The Tempest Online™

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Archive for January, 2007

Feeling Yucky

Posted by Daniel on January 30, 2007

patsy.jpgNice…

Just in time for the coldest arctic blast to come through Kansas City in a LONG time, I get sick.

Sorry for the short one, but this little camper is going to bed.  

With any luck, I’ll sleep right through this crappy weather.  Oh, yeah…and snow tomorrow.

Shit!!

Wake me when it’s Spring!!

Posted in Our Writings | 4 Comments »

Language Barriers – What’s The Diff??

Posted by Daniel on January 29, 2007

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1. THINGY (thing-ee) n.
Gay….. Anything in a tool chest that doesn’t resemble a hammer.
Str8…..The strap fastener on a woman’s bra.

2. VULNERABLE (vul-ne-ra-bel) adj.
Gay…. Fully opening up one’s self emotionally to another.
Str8…. Playing football without a cup.

3. COMMUNICATION (ko-myoo-ni-kay-shon) n.
Gay… The open sharing of thoughts and feelings with one’s partner.
Str8… Leaving a note before taking off on a fishing trip with the boys.

4. COMMITMENT (ko-mit-ment) n.
Gay… A desire to get married and raise a family.
Str8…… Trying not to hit on other women while out with this one.

5. ENTERTAINMENT (en-ter-tayn-ment) n.
Gay…. A good movie, concert, play or book.
Str8…… Anything that can be done while drinking beer.

6. FLATULENCE (flach-u-lens) n.
Gay… An embarrassing byproduct of indigestion.
Str8…… A source of entertainment, self-expression, male bonding.

7. MAKING LOVE (may-king luv) n.
Gay…. The greatest expression of intimacy a couple can achieve.
Str8.. Call it whatever you want, just as long as we do it.

8. REMOTE CONTROL (ri-moht kon-trohl) n.
Gay…. A device for changing from one TV channel to another.
Str8… A device for scanning through all 375 channels every 5 minutes.

I enter these because I had an emial from a girlfriend who wanted to know if there were differences between a straight guy and a MO…other than the obvious ones.

In our house, however, the questions/answers are very different:

1. THINGY (thing-ee) n.
Steve…..Any website that requires him to type anything more than “Enter”.
Daniel…Anything at Lowe’s or Home Depot he KNOWS he needs, but has no idea what it is.

2. VULNERABLE (vul-ne-ra-bel) adj.
Steve…..Fully opening up one’s self emotionally to another.
Daniel…Turning into a goopy mess when a plant dies.

3. COMMUNICATION (ko-myoo-ni-kay-shon) n.
Steve…..”Get away from that.”  “Put that down.”  “No.”  “What did I just say…?” Daniel…That thing Steve does, until something shiny catches my eye.

4. COMMITMENT (ko-mit-ment) n.
Steve…..The hearing he KNOW’S is coming for me.
Daniel…Voluntary…Involuntary…we just KNOW it’s gonna happen.

5. ENTERTAINMENT (en-ter-tayn-ment) n.
Steve……A good movie, concert, play or book.
Daniel… Anything shiny, colorful, has buttons or can otherwise distract me.

6. FLATULENCE (flach-u-lens) n.
Steve…..”Hey, it happens…Life goes on.
Daniel…”Oh, this is going to be good…”.

7. MAKING LOVE (may-king luv) n.
Steve…..The greatest expression of intimacy a couple can achieve.
Daniel…Out of nothing at all.

8. REMOTE CONTROL (ri-moht kon-trohl) n.
Steve…..A device for changing from one TV channel to another.
Daniel…Fun little devices with which to channel surf and otherwise satiate my A.D.D.

Posted in Just For Fun | 3 Comments »

Sunday Funnies…Missouri Winter Temperatures

Posted by Daniel on January 28, 2007

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60 above zero:
Arizonians turn on the heat.
People in Missouri plant gardens.

50 above zero:
Californians shiver uncontrollably.
People in Kansas City sunbathe.

40 above zero:
Italian & English cars won’t start.
People in Missouri drive with the windows down.

32 above zero:
Distilled water freezes.
The water in Independence gets thicker.

20 above zero:
Floridians don coats, thermal underwear, gloves, wool hats.
People in Missouri throw on a flannel shirt.

15 above zero:
New York landlords finally turn up the heat.
People in Missouri have the last cookout before it gets cold.

Zero:
People in Miami all die.
Missourians close the windows.

10 below zero:
Californians fly away to Mexico.
People in Missouri get out their winter coats.

25 below zero:
Hollywood disintegrates.
The Girl Scouts in Missouri are selling cookies door to door. (True!)

40 below zero:
Washington DC runs out of hot air.
People in Missouri let the dogs sleep indoors.

100 below zero:
Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.
Missourians get upset because they can’t start the Mini-Van.

460 below zero:
ALL atomic motion stops (absolute zero on the Kelvin scale.)
People in Missouri start saying…”Cold ‘nuf f fer ya?”

500 below zero:
Hell freezes over.
Missouri public schools will open 2 hours late.

Posted in Just For Fun | 2 Comments »

HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY!!!!!!

Posted by Daniel on January 26, 2007

To all my mates and daily visitors from OZ…

Enjoy your special day.

WISH I WAS THERE TO CELEBRATE WITH YOU ALL!!!

I love you Ian, Mitchell, Rebecca, Trevor and “Gang”.

~ Daniel

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Caution: Gay Construction Ahead – Part 7 – Carpet Munchers

Posted by Daniel on January 25, 2007

construction.gifYup, you’ve read it right. Steve and I are back into the “swing” of renovations again. And this time, it’s the inside. Well…the main level (Great Room, Foyer and Dining Room…Kitchen will have to wait) anyway.

