Friday, March 31, 2006

South Beach

Another day at the beach. Spent the day in South Beach yesterday. Great Beach. Didn't know it was topless. Of course, my brother (who lives down here) & husband enjoyed the scenery. Last day of our vacation in Florida. We'll be heading home today. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

*Bruce Beattie Posted by Picasa

Res Ipsa Loquitur

CNN reports that Supreme Court Justice Scalia has castigated the Boston Herald reporter regarding "The Gesture," in Reporter misread hand gesture. As the comical controversy has grown, (see my post Because It Won't), Scalia decided to try to get the last word by writing a letter To the Editor of the Boston Herald.

There is no dispute that Scalia used "a" gesture upon leaving a Catholic Church in Boston after a Red Mass (a mass where lawyers pray for themselves). Only dispute is whether it was "The Gesture" or "The Finger." Scalia says all he did was give the "chin flick," a mild Italian gesture, explaining "that's Sicilian." So he says, what's all the fuss about? Even worse, despite the fact that he's the one using the Italian gestures and phrases, now he's annoyed that the Herald referred to him as an "Italian American Jurist." No More Mr Nice Blog has a similar take here and here.

In it's latest article on the issue, Scalia seeks Justice over gesture, the Boston Herald describes it best:

Famously feisty Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia yesterday denied that he made an obscene gesture Sunday inside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, accusing the Herald staff of 'watching too many Sopranos episodes.'
But that's not the end of the story. Although I noted yesterday that the Catholic paper, the Pilot, refused to publish the picture that was taken of Scalia making "The Gesture," the photographer must have missed that word. Apparently, the Photographer has spoken.

The Herald has reported, in Photographer: Herald got it right, that "the freelance photographer who captured the moment has come forward with the picture." It notes:
"It's inaccurate and deceptive of him to say there was no vulgarity in the moment," said Peter Smith, the Boston University assistant photojournalism professor who made the shot.

Despite Scalia's insistence that the Sicilian gesture was not offensive and had been incorrectly characterized by the Herald as obscene, the photographer said the newspaper "got the story right."

* * * *

Smith was working as a freelance photographer for the Boston archdiocese's weekly newspaper at a special Mass for lawyers Sunday when a Herald reporter asked the justice how he responds to critics who might question his impartiality as a judge given his public worship.

"The judge paused for a second, then looked directly into my lens and said, 'To my critics, I say, 'Vaffanculo,' punctuating the comment by flicking his right hand out from under his chin, Smith said.

The Italian phrase means "(expletive) you."
You think maybe this guy didn't like the fact that Scalia lied about what happened? Gee, I bet he went to Catholic school and was taught that lying was a sin.

When contacted, Scalia's PR person said that the Letter to the Editor "defending his gesture at the cathedral ' speaks for itself.'" (Legal translation = Res Ipsa Loquitur). It sure does. I also wonder what gesture Scalia's going to make when he reads this latest entry into the frey.

For the non-Italians of the world, the meaning of the Italian expression 'Vaffanculo,' quoted above, can be found at Urban Dictionary.


All the Rage

A recent Trendspotting segment on The Daily Show, Start This Sentence, features Life Coaching.

It answers the question what is a Life Coach? It's like having a really good friend. Who charges.

You also know that you've really made it if you're being satirized.

This is dedicated to Bucky, one of the Ladies Who Lunch.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

* Eric Devericks, Seattle Times Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Spring Break

We're spending a few days in Deerfield Beach, Florida, for Spring Break.

My just turned 16 year old daughter is on Spring Break, we're just along for the ride. Of course, she's too young & we're too old for Spring Break in Fort Lauderdale.

My parents winter here & we thought we'd come and visit. Timing was off & they're on a cruise this week, so we have their place to ourselves. Oh, shucks!

Because It Won't

Did he or didn't he?

The flipping question of the day is: Did Scalia Flip?, as asked by Free Market News:

Did a Supreme Court Justice "flip the bird" at journalists in Boston on Sunday? It depends on who you ask: Antonin Scalia says he did not, but the Boston Herald claims he did, while exiting from a mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
Original reports said that Scalia gave the press the finger after Mass, but based upon a release from Scalia's PR person, later reports were downgraded to a merely obscene Sicilian chin flick gesture. The issue is a deserving one.

In fact, Wonkette has 2 posts on the controversy, Guess Nino Didn't Give Up Cursing for Lent and Justice Scalia Is Less Cool Than We Thought. Another Blogger, David Giacalone of f/k/a, notes that:

Across the nation, news outlets have been publishing a silly Associated Press report tonight, asking "Scalia's Gesture: Obscene or Sicilian?" -- as if the two concepts are inconsistent. That's based on a statement from Scalia's spokeswoman, who said Nino used a "hand off the chin gesture," which Italians commonly use to show displeasure.

Hmmm. She's got a point: No one ever uses the middle finger to show displeasure.

Scalia might want you to believe that his little Sicilian chin action was harmless, but a lot depends on the attitude displayed along with the gesture. [Both of my sainted grandmothers could definitely make it look obscene.] It's too bad the Justice apparently bullied the photographer who captured the moment into keeping it unpublished. No, it wasn't someone from the Herald -- it was a photographer for the Archdiocese of Boston newspaper, The Pilot.
Ah yes, I too had a sainted grandmother, Noni, who didn't speak English very well, but always managed to get her point across very well.

A Boston Herald side article, Fans and foes weigh in on justice gesture, tantalizes with the knowledge that the answer is so near, but so far away:

While legal watchdogs wagged a disapproving finger at U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia for his off-color "Sicilian" salute in Boston's cathedral, the Archdiocese of Boston said yesterday it won't publish a photo of the gesture in its newspaper The Pilot.

"Because it won't," archdiocese spokesman Terrence Donilon responded when asked why. (Emphasis added)
(Photo via -- Italian Hand Gestures)


Cartoon of the Day

*Clay Bennett, Christian Science Monitor

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Ever Onward

The Blogging Curmudgeon has an excellent post about yesterday's march in LA and elsewhere over U.S. Immigration policy. In Political Earthquake Hits Los Angeles: 500,000 March to Protest Immigration "Reform", he noted:

The truest Americans . . . appear to be Latino immigrants. Half a million of them marched in Los Angeles on March 26, 2006 in a "demonstration that may have contained Spanish chants "Si, se puede!", which means, "Yes, we can!" but was American in its heart. The march, which was larger than demonstrations against the Vietnam War and Gulf War II, was quintessentially American: people taking to the streets to petition their government for a redress of grievances. As I watched the sea of people move through the streets of downtown Los Angeles, I thought, These people deserve to be Americans--they have the courage that made the country great.

Explaining his change of heart on the immigration issue, the Curmudgeon (love that name) recalled that we are a nation of immigrants. Also, like those who came before us, these immigrants have the incentive and courage to make this country a better place. We should welcome, not ban, those who come to find a better life. Isn't that what brought our own ancestors here? How can we close our borders when our country was founded on the concept of being open to all?

