Tuesday, January 31, 2006

What Hath Ol' Russ Wrought?

From the Washington Times:
Liberal activists promote a ruckus to silence Bush
"Make noise, not war.
Liberal activists -- among them graying leftovers from the Vietnam-era antiwar movement -- plan to gather near the Capitol tonight, banging pots and pans to drown out President Bush's State of the Union address. "

Monday, January 30, 2006

Kilo Highlights A SWVA Treasure

Almost every Virginian has surely heard of the Barter Theatre in Abingdon.

Kilo shares some details on the history of Ned Beatty's favorite local theatre.

Keep the image on the right in mind, it just may turn up in a future Virginia Landmark Contest.

Virginia Landmark Contest...Late

This week we will travel outside my SWVA...

I'm sorry, but I know nothing of the history of this interesting building. If you look closely at the full size image you will know almost as much as I do. It is now a barber shop. But do you know where it is?

I assume it was originally a retail establishment, with possibly the owner's residence located upstairs. The image I have in mind is of Dobie Gillis' parent's grocery store, but that may date me somewhat. Actually, I have no idea of the type of business it was.

Any local resident who can fill me in on the details of this place, please do so.

Hint #1;
The town in which this building is located is on US460, somewhere between Farmville and Fort Pickett.

UPDATE: Once again, the namesake of former Governor Dalton has correctly identified the Landmark. The A.B. Nicholas building is now home to First Impressions Barber Shop in Crewe.

As Promised, Thoughts On GA Session

As I previously mentioned, I've kept somewhat up to date by Waldo's RSS feed from the General Assembly.

There are some bright spots in the current agenda, and some real stinkers as well.

One bright spot is a Constitutional amendment to remove from the General Assembly the power to define "Public Use" as it pertains to eminent domain. This would be the power that Senator Reynolds either denies he and his body of legislators wields, or the power Senator Reynolds is ignorant of holding.

A corresponding stinker is that Senator Reynolds' own committee of Priveledges and Elections has held it over until the current stink over Kelo v. City of New London dies down next year.

To counterbalance that stinker is Kenneth Stolle's bill that would quite possibly accomplish the same end but being merely legislation, as opposed to an amendment, it could easily and stealthily be overturned at a later date. Also, Terry Suit has this, which would fall into roughly the same category.

Much has been written about the more prominent amendment banning gay marriages. I could spend considerable time on this one, and will in a subsequent article, but suffice it say for now that I have some (minor) problems with the way this amendment is currently written. I cannot support it as it now stands. This does not mean that I wish to extend full marital status to a gay couple. But I also do not wish to exclude from that couple proper legal remedies such as wills and contracts. I will expand on this subject for your reading (dis) pleasure soon.

I May Be Busy But....

I thrive on stress, Jerry....

New post coming up...

Friday, January 27, 2006

I'm Not The Only One Who's Been Gone...

Rick's Back.

Looking at my front page, I see it's been a whole work week since I announced my return. And no post 'till now. I just may have been a day or two premature.

I have been catching up on all the happenings around Virginia while I was somewhat preoccupied. I especially appreciate Waldo's RSS feed on the GA and his reporting from Richmond.

For the past several years I was living in Buchanan County (Coon dog Central) and my local cable provider was based in Kentucky. I got to see Johnny Wood's fishing forecast (SWVA readers will know) each morning, and very little else from Virginia. Ask me about recent Kentucky politics or southern West Virginia Judicial elections and I can answer with authority. But, while living in "Radio Free Hurley", I was unable to listen to a Virginia radio station on a daily basis for many years.

Now that I have returned to the morning side of the Blue Ridge, on my way in to work each morning I have the choice of either Morning Edition on WVTF or 101.1 FM from Burlington, NC which has the Wall Street Journal Today on air from 5:00 to 6:00. Well, there is also 96.3, Rock of Virginia with John Boy and Billy, but that doesn't really count as news, does it? Certainly not Virginia news, anyway.

As a conservative, Morning Edition has my attention for about 5 minutes at a time, then I switch to the Carolina station. I tend to alternate between the two all the way to Patrick Springs and my daily breakfast treat.

The point I am painstakingly (painfully ?) getting to is how much I have come to rely on Waldo's efforts during the past month that I have been so "out of the loop".

Thanks to Waldo I will have some opinions, to be posted tomorrow, about some of the legislation currently being considered, debated, and passed in the GA.

Monday, January 23, 2006

I'm Back...

After a gruelling past 2 weeks testing, rewriting, re-testing, and debugging, I am finally at the point where my program needs only minor "tweeking".

I am tired. But it's that good tired you get along with the satisfaction of seeing a project run as it was concieved.

You can once again look forward to more or less daily stuff from here.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Landmark Contest

This week our travels take us into one of Virginia's National Forests. Here, in the middle of nowhere we find a monument of some sort. Who and/or what is being memorialized where?