I know, Ric & Virgie, I know. You both told us that the best course of action is to pic one project per season and work on that. Well, it’s Winter (a season, yes?) and these three rooms have been squeezed into one BIG project. After all, we’re gay. You, being straight, can’t know the exquisite agony that is looking aroud the house and thinking, “Okay, color and fabrics…EVERYWHERE!!!” It’s just something hardwired into our brains that makes it next to impossible to be limited by style, budget or sheer raw nerve.

First, a small bit of history on this, our house. We bought it 5 years+ ago and the previous owners were, shall we say, not so nice to it. Ever see that movie “The Money Pit” (Tom Hanks & Shelley Long) where they buy a big beautiful house from Maureen Stapleton…only to discover if they leaned against a wall, they’d fall through it? It seemed there was a similar surprise around ever corner for them and they spent the entire movie finding the “flaws” and fixing them. That was, to a larger scale, what we discovered after buying our place.

Undaunted, we’ve met every challenge and hidden “boo boo” head on. (applied directly to the forehead) (as in me banging my impatient head against the wall saying, “Not something else to fix…not something else!!”)

In the case of this seasons’ renovations, it is the carpeting, “tile” and paint. Every one an eyesore and a pain in the ass.

For starters, the entire house was painted in a color that I can only describe as “bum barf brown”. A hideous shade right between cappuccino and burnt egg shells. I can’t begin to tell you how hard it has been to decorate around this so-called color.

Paint HAS to go.

https://i2.wp.com/www.kiwibox.com/images/ar/0602/33879.mw.jpgThen there’s the “tile” in the foyer and kitchen. Two rooms about 15 feet apart and yet the lanolium matches in both. WTF?? Who decorated this place…Helen Keller??

*Disclaimer: We know that Helen Keller passed away on June 1, 1968, and therefore couln’t have decorated this house when it was built 5 years later. We mean no disrespect to the Keller Estate or name. Though we hear there were a lot of brown’s in her house.

Paint HAS to go.

oldcarpet.JPGThis brings me to the carpeting, which covers the upper three levels of the house. This carpeting was put down by the original owners more than 15 years ago. Uh huh…it’s that friggin old. I don’t remember when, but someone in our subdivision told us that the original carpeting was a teal green shag (I think I just threw up a little), but was replaced back in ’91 or ’92, with what currenty lays dead in its place. I’m assuming it’s supposed to be a bone or eggshell color, because that’s what color shows up every time Steve shampoos it.

The owners just before us had a dog. A very BIG dog. And it appears to have had the run of the place. Not only was the place infested with fleas (we discovered in horror just after we moved in and the “sell-the-house-at-all-cost” spray wore off), but all doors, door jams and a few walls had Fido’s scratch marks embedded deeply within them. The carpeting was wrinkling, rumpled, smelled of dog (damn, even I could smell it and my nose hasn’t worked properly since the nose-job deviated septum) and the heavy traffic wear marks would always magically appear hours after cleaning.

Carpet HAS GOT to go!!

Now that we’ve lived here for 5 1/2 years, we’re ready to tackle these three rooms. Oh, we’ve been busy repairing, replacing and making a silk purse out of an otherwise beautiful sow’s ear. New windows are half-finished. New deck has replaced the old. New greenhouse added where no grass would grow. And many more jobs tackled.

This past weekend, Steve said, “Let’s start on the main level. Paint, tile…all the fixins”

I think dogs in the neighborhood were howling from the high-pitched squeal of glee that was my response. My tail was a-waggin’…I couldn’t get to the car fast enough and my nipples could have put someone’s eyes out.

“Oh, well…okay.”, I replied. You know, trying to play it cool.

Bear in mind earlier that morning (Sunday), we awoke to discover that a breaker had tripped and caused the heater in the greenhouse to shut down…THREE DAYS EARLIER!!! Smack dab in between the ice storm and the snow storm. It was a 90% loss on everything I’d been babying all this time. Steve felt really bad for me, as I was sobbing like a baby. And that doesn’t happen very easily. Last time I cried was when my cat (Patches) passed away in 2003.

It took Steve a couple of hours to calm me down. He isn’t nearly as into the whole gardening and plant milieu as I am. Though he does love to look at them and adores everything I plant. But his heart was really in the right place that day and was, after dangling the car keys in front of me, able to talk me down from that emotional ledge.

Okay, I’ll admit, the ledge was actually the second step up on the staircase (which I use to look at him at eye-level) and the keys were to engage my A.D.D. with something shiny. But nevertheless, I was SO ready to jump due to the sadness of the greenhouse loss.

Never let it be said that I’m unwilling to commit.

mommie_dearest_axe.jpgAnyhoo…So we go to pick up the renovation supplies. Tons of tile (literally), gallons of paint and all the fixing “finin’s”. Word to the wise…If you get the same wild hair to paint using a sandstone textured paint, be ready to shell out about $60 per gallon. I swear, each paint can should come with a condom. 😉

That was Sunday. Yesterday, each time I walked through the great room (some call it a living room), I couldn’t help noticing the same old paint and tired carpeting. So I grabbed tools, cutters, gloves and a fashionably stunning smock…and started hacking the carpet like Joan Crawford in the garden.

“Hollywood Royalty!! Box Office Poison!! Poison!! Box Office…Christina…Bring me the axe!!!”

It was horrible! It was goulish!! It was the perfect way to release the still festering rage that was there from the greenhouse fiasco.

The cats just sat there, staring with that look they tend to get when they decide I’m entertaining enough to watch. “Oh look,” they say to one another…”The fuzzy one isn’t declawed, so he gets to tear up the carpeting. Yawn. Boring. Let’s go upstairs and cough a few presents up on his bed for him.”

To be continued…

Posted in Gay Construction, Just For Fun, Our Writings | 2 Comments »

The State Of The Oh My Gawd, Is That Prada She’s Wearing??

