Sunday, March 25, 2007

We Will Not

We will not go along with a partisan fishing expedition.
We will not go along with a fishing expedition.
We will not go along with an expedition.
We will not go along.
We will not.

You may kiss our ring.

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 Friday, March 23, 2007

It Makes A Big Difference

Comments by Gen. Tony McPeak (ret.), member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War:

This is a dark chapter in our history. Whatever else happens, our country's international standing has been frittered away by people who don't have the foggiest understanding of how the hell the world works. America has been conducting an experiment for the past six years, trying to validate the proposition that it really doesn't make any difference who you elect president. Now we know the result of that experiment ... If a guy is stupid, it makes a big difference.
But what does he know? He's just a soldier. And anyway, how dare he say such a thing!

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 Tuesday, March 20, 2007

No Place To Hide

To the House and the Senate, the White House stipulated the following.

Unsworn testimony.
Not under oath.
Behind closed doors.
No transcripts allowed.

Truth has no role for them. Rather, they need to immunize themselves from it. Because their lies and their deceit and their spin have left them no place to run to.

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 Monday, March 19, 2007

What Do I Know About Twigs?

I sat in the slight shade of the Ash tree in the afternoon. I was resting and viewing the land.

Down the block, the Grackles were coughing and snorting. Overhead, a male Cardinal was singing. In the still-bare Crepe Myrtle behind me, I heard the chirp of a Titmouse. I turned to look.

With its tuft lit slightly orange by the afternoon sun, it sat on a branch and looked down at me. I sat still. It hopped to another branch and then another. And then it bit a twig growing out of the branch. It yanked once and yanked again, but the twig did not come free. The Titmouse hopped to another branch and bit another twig. Yanking and pulling, this one did not let go, either.

I thought to myself, silly bird. There are all these twigs on the ground. So many to choose from. Bird, come take some of these. They are yours. But no, the Titmouse hopped to another branch with a third twig.

I rolled my eyes to myself.

And then that third twig snapped free.

What do I know about twigs?

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 Saturday, March 17, 2007

This Is Why

An engineer sat at a table in the gym waiting to tell the elementary school kids how much he loved his job.

The youngest kids came first. The pre-K and kindergartners were pretty much lost. The first graders barely knew the Space Shuttle. The second graders liked the animated rocket launch but were more interested in the handouts. Sadly, he had to leave before the older kids would come by.

It's too bad the fifth graders will miss this, he said to the teacher running things.

She looked up and said, Can you wait a few more minutes? I can call their teachers. He said yes, and she ran off.

In moments, there were dozens of older kids crowding around his table -- three classes of fifth graders who seemed like giants compared to the other kids he'd seen. They were four or five deep in front of him, two deep on the left and right, and there were even a few standing behind him where they couldn't see a thing. They jostled for position. He felt like a rock star.

After showing the movie, one kid asked about an orbit, Does it have a lot of kinetic energy?

The engineer's jaw dropped. You know about kinetic energy? They all nodded and said, Yes! Their teachers smiled. So he took them on an energy tour of a space mission, from the rocket sitting quietly on the pad, to ignition and ascent, to once-around-the-world every 90 minutes in orbit, to reentry, at each stage asking where the energy was. And they talked about maps and orbits and ground tracks and about the funky things that happen when you draw a rectangular map of a spherical world, like Where is the north pole on this map? And they talked about Ares and Orion that will come after the Shuttle.

And then he stopped for a moment and looked at them all in the eyes.

Some day when you are in middle school or high school, you'll wonder, Why do I have to know this math? he said. And I want you to remember today. Remember the engineer who came to came to Sunset Valley and showed you why. He pointed to the ground track maps. This is why. And he pointed to the images on his computer screen. This is why. You can't do this without math. Study hard, and come help us build these rockets.

Career Day at Sunset Valley Elementary
Austin, TX

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 Friday, March 16, 2007

The Pleasure of the President

He stood at the podium and spoke. Flags hung behind him. A smirk was on his face.

