Monthly Archives: February 2010

Good Sunday morning

For two decades CBS Sunday Morning has been a tradition in my family. First with the unique and never-to-be-equaled-in-my-lifetime Charles Kurault (who basically invented the show). He was replaced with the able and perfectly suited Charles Osgood, who was off today. Sitting (or standing actually) in was someone from the CBS News stable whose name I didn’t catch.

For the twenty or so years since it began, CBS Sunday Morning has been among the very best 90 minutes on television. Great stories with wide appeal, original, well reported and given substantive time. Commenters address a wide variety of  topics and are usually clever and smart. (I love Nancy Giles).

I hope this morning’s show is not a harbinger of what we may expect when Osgood retires, which he eventually will of course. I’ve pretty much given up on the other Sunday morning news shows. I would hate to abandon this one to the inanity that’s taken over most TV news.

But for now I still enjoy a bit of Sunday morning and wonder if the troops in Afghanistan get that kind of a break. They’re pretty busy with the 142nd day of the ninth year of the War there.

Good morning

It’s to be wind and rain all day. Since it never snows here,  that’s what passes for a cozy day inside and I’ll take it. Except for an essential errand this afternoon and a brief visit with an unnaturally old person, I shall snuggle in. There is a pile of books, even a few new magazines. Now if it were to be an absolutely perfect day, an old Sci Fi B movie would show up somewhere on my teevee. Like War of the Worlds (not the stupid Tom Cruise version).

Meanwhile, on CSpan 2 are two authors with books about Afghanistan. One is Seth Jones (Graveyard of Empires). I’m only listening with half an ear, but it does remind me that today is the 141st day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

Something I didn’t know

Hard to believe of course. Here’s something I didn’t know:

” . . . it’s notable that despite the claims that all these revelations have seriously damaged the public’s confidence in “climate science,” 54 percent of voters in Republican pollster Frank Luntz’s poll, released on January 21, 2010, believed that climate change is either “definitely” or “probably” occurring, compared with just 18 percent who believed that it is “definitely” or “probably” not occurring. An even larger majority, 63 percent, say they believe climate change is likely caused by humans. So far, at least, the skeptics have lost the larger battle, despite the irresponsible reporting of it in the media.”

From Eric Alterman’s column at American Progress, which I recommend to anyone interested in a reporter’s examination of the issue, the coverage and the known facts. Alterman is primarily a media critic, so go there just for the fun of it. When observing the state of today’s media, he’s kind of  Jon Stewart as an academic, with glasses and a beard. More serious, but just as biting. He’s at The Nation too.

Bonus oldie

Three pop singers. And of these three, two were Page One of The New York Times and papers around the world when they died.

Friday night oldies

Slow dancing.

Let the games begin. (my games that is)

Went to see the young men at the Verizon store today as it was time for a new phone. The contract update phone to which I am entitled was not particularly appealing.

So I now have a Droid, Verizon’s version of the I-Phone. (And I understand Apple is suing them. Whee, telecomm giants grapple! Mud wrestling is next!)

I will spend some happy hours playing with it, exploring apps and noise makers, while the device itself gets its first real charge, which is a landmark moment in the life of a young phone.

Maybe I should knit some booties.

Good morning

The Health Care ‘summit’ is over and we’re all still alive and breathing.  TV News has now begun to flail around for the next ‘story’. I did hear that George W. Bush gave a speech somewhere to someone recently;  speculation about what he said, what he will say next time and a flurry of questions he isn’t present to answer  – perhaps a candidate for the next story.

If not, there’s always the killer whale.

Because it’s altogether too much work to bother to report on the troops overseas, where it is the 140th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

My new hero


I just went out to bring the garbage cans back from the end of  the driveway. I could see my breath.

This is south Florida.

Bunning’s got his. So what’s the problem.

Right now, Claire McCaskill and Dick Durbin having a hell of a time on the Senate floor arguing with Sen Jim Bunning (R-Ky). McCaskill just read out the names of the GOP Senators who voted for Medicare Part D in 2005 – completely unfunded and without a concern of any kind for paying for it.  I’m not even sure what the issue is yet, but this is quite unusual. And f-u-n.