Posted by Daniel on January 24, 2007

Last nights State of the Union address was an historic one, and for more reasons than in any since its inception.  The most obvious of which was that, for the first time in U.S. history, the person seated behind and to the left of the President, a woman sat in the chair as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

This post, however, is not about that.  there are hundreds of sites that delve into that bit of history much better than I could here.  No, I wanted to make this entry about the speech itself.  Moreover, I simply wanted to post the actual text of the speech.

What is the significance of the transcripts?  None, actually.  It’s not as though he’ll treat this speech any diffetently than the previous 5.  Though it will be interesting to see if he can keep his word on the promist for Darfur, HIV/AIDS, the economy, fuel consumption…oh, and that littel spot on his tie…Iraq.

Besides, each year when I write about the State of the Union, most of those who comment, email or otherwise respond hadn’t even watched it.  This way, you can’t say I didn’t provide the details.

And as we all know – and for Bush and this speech – the devil truly is in the details.

Madame Speaker…The President of the United States…

Thank you very much.

And tonight, I have the high privilege and distinct honor of my own, as the first president to begin the State of the Union message with these words: “Madam Speaker.”

In his day, the late congressman, Thomas d’Alessandro Jr., from Baltimore, Maryland, saw Presidents Roosevelt and Truman at this rostrum.

But nothing could compare with the sight of his only daughter, Nancy, presiding tonight as speaker of the House of Representatives

Congratulations, Madam Speaker.

Two members of the House and Senate are not with us tonight, and we pray for the recovery and speedy return of Senator Tim Johnson and Congressman Charlie Norwood.

Madam Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

This rite of custom brings us together at a defining hour — when decisions are hard and courage is needed. We enter the year 2007 with large endeavors underway, and others that are ours to begin. In all of this, much is asked of us. We must have the will to face difficult challenges and determined enemies — and the wisdom to face them together.

Some in this chamber are new to the House and Senate — and I congratulate the Democratic majority. Congress has changed, but not our responsibilities. Each of us is guided by our own convictions — and to these we must stay faithful. Yet we are all held to the same standards, and called to serve the same good purposes: To extend this nation’s prosperity … to spend the people’s money wisely … to solve problems, not leave them to future generations … to guard America against all evil, and to keep faith with those we have sent forth to defend us.

We are not the first to come here with government divided and uncertainty in the air. Like many before us, we can work through our differences, and achieve big things for the American people. Our citizens don’t much care which side of the aisle we sit on — as long as we are willing to cross that aisle when there is work to be done. Our job is to make life better for our fellow Americans, and help them to build a future of hope and opportunity — and this is the business before us tonight.

A future of hope and opportunity begins with a growing economy — and that is what we have. We are now in the 41st month of uninterrupted job growth — in a recovery that has created 7.2 million new jobs … so far. Unemployment is low, inflation is low, and wages are rising. This economy is on the move — and our job is to keep it that way, not with more government but with more enterprise.

Economy

Next week, I will deliver a full report on the state of our economy. Tonight, I want to discuss three economic reforms that deserve to be priorities for this Congress.

First, we must balance the federal budget. We can do so without raising taxes. What we need to do is impose spending discipline in Washington, D.C. We set a goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009 — and met that goal three years ahead of schedule. Now let us take the next step. In the coming weeks, I will submit a budget that eliminates the federal deficit within the next five years. I ask you to make the same commitment. Together, we can restrain the spending appetite of the federal government, and balance the federal budget.

Next, there is the matter of earmarks. These special interest items are often slipped into bills at the last hour — when not even C-SPAN is watching. In 2005 alone, the number of earmarks grew to over 13,000 and totaled nearly $18 billion. Even worse, over 90 percent of earmarks never make it to the floor of the House and Senate — they are dropped into committee reports that are not even part of the bill that arrives on my desk. You did not vote them into law. I did not sign them into law. Yet they are treated as if they have the force of law. The time has come to end this practice. So let us work together to reform the budget process … expose every earmark to the light of day and to a vote in Congress … and cut the number and cost of earmarks at least in half by the end of this session.

Finally, to keep this economy strong we must take on the challenge of entitlements. Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid are commitments of conscience — and so it is our duty to keep them permanently sound. Yet we are failing in that duty — and this failure will one day leave our children with three bad options: huge tax increases, huge deficits, or huge and immediate cuts in benefits. Everyone in this chamber knows this to be true — yet somehow we have not found it in ourselves to act. So let us work together and do it now. With enough good sense and good will, you and I can fix Medicare and Medicaid — and save Social Security.

Education

Spreading opportunity and hope in America also requires public schools that give children the knowledge and character they need in life. Five years ago, we rose above partisan differences to pass the No Child Left Behind Act — preserving local control, raising standards in public schools, and holding those schools accountable for results. And because we acted, students are performing better in reading and math, and minority students are closing the achievement gap.

Now the task is to build on this success, without watering down standards, without taking control from local communities and without backsliding and calling it reform. We can lift student achievement even higher by giving local leaders flexibility to turn around failing schools and by giving families with children stuck in failing schools the right to choose something better. We must increase funds for students who struggle — and make sure these children get the special help they need. And we can make sure our children are prepared for the jobs of the future, and our country is more competitive, by strengthening math and science skills. The No Child Left Behind Act has worked for America’s children — and I ask Congress to reauthorize this good law.

Health care

A future of hope and opportunity requires that all our citizens have affordable and available health care. When it comes to health care, government has an obligation to care for the elderly, the disabled, and poor children. We will meet those responsibilities. For all other Americans, private health insurance is the best way to meet their needs. But many Americans cannot afford a health insurance policy.