Perhaps those who aren't happy with the concept can go back to their country of origin, free up space for others and infuse some new blood and ideas into the country. For example, the congressman from Colorado, Tom Tamcredo, is one of those leading the xenophobic charge in Congress, having said that illegal aliens "are 'a scourge that threatens the very future of our nation,' he says. He laments 'the cult of multiculturalism,' and worries about America's becoming a 'Tower of Babel.'" This from a man whose grandparents, like mine, immigrated from Italy at a time when citizenship was more easily had. However, unlike me, he seems to have forgotten his more humble beginnings in his zealous campaign to close the door to America for those who were not as fortunate as he to come here sooner.

Paul Krugman of the NYT, has a thoughtful column, North of the Border, that addresses the problems of illegal immigration. As he said:
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," wrote Emma Lazarus, in a poem that still puts a lump in my throat. I'm proud of America's immigrant history, and grateful that the door was open when my grandparents fled Russia.

In other words, I'm instinctively, emotionally pro-immigration. But a review of serious, nonpartisan research reveals some uncomfortable facts about the economics of modern immigration, and immigration from Mexico in particular. If people like me are going to respond effectively to anti-immigrant demagogues, we have to acknowledge those facts.
Krugman describes the issues that make illegal immigration a problem for this country, and then opines:

Realistically, we'll need to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants. Mainly that means better controls on illegal immigration. But the harsh anti-immigration legislation passed by the House, which has led to huge protests — legislation that would, among other things, make it a criminal act to provide an illegal immigrant with medical care — is simply immoral.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush's plan for a "guest worker" program is clearly designed by and for corporate interests, who'd love to have a low-wage work force that couldn't vote. Not only is it deeply un-American; it does nothing to reduce the adverse effect of immigration on wages. And because guest workers would face the prospect of deportation after a few years, they would have no incentive to become integrated into our society.

What about a guest-worker program that includes a clearer route to citizenship? I'd still be careful. Whatever the bill's intentions, it could all too easily end up having the same effect as the Bush plan in practice — that is, it could create a permanent underclass of disenfranchised workers.

We need to do something about immigration, and soon. But I'd rather see Congress fail to agree on anything this year than have it rush into ill-considered legislation that betrays our moral and democratic principles.

My daughter attends a Friends (Quaker) School and her 10th grade class has been studying immigration issues. They recently researched various aspects of the issue, including conducting interviews of various people, such as recent immigrants and immigration attorneys. The project concluded with a debate on the issue. So this has been a topic of discussion in our house of late.

Hasta La Victoria Siempre (Ever Onward to Victory). Note: Poster used for quote, not political statement.

Do Unto Others

It's Sunday morning, so it's time for some religious studies. And this is some study!

Citing this Pew Survey, Bill Maher discusses the hypocrisy of those religions (and their followers) who condone torture despite religious teachings to the contrary, with Reza Aslan, author of "No god but God," on Real Time: Do Unto Others.

In the Nation article accompanying the Pew survey, entitled "Americans, especially Catholics, approve of torture," it was observed that the public is not just apathetic about the use of torture, but that "a majority of Americans actually approve of the use of torture under some circumstances." Among the findings:

A survey by the Pew Research Center in October showed that 15 percent of Americans believe torture is “often” justified, and another 31 percent believe it is “sometimes” justified. Add to that another 17 percent who said it is “rarely” justified, and you have two out of three Americans justifying torture under certain circumstances. Only 32 percent said it is “never” justified, while another 5 percent didn’t know or refused to answer.

But the portion of Catholics who justify torture is even higher, according to the survey. Twenty-one percent of Catholics surveyed said it is “often” justified and 35 percent said it is “sometimes” justified. Another 16 percent said it is “rarely” justified, meaning that nearly three of four Catholics justify it under some circumstances. Four percent of Catholics “didn’t know” or refused to answer and only 26 percent said it is “never” justified, which is the official teaching of the church.

In contrast to these statistics, 31 percent of Protestants believe torture is never justified, while 41 percent of people identifying themselves as secular oppose torture under any circumstances. So those godless athetists don't believe in torture. No wonder they are so reviled.

The article also interviewed Catholic theologians who affirm that "the church is unequivocal in its denunciation of all torture." It would have been interesting to compare whether those same people are in the pro-life and in the homophobic camps of the Church. I wouldn't be surprised to find a corollary in these views. The irony, of course, is that the justification for the anti-gay and pro-life views are Church teachings -- the same source that is disregarded when the subject is torture.

Of course, if you're Catholic, you can understand why torture is viewed differently. Especially if you went to Catholic school. It was something the nuns excelled at.

If Jesus had been killed twenty years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses. -- Lenny Bruce

Cartoon of the Day

*Signe Wilkinson, Phila Daily News Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Gotta Have It

A la the lifestyles of the rich & famous, the Smoking Gun has posted Dick Cheney's Suite Demands. Jon Stewart offered his own take on Cheney's Downtime Requirements (via onegoodmove).

The Satirical Political Report uncovered another "top secret memo" outlining the Top Ten demands that President Bush has during his hotel stays:

10. All lights turned off — Bush prefers to stay in the dark.

9. Four cartons of chocolate milk, and a package of Oreos, in honor of such Bush aides as Claude “The Fraud” Allen.

8. Temperature set to 31 degrees — helps maintain Bush’s “brain freeze.”

7. Two televisions, one equipped with an X-Box, one tuned to The Cartoon Channel.

6. Wireless internet capacity, so he can track NSA surveillance of Helen Thomas.

5. A swivel chair, so the President can do “whirlybirds.”

4. For reading material, a comic book version of The King James Bible.

3. For when he travels with Laura, a banner over the bed, reading: “MISSIONARY POSITION ACCOMPLISHED.”

2. A “double-commode” in the bathroom, so that Bush can share intimate moments with Karl “Turd Blossom” Rove.

1. A sign on the back of the hotel room door, providing a map for an “exit strategy.”
(Also via Onegoodmove)

When the Moon is in the 7th House

The Boston Globe reports on the latest "signing statement" by Bush as he attempts to rewrite laws (and history), in Bush shuns Patriot Act requirement:

When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.

* * * *

Bush signed the bill with fanfare at a White House ceremony March 9, calling it ''a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the American people." But after the reporters and guests had left, the White House quietly issued a ''signing statement," an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law.

In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would ''impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."

* * * *

David Golove, a New York University law professor who specializes in executive power issues, said the statement may simply be ''bluster" and does not necessarily mean that the administration will conceal information about its use of the Patriot Act.

But, he said, the statement illustrates the administration's ''mind-bogglingly expansive conception" of executive power, and its low regard for legislative power.

