Archive for February, 2008

One day, two birding trips

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Our local Audubon Bird ID course took us to two places today. We started at Jonathan Dickinson State Park, then headed west to Jones-Hungryland Wildlife Management Area after lunch. There are a few larger pictures on my gallery, but I didn’t get as many as hoped, which is going to disappoint someone. Birds against the sky, and flying birds far away, are beyond my ability to photograph without blurring. But there are a few good photos here, cropped out of larger frames.

J.W. Corbett WMA, February 28, ’08

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

The J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area is about 20 miles from home. It covers 94 square miles (24,250 hectares) in northern Palm Beach County, to the southeast of Dupuis WEMA. Corbett WMA is so large, the eastern edge almost touches the Grassy Waters Preserve, where I took the FMNP Wetlands course. I’d never been to Corbett WMA before, and today was perfect for a drive-through inspection. It was sunny, but only 65º F (18º C). I drove 12 miles through the area and back. My plan was to stop and take walks along the way, but I didn’t find many trails that weren’t flooded, so I mostly observed from the car.

Highlighting our achievements

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Senate Republicans have agreed to debate a bill requiring Bush to begin withdrawing American troops from Iraq in 120 days. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says the reason is

There’s been so much improvement in the situation in Iraq. Since [Democrats] are the ones who want to turn back to the subject, we’d like to spend the time talking about the dramatic improvements in Iraq.

I have posted about this before, but 31-percent of Americans still approve of Bush’s Iraq policy, so here it is again. The Surge was a flop. (more…)

The reality we created

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

In 2004, Ron Suskind published an article, “Without A Doubt,” in the New York Times Magazine. It contains a quote from an unnamed administration official that has haunted me ever since:

We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.

What does it mean to create your own reality? To me it means, “The truth is what we say it is, not what you see or believe.” Through an article by Annalee Newitz on Alternet, I came upon the Federal Science and the Public Good Report, published by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCSUSA). The subheadings of Chapter 1, “Patterns of Abuse,” are bad enough.

  • Falsifying Data and Fabricating Results
  • Selectively Editing Documents and Creating False Uncertainties
  • Tampering With Scientific Procedures
  • Intimidating and Coercing Scientists
  • Censoring and Suppressing Scientists
  • Hiding, Suppressing and Delaying Release of Scientific Findings
  • Disregarding Legally Mandated Science
  • Allowing Conflicts of Interest
  • Corrupting Scientific Advisory Panels

Sounds more like the Soviet Union than a government of, by and for the people, doesn’t it? Unlike the Soviet Union though, we have the USUSA to give us truth as an antidote to created reality. Can we handle the truth?

Dupuis WEMA, February 26, ’08

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Back to Dupuis today, with a friend from the Wetlands course, to see if we could spot a Red-cockaded Woodpecker. We might have seen one, but hard to tell from the distance.

“60 Minutes” blackout in Alabama – updated Feb 27

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Last night, the CBS program “60 Minutes” ran a segment on the case of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman (D). Some Republicans tried to make pre-emptive strikes against CBS, accusing the “60 Minutes” producers of not consulting Karl Rove about allegations against him made in the program. Given that Rove refused to obey subpoenas to testify before congress, it’s unlikely he’d give “60 Minutes” an interview.

In fact, the “60 Minutes” page says they contacted Rove, who replied through his attorney, denying the allegations. Had Rove wanted time within the segment to defend himself, I’m very sure the producers would have accommodated him.

Having failed to Swift-boat the program, the Alabama GOP may have resorted to stronger tactics. (more…)

A determined, sometimes unrelenting, truth teller

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

John Nichols comments on Ralph Nader’s decision to run for president again, and his candidacy’s impact on Barack Obama.

Unlike Gore or Kerry, who never quite “got” the point of Nader’s runs in 2000 and 2004, the Illinois senator appears to recognize that it is pointless to grumble about Ralph Nader as a “spoiler.” Rather, the point is to be more appealing to progressive voters who might consider voting Green or independent.

Exactly, and that’s why we need alternative candidates. To those who still blame Nader for putting Bush in the White House, I maintain that if Gore had campaigned as hard for president as he did for global-warming awareness, Ralph Nader and the hanging chads wouldn’t have made a difference.

Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers, Dupuis WEMA

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

I’ve posted about the Dupuis Wildlife and Environmental Management Area before. I went there again on Friday, February 22, as part of an Audubon of Martin County Bird Identification course. Dupuis is the site of a Red-Cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) Reintroduction effort. Valerie Sparling of Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission gave a presentation on the reintroduction program, and led us to one cavity cluster. We didn’t see any RCWs, unfortunately.

The Surge

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

In today’s Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer chastises Democrats for not admitting the Surge has worked, while Michael Kinsley correctly notes that saying so is Defining Victory Downward.

Iraq has a dysfunctional government. It exists only because of American force of arms. All Iraqis know this. The Bush Administration tries to pretend Iraq’s government is legitimate, but continued fighting proves otherwise. The end purpose of the Surge was not to reduce violence, but to provide the Iraqi government “breathing room” to legitimize itself. One of that government’s first official acts after the Surge was announced, was to give itself a month off.

If Iraqis want peace and stability, all they have to do is put down their weapons and commit to overlooking past grievances. Killing more of them and, in the process, getting more Americans killed, isn’t going to make them think.

Military force can win wars, but as Iraq proves, that’s only half the battle.

Dry season?

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Tell it to the ducks.