Tonight, I propose two new initiatives to help more Americans afford their own insurance. First, I propose a standard tax deduction for health insurance that will be like the standard tax deduction for dependents. Families with health insurance will pay no income or payroll taxes on $15,000 of their income. Single Americans with health insurance will pay no income or payroll taxes on $7,500 of their income. With this reform, more than 100 million men, women, and children who are now covered by employer-provided insurance will benefit from lower tax bills.

At the same time, this reform will level the playing field for those who do not get health insurance through their job. For Americans who now purchase health insurance on their own, my proposal would mean a substantial tax savings — $4,500 for a family of four making $60,000 a year. And for the millions of other Americans who have no health insurance at all, this deduction would help put a basic private health insurance plan within their reach. Changing the tax code is a vital and necessary step to making health care affordable for more Americans.

My second proposal is to help the states that are coming up with innovative ways to cover the uninsured. States that make basic private health insurance available to all their citizens should receive federal funds to help them provide this coverage to the poor and the sick. I have asked the secretary of Health and Human Services to work with Congress to take existing federal funds and use them to create “Affordable Choices” grants. These grants would give our nation’s governors more money and more flexibility to get private health insurance to those most in need.

There are many other ways that Congress can help. We need to expand Health Savings Accounts, help small businesses through Association Health Plans, reduce costs and medical errors with better information technology, encourage price transparency and protect good doctors from junk lawsuits by passing medical liability reform. And in all we do, we must remember that the best health care decisions are made not by government and insurance companies, but by patients and their doctors.

Immigration

Extending hope and opportunity in our country requires an immigration system worthy of America — with laws that are fair and borders that are secure. When laws and borders are routinely violated, this harms the interests of our country. To secure our border, we are doubling the size of the Border Patrol — and funding new infrastructure and technology.

Yet even with all these steps, we cannot fully secure the border unless we take pressure off the border — and that requires a temporary worker program. We should establish a legal and orderly path for foreign workers to enter our country to work on a temporary basis. As a result, they won’t have to try to sneak in — and that will leave border agents free to chase down drug smugglers, and criminals, and terrorists.

We will enforce our immigration laws at the work site, and give employers the tools to verify the legal status of their workers — so there is no excuse left for violating the law. We need to uphold the great tradition of the melting pot that welcomes and assimilates new arrivals. And we need to resolve the status of the illegal immigrants who are already in our country — without animosity and without amnesty.

Convictions run deep in this Capitol when it comes to immigration. Let us have a serious, civil, and conclusive debate — so that you can pass, and I can sign, comprehensive immigration reform into law.

Energy/Alternative fuel

Extending hope and opportunity depends on a stable supply of energy that keeps America’s economy running and America’s environment clean. For too long our nation has been dependent on foreign oil. And this dependence leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes, and to terrorists — who could cause huge disruptions of oil shipments, raise the price of oil and do great harm to our economy.

It is in our vital interest to diversify America’s energy supply — and the way forward is through technology. We must continue changing the way America generates electric power — by even greater use of clean coal technology … solar and wind energy … and clean, safe nuclear power. We need to press on with battery research for plug-in and hybrid vehicles, and expand the use of clean diesel vehicles and biodiesel fuel. We must continue investing in new methods of producing ethanol — using everything from wood chips, to grasses, to agricultural wastes.

We have made a lot of progress, thanks to good policies in Washington and the strong response of the market. Now even more dramatic advances are within reach. Tonight, I ask Congress to join me in pursuing a great goal. Let us build on the work we have done and reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next ten years — thereby cutting our total imports by the equivalent of three-quarters of all the oil we now import from the Middle East.

To reach this goal, we must increase the supply of alternative fuels, by setting a mandatory fuels standard to require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017 — this is nearly five times the current target. At the same time, we need to reform and modernize fuel economy standards for cars the way we did for light trucks — and conserve up to eight and a half billion more gallons of gasoline by 2017.

Achieving these ambitious goals will dramatically reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but will not eliminate it. So as we continue to diversify our fuel supply, we must also step up domestic oil production in environmentally sensitive ways. And to further protect America against severe disruptions to our oil supply, I ask Congress to double the current capacity of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

America is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil. These technologies will help us become better stewards of the environment — and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change.

A future of hope and opportunity requires a fair, impartial system of justice. The lives of citizens across our nation are affected by the outcome of cases pending in our federal courts. And we have a shared obligation to ensure that the federal courts have enough judges to hear those cases and deliver timely rulings. As president, I have a duty to nominate qualified men and women to vacancies on the federal bench. And the United States Senate has a duty as well — to give those nominees a fair hearing, and a prompt up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.

War on terror

For all of us in this room, there is no higher responsibility than to protect the people of this country from danger. Five years have come and gone since we saw the scenes and felt the sorrow that terrorists can cause. We have had time to take stock of our situation. We have added many critical protections to guard the homeland. We know with certainty that the horrors of that September morning were just a glimpse of what the terrorists intend for us — unless we stop them.

With the distance of time, we find ourselves debating the causes of conflict and the course we have followed. Such debates are essential when a great democracy faces great questions. Yet one question has surely been settled — that to win the war on terror we must take the fight to the enemy.

From the start, America and our allies have protected our people by staying on the offense. The enemy knows that the days of comfortable sanctuary, easy movement, steady financing, and free flowing communications are long over. For the terrorists, life since 9/11 has never been the same.

Our success in this war is often measured by the things that did not happen. We cannot know the full extent of the attacks that we and our allies have prevented — but here is some of what we do know: We stopped an al Qaeda plot to fly a hijacked airplane into the tallest building on the West Coast. We broke up a Southeast Asian terrorist cell grooming operatives for attacks inside the United States. We uncovered an al Qaeda cell developing anthrax to be used in attacks against America. And just last August, British authorities uncovered a plot to blow up passenger planes bound for America over the Atlantic Ocean. For each life saved, we owe a debt of gratitude to the brave public servants who devote their lives to finding the terrorists and stopping them.

