The Ladies Who Lunch discussed the story of the Jersey shore substitute teacher who caused an uproar after he switched from Bill to Lily.
ClipBlast! has a clip of the story here: Sex Change Divides Community. Check it out to see if she gets to stay on after he becomes she.
Part II of the story will discuss the cut in pay that she now experiences from the School District, since women still make less than men for the same job.
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
The Ladies Who Lunch discussed the story of the Jersey shore substitute teacher who caused an uproar after he switched from Bill to Lily.
Jon Stewart was on Larry King Live last night. CNN has the Transcript here. Larry King tries to engage Stewart after Stewart says that he has problems with both political parties.
KING: So, in a sense you're happy over this.Short video clips of the interview can be seen here: ClipBlast!, here: onegoodmove. and here: Crooks and Liars (includes above part of interview).
KING: This gives you fodder.
STEWART: Yes, I prefer not the fodder. I'm not -- we're not the guys at the craps table betting against the line. I would -- we'd make fun of something else. If public life, if government suddenly became inspiring and moved towards people's better nature and began to solve problems in a rational way rather than just a way that involved political dividends, we would be the happiest people in the world to turn our attention to idiots like, you know, media people, no offense.
KING: So, you don't want it to be bad?
STEWART: Did you really just ask me if I want it to be bad?
KING: Yes because you...
STEWART: What are you -- I have kids what do you think? Yes, I don't want them to have any kind of a -- I want things to corrode to the point where we're all living in huts.
KING: Not all living in huts but generally comics political comics like things to go a little wrong, don't have to be the end of the world.
STEWART: Like things to go a little wrong like birdshot to the face of a guy that will survive.
KING: That's right.
STEWART: Not like things to go wrong until it's like Mad Max, every man for himself, let's all ride around with machineguns on, which seems to be the way that it's...
KING: You don't want Medicare to fail?
STEWART: Are you insane?
STEWART: You're literally asking me if I would prefer -- yes, Larry, what I'm saying to you as a comedian I want old people to suffer, old and poor people to suffer. That is -- that is -- what we want is -- what seems absurd to me is the length that Washington just seems out of touch with the desires of Americans to be spoken to as though they are adults.
Monday, February 27, 2006
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Kathleen Parker of the Orlando Chronicle pens an interesting column, entitled How do we survive Bush's march to self-destruction?
The Greeks and Sigmund Freud had a name for what may ail President George W. Bush: Thanatos. The death wish.
Thanatos was the Greek personification of death, which Freud later expanded to describe man's "death instinct," or the unconscious wish to abandon life's struggles and return to a state of quiet repose.
That would be the grave, as Freud envisioned man's endpoint. But for Bush, perhaps the metaphor extends only as far as a nice, quiet ranch in Crawford, where, as Yeats once put it, "peace comes dropping slow."
How else to explain this administration's inexorable march toward political death?
The final throes of Bush's journey toward self-destruction may have found expression with the apparent sale of operational rights to six of our nation's largest ports to a company owned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Approved by the Bush administration against all reason, the $6.8 billion sale includes the ports of New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia.
Despite bipartisan condemnation, the Bush administration has defended the sale to Dubai Ports World as not only safe, but prudent. The UAE, which incidentally served as a financial and operational base for the Sept. 11 hijackers, is an important ally in the fight against terror, we're told.
Of course they are. And Colombia is an important ally in the war against drugs. And Mexico is an important ally in the fight against illegal immigration. Perhaps, given that much of our illegal drug supply and immigrant population come from Colombia and Mexico, respectively, we should reconsider our strategy.
Reminds me of Bill Maher's New Rule from a few month's ago after the Katrina fiasco, where he observed that Bush would welcome a recall. As he said then: "I kid, but seriously Mr. President, this job cant' be fun for you anymore. There's no more money to spend. You used up all of that. You can't start another war because you also used up the army, and now darn the luck the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare, helping poor people." (See George of the Bungle)
Just in case, as Parker concluded:
In the more likely event that Thanatos truly is at the helm of our ship of state at this titanic moment, we can't afford to let Bush's death instinct subsume the national imperative to survive.
Survival now depends on fitter minds.
The Inquirer reports that an a "nationwide abstinence-only program that uses a silver ring to remind teens to remain sexually pure has lost federal funding with the settlement of a lawsuit alleging it used the money for Christian evangelization." See: Abstinence-only program loses aid.
What the article doesn't mention is that the "Silver Ring Thing" is a pet project of my "favorite" Senator, Rick Santorum. The Village Voice The Bush Beat, notes that Santorum assisted the Pittsburgh-based evangelist Christian group receive more than $1 Million in federal funds.
This is an election year for Santorum. I would think this information might be relevant for voters to consider.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
CanOFun has a video clip of The Conan O'Brien shows spoof of Bush on Larry King Live. Bush impersonator Craig Ferguson is perfect.
And while you're still giggling, you can check out The Daily Show, at Crooks and Liars, on military recruitment and Your Tax Dollars at War.
Enjoy! Keep smiling.
Friday, February 24, 2006
Thursday, February 23, 2006
I know that the Cheney shoot 'em up is so last week, but I couldn't quite let it go yet. This Daily Show clip, The Week In Review, is irresistible. Way best line:
JS: Wow. How powerful a man do you have to be, to be able to shoot someone in the face and have that guy say, "My Bad." That's awesome.
Finally, we've heard from everyone else on the shoot-out at OK Corral. Well, it ain't over until we hear a word from the Quail. See Current TV (Under Super News, select the Quail Speaks).
I recently wrote about the soon-to-be former Senator from PA, Rick Santorum, in Tricky Ricky, which referred to the article published in the American Prospect by reporter/blogger Will Bunch. His blog Attytood also has a number of follow up pieces on the brewing Santorum Scandal.
One item that I noticed in an article published by the Philadelphia Inquirer on this issue, Santorum defends his home mortgage, gave me pause. Bunch's article focused on the mortgage that Santorum received from a private bank in Philadelphia, questioning the ethics of the loan.
