November 2005

28 Nov 2005 06:14 pm

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
A horse-drawn wagon pulled up to the White House Monday with a 5 1/2-metre Christmas tree that will adorn the Blue Room, marking the official start of the holiday decorating season.

First lady Laura Bush walked outside to receive the Fraser Fir that was pulled up the driveway to the North Portico by two horses, including one that didn’t seem happy in his work.

“Our horses aren’t working as a team this morning,” Bush said as she eyed the restless horse and scanned the tree, which was bound and protruding from the back of a green-red wagon.

The tree was donated by Earl and Betsy Deal and their son Buddy of Smokey Holler Tree Farm in Laurel Springs, N.C.

Gary Walters, chief usher at the White House, and Mike Lawn, grounds foreman, selected the tree at the Deal’s farm on Oct. 20. The tree for the Blue Room as well as trees for the Bush family’s private residence and the Oval Office were cut on Nov. 25 and transported to Washington.

This year, the holiday decorating theme at the White House is All Things Bright and Beautiful. The Blue Room is the centrepiece of the White House decorations. The tree must be 5 1/2 metres tall because a chandelier is removed so the tree can be attached to the ceiling.

“The decorators are in there right now,” Bush said. “Santa’s elves are in, decorating the White House.”

The National Christmas Tree Association has presented the official White House tree since 1966.

Members of the association, which represents about 4,500 people involved in the production and sale of real Christmas trees, compete in state and regional competitions to become eligible to take a tree to the national contest.

The Deals, who have been growing trees for about 34 years, competed and won the North Carolina contest and then beat 22 other entries at the national convention.

The Deals, who have about 240,000 trees growing on their farm, won the national competition with another Fraser fir that was about two metres tall, the size popular among homeowners.

After the Deals won the national competition, the White House staff members travelled to the farm and chose the trees.

“We had tagged this one, hoping it would be the one picked,” Earl Deal said. “This is a dream come true. I think every Christmas tree grower hopes that they will someday provide a tree to the White House, but it’s still hard to believe that it will ever happen to you. There is no higher honour in this business.”

The First Lady said that the White House should be decorated by this Wednesday. They are getting it done faster than we are.

28 Nov 2005 03:15 pm

In the November 28, 2005 edition of the Weekly Standard Matthew Continetti has a very troubling article about a GOP lobbyist’s casino deal gone bad. This ten page expose reads like an investigation into the Mob and has photos of the people involved who look like the cast of The Sopranos.

This article is about former super GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former college Republican, Adam R. Kidan.

I settled down into the magazine the other night for a little light reading before bedtime and read through it all. These guys are pretty shady characters.

Now that Randy “Duke” Cunningham has pled guilty to bribes he took from a military contractor we are seeing a democratization of the Republican party in some circles. If it was good enough and corrupt enough for the democrats it’s good enough for them. That’s not okay.

Power and money corrupt and now that the Republicans have been in power since 1994 we are seeing some pay a price for it.

They need to clean it up and quickly.

Here is just a small excerpt of Continetti’s article…….

Gambling doesn’t destroy people. People destroy people. The gentleman or gentlewoman who decides to gamble makes that decision of his own free will. It’s a free market industry, and that appeals to conservatives. –Michael Scanlon

AT ABOUT 8 p.m. on the night of September 26, a homicide detective with the Ft. Lauderdale police department entered the home of Anthony Moscatiello in the Howard Beach section of Queens, New York. Once inside, he placed the 67-year-old “caterer,” aka “Big Tony,” under arrest.

Around 11 p.m., a thousand miles away in North Miami Beach, police stormed the condominium where Anthony Ferrari lived with his wife and two children and took the 48-year-old “security consultant,” aka “Little Tony,” into custody.

And the next morning, in Palm Coast, Florida, police arrested 28-year-old James Fiorillo. Fiorillo, aka “Pudgy,” worked at the Builder’s First hardware store in Bunnell. “Everybody loves him,” Fiorillo’s supervisor, Kurt Wright, told the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

Not everybody, it turned out. A few days earlier, a Broward County grand jury had indicted all three men on charges of first degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder. In addition the grand jury had indicted Moscatiello and Ferrari on charges of solicitation of first degree murder. All have pled not guilty. All are in prison, having been denied bond.

28 Nov 2005 12:52 pm

She’s back.

28 Nov 2005 05:41 am

Beth at My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy blogs about the latest blogging controversy. She makes some good points. Some in the blogosphere are upset about being excluded in the Open Source Media venture. (Now I guess it is back to its original version, Pajamas Media.)

Having never been much of a joiner or a follower I haven’t paid much attention to it. Or the controversy. But some of my favorite bloggers are part of it so I wish them well and hope Pajamas Media breaks out big.

This is one group the feline members of the family might want to join.

28 Nov 2005 05:04 am

Saddam Hussein’s trial was postponed again but not before Saddam complained about having to walk up four flights of stairs. He also fussed about his ink pen being taken away. Apparently security is worried that ink pens could be used as weapons.

The trial of Saddam Hussein for alleged crimes against humanity resumed in a heavily guarded courtroom Monday with the former Iraqi president angrily complaining about having to walk up four flights of stairs under foreign guard. A former U.S. attorney general sat with the defense team.

