Friday, June 29, 2007

Weather and Global Warming

How warm is it?

The ten hottest years on record, and the records go back 150 years, were all since 1990.

2007 is expected to be the 2nd warmest year on record.

Story details

Conservatives no longer fight about "global warming." The warming has become indisputable fact. But, the evil conservatives dispute the cause.

Ignore them. Mankind can create its destiny just as individuals can make positive changes in complex societies.

Don't argue. Just do what is right.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Evil

The GOP

Bush

Cheney

Ann Coulter

Especially Ann Coulter who has done more harm to truth, justice, and the American way than Osama bin Laden.

The filth in her soul overflows from her mouth.

She just wished John Edwards dead. Not just struck down by her hateful God, but killed by 'terrorists.'

Maybe her hateful God works through bin Laden.

News story from the AP

Monday, June 25, 2007

Old News, Old Lies

The air is safe!

Getting the city back on its feet as fast as possible was the right thing to do!

The days after 9/11, when the GOP said to go back home, breath in and out, and feel safe doing what you have always done.

Whitman, the liar, not the poet

She has long insisted that her statements that the "air is safe" were aimed at those living and working near ground zero, not those who actually toiled on the toxic pile that included asbestos.

"Was it wrong to try get the city back on its feet as quickly as possible in the safest way possible? Absolutely not," she said, drawing catcalls from the crowd.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Real News

Monday and Tuesday I worked as a volunteer at 1100 Spring Street making those phone calls to GOTV.

Some of you know that I worked there for a couple weeks during the last election cycle.

So, I have some ties to the past.

But, I'm impressed with the changes under the new Chair, Jane Kidd. The place looks brighter and I wish I were talking about the decor!

Even the interns were smart, savvy, and able to engage in serious discussions. I won't name any names because I don't have permission to quote anyone. But, one young lady was very impressive in making conversation AND analyzing what was being said.

She could talk and think. I'd bet she could also walk and chew gum.

I saw several other improvements and felt the atmosphere had changed.

The previous atmosphere had defeat hanging in the air. No sense not addressing the status of Bobby Kahn and his staff.

Bobby Kahn was under attack from within the party. Custer had it easy at the Little Bighorn by comparison. At the Little Bighorn, Custer just had the Indians to fight. Kahn had the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, House, and a national trend to vote Republican or be labeled a traitor etc. Plus, every blogger south of New York wanted a position of power.

Kahn and staff fought the good battle to the last bullet. May they rest in peace.

Jane Kidd arrived without a bullet, a gun, or a shovel to bury the dead.

Judging only by what I saw and heard, the dead are buried. A new crew has taken up positions and gone on the attack.

"NUTS"

Today's Gainesville Times gives new meaning to the one word response given during the Battle of the Bulge, "Nuts." General Anthony McAuliffe at the Battle of Bastogne just said "Nuts" when asked to surrender.

"Nuts."

I understand now. He was talking about people who surrender. "Nuts."

Did anyone else read this in the Gainesville Times Opinion Page?

Carter and his cronies were unable to spot real terrorists

Either Jimmy Carter is mentally ill or he enjoys making an idiot out of himself.

Carter is now giving his 2 cents (not worth a cent) regarding how the United States should fund and jump to work with the terror group Hamas.

Well, as a recent article mentioned, it was Jimmy Carter's administration that advanced the Iranian revolution. After all, who can forget Andy Young saying, "Khomeini will eventually be hailed as a saint;" or Carter's Iranian ambassador, William Sullivan stating, "Khomeini is a Gandhi-like figure;" or Carter adviser, James Bill, stating that Khomeini was not a mad mujahid, but a man of "impeccable integrity and honesty."

Jimmy and his friends are not very smart when it comes to identifying and dealing with Muslim terrorists.

Et Gentin

Gainesville


James Bill was not a Carter advisor. The James Bill quotation comes from a Newsweek article dated Feb 12, 1979. Newsweek described that James Bill as a Prof at the U of Texas in Austin and an authority on Iran.

Not all the idiots in Texas left and moved to the White House.

Nor, with Et Gentin living in Georgia, can we laugh about Idiots being Bigger in Texas.