According to the Inquirer, the $500,000 loan was "a five-year interest-only balloon loan at 5 percent in 2002 from Philadelphia Trust Co.," and did not include points. The main focus of the article was the reasonableness of the mortgage itself, but at the end of the article, it noted:
Interest-only mortgages are "pushed aggressively nowadays by lenders and brokers," but they are generally for people who might earn more a few years down the road, according to Bankrate.com, a financial Web site. Homeowners make monthly interest payments on the mortgage for only a fixed term - usually five to seven years, after which the loan is refinanced or paid off.Made me think back to Neil Weyrich's observation in Philadelphia Magazine. He opined that Santorum intentionally has not curbed his zany right wing antics, even though he is trailing in the polls against his expected opponent, Bob Casey. He thinks Santorum wants to lose so that he could go over to the dark side, become a lobbyist for some extremist conservative Christian type organization and cash in with a big boy salary.
Let's see. 5 year mortgage in 2002. That would come due sometime in 2007. These types of loans are usually done with the expectation of future big bucks. The election is November of 2006?
Orcinus is a freelance journalist from Seattle who has written a series on the emerging rise of racism in our country. Recent posts on this issue can be found at Say No to Nazis and Backyard Nazis. He observes that there have been increasing signs of an emboldened white-supremacist far right, with a surge in the ranks by young people.
This is an occurance that I have noticed as well and discussed some time ago, at Bill's a Bigot.
Orcinus cites an article from a local paper, the News of Delaware County, entitled Defining a skinhead. The article notes:
The South had the KKK. Pennsylvania has the KSS. The letters may be different, but the hate is still the same. It's not exactly the kind of progress that one would have hoped for at the beginning of a new century.
A new bread of skinheads is emerging in Pennsylvania bringing a fresh approach to a familiar brand of prejudice.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a report that skinhead groups in the United States are increasing and Pennsylvania is a major rallying point.
* * * *
There are 110 skinhead groups in the United States, including six in Pennsylvania, according to the ADL.
The largest Pennsylvania organization - the Keystone State Skinheads (KSS) - has about 70 members and several regional chapters, including in Philadelphia and Chester County, according to the ADL.
Many of the new skinheads are young, impressionable, undisciplined and violent, according to Morrison.
"To be a skinhead is to be violent," Morrison said. "They have a great tendency to engage in criminal activity."
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
"And the poverty problem -- listen, this nation is committed to dealing with poverty."
-- George W. Bush, Washington, DC, 19 May 2003
Not surprisingly, the facts are in stark contrast, as portrayed in this article in The Observer (UK), 37 million poor hidden in the land of plenty. As the tag-line states:
"Americans have always believed that hard work will bring rewards, but vast numbers now cannot meet their bills even with two or three jobs. More than one in 10 citizens live below the poverty line, and the gap between the haves and have-nots is widening."
The article notes:
The Observer also provides some relevant statistics at the end of the article:
The flickering television in Candy Lumpkins's trailer blared out The Bold and the Beautiful. It was a fantasy daytime soap vision of American life with little relevance to the reality of this impoverished corner of Kentucky.
The Lumpkins live at the definition of the back of beyond, in a hollow at the top of a valley at the end of a long and muddy dirt road. It is strewn with litter. Packs of stray dogs prowl around, barking at strangers. There is no telephone and since their pump broke two weeks ago Candy has collected water from nearby springs. Oblivious to it all, her five-year-old daughter Amy runs barefoot on a wooden porch frozen by a midwinter chill.
It is a vision of deep and abiding poverty. Yet the Lumpkins are not alone in their plight. They are just the negative side of the American equation. America does have vast, wealthy suburbs, huge shopping malls and a busy middle class, but it also has vast numbers of poor, struggling to make it in a low-wage economy with minimal government help.
A shocking 37 million Americans live in poverty. That is 12.7 per cent of the population - the highest percentage in the developed world. They are found from the hills of Kentucky to Detroit's streets, from the Deep South of Louisiana to the heartland of Oklahoma. Each year since 2001 their number has grown.
Under President George W Bush an extra 5.4 million have slipped below the poverty line. Yet they are not a story of the unemployed or the destitute. Most have jobs. Many have two. Amos Lumpkins has work and his children go to school. But the economy, stripped of worker benefits like healthcare, is having trouble providing good wages.
Even families with two working parents are often one slice of bad luck - a medical bill or factory closure - away from disaster. The minimum wage of $5.15 (£2.95) an hour has not risen since 1997 and, adjusted for inflation, is at its lowest since 1956. The gap between the haves and the have-nots looms wider than ever. Faced with rising poverty rates, Bush's trillion-dollar federal budget recently raised massive amounts of defence spending for the war in Iraq and slashed billions from welfare programmes.
For a brief moment last year in New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina brought America's poor into the spotlight. Poverty seemed on the government's agenda. That spotlight has now been turned off. 'I had hoped Katrina would have changed things more. It hasn't,' says Cynthia Duncan, a sociology professor at the University of New Hampshire.
An America divided
· There are 37 million Americans living below the poverty line. That figure has increased by five million since President George W. Bush came to power.
· The United States has 269 billionaires, the highest number in the world.
· Almost a quarter of all black Americans live below the poverty line; 22 per cent of Hispanics fall below it. But for whites the figure is just 8.6 per cent.
· There are 46 million Americans without health insurance.
· There are 82,000 homeless people in Los Angeles alone.
· In 2004 the poorest community in America was Pine Ridge Indian reservation. Unemployment is over 80 per cent, 69 per cent of people live in poverty and male life expectancy is 57 years. In the Western hemisphere only Haiti has a lower number.
· The richest town in America is Rancho Santa Fe in California. Average incomes are more than $100,000 a year; the average house price is $1.7m.
