Newly-elected Congresswoman Michele Bachmann got quite a bit of face time with President Bush after his State of the Union Speech Tuesday night.
While the President was signing autographs for members of Congress after the speech, the sixth-district Republican put her hand on Bush's shoulder. However, it wasn't just a tap. After he signed an autograph for her, Bachmann grabbed the president and did not let go for almost 30 seconds.
After signing the autograph for Bachmann, the president turns away, but Bachmann doesn't let go. In fact, the video shows her reaching out to get a better grip on him.
Bush then leans over to kiss another congresswoman, but Bachmann is still holding on. Bachmann then gets more attention, a kiss and an embrace from the president. A few seconds later, Bachmann's hand finally comes off the presidential shoulder.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Posted by Larry Burkum at 4:52 PM
Monday, January 22, 2007
City Utilities restored electricity (glorious electricity) to Casa DocLarry Saturday morning, almost exactly 180 hours (7.5 days) after it went off. The DocLarry family slept in our own beds Saturday night. The furnace ran constantly for 10 hours to bring the internal temperature back to 68 degrees.
About 13,000 customers are still without power, according to this morning's paper. I feel for them. Many have endured a longer time without electricity than we did. That includes the Chatter guy whom I spoke with earlier today. While I admire and appreciate the difficult work the utility crews continue to do, I wish City Utilities would be more forthcoming with information. I understand it may be difficult to determine exactly when power will be restored, but surely something more than "about a week" could be provided. For example, pinpoint the remaining outages and explain the difficulty in dealing with those areas.
It is frustrating to be without power. It is frustrating to watch power be restored to your neighbors two blocks away and remain without power. At least some of that frustration could be handled (and tempers controlled) if CU provided more information. And, quite frankly, the local news media need to get on the stick and start asking tougher questions. Yes, people are enduring the outage. But all is not well in the Queen City, and that story needs to be told.
Where are the dollar estimates of damage? Where are the maps detailing the power outage and damage? Where are the crime stories? Yes, the vast majority of Springfieldians are being very good. Yes, there are plenty of "angels" in our midst. But there are also bad people who have and will take advantage of this situation. That is also newsworthy.
News people should not be cheerleaders. Tell the whole story, the good and the bad. And press officials for more information. Your readers, viewers and listeners deserve nothing less.
Posted by Larry Burkum at 10:34 AM
One of the great things about our house is the back yard and the deck looking out on to an empty field. Lots of woodland creatures in the area and Mrs. DocLarry has taken to feeding them.
We have two bird feeders hanging from a double shepherd's crook, and a glass pie plate on the deck filled with bird/squirrel food. We're amazed at the variety of birds which dine at our abode. We're also pleased with the comical antics of the squirrels, having counted up to seven at a time on our deck and in the yard. I am intrigued by the squirrels' ability to climb the metal shepherd's crook and to hang upside down from it while eating from the bird feeder. This sometimes results in the feeder falling with the squirrel attached, spilling the contents on the ground. That makes it easier for all the creatures to partake, but I don't think the squirrels do so intentionally.
Perhaps I've underestimated their intelligence. This morning a tapping disturbed my perusal of today's paper. Looking toward the deck I saw (and I am NOT making this up) a squirrel sitting on its haunches at the door, tapping at the glass. I swear. I didn't know if I should answer or not. The squirrel wasn't patient enough to wait for me and moved on.
Do squirrels have some sort of fund-raiser going on which requires them to sell door to door? Squirrel Scout cookies, maybe?
Posted by Larry Burkum at 10:19 AM
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Monday, January 15, 2007
My brain, along with the rest of me, is far too cold to come up with a pithy title for this post. I grew up in Iowa and lived in Michigan for four years. I know snow. It snows (or it did) in the places I've lived, sometimes heavily. I know how to deal with that. I've even been without power due to snow for several hours. And I've been without power (electricity) due to squirrels. But I have never experienced anything like this ice storm.
Mrs. DocLarry and I dutifully went to the grocery on Friday afternoon and stocked up. Most of the food is lost due to the power outage. We filled the car with gas and thus have been able to avoid the long lines at the few stations able to run their pumps. We have candles and a flashlight with fresh batteries and firewood. We thought we were prepared. We weren't.
I was watching KY3 Friday evening when it lost power. Switched to something else until the cable system went down. Then began to read a book. The lights went out about 10:30 p.m. and still have not come back on. The silence was kind of neat, until we started hearing the crack and crash of branches breaking from the weight of the ice. We also heard the boom of transformers blowing and the buzz of the electrical grid trying to come back on line. And we even kind of enjoyed the light show from all the electrical outages.
Baxter did not like the sounds and sights, so we all slept in the living room Friday night. Each crash brought us to the window to check on damage. A flashlight doesn't really show the detail of the devastation. I've experience a tornado which caused less damage. Neighbors two houses north had a tree land on their roof. It's still there. Neighbors across the street lost almost all limbs from the 40-foot evergreens in their back yard. It's as if a lumberjack chopped each branch off in preparation for taking the trunk down.
