady.

Typo? Maybe. Maybe not.

Bushies: Summoning Newspaper Publishers and Editors to Prevent News from Seeing Print

From Howie (the GOP Media Whorelet) Kurtz in the WaPo:

President Bush has been summoning newspaper editors lately in an effort to prevent publication of stories he considers damaging to national security.

The efforts have failed, but the rare White House sessions with the executive editors of The Washington Post and New York Times are an indication of how seriously the president takes the recent reporting that has raised questions about the administration's anti-terror tactics.

Leonard Downie Jr., The Post's executive editor, would not confirm the meeting with Bush before publishing reporter Dana Priest's Nov. 2 article disclosing the existence of secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe used to interrogate terror suspects. Bill Keller, executive editor of the Times, would not confirm that he, publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and Washington bureau chief Philip Taubman had an Oval Office sit-down with the president on Dec. 5, 11 days before reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau revealed that Bush had authorized eavesdropping on Americans and others within the United States without court orders.

But the meetings were confirmed by sources who have been briefed on them but are not authorized to comment because both sides had agreed to keep the sessions off the record. The White House had no comment.

"When senior administration officials raised national security questions about details in Dana's story during her reporting, at their request we met with them on more than one occasion," Downie says. "The meetings were off the record for the purpose of discussing national security issues in her story." At least one of the meetings involved John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, and CIA Director Porter Goss, the sources said.
National security or Bush's security?

Disturbing? Oh, you bet.

Yes, the press has always had to play games to get certain stories out. But even the darkest Draconian Nixon days had nothing on the Bush-Cheney White House in terms of trying to control every aspect of everything we read, see, and hear. And no journalist or publication does us a favor if they hide the truth.

Justice Department: You Wanted Your Social Security Number Made Public, Right?


From Information Week:

The federal government is responsible for issuing Social Security numbers, but it may not be doing enough to protect these critically personal pieces of information on its own Web sites. Acting on a tip, InformationWeek was able to access Web pages that include the names and Social Security numbers of people involved in Justice Department-related legal actions. It's a discomforting discovery at a time when identity theft and fraud are on the rise.

One document on the Justice Department Executive Office for Immigration Review's site listed the name and Social Security number of a woman involved in a 2003 immigration-review case. Another document from 2002 listed the name and Social Security number of a man who was being prosecuted for committing insurance fraud. Other searches of the Justice Department's site yielded more Social Security numbers and identifying information.

When contacted on Dec. 20 about the presence of a 2003 document revealing personally identifying information, a spokesman for the Justice Department's Executive Office for Immigration Review noted that his division is governed by the department's overall privacy rules, the Privacy Act, and the Freedom of Information Act. He acknowledged that the woman's Social Security number displayed in the immigration-review case shouldn't be available to the general public, would be removed from the site, and that the woman in question would be notified that her number had been published.

A search Friday on the Justice Department's Web site for the woman's name indicated that the document had been blocked from public view. However, Google and Yahoo searches returned a hyperlink to her PDF court document. The PDF is now blocked when clicking on this link, but the information can still be obtained by clicking on the "text version" of the link.
How absolutely divine (NOT).

Two US Soldiers Dead Along with Several Iraqi Soldiers, Plus More Civilian Violence

The death toll among US soldiers is now up to 2166 as of the two killed on Christmas day.

This from the wire:

At least five Iraqis and a U.S. soldier were killed in violence in Iraq on Sunday as fresh street protests over election results kept up tension that has soured the mood after a peaceful ballot 10 days ago.

In the turbulent northern city of Mosul, the killing of a Sunni Arab student leader abducted after heading a demonstration against the election results prompted accusations by mourners at his funeral against militias loyal to the victorious Shi'ite Islamists and their Kurdish allies in the interim government.

President Jalal Talabani, meeting the U.S. ambassador who is mediating in efforts to transform the newly inclusive parliament into a viable government, urged Sunni leaders to join a new, broader coalition. Otherwise there would be no peace, he warned.

Disappointed Sunni and secular parties have demanded a rerun of the December 15 election and threatened to boycott parliament, a move that could damage U.S. hopes of forging a consensus that can keep Iraq from breaking up in ethnic and sectarian warfare.

But despite militant rhetoric, seemingly aimed at increasing their leverage, Sunnis are negotiating with others to build a governing coalition on the basis of the existing poll results.
Oh yeah, these elections are ALWAYS going to turn things around.

What happened? Did the Bushies forget to send the rigged Diebold machines?


Another "War on Terror" Strange Bit: Government Secretly Monitoring Radiation Levels on Private Property


A classified radiation monitoring program, conducted without warrants, has targeted private U.S. property in an effort to prevent an al-Qaida attack, federal law enforcement officials confirmed Friday.

While declining to provide details, including the number of cities and sites monitored, the officials said the air monitoring began after the Sept. 11 attacks and was conducted from publicly accessible areas, which they said made warrants and court orders unnecessary.

U.S. News and World Report first reported the program on Friday. The magazine said the monitoring was conducted at more than 100 Muslim sites in the Washington, D.C. area — including Maryland and Virginia suburbs — and at least five other cities when threat levels had risen: Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York and Seattle.
Muslim sites.

Telecom Companies Happily Help Bushies to Spy on Americans

A telephone company - the National Security Agency's bestest friend when the Bushies want to illegally spy on American citizens - knows how to help (gag).

From CNN:

Telecommunications companies are helping the National Security Agency collect information as part of a program President Bush secretly approved in 2002, a source familiar with the program said.

The program, which involves domestic surveillance of Americans and other people who communicate with terror suspects abroad, requires the agency to collect, trace and analyze data from these companies.

Two sources, both former officials with knowledge of the program, said a great deal of information is analyzed to glean information on terror plots.

The New York Times on Saturday reported that the NSA has been monitoring "large volumes of telephone and Internet communications flowing into and out of the United States" -- a larger volume than previously indicated by the administration.

"NSA has gained the cooperation of American telecommunications companies to obtain back-door access to streams of domestic and international communications," the newspaper added.

A former official familiar with the program said that eavesdropping is not sufficient to understand the information being collected, but by employing communications companies to help find patterns that point to terror suspects officials are better able to discern what is threatening.

And though it's been said, many times, many ways...

Merry Christmas...
Happy Hannukkah...
Joyous Kwanzaa...
Righteous Ramadan...
Amazing Agnostic Attitude....

.....toooooooo you.......