Monthly Archives: September 2009

He can’t help himself

The Daily Rush_Page_1Remarkable man, our Mr. Limbaugh of Palm Beach (I think that came from Charlie Pierce – the ‘of Palm Beach’ part).

Psychiatrist, economist, climatologist, biologist, sociologist, physicist, criminologist, lawyer, constitutional scholar, historian – yes, all these things reside in the wonder that is our Mr. Boucy-Bouncy. The author of the 15,000 hour rant. A marvel to behold.

But above all – and because his extensive expertise permits him – he is a judge.  A judge – unafraid to confront what needs confronting, so all-knowing as to need no evidence.  Anxious to get to the sentencing part!

He has maintained his seat on the high bench for yo these many years. Unchallenged, unmatched. But I listened a bit today and I thought – has the guy begun to jump the shark at last ? ? ?

UPDATE: The phrase, “Mr. Limbaugh of Palm Beach” did not originate with Charles Pierce, although I consider my error totally forgivable since it SOUNDS like Charles Pierce. The phrase comes from Rod Dreher which I should have known since I cited his quote earlier.

And Jane sent this

Speaking of health reform, she notes that some things never do change. From 2006. Wonder if the NY Times ever checks their own archives?

Let’s laugh a little

Rhonda sent this. Cuz we all know how hard it is to clean the computer screen on the inside. (And it reminds me I need more categories)

Lazarus getting health care after all?

This is really interesting for those of you who give a damn about this health care thing. The Kaiser Family Foundation has been tracking attitudes on the subject and this is their sixth report. It’s here., and they provide additional links to  the details. Their summary:

“The September Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds that public support for health reform ended its summer slide, reversed course and moved modestly upwards in September.  The survey also finds initial majority support for taxing expensive health plans and imposing fees on insurers to pay for reform.

Fifty-seven percent of Americans now believe that tackling health care reform is more important than ever—up from 53 percent in August.  The proportion of Americans who think their families would be better off if health reform passes is up six percentage points (42% versus 36% in August), and the percentage who think that the country would be better off is up eight points (to 53% from 45% in August).

Substantial majorities of Americans continue to say they back individual reform components designed to expand coverage, including an individual mandate (68%), an employer mandate (67%) and an expansion of state programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (82%).

When it comes to paying for reform, two ideas now under discussion among policymakers garner initial majority support.  Fifty-seven percent of the public say they would support “having health insurance companies pay a fee based on how much business they have” and 59 percent would support “having health insurance companies pay a tax for offering very expensive policies.”  In both cases, Republicans are evenly divided while Democrats and political independents tilt in favor.

The September poll, the sixth in a series designed and analyzed by the Foundation’s public opinion survey research team, examines voters’ specific health care issue interests and experiences and perceptions about health care reform.”

The obituary for the public option has been written time and again over the last two months, perhaps a bit prematurely.

Another poll

att7533491This is really quite confusing. This one is an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll and there are conflicting results within the same poll. The story is here.

From the story:

“On the one hand, the American public overwhelmingly favors a choice between getting insurance coverage either through the private market or a government run option. Indeed, 76 percent of respondents said it was either “extremely” or “quite” important to “give people a choice of both a public plan administered by the federal government and a private plan for their health insurance.”

In the same NBC/WSJ poll, only 33 percent of respondents said they thought the president’s health care plan, to the extent they knew of it, was a “good idea;” 32 percent said it was a bad idea.”

The story draws the conclusion that the public is confused because of Obama’s messaging. While that is partly true, I think the public is confused because the public is always confused. And who wouldn’t be. Once again, thank you  to CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC and FOX.

Just astonishing

Here are some headlines derived from the same reporting about the latest NY Times poll on public option.

Sept 23 story at NY Times Prescriptions blog.

Times Poll: Public Leans Toward Obama Over Republicans on Health Care

Sept 24 story on NY Times Politics page:

In Poll, Public Wary of Obama on War and Health

Aggregator headline at Google News, referencing the same NY Times poll, this one linking to the TimesSept 23 report (above).

Times Poll: Americans Strongly Favor Public Option

Still thinking about SCOTUS . . .

Elena Kagan, US Solicitor General

Elena Kagan, US Solicitor General

. . . and still afraid of the decision coming down pretty soon. It’s the case about the anti-Hillary documentary from last election cycle which was produced by a corporation. How the Court rules will determine if corporations can expand their financial support of individual candidates and advertise on their behalf.

