Monthly Archives: October 2009

Here comes that equivalency again

Listening to Tim Daly on Cspan’s Washington Journal, talking about an upcoming documentary he’s produced on the intersection of politics and celebrity. And the usual calls are coming in from outraged souls who find something wrong with actors et al being actual citizens and becoming engaged with the process. And that anger, as always, is directed at the Democratic celebrities (I’ve never seen it tossed about toward Republicans).

So – another little civics lesson for the angry ones. Celebrities actually come in various flavors and they hold political opinions. They are citizens and as such free to involve themselves in the glorious process.

Democrats’ celebrities come predominantly from the arts with a sprinkling of business names, and of those they tend to be people who have created their own fortunes. People like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Steve Jobs. And of course journalists, opinion writers and pundits.

GOP celebrities come predominantly from business and media (jounalists, pundits and opinion writers); the top CEO’s along with bank and financial service executives; corporate lawyers, and a sprinkling of celebrities from the arts.

But whenever the subject comes up, it seems the only celebrities identified as such and worthy of discussion are . . . oh, go ahead, you can take it from here.

Good morning

daisyThis is the 24th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan

Good morning

Ask APThis is the 23rd day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan

and President Smith takes the stage . . .

donnabIt’s opening night for November by David Mamet and Donna sits on President Danher set a few hours before curtain. And the president himself looks just right, dontcha think? Break a leg guys. Lookin’ good!


We are saved


Oh. My. God.

The Mother Jones’ blog has another one of those odd stories about an extreme organization (one that still manages to be invited into the mainstream dialogue. By NPR. And cable news.) It’s about a very paranoid right wing activist who is afraid, very afraid. Because a report by GAO suggested that  Homeland Security might want to look into a backup plan in case the swine flu epidemic caused too many millions of people to be at home and playing video games at the same time – resulting in a possible crash of the system (or whatever – there are thousands of people in government who worry about these sorts of things apparently).

Well, this guy – William Gheen – saw right through that. There was no doubt – Obama was going to take over the internets!!!! Activist that he is, Mr. Gheen went right to work to save us all.

“[Gheen] is going to set up alternative channels to help get its message out in the event of an Internet blackout.moving to create a phone bank that can be staffed with employees and volunteers to reach our supporters during such an emergency and attack on free speech.”

Well, that ought to do it!

Reprise: United Breaks Guitars

My dear god – at this very hour, MSNBC is all excited:  they have discovered a really really cool music video! Really!

See this singer flew somewhere on United? And then, when he got there his, his, his guitar -oh my god – his guitar was BROKEN? And get this! He wrote a SONG about it!

Yup. He sure did – last year. And it’s been one of my favorites as well, ever since Dave Carroll created his delightful song in the spring of ’08 and posted it on You Tube where, along with about six million others, I’ve watched it.

MSNBC : If it happened, we’ll get around to it at some point.

If this is  new to you, enjoy…

There’s a follow up video as well, and it’s pretty good, but the original is still unparalleled.

It should have been Ned Lamont

lamont_narrowweb__300x340,0Been enjoying Nate Silver’s site a lot this morning. Plenty of good reading.  One story in particluar caught my eye because I’m becoming a bit fixated on Joe Lieberman, who has really ticked me off since he pulled his stunt in ’04. The story sports a really good headline.  Somebody Buy Joe Lieberman A Puppy. (Kind of made my morning.)

He examines a list of reasons why a senator might be obstructive on the public option and finds the usual suspects absent in Lieberman’s case. So why? What’s his motive?

“What Joe Lieberman wants, in all probability, is attention. He wants Harry Reid to have to stand up and say things like : “I don’t have anyone that I’ve worked harder with, have more respect for, in the Senate than Joe Lieberman.” He wants face time on Meet the Press. He wants to make liberals feel some pain — especially those who tried to get Ned Lamont elected in his place. He wants everyone to know how maverick-y he is.”

(Of course, face time on Meet the Press is out of the question because President McCain is booked solid through the end of the year.)