Ah – here we go: the matter on the floor has to do with renewing unemployment benefits for 30 days and COBRA for 30 days. Bunning has held up this routine legislative issue for 90 days because he wants it ‘paid for’. The benefits expire Sunday night. So they’re talking. This is a good one.

McCaskill is comparing the $300 million in tax cuts for the rich on the credit card to withholding unemployment with a demand to pay for it.

Hey Sen. Bunning, hell of a place to put your foot down on deficit spending. HR4691 is the bill for 30 day extension. Don’t know if I’ll stay up late enough to see what happens.

UPDATE: This story was prominent on a lot of blogs and newsites this morning. Even Time Magazine‘s Swampland noticed it. So what I caught on CSPAN last night was indeed unusual. Glad I got to hear it.

They do NOT want to do anything. And that is that.

Ezra Klein at The Washington Post today:

This morning, Lamar Alexander said that reconciliation has never been used for anything as big as health-care reform. Health-care reform has a 10-year cost of about $950 billion. The Bush tax cuts, which passed through reconciliation, had a 10-year cost of about $1.8 trillion. Lamar Alexander voted for them.

He engaged in something we used to call reporting. Which is why he checked, instead of turning to the guy at the next desk and saying: “Alexander just said reconciliation hasn’t been used for stuff this big. What do you have to say about it?”

(Perhaps he’s live-blogging the summit.) Here’s something else he said today:

Lamar Alexander and Barack Obama just had a contentious exchange on this point, so it’s worth settling the issue: Yes, the CBO found health-care reform would reduce premiums. The issue gets confused because it also found that access to subsidies would encourage people to buy more comprehensive insurance, which would mean that the value of their insurance would be higher after reform than before it. But that’s not the same as insurance becoming more expensive: The fact that I could buy a nicer car after getting a better job suggests that cars are becoming pricier. The bottom line is that if you’re comparing two plans that are exactly the same, costs go down after reform.

You can find a full rundown of the report here.

Going to miss the ‘summit’

Well, mostly going to miss it. Watching now, but have to head out to a meeting. May I say – and I’ve never noticed this before – Nancy Pelosi is a terrible speaker. She is not clear and she misspeaks.

Obama didn’t name a single congressional Republican in his opening remarks. Alexander named a half dozen Dems. Pelosi – so far – has not named a single GOP congress critter. Just sayin’.

And, as usual, I wish they would all leave the sad, sad stories outside the door. Bleh! We have heard these before.

UPDATE:  I missed a lot and when I got back, CSPAN had moved to the House and the Senate. The ‘summit’ is on CSPAN 3 which is a premium channel down my way. MSNBC has hockey. FOX is covering it maybe a little here and there. Which left me with the dreaded Wolf Blitzer and possibly the very worst panel in CNN history.

Donna Brasile. Candy Crowley. Mary Matelin. Gloria Borger. (David Gergen was there, but he’s pretty much turned into a place holder.) The only one missing was Bill Bennett.

They’re running very little live summit now – they have calculated, incorrectly, that they are far more interesting – especially when they guess about what’s being said because they can’t watch what’s being said when they are busy talking about what they think is being said. CNN has not figured out something that seems basic to me – the people who are watching the summit on CNN want to see the summit. Not Candy Crowley.

Hope they remember what they’ve come for

So the girls and boys are all lined up outside Blair House in their prom dresses and tuxes. Word is that half of them aren’t happy with their dates. No one is wearing a corsage or buttonairre so I guess those have gone out of style. There’s no curfew and while there will be no drinking inside, I imagine a few bottles await the prom goers later today.

I understand they’ll be carrying their Blackberrys. So some of them will be tweeting while others are talking. I think they need a good fifth grade teacher in there to slap those things right out of their hands. Our Congress Critters are of course quite free to carry on and tweet away, so that teacher should then fix them with the schoolmarm glare –  and the message in the stare would be – you are being RUDE. Very very rude.