A power line or cable line to another house across the street was taken down. Our poplar tree survived Friday night only to lose several branches Saturday evening. One younger tree broke at about two feet up the trunk. A limb from our neighbor's walnut tree fell on our roof but slid off, crashing to our deck and scaring the beejeebers out of all three occupants of Casa DocLarry.
A trip to Lowes on Saturday to purchase AA and AAA batteries led to the purchase of an LED flashlight, which provided enough light to read by. Warm take out food and additional firewood made us feel better for the second night without electricity, this one spent in front of the fireplace.
Sunday's adventures included a trip to the laundromat for some clean, warm clothing and a warm ride in the car. Still no D-cell batteries for the original flashlight, but we did pick up more firewood. Our gas water heater meant we could take hot showers on Sunday, and a gas grill meant Mrs. DocLarry could provide a hot meal Sunday evening. The additional, heavy freezing rain caused more tree damage but most of the limbs are gone from trees near our house. And as well as the fireplace had been doing, it just couldn't compensate for the colder air and the wind.
Baxter had a vet appointment today and the vet staff was kind enough to watch him for a couple hours while Mrs. DocLarry and I went to her office to warm up and charge our cell phones. We decided it was time to find a motel room and were lucky enough to score one that allows pets. Upon registering the desk clerk said they don't normally allow pets in the room we were renting, but the manager decided it was more important to help people than to worry about pets. The kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze me.
So the DocLarry family will be spending a night or two in a motel with heat, hot water, television, and a microwave. Mrs. DocLarry gets to have popcorn tonight. DocLarry gets to watch television for the first time in nearly 72 hours. and Baxter gets to sleep in a bed.
Our beautiful trees may have to come down, and we've lost some perishable food. But we are coping. Others have it far worse. We're lucky enough to be able to afford a motel room for a couple nights, and lucky enough to find one in Springfield. Others are far worse off. The Red Cross says they need bottled water badly. Plenty of people will need help removing tree limbs. If you have the ability to help, please do. If you have a warm, dry home, appreciate it. And check on your neighbors to make sure they're OK.
When that tree fell on the house to our north, neighbors went to the house to check on the occupants, who didn't happen to be home. Others have come up with chain saws. I've seen folks with generators running drop cords to their neighbors so that several houses can at least have a little electricity.
Posting will be sparse until we have electricity at home again. The DocLarry family is doing fine. And we'll be taking bottled water to the Red Cross tomorrow.
Posted by Larry Burkum at 8:11 PM
Friday, January 12, 2007
This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it.
As Think Progress notes, the White House took multiple steps yesterday to elevate dramatically the threat rhetoric against Iran. Bush included what The New York Times described as “some of his sharpest words of warning to Iran” yet. But those words could really be described more accurately not as “threats” but as a declaration of war.
[. . .]
I think there is a tendency to dismiss the possibility of some type of war with Iran because it is so transparently destructive and detached from reality that it seems unfathomable. But if there is one lesson that everyone should have learned over the last six years, it is that there is no action too extreme or detached from reality to be placed off limits to this administration. The President is a True Believer and the moral imperative of his crusade trumps the constraints of reality.
[. . .]
For all the pious talk about the need to be "seriously concerned" and give "thoughtful consideration" to what will happen if we leave Iraq, there is a very compelling -- and neglected -- need to ponder what will happen if we stay and if we escalate. And the need for "serious concern" and "thoughtful consideration" extends to consequences not just in Iraq but beyond.
Go read the whole thing. And then read Balloon-Juice's Tim's observations about Iran and its prior war with Iraq.
"This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it."
Posted by Larry Burkum at 12:35 AM
Thursday, January 11, 2007
While most of the president's speech last night regurgitated previous "plans for victory," there were a couple new, and frightening items. If we connect the dots correctly, the U.S. is about to go to war with Iran.
We are also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region. We will expand intelligence sharing - and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies.
As pa2006voter notes:
You don't use a 17 foot long surface launched missile with large radars and other trucks that tracks incoming aircraft, helicopters and long range missiles in an urban street battles. You would use it to defend against incoming Iranian aircraft and Scud missiles.
And there is this:
Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity -- and stabilizing the region in the face of the extremist challenge. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.
Bush seems to be saying he intends to start one or two new wars. And he put a Navy guy in charge of CENTCOM.
The Iranian War may be starting already. There are reports of a U.S. raid on the Iranian Consulate in Irbil.
U.S.-led multinational forces detained six Iranians Thursday at Tehran's diplomatic mission in the northern city of Irbil, Iraqi officials said, as President Bush accused Iran and Syria of aiding militants and promised to "interrupt" the flow of support as part of his new war strategy.