Silver then gets a bit more serious, and goes on to examine the possible outcomes, at least one of which could precipitate the door closing on the public option. He could sink Democrat’s 50-year pursuit of health care reform. Way to go Joe.  Bet Al Gore’s proud.

UPDATE:  Just plucked out this tidbit at Dependable Renegade and I’ll admit I have not run it thru The Google, but I’m going to go with it.

“Then again, Hadassah Lieberman is a lobbyist for Big Pharma . . . “

There oughta be a law

liebermanSome would say that this chart shows Joe Lieberman to the be the very model of a centrist. Ah, but I must disagree. I believe it shows Lieberman to be a bottom-sucking smug opportunist (and the Senator most in need of a face lift*).

In 2004 Connecticut Democrats tossed him out in their primary, so he went all second-grade on them, put his fingers in his ears, stuck his tongue out (wagging it a bit) and said ‘oh yeah? I’ll show you!!!’. And then he ran as an Independent so that the Republicans in CT could elect him. And they did. And he’s still sticking that wrinkled old man tongue out – at  the very party that nominated him to be Vice President of the United States. I suppose we can now count that as a near miss. * For god’s sake Joe, do not go to the guy who did Tom DeLay. Awful job.

Good morning

wildimagesThis is the 22nd day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan

Maybe this will help (Probably not)

Here’s a little something for those-who-cannot-see.

Across this great land, as would be expected, health care delivery and performance vary a great deal. Plans differ, some have more government, some have less. Some cover most of the people, some have shameful statistics. So thanks to the Commonwealth Fund, here is the story wrapped up in a nice little picture.


Go to the website by the way and have some fun – they’ve got the data in all sorts of perfectly legible formats. Sure nice to see my native New England doing such a uniformly good job.

It’s the same thing

Today Glenn Beck, the staggering new intellect of the right, announced on his radio show that his newsletter now has 100K subscribers and “that’s more than The New York Times folks!”

Eh, so he’s off by a little. Let’s go to the numbers:

The New York Times trails in circulation only to USA Today and The Wall Street Journal . .  . In March 2009, the paper reported a circulation of 1,039,031 copies on weekdays and 1,451,233 copies on Sundays.

Perhaps this is a cool time to repeat a few numbers from a previous post about the notion of equivalency seen so often on cable news:

Cable news (except for FOX) seems to believe that whenever they cite a publication that is perceived to be liberal, they must also cite a publication perceived to be conservative.

The Washington Post – A publicly traded company
Daily audience 1,599,900

The Washington Times – A privately held company owned by the Rev. Sun Young Moon
Daily audience 83,511

The Weekly Standard – a privately held company
Can’t find circulation numbers, even at their own website, so to keep it fair(ish)
National Review – a privately held company
Weekly circulation 183,000

Time Magazine – A publicly traded company
Weekly circulation 3,400,000

May I again draw the reader’s attention to which of these publications thrive in the free market and which are rich men’s hobbies.

Because nothing else is happening

Headline today in The Washington Times:

EXCLUSIVE: Democratic donors rewarded with W.H. perks

In other news, Elvis is still dead.

Good morning

ARLINGTON BURIALThe tenth hour, the twenty-first day,  the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

Sound and fury?

From the same NYT story as below, the actual viewership numbers show that FOX attracts approximately three times as many viewers in those prime time slots. O’Reilly at 8pm is on his way to a million viewers which is a huge number in cable news; CNN and MSNBC numbers are in the 200-300,000 range. All this only represents a unique subset of the overall viewing public, meaning they cannot be taken to reflect the larger public.  The figures may only mean that more conservatives watch cable news, which is quite possible since conservatives as a whole are older than the rest of the population.

