McNutcase out looking for more roommates
In the past I've talked a lot about what a right wing extremist and a clown North Carolina's goofy little congressman Patrick McHenry is. I've never mentioned the considerable rumors about him being another hypocritical Republican closet queen.
Last week The Hill hinted something was up in a story ostensibly about bachelors, "A Spouse, Who Needs It?" The bookend bachelors are both from North Carolina, the oldest bachelor congressman being Republican Howard Coble, 76, and the youngest being McNutcase, now 32 (although he still has the social maturity of a precocious 15 year old).
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, those who wed face an uphill battle: The divorce rate is holding steady at about half of all unions.
?If you have lots of people who are in this situation themselves, they?re going to have a different orientation,? Habbel said.
?Nowadays most people don?t bat an eye? when it comes to a candidate who is divorced, he said. ?Newt Gingrich certainly did catch some flak for how he handled his relationships, but generally speaking, social trends have made it more acceptable and less of a stigma [to be divorced],? Habbel said.
That growing sense of acceptance could also be true for gay members. There are two openly gay members in the 110th Congress, Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). Baldwin is in a domestic partnership; Frank ranks among the spouseless camp. And while two out of 435 is hardly a significant sliver of Congress as a whole, that number could well be higher, assuming there are some members who have not yet talked publicly about their sexual orientation...
But singles in Congress who would like to find that special someone need not despair. Members who enter the House single don?t always stay that way. In 2003, Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) married his girlfriend, Betsy, after six years as a House bachelor.
Of course, it might be convenient to just start looking inside the House chamber for love.
The NY Times reports today that billions of dollars worth of Iraqi oil is missing according to a new government study - but the report doesn't speculate where the oil cash disappeared to. However, a recent CorpWatch article did speculate - mostly right into the pockets of corrupt officials and the oil companies who do under-the-table deals with them.
The NY Times:
Between 100,000 and 300,000 barrels a day of Iraq?s declared oil production over the past four years is unaccounted for and could have been siphoned off through corruption or smuggling, according to a draft American government report.And CorpWatch:
Using an average of $50 a barrel, the report said the discrepancy was valued at $5 million to $15 million daily.
The report does not give a final conclusion on what happened to the missing fraction of the roughly two million barrels pumped by Iraq each day, but the findings are sure to reinforce longstanding suspicions that smugglers, insurgents and corrupt officials control significant parts of the country?s oil industry.
The report also covered alternative explanations for the billions of dollars worth of discrepancies, including the possibility that Iraq has been consistently overstating its oil production.
smugglers are suspected to be diverting an estimated billions of dollars worth of crude onto tankers because the oil metering system that is supposed monitor how much crude flows into and out of ABOT and KAAOT - has not worked since the March 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.And a sidebar notes that:
Officials blame the four-year delay in repairing the relatively simple system on "security problems." Others point to the failed efforts of the two U.S. companies hired to repair the southern oil fields, fix the two terminals, and the meters: Halliburton of Houston, Texas, and Parsons of Pasadena, California.
The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) is scheduled to publish a report this spring that is expected to criticize the companies' failure to complete the work.
...These companies have a lot of experience at the terminals where the black market now thrives. Indeed, Halliburton built the ABOT terminal, then known as Mina al-Bakr, in the early1970s. After it was damaged during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, Halliburton repaired the terminal, before it was bombed yet again during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
...The kinds of meters they were supposed to repair or replace at ABOT are commonly found at hundreds of similar sites around the world. Because they are custom-built, shipped, then assembled and calibrated on site, the process can take up to a year. But the probelm has persisted for four years.
After the 2003 invasion, the meters appear to have been turned off and there have since been no reliable estimates of how much crude has been shipped from the southern oil fields.
...Lieutenant Aaron Bergman, the U.S. Navy officer in charge of Mobile Security Squadron 7 at ABOT, says export authorities have "guesstimated" how much is being sold, with a back-of-the-envelope formula: Every centimeter a tanker lowers into the water equals 6,000 barrels of oil cargo.
"So you can imagine," he said earlier this month to Stars & Stripes, a newspaper serving the U.S. military, the numbers could be off, "A couple of inches could equal 180,000 barrels of fuel."
"I would say probably between 200,000 and 500,000 barrels a day is probably unaccounted for in Iraq," Mikel Morris, who worked for the Iraq Reconstruction Management Organization (IRMO) at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, told KTVT, a Texas television station.
Neither US officials nor contractors have provided good reasons why, four years into the US occupation, the meters have not been calibrated, repaired, or replaced. One excuse is that the job of calibration requires special devices to assess the current meters and security issues make importing these devises problematic. Yet that and other security-related explanations fall apart given that the oil terminals are under 24 hour high security guard, lie more than 50 miles off-shore, and are accessible only by helicopter or ship.
At ABOT, officials at Iraq's state-owned South Oil Company (SOC) that extracts the crude, and at the State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) that pipes the crude to the terminals, would have to know about smuggling, even if they were not benefiting from the scheme.Hmmm.