Ok, time I guess for a couple of hints.
  • Located in Jefferson National Forest.
  • Event memorialized occured in 1971.
The winner...John Dalton. Yes, someone with the name of Virginia's third Republican Governor correctly identified the Audie Murphy memorial on Brush Mountain, about 15 miles from Blacksburg. The monument memorializes the most decorated soldier in American history, who died in a plane crash on this mountain in 1971.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Once Upon A Time In A Call Center

Jerry has this on Rick Boucher's fascination with Call Centers. He writes what I would have if I was not so pressed for free time right now, and if I had his talent for writing.

Once upon a time I was a network admin for a call center. It paid well and I found the work interesting, but it was basically a "no heavy lifting required" sweat shop for most of the ladies who worked there. Sure, a few of us employees were fairly well paid, but for most it was a major step down in pay from the sewing rooms they had recently vacated.

I Just Recieved An Interesting E-Mail

From Robert W. Haley comes an e-mail regarding my post on 1-9-06.

He references my letter to the Editor which appeared in the Thursday, January 5th edition of the Roanoke Times.

Mr. Haley asks me to update this previous post, because as he puts it... Well, let me just post his entire correspondence;
As a semiregular reader of your blog, I knew you would want to correct this….
You Posted:
Monday, January 09, 2006
So Far It Has...

Scroll down to "Clinton's spying passed unnoted". Far be it from the denizens of Campbell Ave. to waste ink. To do otherwise would be to actually inform their readers.

posted by I'm Not Emeril at 10:16 PM

Referencing your letter:

In his Dec. 24 letter to the editor, "Clinton would have gained a media pass," Richard C. Long states his desire for President Clinton to still be in office so that "he could have authorized the same surveillance safeguards against the terrorists as Bush has done, and you would have never heard a peep out of the media."

I'm sorry to have to deliver this news to Long, but Clinton did authorize the same type of surveillance against Aldrich Ames, as did Jimmy Carter against Truong Dinh Hung.

In both situations, the right of the president, acting upon the directive of the attorney general, was upheld in court.

Unfortunately, if this letter sees publication, this will most likely be the sole expenditure of ink by The Roanoke Times regarding these and other precedents.

Alton Foley

But see:


Seems you and the White House play fast and loose with the facts…..

But at the time of the Ames search in 1993 and when Gorelick testified a year later, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act required warrants for electronic surveillance for intelligence purposes, but did not cover physical searches. The law was changed to cover physical searches in 1995 under legislation that Clinton supported and signed.



I'm sorry Mr. Haley, but it seems you are the one playing "fast and loose". You obviously read the letter. In it I challenged the Roanoke Times to come clean with at least as much information as that provided by you from Yahoo news. I challenged no one else. To date they have yet to do so. Your link to Yahoo News is completely irrelevant to the post in question.

But, since you brought it up, let's look at that information you accepted from Yahoo and attempted to put up as your e-mail "straw man".

Go here to read the full Executive Order from May 23, 1979, issued and signed by one James Earl Carter. (That would be Billy's brother, and like Yasser Arafat, a Nobel Peace Prize winner.) In it he reserves unto the executive branch the right to conduct electronic surveillance without a court order. As you know, Executive Orders outlive their creators. This order was not rescinded by subsequent office holders, and consequently still applies today.

Yahoo is correct in stating that in 1993 the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act required a court order for most intelligence gathering activity. But a thorough reading of the Act in question discloses the fact that FISA does indeed include some exceptions, allowing surveillance without a court order in some limited cases. But even those slight limitations had previously been superceeded by Executive Order 12319.

Yahoo is also correct in stating that the law was ammended in 1995 to include physical searches.

What Yahoo did not tell you is that in 1995, (the year that FISA was ammended to exclude physical searches), William Jefferson Blythe Clinton issued Executive Order 12949. This executive Order includes physical searches in the type of intelligence gathering that may be executed without a court order. Quite a coincedence, wouldn't you say?

What the legilature granted, Executive Orders taketh away. (Or would that be the other way 'round?)

Sorry, I see no "oops" here.

The only question I have left is, why the link to QandO? I can find no reference to you by name there. Are you one of the authors of Qand O?
Apparently Mr. Haley also forgot about Echelon..

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Virginia Blog Carnival

This week hosted by Virginia Centrist. Gather up your favorite post of the week and submit. While I haven't had time this week to write anything worthy, that shouldn't stop you other Virginia bloggers from providing a contribution.

Included in this week's Carnival is a seven month old bigoted rant from a blogger who hasn't posted since May, 2005. Because of that inclusion, and the fact that I graciously bowed out this week because of a lack of a timely and worthy post, I have removed all links to this week's Carnival.