I wonder if, while tweeting, they’ll manage to notice that today is the 139th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

Thank you Jesus!

GM will shut down the Hummer line. Which is cool, since we own GM and all and we’re trying to pass legislation to limit carbon emissions.

It was always the silliest car and when I saw them parked in the supermarket lot . . . . lots of laughs. Kind of  like how early tv reporters wore safari hats when they reported from anywhere in the southern hemisphere.

Another one!

H/T Dependable Renegade

Too much fun

God I love these kids who follow current events and care enough to make videos and post them on YouTube. For all I know, this guy is world famous, but he’s new to me.

Paul Hipp, young or not, seems to care about health care reform. Good for you Paul Hipp!

Are we still in BushWorld?

Made the acquaintance today of  Outofcentralasianow, who examined a recent bit of testimony by General Petraeus. The General said:

“The reality is that it’s hard, but we are [in Afghanistan] for a very, very important reason, we can’t forget that,” he added. “We’re in Afghanistan to ensure that it cannot once again be a sanctuary for the kinds of attacks that were carried out on 9/11.”

CentralAsia found this to be a rather remarkable (stupid, my word) comment on why we’re there. He wrote:

Is that a stupid statement? There’s no other land anywhere from which to plan another “9/11″ anywhere in the world? Wern’t the ringleaders based in Germany? Wern’t some in the U.S. training to become pilots?

Mohammed Atta, the leader of the 9/11 attackers, did his training right down the road from me here in South Florida. This ‘sanctuary’ line is bogus. If it was ever valid, it no longer is. And CentralAsia is exactly right. Denying them Afghanistan does not deny them a place to train.

It really depends on what religion you are

Just a few bizarre comments from our political class regarding the Austin Texas suicide bomber who flew into an IRS building.

Texastrailerparktrash at I Tried Being Tasteful brought my attention to this yesterday. She’s especially interested since she lives in Austin and is paying a bit more attention than the rest of us might.

It seems Governor Tim Pawlenty “took up the theme of violence against the State”, wading into it with a comparison to Tiger Woods wife. He said, among other stupid things “[we should] take a nine iron and smash a window out of big government in this country. We’ve had enough.”

Or an airplane if the tire iron doesn’t do it.

Then, we have Rep. Steven King going at it with his own thoughts (He sits in the US House of Representatives.) Try this one on for size:

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told a crowd at CPAC on Saturday that he could “empathize” with the suicide bomber who last week attacked an IRS office in Austin, and encouraged his listeners to “implode” other IRS offices, according to a witness.

And yesterday Andrew Sullivan pointed to this from a Catholic blogger he follows. The subject was comments by the daughter of the IRS bomber; she thinks her father is a hero and a Patriot.

” . . . if this woman were Muslim, the Rubber Hose Right would be demanding that she be subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques in order to determine who else she may know who might be about to fly a plane into a building as an act of terrorism.”

Boehner is a joke

House Minority Leader Boehner finally has his beloved health care negotiation out in the public sphere. For almost a year, he’s been condemning the White House and the Dem majority (the ones we elected) to stop meeting ‘behind closed doors’ and make the negotiations public, where the American people could see them.

Finally, as they always do, the Democrats capitulated, although not exactly the way Boehner wanted it. He calls tomorrow’s meeting “a six-hour taxpayer-funded infomercial on ObamaCare”.

Perhaps Mr. Boehner could explain to me what exactly was the way he wanted it?

Good morning my friends at FOX

I rarely tune into Fox and Friends in the morning. But Mica B on MSNBC chases me away because she is so irritating. And CNN talks to their audience as if they were in seventh grade. The Fox crowd at least provides entertainment. Like the cryon across the bottom of the screen this morning while The Gretchen was almost yelling at Sen. Schumer about the Medicare bribe in the Senate health care bill. (She was really enjoying herself!).

The cryon? Here’s what it said:


None of that planning stuff for them. Planning is for pussies.

(We know there aren’t any pussies in Afghanistan though, there are only real men and woman – often boys and girls – there, and they still fighting on the 138th day of the ninth year of the War.)