He accepted full responsibility. He admitted mistakes were made. He promised to look into things. But he said he stood by his decisions, and he pointed out that, after all, United States Attorneys serve only at the pleasure of the President.

Only at the pleasure of the President. Nothing to see here. Move along.

But that was before the emails, before the documents, before the lies were exposed, before White House minds suddenly turned hazy about just who knew what when.

And somehow I think the pleasure of the President is not as high this weekend as he expected it to be. That's a shame.

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 Monday, March 12, 2007

A Dog's Eye View

I get down on my knees on the ground. Nose to the grass. Level with the white blooming onions. Eye-to-eye with the magenta monkey lying over there where the dog dropped it yesterday.

Far in the distance, two compose piles rise up, concealing secret squirrel haunts where the gnawed hulls of acorns sit in a pile that grows daily. Sparrows hop at the feet of the Photinia.

The dog looks at me from the patio, wondering what I'm doing.

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Redbuds, Geeky Things, and Trudy

The Redbuds in Austin had started blooming. And off I drove to Houston, where of course the weather was warmer and Redbuds and Azaleas and much else were beginning to flower -- including the Oaks, laying down a blanket of yellow on everything.

One evening Bert and I sat in his living room dimly lit. He strummed on a guitar as we talked about, I don't remember just what -- his motherboard for one, and geeky things of that sort. Into the night we sat there as Orion descended behind the Pines.

The skies were blue that week, and on Thursday as I looped around the city for the four hour commute home, the sun set red into the cloudless west again as the traffic inched along. Before Katy, things were moving -- it was only Thursday, after all, and there were 6 lanes of freeway to choose from. By Columbus it was dark, and the stars were shining brightly overhead. In La Grange, Jackson Browne on the radio began to pull me home.

And when I drove into the driveway, late in the evening, the fair and industrious Trudy was there. Somehow she knew when, and she was there sitting with her back against the Ash tree, smiling, when I came home.

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 Saturday, March 3, 2007

Down By The Green River

The sun had set. The almost-full moon was rising in the sky. We drove downtown to see John Prine. To listen to him play. To listen to him sing. To sometimes sing quietly along.

she is my everything
don't let your baby down
watchin' the sun go down
go to the country and build you a home
standing by peaceful waters
lookin' for answers to questions I already know
I ain't hurtin' nobody
dreams like lightning, thunder: desire
go down where the people say "y'all"
the glory of true love is a wild and precious thing
don't let your baby down

down by the green river where paradise lay

John Prine at the Paramount Theater
Austin, TX

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 Thursday, March 1, 2007

I Was Going To Write

I was going to write about sitting on the hill. About how the Live Oak spread its limbs above us and cooled our chosen picnic spot. About the century-old Texas Persimmon growing out of the limestone rock just beyond where we sat. About the dappled shade and the cool breeze.

I was going to write about how we sat there from late morning to late afternoon as the sun crept across the sky. As people came and went. As our dog got restless. As we ate the lunch and snacks and drank our drinks.

I was going to write about that perfect day and how we were so tired at the end of it, having done mostly nothing at all.

But then I hear that another District Attorney has been sacked. And I hear how, gosh, the good Secretary of State has embarked on a mission of diplomacy. And how the Vice President has discovered that our friends in Pakistan aren't doing such a great job on their frontier. And how, wouldn't you know it, 38 prisoners have disappeared from secret American prisons. And, doesn't this just take the cake, that wounded veterans at Walter Reed are being moved inside the guarded perimeter where they are no longer accessible to the press. How they've been told not to speak directly to reporters. And how they soon will be roused out of bed daily at 6am for 7am inspections, just to let them know what happens when word gets out about how well the folks at the top support the troops when they come home in pieces.

I was going to write about that other stuff, but now I just feel sick. This stuff really never ends, does it?

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