''On the one hand, they deny that Congress even has the authority to pass laws on these subjects like torture and eavesdropping, and in addition to that, they say that Congress is not even entitled to get information about anything to do with the war on terrorism," Golove said.
(via Firedoglake)

Gee, I think the Signing Statement's list of exceptions to the requirement that Bush follow the law might have missed the "Moon in the 7th House, Jupiter aligned with Mars" exemption. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo calls it our permanent constitutional crisis.

Seriously, the litany of exceptions to the requirement that Bush follow the reporting requirement imposed by the reauthorization of the Patriot Act is an example of the legal concept of "exception that swallows the rule." That is, when the scope of an exception to the general rule is so broad, the rule itself no longer has any meaning, it is in effect nullified.

The Patriot Act itself is a dangerous step that could eviscerate our civil liberties. Blogger Seeking a Little Truth cites a recent article that considers the continuum of the erosion of our constitutional protections. For anther view, blogger Concealed Position, provides commentary on "The 14 Characteristics of Fascism," an essay by Lawrence Britt.

Another legal maxim, the "slippery slope" argument, is appropos of the direction the country is headed. Our civil rights may just be slip, sliding away.

The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. -- Thomas Jefferson

Friday, March 24, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

*Mike Thompson, Atlanta Journal Constitution

Thursday, March 23, 2006

She's 16!!

Happy Birthday to you
 Posted by Picasa

Make a Wish

Make a wish and give it wings
Dreams of bright and beautiful things
Dance through all the fun filled hours
Don't forget to smell the flowers
Share some love and birthday cake
All life joys are yours to take
And when evening comes to view
Thanks your lucky stars you're you

Happy Birthday
Miss Sweet 16

(make a wish photo amber_b)

Cartoon of the Day

*Ann Telnaes, CBS News

Life is Beautiful

As Bush is wont to do, he has been engaging in the "Blame Game" of late, attacking the medias coverage of the war in Iraq as a way to deflect the reality of the situation and his own role in the disaster that exists there.

The Countdown (the one with Keith Olbermann, not the Birthday one) did a segment on the latest "attack the messenger strategy" adopted by Bush and his cronies. As part of the story line, Olbermann shows a few recent Bush speeches, (see Crooks and Liars), where he blames the media for the situation in Iraq. He also addresses Laura Ingraham on the topic.

David Gregory started the dust-up during a recent interview, (Crooks and Liars), on the Today Show with conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham, about the medias coverage of the War. According to Ingraham, who had recently been to Iraq, life is beautiful there. She went on to say that reporters would see that if only they would leave their hotels and go out and about in the various parts of Iraq.

Gregory did a follow up interview on the Today Show with reporter Richard Engel, (Crooks and Liars), in which Engel said that the actual on the ground situation in Iraq is even worse than is being portrayed in the press.

If Ingraham truly believes the stuff she spouts, then I wonder if she's planned her family's Spring Break trip yet? If not, then maybe she could take the whole family to Iraq for their family vacation. Sounds ideal -- lot's of fun and sun.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

*Pat Olphant

Don't Say Goodbye

Both Blinq and Attytood have just reported the sad news that Dick Polman, political writer for the Inquirer, is planning to leave to take a full-time teaching position at Penn.

What bad news for the Inquirer. He and Steve Lopez were the best writers at the Inky, hands down. In fact, I sometimes go to the LA Times, just to read Lopez' columns, even though his column there is LA focused, not national in scope. I still like his style. Likewise Polman. He has an excellent perspective on the political scene.

Bling does say that Polman is in negotiations to continue writing for the newspaper, where his most recent title has been national political correspondent. I hope that he stays in some capacity (and that, either way, he continues his new blog, American Debate).

Damn, I thought it was odd that he used Blogger to host his blog, not the Inquirer. I was hoping it didn't mean he was leaving.


All successful newspapers are ceaselessly querulous and bellicose. They never defend anyone or anything if they can help it; if the job is forced on them, they tackle it by denouncing someone or something else. - H.L. Mencken

The Countdown Continues

The Quilt Goddess

The Goddesses Quilt
the Quilt Goddess

Happy Birthday, Sarah

Just Say No

Maybe there was a good reason that George Bush has long avoided press conferences and public addresses (with other than hand picked audiences) after all. Now that he's venturing outside that bubble in which he resides, it's been nothing but trouble. If not for him, then for us. We have to watch the spectacle and it's painful.

He's defintitely the Stepford President, he rarely veers from script. Inquirer political reporter, Dick Polman, who is a favorite, has recently started a blog, American Debate. He has an entry, Groundhog Day in America, that echoes that sentiment. Describing Bush's recent PR efforts, Polman says:

But the problem is, he keeps saying the same things over and over; worse yet, he keeps repeating things that are contradicted by factual reality. As a result, the average skeptical American is starting to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, who awoke over and over to the same morning and the same radio rendition of "I Got You, Babe."

Consider, for instance, the lyrics in today's press conference: Troop levels will be determined by the commanders in the field...He wants to "spread liberty around the world"...Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will not be fired, because "he's done a fine job"..."This is a global war, and Iraq is part of that..."

A visual, and extremely humorous take on this, is also provided by Jon Stewart, on the Daily Show. He weaves together a montage of Bush speeches, which masterfully combine to tell the same speech, in Stumped Speech (via Onegoodmove).

My Caption, and a portion of the Daily Show skit, refers to Bush's answer to this Q&A from an Ohio speech:

My question is that author and former Nixon administration official Kevin Phillips in his latest book, "American Theocracy," discusses what has been called radical Christianity and its growing involvement into government and politics. He makes the point that members of your administration have reached out to prophetic Christians who see the war in Iraq and the rise of terrorism as signs of the Apocalypse. Do you believe this, that the war in Iraq and the rise of terrorism are signs of the Apocalypse?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Out of the Closet

For those interested in the South Park Saga, here are a few tidbits and sites. An AP article summarizes the controversial episode:

Last November, "South Park" targeted the Church of Scientology and its celebrity followers, including actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta, in a top-rated episode called "Trapped in the Closet." In the episode, Stan, one of the show's four mischievous fourth graders, is hailed as a reluctant savior by Scientology leaders, while a cartoon Cruise locks himself in a closet and won't come out.
Recently, Isaac Hayes, a practicing Scientologist who is voice of one of the character's, Chef, quit over the episode, claiming it disrespected his religion. Andrew Sullivan's blog, The Daily Dish, also discusses The South Park War.

However, the Guardian Unlimited put it best:

Criticising the hit US television series South Park for being offensive is a bit like criticising Antiques Roadshow for focusing too much on old things. But this has not prevented the soul singer Isaac Hayes from quitting the show in outrage at its treatment of Scientology - ending a nine-year association with a cartoon that has left few other religious or political groups unmocked.
The banned espisode, Trapped in the Closet is available via YouTube. And, if that's not enough,
TayTV Media Blog includes a video of the Letterman interview with Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of South Park, on the subject.