I can find no quotes like the ones mentioned by dear old Et... except on the "I hate America" blogs. Et's letter is almost a cut and paste job from the internet.

Mad Dog

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Jim Whitehead in Georgia's 10th Congressional District

Here's some facts from Irag that Jim Whitehead doesn't want you to know!

30 percent of Baghdad is chaos!

Another 30 percent is dangerously out of our control.

The remaining 40 percent is mostly safe most of the time.

And that is not from the 'liberal media' that's registering al-Qaeda terrorists to vote in Athens, Georgia!

It's right from the General's mouth!

But, don't worry. Jim Whitehead said ... Iraq's not a big deal in the 10th.

Poor Jim. He recently forgot where he lives. The man actually said he had visited the 10th District five times. Jim? Did you really forget that you live in the 10th District? Jim? Are you listening?

JIM!!!!!! Dang, the man isn't here when he's here!

Meanwhile, in the "not important" Iraq ...

[Lt. General, Raymond]Odierno said there was a long way to go in retaking the city [Baghdad back] from Shiite Muslim militias, Sunni Arab insurgents and al-Qaida terrorists. He said only about "40 percent is really very safe on a routine basis" — with about 30 percent lacking control and a further 30 percent suffering "a high level of violence."

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Democracy the North Georgia Way!

Over at Control Congress, the conservatives are whining about people not being involved in their communities and the political process. Looking at this crowd at a Lumpkin County meeting, the conservatives are wrong again. People are involved and actively taking a part in the decision making process.

People aren't interested in the cheapest government possible either. Being cheap gets defeated by quality. Imagine that! The folkes in Lumpkin want to honor the natural beauty of the mountains. So would any reasonable person. They also want a few acres of parks, ballfields, and playgrounds for kids to use. That would be a free use of public lands. OH MY!

I can't imagine voters asking the public to pay per visit to parks but it does happen, or does it? I think the user fees and parking fees at public facilities were set up by politicians, not voters.

Enough of my spin and positioning talk. Read about average people involved in the political process way beyond just going to the polls every four years.

Bless them all.

Court Conundrum: Engineers say building over Lumpkin ball field cheaper by a million


The Times
DAHLONEGA


Photo
Scott Rogers The Times

Residents filled the Lumpkin County Courthouse to capacity Tuesday evening for the results of a feasibility study on redesigning Courthouse Hill for a new judicial center and health department. A 3,000-signature petition aims to keep the new buildings from demolishing a Little League ballpark and community swimming pool.


Photo

What's next?

Lumpkin County commissioners could decide on the future site of the county courthouse at their 7 p.m. meeting June 21. A rally to keep the courthouse at its current site on 'Courthouse Hill' is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday on the Dahlonega square.


Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners Chairman Steve Gooch joked Tuesday that he was offended he didn't get a "I'm a voting Neanderthal" T-shirt from a group of citizens opposing the relocation of the county's courthouse. Gooch was promptly given a shirt, which he said he would put in his scrapbook, and then he and other commissioners listened to hours of debate over the future site of the planned $14 million judicial center.

An engineering firm hired by the county for a $10,000 fee to study the feasibility of keeping the courthouse on Dahlonega's "Courthouse Hill" estimated it would cost about $1 million more than commissioners' initial plans to build the 65,000-square-foot structure at the site of several old ball fields on Riley Road.

The $14 million figure includes the nearly $1 million cost for constructing two new ball fields as part of a 150-acre park on Yahoola Creek. There are currently three fields on Riley Road.

More than 100 residents, some who say they were called "Neanderthals" for opposing the commission's plans, criticized officials for wanting to build the courthouse on Ott Anderson Field off Morrison Moore Parkway next to a community swimming pool.

Resident Jim Smulian, who along with his wife presented two options for keeping the courthouse on the hill, said the Riley Road site would put arrested criminals in close proximity to children visiting the pool.

"The jail being built by the library was a mistake," Lumpkin Commissioner John Raber said. "We don't have to make two (mistakes)."

Joe Gardner, an architect who took part in the site analysis for the Courthouse Hill plan, said that plan would force construction on a confined area and would add cost and time to the project. Referring to the site on Riley Road, Gardner said by keeping the community pool children would be able to visit it and a new library planned on the site.

