Monthly Archives: March 2010

Encore worthy

I love this woman.

Gunfight at the OK Congress

Here are the Dems following their leader into the House today, Pelosi holding the gavel she then used to call the session to  order. John Dingle is in there (D-MI). He used that very gavel to call for the vote in 1964 1965 – on Lyndon Johnson’s major legislative accomplishment, Medicare. Dingle succeeded his own father in his House seat. Both Dingles introduced health care reform at the start of every congress in which the father or son sat – a period of nearly 70 years. This is a big day for John Dingle. And for us.

If I can only stay awake

A bug has taken up residence somewhere in my respiratory tract causing much coughing (nasty sound), an unwelcome and very distracting headache, and – thankfully – a proclivity to fall asleep. I’ve been indulging myself all day so far but as evening approaches here in the Eastern time zone, I must remain awake and watch this wonderful health care debate unfolding in the House.

All the congress critters are there; they’re all being very predictable and making the expected speeches. But – inch by inch – one notices something unfolding. It’s all theatre now which I shall enjoy in spite of knowing how it ends. At least how today’s episode ends. The final fat lady won’t be singing tonight. But even with the Senate vote to come, this is the important one.

An important vote. An important day. Also, the 163rd day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

Good afternoon, turn on the TV

While preparing dinner for some friends who arrive in a few hours, I’ve been puttering in the kitchen with my wonderful Radio Shack cordless headphones, listening to a House committee wrangling LIVE on Cspan 2. Many congress critters whose faces are new to me. It’s terrific stuff. I expect there will be plenty more of this as we count down to the health care vote.

And readers know I hope this bill passes. In whatever form. Whatever its failings – and there are many – it does the most important thing of all  – it establishes the principle of universality. Wow. I want to be proud tomorrow night.

I hope the troops will also be proud of what their countrymen have done. But right now I imagine they’re busy with other things, since it’s the 162nd day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

UPDATE:  It’s the Rules Committee of the House debating reconciliation.  So cool.

UPDATE II:  Just checking and it looks like Byron York and bevy of conservative bloggers are watching a different committee debate. I’m watching something that makes my ‘proud to be an American’ gene stand up and salute; they’re watching, well, here’s York’s headline in from The Washington Examiner:

Rules Committee Descends into Chaos. Idiot.

I just heard Joe Barton (R-fracking nuts!) thank the Dems for such a civil and vigorous exercise.

March 19, 2003

Almost missed this. George Bush launched  Shock and Awe seven years ago today. About 4500 Americans ago.

Friday oldies

I’d forgotten that the Righteous Brothers have been around for so long.

Dear Congress, look beyond the cash please

It seems that David Frum, former speechwriter and confidant of George W. Bush, set out last week to poll the Tea Party marchers protesting in D.C.  He found the usual bumper sticker philosophy and confirmed that they aret protesting very different same things. So he decided to look only at the attitudes about taxes.

Bruce Bartlett at Forbes (link below) and Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly wrote about it this morning:

“Bruce Bartlett reported today on the survey’s results, and found that for an anti-tax group, “they don’t know much about taxes.”

But that's not what Rush said!

“Indeed, it appears much of the Tea Party crowd is simply clueless about the issues they claim to care the most about, wildly exaggerating federal tax rates, how much a median family pays in taxes, and what’s changed since President Obama took office.”

No surprise really. They take their information from Rush, Beck and pols like Monica Bachman. And of course, they check the facts with that Most Trusted Name in News, CNN. (I can’t seem to embed this video, but Jon Stewart absolutely skewered CNN’s ‘journalism’ late last year in what I think is one of his most devastating media take downs of all time. It’s here.)

I think the Dems in Congress fail to understand how significant the talk radio audience is. And it’s not just that people listen to conservative celebrities (laughing all the way to the bank) who deliberately ill-inform them; it’s that they are becoming activist because of the lies they’ve been told.

It’s a good morning says Haaretz

Repbulicans in congress and the media have been thundering against Obama’s policies toward Israel and blame him for a cooling of the formal relationship. The same claims are being flung around by the Likkud party in Israel, neo-cons to the bone.

Guess who believes differently? According to a poll out today by Haaretz  “56 percent questioned said they don’t believe politicians who call Obama anti-Semitic or hostile to Israel, or who say he is “striving to topple Netanyahu.”

“On the whole, Obama’s popularity may be declining in American public opinion, but a sweeping majority of Israelis think his treatment of this country is friendly and fair.”

Someone tell Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck. And maybe Neil Cavuto and Mitch McConnell. And Eric Cantor. (And Rush. Don’t forget that giant of foreign policy wisdom.)