(Via Philadelphia Freedom Watch)
The Boston Globe carries the cautionary advice often given and not so much heeded, in 2 e-mailers get testy, and hundreds read every word. As the article warned:
"Once again, a friendly reminder: The next time you're tempted to send a nasty, exasperated, or snippy e-mail, pause, take a deep breath, and think again."
I give the same advice to clients all the time, but they don't listen either.
The article describes the tale of two Boston lawyers who got into an email battle over a job offer, that was later turned down via email. A back and forth email exchange followed, which concluded with a 3 word "bla bla bla" response by the associate. Long story short, the email exchange was forwarded to a colleague of one of the attorneys, who passed it on. It ended up spreading across the county (and beyond) and led to the article in the Globe. From there, it will no doubt be carried further by bloggers, such as me.
What a way to gain infamy. Not over winning a tough, but important case. No, over some nasty words in an email.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Monday, February 20, 2006
Attytood, also known as Will Bunch, a writer from the Philadelphia Daily News, wrote an American Prospect article that has just been posted, With A Little Help From His Friends. The article details some of machinations of Rick Santorum, that sanctimonious so and so. It's a fascinating picture of Santorum and his questionable ties to large donors and lobbyists. Bunch provides a summary of the article on his blog, How Santorum paid for his Va. house...and his Starbucks coffee.
Bunch's article gives even more credence to the interesting theory raised by Noel Weyrich, who writes the Contrarian column for Philadelphia Magazine (which is unfortunately not posted on-line). Weyrich suggests that Santorum's strategy is to lose his Senatorial race, and to become a "martyr" to the right wing cause, which will ensure that he lands a big money job on K Street. Rather that give up his seat to a hand picked successor, he'd rather be badly beaten by Casey to be sure that he can claim to have lost to those Liberal devils.
Mark Kleiman of the Reality-Based Community provides some updated definitions for the Age of Truthiness.
If you're looking for just the right word for a Truthiness occasion, you can find it here: Entries from the Republican-English Dictionary.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Former Pittsburgh Steeler and NFL Hall of Famer, Lynn Swann, is running for Governor. Just last week, he was "crowned" as the Republican nominee for Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the expected event, Swann is endorsed by GOP leaders. His celebrity coronation by the Republican party was a breeze, but the wind seems to be picking up. With any luck, it'll be a storm brewing.
The Philadelphia Inquirer has now reported that Swann sat out on most election days, noting that "[d]espite once saying that the right to vote should never be taken for granted, Swann missed 20 of the state's 36 elections in the last 18 years - including 13 of his party's primaries, records show." As if that weren't bad enough, George Stephanopolous interviewed Swann on "This Week" on ABC News. Swann was so unprepared that it was truly embarrassing to watch him "fumble" (I had to get one football analogy in) his answers to various issues raised during the interview. George Stephanopoulos actually had to correct Swann on the issue of abortion:
Stephanopoulos: So if you were governor and the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, would you try to pass a law banning abortions in the state of Pennsylvania?
Swann: Well, if the Supreme Court overturned it, then they've basically overturned it. They've basically said that, you know, you can't have an abortion.
Stephanopoulos: No, no. They would send it to the states and it would be up to each state to decide.
Swann: Well, if they sent it to the states to decide, then I would sign legislation from the legislature making abortions illegal.
Stephanopoulos: No exceptions?
Swann: No, there would be exceptions.
Swann: In terms of the health of the mother, rape, incest.
Stephanopoulos: Many people who describe themselves as pro-life are opponents of stem cell research. Are you?
Swann: I am not an expert on stem cell research at this particular time. I'd rely on the science and medical community to give me some input in terms of where we should go.
Stephanopoulos: Well, what you say there should be generally?
Swann: I've talked to doctors who say you can do great stem cell research without getting involved, heavily, in embryonic stem cell research. And there are people on the other side, who believe that the only viable stem cell research is embryonic stem cell research.
Stephanopoulos: What do you believe?
Swann: Well, I don't, it's no a matter of what I believe. It's a matter of getting the information and making an informed decision. You know, in our scientific community, why are they opposing each other? I mean if both are valid.
Stephanopoulos: If doctors believed it could be valuable, would you be for it?
Swann: Well, I'd have to give it more consideration.
Stephanopoulos: But right now you're against it?
Swann: I want to give it more consideration.
Stephanopoulos: But where do stand right now?
Swann: I'm not standing anywhere. What I want to do is get the information from the scientific community.
My husband & I have had a running battle on the impact of Swann in the gubernatorial race. It is certainly true that outside of Pittsburgh and Philly,Pennsylvania is very conservative (with the state being home to one of the highest proportion of KKK-type groups in the country). My husband believes that conservative whites will not vote for a black man, even a Republican one, even if he's a former football star. He also thinks that the Philly vs. Pittsburgh rivalry will mitigate against the black vote in Philly going for Swann. He points to the fact that most Philadelphians rooted for the Seahawks in the Super Bowl over the Steelers, because they can't stand Pittsburgh.
I've taken the contrarian position, arguing that celebrity status trumps race and Republicans tend to vote party-line (that's why I call them the Stepford Party), so they'll vote for him anyway. He could also garner a fair share of the black vote, who would support a sports hero (even if he's from Pittsburgh), so that could put him over the edge. However, after watching his performance on Stephanopoulos' Show, I'm less sure of my opinion. It was a debacle. He certainly has a long way to go and based upon that interview, I'm not sure he can get there in time. Although I have to admit that I'd have said that about George Bush and look where he is now.
I had to post this as my way of getting in the last word on the subject. We've even talked about putting a wager on the race. However, this is one bet I really want to lose.
This blog, Omphaloskepsis, agrees with my husband's view. See also: Lynn Swann Struggles with his Talking Points at Young Philly Politics.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
The Bob Casey-Rick Santorum Senate race in Pennsylvania is one of the major races being watched by both parties across the country. Noting its importance, the Nation has an article on Casey by John Nichols, Democratic Alarms in PA, focusing on his expressed "support" for the confirmation of now-Justice Alito to the Supreme Court.
