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:: Friday, January 14, 2005 ::

Live from Titan

The Hyugens probe succesfully landed, and Cassini is transmitting good Hyugens data. Unscrewing the Inscrutable is liveblogging it.
:: Morat 11:33 AM :: ::

Medical Update

Well, according to my father's doctors, he's the only man in America who can have angina and mild heart attacks with a perfectly healthy heart. No blockage anywhere, unless it's in some tiny vein they couldn't scope.

As best I understand it, my father has no other heart problems. No damage (other than age, he's sixty), no bad valves, no arrythmia, no nada. The only problem he had was a bad blockage a year ago.

So I don't know. I wasn't in the room when his doctor came in, nor do I get the lowdown on his medical conditions, so all I've heard is that his cardiologist thinks it's a dosage problem with his medication, whatever the hell that means.

On the other hand, this is a man whose had his blood vessels scoped twice in a year, so at least he knows that's not a problem.
:: Morat 9:40 AM :: ::

:: Thursday, January 13, 2005 ::

Good news, bad news sort of week...

So the good news was my employment. The bad news, my father is back in the hospital again. I'd like to say he's just wanting attention (he turns 60 in a few weeks) but it looks like heart problems.

He had a blockage about a year back, and they cleaned it out and placed a stent. Then a few months later he had chest pains and they suspected another blockage, although they had to do a stress test to be sure. (Which indicated a blockage at the stent site). That was apparently a false positive (there was no blockage when they went in to clean it).

This time there is definitely something going on. He spent the night there, and -- if I understand my mother correctly -- something this morning they decided to do a catheterization this afternoon on him. So he's back in ICU (a choice based on the medication they switched him to, not on a worsening of his condition) for a day or two at least.

I'm hoping that -- whatever the problem is -- it's easy to correct. Given how much attention they've paid to his heart over the last year, I'm guessing it's blocked at the stent site again. Nothing else looked like a problem.
:: Morat 9:34 AM :: ::

:: Wednesday, January 12, 2005 ::

Gainfully employed...

Well, I just got my job offer. I'll be continuing to do the same thing (I assume) but now for a company called Hamilton Sunstrand, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.

I know nothing about either business, although it appears UTC is pretty huge.

I have to fill out the paperwork, and I'll be getting the details of my package such as prices for various benefits, the amount of sick time and vacation time, how much -- if any -- "legacy time" I'm allotted. (Legacy time is where they count my years on this contract (2 or 3) as if I had worked for Hamilton Sunstrand the whole time, when it comes to calculating benefits).

It appears -- judging from the salary offered -- that I'll once again lose that third week of vacation. It appears God hates me having three weeks of vacation. Every time I get offered it, I have to switch companies (or divisions) within six months and end up with -- once again -- two weeks. I'll know next week.

But, in the interim, I'm quite happy to have a job for the next five years. Barring, of course, major screwups on my part.

:: Morat 11:46 AM :: ::

:: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 ::

Simple Rules of Politics.

With Dean announcing his DNC bid today, I thought I'd break out some of the simple rules of Democratic politics. Oddly, in my more naive days, I thought these "rules" were simple common sense. Sadly, it appears that many people simply don't grasp them. Without further ado:
  1. The GOP -- and it's assorted talking heads -- will call anyone elected to the DNC a "far-left liberal" who is "out of touch with the mainstream" and "further proof the Democrats have lost touch with America". Any Democrat. Even Zell Miller. So "What will Karl Rove say" should not be a serious consideration when choosing a candidate, especially for a purely party position like DNC chair.

  2. When a conservative or Republican opens his or her mouth to give you an opinion on who should be elected/nominated/entrusted with a Democratic position, assume they are either lying or wrong. They don't have your best interests at heart, and -- at least among the politicians and talking heads crowd -- aren't going to vote for or support you anyways. The proper response is "Don't you have your own party to run? Fuck off".

  3. Do not assume that what worked a decade ago will work today. Bill Clinton is not the Messiah of Democratic politics.

  4. 'Triangulation' and 'centrism' only work if you have vigorous endpoints to define the middle. When you personally define "the left", you cannot hope to occupy the middle. Only chase it.

  5. Leadership is a necessity for party officials. People would rather follow a bold leader into the Abyss than follow a weak leader into Heaven.

  6. Poll chasing is not leadership, and the public knows the difference. You will not gain popularity, only a reputation for tossing aside principles to get the "cool kids" to like you.

  7. The American people will not trust you or your ideas if you will not stand up for them. They understand compromise when it comes time to craft bills, but distrust it on the campaign trail. Parties -- like campaigns -- should forcefully promote an undiluted vision.
:: Morat 2:00 PM :: ::


Has anyone bothered sponsering a Constitutional Amendment to create a specific right to privacy?

I'd think that would have pretty wide-spread support among both the left AND the right, and would be a nice change of pace from the usual bullshit amendments about gay marriage and flag burning.