Richard Collins, a construction manager involved in the study, also said the topography of the two sites contrasted.

"Although Courthouse Hill provides a certain ambiance, it brings a lot of inherent problems with building up on a hill," he said. "From a builders standpoint, (the old ball fields site on Riley Road) is ideal."

Collins said the new courthouse, as well as plans for a new library and health department building, could not be built at the same time on Courthouse Hill. He estimated it would take nearly two years to construct the three buildings at the site in phases, compared to just more than a year to build the trio concurrently off Riley Road.

Commissioners, however, have not decided if the three buildings will be built at the same time.

More than 3,000 people have signed petitions against the Lumpkin County Board of Commissioner's initial choice of replacing the recreational fields with an expanded judicial center. A rally to keep the courthouse on its current hill is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday on the Dahlonega square. Flyers for the event have been posted throughout the city.

"We all feel the BOC has wasted $10,000 of taxpayer's money on this proposal (to study building onto Courthouse Hill)," Smulian said. "We need an independent survey by a company that has no ties to anyone on this board."

Pat Gawthrop, president of the Lumpkin Board of Health, pleaded with commissioners to move ahead with the plans to build the courthouse on the ball fields because a $500,000 block grant needed for the new health department building could be lost. The Courthouse Hill project would move the health department into the current library building, while the site on Riley Road would allow for a new facility.

"Moving to the library simply will not work," she said. "We don't have time to look for other land."

Contact: mstewart@gainesvilletimes.com, (770) 718-3432

Originally published Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Gainesville Times Letter by Lorraine

Scientific data is truth, if we choose to accept it

Biological and weather phenomena spawned by climate change are now observable and undeniable. In fact the accuracy of predictions by multiple scientific models for years is striking. "Greenhouse gases" and "warming" have now passed even the lips of our president.

With respect, Ms. Humphries' letter to the editor, The Times June 9, is representative of those who continue to address this changing environment as a purely theological question. It is not. And it is not a question for politics.

It is mathematics, chemistry and physics. It is the laws of gravity, thermodynamics, Boyle's laws, Archimedes' principles and on and on. The disciplines of science have one legitimate reason to exist: the full illumination of the natural laws and principles and their operation. The good news is that options for action and solutions are inherent in the very reliability and predictability of these demonstrated facts.

Unfortunately, for whatever reasons, it is clear that the agenda of the conservative movement and the Bush administration is to delay and prevent accumulation and circulation of accurate information. This pervasive defunding of established environmental research programs and emasculation of scientific reporting when coupled with extensive misinformation and propaganda campaigns by big business is alarming.

Succumbing to the irrational reactions born of the fearful men of limited grasp that currently hold political and economic power must be resisted. It is not irreligious to understand and rely on scientific fact. We all do it every day. The truth and good solutions are in the science, if we will accept them.

Personally I find there is ample room for both the "metrics" of science and a spiritual life; of joy in the mysteries of creation, order banishing chaos, the interconnectedness of all life, a personal God and so much more.

W. Lorraine Watkins

Dawsonville

Originally published Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Monday, June 11, 2007

Listen to the Generals

"I listen to the Generals," a favorite line used by Bush.

Both of them, it would seem. There are nine combat commands. Two are run by Army Generals. Bush will cut that number to one in about thirty days.

In July, will Bush talk about listening to the General?

Full Story from the AP

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, former head of the Army War College who holds a Ph.D. in history from Duke University, said he could find no prior period when the Army was so engaged overseas and so underrepresented at top levels.

"It's absolutely extraordinary," he said. "I just can't believe the numbers. It's cultural, it's political, and it's deeply ingrained. I've never seen it to the degree it exists today."

Besides Special Operations Command, which is located at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, there are eight other "combatant commands." These are the structures responsible for unique wartime functions, such as transportation, or for managing troops in a particular region of the world, such as Europe or the Middle East.

Combatant commanders have short lines of authority; they report to the defense secretary and the president.

Someone should tell the young men and women at Military College of Georgia aka North Georgia College and State University.

Serve your country. Get an education. Be ignored by the Commander and Chief.