After a short session during which the first testimony was read into the record, Chief Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin adjourned the trial until Dec. 5 to allow time to find replacements for two defense lawyers who were slain and another who fled the country after he was wounded.

Saddam and seven co-defendants are charged in the killings of more than 140 Shiite Muslims after an assassination attempt against the former president in the Shiite town of Dujail in 1982. Convictions could bring a sentence of death by hanging.

The former leader pleaded innocent to charges of murder, torture, forced expulsions and illegal detentions at the opening session last month.
Earlier Monday, Judge Amin ordered all handcuffs and shackles removed from Saddam and the seven co-defendants before they entered the court. Mortar fire echoed through the center of the capital just before the session began.

27 Nov 2005 09:50 pm

We were pulling out the old ornaments today and Sabby gladly played with the paper.

27 Nov 2005 09:12 pm

Rick Brookhiser became a deerslayer on Thanksgiving but it wasn’t a gun but a car that killed the deer. I have also killed a deer but not while hunting.

In late October of 1997 I drove up to West Point, New York to see my son who was a firstie at the time.

One of my daughters also went with me and a friend of my son’s. After the Army football game we went out to eat down the mountain in one of the towns about twenty miles from West Point.

On the way home a deer came out of nowhere on the right hand side of the car. I swerved just a little to the left and caught the deer on the right front end deflecting it off of the right side, underneath the mirror.

My daughter who was riding in the front seat cried and screamed but I just kept on driving. I didn’t stop the car because it was already dark and I was sure that we had killed the deer.

After we got back to West Point my son suggested that we talk to a police officer in Highland Falls to see what we should do. The officer told us that we didn’t need to do anything about the deer but we should get the car seen about.

It was apparent that we had some bad damage and in fact, we had to fly home and leave the car in New York for repairs. We had a busted radiator and damage to the front end.

I was just thankful that my son, daughter and son’s friend were okay. I don’t remember ever feeling so much rage in my life when after the fact I realized that my daughter was just inches away from injury and that the car was turned in just the right direction to keep the deer out of the front windshield. Rage, then relief. I was shaken pretty badly.

New York State needs to do something about their deer problem. When I reported the accident to our insurance agent she told me that there are a lot of people badly hurt or killed by deer in New York state.

27 Nov 2005 05:18 pm

This is the cost of a leaner Army.

The death of this officer is a tragic loss to the U.S. Army. My husband is a retired finance officer with thirty years experience. When he was at the Army War College he did a study of contractors in World War ll and the need for accountability in overseeing them.

He warned that the Defense Department’s reduction of the support personnel who are specially trained in finance was a big mistake. The development of officers who have the necessary knowledge must begin with the rank of second lieutenant to insure that their understanding of financial management and accountability is sufficient.

The education of these officers prior to the nineties was founded on the accounting and accountability requirements learned through World War ll, Korea, and Vietnam.

However, this education has been adjusted and reduced to reflect “a leaner Army.” Few if any officers today are trained to do this job. Contracting officers have a Masters Degree and on the average three to six years with contracts. Even so, each one handles hundreds of contracts mostly without the sufficient staff or experience required.

Col. Westhusing sounds like just one of the officers “drafted” to help out the system. How can an individual be given the responsibility to oversee a contract worth potentially millions of dollars with a doctorate in philosophy? But, my husband saw this happen time and time again just before he retired.

One hot, dusty day in June, Col. Ted Westhusing was found dead in a trailer at a military base near the Baghdad airport, a single gunshot wound to the head.The Army would conclude that he committed suicide with his service pistol. At the time, he was the highest-ranking officer to die in Iraq.

The Army closed its case. But the questions surrounding Westhusing’s death continue.Westhusing, 44, was no ordinary officer. He was one of the Army’s leading scholars of military ethics, a full professor at West Point who volunteered to serve in Iraq to be able to better teach his students.

He had a doctorate in philosophy; his dissertation was an extended meditation on the meaning of honor.So it was only natural that Westhusing acted when he learned of possible corruption by U.S. contractors in Iraq.

A few weeks before he died, Westhusing received an anonymous complaint that a private security company he oversaw had cheated the U.S. government and committed human rights violations.

Westhusing confronted the contractor and reported the concerns to superiors, who launched an investigation.

In e-mails to his family, Westhusing seemed especially upset by one conclusion he had reached: that traditional military values such as duty, honor and country had been replaced by profit motives in Iraq, where the U.S. had come to rely heavily on contractors for jobs once done by the military.

26 Nov 2005 01:54 pm

Laq in Iraq had to go on hiatus for a little while to get his blog registered with the proper military authorities. Now he’s back. Give him a visit.

26 Nov 2005 01:44 pm

I just went out for a little while and made the mistake of turning on the radio just at the top of the hour when ABC News does their little news shtick. The overly excited female reporter had a tape of a woman who obviously has never been to war comparing her shopping experience to it and claiming that it was torture. Torture folks!

It’s called shopping stupid women! Something I don’t like to do on a day in a month with no major holiday. It’s why I buy ahead and put things away. (just don’t tell my family)

This is not a military experience. Nothing near it. Shame on ABC News.

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