There’s really no hope

NY Times reporting today that CNN continues to lose audience – in pretty big numbers and it appears the blinders are still on, not only at CNN but at NYT as well. Because the Times says:

“Three of its four shows between 7 and 11 p.m. finished fourth and last among the cable news networks.. . The results demonstrate once more the apparent preference of viewers for opinion-oriented shows from the news networks in prime time. “

Well, that’s quite a leap. And I believe it’s dead wrong. People who watch news over Dancing with the Stars are interested in news. They want competent and informative news shows with real reporting. And three hours of Wolf Blitzer every day chases audiences away before prime time and they just don’t come back. I would expect even Wolf to get tired of himself.

But I guess all that is still okay because they have that cool countdown clock and breaking news full time.

Good morning

cliffimagesThis is the tenth hour  – of the twentieth day – of the ninth year – of the war in Afghanistan

Cannot help myself

IMG_6805 rev

A few of the grands. And they are grand indeed. Sean and Syd sure have that smile thing down.

Awful news

Shit. American soldiers dying in double digits today in Afghanistan. Also three DEA agents. This is going to be awful enough. Dear god, do we really believe that we can address the drug problem in the heroin capital of the friggin’ planet? If that’s part of the plan, we’ll never ever get out of there and thousands more will die. I am saddened and fearful.

Another word on drug enforcement – we are spread across the entire western hemisphere fighting other people’s wars right now. And in 40 years, it’s only gotten worse. Just stop it.

UPDATE: CNN tells me DEA is  all over the world and has been for years. So the failures are more glaring. And by the way, it’s not failure of the agency itself. It’s the failure of a nation to find the political will to come to terms with the fact that drugs and users will always be with us no matter what is done. And leaving the control of it in the hands of criminals is, in itself, criminal. Regulated de-crimilization with strong sentences for violations would be beneficial to us in more ways than even I can count on a particularly wordy day – from fewer crimes, fewer prisons, police freed up to attend to other matters, healthier children, less fear in the inner cities. Obviously any steps we take will never cure it all. But this one is a no brainer and the political class is just afraid to deal with it.

From one who was there . . .

Headed to the library shortly to return a pile of books, some of which I read and some of which I did not. Among them was Richard Haass’ War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars. Terrific book by the way.

Haass served Republican administrations from 1989 to 2003 when he left to become president of the Council on Foreign Relations. In other words, he was there.

I plucked (go ahead, call it cherry picked – that would not be inaccurate) a few of his comments about the second Iraq war, ‘the war of choice’.

First, he offers a few words about the status of US foreign policy in early 2001:

“The result of all this [containment, sanctions] was that by the end of the Clinton administration, the Iraq situation didn’t seem all that alarming, especially when judged against the rest of the international situation and the challenges facing the U.S. When the forty-second president sat down with the president elect in January 2001, Bill Clinton briefed George W. Bush on the national security challenges. He named in order of priority Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaida, the absence of a Middle East peace, the nuclear stand off between India and Pakistan, Pakistan’s ties to both the Taliban and Al Qaida, and North Korea. Only then did Clinton mention Iraq, “

And some of his thoughts as that war wound into its fifth year, about the costs to us of the War in Iraq:

“US military forces that have been tied up in Iraq have not been available elsewhere . . .it will take a generation to replace the equipment and maybe longer to recover from the personnel costs . . . Iraq [however] absorbed the most precious of resources; the time and attention of senior policy makers. . . .Iran has now emerged as the principle external force inside Iraq . . . U.S. credibility has suffered throughout the world and anti-Americanism has increased.” Also “the second Iraq war, a classic war of choice, served to narrow America’s choices.”

He then summed up his observations:

“George W. Bush inherited a robust economy, a budgetary surplus, a rested military and, even after 9/11, a world largely at peace and well-disposed toward the U.S. He handed off to his successor a recession, a massive deficit and debt, a stretched and exhausted military, two wars, and a world marked by pronounced anti-Americanism. I am hard pressed to find another set of back to back presidential transitions in which so many of the basic features of the domestic and international landscapes changed so dramatically for the worse.

How did they do it?

Quite remarkable that this nation fought and won World War II (as well as WWI) bravely and valiantly without the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.

In 1962 JFK concluded his speech to the nation about the grave nuclear missile crisis in Cuba with these words: Thank you and good night.”