Be sure to check out next week's issue, hosted by haduken.com.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Virginia Landmark Contest

In the spirit of Chad's Weekly Caption Contest (BTW, where is it this week, Chad?), let's take a weekly journey through The Old Dominion.

This week's photo (click on photo to enlarge) should be a familiar landmark to Virginians who live south and west of Richmond.

Comments are open, the first correct answer earns 100 points, which combined with $3.95 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

Congratulations to Kilo, for giving the correct location, and Al, for adding the name. 50 points to each of you. And 100 points to Chad for depriving Will Vehrs of an excuse for another non-productive a Friday afternoon...

It's just been pointed out to me that I neglected to name the location in the photo. Travelers along I77 or US52 just south of Wytheville may have noticed the rock tower on the banks of the New River. Located near the site of Jackson's Ferry, Thomas Jackson built and maintained his shot tower for the production of ammunition. Conveniently located near the Austinville lead mines and the afore mentioned ferry, Mr. Jackson continued in business here until his death in 1824. Production continued sporadically up until the Civil War.

Next week, I'll have to dig deeper and come up with one not quite so easily discerned.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Paragraph Of The Week

OpinionJournal - Wonder Land:
"The left-wing opposition groups are reported to be frustrated that their standard-bearers are 'letting Alito off the hook.' What hook? Neither Sam Alito nor John Roberts remotely represents Ted Kennedy's famous 'Robert Bork's America' speech. Reasonable people can disagree on the views of these conservative jurists, but first we need reasonable people."

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Virginia Adds Another...

Welcome Matt...No pun intended. (Well, truthfully, the pun was at least subconsiously intended.) Good blog, check it out.
We need all the young guns we can get. Us old guys get tired too easily.

*Heh was taken...


Monday, January 09, 2006

So Far It Has...

Scroll down to "Clinton's spying passed unnoted". Far be it from the denizens of Campbell Ave. to waste ink. To do otherwise would be to actually inform their readers.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

With Apologies To Theodor (“Ted”) Seuss Geisel

I have not been hiding under a rock
I have not suffered from writer's block

I have not run away from home
I have not left you all alone

I have not given up my blog
I have not been sitting on a log

I have not given up reading yours
from which wisdom sometimes pours

I have not been merely resting
My software has been needing testing

When the stuff I write crashes
Real machinery sometimes bashes

When writing this stuff I must be alert
To insure that if it crashes no one is hurt

Bugs are more than simply unsavoury
sometimes they can cause real injury

Testing has revealed some nasty bugs
And some holes that needed plugs

I love my job, I love my work
My duties I refuse to shirk

I spend my days fixing fixes
I spend my nights searching appendixes

Soon I will have this thing running smoothly
And it will not be done amateurishly

Groan, the rhymes are getting very weak
So now an exit I will seek

When at last success I am toasting
Once again, you'll see me posting

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

West Virginia Mine Explosion

I'm bumping this to the top. I know most of my readers also read Kilo's blog. For those who don't (yes, both of you), he has kept me remarkably up to date on this tragedy.

Prayers are needed for 13 miners trapped underground by an explosion this morning.

At this time there is still no word as to suvivors, rescue attempts having been thwarted by high carbon monoxide levels.

Oxygen generators carried by these gentlemen are good for several hours (under the best of circumstances). It's already been much longer than that.

UPDATE:4:45am, Wednesday.
Kilo has details...
12 found dead, 1 survivor in hospital.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Note To Paula...

Don't even think about picking up a DVD copy of "Terms Of Endearment" instead.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

What Programmers Do When They're Bored

Waldo has provided a Virginia General Assembly RSS Feed. He's even gone so far as to break it down into feeds for each patron. Very cool. Click the link, select either the master feed or any combination of legislators, and paste 'em into your aggregator.

Thanks Waldo, I for one will certainly make use of this tool.

Just Wondering When...

Kilo will be out and about enough to get more photos like this... Photo by Kilo

Somebody's Gotta Answer Richard, Guess It'll Have To Be Me

A few days ago The Roanoke Times had this letter from a reader;
Never have I longed so much as now for the days when Clinton was our commander in chief. He could have authorized the same surveillance safeguards against the terrorists as Bush has done, and you would have never heard a peep out of the media.

Richard C. Long
Uh... Richard, he did. But not against terrorists, instead he used this same power to aid in the apprehension of Aldrich Ames (at least, he may have used it further, but I have no reference to other uses).