Patriot Act: The Home Version

Philly's Daily News reports on the newest version of Monopoly, entitled "Patriot Act: The Home Version." As the article explains, in Patriot Act game pokes fun at law:

In this send-up of "Monopoly," players don't pass "Go" and they don't go directly to jail - they go to Guantanamo Bay.

Instead of losing cash for landing on certain squares, they lose civil liberties. And the "Mr. Monopoly" character at the center of the board is replaced by a scowling former Attorney General John Ashcroft.

"Patriot Act: The Home Version" pokes fun at "the historic abuse of governmental powers" by the recently renewed anti-terrorism law, according to its creator's Web site.

* * * *

In a nod to President Bush's prewar comments, the "Go" space in is renamed "Bring It On!" Players roll the dice to determine how many civil liberties they start out with, accumulating them from a variety of categories: U.S. citizens get 5; non-citizens 1. Whites and Asians get 5; Arabs 1. Ultra right-wingers get 6; Democrats 3 or 4.
What's even better is that you don't need to run out to buy the game. The game is available as a free download from the creator's website,

Best of all, the website promises a "board game that brings the thrill of trampling the Constitution right into your home. . . newly updated for 2006 to include NSA wiretaps and renewal of provisions!"

(Thanks to Loree)

Casey Strikes Out

Attytood from the Philadelphia Daily News announces that NOW has decided to endorse Alan Sandals for the upcoming U.S. Senate seat held by some guy named Santorum. See: NOW deals blow to Casey and endorses Sandals.

It's certainly no surprise that Casey is not the choice of the pro-Choicers. I'm a little surprised that they endorsed Sandals over Chuck Pennacchio, who is also pro-Choice.

I also don't have a problem with a contested primary for the Democratic ticket. After all, that's what the process is all about -- allowing the electorate to pick the candidate of their choice. Funny concept that, but it seems to work when we let it.


I'm not a member of any organized political party, I'm a Democrat! -- Will Rogers

Cartoon of the Day

*Jeff Stahler, Columbus Dispatch

Worst. President. Ever.

It all started with this quote from "Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, [who] said Thursday that given Mr. Bush's record, 'I really do believe this man will go down as the worst president this country has ever had.'"

A number of bloggers decided to weigh in on whether Bush was really the Worst. President. Ever. Matthew Yglesias began the debate with, Worst. President. Ever. by stating:

He's somewhat worse than, say, his father. But somewhat better than Ronald Reagan. Bad -- very bad, even, if you want to get indignant about it -- but bad in a run-of-the-mill, parties- alternate-in- power, rightwingers- are-all-bad kind of way.

* * * *

This just isn't the stuff out of which world-historical badness is made.
This generated substantial comments on the issue. Then Mark Schmitt at TPMCafe jumped into the frey with his views on the subject, He's Not the Worst President?

Next up was Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo. He summed up his opinion on the issue well:

President Bush represents something different from the normal sloshing back and forth between liberalism and conservatism. He's a radical. He's set on a destructive course, laced with corruption and fed by extremism. And he mistakenly believes that stubbornness and ignorance constitute a virtue he calls 'leadership'.

I don't think there's much question that President Bush is the most conservative president in modern American history. But the issue is not his conservatism; it's his radicalism and destructiveness, his willingness to wreck the state. 'Worst ever' covers a lot of ground. But I think there's a good argument to be made that he is.
Atrios concurs, noting these are "Scary times."

I gave my vote some time ago, in He's Number One, after a group of historians gave Bush's presidency a failing grade, with 50 voting him as the worst President ever. In fact, we have an obligation to Teach Your Children Well, so they understand the historical perspective of our times.

And, finally, let's not forget Helen Thomas. As I noted in Thomas is a Terror, she was ahead of the game. She called Bush the worst president ever some time ago. As Dean of the White House Press Corp, she should know.

UPDATE: No sooner did I dig out my Helen Thomas reference then she appears for an interview on the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, and he asks her about it:

Let's get back to this issue of being the worst president ever. And you've covered a lot of presidents going back to President Kennedy. Worse than Richard Nixon?

THOMAS: Well I think what this president has done is really struck a match to the tinder box that we all know is the Middle East. And I think that Nixon's crime, so called, was the abuse of government power. In this case, in the case of the president and his cohorts, I think they have really spread war throughout the Middle East.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

* Ann Telnaes, CBS News

Spring has Sprung

Spring arrives today.

Here's a view of spring at JFK Plaza a/k/a LOVE Park in Philly.

(JFK Plaza, photo by iirraa)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Bon Mot

The Pew Research Center released it's latest Survey Report this week. According to it's Summary of Findings, Bush Approval Falls to 33%.

By far, the best part of the Summary is the finding that: "The single word most frequently associated with George W. Bush today is 'incompetent,' and close behind are two other increasingly mentioned descriptors: 'idiot' and 'liar.'"

Speaking of descriptions of Bush, Will Durst writes a piece for Working for Change, Impeachment? Hell no, impalement, waxing poetic on George W. Bush. He provides a few of his favorite words to explain why he's sick of the W. You really have to see it for yourself. It's the Liberal's version of "How Do I Hate Thee, Let Me Count the Ways" . . . .

Cartoon of the Day

*Mike Thompson, Detroit Free Press Posted by Picasa

Let Me Count the Ways

I've been a lawyer for over 20 years, so I have seen the evolution (of sorts) of women in the law. I have also covered the spectrum in my legal career, from law clerk to associate in a big firm, to partner in a small firm and now, to running my own practice. So, I can say that I've seen the law from all sides now.

The NYT has an article on the subject, Why Do So Few Women Reach the Top of Big Law Firms?, which is an interesting read. I think everyone acknowledges that the issue exists, but identifying the underlying reason is the quandary.

As I see it, the problem of women in the law is at once very complex, yet simple in many ways.

The overriding issue is that attorneys are generally very conservative by nature. As such, firms often have a "culture" or personality that the attorneys in a particular firm must fit. The large firm in which I practiced for about 5 years was a "white shoe firm" (read that: WASP). The firm culture was very strong. I could often assess a new attorney’s prospects at the firm within a year of hiring. In most cases, ability was presumed (many came from Ivy League law schools), so the real distinction was personality. There were those people who were otherwise very good lawyers, who just weren't the right fit. You knew early on that they were not long for the firm.

At that time, the number of female attorneys at the firm was small and the number of female partners was miniscule. There was certainly a fair amount of sexual discrimination. It was a lot more blatant then. I remember the head of the litigation department (which I was a part of) announcing that a woman could never make it as a litigator -– women just weren'’t "“tough enough."” However, even beyond that, the cultural differences between men and women can make that "fit" difficult. Even for a WASPy woman from an Ivy League school. She could never match the firm culture, because that culture (at least then) expected women not to work. It was amazing to me how many of the male attorneys (especially the partners) married "“traditional"” wives. Even if the wife had a professional background, she stopped working to raise her family. It'’s just what you did. The male attorney had an all-consuming career, so he "“needed"” someone at home to take care of things. I'’m sure that mentality is less so today. But the relevant word is less, it does still exist. As I said, lawyers are very conservative.