What War on Terror?

Fox News or Faux News?

This is very tongue in cheek, so don't worry if you don't get it at first.

"Today's angry conservative doesn't get enough good news. Fox News has learned how to fix that problem. Just say no to the war news.

Did 34,000 civilians die in Iraq during 2006 as a result of the War on Terror? Just say no!

Did a suicide bomber kill dozens at an Iraq University? Just say no!

Did the Justice Department fire some attorneys? Just say no!

Did you get asked to make a public statement to explain the lack of coverage on the War on Terror? Just say NO!

Did Brittney Spears forget her underwear again? JUST SAY YES!

From the article on the bias at Fox News by the AP:

If Fox's audience is dominated by Republicans who are disgusted about hearing bad news on Iraq, it would stand to reason that you'd want to feed them less of it. Bill O'Reilly touched upon that idea on the air one night last December, telling viewers that the lowest-rated segment of his show the previous night was when Iraq was discussed. Ratings jumped at talk about Britney Spears, he said.
So who really watches Fox News? It would seem that dirty old men with a underwear fetish tune in to Bill O'Reilly and company.

Keep it real, Bill. Tell us how much money the reporter gets for laying on the pavement to film Britney's bare bottom to boast your boring broadcast ratings.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Saxby Chambliss, Georgia Senator

My very good friend, Saxby Shameless, the embarassing Senator from Georgia, has gotten the weather report.

There's an ill wind blowing for him after supporting Ted Kennedy on immigration.

So Shameless did the truly important thing. He flipped flopped like a dying mackerel.

He was against the Kennedy Bill before he was for it. And, against it after he was for it.

So, in his skewed opinion, he was right two thirds of the time. And, we will all remember that he was right after he's gone from office.

Story from the Gainesville Time online.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Kangaroo Court

Bush has been holding an unknown number of "enemy combatants" on a military base in Cuba.

Gonzales and others helped Bush avoid giving a fair trial to these "enemy combatants."

The kangaroo court failed today. Horribly. See the full story from the AP here.

The system set up by "legal experts" like Gonzales, only has jurisdiction over "unlawful enemy combatants."

We don't have any of those. Only "enemy combatants."

Today, that military court correctly ruled that it had no jurisdiction over the "enemy combatants" held in Cuba.

All the enemy combatants remain in legal limbo despite the best legal minds in the U.S.

Well, at least those legal minds willing to work for Gonzales and Bush et al.

If the prosecution in today's ruling wants to appeal the judges decision, there is an appeal process.

However, the appeals court does not exist. It was never formed.

How do you think this will work into the hands of our enemies?

If I were going to put a spin on it, I'd get footage from the old black and white Superman television series. Remember that little slogan, Truth, Justice, and the American Way? Good old Superman with his hands on his hips, cape blowing in the wind?

Just slow down the speed. And have a talking head ridicule Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Maybe put Bush's head on Superman's body.

But, I don't have to spin it.

The Lie of better economic times

I'm never going to finish exposing all the lies by the GOP's talking heads.

But, I'm starting to move on.

Under Clinton, crime as measured in statistics fell while the population grew. A good source for this is the FBI national crime statistics.

Clinton did not impose restrictions on libery such as have been imposed by the Patriot Act.

Television entertainment shows were not doing internet stings operations on child predators like Dateline and a few others have done.

Crime rates overall fell. The economy grew. Population grew.

Since the year 2000, Clinton's last year in office, the economy has staggered a couple of times.

The standard Republican tool for any economic condition, good or bad, is cutting taxes for corporations and the rich by a huge amount. While giving average people a few scraps that look like tax cuts.

Yummy!

Here is a story from the AP on how crime is increasing. Increasing despite combining many criminal databasess under a department of Homeland Security. Despite record levels of the stock market. Despite political stumps speeches how GOP candidates are the party of Law and Order.

Tongue in cheek, notice that the Liberal Heartland, the northeast did not have the problems of the Deeply Conservative South.

"Violent crime rose in every region of the country except for the Northeast."

That would include Boston and New York. Kennedy Country and Clinton Country.

Tom Nichols Column, Gainesville Times

I thought this column earned a reprint on my blog. Thanks Tom.