And while giving them that news, perhaps we could also remind them that today is the 161st day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

UPDATE: Laura Rosen at Politico fleshes out this story. The Haaretz poll isn’t the only one showing considerable distrust of Netanyahu.

They’re coming to get us . . .

My census form came in the mail Wednesday I”m scared to death. I feel so violated!

1790 census questions (apparently written by James Madison)

  1. Name of head of family
  2. Number of free white males 16 and up, including heads of families
  3. Number of free white males under 16
  4. Number of free white females including heads of families
  5. Number of all other free persons, except Indians not taxed
  6. Number of slaves

2010 census questions

  1. name
  2. gender
  3. age
  4. head of household?
  5. number of persons in house?
  6. race

I’m guessing the six questions in 1790 were designed to gather the info government needed in those days to do their job. And I”m guessing the six questions in 2010 are designed to gather the info government needs to do its job.

UPDATE: Reading my own post again, I am struck by how closely aligned these two sets of questions are after 220 years. A monument of sorts to our stability – and, may I say, strict adherence to “the intentions of the founders” as those on the right claim for themselves. Looking at the 2010 census questions, would someone please tell me what the fuss is all about?

Great news on the media front

Perhaps someone at ABC has decided to keep their Sunday show away from the entertainment division.  But whatever the reason, this is good news, so a gold star to ABC. (Now, if they could just ban Cokie Roberts from the network . . . )

ABC hires Amanpour for This Week

They say Jake Tapper continues till she comes aboard in August, which is great as Tapper has been doing an admirable job (well, I’ve been liking it and what else matters?)

Now, I wonder if that will make up for my probably insulting him when I incorrectly identified him as the founding editor of  The Note – instead of the gossip columnist Mark Helperin.

It’s even a good morning in Las Vegas

I found last year’s Sen. John Ensign sex scandal puzzling. (We have so many of  these – sigh.) The mystery was how could Nevada elect to the US Senate a guy who was still such a Mama/Papa’s boy? He gets in trouble and turns to his parents – his parents! – to bail him out by buying off the mistress and her husband.

Now, according to,  the local US Attorney and the FBI are in Las Vegas, spreading subpoenas;  according to the AP, a grand jury has been convened. They’re interested in much more than the sex angle. They’re focusing on Ensign’s own ethical violations, quite a few of which appear to be illegal.

In the more consequential world, there’s a real chance that Ayad Allawi might win the election in Iraq. This would be terrific news. He’s secular and his coalition is majority secular. If he fails, if Malaki is re-elected, Iran wins. Malaki is a partisan Shia and is building a deep relationship with Shia Iran.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the story is all about drones and suicide bombs and whether the Pakistani military is serious about taking down the Taliban.

It’s yet to be seen whether this is good or bad news for our troops in Afghanistan, where it is the 160th day of the ninth year of the War. And here is a stunning picture: it’s in Afghanistan, northwest of Kabul, looking toward the ancient Silk Road. More pictures, The Year in Afghanistan, can be found here.

Top ‘o the mornin’ and all that

How my kinsmen got from venerating a Saint to this . . . ?

Sorry to say

I’ve admired Atty General Eric Holder up to this point. Low profile, doing his job, making some very good calls.

But this, reported today in The Washington Post and elsewhere, is just wrong on so many levels:

“Let’s deal with the reality here,” Holder said in response to questions from Rep. John Culberson (R-Tex.). “The reality is, we will be reading Miranda rights to a corpse.”

That was part of his response in a House hearing about military re civilian courts for terrorists. What he said my be our goal, may be our plan, may be a lot of things. But what it is not, is appropriate language from an attorney general.

Good morning and glass at last

Today’s big event in my home-renovation-lite project is the installation of a mirror in the bathroom. The kind of mirror most bathrooms – mine excepted – have had for thirty or so years. Which frees up the current mirror which once served as an adjunct to my grandmother’s dresser, who was born in 1879. It was time for something new.

And now, another coat of paint on the baseboards/molding and the re-attachment of newly painted shutter cabinet doors put the bathroom into the FINISHED column. So two and a half rooms down, three to go.

I live in a very small house which suits me just fine; by Florida standards, mine is also an old house. It was built at a time when residential square footage was perhaps half today’s norm. I grew up in seven small rooms in a house with one bathroom. There were six of us.

It’s been reported that the trend to bigger is turning around and new houses are being built a bit smaller. Tightened belts or not, maintenance and heating costs were becoming problematic and perhaps unsustainable.

I think about living conditions fior the troops in Afghanistan, where it is the 159th day of the ninth year of the War.