This is a big issue for me. Campaign finance – more than any other abuse of our electoral system is one that has the most potential to damage us permanently. Because once corporate money is able to drive the discussion, it will drown out all discussion of common and civic values.

In this excerpt from a NY Times editorial of September 23 on the subject, I loved what our Solicitor General said (empasis mine):

g[corporations] may own property and have limited rights to free speech. They can sue and be sued. They have the right to enter into contracts and advertise their products. But corporations cannot and should not be allowed to vote, run for office or bear arms. Since 1907, Congress has banned them from contributing to federal political campaigns — a ban the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld.

In an exchange this month with Chief Justice Roberts, the solicitor general, Elena Kagan, argued against expanding that narrowly defined personhood. “Few of us are only our economic interests,” she said. “We have beliefs. We have convictions.” Corporations, “engage the political process in an entirely different way, and this is what makes them so much more damagin,” she said.

Good for them

AMEDSX3CANGI3APCA63P9HGCAB1R9YVCAA3UPXLCANQZ2YXCA1U8VH5CA2XK6L6CAMS29MMCA69I16MCASJ8BDICADC92WSCA0WK15MCAKGV47CCA883NK8CAD3BYOVCAG4Z12ECA0A03K4CA21NSN6CARYQTF5Some companies do act in the best interests of the public good: According to McClatchy today, some large utility companies aren’t liking the stance on climate change being taken by the US Chamber of Commerce.

From the story:

Exelon, the nation’s biggest operator of nuclear power plants, said Monday that it’s quitting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of the business group’s lobbying against climate and energy legislation.

Last week, two other large energy companies, Pacific Gas and Electric and PNM Resources, also quit the Chamber over objections to its stance on climate change.

Marching forward, ready or not

Differences in language forms among young people – observed while using Facebook. These seem to be pretty universal there, so we may find they are full blown language evolutions – which is fun to watch. (Got any other examples? Drop them in the comments.)

OLD USE: Jane is excited about the cast party.
NEW USE: Jane is so excited for the cast party.

OLD USE: Jane just graduated from Midtown High School.
NEW USE: Jane just graduated Midtown High School.

Isn’t it nice?

That we seem to have uncoverd and moved in on two serious and credible terrorist plots underway in the U.S, people have been arrested and Atty General Eric Holder has not found it necessary to hold a breathless chest thumping press conference.

Nattering nabobs of negativity

That was his most famous composition ever – back in the heyday of the Nixon Administration. Too bad he put that alliterative masterpiece into the mouth of such as Spiro Agnew. But the man knew language and wrote a great column on the subject. RIP William Safire.

Ironically, I now head to a funeral. RIP Susan.

Who can live on a stinkin’ salary?

Friend Jane sent a link to this story about how congress critters manage to survive these days. An excerpt:

“The public might be forgiven for thinking the days are gone when lobbyists and special interests could pay for a lawmaker’s cross-country golf outings. After all, both the House and Senate in 2007 responded to a spate of scandals by banning members of Congress from accepting gifts of any value from lobbyists or the companies that hire them.

“But those reforms preserved a major loophole:  Leadership PAC’s, which have far looser rules and get far less scrutiny than campaign committees. At first, only a few rising stars in Congress had them. Now, 70 percent of the members do. So do a dozen former members.

“In the past three election cycles, lobbyists and special interests poured $355 million into these funds, making them the second-largest source of political money for sitting members of Congress.”

A dozen former members have Leadership PAC’s ???  Dear god.

Good friends, good dems

Saturdayed and steve night, the county Democrats opened a new and bigger and better headquarters. And two of  my bestest friends in the world were the moving force behind it all. We’re all real proud of them. Nice going guys.

Blog readers are fickle

So eye strain or not, I had better be sure to keep those daily posts coming. Big dive in visitors over weekend. Nevertheless, I’m stunned to report 993 visits to date. That is the smallest of change of course, but I am the newest of bloggers and have yet to explore how one drives traffic. Shands clappingo, good news and bad news.  And that is life. And so – as I require positive reinforcement and someone must do it – kudos to me. 993 visits. Goal is now to speed things up; it took three weeks to get that number and most of them are no doubt friends and family. Defined goal? The second thousand in TWO weeks.

At least he ins’t Katherine

Buchanan, right, with radio host and genuinely nice fellow, Cliff Roles.

