Thursday, June 30, 2005

Can't Pass Up a Line

If someone gives me a line I can make a joke out of, I have a hard time passing up the opportunity. A very hard time. Even when saying it aloud can be to my detriment. Even when I realize beforehand that saying it aloud can be to my detriment.

This fact about me came to mind in the context of a team-building program today for my work group (for context, I work at a government agency). One of the exercises we did involved having someone try to get all of us to drink buttermilk, on the ground that the boss had ordered it, because recent studies had shown that it's extremely healthy. Because it's the first day of the program, we only needed to try a little bit, or if it really bugged someone, just smell it. After a few minutes of giving the poor guy a hard time, most of us were ready to at least smell it. Then he opened the carton, and the contents within were green. The guy literally fell to the ground, but after a couple of seconds, he went right on with his salesmanship and proceeded to pour us each 2-3 oz samples. Like most of us, I smelled it but didn't taste it. One person tasted it, and a couple wouldn't even smell it (as I had suspected, it turned out to be food coloring).

Afterwards, the facilitator explained that the exercise was about dealing with change, and that even if you believe you can deal with change, oftentimes additional surprises (the green milk) come out that you're not necessarily ready to handle. She then asked, "Have you ever seen someone try to explain the green milk as though that were part of the plan all along?"
I raised my hand and she called on me.
"Sure, Tuesday night."
I'm pretty sure I'll still have a job tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The NBA Draft -- it's Yawn-tastic

I can't believe I was tracking the NBA draft throughout the first round last night. Admittedly, it was a background window on my computer, but I still checked it frequently, reading an analysts's take on each pick. Why did I follow such an event? I didn't particularly care about any of these young men, some of whom I watched in the NCAA tournament, most of whom I had never heard of before reading the articles about them on I kept wondering why some players were taken later than projected, and if by fluke any would fall to the Celtics, one of the two teams (along with the Wizards, who lacked a first-round pick) that I pull for. I was actually delighted when a player that was supposed to go in the top 10, but whom I'd never heard of before Monday, fell into the Celtics' lap at #18.

Perhaps it's because of the analysis and the analysts. Many of these "experts" have little idea on the likely success of individuals, but still they gush about some picks and ridicule others. I can't believe that no one has put together a montage of analysts gushing/ridiculing themselves into idiocy on past picks. Replay draft night clips of pundits praising Kwame Brown and Darko Milicic, along with dozens of other busts. I have no idea who they criticized that turned out to be gold, but they've got to be out there. Call them draft night bloopers. General Managers and coaches get fired over these players not panning out -- I'm sure they'd love to see someone else join them in the doghouse, if only for the length of a show.

Probably the silliest element of the evening is that I tracked the draft of a sport that I watch perhaps three times per year (though I do play fantasy NBA). Truly I am a sports junkie.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Odds Must Be Crazy

Turns out that friends of ours are also doing IVF, and are about 1.5 weeks behind us. We had gotten together for dinner while the women were taking their pre-procedure medications, and there was lots of comeraderie. Still, with our odds of success being ~40%, and theirs being ~25% (she's a couple of years older than Kathy), I later mentioned to Kathy that the odds weren't good that both couples would get pregnant -- in fact, the odds were 45% that neither couple would get pregnant, 45% that one would, and just 10% that both succeed. I pointed this out to Kathy because of the realization that there could be a strain on the friendship if one couple was successful and the other wasn't.

Today we found out that they are also pregnant, so the 1 in 10 chance happened. Hurray!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Parsing the Constitution

In the 1960s, the Supreme Court attempted to define pornography, i.e., something not protected by the First Amendment, in a series of cases. The justices would huddle in the basement of the Court and review dirty films to see what was ok and what wasn't. Said Justce Potter Stewart, "I can't define pornography, but I know it when I see it."

That individualized level of review comes to mind when seeing the Court's decisions today on religious displays. In two separate decisions, the Court held that a framed copy of the Ten Commandments on display in a Kentucky courthouse is unacceptable, while a monument on the Texas capitol grounds is ok. The cases were decided 5-4, with Justice Breyer the one who switched his vote in the two cases. In the Texas case, Chief Justice Rehnquist, writing the plurality opinion (i.e., for four justices -- himself, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas), stated that the fact that the monument had been on display for 40 years without challenge was the determining factor.