Every success against the terrorists is a reminder of the shoreless ambitions of this enemy. The evil that inspired and rejoiced in 9/11 is still at work in the world. And so long as that is the case, America is still a nation at war.

In the minds of the terrorists, this war began well before September 11th, and will not end until their radical vision is fulfilled. And these past five years have given us a much clearer view of the nature of this enemy. Al Qaeda and its followers are Sunni extremists, possessed by hatred and commanded by a harsh and narrow ideology. Take almost any principle of civilization, and their goal is the opposite. They preach with threats … instruct with bullets and bombs … and promise paradise for the murder of the innocent.

Our enemies are quite explicit about their intentions. They want to overthrow moderate governments, and establish safe havens from which to plan and carry out new attacks on our country. By killing and terrorizing Americans, they want to force our country to retreat from the world and abandon the cause of liberty. They would then be free to impose their will and spread their totalitarian ideology. Listen to this warning from the late terrorist Zarqawi: “We will sacrifice our blood and bodies to put an end to your dreams, and what is coming is even worse.” And Osama bin Laden declared: “Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us.”

These men are not given to idle words, and they are just one camp in the Islamist radical movement. In recent times, it has also become clear that we face an escalating danger from Shia extremists who are just as hostile to America, and are also determined to dominate the Middle East. Many are known to take direction from the regime in Iran, which is funding and arming terrorists like Hezbollah — a group second only to al Qaeda in the American lives it has taken.

The Shia and Sunni extremists are different faces of the same totalitarian threat. But whatever slogans they chant, when they slaughter the innocent, they have the same wicked purposes. They want to kill Americans, kill democracy in the Middle East and gain the weapons to kill on an even more horrific scale.

In the sixth year since our nation was attacked, I wish I could report to you that the dangers have ended. They have not. And so it remains the policy of this government to use every lawful and proper tool of intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement, and military action to do our duty, to find these enemies, and to protect the American people.

This war is more than a clash of arms — it is a decisive ideological struggle, and the security of our nation is in the balance. To prevail, we must remove the conditions that inspire blind hatred, and drove 19 men to get onto airplanes and come to kill us. What every terrorist fears most is human freedom — societies where men and women make their own choices, answer to their own conscience, and live by their hopes instead of their resentments. Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies — and most will choose a better way when they are given a chance. So we advance our own security interests by helping moderates, reformers, and brave voices for democracy. The great question of our day is whether America will help men and women in the Middle East to build free societies and share in the rights of all humanity. And I say, for the sake of our own security — we must.

In the last two years, we have seen the desire for liberty in the broader Middle East — and we have been sobered by the enemy’s fierce reaction. In 2005, the world watched as the citizens of Lebanon raised the banner of the Cedar Revolution, drove out the Syrian occupiers and chose new leaders in free elections. In 2005, the people of Afghanistan defied the terrorists and elected a democratic legislature. And in 2005, the Iraqi people held three national elections — choosing a transitional government, adopting the most progressive, democratic constitution in the Arab world and then electing a government under that constitution. Despite endless threats from the killers in their midst, nearly 12 million Iraqi citizens came out to vote in a show of hope and solidarity we should never forget.

A thinking enemy watched all of these scenes, adjusted their tactics, and in 2006 they struck back. In Lebanon, assassins took the life of Pierre Gemayel, a prominent participant in the Cedar Revolution. And Hezbollah terrorists, with support from Syria and Iran, sowed conflict in the region and are seeking to undermine Lebanon’s legitimately elected government. In Afghanistan, Taliban and al Qaeda fighters tried to regain power by regrouping and engaging Afghan and NATO forces. In Iraq, al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists blew up one of the most sacred places in Shia Islam — the Golden Mosque of Samarra. This atrocity, directed at a Muslim house of prayer, was designed to provoke retaliation from Iraqi Shia — and it succeeded. Radical Shia elements, some of whom receive support from Iran, formed death squads. The result was a tragic escalation of sectarian rage and reprisal that continues to this day.

This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in. Every one of us wishes that this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk. Ladies and gentlemen: On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle. So let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory.

Iraq

We are carrying out a new strategy in Iraq — a plan that demands more from Iraq’s elected government, and gives our forces in Iraq the reinforcements they need to complete their mission. Our goal is a democratic Iraq that upholds the rule of law, respects the rights of its people, provides them security, and is an ally in the war on terror.

In order to make progress toward this goal, the Iraqi government must stop the sectarian violence in its capital. But the Iraqis are not yet ready to do this on their own. So we are deploying reinforcements of more than 20,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Iraq. The vast majority will go to Baghdad, where they will help Iraqi forces to clear and secure neighborhoods, and serve as advisers embedded in Iraqi Army units. With Iraqis in the lead, our forces will help secure the city by chasing down terrorists, insurgents, and roaming death squads. And in Anbar province — where al Qaeda terrorists have gathered and local forces have begun showing a willingness to fight them — we are sending an additional 4,000 United States Marines, with orders to find the terrorists and clear them out. We did not drive al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq.

The people of Iraq want to live in peace, and now is the time for their government to act. Iraq’s leaders know that our commitment is not open ended. They have promised to deploy more of their own troops to secure Baghdad — and they must do so. They have pledged that they will confront violent radicals of any faction or political party. They need to follow through, and lift needless restrictions on Iraqi and Coalition forces, so these troops can achieve their mission of bringing security to all of the people of Baghdad. Iraq’s leaders have committed themselves to a series of benchmarks to achieve reconciliation — to share oil revenues among all of Iraq’s citizens … to put the wealth of Iraq into the rebuilding of Iraq … to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation’s civic life … to hold local elections … and to take responsibility for security in every Iraqi province. But for all of this to happen, Baghdad must be secured. And our plan will help the Iraqi government take back its capital and make good on its commitments.

