Monthly Archives: December 2009

Good afternoon

I’m busy but not too busy to remember that today is the 76th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

Deep questions

The ‘process’ of Christmas brings these questions to mind:

Why does not the Post Office locate collection boxes in the pedestrian area in front of every library in the country? We would then always know where to find a collection box.

Perfect size

Why do supermarkets offer only the traditional cart (large enough to hold a typical lawnmower) or the hand basket with its skinny handles which cut right through the skin when tasked with carrying anything heavier than bread? Isn’t it time they caught up with the demographics of the nation and offer a nice medium-sized cart on wheels?

Why are my hands bleeding and two nails near death because I opened some store packaging?

Good morning

The GOP members of the Senate – both on the floor and on tv – seem to be using the same speech. I guess they wanted to let their staffs go home for the holidays and figured one speech for all would work just fine. Lord knows, the media wouldn’t notice.

And the other day Chris Matthews had Darcy Burner on his show in her new capacity with some activist group. He seemed blithely unaware that the woman ran for Congress in ’06 or ’08 (I can’t remember which – Matthews couldn’t remember that she ever ran). Don’t  these people even google their guests?

I can think of a large group of  guys and gals who would know – instinctively – to do that simplest fact check, but they’re not available to help the hapless Matthews. They’re overseas, where it’s the 75th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

Home for the holidays? Bah humbug.

I actually stayed up last night to hear the roll call on the 1:00 am vote on the Senate’s health care bill. (It passed with exactly 60 votes.)

And the second last speaker before the vote was GOP leader Mitch McConnell. And he, like the speakers before him, deplored – deplored I tell you – how the Dems were “sneaking this vote and doing it in the middle of the night.”

The 1:00 am time for the vote was expected by all news organizations and heavily covered in the days leading up to last night’s vote. And the Senate arguments have been on teevee – my teevee anyway – for almost a month. Sneaky.

Why 1:00 am? Reid could have held matters over till midday or afternoon today of course. But all the Dems wanted to wrap it up so they could hit the airports and be homeward bound this morning. The GOP, on the other hand, had absolutely no plans to go home at all and would have been absolutely thrilled to stay a few more days and prevent that sneaky, middle of the night stuff.

UPDATE: Hard as it is to believe, I got something wrong here. So I take back all that stuff about jumping on planes. Seems the actual floor vote is still scheduled for before Christmas, which probably means Christmas Eve. Although I have no idea why it has to stall like that. Did they not vote last night to move to a vote?

But the balance of what I said – about the feigned outrage at the ‘sneaky middle of the night vote’ – continues to be true.

Good morning

Last night was my family’s traditional Christmas season dinner at the home of old friends Ed and Steve.  We were all thrilled with a surprise visit, when a nephew from upstate New York ‘dropped’ in unexpectedly – something to do with snow and airplanes. So the blizzard brought us a gift here in Florida.

And today it is the 74th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan

Friday night, Logan ‘decorated’ the tree. And Saturday, I re-decorated it. Whenever a five year old does the job, most of the ornaments end up on the bottom and in the front and it’s worth every minute spent redoing it.

And I imagine that many of the troops in Afghanistan are parents and know just what I mean. And for them, it’s the 73rd day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

Friday night oldies (on Saturday)

A day’s delay on this thanks to WordPress acting all silly.

Yipee. I am B-A-C-K! Afghanistan didn’t go anywhere.

My half dozen readers may resume breathing. WordPress has decided to remake my acquaintance and even allowed me to create a new password. Terribly nice of them, it being Christmas and all.

The tree, I must admit, is lovely. And it’s even about to get cold  – or what passes for cold – here until Christmas at least. Another nice thing.

Not so nice though, is that it’s the 72nd day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

The tree is up, so naturally . . .

I am reminded of all the unique contributions to Christmas made by South Park. You’ll need to go here.

Could it be?

Listening to the BBC right now, and they’re reporting that talks in Copenhagen are suddenly moving again and important side deals are being made. Clinton made a strong strong statement to the assembly, seen as directed at China. And China didn’t go batshit crazy but seems to be responding.

I really haven’t heard more than that – mainly because I am typing instead of listening!

Now they’re saying that’s tomorrow’s final ‘deal’ may not be much, but that the tone seems to have changed. And I imagine that’s important.