Buchanan, right, with radio host and genuinely nice fellow, Cliff Roles.

It is my misfortune to be represented in the Congress of the United States of America by one Vern Buchanan. His singular lack of influence in that very congress was measured recently in a very fine story in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, which I referenced here.

I just got a flyer from old Vern.  It is a quarter-fold flyer in full color, very well designed, and printed on expensive matte finish paper, which appears to be a specialty size. I spent 20 years buying printing and paper and am confident in my judgement about this. It’s titled “Constituent Service Guide” and that’s legitimate. My previous rep, good old Katherine Harris, sent them out A LOT, especially when someone she liked was running for an office. But I’m just wondering if Vern ever considering a somewhat less expensive production. Now, I could be wrong about the expense – it’s entirely possible that the House offers a template service and has contracted a great price for paper and printing. (Which would be an intelligent way to handle these things in a cost efficient manner). But I just don’t like Vern very much, so either way, bleh.

I know no one wants to talk about it any more

iraqBut soldiers continue to die. And other people too. This wonderful resource,, is so essential that in my own time visiting it – since April ’01 – it has experienced a few server crashes. Traffic gets heavy. In fact, at present they are trying to recover from a huge crash and are slowly rebuilding. But even in its somewhat more slender form, it continues to do the very best job that can be done in tracking the statistical picture in America’s two current wars.

Over the last few years, they’ve expanded into something of a ‘headline service’ as well. Here are a few from today, September 27. These are just today. Reporting goes on – it just doesn’t seem to have much reach.

Wartime Soldier, Conflicted Mom

Can Former Iraqi Baathists in Syria Ever Go Home?

Christian doctor kidnapped near Mosul

Roadside bomb wounds two policemen in northern Mosul

Gunmen kill off-duty policeman in central Mosul

Suicide car bomber kills three policemen, wounds eight near Ramadi

I have a wise relative

yeats like gene2

William Butler Yeats

He is my brother-in-law. He looks like William Butler Yeats. I often call him in distress over such essential things as the Supreme Court and how it’s about to legitimize corporate control of the political life of this nation. And he is very good at calming me. He talks about cycles, and pendulums. And he is right. But cycles and pendulums describe our history. I worry about our future. I sure hope Gene is right.

I know it’s old


And by ‘old’ I mean that the agony and angst over this was more than 72 hours ago. And, as with the RUN KIDS, HIDE, THE PRESIDENT IS COMING speech of two entire weeks ago, once again the Republic is really and truly threatened. It is under assault because schoolchildren sang a song. Where will it end?

May I add my two cents? Children somewhere sang a song. A teacher or a visitor or, for all I care, Obama’s senior prom date led them in that song.  Perhaps I can comfort the terrified by reminding them that it was not The State leading them in the song. Whoever the woman was, she was not The State. Whole different thing.

I was down and out, but not old Wolf

Any number of interesting things have been happening during my enforced hiatus.  Among my favorites, because it played beautifully into the CNN stereotype happened Thursday:

wolf blitzerThe ever-breathless Wolf  Blitzer, he of the respiratory reflex that causes him, while exhaling, to say “the BEST political coverage on television”.  Him. (His voice makes my teeth hurt.) Lead story at 4pm? A CNN reporter was teargassed while covering the small protest at the G20 Pittsburgh meeting. I knew it was Pittsburgh and the G20, but Wolf was too breathless to mention that part. Because “our live CNN reporter was TEARGASSED”.  There was endless video of the reporter, of the sidewalk under the reporter and of the brick wall near the reporter. I feel better for having seen that.

this is hard

Continuing my vacation from the  computer – with brief forays only – to give the strained eyes a bit more rest. This is hard. But it will get better. And meanwhile, harvesting all sorts of blog goodies to share. Hang in.

Inconvenient eye strain

eyesSeems I’m experiencing computer eye strain – I have all the symptoms. Wikipedia says there’s something called the 20-20-20 Rule: every 20 minutes turn and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Makes sense and I shall try to remember to do that. Meanwhile, letting eyes rest a bit.

Uh oh, here comes the lazy again

PC060016It’s been the oddest of weeks and it began on Saturday morning. People have gotten sick, people have died and people have struggled with these things. People will gather tomorrow and again they will gather on Monday. And then, please god, the offenses will be over for a while.

