Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tribal Council

This week we offer a trip off the virtual island of Left Blogistan to none other than Jeff Gannon/James Guckert himself. He recently took a swipe at Webb after the Bush exchange (sorry, we won't link to this page.) wherein he states in part:

Washington Post Senator-Elect Jim Webb has proved himself to be the classless act that the newspaper helped him to hide during the "macaca" campaign. Webb took advantage of President Bush's gracious invitation to new members of Congress to visit the White House to insult the Commander-in-Chief. ...

BUSH: "How's your boy?" (Webb's son is a U. S. Marine serving in Iraq)

WEBB: "I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President."

BUSH: "That's not what I asked you. How's your boy?"

WEBB: "That's between me and my boy, Mr. President...."

Gracious, yep, that's the word.

Mr.Gannon/Guckert, the Tribe has spoken.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Saturday Painting Palooza Vol. 68

Welcome back.

This week we'll be continuing with the new painting that was started last week, the Sedona, Arizona that was inspired by the photo seen directly below.

When last we were together, the painting appeared as it does in the photo directly below.

Since that time, I have continued to work on the painting, especially the foreground.

I've painted the parking lot a darker color, providing good contrast to all that red.

I've added shadowing in two areas of the painting. Considerable work has been done on the car. It is now 2 shades of red. To the left it is a lighter color in recognition of lighting from the left. Naturally it is a deeper red to the right, the shaded portion of the car. Below is a darker shadow casting toward the right.

The buttes also have shadowing to the right side. Other elements will be consistent in their shadowing. I've also begun to paint the shrub on the left side of the painting. The color will change in the coming weeks.

The current state of the painting is seen below.

That's about it for now. Your comments are always appreciated. See you next week.

Friday, November 24, 2006

EPA 451?

Under the Bush administration, the Environmental Protection Agency has been involved in many questionable practices. Now, during these last few weeks of Republican congressional control, the EPA is once again involved in action that deserves close scrutiny. Apparently, the agency is destroying much of its research library system.

ENS Link

WASHINGTON, DC, November 22, 2006 (ENS) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is rapidly dispersing its library collections to preempt Congressional intervention, according to internal emails released Monday by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, PEER, a national association of employees in natural resources agencies.

Meanwhile, many materials formerly held by the Office of Prevention, Pollution and Toxic Substances (OPPTS) Library, in EPA’s Washington D.C. Headquarters, were directed to be thrown into trash bins, according to reports received by PEER. This month, EPA closed the OPPTS Library, its only specialized library for research on health effects and properties of toxic chemicals and pesticides, without notice to either the public or affected scientists.

It is the belief of PEER that there is a political agenda at work here, something that requires speed unusual for the agency.

"By its actions, it appears that the appointed management at EPA is determined to actually reduce the sum total of human knowledge," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "EPA is not an agency renowned for its speed, so its undue haste in dumping library holdings suggests a political agenda rather than anything resembling a rational information management plan."

While some of the materials are being digitized, much will become unavailable if not simply destroyed. Some will simply be boxed and stored without being catalogued a la Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Incoming Democrats are attempting to protect these resources.

Senator Barbra Boxer (D-CA), the incoming chair of the oversight committee for EPA, and Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) are leading an effort to restore EPA’s network of libraries during the current lame-duck session of Congress.

PEER has much more including the order to "recycle" the materials. Click the link and go to the bottom for this and internal e-mails.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tribal Council

Though the SLB staff wanted to give the boot to the very shrill James Carville for his recent remarks directed against Howard Dean, there is another deserving individual, Senator George Allen of Virginia.

In the wake of his narrow defeat, Senator Allen has left his parting shot. While millions go without health insurance and others must suffer with a $5.15 hourly wage, it is yet a third group that is the intended beneficiary of Senator Allen's latest bill. SB 4057, the National Park Second Amendment Restoration and Personal Protection Act of 2006, is intended to permit the carrying of firearms into the national parks. Yes, this bill is intended to benefit all those poor prospective victims of rampant national park crime, legion as they are.

Senator Allen apparently fails to see that his arrogance in failing to address the real needs of his constituents has, at least in part, led to his recent defeat. More fuel for the debate on short term limits.