Breyer cast the decisive vote, so that his opinion is much more legally significant (a fact that seems to be overlooked in the articles I've read). He found that where the monument was located (in a park as one of 17 monuments and 21 historical monuments), suggests State intended a non-religious, "moral message--an illustrative message reflecting the historical 'ideals' of Texans--to predominate." Breyer focuses almost wholly on intent in distinguishing the Texas case from the Kentucky case, stating that "the short (and stormy) history of the courthouse Commandments' displays demonstrates the substantially religious objectives of those who mounted them, and the effect of this readily apparent objective upon those who view them."

Still, the cases refused to lay out general guidelines on when it is acceptable for the government to display the Ten Commandments. Instead, they found that, in the words of Rehnquist in the Texas case, "No exact formula can dictate a resolution in fact-intensive cases such as this" (Breyer wrote something similar). This parsing of the minutely different situations puts lower courts in a difficult position -- odds are, the Supreme Court will need to hear a number of additional cases before a clear pattern develops on which the lower courts can rely. Moreover, if a justice or two steps down in the next few days, as is being rumored (Rehnquist &/or O'Connor), a pattern will be unlikely to develop for quite some time. In the meantime, in deciding when a display is acceptable, I guess they'll know it when they see it.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

One Week Later, This & That

Seeing the response to News makes me wonder if 6.5 [ed. - 7.5] responses per word in the original post is a blogging record. Regardless, thanks everyone for the outpouring of love and support -- the idea that we might be parents in less than eight months still hasn't fully sunk in. For the first year of our marriage, every once in a while one of us would turn to the other and say, "We're married," because it didn't seem wholly real; now we're telling each other, "We're pregnant," with the same unreal feeling attached.

I just remembered this morning that my early rising at the Outer Banks (as opposed to here) is quite normal -- for some reason I've always gotten up earlier than usual when I'm down there. I don't remember getting up quite as early as I did this past week, but doing so did allow me to take plenty of sunrise photos, like so:

It was good seeing my family again, despite the occasional attendent stresses. As I explained to my brother-in-law, we often have a tendency to regress into how we interacted growing up, no matter how much we've grown/changed in the intervening years. One of the highlights of the trip was seeing my nieces and nephew -- I haven't seen one niece since Thanksgiving, and the others since last summer. That's a lot of growing up for the two youngest ones, who are 20 and 32 months (the oldest just turned 8). Here they are:



Hunter (& John)

My brother-in-law left Leynie's stroller behind, and didn't discover his error until he was too far away, so we now have our first hand-me-down baby item.

While Kathy and I had been to the Outer Banks many times, most everyone else was a first timer (my sister and brother-in-law had joined us out there once before). The house this year was way more decadent than any I'd ever stayed in before -- master suites for everyone, oceanfront with its own walk to the beach, a pool, hot tub, pool table, etc. ad infinitum (or so it seemed). Thanks Mom & Dad!

While I was gone, the Red Sox have taken over first place, but my limited access to internet hurt me in fantasy baseball. I didn't stay up to watch Game 7 of the Spurs and Pistons, but my one night of waking up at o-dark-hundred enabled me to watch the end of the replay. DC United won its game last weekend over the division leaders, but was off yesterday.

Perhaps the best part of the vacation was that I didn't think about work at all.

Saturday, June 18, 2005


She's pregnant.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Time Inches Along

A lot of you have been wishing us the best on the whole pregnancy thing. Being that I'll be away from home when we find out, I can only tell you that I'll post when I get the chance. I know that some people believe you shouldn't discuss such things during the first trimester, but I think that's bullshit. The idea seems to come from concern that you shouldn't get your hopes up, and by announcing it, you're treating it as a sure thing.

Believe me when I say that we don't consider it a sure thing, only that, if it happens, we will have cleared a hurdle we haven't cleared before. Consequently, we will be happy to have gotten that far, and yes, our expectations will have risen. But we know too many friends who have had miscarriages, some late in their second trimester -- we won't be taking anything for granted.

If we are fortunate enough to be pregnant, and we then suffer the misfortune of a miscarriage, I don't want to go through it stoically -- I want to be able to use our support system of family and friends (including the new ones I've "met" through my blog). Besides, I've told people this much, it doesn't make sense to suddenly shut up -- at this point being quiet would be something to the effect of I'll tell you if it doesn't work out, but you can infer what you want if I suddenly don't want to talk about it. In other words, you'll know whether or not I acknowledge it, and I'm not into playing an elaborate dance around reality.

I'm sure I'll have no trouble sleeping tonight. No trouble at all.