Casey, like his father, is generally socially progressive, but is conservative on a number of issues important to liberal Democrats, such as choice and stem cell research. He's been called "Santorum-Lite" because of those positions (probably by Republicans promoting the similarity behind the scenes).
However, Rick Santorum is a right wing extremist that needs to be retired. The man has real problems. He & his wife brought home their child who died shortly after birth so the family could have time to "say good-bye." That's not to dismiss or belittle the grief in the loss of a child, but that is disturbed. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if that would have been prohibited except for the fact that Santorum was a "Senator" who received special treatment. Despite his cleverly worded denials, I also wouldn't be surprised if he was not a member, at some level, of Opus Dei. And I'm not talking about the Opus Dei characterized by the novel, the DaVinci Code. I'm talking about the real thing, the ultra-conservative, Catholic cult. Those are just a few of my objections to him on a personal level. Politically, the man is a cretin. I may even have more disdain for him than Bush. Now that I think about it, it's hard to say. Maybe not.
Being from Scranton originally, I know the Casey family. I went to school with one of the Caseys (who didn't, with so many kids in the family). In fact, I almost worked for his father after law school, before he ran for governor, except I couldn't bring myself to return home. They were (are) a respected, well-regarded family with strong social leanings. Clearly, however, they fall in the moderate spectrum of the Democratic party.
I agree that he is not as liberal as I'd prefer, but I want someone who will beat Ricky. I know that many Democrats favor Chuck Pennacchio, who is certainly more liberal-minded. Ordinarily, I would too, but I believe that Casey has a better chance to defeat Santorum than most. So, I'm willing to put up with his shortcomings. I trust in his views overall, even if he doesn't match up on all of the important issues.
Moreover, one of my major criticisms of Republicans is the fact that they are often single issue focused (e.g. abortion), I don't want to fall prey to the same thing, so I'm willing to be open-minded. On the other hand, I just want that nutcase Rick Santorum gone. And that's my single issue in this race.
NO QUARTER has reprinted a speech, National Security: The Attack on the Constitution, given by former CIA officer Jim Marcinkowski, who is running for Congress in Michigan. In his speech, Marcinkowski describes his career serving the country as a Navy Veteran, the FBI, CIA and as a prosecutor. His speech focuses on his concern "an American who is deeply troubled by the direction we are headed as a nation." He describes a fatally flawed, intolerable form of government, where:
The government was always right and never apologized;
Any dissent was suppressed, ridiculed, banned or worse;
Secret prisons were denied and never acknowledged or spoken about;
The torture of captives (in Lubyanka) was condoned;
State incarceration was not subject to the checks and balances of a legal system;
Economic plans, like for oil, were established/determined in closed sessions between politicos, commissars and production managers, far outside public view, and where government claimed privilege in so doing;
Wages were set at the lowest common denominator, no matter what Bloc country you were in;
Government agents had access to your medical records, your library records, your telephone, and your e-mail.
A place where judicial power and judicial review were proclaimed concepts, but simply ignored in application;
Where criminal records of young adults were closed to all but the military;
Where a Constitution was a mere facade and ignored by state actors.
Any dissent, debate and protest were deemed unpatriotic;
The public media was bought, paid for, and provided by the state;
The military clandestinely and shamelessly influenced the national media and public opinion;
A place where wrong was declared right;
Where tapping a phone was like tapping a pencil;
Where lying was considered a patriotic skill;
The extraction of natural resources was paramount to any concern for the environment and the impact on the health of its people;
Where the use of “state secrets,” (those things embarrassing to the government) were confused with legitimate issues of “national security”;
A place where "secrecy" and "national security" were used to control debate;
Where legitimate secrecy, was subject to political use and abuse;
Where "legislators" were mere mouthpieces for and rubberstamps of whoever was in power;
Where you lived and died with the permission of the government;
A place where foreign policy was more important than domestic concerns;
Where fear was used as a political weapon and an acceptable means of control;
Where the best medical care was reserved for the influential;
Where wealth was concentrated in the top 5%;
A place where there was no middle class - just a small economic and political elite, and the working poor.
And now comes the quiz. Which country is he describing:
USA or USSR?
(Via The Washington Note)
Friday, February 17, 2006
A Call to Action blog reprints Sidney Blumenthal's Salon article, Shoot first, avoid questions later, aptly subtitled "The White House's secretive reponse to Cheney's misfire cannot be understood apart from the society of Texas royalty." The end of this excellent article says it all:
The curiosities surrounding the vice president's accident have created a contemporary version of "The Rules of the Game" with a Texas twist. In Jean Renoir's 1939 film, politicians and aristocrats mingle at a country house in France over a long weekend, during which a merciless hunt ends with a tragic shooting. Appearing on the eve of World War II, "The Rules of the Game" depicted a hypocritical, ruthless and decadent ruling class that made its own rules and led a society to the edge of catastrophe.Blumenthal always renders the perfect portrayal of the Bush clan (Cheney, Rove, et. al). Regarding the Cheney shooting spree, the entire article is a must read to capture all of the nuances involved in this episode. As Blumenthal concludes:
Whether or not the exact facts of the case are ever conclusively established, what happened at twilight in the south Texas brush has revealed the hierarchy of power within the Bush White House and the interests of those who wield that power. The surreptitious handling inside the White House of the shooting, moreover, cannot be understood apart from the society of Texas royalty and the ambitions of those, like Cheney and Karl Rove, who aspire to it. None of it is metaphoric.
Daily Kos provides a report (including the audio version) of an interview of Helen Thomas by Hugh Hewitt, Helen Thomas shreds Hugh Hewitt "God knows what you are". Let's just say that she does not suffer fools gladly.