Good morning, the windows are open

The weather here has finally begun to stabilize and has almost reached normal temperatures for this time of year. As cold and hard as this winter has been all over the Eastern US and Western Europe, it’s interesting to note that Canada is just coming out of its warmest winter since they began keeping records. Suggests migrating climate. Or it could just be a freak year. The few climate sites I try to follow all are looking at ocean temperatures – at least the Atlantic. That seems to be where the action is right now. Changes in ocean temperatures especially in the fresh water ‘rivers’ that run underwater and convert cold water to warm water and warm water to cold water. Wonky stuff.

Read an interesting article a few days ago by a NY Times reporter who spent years in Afghanistan. He was talking about The Hurt Locker, about its accuracy. He liked the movie and agreed is probably the best so far about the war. Wish I’d made a note so I could link to it. Of course, it reminded me that I was a few days behind in my count. So let me catch up right here. Today is the 157th day of the War in Afganistan.

Tell that Jesus guy that only commies wear sandals and beards

The reaction to this one hasn’t even begun.

Glenn Beck may have gone too far. If so, he’ll have had a stunningly brief time in the spotlight compared to his fellow blowhards: Limbaugh has been on the air for two decades, FOX has been shining light on it’s stars for over a ten years, and Oliver North and Gordon Liddy, famous felons and traitors from the 70’s and 80’s, are still celebrated on the public airwaves.

(Note to self:  there wouldn’t be any public airways if the federal government would just listen to them. Examine logic.)

According to Roger Eberts’ Journal today, Glenn Beck has now told his listeners to run from their churches if they find the words “social justice’ anywhere in the literature. Those two words, he warns, are code for communism and fascism.


Beck’s oversight is that all religions teach social justice. That’s sort of what they’re about. “My church doesn’t,” said Beck who is a Mormon.  At this the mountains of Utah rang with the thunder of outraged Mormon elders.. . . before statehood the Mormons in the Utah territory provided universal health care and care for the poor as a matter of their duty.


More from America’s theologian, the Fool of Fools.

Lite weekend fare

The Capitol Steps are a national treasure and so is Herbunk for reminding me.

Dinner’s not cheap you know!

Marco Rubio is set to take the GOP nomination in the Florida race for US Senate – and to take it away from Gov. Charlie Crist, once the presumptive gold medal winner. He’s a very conservative Miamian from the Cuban community, a very conservative bunch overall. The St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald have been taking a look at the money side of Rubio (the best place to start).

$228,000:  Amount raised  by Marco Rubio’s Floridians for Conservative Leadership committee
in 18 months from 2002-04

$89,000: Amount spent on consultants

$34,000: Undisclosed expenses

$4,000: Amount spent on candidate contributions

The full story is here.

Another congressman doing his job

You’re doing it Rep. Grayson, you’re speaking  truth to power. I’m glad you’re from my State.

I do hear you’re not the cozy snuggly type (and I say that in the nicest way possible) but I don’t care. Go ahead and bite the neighborhood dogs for all I care. But keep doing this:

Well, this is unusual

All the news reports yesterday were assuming that with the resignation of Rep Eric Massa, the ethics investigation against him would end. But right now, on CSPAN, the House is doing a full vote on a motion to proceed with an investigation. The Democrats are all voting Aye. Actually – everyone is voting Aye. I haven’t heard a Nay yet. Wonder what precipitated this?

UPDATE: This is confusing. Now they House seems to be voting on a resolution by John Boehner (of course) on whether to initiate a probe into when exactly the Dem leadership knew about Massa. By all means, let’s not focus on the offense itself. Perhaps in the next few hours, it will be clear what exactly is going on.

And this is NOT analagous to Dems going after the Republican house leadership when Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) was revealed to have been inappropriate with male pages. Massa has just arrived in the House. Foley’s violations went on over a period of years during which it was swept under the rug by his own leadership – the GOP.

Friday oldies

What a voice. What a tragedy.

That Kennedy passion

Ted Kennedy and  Bobby Kennedy were both passionate men when it came to issues dear to them. JFK wasn’t like that; he was more cerebral, more sophisticated.

In a long Senate career, Ted often let loose with loud, angry denunciations of his fellows on the floor and then moved right into cordial negotiations to make things happen.  And he knew how to make things happen.

Unless you’re from Rhode Island, you – like me – haven’t paid much attention to the youngest Kennedy in the Congress, Patrick. The youngest and the last – for now at least. He’s announced he’s not running again. The other day, he went after the Washington press corps and made me wish he’s stay.

Heavy rains coming on this good morning

In 1999 we suffered a deep drought down here. My own well ‘went dry’ as they say. What that means is the water table – in this case the Florida aquifer – had dropped due to the lack of rainfall. As a result, pumps needed more engine power to get  the water up to the surface from the deeper levels. A submersion pump added to the additional pump solved my problem, but ever since that drought, south Florida gets nervous when it doesn’t rain. In fact, we’ve been in another less-profound drought for the last two years; this unusually wet winter may end it as we’ve had abundant – if unseasonable – rain.