On the same day in late May that my great friend RW died of a heart problem, some seven U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq. I have been thinking about war and death ever since.

RW and I often talked about our military service. He was two years older than me and served in the Navy in World War II and was part of the Normandy Beach invasion as a medic.

After he came home, he decided to go to pharmacy school and joined the Army ROTC to help pay for his education. His dad had died when he was only 17 and so he had to pay for his own college education. ROTC helped.

But when the Korean War broke out, his unit was called up and he spent three long and very difficult years as a medic in several M.A.S.H. units near the front line.

After those experiences he had nightmares, which brought back memories of those events. After a while those dreams ceased, he got married, had a family, and began a 50-year career as a pharmacist.

He hated war because of the hell he had lived through.

To beat the draft, and to gain GI Bill financial support for my education after graduating from high school, I joined the Army and was assigned to the Army Air Corps in the occupation of Japan.

While I had not seen the cruel reality of the killing that war entails, I hated war for what it does to all involved. I passed through Hiroshima less than a year after we dropped an atom bomb on it. I remember what ruins I saw from the train window.

The atom bomb ended World War II. But we killed civilians as well as military, old, young, everybody in range of the blast. War is hell.

When our Founding Fathers drafted the U.S. Constitution, they made the president serve as commander in chief of all the military. But they put a restraint on his military powers. He cannot declare war. Only Congress has that power.

Perhaps a second restraint is stronger. The president must go to Congress for all money to be spent on our military. Congress controls the purse strings, but when war is waging, they usually give the president what he wants so as not to leave our military without funds to continue fighting.

The Constitution did not envision a standing army. Instead, it gave citizens the right to bear arms so that when the British redcoats or other invaders approached their village, the citizens could rush out the door after grabbing the handy musket and become a form of local National Guard. After the war, the citizens would return home, replace the musket by the door, and let life continue.

Now, we have a standing Army, and a National Guard that can be called up by the president.

I believe that conflicting viewpoints in an open discussion are absolutely essential to the existence of a true democracy.

The discussions we are having currently about the validity of the war in Iraq are healthy for our country, but they should have been done much earlier. I wish that President Bush had asked for a declaration of war that would have given Congress the opportunity to have a debate. Congress represents us, the people, and we are divided over this war. A debate could help us think about options, and consequences.

I know that current conditions are different from when the Constitution was drafted. Then, we could declare war on nation states only. Now we are fighting terrorists in many guises.

We could declare war on a nation state that directly supports terrorist organizations by providing money and a safe haven in which terrorists could organize and train would-be terrorists. However, our main enemies today are not nation-states, but elusive terrorist organizations in fanatic cell groups.

No war since World War II has been a declared war. Beginning with the Korean War, we have fought "police actions."

I see no reason that Congress could not have a debate over whether or not to declare a state of emergency that would justify a police action on behalf of the United Nations, NATO or other organizations.

My friend, RW, and I believed that to live is to have the opportunity to make a difference in our world in which we exist. To die is to end that opportunity forever.

Our greatest national treasure is not gold in Fort Knox. It is the blood of those who fight to defend our country. We should not waste any of our military's blood. We should debate fully before any of our military are sent into harm's way to undertake a war or police action necessary to our national security.

I greatly value the discussions that RW and I had, especially those about his accounts of war that he had seen firsthand. It was an honor to have been his friend.

Tom Nichols is a retired college professor who lives in Gainesville; e-mail, wtomnichols@charter.net.

Originally published Monday, June 4, 2007

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Reposting some Employment figures

People often think numbers and facts should be in any positive discussion. In heated conflicts with multiple points of view, numbers and authority based on numbers will not settle the dispute. With the understanding that sources are always open to question, including government web pages, I am presenting the an unpopular point of view in North Georgia.