My fellow citizens, our military commanders and I have carefully weighed the options. We discussed every possible approach. In the end, I chose this course of action because it provides the best chance of success. Many in this chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq — because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far reaching.

If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country — and in time the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.

For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq, would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens… new recruits … new resources … and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September 11th and invite tragedy. And ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East … to succeed in Iraq … and to spare the American people from this danger.

This is where matters stand tonight, in the here and now. I have spoken with many of you in person. I respect you and the arguments you have made. We went into this largely united — in our assumptions, and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure. Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq — and I ask you to give it a chance to work. And I ask you to support our troops in the field — and those on their way.

The war on terror we fight today is a generational struggle that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others. That is why it is important to work together so our Nation can see this great effort through. Both parties and both branches should work in close consultation. And this is why I propose to establish a special advisory council on the war on terror, made up of leaders in Congress from both political parties. We will share ideas for how to position America to meet every challenge that confronts us. And we will show our enemies abroad that we are united in the goal of victory.

One of the first steps we can take together is to add to the ranks of our military — so that the American Armed Forces are ready for all the challenges ahead. Tonight I ask the Congress to authorize an increase in the size of our active Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 in the next five years. A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. And it would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time.

Americans can have confidence in the outcome of this struggle — because we are not in this struggle alone. We have a diplomatic strategy that is rallying the world to join in the fight against extremism. In Iraq, multinational forces are operating under a mandate from the United Nations — and we are working with Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Gulf states to increase support for Iraq’s government. The United Nations has imposed sanctions on Iran, and made it clear that the world will not allow the regime in Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons. With the other members of the Quartet — the UN, the European Union, and Russia — we are pursuing diplomacy to help bring peace to the Holy Land, and pursuing the establishment of a democratic Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security.

In Afghanistan, NATO has taken the lead in turning back the Taliban and al Qaeda offensive — the first time the Alliance has deployed forces outside the North Atlantic area. Together with our partners in China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea, we are pursuing intensive diplomacy to achieve a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons. And we will continue to speak out for the cause of freedom in places like Cuba, Belarus, and Burma — and continue to awaken the conscience of the world to save the people of Darfur.

AIDS/Africa

American foreign policy is more than a matter of war and diplomacy. Our work in the world is also based on a timeless truth: To whom much is given, much is required. We hear the call to take on the challenges of hunger, poverty, and disease — and that is precisely what America is doing. We must continue to fight HIV/AIDS, especially on the continent of Africa — and because you funded our Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the number of people receiving life-saving drugs has grown from 50,000 to more than 800,000 in three short years. I ask you to continue funding our efforts to fight HIV/AIDS. I ask you to provide $1.2 billion over five years so we can combat malaria in 15 African countries. I ask that you fund the Millennium Challenge Account, so that American aid reaches the people who need it, in nations where democracy is on the rise and corruption is in retreat. And let us continue to support the expanded trade and debt relief that are the best hope for lifting lives and eliminating poverty.

When America serves others in this way, we show the strength and generosity of our country. These deeds reflect the character of our people. The greatest strength we have is the heroic kindness, courage, and self sacrifice of the American people. You see this spirit often if you know where to look — and tonight we need only look above to the gallery.

Dikembe Mutombo grew up in Africa, amid great poverty and disease. He came to Georgetown University on a scholarship to study medicine — but Coach John Thompson got a look at Dikembe and had a different idea. Dikembe became a star in the NBA, and a citizen of the United States. But he never forgot the land of his birth — or the duty to share his blessings with others. He has built a brand new hospital in his hometown. A friend has said of this good hearted man: “Mutombo believes that God has given him this opportunity to do great things.” And we are proud to call this son of the Congo our fellow American.

After her daughter was born, Julie Aigner-Clark searched for ways to share her love of music and art with her child. So she borrowed some equipment, and began filming children’s videos in her basement. The Baby Einstein Company was born — and in just five years her business grew to more than $20 million in sales. In November 2001, Julie sold Baby Einstein to the Walt Disney Company, and with her help Baby Einstein has grown into a $200 million business. Julie represents the great enterprising spirit of America. And she is using her success to help others — producing child safety videos with John Walsh of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Julie says of her new project: “I believe it’s the most important thing that I’ve ever done. I believe that children have the right to live in a world that is safe.” So tonight, we are pleased to welcome this talented business entrepreneur and generous social entrepreneur — Julie Aigner-Clark.

Three weeks ago, Wesley Autrey was waiting at a Harlem subway station with his two little girls, when he saw a man fall into the path of a train. With seconds to act, Wesley jumped onto the tracks … pulled the man into a space between the rails … and held him as the train passed right above their heads. He insists he’s not a hero. Wesley says: “We got guys and girls overseas dying for us to have our freedoms. We got to show each other some love.” There is something wonderful about a country that produces a brave and humble man like Wesley Autrey.

Tommy Rieman was a teenager pumping gas in Independence, Kentucky, when he enlisted in the United States Army. In December 2003, he was on a reconnaissance mission in Iraq when his team came under heavy enemy fire. From his Humvee, Sgt. Rieman returned fire — and used his body as a shield to protect his gunner. He was shot in the chest and arm, and received shrapnel wounds to his legs — yet he refused medical attention, and stayed in the fight. He helped to repel a second attack, firing grenades at the enemy’s position. For his exceptional courage, Sgt. Rieman was awarded the Silver Star. And like so many other Americans who have volunteered to defend us, he has earned the respect and gratitude of our whole country.

In such courage and compassion, ladies and gentlemen, we see the spirit and character of America — and these qualities are not in short supply. This is a decent and honorable country — and resilient, too. We have been through a lot together. We have met challenges and faced dangers, and we know that more lie ahead. Yet we can go forward with confidence — because the State of our Union is strong … our cause in the world is right … and tonight that cause goes on.