Senator Allen, the tribe has spoken.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thanksgiving Caption Contest

Submitted for your consideration is the photo seen directly below. Best caption wins an all expense paid trip to the lavish offices of SLB and a fabulous luncheon with the staff. Good luck. The photo:

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Saturday Painting Palooza Vol.67

Welcome back.

This week we'll be continuing with the new painting that was started last week, the Sedona, Arizona that was inspired by the photo seen directly below.

When last we were together, the painting appeared as it does in the photo directly below.

Since last time I've concentrated my efforts on the neglected foreground. I've painted the parking area a purplish color. (Remember that we are using only basic red, white, blue and yellow in this piece. As a result, some objects will have funky colors.) Looking at it now, I'll probably lighten the color a bit, it seems a bit too dark now.

I've also done some work on the car. (For those who object to its presence, note that its placement is at an angle which is a mirror image of the building to the right. It is intended to act as a foil and also a point of interest in the vastness of the lot.) I've painted it in red to pick up some of the background color, though the buttes might change slightly. The car's details will change a bit also. The shadow doesn't work for me yet, it will need some adjustment. The current state of the painting is seen below.

That's about it for now. Your comments are always appreciated. See you next week.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Global Warming and Bird Extinction

According to a new report released by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), birds are suffering increasing effects from global warming.  The result may be a major extinction.  (The full report is found here, in pdf format.  A summary is found here, also in pdf format.)

The results from climate change are already startling.

ENS Link

The researchers found declines of up to 90 percent in some bird populations, as well as total and unprecedented reproductive failure in others.

They estimate that bird extinction rates could be as high as 38 percent in Europe, and 72 percent in northeastern Australia, if global warming exceeds two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels - currently it is 0.8ºC above those levels.

Dr. Karl Mallon, scientific director at Climate Risk Pty. Ltd of Sydney, Australia, authors of the report, had this comment:

"We are seeing migratory birds failing to migrate, and climate change pushing increasing numbers of birds out of synchrony with key elements of their ecosystems," Mallon said.  The report, "Bird Species and Climate Change: The Global Status Report," reviews more than 200 scientific articles on birds in every continent to build up a global picture of climate change impacts.

Certain types of birds are at higher risk from the effects of warming.

The report identifies groups of birds at high risk from climate change - migratory, mountain, island, and wetland birds, Arctic and Antarctic birds, and seabirds.

WWF indicates that change must be made to the manner in which birds are currently protected.  Future conservation approaches will need to focus less on the protection of specific geographic locations.    

Based on this report, WWF concludes that the current approach to bird conservation, focused on protecting specific areas with a high bird diversity, will fail because climate change will force birds to shift into unprotected zones.  ...

Bird species that can relocate to new habitat are expected to survive global warming, but species that do well only in a narrow environmental range are expected to decline, and to be outnumbered by invasive species.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Tribal Council

Long overdue though this may be, it is the unanimous decision by the entire SLB staff that alleged war criminal Donald Rumsfeld, late of the Defense Secretary post, is this week's deserving candidate for ejection from the virtual island of Left Blogistan. His many failures would require more space than this humble posting can provide. But, you go to Tribal Council with the bandwidth you have, not the bandwidth that you'd like.

The tribe has spoken.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Saturday Painting Palooza Vol.66

Welcome back.

This week we'll be continuing with the new painting that was started last week, the Sedona, Arizona that was inspired by the photo seen directly below.

When last we were together, the painting appeared as it does in the photo directly below.

As is sometimes the course of things in my life, I mislaid the 4 tubes of paint that were integral to this experiment. As such, I took this opportunity to concentrate on composition.

I reshaped (and enlarged) the bush to the left of the scene. It will become a prominent part of the painting.

All along, I had intended to add a vehicle of some type in the driveway. Now appearing in the driveway is the tentative outline of a car. Once I locate the paints, I can refine these new elements and proceed with the background. Hopefully before next week. The current appearance of the painting is seen directly below.

That's about all. See you next week.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Late Tribal Council

This week, my own congresscritter, Sue Kelly (R-NY), in New York's 19th congressional district lost her bid for reelection to newcomer John Hall. Despite her current deficit of votes(48/51), she will not yet concede until every vote is counted. Her decision to delay the inevitable is a sad end to her 12 years of service. (That she covered for Mark Foley was the subject of an ealier Tribal Council.)