And Tom DeLay dances again tonight on the teevee. I will skip it. Was planning to catch up on my reading at Iraq casualties dot org, but their site crashed (today?). Apparently the world shares my happy mood tonight.

Ah yes, the rest of the story

Little Green Footballs tells us that the ACORN couple who were videotaped? They listened to the “pimp” and the “prostitute” and next day one of the ACORN staffers contacted the authorities to report possible human trafficking. I expect the Drudges of this world to report only part of the story but dear lord, why can’t NBC or CNN or any of these operations with a gajillion staffers ferret out the ‘rest of the story’? The ACORN staffer of course was fired anyway. Someone always has to take the fall.

So, it’s not just an urban legend

I’ve been hearing anecdotal stories for months now about people who challenge banks when they attempt forclosure.  The stories have it that the homeowner says something like “Show me the mortgage” or “Show me my signature”.  And it makes a great story, yet it always seemed to me to have a big hole in it; the record of payment would be de facto acknowledgement by the mortagee of  the existence of the contract. Or so I thought. A front page story on Huff Post tonight says that homeowners are indeed getting relief using the tactic. Although it sometimes only buys the homeowner time, it very often contributes to a willingness of the mortgage holder to negotiate new terms. And many signed mortgage papers indeed cannot be located; the banks were in too much of a hurry to flip the loan.

It matters. It really does.

They'd be weeping if they weren't drinking

They'd be weeping if they weren't drinking

Well, this thing is everywhere since my niece sent it to me this morning, but I’d feel bad if you missed it altogether. Best line at the end, so wait for it.

so old, it’s new

Some years ago, Bush announced plans to build a missile shield in Eastern Europe to protect – well, I’m not sure who it was supposed to protect or against what. There was the usual talk of  Iran. And now apparently Russia, the toothless bear, is after us again. Western Europeans, in whose back yard these whatevers were going to be installed/built didn’t much like the idea; they were pretty sure it made them a nice plump target for whoever was doing the targeting. And now, the president-who-is-not-Bush has decided the damn thing makes no sense whatever.  Drudge has gotten the real story into circulation – we have abandoned Europe. That they are pretty pleased has nothing to do with it.

If Steven Wright did videos

Mr. dietyA late start on my day was made even worse when some surfing led me to Mr. Diety. Be prepared to waste what’s left of your own morning.

Tired of stupid moves

x83137466167475354Why do we still have a CIA?  They are bunglers and have done astonishing and illegal things to American citizens. They are sadly inept, often incompetent and on occasion delusional – frequently with disastrous results. They missed the Iranian revolution in ’79.  They completely missed the collapse of communism in ’89. They missed what direction the  Afghan warriors and the Taliban would take in the late 80’s after the we followed the Soviets out of town. They knew absolutely that Saddam had weapons of mass destruciton. The Bay of Pigs would liberate Cuba in ’62. Iran would never be a liberal democracy unless we removed their democratically elected leftist President in ’53. They also missed a little event in September of ’01. And my personal favorite – they made Guatemala safe for United Fruit. The CIA has been the shinny, expensive vehicle we’ve riden for half a century to bring real democracy to the rest of the world. All too often, and especially in the beginning, it was a toy of the lads who came out of Groton and Yale ready to be ‘real men’. And they were naive and ignorant of the world. But they had bright ideas and sparkling toys that dazzled the weary lawmakers. They convinced Presidents that they were IT, and regularly lied to those very Presidents. None of us knows how many trillions they’ve cost us. How can this make any sense at all?  But, but,  but . . . universal health care is communism!

Don’t ask who

A big pet peeve – the perversion of a new rule (put in place in response to ethical problems) to the point where pre-new-rule situation continues to prevail but under cover of following the rule. (If you can follow that.) From a  Times story today about the Letterman show:

“One longtime late-night production executive, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of associations with competing programs, said . . .”

How does what he said add anything to the story unless we can know who  he is. . . from the way it’s worded, sounds like story is quoting the competition. If so, say so fer god’s sake!

More family cuz I’m in the mood

Peg and Ed, 2005

Peg and Ed, 2005

Today I will visit my father. He is 97 years old. My mother died last spring at 96. Had she lived just 11 more months, they would have celebrated their 70th anniversary. Both sets of grandparents celebrated well beyond their 50th anniversaries and at least one set of great grandparents made it to 64 years. Because I never married, I will no doubt die young.