It'd be nice to see the Democrats line up behind something not only popular, but true to the ideals of America. And, more pragmatically, it'd reinforce a number of liberal issues (abortion, homosexuality, contraception, etc) while being easy to sell to the right as an extension of "Get the damn government out of my life!".

:: Morat 12:57 PM :: ::

The Doctor is In

Dean announced his candidacy for DNC chair. . Highlights from the letter:
The states are a central piece of that strategy. The Democratic Party needs a vibrant, forward-thinking, long-term presence in every single state. We must give our state parties the tools and resources they need in order to be successful. We must be willing to contest every race at every level. We can only win when we show up.

Another integral part of our strategy must be cultivating the party's grassroots. Our success depends on all of us taking an active role in our party and in the political process, by encouraging small donations, by taking the Democratic message into every community, and by organizing at the local level. After all, new ideas and new leaders don't come from consultants; they come from communities.

As important as organization is, alone it cannot win us elections. Offering a new choice means making Democrats the party of reform -- reforming America's financial situation, reforming our electoral process, reforming health care, reforming education and putting morality back in our foreign policy. The Democratic Party will not win elections or build a lasting majority solely by changing its rhetoric, nor will we win by adopting the other side's positions. We must say what we mean -- and mean real change when we say it.

But most of all, together, we have to rebuild the American community. We will never succeed by treating our nation as a collection of separate regions or separate groups. There are no red states or blues states, only American states. And we must talk to the people in all of these states as members of one community.

That word -- 'values' -- has lately become a codeword for appeasement of the right-wing fringe. But when political calculations make us soften our opposition to bigotry, or sign on to policies that add to the burden of ordinary Americans, we have abandoned our true values.

We cannot let that happen. And we cannot just mouth the words. Our party must speak plainly and our agenda must clearly reflect the socially progressive, fiscally responsible values that bring our party -- and the vast majority of Americans -- together.
Accept no substitutes.
:: Morat 11:38 AM :: ::

DNC cattle call

With the DNC race heating up (there's a nice thread on Kos based on MyDD's cattle call) I've only got one thing to say: If it's frickin' Roemer, I'm quitting the party and taking my money with me.

I'd say about half the candidates would lose my cash (I'll donate directly to the candidates I like, and avoid the DNC entirely) but retain my vote. But Roemer? Fuck that. I'd be gone. It'd be the last straw.

I'll be damned if I'm hanging around when the party chairman is anti-abortion, voted against Clinton's budget fixes and has a hard-on for killing Social Security. Oh yeah, and has a side-job at a right-wing think-tank.

Because if he takes the chair, it just proves there isn't anything or anyone the DNC won't sell out.
:: Morat 11:01 AM :: ::

Ukraine to pull all 1,600 troops from Iraq

The ever shrinking "coalition of the willing" gets smaller:
Ukraine's outgoing president ordered officials on Monday to draw up plans to withdraw the country's 1,600 troops home from Iraq in the first half of 2005 after eight of its soldiers were killed in a blast.
I know what you're thinking..."Don't forget Poland!" I haven't forgotten Poland's 2400 troops (which it plans to reduce significantly over the next year). How could I forget? I believe it's our biggest remaining ally, donating a whole 1% or so of the total troop strength in Iraq!

I wonder how long until Britain bails?
:: Morat 9:41 AM :: ::

:: Monday, January 10, 2005 ::

Death Squads in Iraq

So, I'm guessing we're all familiar with the new Pentagon "solution" to the Iraq problem.
Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. The current thinking is that while U.S. Special Forces would lead operations in, say, Syria, activities inside Iraq itself would be carried out by Iraqi paramilitaries, officials tell NEWSWEEK.
Now, it's nice to know that Negroponte's up to his old tricks again, and I realize the warbloggers are practically wetting themselves at the thought of roaming little death squads" but I see a small problem here.

Laying aside all moral and ethical questions, I'm struck by a rather pragmatic flaw with the whole idea: Where do we aim these guys?

Our human intel in Iraq is so bad that we're trashing entire cities to get to insurgents who turn out to be in other cities, and we can't even identify the number of legs the supposed "leader" of this insurgency has.

So, lacking any decent targeting information (that we lack such information should be obvious by now), I'm guessing these squads are just going to roam around randomly shooting "suspicious looking" Sunnis.

All in all, it's a brilliant plan. I mean, let's face it, training and equipping Shia and Kurdish units to wander around randomly killing Sunni "insurgents" (with no care as to whether they're really insurgents) is an excellent way to not only jump start that Civil War everyone's all worried about, but to make sure the US is clearly and obviously responsible for it.

Obviously we feel that the Middle East in general, and Iraq in particular, simply haven't been able to blame us enough for the misery, suffering, rape, torture and death in US controlled Iraq.

Brilliant plan.
:: Morat 11:01 AM :: ::

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