I do believe that there is another kind of perception problem in the male/female equation that is still pervasive. I think it is a big source of the problem with women in the law. That is, many of the "“traits"” that are considered essential for a successful career in the law are not those that are seen as appropriate in a woman. If a man is “aggressive,” that is a good thing; if a woman is, she is a "“bitch."”

An example of this is described in Advancement in Public Accounting: The Effect of Gender and Personality Traits (a professional field with similar gender problems), where a woman was denied partnership despite being the top income generator in the group. As the report notes, she was described as "overbearing, too aggressive and as using foul language. Price Waterhouse granted partnership to all other 87 nominees, all of them men and some of whom had been described in exactly the same terms that provided the basis for denying partnership. It appears that even though the quality of the woman's work met the expectations for the partnership position, she was not promoted because her behavior was undesirable for a female." I think this still happens quite a bit.

Sometimes even differences in voice inflection may contribute to the problem. While a woman may be speaking in what is, for her, a normal, but firm, tone, what the male may hear is "whining" or an accusatory tenor to her voice. This can impact his interpretation of what is being said in a negative way.

Of course, another contributing factor in the difficulties faced by women in a big firms (and even not so big firms) is the time/family issue. The law is a jealous lover, it can be all consuming. This makes it difficult for anyone to "have a life," let alone a woman trying to raise a family during the crucial partnership years.

However, I also think it is somewhat an a firm mentality issue, which requires a "loyalty test." That is, firms often express the problem for women raising a family and not being able to stay on partnership track, is that they cannot be sufficiently "committed" to the firm. What is really meant by this is that the firm requires that it must come first.

If you really want to get ahead in a big firm, you have to engaged in firm politics. Part of this is showing how committed you are to the firm. Participating in various firm activities and committees is part of it, spending lots of face time at the firm, etc. For many women, especially those with families, there is no contest. Family wins in the loyalty contest. They are willing to work hard and do what it takes to get ahead, but they are not willing to pretend that the firm is the most important thing in their lives. This is translated into a lack of commitment.

As the saying goes, perception becomes reality. I remember a partner at my old firm mentoring me about how to play the game to get ahead, using that adage as advice, years ago. This perceived lack of commitment becomes the reality for many women, and therefore reflects on partnership chances down the road.

Yet, this does not hold true for everyone. There are the few good women who manage to make it (way to go, Steph), even at a big firm.

There are myraid reasons why the road to success is so hard for women in the legal profession. Some are covered in the Times article. These are just a few of my personal observations, based upon my experience and those of some of my friends and colleagues.

Tags: ,

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Bloopers, Boners & Practical Jokes

Time for some Saturday Silliness.

Real Time with Bill Maher is particularly on target with his New Rules this week. Check out the video clip. I've watched it three times now & I'm still laughing.

Caption Answer:

What we have to look forward to from the President. For Three More Years.

Cartoon of the Day

*Larry Wright, Detroit News Posted by Picasa

This Section Intentionally Left Blank

I am a health law attorney, which means most of my practice is focused on corporate law in the field of health care. In other words, I'm basically a business lawyer for physicians. Not surprisingly, I do a lot of contract review and drafting.

The more I read about the issue of warrantless spying, I have this funny thought that keeps popping into my mind. I'm sure it's the warped humor part of my personality coming through.

That is, during the process of working through an contract, counsel for the parties often end up drafting and revising the document to accommodate the various issues that have been negotiated. This process continues for several versions, until all of the terms are agreed to by the parties and the contract is finalized. At this point, the document is put into final form to be signed by the parties. Sometimes during the negotiations, a whole section or paragraph of the agreement is deleted. When this happens, either the remaining sections are renumbered or the section is deleted, but the number of the Section remains, with the phrase "This Section intentionally left blank" inserted. This latter method avoids problems with having to change references to the Sections in the Agreement, when the paragraph numbers change.

It is this visual that strikes me with the latest assault on the Constitution. I wonder if we will re-number the Amendments to the Constitution or just insert "Intentionally Left Blank" when we eliminate the 4th Amendment.

The latest iteration on the warrantless spying story is about to be published in the upcoming US News & World Report. It will apparently discuss the Bush Administration plan to conduct warrantless seizures of homes and offices of suspected terrorists, in addition to the warrantless surveillance that we already know has occurred.

During an interview on Countdown (via Crooks and Liars), George Washington Law School Professor, Jonathan Turley said: "what that would constitute is to effectively remove the 4th Amendment from the U.S. Constitution."

Turley further cautions:

This is something to be very concerned about. These are not trivial matters. We've seen a sort of broad-based assault on basic Constitutional rights in our country since 9/11. We have a President who ordered electronic surveillance by the NSA without warrants in something that constitutes a federal crime. Congress isn't even holding serious hearings on that. So we have a system that has checks & balances but none of them seem to be working. At the same time, as we noted earlier, we have an attack on the Judiciary itself, all of this should present a picture of concern for any American.
The Countdown Transcript is at this Daily Kos post. Another Daily Kos post, Gutting the Fourth Amendment, has a partial transcript of Gonzales' testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which he declines to respond to a question whether any governmental searches of homes or offices had occurred since 9/11.

Turley is correct, these are not trivial matters. And this is not Trivial Pursuit. Are you concerned yet?

UPDATE: The US News & World Report article, The White House says spying on terrorism suspects without court approval is OK. What about physical searches?, is now on-line. Based upon the article, it is unclear whether physical searches did in fact occur. The veil of secrecy prevents certainty. However, the tenor of the piece suggests that they may well have.

The other interesting point mentioned in the article is that the Administration basically acknowledged the illegality of the searches conducted without a FISA warrant. That is, the FBI was told that if the source of the information obtained without prior authorization was requested by a court, the case was to be dropped. Why do that if it was appropriate in the first place? Right. You wouldn't.

Just Calm Down, Please

The NYT reports, in Police Memos Say Arrest Tactics Calmed Protest, that the use of "proactive arrests" at political demonstrations was successful in minimizing dissent.

As I read the article, I almost thought that it was a parody. It describes the use of "proactive arrests" by police as a means of controlling protestors:

In five internal reports made public yesterday as part of a lawsuit, New York City police commanders candidly discuss how they had successfully used "proactive arrests," covert surveillance and psychological tactics at political demonstrations in 2002, and recommend that those approaches be employed at future gatherings.

Let's think about this. Let's assume that there is a scheduled event that is expected to be accompanied by a protest. The police round up and arrest demonstrators in anticipation of the event. As a result, the subsequent protest will be quelled. This is akin to an "If A, then B" analysis. Similarly, such a "proactive" move by police would have the added benefit (and result) of toning down future protests.