As I mentioned many times in the past, see The Silence Was Deafening, Helen Thomas rocks.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Or, the other way around, as was the case with Cheney and his quail hunting buddies. As described by John Nichols in the Nation, Cheney, "A Beer or Two" and a Gun, things are getting a little more interesting about the shotgun hunting event:
Vice President Dick Cheney, who was forced to leave Yale University because his penchant for late-night beer drinking exceeded his devotion to his studies, and who is one of the small number of Americans who can count two drunk driving busts on his record, was doing more than hunting quail on the day that he shot a Texas lawyer in the face.
The vice president has admitted that he was drinking on the afternoon of the incident. He claims it was only a beer, according to the transcript of an interview with Fox New Wednesday. But the whole discussion about how much drinking took place on the day of the fateful hunt has been evolving rapidly since Katherine Armstrong, the wealthy Republican lobbyist who is a member of the politically connected family that owns the ranch where Cheney blasted his hunting partner, initially claimed that no one was imbibing before the incident.
Armstrong later acknowledged to a reporter from the NBC investigative unit that alcohol may have been served at a picnic Saturday afternoon on the dude ranch where Cheney shot Harry Whittington.
* * * *
Cheney's admission that he was drinking, along with Armstrong's clumsy attempts to downplay the alcohol issue raises more questions than it answers about an incident involving a Vice President who, like George W. Bush, was a heavy drinker in his youth, but who, unlike Bush, never swore off the bottle.
As with her over-the-top efforts to blame Whittington, the victim, for getting in the way of Cheney's birdshot blast, Armstrong's line on liquor smells a little more like an attempt to cover for the Vice President than full disclosure.
This is where the hunting accident "incident" becomes a serious matter. The role played by the Secret Service in preventing questioning of Cheney on the evening of the shooting takes on new significance when drinking is at issue. If Cheney was in any way impaired at the time of the shooting, it was certainly to the Vice President's advantage to put off the official investigation until the next morning.
Cheney claims that he downed beer hours before he shot Whittington. But he now has a lot more explaining to do than what was seen during the "softball" interview on Fox News, the Administration's house network, which the White House crisis management team arranged for him to do Wednesday.
When legitimate questions arise regarding the role that the Secret Service might have played in undermining the investigation of a shooting in order to protect the vice president from embarrassment, and possible legal charges, those issues have to be addressed fully and completely. And they must be addressed in a setting where reporters are able to press the notoriously cagey Cheney to actually answer all of the questions that are asked.
Up to now, the whole "hunting-accident" controversy has been little more than a diversion from more serious matters involving Cheney--not least among these, the investigation into whether the Vice President authorized the release of classified information as part of a scheme to discredit critics of the Administration's rush to war. But if Cheney used his Secret Service unit to prevent a necessary and proper official inquiry at a time when it might have uncovered relevant information regarding his condition when he shot a man, then the Vice President has abused his office in a most serious manner.
The prospect that such an abuse occurred requires Cheney and any White House aides who were involved in "managing" the story--put Karl Rove at the top of this list--to stop stonewalling and provide a detailed explanation of their actions in the hours that followed the shooting incident. This is certainly not the only issue on which the Vice President needs to come clean, but it is no longer a joking matter--or, more precisely, it is no longer merely a joking matter.
I'm all for finding out what really happened, so long as it can still be a joking matter too.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
A nifty blog, called VirtualMatter, provides a tip for those who received flowers for Valentine's Day: Keep Cut Flowers Fresh. It compares (via AOL no less) which remedies (e.g. bleach, aspirin, etc.) works best to keep cut flowers fresh.
Since I didn't get any flowers (boo-hoo), you'll have to let me know what works.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
As Jon Stewart said last night, "Thank you, Jes-us." The second shooting by a VP since Burr shot Hamilton allows the humorous peppering of Cheney by the Daily Show in "Dead-eye Dick", courtesy of Crooks and Liars. You should watch the video, it's hysterical, but here are some highlights:
"Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot a man during a quail hunt ... making 78-year-old Harry Whittington the first person shot by a sitting veep since Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, of course, (was) shot in a duel with Aaron Burr over issues of honor, integrity and political maneuvering. Whittington? Mistaken for a bird."
"Now, this story certainly has its humorous aspects. ... But it also raises a serious issue, one which I feel very strongly about. ... moms, dads, if you're watching right now, I can't emphasize this enough: Do not let your kids go on hunting trips with the vice president. I don't care what kind of lucrative contracts they're trying to land, or energy regulations they're trying to get lifted -- it's just not worth it."
"The Vice President is standing by his decision to shoot Harry Whittington. Now, according to the best intelligence available, there were quail hidden in the brush. Everyone believed at the time there were quail in the brush. And while the quail turned out to be a 78- year-old man, even knowing that today, Mr. Cheney insists he still would have shot Mr. Whittington in the face. He believes the world is a better place for his spreading buckshot throughout the entire region of Mr. Wittington's face." --Daily Show correspondent Rob Corddry
Since we're on the subject, I thought I'd also include the Top Ten Dick Cheney Excuses from the Late Show with David Letterman:
10. "Heart palpitation caused trigger finger to spasm"
9. "Wanted to get the Iraq mess off the front page"
8. "Not enough Jim Beam"
7. "Trying to stop the spread of bird flu"
6. "I love to shoot people"
5. "Guy was making cracks about my lesbian daughter"
4. "I thought the guy was trying to go 'gay cowboy' on me"
3. "Excuse? I hit him, didn't I?"
2. "Until Democrats approve medicare reform, we have to make some tough choices for the elderly"
1. "Made a bet with Gretzky's wife"
Bill Maher: Cheney's Shooting Spree (via The Huffington Post)
Al Franken: Cheney Shoots Guy (via The Huffington Post)
Dick Cheney Finally Takes a Stand Against Trial Lawyers (Wonkette)
Correction: I errored by saying that Hamilton shot Burr, when it was the other way around. Burr, the VP, shot and killed Hamilton in a duel.