Buyers from Brazil to India, from Thailand to the United States, purchase crude from Iraq at ABOT. The tanker operators would also have to be part of smuggling schemes. They would sign receipts for a lower quantity than they actually receive, and pay the extra directly to the smugglers. The most likely collaborators are either Iraqi or U.S. officials who supervise the production and delivery. Or both.
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan granted the House Judiciary Committee's request for immunity for Monica Goodling so she can be forced to testify at an upcoming hearing. I've uploaded the immunity application and order (pdf.)
The New York Times adds a new name to the mix:
Two years ago, Robin C. Ashton, a seasoned criminal prosecutor at the Department of Justice, learned from her boss that a promised promotion was no longer hers.
“You have a Monica problem,” Ms. Ashton was told, according to several Justice Department officials. Referring to Monica M. Goodling, a 31-year-old, relatively inexperienced lawyer who had only recently arrived in the office, the boss added, “She believes you’re a Democrat and doesn’t feel you can be trusted.”
The Times also reports details of the questions Goodling asked applicants, including whether they ever committed adultery:
Ms. Goodling would soon be quizzing applicants for civil service jobs at Justice Department headquarters with questions that several United States attorneys said were inappropriate, like who was their favorite president and Supreme Court justice. One department official said an applicant was even asked, “Have you ever cheated on your wife?”
Ms. Goodling also moved to block the hiring of prosecutors with résumés that suggested they might be Democrats, even though they were seeking posts that were supposed to be nonpartisan, two department officials said.
The article also repeats old news,
And she helped maintain lists of all the United States attorneys that graded their loyalty to the Bush administration, including work on past political campaigns, and noted if they were members of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group.
So, where does this leave Ms. Goodling? In the position of Queen for a Day...she gets to tell everything bad she ever did with no personal, criminal repercussions.
Where does this leave Alberto Gonzales? Looking either like a complete outsider in his own office or like someone who tried to pull the wool over the eyes of a Congressional Committee. You decide.
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), recently appointed by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) to the House Appropriations Committee, has a history of ethics violations that is stirring up battle cries even from his own conservative base. His ethics violations also extend into attempts to dodge the law and lie to the public about his behavior.In [...]
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Five US-led troops were killed on Saturday in a pre-dawn insurgent attack south of the Iraqi capital that left three soldiers missing and feared captured, the military said. “As a result of this attack, five soldiers were killed in action and three are currently missing,” Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said, without specifying whether the dead [...]
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Good morning, and may your shoulders get singed! Welcome to Saturday Morning Garden Blogging.
After lasts week's cold, damp, windy and nasty, the weather turned. Tuesday temperatures started creeping up. By Wednesday it was in the low 70s. And today - well, today we get into the mid to upper 80s. I've shed my shoes for Birkenstocks and my toes are bare.
The pictured iris is a new one - well, at least a new bloom! I planted it a couple of years ago, but this is the first year we've gotten blooms off of it. I'm very much looking forward to its multiplying; it is such a beauty with its deeply ruffled petals. On my last trip to the nursery I was very tempted by a peach bearded iris, but passed - somehow paying $13 for a bearded iris rhizome seems ridiculous, when I know how hard it is for me to give the damned things away when I divide them.
Crossposted at Daily Kos
Yes, that's more columbine - the other plant bloomed this year. Happy, happy!
On Wednesday, I did get my shoulders singed - happens every year on the first really nice day when I'm out in a tank top. It was clean up time - again - after the Dude with the Rock's work.
Before the Dude showed up, Mr. Frankenoid had stashed all the pots and planters and the grill and lawn chairs and hoses and ladders and sawhorses and a gate and whatever else was moveable in my little shady corner.
Further, at Mr. Frankenoid's request, the Dude left the large pieces of scrap, for the Mister's future use in other projects around the yard.
And I had to get the soaker hoses that had been removed laid back in place. Of course, I couldn't remember the exact configuration I had that section of hose in - somehow it ended up being far too short to wend its way through what will be the Jacob's Cattle bean patch and under the potato bin.
So I had to run to the hardware store to get hose ends - that way I could just cut a section of soaker hose to fill the gap between the existing hoses. And, being a smart woman (well, being a woman who had on previous occasions come home with hose ends that were too large to cram into the intended hose), I took a little piece of hose with me to ensure I got the right size. So at least it only took one trip to the hardware store to accomplish my mission.
So I got the hose in the veggie patch re-laid, picking up random chunks of rock chips and concrete while I was at it. After that, it was planting the potatoes, and getting the bin set up around them (and observing Stray Cat Strut, a/k/a the Great Pisser Cat, spraying the bale of straw that was purchased for use in the bin; at least it wasn't my leg).
Then it was on to moving stuff. When I went to push the wheelbarrow out of the way, I discovered it had a flat tire - nothing for it but to just muscle it out of the road, as it was between where the pile of stone scraps were smothering an agastache and some emerging lilies, and where I wanted to move the pile of stone scraps. Some of those "scraps" are pretty damned big, and there was no way I wanted to have to take a detour around the wheelbarrow to get them to where they were going.