Does anyone question whether Gestapo tactics like this would not have this effect? Of course they would. That's not the point. The question is, do we permit the police to prevent the possibility of dissent under our system of government?

In its efforts to be "fair and balanced," the article leaves the uninformed reader confused. What is the purpose of this story? To expose the illegal tactics employed by police?

Besides the fact that the tactics employed by the police are clearly improper, the problem that I have with this article is the manner in which it is reported. That is, the situation is explained though the dispassionate description of the "facts" by the reporter, with the only suggestion that these tactics may be illegal is presented through the words of the attorney for the protestors, who brought a lawsuit objecting to the police conduct.

The first suggestion that this is illegal comes from "Daniel M. Perez, the lawyer representing the people arrested at the animal rights demonstration, [who] argued that the police tactics 'punish, control and curtail the lawful exercise of First Amendment activities.'" This is followed by the response that "[t]he Police Department and the city have said that preserving public order is essential to protecting the civil rights of demonstrators and bystanders." You know, the we need to destroy the village to save it defense.

The use of the "he said/she said" style in this story could leave the reader uncertain as to the validity of the conduct used by the police. It is unclear if this really improper or is it yet another example of those protestors trying to cause trouble in the courts. You are not given a good sense of what the state of the law really is in this area. In the so-called "post 9/11 world" that we live in, this is especially important. In the name of "security," Government officials are presumed to be acting in our best interests to protect us. Many may feel that these protestors don't deserve the law's protection. Not providing the necessary clarity is a disservice to the reader, since the law is fairly clear in this particular area of law. You know, dealing with those old-fashioned constitutional concepts such as free expression of first amendment rights, freedom of assembly and probable cause.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

*Tom Toles, the Washington Post Posted by Picasa

Beannachtam na Feile Padraig

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Many people will be eating Irish food, such as Irish Stew and Corned Beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day. However, Corned Beef is not an Irish dish. It is what Americans think the Irish eat. A more traditional meal would be ham and cabbage or bacon and cabbage.

Some say that in Ireland on St. Patrick's Day the traditional green beer is prominent. However, in Ireland, many years ago, St. Patrick's Day was considered a holy day and Pubs were not open for business. There were no parades, no drinking or wearing green. Green was considered an unlucky color.

The importance of St. Patrick's Day in the U.S. can't be overstated. Even though it's Lent, so no meat allowed for Catholic's on Fridays, various Bishops are granting exceptions for St. Patrick's Day (including Philadelphia).

I'm not Irish, but I spent a lot of time during my younger years as an "adopted" member of an Irish family, so I was raised with traditional Irish music, stories and lore. Like any good Irish lass, I've been to Ireland. I've even been to Blarney Castle, although I wasn't able to get the "gift of gab." I'm afraid of heights, so I couldn't kiss the Blarney Stone, which was at the top of the Castle.

For another view of St. Patrick's Day, Landover Baptist Church, which provides a "True Christian Perspective" on the news, inquires "Does America Really Need Another Excuse for Catholics to Get Drunk?"

And, of course, I have to end with a few of my favorite Irish Toasts:

May your neighbors respect you,
Troubles neglect you,
The angels protect you,
And Heaven accept you.

May you have the hindsight to know where you've been
the insight to know where you are
and the foresight to know when you're going too far.

Here's to those who wish us well,
as for the rest, they can go to Hell!

In Heaven there is no beer, that is why we drink it here.

Here's to the memory of Matt McCauley, my "adopted" Irish father. Beannachtam na Feile Padraig!

Quote of the Day

"Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You didn't place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible."

-Jamie Raskin, American University law professor, testifying before the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, in response to a question about whether marriage discrimination against gay people is required by "God's Law."

(Via onegoodmove)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Smile, You're on Candid Camera

As a follow up to yesterday's post, Is Pacifism a Felony?, on the most recent revelation of governmental spying on anti-war activities, Keith Olbermann interviewed Ken Wizner, the attorney coordinating the national effort on FBI surveillance for the ACLU, on Countdown.

Olbermann begins the segment with: "Why let the terrorists destroy our freedoms when we can do it perfectly well ourselves?"

The Interview continues:

OLBERMANN: That draft FBI letter that-the one the bureau says was not included in the investigative file at any point, titled "International Terrorism Matters," with the Merton Center and other peace organizations as its content, is that the focus here? Is that the idea that everybody who is, who was opposed to governmental policy was in the same stew, didn't matter, pacifist, terrorist, anything with "-ist" in it?

WIZNER: You know, we have to look at the broader picture here also. I mean, we have released other documents, this is not the first one, where the FBI has labeled the Catholic Worker group as advocating a communist-like redistribution of resources, that talk about vegans, that talk about Quakers.

And when the administration says, with respect to the NSA spying that you led with, that we don't have to worry about it, this is a terrorist surveillance program, and therefore we don't need permission of courts, we don't need oversight from Congress, whose definition of terrorism are they using? Are they using this one?

If they're using this one, then the program may be a lot more troubling than people even think. I mean, terrorism is defined here so broadly, as anyone really opposing the administration's war policy, that I think it really highlights the need for both the courts and for Congress to play a little bit more of a role.

The full Transcript is available at: 'Countdown with Keith Olbermann,' and a portion of the video is here: ACLU on FBI Spying on Americans.

See also, a post at Daily Kos, Is Bush Spying on His Political Opponents?, for a discussion of the history of spying on disidents by the government, from Nixon to LBJ, and the need to be vigilant to prevent abuses. A good compilation of articles on this issue is also provided.


Cartoon of the Day

*Ann Telenaes, CBS News Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Is Pacifism a Felony?

As though we needed another example why warrantless wiretapping should never be permitted by the government. The Washington Post reports that the FBI Took Photos of Antiwar Activists in 2002. The article reports that "[a]n FBI report from November 2002 indicates that an agent photographed members of the Thomas Merton Center as they handed out leaflets opposing the impending war in Iraq. The report called the group a 'left-wing organization advocating, among many political causes, pacifism.'"

Just another example of the abuse the government is capable of when not monitored. In December of 2005, news of Pentagon spying on those Peacemongering Quakers was reported, among other anti-War groups, as I posted in Secrets and Spies.

I did a quick search of the federal criminal code with Westlaw, but couldn't find the crime of "Pacifism" listed anywhere. Maybe this another area that the President's executive powers permit him to add to the crime code during times of war?

The article also provides another example of irony. The article notes that "one of the leaflet distributors appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent' but that no other participants appeared to be from the Middle East." (Emphasis mine). Looking Middle Eastern was enough to target someone for surveillance by the government. And the Administration wonders why the American people might tend to be biased against those of Arab descent?


All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance. . .

--Give Peace A Chance - John Lennon & Paul McCartney


Cartoon of the Day

*Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune Posted by Picasa

He's an Idiot

The Colbert Report's Stephen Colbert Interviews Keith Olbermann and they discuss the O'Reilly/Olbermann feud, which has evolved to a Hatfield/McCoy level, among other things.