In honor of Valentine's Day, an MP3 mix awaits you at Some Velvet Blog by Bruce Warren: Love The One You're With:
The Look Of Love - Dusty Springfield
Marie - Randy Newman
Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby - Dinah Washington
I've Got You Under My Skin - Frank Sinatra
I Believe In This Thing Called Love - The Darkness
La La Means I Love You - The Delfonics
When Love Breaks Down - Prefab Sprout
Something About What Happens When We Talk - Lucinda Williams
You Do Something To Me - Sinead O'Connor
Night And Day - U2
Thin Line Between Love and Hate - The Persuaders
Only Love Can Break Your Heart - Saint Etienne
Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You - Tom Waits
My One And Only Love - John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman
Enjoy the ear Candy!
Monday, February 13, 2006
Sunday, February 12, 2006
An editorial in the NYT, The Trust Gap, enumerates a number of reasons why the Bush Administration does not deserve the "trust" of the County. Domestic Spying. The Prison Camps. The War in Iraq. The list could go on. And on. As the Times put it:
We can't think of a president who has gone to the American people more often than George W. Bush has to ask them to forget about things like democracy, judicial process and the balance of powers and just trust him. We also can't think of a president who has deserved that trust less.
This has been a central flaw of Mr. Bush's presidency for a long time.
* * * *
Like many other administrations before it, this one sometimes dissembles clumsily to avoid embarrassment. (We now know, for example, that the White House did not tell the truth about when it learned the levees in New Orleans had failed.) Spin-as-usual is one thing. Striking at the civil liberties, due process and balance of powers that are the heart of American democracy is another.
Our Sun Room has become a Snow Room for the day.
Snow days are fairly rare in Philly and this is the "real deal" (about a foot of snow).
I also know that I've become a real Philadelphian (after 20 years here), because we bought both bread & milk yesterday. Of course, the fact that we needed both because we were out helped. But running to the grocery store to buy bread & milk upon hearing a forecast of snow is a Philadelphia phenomena.
Last week, I wrote about the efforts of the Bush Administration to stifle the opinions of a government expert on global warming, in Science, Intelligent Design Style.
Now, none other than that Liberal rag, the Wall Street Journal, has reported on another example, in Expert on Congress's Power Claims He Was Muzzled for Faulting Bush. The piece notes:
A dispute involving a researcher at the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service is fueling a debate over whether analysts throughout the government are being muzzled to prevent criticism of Bush administration policies.
Louis Fisher, a 36-year veteran of the agency and an expert on the separation of powers, said his superiors wrongly punished him for giving interviews and publishing scholarly articles under his own name that contained criticism of the White House. Top officials deny those allegations, saying they were simply trying to protect the agency's reputation for nonpartisanship and objectivity.
The dispute has thrust the research service, a branch of the Library of Congress, into a debate about whether the Bush administration is trying to control the flow of information to lawmakers and the public. Earlier in the week, a political appointee resigned from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration after coming under fire for limiting access to an expert on global warming. The White House also faces accusations that it misled lawmakers about the true cost of the new Medicare drug benefit.
* * * *
Mr. Fisher has testified before Congress 38 times and recently took the extraordinary step of filing his own friend-of-the-court brief at the Supreme Court, where he told the justices that President Bush had overstepped his authority in establishing a system of special military courts to try suspected foreign terrorists. He has written 16 books and hundreds of scholarly articles.
"His writings are considered the gold standard," said Robert Spitzer, the State University of New York scholar who edited the book. "If he has a slant of any kind, it's a pro-Congress one. He believes that Congress should stand up for itself more against the administration."
Imagine that. Congress as separate, but equal, branch of Government. What a concept. We should try it some time.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Friday, February 10, 2006
The Christian Science Monitor writes about a new "data-collection system that could troll news, blogs, even emails" and asks the question, "Will it go too far?"in an article entitled US plans massive data sweep, reporting:
The US government is developing a massive computer system that can collect huge amounts of data and, by linking far-flung information from blogs and e-mail to government records and intelligence reports, search for patterns of terrorist activity.
* * * *
"We don't realize that, as we live our lives and make little choices, like buying groceries, buying on Amazon, Googling, we're leaving traces everywhere," says Lee Tien, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "We have an attitude that no one will connect all those dots. But these programs are about connecting those dots - analyzing and aggregating them - in a way that we haven't thought about. It's one of the underlying fundamental issues we have yet to come to grips with."
The core of this effort is a little-known system called Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight, and Semantic Enhancement (ADVISE).
ADVISE involves data-mining or "dataveillance," as it is now being called. Give you a sense of Deja vu, perhaps? It should. Think TIA redux. Remember TIA, Total Information Awareness?
Privacy concerns have torpedoed federal data-mining efforts in the past. In 2002, news reports revealed that the Defense Department was working on Total Information Awareness, a project aimed at collecting and sifting vast amounts of personal and government data for clues to terrorism. An uproar caused Congress to cancel the TIA program a year later.
ADVISE "looks very much like TIA," Mr. Tien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation writes in an e-mail. "There's the same emphasis on broad collection and pattern analysis."
It's Friday, so it's time for watching a few good video clips. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report both do take-offs on the Attorney General's appearance at the NSA Hearings. Enjoy!
Crooks and Liars: Glower of Attorney
onegoodmove: Real Science
Best line: Pat Leahy: "Of course, I'm sorry Mr. Attorney General, I forgot you can't anwer any questions that might be relevant to this."
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Dan Froomkin's column, White House Briefing, in the Washington Post, discusses a journalistic faux pas by Time magazine in the Plame leak scandal. As Froomkin explains:
Media Matters , the liberal media watchdog Web site, raises an interesting point about Time Magazine's coverage of the Valerie Plame affair.
Back in this October 2003 story, the magazine reported: "White House spokesman Scott McClellan said accusations of Rove's peddling information are 'ridiculous.' Says McClellan: 'There is simply no truth to that suggestion.'"
It is now clear that several reporters and editors at Time knew very well that McClellan's statement was false.