God Bless.

 Yes, Mr. President, may we all be so blessed.

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Smear Campaigns

Posted by Daniel on January 22, 2007

Is the entire country just plain stupid?  Or is the FOX Nitwit Channel trying desperately to convince us that we are?

It never fails to amaze me just what lengths Rupert Murdoch and his holdings will go to in order to print or broadcast lies.  

Friday was yet another example.

Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) is now in contention for the Democratic nomination for President.  Now that he’s out there and his campaign begun, he has now become fair game for the Dick Cheney of so-called news.

Friday, Insight Magazine (one of Murdoch’s many “newspaper” holdings) reported that as a young child (6 years old), Obama attended a school in Indoneasia that was, according to unidentified “sources”, a Madrassa…

Allegations that Sen. Obama was educated in a radical Muslim school known as a “madrassa” are not accurate, according to several reports.

Insight Magazine, which is owned by the same company as The Washington Times, reported on its Web site last week that associates of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, (D-NY), had unearthed information the Illinois Democrat and likely presidential candidate attended a Muslim religious school known for teaching the most fundamentalist form of Islam.

Obama lived in Indonesia as a child, from 1967 to 1971, with his mother and step-father and has acknowledged attending a Muslim school, but an aide said it was not a madrassa.

Insight attributed the information in its article to an unnamed source, who said it was discovered by “researchers connected to Senator Clinton.” A spokesman for Clinton, who is also weighing a White House bid, denied that the campaign was the source of the Obama claim.

He called the story “an obvious right-wing hit job.”

Insight stood by its story in a response posted on its Web site Monday afternoon.

The Insight article was cited several times Friday on Fox News and was also referenced by the New York Post, The Glenn Beck program on CNN Headline News and a number of political blogs.

No lagitimate sources.  No reliable facts.  Only the fleeting hope that Americans, and the world by larger extent, are still so umbelievably gullible that we/they are going to continue swallowing what Murdoch is willing to feed us.

We can only hope that the rising star that WAS Murdoch’s empire…falls on it’s own bloody sword.

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My Night As A Flasher

Posted by Daniel on January 21, 2007

https://i1.wp.com/www.hanklee.org/xcart/files/d_159.jpgAlmost five years ago, I became a full-fledged suburbanite. We’re talking big house, quiet streets, picturesque neighborhoods. Minivans as far as the eye can see…none of which use turn signals, stop or even yeild at stop signs/lights.

Neighbors stop and talk to one another here, bring the nicest covered dishes to functions and smile when they see you.

Another thing neighbors are known for in the suburbs is that they tend to notice when odd things happen. They keep a watchful eye on their neighbors houses. Not being nosey…only looking out for one another. Not like in the city, where neighbors tend to keep more to themselves. In the city, it’s more like, “It’s none of my business and I’m not getting involved.”

Not so here in our little corner of the world.

We have, without a doubt, some of the nicest and coolest neighbors you’d ever want to meet. And if you ever wanted to know the test for neighborly fortitude, it’s putting them nextdoor to us!

Case in point:

This evening, Steve and I are busy doing whatever it is we like to do. He’s busy staying busy around the house, while I’m on the computer working. (big Saturday night…No, no…don’t envy US!!)

Tonight, we’re in the middle of a snowstorm. All of the ice from last week’s ice storm finally finished melting off this morning, and now we have already 3+ inches of wet heavy snow.

Welcome to Missouri.

So I’m working on the computer, and I happen to look out the window. The snow is falling rather heavily now, so I get up and look out the window. The snow looks so much like every Christmas card. So, I decide I want to take some pictures with the digital camera.

Can’t get a good picture through the window, so I open it and the screen. Then I start clicking away. One picture after another. I’m upstairs on the second floor. Steve is down on the main level. He has no idea what I’m doing, but he keeps noticing very bright flashes through the great room window.

We are prone to seeing lightning during snow storms, but it’s still a bit of a surprise every time you see it. Or think you see it.

Then, as he’s looking out that window, he notices me hanging out the upstairs window taking pictures. So he raps on his window and I playfully take his picture from my window. The flashes are really amplified by all of the falling snow and appear more blue than white.

Yeah, living in the suburbs is just one zany moment after another. 😉

We’re now downstairs laughing at our little wacky window exchange, when all of a sudden, our neighbor John comes running through the snow up to our front door. He is obviously in high panic mode (good neighbor) and whatever has him so flustered must be bad.

“Hey guys, I think there’s something really wrong on the back side of your house!! Looks like maybe an electrical fire!!”, John said.

Normally, those words would send Steve and I into a complete chaotic frienzy, as we had only recently installed a new heater in the greenhouse out back that uses a lot more power and had thrown a breaker the first time it was turned on. (no trouble with it since)

So what does John’s diligence get him? Gratitude? A neighborly thankful hug handshake? A festive gold lame wrapped fruit basket? No. We break out in sudden and riotous laughter. We knew we had to tell him what it was.

Now, apparently, John’s wife, Margie, happened to notice the blue flashes from their house and told John, “There’s something wrong happening at the boys’ house!!”, and sent John running.

When Steve and I stopped laughing, we told John what it was they saw. When the vein in John’s forehead stopped pulsing a bit, the humor of it all washed over him. Then it happened. The call we all knew would come…came.

It was Margie. Frantic.

So naturally, I (being the asshole that I pride myself to be) decided to play it up for her.

Daniel: “Hello?!?!”
Margie: “Are you guys alright? Is John there now??”
Daniel: “Oh, Margie, thank gawd.” (my voice is intentionally shaky and loud).
Margie: “What’s happening? Was it a fire? Did something blow??”
Daniel: “I’m so scared.”
Margie: “What WAS it?!?!?”
Daniel: “Snowflakes get very angry when you try to take their picture. Hold me?”
Margie: “You little asshole!!!” (what did I tell you?)