(Via onegoodmove)

Leader of the Pack

Helen Thomas, the Doyen of the Washington Press, as always, manages to speak the truth in a clear, forthright manner. The Nation has an article, Lap Dogs of the Press, in which Thomas reviews the role of the press in the run up to the Iraq War. She critiques the failure of the press to challenge the Administration:

Of all the unhappy trends I have witnessed--conservative swings on television networks, dwindling newspaper circulation, the jailing of reporters and "spin"--nothing is more troubling to me than the obsequious press during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. They lapped up everything the Pentagon and White House could dish out--no questions asked.

Reporters and editors like to think of themselves as watchdogs for the public good. But in recent years both individual reporters and their ever-growing corporate ownership have defaulted on that role. Ted Stannard, an academic and former UPI correspondent, put it this way: "When watchdogs, bird dogs, and bull dogs morph into lap dogs, lazy dogs, or yellow dogs, the nation is in trouble."

* * * *

My concern is why the nation's media were so gullible. Did they really think it was all going to be so easy, a "cakewalk," a superpower invading a Third World country? Why did the Washington press corps forgo its traditional skepticism? Why did reporters become cheerleaders for a deceptive Administration? Could it be that no one wanted to stand alone outside Washington's pack journalism?
Attytood has had an occasional series of posts on the future of journalism and print media (in particular the future of the Philadelphia Daily News with the sale of the paper pending), which delves into these issues in detail. My own interest in blogs, international and alternative media sources (such as the Guardian Unlimited, AlterNet and truthout), can be traced to the run up to the war in Iraq. Traditional media, be it newspaper or TV, did not report on (or question) the many areas in the Administration's push for war that were clearly bunk. It was astonishing to me at the time to see what wasn't reported at all in the press or what was slanted in favor of the Administration's position. It wouldn't surprise me if some Press Releases issued by the White House were printed in their entirety, without any independent investigation. Reporting the propaganda promulgated by the Administration was the order of the day for the press. Wrapped in a flag, of course, as was everything in that period of enforced patriotism.

I have to believe that a major contributing cause of the decline in the credibility/relevance of the press is due to the "lap dog"syndrome. A related factor is the marginalization of the press by the Administration, which adds credence to the diminished importance of the press in the view of the public.

The Nation article was adapted from Helen Thomas' forthcoming book, Watchdogs of Democracy? The Waning Washington Press Corps and How It Has Failed the Public.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

*David Horsey, Seattle Post Intelligencer Posted by Picasa

If I Only Had McCain

Barack Obama was the "Toast of the Town," or at least a hit of the annual Gridiron dinner in DC. He definitely can find a career in comedy. His speech is reprinted at Best of Gridiron: Obama, Lynne Cheney and Bush. Worth a chuckle, so check it out.

The Chicago Trib's Blog, The Swamp, also has an account of Obama and the Roast, including a take off song from the Wizard of Oz, "If I Only Had McCain," about the tiff between the two over ethics reform.

He had some good lines, for example: "You know, the Gridiron Club is an aging institution with a long, proud history, known today primarily for providing a forum for jokes.

"To some,'' he said, "that may sound like the Democratic Party."

Monday, March 13, 2006

Jesus Weeps

The Boston Globe has two articles on the decision of the Archdiocese of Boston to stop adoptions as part of Catholic Charities mission, as detailed in Catholic Charities stuns state, ends adoptions and Church's rift with Beacon Hill grows.

Rather than comply with the non-discrimination policies of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts regarding gays, the Church has decided to cease all adoptions. That is, the Church determined, "after much reflection and analysis, they could not reconcile church teaching that placement of children in gay homes is 'immoral' with Massachusetts law prohibiting discrimination against gays." The 42 member Board of Catholic Charities had unanimously voted to continue with the adoption policy (which included permitting children to be adopted by gays), but they were overruled by Church officials.

The Catholic Church of Boston has been involved finding homes for orphaned and needy children almost since it's inception there, according to Boston College historian Thomas O'Connor. However, the new Pope (you know, the one who was formerly a member of the Nazi party) declared in 2003 that same sex unions were verboten and adoption by gays was also a no-no.

Of course, they could have continued the mission of adoptions and given up the millions in aid that Catholic Charities receives annually from entities such as United Way, which have non-discrimination policies in place. Instead, they opted to totally halt all adoptions.

Blogger No Blood for Hubris said it well:

Now the church is letting us know that they'd rather have kids languish in foster homes than give up their phobias about homosexuality. Compassionate? Christian?

Meanwhile, the very same Catholic Church is still hiding their long history of harboring and cosseting pedophile priests who sexually abused defenseless children over decades.

Theme: protecting pedophile priests, that's ok. Cruelly abusing and mistreating kids in slave-like conditions, that's ok. Intruding into the private lives of adults, that's ok. Helping abused and neglected children find adoptive homes, not ok.
These are not the teachings of the Church I remember. It's a sad day to be a Catholic. Jesus would definitely not hang with this crowd.

The Countdown Begins

Fridge Art
Posted by Picasa

Cartoon of the Day

*Jeff Danziger Posted by Picasa

He's Not the Right Man

Paul Krugman provides some "straight talk" about John McCain, in his NYT column, The Right's Man, in which he tries to debunk the McCain Myth of Moderation.

Krugman's column is timely, in light of articles such as the one that appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, McCain status rising for '08?. Steven Thomma analyzes the political landscape for McCain, noting that "[t]he conventional wisdom of the moment - that McCain could win the general election but not the Republican nomination, because conservatives oppose him - may be changing." What is implicit, but not discussed in the piece, is the fact that McCain would benefit from Democratic and Independent voters in the general election. The article itself focuses on his repairing his image with the conservative contingent of the Republican party. He apparently already has his Democratic base locked.

Both sides need to reconsider McCain. As Krugman explains, he doesn't need a make-over. Rather, as he observes:

The bottom line is that Mr. McCain isn't a moderate; he's a man of the hard right. How far right? A statistical analysis of Mr. McCain's recent voting record, available at, ranks him as the Senate's third most conservative member.

* * * *

So here's what you need to know about John McCain.

He isn't a straight talker. His flip-flopping on tax cuts, his call to send troops we don't have to Iraq and his endorsement of the South Dakota anti-abortion legislation even while claiming that he would find a way around that legislation's central provision show that he's a politician as slippery and evasive as, well, George W. Bush.

He isn't a moderate. Mr. McCain's policy positions and Senate votes don't just place him at the right end of America's political spectrum; they place him in the right wing of the Republican Party.

And he isn't a maverick, at least not when it counts. When the cameras are rolling, Mr. McCain can sometimes be seen striking a brave pose of opposition to the White House. But when it matters, when the Bush administration's ability to do whatever it wants is at stake, Mr. McCain always toes the party line.