If You Can't Sleep... might as well go out on the roof in your underwear and watch the sunrise.

Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Better Lucky than Good

This past Sunday against the MetroStars, DC United took 28 shots, including 14 on goal, dominated throughout the match, and came away with a 0-0 tie. Tonight against the Chicago Fire, United came out lethargic, were outhustled and outmuscled, and found themselves fortunate not to be down more than 2-0 before roaring back (with help from the referees) to win 4-3. United showed a lot of heart in fighting back for the win, one they badly needed after having fallen into a tie in the Eastern Conference cellar.

United's first goal came on a penalty kick after a questionable call. The third one came after a blatant offsides was ignored, inspiring the crowd to chant, "We love the referee," a first in my 10 years of going to games. From then on, however, United had all the momentum, while Chicago showed fatigue and bunkered down in an attempt to salvage a tie on the road. Even though it felt inevitable that United would get the fourth goal and the win, it was anything but, given that the team hadn't scored a single goal in their last their last three games, much less four. When that winning goal came was scored by rookie defender Bobby Boswell, those of us in the Nest and Barra Brava screamed, high fived, and hugged, demonstrating relief together with a hope that this was the game that will send us back into playoff contention.

Still, as I talked with friends while heading out of the stadium, I asked two questions, for which there was universal agreement:
Did we deserve the win? No
Do I care? No

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Counting Down

You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part.
-- Tom Petty

Only four days left in the wait to know whether Kathy's pregnant, and I'm stressed. At least, I assume the whole pregnancy thing is what's keeping me from sleeping at night -- I've had one semi-decent night of sleep in the last five (good part -- I have an excuse if this post is incoherent). My stomach was giving me grief yesterday, and while it's better today, it still doesn't feel 100%.

So what about the process is making me stressed? I don't think it has to do with the lack of control -- I think it's the not knowing. While I have a preference on the outcome, I just want to know. Will our lives be childless, and we can move forward in that direction? Or will we be expecting parenthood, with the reality attendant to that situation? The course our lives will take as the result of this result will be altered so much relative to most ordinary "what ifs." And it's scary, the realization that (forgive the clichés you're about to read) our lives are on the edge of something new, an end of one journey and the start of a new one (though we don't know which one).

If it turns out Kathy is pregnant, the next question will be how many? And the uncertainty tied to that will stay with me for another few weeks until that question can be answered. And then the health issues would follow. And then something else followed by something else. I need to learn how to deal with this, because if she is pregnant, I've got a lot of uncertainty headed my way.

In the meantime, I've got another four days, four more miserable days (thought hopefully four less miserable nights). And speaking of miserable, I'm sure the weather hasn't been helping my state of mind. What the heck is going on with the Augustian weather in mid-June? We skipped the upper 70s and low 80s, jumping straight into the dog days. It's pretty much touched 90 for the past five days, most of those days have had sweat-by-opening-the-door humidity, and today was the hottest yet -- they even closed schools early because of the heat. It's supposed to be a bit cooler tomorrow, and significantly so Thursday and Friday.

I can't sleep tonight
Everybody saying everything's all right
Still I can't close my eyes
I'm seeing a tunnel at the end of all these lights.
-- Travis

Monday, June 13, 2005

Pension Defaults

With all the attention President Bush is focusing on Social Security, a different retirement concern is being overshadowed, even though it creates much greater, and much more immediate, problems for those affected. I'm referring to pension defaults. Current law enables many major corporations to inadequately fund their pensions, and these companies' employees are left with a fraction of what they counted on if the companies default on their obligations.

Recently in bankruptcy court, United Airlines defaulted on its pension obligations, turning them over to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), which is the insurance plan for pensions. United became the largest default in history, and followed fellow airline US Airways in taking that course. Delta and Northwest are threatening to do the same (though they are urging changes in the law that would, inter alia, enable them to make up their underfunding over a longer period of time), and it's no surprise, given the competitive pressures placed on them by companies that are now freed from their pension obligations. They aren't the only companies threatening to default on their pensions, and as a consequence of defaults over the past three years, PBGC has gone from a $7 billion surplus to a $23 billion deficit. Thus, PBGC is itself in danger of becoming insolvent.

But even if it weren't insolvent, there'd still be a significant problem. When a company defaults on a pension, PBGC only covers a part of what the company would owe, and thus in many instances employees' plans for retirement are abruptly destroyed.