So Steve opens the front door and in comes Margie. Phone clasped in hand. We’re all laughing at each other because none of us know who made the biggest boo boo. Okay, I got the blame on this one since it was me who took the pictures and started this whole mess.

Once again, I’ve learned another reason that there’s nothing like living in the suburbs…and having good neighbors helping to keep a watchful eye on things.

Think I’ll run outside now and run around with my new laser pen. 😀

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Georgefoolery, Part 2

Posted by Daniel on January 20, 2007

A journalist once told Oscar Wilde that he never discussed subjects on which he didn’t know the facts. Wilde drolly responded, “That must limit your conversation frightfully.” Oh that Dubya was an Oscar Wilde fan. He possibly thinks Oscar Wilde is one of them “left wing Hollywood” parties after the Academy Awards. If he never discussed subjects on which he didn’t know the facts, the State of the Union would probably be shorter than a Superbowl commercial.

With that, I bring you Georgefoolery, Part 2*, courtesy of the George W Bushisms calendar (and thank you, Jacob Weisberg!)
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
*The Tempest is not liable for any nauseous reactions from any Bushisms. We suggest you keep a bucket handy.

JANUARY 17:
“Will the highways on the Internet become more few?”
-Concord, NH January 29, 2000
(I believe he’s been drunk driving on those highways.)

JANUARY 18:
“I want to remind you all that in order to fight and win the war, it requires an expenditure of money that is commiserate with keeping a promise to our troops to make sure that they’re well paid, well trained, well equipped.”
-Washington, D.C. December 15, 2003
(See, our fine men and women and uniform? At one time he had a passing thought to your welfare. Emphasis on passing.)

Sigh….and the hits keep coming. Stay tuned.

Posted in Just For Fun, Our Writings, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Bush Learns Backpeddling Hurts

Posted by Daniel on January 19, 2007


Reversing a position it defended for more than a year, the Bush administration announced Wednesday that it has begun getting court approval before eavesdropping on the communications of suspected terrorists or their associates.The Justice Department notified Congress that a court set up to specialize in wiretapping would oversee its “terrorist surveillance program,” which the administration has said could operate without judicial review. Critics said that violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which set up a special court to review wiretap applications in intelligence cases.

In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales wrote that the administration still believes the program is legal, but that a judge on the court has set rules that preserve “the speed and agility necessary” to battle terrorism.

“The president is committed to using all lawful tools to protect our nation from the terrorist threat, including making maximum use of the authorities provided by FISA and taking full advantage of developments in the law,” Gonzales wrote.

Neither Gonzales nor Justice Department officials disclosed details of the rules set by the court, arguing that details were classified. But Gonzales said President Bush would no longer authorize the existing program, which administration officials said was necessary because the court set up under FISA was too slow to respond to new terrorist threats.

“To save American lives, we must be able to act fast and to detect these conversations so we can prevent new attacks,” Bush said in December 2005.

The administration’s reversal comes a day before Gonzales was scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Its chairman, Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, said he welcomed the decision.

“As I pointed out for some time, and as other senators on both sides of the aisle pointed out, that was, at the very best, of doubtful legality,” Leahy said. He said surveillance was needed to prevent terrorist attacks, “but we can and we should do it in ways that protect the basic rights of all Americans.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, called the move “a long-overdue recognition” that existing laws can protect the country.

“Although the judge’s order announced today needs to be reviewed thoroughly, the fact that the president will no longer be authorizing unilaterally intrusive surveillance of people in the United States is good news,” Pelosi said in a written statement.

Democratic Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, called the decision “welcome news, if long overdue.”

“It proves that this surveillance has always been possible under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and that there was never a good reason to evade the law,” Reyes said in a written statement.

The government now will ask the court to approve surveillance requests for 90 days, after which it must seek renewed permission. Justice Department officials said the court issued more than one order governing the program, but they refused to provide details of the still-classified program.

The officials also refused to comment on how the procedures could be implemented without damaging national security, as top administration figures insisted.

Gonzales wrote that the administration has been working with the court for two years to bring the program under FISA, even as it defended the program and resisted calls for greater oversight. But the White House dismissed suggestions that the announcement was influenced by political concerns.

“It’s an example of a case where we take hits for doing what’s right rather than getting credit for what seems to be expedient,” White House spokesman Tony Snow said.

Bush authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on calls to or from people suspected of having ties to al Qaeda shortly after the terror network’s September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. The program remained secret for four years, and ignited a controversy once it was disclosed.

Sen. Arlen Specter, then chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said FISA “flatly prohibits” electronic eavesdropping without a judge’s permission. A federal judge ruled the program unconstitutional in July.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which led the court challenge to the program, called the decision to submit the program to the FISA court “an effort to avoid judicial and congressional scrutiny.”

“The legality of this unprecedented surveillance program should not be decided by a secret court in one-sided proceedings,” said Ann Beeson, the lead attorney in the group’s lawsuit. The group said it would urge the FISA court to release more information about its new orders, which Gonzales said were issued January 10.

Specter, now the Judiciary Committee’s ranking Republican, said he wants to see more detail about how the program will now be run.

“I think we need to know more about the procedures on the determination of probable cause, whether it is on individualized warrants or it is a group program,” he said. “And we will need to know more about the determination of the individual being an agent of al Qaeda.”

A senior Justice Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, said the department still believes the 1978 law should be modified to account for advances in electronic communication. Wednesday’s announcement will “take some political heat off the debate,” he said.

“These orders allow us to do the same thing that we’ve been doing, but we will be operating under the orders we’ve obtained from a FISA judge,” the official said.

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