Media Matters writes: "But despite that knowledge, they participated in the publication of an article containing that quote, with no indication that it was untrue. They participated in the publication of that article, which, in reporting that 'Rove was initially accused by Wilson of being the man behind the leak,' implied that Rove was no longer under suspicion -- even though they all knew that Rove was, in fact, [Matt] Cooper's source."
Is there any excuse for a news organization to print a statement that they know is untrue, without at least trying to clue their readers into the truth? That seems to defeat the central purpose of journalism.
So what should Time have done? One option might have been to go to Rove and say: We know McClellan isn't telling the truth. You either need to tell us the truth, on the record, or tell him the truth.
What if Rove had refused? One option might have been to go to McClellan and tell him that they had reason to think his statement was not accurate.
And if McClellan brushed them off? They should have stopped at nothing until they found a way to report what they knew to be the truth.
This should be a major embarrassment for Time, but sad to say, I don't think it is. To the contrary, in the age of "Truthiness" it hasn't even gotten much, if any, "press" in the media. How can a reporter intentionally withhold information which the reporter personally knows proves the premise of the article to be untrue? Is this omission substantially different than plagiarism or other ethical lapses that journalists have engaged in in recent time? In the end, in each of these instances, the reader is mislead by the reporter.
We are living in an age where everything is categorized as partisan. There are no plain, unvarnished, truthful facts anymore. Spin has been elevated to an art form. Everything has to have a bias, everyone has an agenda. Journalists have allowed themselves to be dragged into this game. There is the so-called "liberal media" in print and on TV and talk radio, right wing pundits abound. The result is that overall, journalism suffers, because it's credibility is compromised.
Shame on Time.
Time to go:
Claude Allen, President Bush's principle domestic policy adviser, has resigned. A White House spokesman told the Chicago Tribune that Allen wanted to spend more time with his family.(Via Eschaton)
Republicans who know Allen are uncertain why he stepped down so suddenly. Late last week, he was in good spirits as he briefed allies and surrogates about the President's State of the Union message. On Tuesday, he attended a conference in PA on the president's faith based initiative.
Allen enjoys a warm relationship with moral conservative groups in Washington. As a senior political appointee at the Department of Health and Human services, he was the administration's point person on abstinence initiatives.
"Moral" and conservative Bush appointee leaves job rather quickly "for family reasons."
Let's guess. Will it be an indictment or a sex scandal? My bet is the latter.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Or, as the Philadelphia Daily News put it, Scranton sings his Swann song.
Not suprisingly, Bill Scranton has dropped out of the Republican race for Governor of Pennsylvania. The only surprise is that he was pressured to do so even before the Republican State Committee endorsement, which was to occur this week-end.
Usually, the pull out happens shortly after the party selection, when great pressure is brought to bear on the unendorsed candidate. After all, for Republicans, it is a section, not an election, process. Why have two fellow Republicans contesting each other, with voters choosing the candidate? The party knows best and should decide on the candidate to run in the general election against those nasty Democrats.
I fully expected Scranton to drop out, the timing is the only part that is unusual. Can't have a future in the party if you don't fall in line, after all.
As we get into the NSA hearings, a recent piece by Martin Garbus in the Huffington Post, How Close Are We to the End of Democracy? provides perspective on what's at stake:
We have today seen President Bush's legal defense for the surveillance program. There is, he tells us, an unparalled crisis.
* * * *
There is no crisis today that justifies suspending the constitution. There is a constitution in effect today. That constitution has endured for over 200 years.
* * * *
No president in over 200 years of our history has ever before claimed the "unitary powers" that Bush claims are his. Not President Lincoln during the Civil War, not President Wilson during World War I, not President Roosevelt during World War II, not President Truman during Korea, and not Presidents Johnson and Nixon during Vietnam.
Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and James Madison all saw the danger -- they never arrogated that power to the presidency.
* * * *
The President claims that he has the right to interpret laws "in a manner consistent with the Constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as the Commander-in-Chief and consistent with constitutional limitations on judicial power."
Bush bridled when asked by a reporter if "unchecked" presidential powers were dictatorial, angrily said, "I disagree with your view of unchecked power. There is the check of people being sworn to uphold the law for starters. There is oversight. We're talking to Congress all the time . . . to say unchecked powers is to ascribe dictatorial powers to the president, to which I object."
His objection is dishonest.
What does "unitary powers" mean? It means that if the President alone decides that the country is faced with what he alone defines to be a critical problem, his authority is unchecked. In other words, he decides where the powers lies in the Constitution -- he decides the contour of his power. This sounds more like a monarchy, more like authoritarianism than a democracy.
The taking of this power is not a coup d'état because the people today have the power of the vote in 2008. But it is dangerously close on that path -- the Founders recognized the danger of a too-powerful President.
* * * *
Samuel Alito, John Roberts (in his Circuit Court decisions), Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, and wunderkind John Yoo give the President unchecked domestic and foreign powers to create that world. Bush can start his own wars, preemptive or otherwise, is the ultimate interpreter of foreign treaties, he defines enemy combatants as he wishes, he detains prisoners for as long as he wishes, he continues surveillance on foreign intercepts for as long as he wishes, he tortures as he wishes, he can ignore Congressional directives and statutes such as those creating FISA, as well as essential elements of our Constitution.
This litany has no end. We cannot now anticipate all the ramifications of the "unitary" president and his claim of "inherent powers," except that it clearly allows him to fully take over the government.
* * * *
The Bush Administration ignore centuries of Constitutional decision-making that limits the President, decisions during the Civil War, World War II, World War II and the Korean, Vietnamese and Cold Wars. In the unlikely event the new Supreme Court does not give him all he wants, he will ignore those decisions as well.
That is truly what a "unitary" president means. If America did not pay attention before, it must now.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
This blogger, a former Pittsburgher, reminisces What Steelers Mean to Pittsburgh---and PA Governor Race at Daily Kos. He brings back a lot of fond memories of my days in Pittsburgh as he discusses the Steelers and Pittsburgh in the 70s and 80s (the time I was there), and about how Pittsburgh suffered a great decline in the mid-80s, after the steel mills closed, which is when we left. I was surprised to see that during this period, the city also lost half it's population. It's an interesting read.