It sounds like both Congress and the administration, are finally turning their attention to this important matter. I just hope they'll focus on it with the urgency it demands, and get something passed in the next few months that will require companies to adequately fund both their pensions and PBGC. Otherwise, more people's futures will be ruined through no fault of their own.

Obsidian Wings

I just wanted to spend a moment to encourage folks to check out Obsidian Wings (it's on my Blogroll), a collective of political-thinking intelligent folk, ranging from liberal to traditional (not neo-) conservative. While I relate most to hilzoy's perspective, there's good stuff from all of them, often on significant subjects to which I'd otherwise give no thought.

Especially noteworthy of late:
hilzoy on CAFTA
Charles Bird on Mugabe and Zimbabwe
von on the proposed Patent Reform Act of 2005

The substance I've found on blogs like Obsidian Wings is truly remarkable when compared with what I can find in newspapers, let alone TV (I stopped watching TV news for anything but election results years ago) -- Michael Jackson is not the most significant news story of today, no matter the press his trial is receiving.

Maybe those people who argue that blogs are ushering in a revolution in terms of access to information and analysis know what they're talking about. I can only hope.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Feeling Lazy

Don't really feel like writing anything new today, but if you're in need of a fix of my writing, RateBeer published an article of mine this past week on the philosophy of giving a beer a perfect score. Despite that description, it really is lightweight stuff, no need to be a beer geek to read it.

Have a nice remainder of your weekend.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Women and Maps

Kathy is horrible at reading maps. I can't tell you how many times she's looked at the map and erroneously (yet confidently) told me which way to go. And while many women in fact have no trouble with maps, it's known that on average men have better spatial abilities than women (while women on average have better verbal skills than men). Last night, I figured out why women aren't as good with maps -- men are XY, but women are XX, so they're missing an axis.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Avoiding Déjà Vu

The scene this morning seemed pretty familiar -- dinner with friends (the same ones as before) followed up by too much ice cream, followed by waking up around 4am unable to sleep. But this time I was determined that things would be different (it helped that my stomach was fine). Instead of going upstairs to play on the computer, I rolled out of bed around 5:15, grabbed some clothes and headed out the door. I figured that the best way to avoid injuring one's foot was to stay off the computer and go jogging.

After dropping off some library books, I walked down to the Mall intending to do the roughly five-mile loop that I did most Sundays for a time last Fall before the weather got too cold. During that time, I'd walk about a third, jog a third, then finish up with another walk. I'd intended to pick it back up in the Spring, but somehow I never did. Now that it's ridiculously hot already (it was a sticky 75 while I did my walk this morning!), I suppose I probably won't do this regularly again until this Fall.

Today I was able to do all that I wanted, and more. I was worried that I'd gotten a bit out of shape during the relative inactivity caused by my ankle activity, but I was still able to jog slowly for well over a mile. I was worried about the ankle injury, but as long as I walk (or in this instance jog) without twists and without rolling onto the outside of my injured foot), I do fine. Sadly, being up before dawn wasn't much good scenerywise -- it was a thoroughly gray and overcast morning. Maybe it'll be better the next time I can't sleep.

Note to the non-urban folk: walking alone in the pre-dawn hours didn't give me a moment's pause.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Securing Our Country

If you travel much by plane, by now you've probably gotten used to the hassle of going through airport security. Sure it's inconvenient, and the random searches seem particularly silly when they single out people who would never in a million years be a terrorist, but at least they're trying (and one could say they're succeeding, as there have been no successful post-9/11 airplane-based terrorist attacks). Wouldn't it be nice if the folks manning the U.S. border were undertaking similar measures? For example, maybe they'd stop someone carrying a bloody chainsaw, a hatchet, a knife, and a homemade sword from entering the country. Then again, such an individual is more likely to be a homicidal maniac than a terrorist, so maybe it is more important to check airplane-bound old ladies in wheelchairs.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Five Good Things

Today I started with the best of intentions. I wanted to praise five things the Bush Administration has done. I've been disgusted with so many things they've done, but I figured I should try to recognize the good among the bad, perhaps to gain a bit of perspective. I didn't have any in mind, but I thought that surely there must be some things, out of the hundreds they've done in the past 4.5 years, that I can appreciate. But when I considered the body of his work, I got stymied very quickly. Iraq, the Patriot Act, Education, irresponsible tax cuts, deficit spending, health care, the environment, social security, twisting science in a partisan fashion, Medicare "reform," energy policy, No Child Left Behind, lowering the wall separating church and state, minimal corporate cleanup after Enron (and with Bush's nominee to head the SEC, even that will likely be gutted) -- I don't think there's anything among the Administration's activities on any of these issues that's worth praising. While some of the appointments the Administration has made (e.g., Colin Powell) were positive, the fact that their opinions were virtually ignored, leaving them with little actual authority, negates whatever positive their appointments offered in the first place. Thus, I had trouble coming up with five, and had to settle for two:

1) One of the first pieces of legislation in Bush's second term, The Class Action Fairness Act of 2005. This law did a number of things that affect class action suits, including reduce the possibility of forum shopping (i.e., picking a court based on the likelihood of getting a favorable result), and make sure that awards actually benefit those affected (anyone ever gotten one of those stupid coupons for a future purchase?) rather than the attorneys.

2) Immigration Law. Bush's approach to immigration reform strikes me as a reasonable balance. No amnesty is offered, but it does let those here illegally stay. It doesn't close our borders, as some anti-immigration people argue should be done. Admittedly, it seems that part of the impetus behind the policy is to benefit companies that use illegal workers, but still, it's ok to have people with different interests share a common goal.




Am I overlooking anything? I'm taking nominations.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Sunday Boating

Kathy's Mom stayed with us on Saturday night, and Sunday morning the three of us, together with the dogs, headed to Gunpowder Falls State Park in Maryland. There, we met up with Kathy's Dad, who had boated down from New York (where he had stored the boat over the winter at the end of last year's travels). Mom had brought provisions, and was all set to join Dad for a couple of weeks of scooting around the Eastern Shore. Together we did lunch, then loaded the boat. Afterwards, we climbed aboard for a bit of motoring together, enjoying the hot and hazy, but quite lovely, afternoon. While Junebug wasn't too happy about being on a boat, she stayed below deck and out of trouble. After about 90 minutes, Mom and Dad dropped us off on the dock and headed on their way. Photowise on the day, there was only one critter truly worth sharing, and that's the blue heron.

Posted by Hello

Monday, June 06, 2005

Pre-Conceived Notions

Today the embryos were transferred into Kathy. It's amazing how quickly the numbers reduce. We removed seven eggs on Friday, one wasn't mature, so we got six embryos. This morning we were told two of them didn't seem to be growing any more, so we were down to four. And if we put two in now, and saved the other two for later, there was only a 2/3 chance each of the saved embryos would come out ok. And there's not much point in freezing only one. But inserting four embryos seemed way too risky as far as multiple births, and didn't significantly increase the likelihood of a successful pregnancy. But our doctor said he hadn't had triplets or quadruplets in over a year. As for how the embryos should look, at this point in the process they only have general ideas -- they don't actually know what to look for. All these things were thrown at us this morning and we were asked to make a decision on how many embryos to transfer. We had no idea. The concept of informed consent assumes that with all the info you'll be able to make a decision, but the flood of information we received just a few minutes before the procedure would take place was just too much for us to process. So when our doctor came back after giving us a few minutes, we pretty much let him make the decision for us. On that basis, we went with three embryos, the three that looked the best (two of them looked very good, and the other was good). It's possible the other three, including the two that didn't seem to be growing any more, would in fact keep developing, so they're going to keep an eye on them for a couple more days to see if they're worth saving. As it is, however, it's becoming increasingly likely that this is our one shot, and we won't get the opportunity to use saved embryos from this process in another attempt. Our doctor said he thought we had about a 40% chance of success.

It's out of our hands now -- we go in for the pregnancy test a week from Saturday, on our way out of town. We'll get the results while we're driving down -- not exactly the best way to kick off a relaxing week (with my family). In the meantime, we're told to relax, try not to stress, etc., which of course is easier said than done. Still, with the way my mind works, Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy" popped into my head this morning, and the song's been with me ever since. Naturally, I kept coming up with new lyrics.

Combine the eggs up with the sperm,
It takes two weeks 'til they'll confirm.
Don't Worry, Be Happy.

They put embryos into my wife,
If it don't work out, hey, that's life.
Don't Worry, Be Happy.

If we get one or two that's fine,
If we get trips, she'll drink more wine.
Don't Worry, Be Happy.