Year Civilian Labeled % Labeled Labeled Unemployed Discount
Population Employed Employed Not-Employed Rate*
1992 192805 118492 61.5 64700 9613 3.00
1993 194838 120259 61.7 65638 8940 3.00
1994 196814 123060 62.5 65758 7996 4.75
1995 198584 124900 62.9 66280 7404 5.25
1996 200591 126708 63.2 66647 7236 5.00
1997 203133 129558 63.8 66837 6739 5.00
1998 205220 131463 64.1 67547 6210 4.75
1999 207753 133488 64.3 68385 5880 4.00
2000 212577 136891 64.4 69994 5692 6.00


I assembled the Clinton data table from only two sources. The discount rate information comes from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. This single rate figure per year does not fully reflect all changes within that respective year. The Discount Rate, as it was called, can be changed up and down within a year. Data was selected to be near the year-end. As the population grew between 1992 and 2000, more people became employed and fewer people were classified as unemployed.


Clinton Era ’92 to ’00 Data Table
Numbers in thousand unless expressed as a percentage or a rate*.


Bush Era Data Table ’01 to ‘04
Year Civilian Labeled % Labeled Labeled Unemployed Discount
Population Employed Employed Not-Employed Rate*
2000 212,577 136,891 64.4 69,994 5,692 6.00
2001 215,092 136,933 63.7 71,359 6,801 1.25
2002 217,570 136,485 62.7 72,707 8,378 0.75
2003 221,168 137,736 62.3 74,658 8,774 2.00
2004 223,357 139,252 62.3 75,956 8,149 3.75
Numbers in thousand unless expressed as a percentage or a rate*.


I assembled the Bush data from the same sources. It shows more people unemployed and fewer people (as a percentage) as employed. This represents trends that differ strongly between the two administrations.

There is more information out there. This data is my choice. The employment numbers during the Clinton era grew under a heavier discount rate burden. The economic growth rate ( as defined by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, including inflation ) grew rapidly. The discount rate was increased to slow that growth during the Clinton Era just as it was lowered during the Bush Era to increase growth (and recently raised to control inflation ).

I don’t look upon these numbers as settling any dispute. Other data to be examined include Balance of Payments, Total Debt as reported by the US Treasury, money supply, velocity of money, savings, consumer debt and its components. Some might include stock market figures and exchange rates.

Friday, June 1, 2007

FEMA WARNING!

No, FEMA did not issue a warning. I'm warning taxpayers about FEMA.

Mike Brown ran FEMA into the gutter. Yeah, you would think that would be the gutters in New Orleans. But, no, I'm talking about how FEMA has been put in charge of deciding to remove wetlands from federal protection.

The Clean Water Act of 1972 as modified in 1977 protected wetlands and gave the Army Corps of Engineer power to define and delineate wetlands for protection.

Not any more. Since the Homeland Security Act, FEMA has been running that show. FEMA can issue a letter at whim making wetlands disappear. POOF!

All it takes is a letter and not only are wetlands gone but floodplains, too.

Not what does that mean to the taxpayers?

IF a hurricane hits and floods an area, with several inches of rain, homeowners will be begging the Federal government to rebuild their flooded home. Yes, like in New Orleans where the federal and state governments are spending BILLIONS to repair private homes and businesses.

But New Orleans is just one area. Georgia has 1 out of every 10 acres of wetlands in the United States. And, huge coastal floodplains as well as huge flooding in the mountains and the city of Atlanta just to name three areas.

What is happening and has been happening, in parts of Georgia, developers are having entire subdivisions removed from the 100 year floodplain with just a letter. No investigations. Plats are being filed in court houses that don't show existing wetlands or existing floodplains.

People, innocent people, buy the houses built in the real world floodplain with a 1 in 4 chance their properties will be damaged by a flood. But, because FEMA filed a little old piece of paper, the builders did not disclose the flood history of the property. And, property buyers were not FORCED to buy flood insurance.

No private insurance coverage means the federal government will be doing more than it's share of water removal and repair.

If the severe drought gets hit hard by a hurricane.

Think about the GOP policy of being pro-development at any costs to the taxpayer and consumer.

FEMA is eliminating history. A history home buyers have a right to access in public records. Records that builders don't want the buyer to see. After all, who would knowingly buy a home in a floodplain? A rational buyer would not.

Look for a huge liability for state, local, and federal taxpayers in the upcoming hurricane season.

Thanks to Mike Brown, FEMA, Homeland Security, the GOP, and the special interest called developers.