This week, for the second week running, MS.Kelly, is voted off the virtual island of Left BLogistan. (Yes, we can do that here at SLB.)

The Tribe has spoken. Again.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I'm very tired right now after staying up far too late to see the election results. It was certainly worth the feeling of being half asleep today. Here in NY, Democratic victories were especially strong.

And yet I feel something of a loss.

I had an oportunity today to see how the other side views the results. It saddened me to see not only how divided the country is, but the vitriol with which these feelings are asserted. I have no illusions that Americans will ever be on the same page with respect to the significant issues that confront us. Such uniformity would be unnatural and unhealthy.

But simple respect should be the norm, not a notable exception.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Crashing the John Hall Party

After helping me vote today, the 7 year old boran2 boy and I went to the polling site where congressional candidate John Hall (NY 19) was appearing in our town.  (The boran2 boy flicked the levers on our 50 year old pull-the-lever voting machine, here in NY.) There were no other kids present at the appearance, making the boran2 boy the subject of some special attention.

I took several photos which appear below.  (No, I won't be painting any of these, snarkmeisters.)

Here is Mr.Hall shaking some hands.

Here is the boran2 boy with the candidate to the rear.

The candidate meeting and greeting.

More handshaking.

And he's off to the races.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Of Mansions, Phonebanking and Large Dogs

Several weeks ago, I had added my name to the on line listing of volunteers for the John Hall congressional campaign.  (NY19)  A couple of days ago I received a call about phonebanking during the 3 days just prior to election day.  This would be my first such experience.  I asked for Saturday morning which fortunately was still available.  This would allow me to attend the boran2 boy's soccer game later that day.

The day finally came. I drove along the wooded backroads that were indicated on the downloaded map.  With some difficulty, I found the private road that led to what turned out to be an early 19th century mansion, situated on a hill above a large lake. After locating a place to park, I attempted to find the main entrance.  After a brief glimpse around, I walked to what appeared to be the front door.  I heard the unmistakable sound of very loud barking.  Greeting me at the glass-paned door were two very large dogs.  Well, small ponies might be more appropriate.  A large dalmation and oversized yellow lab inspected me.  Apparently I passed muster and was allowed into the interior of the building.

I already knew that I would be changing my clothes when I got home as madame boran is highly allergic to dogs.  Never having spent much time around dogs (my mother feared dogs, cats and pretty much anything with 4 legs), I'm never sure exactly how to respond when they come over to me.  One of the two, the yellow lab, seated himself close to me.  It became readily apparent what he really wanted.  So I began to scratch his head.  I had gained a new friend but when I tried to stop he would prod my hand to begin once again.  Yep, when I got home, I'd have to wash my hands thoroughly.

I had arrived just before the appointed time for my two hour shift.   Unfortunately, all the phone lists and scripts had yet to arrive as well as the other callers.  Only the individual in charge was present.  We sat and chatted for another 20 minutes or so before anyone else arrived.  Finally the others arrived and the paperwork as well.

The supervising individual instructed us how we should proceed.  We were off.  Well, maybe not.

The selection of phones was, umm, unusual.  This particular mansion was decorated in that country, New York Times, haphazard style.  And that included the phones.  The equipment included a rotary phone circa 1950 (yikes!), a well used cordless model with a nonfunctiong number "1" and a phone far off in the mansion's interior in a utility room.  Another individual brought an uncharged cellphone that was soon out of power.  Her charger was missing in action.  She was given the cellphone of our fearless supervisor, which was soon out of power as well.  (The phone, not the supervisor.)  Thankfully, our supervisor had his charger.

I was assigned the cordless model.  Immediately, I marked the phone numbers that included the digit "1" for later attention when fully functional telephonic equipment would be available.  

I began my phonebanking.  I made a number of calls but this being a saturday morning, most people were apparently out.  Many of my calls resulted in messages being left.  Then the yellow lab returned.  I was calling all the numbers that did not include the digit "1" with one hand and  scratching the dog's large head with the other.  How does one tell a large dog to take a hike?  After a while I stopped and he seemed content, at least for the time being.

I had the following observations about my shift:

One of my fellow phonebankers, the one using the rotary phone, had a brief exchange with me in between our calls. It turns out that she is a neighbor of mine and a veteran of a number of earlier political campaigns. She was roughly my age and has a daughter a few years older than the boran2 boy.