You get the idea.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Skinny Dip

In two weeks I go on vacation to the Outer Banks, so I'm not sure what possessed me to read a book that's ideal beach reading. No complaints, however, on Carl Hiaasen's 2004 release. It's completely in keeping with the Hiaasen playbook -- woman who finds herself in trouble in no small part because of what she's done, but also due to the machinations of someone else; rescuing man who needs rescuing of his own, but who inevitably has a heart of gold; idiots/villains; and a host of outlandish characters and scenes set in South Florida. In other words, you should know what you're getting from a Hiaasen, but that's no reason to be disappointed -- humor, romance, and wild creativity go non-stop in Skinny Dip, as they do in the other Hiaasen novels I've read. The book doesn't ask you to think much, just to sit back and enjoy the flow -- in other words, I need to get another Hiaasen or two from the library before I head for the ocean. Rating: 7/10.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Just when I Thought I'd Seen It All

Kind of scary what people spend their money on. I happened to see one of these on the road this evening:

Friday, June 03, 2005


Kathy had surgery today to remove her eggs, so my sperm can fertilize them in the lab, and then 2-3 of the resulting embryos can be implanted in a few days. The surgery was minor, and Kathy quickly bounced back. Given that general anaethesia was involved, however, I took the day off to look after her. She's fine, so she's watching movies on her computer and I'm drinking beer.

Let me repeat that last part -- I'm drinking beer. You see, this morning I made my contribution to the process, and either it will work or it won't, but my "work" is done, and I have nothing else to offer in terms of genetics. And after hardly drinking for the past 3 1/2 months, I'm ready to resume with a vengeance -- I love beer, and want to dive back into my hoppy hobby with at least as much vigor as I had previously. Over the past couple of months I've bought a number of beers to try, so my fridge is full of new beers to experience. But I didn't stop there -- this morning, after surgery, I took Kathy out for breakfast (she wasn't allowed to eat before the surgery) at a diner next to one of the beer stores I frequent, which I hit after breakfast.

And after today?

If Kathy is pregnant, I might sneak off to Montreal on my birthday weekend to hang with fellow members of RateBeer at our annual gathering. I've been the past three years (Toronto, Chicago, Portland (OR)), and have thoroughly enjoyed it each time. I've got a lot of friends in the group, and it'd be great to see them.

If Kathy isn't pregnant, I toy with the idea of going to Europe for 11 days, the first weekend being spent in London for the Great British Beer Festival (and taking in the city), and the second being in Copenhagen for the European version of the RateBeer summer gathering. It'd be expensive, but damn that would be a blast -- I've never been to London, and my stay in Copenhagen was too brief. And right now, between the stress of work and of the whole infertility thing, it would be a great escape. Still, I'm hesitant to go ahead with it -- a vacation of that length (and to Europe!) without Kathy doesn't feel right. I really would want her to come with me. With luck, Kathy will be pregnant, so I won't even get to consider this option (because I wouldn't leave a pregnant Kathy for such a long time).

Regardless, I've already booked a ticket for Denver at the end of September for the Great American Beer Festival.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Non Sequitur
by Wiley (5/23/05)
Posted by Hello
Why is it acceptable to so many people that the President is unwilling to go before the people, instead limiting access to his "town hall" meetings to those who support him? When was the last time he went before a representative cross-sampling of people? Even the audiences in the presidential debates were screened to prevent anyone who actually disagreed with him from attending. Equally scary is the notion that Bush is setting precedent for all that follow him in the Oval Office.

Of course, there's detached from the public, and there's detached from reality. Perhaps Bush's reluctance to face the general public can be tied to the fact that the public might actually want real answers to their questions rather than soundbites that don't match the real world. The disconnect from reality seems constant, but never more readily observed than with regard to Iraq. For example, there's the question of whether there are sufficient troops in Iraq to defeat the insurgents. The Bush Administration all along has been saying yes, but here it has little choice -- it doesn't have any more troops available, and given the political repercussions (as well as the message it would send to the North Koreas of the world), it dare not ask for a draft, even with recruiting quotas not being met. Nevertheless, others in a position to know give a very different answer.

Truly, I find it very difficult to believe anything the BA says about the situation in Iraq -- after all, the BA, according to the Downing Street Memo, planned to invade Iraq regardless of the evidence; claimed that the cost of the war would be paid for through Iraqi oil, then later said the cost would be in the tens of billions rather than the $200 billion it's rapidly approaching; and declared victory in Iraq over two years and 1600 soldiers' lives ago. Personally, I'm at the point where I no longer care if the BA is lying, or simply makes no effort to verify its assertions (yes, the same administration that had the audacity to point a finger at Newsweek) -- either way it exhibits a detachment from the truth.