In 2001 GWB concluded his speech to the nation on the day after 9/11 with these words: “As we have been assured, image009 (2)neither death nor life, nor angles nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height or depth, can separate us from God’s love. May he bless the souls of the departed. May he comfort our own. And may he always guide our country. God bless America.”

But they have that countdown clock!

Today, the Columbia Journalism Review reminds us of Jon Stewart’s devastating takedown of CNN (as a follow up on a previous one, wherein CNN ‘fact checked’ Saturday Night Live. The context was a column about Howard Kurtz (MediaWhore-CNN;WaPost) who utterly fails in his purported area of expertise. Which inevitably led to CNN itself, the larger media . . . you get the picture.

They note that  “Into this vacuum has stepped Jon Stewart. Young people have embraced his show precisely because he’s willing to take on cable news in a way our top media reporters are not.”

Good morning

3_daiseys_693x555This is the tenth hour – of the nineteenth day – of the ninth year – of the War in Afghanistan.

Mmmm, that was good

Just watched ENDGAME on PBS’ Masterpiece Contemporary – 90 minute drama about the mostly unknown behind-the-scenes negotiations that led to the official start of South Africa’s negotiations between President DeClerk and the African National Congress. The production was focused on those early negotiations, and it was wonderful. And beautifully acted, tightly directed and full of dramatic tension. And,  of courses, very emotional, especially at the end. Wonderful,  just wonderful. And William Hurt with a South African accent is most entertaining.

The best part – the updates after the drama ended, telling us  where all these people went etc. They noted that when IRA in Ireland wanted to enter into talks with Britain, they turned to the ANC for counsel. And today, the IRA is counseling Hamas on how to go forward with their negotiations. Great examples of  ‘paying it forward’.

Good afternoon

sssimagesThis is the fourteenth hour – of the eighteenth day – of the ninth year – of the War in Afghanistan.

Another good thing

flagMy ‘handyman’ who is also my painter and carpenter and many other things, is here rehanging some bookshelves. His wife works with him and they are very nice people. And I am quite certain his income is  at least double my own. Now that’s America folks.

Been concerned about this . . .

Lifted entirely from Eschaton today:

I don’t know enough to really know, but I do worry about the dominos falling…

Capmark Financial Group Inc., one of the nation’s largest commercial-real-estate lenders, plans to file for bankruptcy as soon as this weekend, a person familiar with the situation said.

The much-expected move underscores the deep problems in the business-property market. After suffering from the collapse in residential mortgages, U.S. banks face steep losses from commercial real-estate loans. Capmark has originated more than $10 billion in commercial real-estate loans, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

This was part of GMAC.

Good morning

lilac-1This is the eighth hour -of the seventeenth day – of the ninth year – of the War in Afghanistan

Had to happen

Word today that Hulu logois saying they will probably begin charging for content in 2010. And I’ve barely discovered how to get the good stuff. So long as the networks themselves don’t charge . . . but of course they eventually will. They will have to. Revenue has to come from somewhere.

Good morning

poppies2This is the tenth hour

of the sixteenth day

of the ninth year

of the War in Afghanistan

There. All legal now.

Took my ancient father to a  dermatologist today – a guy he’s seen for years. There is to be a biopsy. For this, because it it so for anytime they approach a patient with anything resembling a needle, a ‘consent form is required’. Two, in fact. And require that he sign both. And  I say let me sign for him, he is blind. I do it all the time. And they say, do you have power of attorney. And I said, no, but I”m his daughter and I”ve been here with him many times. And that a [my name] for [his name] should do it. (Hello! You know me!) Uh, uh. Not good enough. He must be the one. So with great difficulty, he produces some totally unintelligible marks on a page, in the wrong place. And they accept that.

A few moments later, I say that I don’t imagine its’ exactly legal when someone signs something they are unable to read, and suggested they might want to get new blank forms and read all three pages of small type to him before he scratches again.

And  that is why I piss people off .