Coming down to the wire

Nate Silver has written an important follow up to his earlier post  (referenced by me here) about health care reform – this one details what’s really out there, what each of the proposals means, what the arguments are – for and against – and why liberals should still support whatever emerges.

” . . .  So, we’ve talked a lot about what the bill is not. It’s not structural reform. What is it, then? At the end of the day, it’s a big bleeping social welfare program — the largest social welfare program to be implemented since the Great Society. And that’s really what it’s been all along: fundamental reform like single-payer or Wyden-Bennett was never really on the table. The bill comes very close, indeed, to establishing what might be thought of as a right to access to health care: once it’s been determined that people with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied health care coverage, and that working class people ought to receive assistance so that they can afford health care coverage, it will be very hard to remove those benefits. It’s the sort of opportunity that comes around rarely — and one that liberals will greatly regret if they turn down.

Okay, okay, end the day on a lighter note . . .

An old favorite which 99% of humans on the planet have already seen. If you’re in the 1% (and somehow I’m pretty sure you are), take the time and be thoroughly entertained.

Jeeezzz, I want to feel better, not worse

Glenn Greenwald at Salon today, posts with excrutiating detail, the story of  Obama and health care reform. It’s long. It’s full of links to other long stories, but it’s an important read for progressives who really want to see something happen, and want to know why it feels like smoke and mirrors. (Greenwald says it is smoke and mirrors.)

Be forewarned though, if you’re living in any happy bubbles and don’t want them burst, stay away from this one.

Greenwald’s rage-meter can be a little high sometimes, so I always take him with a teeny dose of salt, but today? Well, today he’s got it all lined up and it’s not – ahem – to my liking.

From our friends at The Washington Post

Try this for a page one headline:

Obama Administration to buy Illinois prison for Gitmo detainees

Not  “Federal Governement to buy”; it’s apparently the people in the current White House. Who knew they had that kind of money?

Have I said ‘just shoot me’ yet today?

Food for thought

Nate Silver at Five-thirty-eight, a statistican who made his name tracking the projections during the ’08 election (and being right more than anyone else) has a post this morning about health care and he says “Progressives would be batsh*t crazy to oppose the Senate bill”.

Well,  that’s a bold statement  from someone I respect and whom I’ve always perceived as progressive himself, so that makes his thoughts on this matter worth considering. He put up a graphic of his own making. I’m just putting it out there.

Yglesias says it best

The horror! The horror!

Matt Yglesias names it “Gore Derangement Syndrome” which was a construct often used by the right to describe Bush’s critics. And there continues to be absolute glee in some quarters whenever Gore is seen to stumble, however lightly.

Among the tens of thousands of facts and measurements that Al Gore has studied, sifted through, discussed and written about over thirty years, he stumbled yesterday. And The London Times (under the steady hand of Rupert Murdoch) jumped on it all rightee!

About the Times’ story, Yglesias says:

Al Gore, speaking at Copenhagen, cited the work of Dr Wieslav Maslowski to the effect that “there is a 75 per cent chance that the entire north polar ice cap, during the summer months, could be completely ice-free within five to seven years.” In fact, according to the Times (UK) “Maslowski, who works at the US Naval Postgraduate School in California, said that his latest results give a six-year projection for the melting of 80 per cent of the ice.”

. . . [So] what they [The Times] did was do a whole long article with the ridiculous headline “Inconvenient truth for Al Gore as his North Pole sums don’t add up,” leading with the assertion that “The former US Vice-President, who became an unlikely figurehead for the green movement after narrating the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, became entangled in a new climate change ’spin’ row.”

Became entangled in a new . . . ‘spin’ row???  Dear God.

During the ’00 campaign, Gore was a credible and sturdy candidate. And in a game of follow the leader (hello New York Times?), the press loved to mock him about everything except his political positions. His failings had apparently to do with wooden delivery, earnestness, his husband/father “schtick” which was considered too good to be true, and cardinal sin, he was  just   t-o-o    b-o-r-i-n-g.  He must therefore continue to be more than the ‘press’ can bear.

Good morning

Last night Logan was in the Christmas concert with all the other kindergartners at his school, and today I am off to buy the Christmas tree and then have lunch with some young men I used to work with. All in all a nice day coming up if I am not laid low because I was not able to seize more than one hour of sleep last night.