So when a storm is coming – as one is now – I smile and extend a warm welcome.

I wonder when the rainy seasons in Afghanistan are? I imagine the Indian monsoons work their way into the southern part of the country. But most of our troops are in the northeast, near the mountains. Whatever the weather, they know it’s the 153rd day of the ninth year of the War.

The 1990’s come to south Florida

I’m off to the theatre shortly to see a local production of Rent – with my former assistant in the lead role!  The run is almost sold out in spite of the fact it doesn’t open till tomorrow night.

I know most of the kids in this show and love them all to death. One just returned from two tours in Iraq and wasted no time in getting himself cast.. He’s a theatre kid, a real trooper (pun?), grew up in theatre, mom’s a singer, dad’s a designer and he? well, he is just all around terrific. Here’s a brief video preview of the show (also at the theatre link):

Why I love The Onion

Imagine this on CNN, hacked onto the network by such smart 14-year olds that even CNN’s top I.T. people couldn’t find a way to take it down. (h/t Andrew Sullivan) How sweet it would be.

(There’s a google ad first – about a 30 seconds.)

Good morning to everyone, even cable news

‘Cable news is not literally a broadcast business, but a narrowcast. At any given moment, there are a relative handful of people (in peak hours less than five million and in non-prime hours half that, out of the U.S. population of 320 million) watching all of these networks combined. American Idol, in contrast, routinely draws 30 million. Although cable news is a comparatively small market, it is a small market with a much larger mindshare, mainly because the media are self-reflective, creating a kind of virtual echo chamber. It is also lucrative.’

That’s from the Columbia Journalism Review in a story by Terry McDermott, “Dumb like a Fox“. His story begins as an examination of Fox News. In the process, he examines the universe of cable news network. A brief and interesting read.

He also says this:  ” it is a small market with a much larger mindshare, mainly because the media are self-reflective, creating a kind of virtual echo chamber. “

In case you missed it (and I dearly hope you did), last night Glenn Beck devoted his full hour to an interview with recently-resigned Representative Eric Massa (D-NY). Because Beck is exactly the kind of TV cable news ‘personality’ who is so very impressed with himself that he doesn’t see a need to do a little homework on his guests, the hour was a horror – for Beck anyway. Massa is very strange indeed, but he wasn’t the fire breathing ex-liberal Fox expected when they booked him. He is famously opposed to the Health Care bill that’s once again working its way through the hollow halls of Congress. This made him a desirable catch for a Fox show. But guess what . . . Massa opposes the current bill because he favors a single payer – he favors Medicare For All.  S-u-r-p-r-i-s-e !

And if the Beck show weren’t sufficiently empty of content, Lawrence O’Donnell who’s been sitting in for Keith Olbermann (Before taking a hiatus to attend to his dying father, Olbermann did a 30 minute incomprehensible rant on health care.) spent most of the Countdown hour re-running the video of the odd encounter of Beck/Massa, which had taken place two hours earlier. Entirely circular. Cable news now examines only its own navel.

And while I’m busy watching – and reading about – cable news, it is the 152nd day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

UPDATE:  I surprise even myself – after pasting a quote – above – I then say “he also says” and paste a portion of the first quote. Perhaps I shouldn’t post till the afternoon.    

So tired and good evening

Sorry for the downtime. Another round of deadlines – this time FINAL deadlines, as opposed to the preliminary ones early last week. The project is now concluded – at least it has been taken as far as me and my fellow trustees can take it. We have managed to file a grant application with the EPA for a test drainage project. It’s wonky and I don’t understand a good deal of it, but it’s valid and strong and we have the standing to file the request. And we’ve worked like the devil to get it researched and written. Now it’s just cross fingers and wait for stage II which can come in 30-90 days at which point we may – or may not – be invited to move forward with our application. And then final grant awards October of this year. If we even make it to Stage II we’ll be stunned.

But it’s not surprising to find that today was the 151st day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

The Hurt Locker

I called it in September.

A beautiful distinction

Just found this letter to the editor of the NY Times from a few weeks ago:

To the Editor:

In the 1950’s my grandmother served in the Connecticut legislature. When she was in her late 80’s, I brought a friend to meet her. As I made the introductions, I mentioned that she had been in politics. She drew herself up straight and rather starchily said: “Government, dear, I was in government.”

Very cool letter.

Why should he stop now?

Ah, it’s that ‘always-a-candidate-never-a-President’ John McCain of Arizona, brought to us by The Capital Steps.