The U.S. military said it had taken six people into custody in the Irbil region but made no mention of a raid on the Iranian consulate.
The forces entered the building about 3 a.m., detaining the Iranians and confiscating computers and documents, two senior local Kurdish officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information. Irbil is a city in the Kurdish-controlled north, 220 miles from Baghdad.
[. . .]
At the Pentagon, a senior U.S. military official said the building was not a consulate and did not have any diplomatic status. The six Iranians were taken in a "cordon-and-knock" operation, said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.
Foreign embassies and diplomatic outposts are legally the foreign soil of the country represented. The Pentagon says the building had no diplomatic status, but Iraqi officials say it did. This action might very well be an act of war. The Bush administration appears to have condoned the very action the U.S. condemned Iran for - attacking diplomatic missions in violation of international law.
Bush already gave the world permission to torture our soldiers. He may have just given every country in the world justification for attacking U.S. diplomatic posts and embassies, and taking Americans hostage.
Finally, there's the last line of the speech:
We go forward with trust that the Author of Liberty will guide us through these trying hours.
Compare that note to the last lines of FDR's fireside chat on December 9, 1941:
And in the difficult hours of this day -- through dark days that may be yet to come -- we will know that the vast majority of the members of the human race are on our side. Many of them are fighting with us. All of them are praying for us. But, in representing our cause, we represent theirs as well -- our hope and their hope for liberty under God.
This is not good.
Update: The rumors have started.
Washington intelligence, military and foreign policy circles are abuzz today with speculation that the President, yesterday or in recent days, sent a secret Executive Order to the Secretary of Defense and to the Director of the CIA to launch military operations against Syria and Iran.
The President may have started a new secret, informal war against Syria and Iran without the consent of Congress or any broad discussion with the country.
Posted by Larry Burkum at 9:45 AM
But with expensive new programs being proposed every day, this protection against tax hikes has never been more important.
Do you suppose Blunt was referring to Bush's "new" strategy to send 21,500 additional U.S. troops to Iraq at a cost of $5.6 BILLION this fiscal year? Or was he referring to Bush's expected call for an additional $100 billion for the war?
Probably not, because the Bush Administration has been funding the Iraq war through emergency supplemental bills, instead of including the costs in the Administration's yearly formal budget request for running the government. That means war costs are not included in the Administration's deficit calculations, and are not subject to overall spending caps. The Iraq war has so far cost the nation $350 billion.
Your children will have to eventually pay that bill.
Posted by Larry Burkum at 12:03 AM
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Many years ago, in a city far, far away...we boarded Baxter in a kennel while taking a trip. It was a nice place and we'd heard good things about it. It was winter, so the owners heated the kennel with a wood-burning stove. Retrieving Baxter upon our return, we noticed a strong "smokey" odor eminating from his fur. We forever refer to that odor as "Beagle Jerky."
Now I know exactly how Baxter felt after that experience.
Mrs. DocLarry loves fire. She often has candles burning and adores the stone fireplace in our house. Truth be told, the fireplace was a big selling point for us. Our last home had a fireplace insert, more useful for heating (with the included blower) than for fire enjoyment. So we've been looking forward to cold weather so as to enjoy the crackling of wood, the flicking of flames, and the smell of burning wood.
New Year's Eve found us at home ready to watch the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie on DVD, basking in the glow of a nice fire. Mrs. DocLarry built a wonderful fire and I loaded the DVD player. While sitting through interminable previews and ads (you can't scan past them) we finally settled in for a heaping-helping of Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner, and Elizabeth Swann.
A few minutes into the movie I smelled smoke. Mrs. DocLarry informed me that the fire was putting out a bit more smoke than usual but it would soon be all better. After a few more minutes of jaunty adventure and derring-do, I could not help noticing the room filling with smoke.
Pause the DVD, and check the flue! Unfortunately, one must reach into our fireplace in order to open or close the flue. This is a bit tricky with a roaring fire as we discovered. Mrs. DocLarry used a poker to work the flue and discovered that it indeed was not entirely open. Efforts to open said flue proved ineffective. Meanwhile, smoke continued to fill the room.
We opened the patio door and windows and turned on the ceiling fan. This helped, but did not solve the problem. The fire must die!
When the flames were mostly out and mostly embers remained, Mrs. DocLarry was able to open the flue. An hour later the smoke was gone.
Unfortunately, the odor remains. Baxter, Mrs. DocLarry and I all smell like jerky. Still. Two days later. I've hidden the matches.
Posted by Larry Burkum at 10:50 PM
Must share the following from Mrs. DocLarry:
So the photo on the front page of NYTimes online shows President Ford's coffin being carried down the steps of the Capital. And my first thought was "I wonder if anyone will trip?"
If you don't understand why that's funny, you're too young to remember anything about President Ford.
Posted by Larry Burkum at 2:42 PM