This is the 69th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

How it feels right now

but beautifully rendered. This is an A-capella  group called Straight No Chasers and I’d never heard of them till a friend sent this in an email. I think they capture the season perfectly.

Good morning

Advent wreath

It is the 68th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

Good evening

McCrystal (or McKristol?) is talking about the increasing cooperation (again) between Al Qaeda and Taliban on the Pakistani border. And that kind of talk terrifies me because to me, his expression of “deep concern” = a mindset that says we must stay there and solve – just what in the world we can solve is beyond me. Even if  they think they can overcome the Islamists there, plenty more wait in the wings. There is no way to ‘win’. There is no good end for us. Blood and treasure and more blood and treasure.

And it’s the 67th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

CBS News update

7:30pm, Sunday night. Time for a CBS news update from the network itself. They reported their lead story about the Congress passing the spending bill:

The entire report was thirteen words. THIRTEEN WORDS. Here they are:

“The Congress today passed the spending bill that will finance most government operations.”

Journalism is the profession name we assign to the activities of a no-doubt large staff of people involved in bringing us those thirteen words.

Why?

Why don’t doctors’ practices have web sites? Even email for the patients? It’s very very annoying.

UPDATE: Well, two comments isn’t scientific, but both point out that THEIR doctors have websites. My doctor apparently, needs a good talking to. If I can reach her.

MORE UPDATE: I’m getting battered. Apparently my doctor is the only one in the continental US who does not allow patients to email the office. I shall have to be extremely stern when next we connect.

Bi-polar we are

Houston TX just elected a lesbian mayor.

Annise Danette Parker was elected mayor of Houston on Saturday, winning her seventh consecutive city election and becoming both the first contender in a generation to defeat the hand-picked candidate of Houston’s business establishment and the first openly gay person to lead a major U.S. city.”

AND she bumped the business establishment too, while she was making history.

Are we American’s a wonderful piece of work or what?

Good morning

66th day, ninth year. And, in Afghanistan, the  War goes on.

“All wee-weed up”

Worlds collide tonight.

First, I  watched, on C-Span, the video of Al Gore’s at the Miami Book Fair last month. I was present that day in Miami, so like any serious scholar of climate change, I watched the video all the  way through to see if I could see myself.

Second?  This.

From the  r-a-d-i-o.  And here’s the best of it:

INGRAHAM: Would you agree to a debate with Al Gore on this issue?

PALIN: Oh my goodness. You know, it depends on what the venue would be, what the forum. Because Laura, as you know, if it would be some kind of conventional, traditional debate with his friends setting it up or being the commentators I’ll get clobbered because, you know, they don’t want to listen to the facts. They don’t want to listen to some reasonable voices in this. And that was proven with the publication of this op-ed, where they kind of got all we-weed up about it and wanted to call me and others deniers of changing weather patterns and climate conditions.

That’s charisma my friends. Real charisma.

Good evening

I think this is the first time, I’ve posted my ‘witness’ statement in the evening.  I don’t think any of the guys or girls over there will mind, on this, the 65th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

Plastic surgery gone wrong

My inner voyeur finds this fascinating. Also, I think I’m bored.

Friday night oldies

Maybe I’ll manage this every week. Most bloggers ‘oldies’ are from the 80’s. I say 50’s! 50’s! 50’s, yeah!!!

Here are The Five Satins.

Oh please, oh please . . .

Krugman today, saying that action directly from the Fed can create significant new jobs – enough to make a difference. His reasoning I’m afraid is all a bit wonky for me, but this struck me:

“The Fed sprang into action when faced with the prospect of wrecked banks; it doesn’t seem equally concerned about the prospect of wrecked lives. And that is what we’re talking about here. The kind of sustained high unemployment envisaged in the Fed’s own forecasts is a recipe for immense human suffering — millions of families losing their savings and their homes, millions of young Americans never getting their working lives properly started because there are no jobs available when they graduate. If we don’t get unemployment down soon, we’ll be paying the price for a generation.”

And that resonates with me.

Really.

“So it’s just a hip hop song about the eight days of Hanukkuh, written by the Mormon senior senator from Utah, Orrin Hatch.”  (And it’s terrific.)