She spoke about her hopes for Tuesday but suprised me with her next statement. She indicated that she would leave the country if things got much worse. Now, I would be lying if I said that the thought of leaving for better circumstances elsewhere never crossed my mind. It has, and more than once. But it was the timing (during phonebanking) and manner of her statement that struck and saddened me a bit. It seemed like her decision was imminent, something that would happen very soon. I didn't question her, the look on her face said it all.

The other thing that struck me was the manner of her calls. She stated to her call recipients that she was sorry to bother them with political calls. My own calls followed the script, I simply reminded listeners about the close race that our candidate faced and the need for all to come out and vote. I did not feel the need to apologize for these reminders, especially at this time of upheaval.

I did make 40 to 50 calls during my shift despite the obstacles.  Only 2 had negative results.  It's certainly a thing worth doing and I would do it again without hesitation.

On Tuesday, I'm hoping to take the boran2 boy and join the candidate for part of his walk through a nearby residential complex.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Saturday Painting Palooza Vol.65

Welcome back.

This week we'll be continuing with the new painting that was started last week, the Sedona, Arizona that was inspired by the photo seen directly below.

When last we were together, the painting appeared as it does in the photo directly below.

Since that time, I have continued working on the painting. I've now overpainted all the colors seen last week with the 3 original colors from an earlier cycle, or derivatives thereof. I will continue to use only those 3 (basic red, blue and yellow) and the original white. The change is not dramatic but will utlimately make for a more harmonious palette of colors.

I've also added to the structures.These will continue to be refined in the following weeks. The current state of the painting is seen below.

That's about it for now. I'll see you next week.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bush Unilaterally Cuts Wildlife Refuge Funding

My previous post below discussed the anticipated funding cuts directed at the National Wildlife Refuge system, administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service.  Comprised of 545 separate refuges, it encompasses some 96 million acres.  Visitors are estimated at 40 million per year.

Now, unilaterally, and without any congressional input, President Bush has ordered a 10 percent cutback in system funding.

ENS Link

WASHINGTON, DC, November 1, 2006 (ENS) - The Bush administration has ordered a 10 percent across-the-board cutback in funding for the National Wildlife Refuge System, leaving dozens of refuges without any assigned staff, according to agency documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, PEER.

The Refuge System, a part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will see declining budgets through 2011 under the Bush plan, despite significant increases in the number of refuges, visitors and an array of other costs, according to PEER, a national association of government employees in natural resources agencies.

PEER says that since Congress has yet to act on the Fish and Wildlife Service budget for FY 2007, the Bush administration is implementing the cuts without waiting for Congressional approval.

Sure, why involve Congress?  Things could just get far too complicated.  Congress is really just a rubberstamp for excutive whim anyway, right?  Better to just do the job quickly and without any oversight.

And though the $380 million budget will decrease "moderately", the expenditures fail to acknowledge that 17 new refuges have been added since 2001.

The southeast will be hardest hit.

The Southeast Region, with the largest number of refuges, 128, will eliminate approximately 80 staff positions, leaving 43 of its refuges with no staff at all, a condition the agency calls "Preservation Status."

Grady Hocutt of PEER:

"Make no mistake about it - this is the first stage in dismantling the National Wildlife Refuge System," said Grady Hocutt, a former long-time refuge manager who directs the PEER refuge program. "It took a century to build this network of wildlife sanctuaries into the envy of the world but much of that work is being undone in just this decade."

"Redirecting a tiny fraction of what audits show is wasted or stolen in Iraq would allow for full funding of all refuge system needs," added Hocutt, noting that the U.S. is spending an estimated $177 million per day in Iraq."

PEER can be found here.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Tribal Council

This week we bid farewell to someone for whom this honor is long overdue. New York 19's own congresscritter Sue Kelly gets the unanimous vote of SLB's entire staff. (And our staff is comprised of, well, hundreds, at last count.) Her long history as a shrill Republican rubberstamp tool (Is that redundant?) has made her unusually well qualified for ejection from the virtual island of Left Blogistan. Her role in the Foley coverup only makes this that much easier. (She headed the congressional page program in 1999 and 2000.)

Farewell Sue! The tribe has spoken.