UPDATE: Fox is not alone in their choice of verbs. Our friends at Politico are also using it – wonder who was first? Their headline is:

WH privately plots 2012 campaign.  They also tell us it’s an EXCLUSIVE!  

Here’s how they open: President Barack Obama’s top advisers are quietly laying the groundwork for the 2012 reelection campaign . .

Somebody really needs to do something about this outrage.

I’m ashamed to share a Union with these guys

Dan Savage at tell us (via dougJ at Balloon Juice – well, we all cut and paste, don’t we):

A bill passed by the Utah House and Senate this week and waiting for the governor’s signature, will make it a crime for a woman to have a miscarriage…. In addition to criminalizing an intentional attempt to induce a miscarriage or abortion, the bill also creates a standard that could make women legally responsible for miscarriages caused by “reckless” behavior. Using the legal standard of “reckless behavior” all a district attorney needs to show is that a woman behaved in a manner that is thought to cause miscarriage, even if she didn’t intend to lose the pregnancy.

Miscarriages occur in 15-20% of pregnancies.

UPDATE: It’s interesting to note that in the comment thread for this post, the entire conversation is between me and four men.

Good afternoon, Mr. Bouncy Bouncy

Again with the listening to Limbaugh. I can offer no good or rational reason why I do this to myself.  It isn’t to gather blog fuel, because it’s a behavior of mine that goes back much further than the birth of this thingee here.

Today, in his opening rant (others have opening monologues – Mr. Bouncy Bouncy opens with a rant about whatever has outraged him since 3pm yesterday), he was most distressed about jobless figures. Not about the jobless mind you. About the numbers.

He said: “Massive layoffs are edging up”.  Now that was a stand alone item, not a modifier or conditinal phrase or anything like that. Wow. Is there a mathematician or grammarian out there who can help me parse this one? It’s a construct that escapes me utterly.(Pino?)

But perhaps this unemployment numbers thing reveals that there is an upside to our fighting two wars (or is it three now) in Asia. Because if all those troops came home and mustered out, they’d need jobs. At least, as long as they’re carrying weapons, they’ve got a paycheck.

Something to think about I guess on the 137th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

By the way, remember when he got out of the hospital in Hawaii, Limbaugh said that because he got great health care there, that meant there was no health care problem in this country? I guess by that reasoning, since he has a job, there is no unemployment in this country. What the hell is he ranting about?

Under the tent

Glenn Beck. A classic revival preacher on the edge of town, set up in his tent, getting the town folk all worked up and passing the hat.

That is all.

Mrs. Brown, you’ve got a lovely daughter

And a very naughty husband. According to The Washington Post tonight:

The Senate voted Monday to advance a $15 billion jobs-creation measure, giving Democrats a key victory as they seek to reverse their declining political fortunes by emphasizing legislation to boost the economy. The chamber is now poised to pass the measure later this week.

Guess who one of those five Republicans was . . . Who? Louder,  I can’t hear you! Who?

Yup. The spanking new Senator from Masaschusetts, Mr. Scott Brown. Take that Mitch McConnell.

Good afternoon

A tantalizing warm front moved over us in Florida yesterday. Windows and doors were flung open, heat turned off, faces turned to the sun (while it lasted). It was lovely to again sleep with fresh air filling the room. A tease. Just a tease. It starts turning back to the evil side again tomorrow gets downright cold again by Thursday.

So it’s warm here and I’m grateful. It looks like Afghanistan – or at least the northeast – is having similar weather today – maybe 10 degrees colder than here with a low of 41 and a high of  53.  And it’s the 136th day of the ninth year that we’ve been engaged in a War there.

Flip flops are for Dems

This chart is straight from a CPAC poll taken at this weekend’s extravaganza.

It popped up at the bestest ever conservo-blog of the year (just bought by – which makes it sort of like same sex marriage?)

Anyway, that decade long mantra that gay-marriage-is-going-to-kill-marriage-and-everyone-is-going-to-have-to-get-all-gay-married? Not so much actually. Check out the bottom bar of this chart.