It's worth recalling that during the 2000 election campaign George W. Bush was widely portrayed by the news media both as a moderate and as a straight-shooter. As Mr. Bush has said, "Fool me once, shame on -— shame on you. Fool me -— you can't get fooled again."
My opinion of McCain has been voiced in The Company You Keep and Not the Real McCoy. McCain is a conservative all dressed up in moderate clothing.

Dick Polman, the political analyst for the Inquirer, also describes McCain and Bush: Politics' odd couple. He's at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference and he observes the delicate dance that McCain is engaged in, balancing the need to placate the conservatives while not alienating the moderates who are already in his corner. I just hope he's not a good dancer.

(For those with access to the NYT column, it can be found reprinted at the Economist's View)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Cartoon of the Day

*Tom Toles, The Washington Post

Mindless Musings

There were two pet-related articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer that caught my eye this week, for different reasons. This post is about my meanderings about these items. One nice, one not so much.

The first, SPCA owns up to a mistake in euthanizing rescued cat, tells the sad story about a cat that was accidentally euthanized by the Delaware County SPCA, and the staff then tried to cover it up. Last year, the Inquirer ran a number of stories detailing the serious problems with that shelter, including a Board of Directors with a bunker mentality. The shelter has made substantial improvements since then, with new Board members, hiring a part-time vet, etc.

The new director, Bill Vernon, discovered the cover up and contacted the pet's owners to tell them the truth. He should be commended for acknowledging the problem and taking responsibility for it. A pervasive Culture of Non-responsibility reigns today (promoted by those people currently occupying the White House), so it is refreshing to see someone step forward and accept responsibility. Especially in a situation like this, where you know that you've caused great pain by the mistake that occurred. It had to be very difficult for Vernon to contact the owners and confess the truth. But, he did the right thing anyway. Kudos to you.

The other article tells the unfortunate story of a 73 year old Chester County woman who is losing her home of 50 years to make way for a turnpike ramp. A new turnpike ramp will run her off the road says that the woman lived in an 1801 farmhouse, so I assume that the historic home will be demolished as well. A kennel run by Main Line Animal Rescue will also be displaced, which was providing income to the woman. The state is paying for the property (although they are still arguing over the value), but I wonder if the price includes her lost income. It should, since she no doubt won't be able to move to another location that could support the kennel.

However, the real point of interest for me was the fact that the kennel was run by Main Line Animal Rescue. We moved into our current home about 2 years ago. The house has a big fenced-in back yard, so we promised our daughter the long requested dog after the move. We wanted to get a rescue dog. Our cat is from Morris Animal Rescue, but they didn't have any small dogs when we started looking. We ended up using to adopt our dog, Ginger. They have a great site, which allows you to search for the pet of your choice by location. You can specify type of animal (e.g., dog), size and area that you live. A description of the pet, with pictures are provided and then you contact the shelter or rescue group directly. That's how we got Ginger (pictured above), who is great. She's not the Pomeranian that we thought that we were getting, but she's a good dog.

However, we found several pups listed with Main Line Animal Rescue and tried to contact them on several occasions, with no success. They never responded to our emails or phone calls, inquiring about puppies listed on their site. Ever. Our then 14 year old daughter was crushed. She wanted a puppy (and you know how patient kids are at that age). We would see a cute pup, send an email, follow up with a call and no response. Nothing. Not even, the pet is no longer available. Nothing. Rude is the nicest word I can use to describe my views of this group. So I had a guilty twinge of Schadenfreude when I read about the difficulties that this would cause the owners of Main Line Animal Rescue. Not the woman who owns the kennel or the animals. Just the people who run the Rescue.

Courteous treatment will make a customer a walking advertisement ~ James Cash Penney

Kiss You Kate

In the PA Senate race for Rick Santorum's seat, Daily Kos provides the good news that Kate Michelman has decided not to run as an independent, in Michelman won't make an independent bid, citing the Inquirer announcing the decision.

I had expressed my serious concerns about her possible entry into the race in Ditto. I concur with the sentiments expressed by Jonathan Singer of MyDD, in Michelman Drops Potential Indie Bid:

Would Kate Michelman have added to the race? Would she have made a good Senator? The answer to both of these questions is probably yes. Nevertheless, in the interest of increasing the likelihood that the Democrats win back the United States Senate in November, it's good to see that she will not make an independent bid and help split the Democratic vote against Rick Santorum, thus helping deliver the Senate Republican Conference Chairman another six years in Washington.
Michelman wrote an op-ed piece in today's Inquirer, Pro-choice leader chooses family over politics, in which she explains the valid reasons that led her to consider running. She states that despite her strong belief that the pro-choice movement needs to act because Roe is in substantial jeopardy, she has decided to stay out of the race because of family commitments.

For someone as committed to the cause as Michelman, that just doesn't make sense. Not that family isn't important, but the pro-Choice movement is who she is, it's a fabric of her personality. I assume that the political powers that be (read that: Ed) managed to convince her that she would be hurting the movement in the long run by splitting the vote. In fact, once the word got out that she was considering running as an independent, at least one politician accused her of being responsible for Santorum winning in the first place. See, Get this: Santorum can thank ex-NARAL boss. True or not then, it may well have been true this time around.

In any event, I'm thankful that she's sitting this one out. I'm sure her family will be happy to have her around more as well. So, it's a win-win for all.

Sunday Morning Silliness

If you're in the mood for trivia about the day you were born, try the Birthday Calculator. I especially like the breakdown of # of months, weeks, days old you are, along with the estimated date of conception.

(Via PSoTD )

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sandy D Sings

Daily News Blogger, Will Bunch, reports on a speech given by the dearly departed (from the Court, not life) Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, in Sandra Day O'Connor rips into GOP, DeLay, Cornyn, and warns of the "beginnings" of dictatorship.

Nina Totenberg of NPR aired a story about a speech that O'Connor gave at Georgetown University, stating: "In an unusually forceful and forthright speech, O'’Connor said that attacks on the judiciary by some Republican leaders pose a direct threat to our constitutional freedoms."

In concluding her report, Totenberg noted:

O'’Connor observed that there have been a lot of suggestions lately for so-called judicial reforms -- recommendations for the massive impeachment of judges stripping the courts of jurisdictions and cutting judicial budgets to punish offending judges. Any of these might be debatable, she said, as long as they are not retaliation for decision that political leaders disagree with

I, said O'Connor, am against judicial reforms driven by nakedly partisan reasoning. Pointing to the experiences of developing countries and formerly Communist countries, where interference with an independent judiciary has allowed dictatorship to flourish, O'’Connor said we must be ever vigilant against those who would strong-arm the judiciary into adopting their preferred policies. It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship she said, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings.
A transcript of the NPR report is at The Raw Story. The audio can be heard at NPR. The entire story/transcript is worth listening to.

Seeing how the country has evolved of late, there might be a vote in an important decision that O'Connor is regretting these days.