Also, he has posted some great Steeler's Super Bowl pictures at his website: Dreaming Up Daily. Steeler fans should check them out.
His post also discusses former Steeler Lynn Swann, who is the likely Republican-anointed Candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania. The man is lucky. Steeler mania is publicity you can't buy. Makes me worry for Ed. Rendell is the type of man I hate to love, but I must admit that he won me over during his years as Mayor of Philly. He certainly has his foibles, but he did a damn good job making Philly a better place. I also think he's done a good job as Governor in a difficult environment, with a republican controlled legislature more interested in making him look bad than doing what's right for the state. More to come on this topic as the race progresses.
Monday, February 06, 2006
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Here's to the Steelers in the Super Bowl (at least from 1 of the 2 Steeler fans in Philly). We lived in Pittsburgh for 10 years (law school and several years beyond in the early 80's) and were there for 3 of the 4 Super Bowl Wins.
I'm not a sports fan, Lord knows, but I still remember the phrase "One for the Thumb." Maybe the Thumb will finally get it today.
We've adorned the sunroom of our house (see picture) with Steeler paraphernalia for my husband, a big Steelers fan. Of course, since most of Philly hates Pittsburgh (and the Steelers), we don't dare hang a "Terrible Towel" in the window.
Since we're on the subject of the Plame case, Richard Schmitt of the Baltimore Sun has an "amusing" article, Libby's defense points to distraction, regarding indicted VP Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby.
As chief of staff to one of the most powerful figures on Earth, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was immersed in some of the most sensitive and weighty matters affecting the nation.What a novel concept. I guess it's the "Circle of Executive Power" theory. That is, not only does the President have unfettered authority, but it extends to his favored minions as well. Perhaps he puts together a Circle List of those annointed with the Power.
Now Libby is seeking to use the profundity of his former responsibilities as a mitigating factor as he prepares for a criminal trial in the unmasking of former CIA operative Valerie Plame. Libby contends that any alleged lack of truth-telling was inadvertent, the product of his own preoccupation with life-and-death matters of state.
It's a provocative strategy that some experts say could rub a jury the wrong way by suggesting that he is above the law.
Former Prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega has written a Commentary in Mother Jones, When Two Worlds Collide, dissecting the state of the Plame CIA outing investigation. She believes, and I concur, that Karl Rove will be indicted for his role in the scandal. The only question is when, not if. Her comparison of Rove and Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald is perfectly on target. She notes:
In the world of campaign politics that Rove has so long inhabited, smears and personal attacks are designed to seem as if they were spontaneously generated. They can then wander around, undirected, until they finally curl up in America's living rooms like so many mysterious, uninvited guests. These intruders may be rude and destructive, but no one is supposed to be able to get rid of them, in part because no one is supposed to be able to sort out or pinpoint how they got there in the first place. Thus, although Karl Rove has lurked in the background of an unprecedented number of whisper and smear campaigns -- that, for instance, John McCain had an illegitimate child (a rumor spread during the Republican primaries that preceded the 2000 election), or that former Texas Governor Ann Richards was a lesbian (a persistent rumor that was spread during Bush's Texas gubernatorial campaign) -- he has never been held accountable. And that is a state of affairs to which Rove became accustomed.
Rove has escaped responsibility for his sneaky campaign tricks because the candidates for whom he has worked -- most prominently, George Bush -- have had a stunning ability to accept, unquestioningly, the miraculous appearance of information that takes down their opponents. They had no problem about endorsing brazen dishonesty or the least interest in ferreting out bad actors in their camps. At the same time, opposing candidates have had neither the resources, nor the time to fully
investigate the attacks before plummeting in the polls. Afterwards, of course, it was already far too late.
* * * *
[The investigation of Rove] also opened a window into the world of a President's key adviser who never left campaign mode and who had never before been tripped up, no matter what he did. Such a man would be quite unprepared for an investigator like Fitzgerald who operates under a very different timetable and in a world ordered by radically different rules.
Her conclusion is that "it would be most surprising if when his world and Fitzgerald's collide, the result isn't a political earthquake. The moment an earthquake arrives remains impossible to predict, but it would be surprising if, in the CIA leak case, the impact of a Rove indictment did not cause massive aftershocks."
I guess we're talking Big Bang "Theory" Redux.
The NYT has a follow up article on NASA's public affairs office trying to control the dissemination of scientific intormation from the Agency, in NASA Chief Backs Agency Openness. In one instance:
This comes out a week after it was reported that James Hansen, a top NASA climate scientist, revealed that "the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming." See: Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him.
In October, for example, George Deutsch, a presidential appointee in NASA headquarters, told a Web designer working for the agency to add the word "theory" after every mention of the Big Bang, according to an e-mail message from Mr. Deutsch that another NASA employee forwarded to The Times.
* * * *
The Big Bang memo came from Mr. Deutsch, a 24-year-old presidential appointee in the press office at NASA headquarters whose résumé says he was an intern in the "war room" of the 2004 Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. A 2003 journalism graduate of Texas A&M, he was also the public-affairs officer who sought more control over Dr. Hansen's public statements.
In October 2005, Mr. Deutsch sent an e-mail message to Flint Wild, a NASA contractor working on a set of Web presentations about Einstein for middle-school students. The message said the word "theory" needed to be added after every mention of the Big Bang.
The Big Bang is "not proven fact; it is opinion," Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, "It is not NASA's place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator."
It continued: "This is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would only be getting one-half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most."
Additional information on George Deutsch can be found at World O'Crap.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
This one is priceless. The Philadelphia Daily News' Will Bunch, who blogs via Attytood, captured this picture of an upcoming movie posted on billboards around Philly.
As he aptly observes: Irony, thy name is Curious George.
Life sure does imitate art. I wonder if "I Spy" is next.