(and just in case you can’t read the blurry type, stopping gay marriage is the second most important issue to one percent. Not one person considered it the most important issue.)

Spencer Ackerman is a reporter. I cut and paste.

A Cheney (Liz) yesterday:

  • I worry though when we capture these leaders that we no longer have the option of using any of the enhanced interrogation techniques because the president took those off the table. When you’ve got people in captivity we’d like our CIA officials in particular to have the capacity to do more than just ask the terrorists to please tell us what they want.

The Commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East and South Asia today:

  • Asked about whether the U.S. ought to torture Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the deputy commander of the Taliban, recently captured in Pakistan said “I have always been on record, in fact since 2003, with the concept of living our values.” Every time the U.S. took what he called “expedient measures” around the Geneva Conventions, those deviations just “turned around and bitten us on our backside.” The effect of torture at Abu Ghraib is “non-biodegradable,” he continued, and boasted that as commander of the 101st Airborne in Iraq, he ordered his men to ignore any instruction to use techniques outside the Army Field Manual on Interrogations. Besides, the non-torture techniques that manual has long instructed? “That works,” he said. “That is our experience.”

I betcha ole Liz would like to see Dave stood up in front of a court martial for disobeying orders in a time of war.

Good afternoon

On Sunday morning, I attend to and witness (well short of worship) at the foot of my teevee to see if a twist or time warp has returned some value to the Sunday morning shows. It is because I continue to do this that I know without doubt that it am, in fact, a masochist. A mild case to be sure, but I prefer that label to fool. ( CBS Sunday Morning and Fareed Zacharia GPS are excluded from that blanket insult.)

This is the 135th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

Good morning

US ‘shadow president’ Alexander Haig (1973) has died. Younger people may not even know his name, but those of us who were here during Watergate remember him well.

Kissinger, Nixon, Ford, Haig

In the last year of his own presidency, Richard Milhous Nixon, that tragic figure of American history, retired to a wingchair, a phone, a bottle of good whisky and a fireplace. Alexander Haig pretty much ran government and thus the country.

Haig served in Vietnam and was became a four-star general before he retired and served the Nixon White House – first as Secretary of State and later as chief-of-staff.

Nixon has become something of an obsession of mine, perhaps because his life was so monumentally Shakespearean. Perhaps the most complex man ever to sit in the Oval Office. And – had his very dark side not prevailed – he would be remembered as a great president. It’s also interesting that if he were in politics today he would, in terms of public policy, been considered a liberal.

He was a vicious anti-Semite and author of the destructive ‘Southern strategy’, perhaps the most cynical political act of American history. Right up there with Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln and immediately went about undoing as much of Lincoln’s legacy as he could. Reminders of the enormous impact a single person can have on a nation.

A nation that, as it happens, is now enjoying the 134th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

Maybe don’t let the ‘sunshine in’

Today, David Brooks’ column is not particularly memorable, as his often are. He is asking why we no longer trust the ‘elites’ in our culture. It’s a good question. And he offers a few good reasons (although the column overall is pretty thin).

I was surprised to see him address something I’ve thought for some time. Whenver I’ve tried to articulate it in front of others, I’m nearly shunned. Here’s what he says:

Fifth, society is too transparent. Since Watergate, we have tried to make government as open as possible. But as William Galston of the Brookings Institution jokes, government should sometimes be shrouded for the same reason that middle-aged people should be clothed. This isn’t Galston’s point, but I’d observe that the more government has become transparent, the less people are inclined to trust it.

I would add I think transparency is a disincentive to problem solving. Posturing becomes more important than exploring real solutions.

Here where I live, an out of town partisan brought a lawsuit against the City Council for breaking Florida’s ‘sunshine laws’. They apparently had emailed each other from personal computers and personal email addresses, the very act of which broke the law. After spending nearly a million dollars to defend the suit, and huge chunks of lost time by City staff, the litigant lost his lawsuit..

And so did the weary embattled City. These laws are overly broad and can impede progress. Brooks is right.