I also needed to clean up the vining plants in the corner. The dried remains of last year's growth of the sweet autumn clematis (it's put out lots of vigorous new shoots) was still entwined in the fence and the arbor. The climbing rose needed the dead canes removed, and the live ones lashed in place. And for whatever reason the honeysuckle, which had been growing very happily and vigorously for many years, died over the winter (at least I think it's dead; perhaps it's only mostly dead, which is slightly alive, so I've left a foot or two of stems attached to the roots).
After cleaning up, I wanted to reconfigure the soaker hoses (!!!) in the flowerbeds on that side. The last time I was up at Paulino Gardens I found what were promised to be no-kink soaker hoses manufactured by Gilmore. So I bought two 50' lengths, and two 25' lengths - because gawd knows I've spent enough time fighting with kinks and curls in the soaker hoses that I'll pay any amount to avoid having to do it again.
I nearly wept with relief. Damned, but those things are good! Lay them out in the sun for five minutes, and you can run them in quite tight loops through a bed - and yes, there was no kinking. Additionally, the seepage rate is much more even than with my old hoses - no random sprays of water here and there. Next time I'm at Paulino's I'm buying more, and will replace all my soaker hoses next year.
I've a ton of stuff to get done. I still have some vegetable plants that need to be moved outside to start hardening off. Haven't even started the corn or the beans. I've purchased plants that need to go into the bed.
Then there are the planters to start putting together. I'm putting the majority of the dahlias into pots this year, so I've several very large pots that need to be filled with soil. I started some begonias under lights this year, but will need to buy more to finish filling the hayrack planters. I've already bought dianthus for the back deck rail planters.
And I'm contemplating whether I could get away with planting some low-growing dianthus - perhaps Bath's Pink - in this birdbath. It's such a cute thing, but I really don't want to be drawing birds in the yard for Arwen the Terrible and Stray Cat Strut to stalk. My fear, though, is that it is either too shallow, so will dry out too quickly, or that the plants will drown when a bad storm floods the bowl.
But today will not be a day when I get a lot accomplished; we've a birthday to celebrate. Younger Son turns 11 on Monday, so today I will be taking four like-aged boys to see Spider Man 3. Yes, I bought the tickets ahead of time, so I know we won't get turned away. But before I can take a car load of kids to the movie, I have to get the random bits of flotsam and jetsam that accumulates in my car out - including the remains of the bale of straw. Note to self: next time, when contemplating hauling straw in the car, put a sheet or something down, because the damned things shed like mad!
That's what's happening here. What's going in your gardens?
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He was trying to use a football metaphor to explain the importance of building the family. First of all, that sounds pretty stupid to me. But taste in metaphors is not exactly what we need in a President. Understanding his audience, though, is a qualification that Brownback doesn’t have, that’s for sure:The [...]
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From Jamison Foser.
...haloscan's acting up, someone send out the Jeevan signal. Here's a good link to this current thread:
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Today, the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution by 138-to-88 objecting to the construction of security walls around Baghdad neighborhoods and also summoned Prime Minister Maliki to appear before them to testify on security issues - including those walls and the situation in Diyala province, where the US commander is saying he doesn't have the forces to do his job.
"Most of Diyala is under the control of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and this is a fact we must be brave enough to acknowledge and seriously deal with," said Shiite lawmaker Shazah Moussawi. "We need to discuss these problems with officials, we need to know why there is no success on the ground."Another motion, which called for a ban on U.S. forces in Baghdad and thus would have brought the "surge" crashing to a close was dropped when it was suddenly announced that the parliament no longer had a quorum to continue debate.
But others felt al-Maliki was not the person to address the problem.
"Let us summon (commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Gen. David) Petraeus to find out where we stand," said Shiite lawmaker Wail Abdul-Latif.
"We cherish the great role played by the religious establishment headed by Grand Ayatollah Sayed Ali al-Sistani ... in preserving the unity of Iraq and the blood of Iraqis and in helping them building a political system based on the constitution and law," said Rida Jawad al-Takki, a senior group member, who read out the party's decisions to reporters.And the Sunni Iraqi Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi has announced that his Iraqi Accord Front - the largest Sunni bloc - is posed to make "significant" decisions on several choices in a few days' time.
"The Iraqi Accord Front has few days to make important decision over many choices tabled before it. Priority will be given to dialogue" Al-Hashemi told the meeting "These decisions will be significant and will hit the deep roots of the political process, but not at all to rise to the level of a coup as the rumor goes." Al-Hashemi, however, did not reveal the nature of such decisions, nor the tendencies of the Front, one of the biggest in Iraqi parliament.I've a feeling a massive sea-change in Iraqi politics is about to hit. What exactly it will be, I have no definite ideas - but it has to either be a consolidation of power around Maliki's government and the U.S. occupation which supports it or a concerted move away from the current status-quo.
He noted that during the meeting with the Premier, he found fresh atmosphere that aroused his optimism, adding "there are many steps, requiring government decisions, that will, undoubtedly, contribute to secure success for these meetings and will have their positive impact on the political process and stability of Iraq."