Once again it appears the Roanoke Times is willfully striving to keep their readers ignorant. It's been well over a week now since Richard posed his question, Instead of educating Richard and other readers on the proper and prior uses of NSA surveillance Wendy (Zomparelli, Publisher) and Tommy (Denton, Editor and former Lloyd Bentsen staffer) have decided to print several editorials and guest commentaries critical of President Bush's use of NSA surveillance. Including this one written by Dr. Robert Schultz, the John P. Fishwick Professor of English at Roanoke College, praising Frederick Boucher (D, Abingdon);
Rep. Rick Boucher, who represents our district as a ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, did all of us a service when he carefully reviewed the legal questions surrounding President Bush's authorization of domestic spying by the National Security Agency ("Has the president violated the rule of law?" The Roanoke Times, Dec. 21). And now that the administration has formally defended these practices, the question that faces us has become clear: Is the president above the law?
What Richard does not know, and The Roanoke Times, Dr. Schultz, and Rick Boucher most certainly would prefer he remain ignorant of, is the pesky little fact that Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter each have used the same provision of the US Code Title 50 > Chapter 36 > Subchapter I > § 1802. They would also prefer not to announce to the world that it's use has been upheld in Court. (link in pdf form)

I'm not a lawyer, but a reading of the code seems fairly straightforward to me. I have a link above to Cornell Law School's page which contains the text of this portion of the law. Allow me to paraphrase what I read there.

This section authorizes the President, through the Attorney General, to authorize electronic surveillance without a court order in order to acquire foreign intelligence information for periods of up to one year if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that the surveillance is directed at communication between foreign powers and not directed toward communication to which a United States person is a party. (emphasis mine)

I will even go so far as to use a broad definition of the phrase "United States person" to mean not only a citizen, but anyone residing legally or illegally in the United States.

The problem seems to be that most casual readers of this section of the US Code stopped reading right there. (If the Editorialist, Professor, and Legislator mentioned above have even read it at all.) As I said before, I'm not a lawyer, but I at least know that one should never stop reading a contract or anything else written by a lawyer at the point where one thinks his question has been answered. At that point it usually has not yet been answered, or the answer can be changed completely by any paragraph that may follow. In this case, if you stop reading there, you have not yet found the answer. The answer you think you have found will not be changed in any following paragraph because it was already changed on a previous page.

You must remember, in law, words have a specific meaning. Sometimes not the meaning they have in normal conversational english. In this case you must go backward to Title 50 > Chapter 36 > Subchapter I > § 1801 for a listing of definitions used in this subchapter, again I provide a link to Cornell Law School's page referring to this section. I quote it below;
(b) "Agent of a foreign power" means;
(1) any person other than a United States person, who;—
(A) acts in the United States as an officer or employee of a foreign power, or as a member of a foreign power as defined in subsection (a)(4) of this section;
(B) acts for or on behalf of a foreign power which engages in clandestine intelligence activities in the United States contrary to the interests of the United States, when the circumstances of such person'’s presence in the United States indicate that such person may engage in such activities in the United States, or when such person knowingly aids or abets any person in the conduct of such activities or knowingly conspires with any person to engage in such activities; or
OK, paragraph (1) clearly excludes "United States persons", doesn't it? Ooops. Notice that it ends with the little word "or". Go on to Paragraph (2) to see who else might be considered an "Agent of a foreign power", and notice that this time it does not begin with the phrase "any person other than a United States person", instead it begins with;
(2) any person who;
(A) knowingly engages in clandestine intelligence gathering activities for or on behalf of a foreign power, which activities involve or may involve a violation of the criminal statutes of the United States;
(B) pursuant to the direction of an intelligence service or network of a foreign power, knowingly engages in any other clandestine intelligence activities for or on behalf of such foreign power, which activities involve or are about to involve a violation of the criminal statutes of the United States;
(C) knowingly engages in sabotage or international terrorism, or activities that are in prepthereforetherefor, for or on behalf of a foreign power;
(D) knowingly enters the United States under a false or fraudulent identity for or on behalf of a foreign power or, while in the United States, knowingly assumes a false or fraudulent identity for or on behalf of a foreign power; or
(E) knowingly aids or abets any person in the conduct of activities described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) or knowingly conspires with any person to engage in activities described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C). (all emphasis added by author)
This section of the US Code (in paragraph (2) sections (A),(B),(C),(D),&(E) clearly allows surveillance without a warrant against "United States persons" if there exists reasonable suspicion that such person is involved in, among other things, espionage, (ala Adrich Ames) or terrorism.

While the above explores the nuances of the FISA law in general, and how it may be interepreted to allow just the type of surveillance currently being discussed. This law was passed by Congress in 1978. Those Legislators now decrying it's use have available to them the power to work for it's demise. Mr. Boucher, you could simply introduce legislation withdrawing the FISA act of 1978.

It should also be remembered that G.W. Bush also cliams validation for these actions under powers granted to the President by both the War Powers Act and Article II, section 2 of the United States Constitution.

Comments from my more legalistic friends welcome... (Chad, Steve, & Brian)