Monthly Archives: April 2010

Good morning

From The Center Square this morning. He’s perfectly captured my own reaction to the Administration:

Watching the Obama Administration sometimes is like being on a roller coaster. At any moment, your grip is tight, your teeth are clinched and you’re screaming for mercy. But I have to give him and his team credit. He is steadily and thoughtfully and methodically working through the huge issues of our time.

I think that evaluation holds true for Afghanistan as well, where it is the 197th day of the ninth year of the war there.

Don’t count him out yet

Conventional wisdom from the Washington press is that an independent run by Gov Charlie Crist to be US Senator from Florida would spell the end for him and for Rubio and elect the Democrat, Kenrick Meeks.

I disagree. Crist just vetoed a bill out of the Republican legislature that was wildly unpopular in the State. And he’s getting a lot of credit for that.

And today, Jeremy Wallace, the political correspondent for the Sarasota Herald Tribune tells us that money is flowing Charlie’s way as well.

This one isn’t over yet.

A good picture gets you Page One

A good wrap up by Reuters today on media over-reaction to the Tea Party movement:

In Washington, about 10,000 people showed up on the national Mall last week – a rally worth covering but far fewer than the tens of thousands who marched in support of immigration reform in March.

. . . .

What’s more, the eruption of protest after a president of a new party takes the country in a new direction is a standard feature of modern American politics. Ronald Reagan’s election produced record-breaking rallies for the now-forgotten Nuclear Freeze movement. The right, with rhetoric and occasional excesses that are almost identical to those of today, rose up angrily against Bill Clinton in the mid-1990s.

And just a few years ago, hundreds of thousands of Americans turned out to rally against the Iraq war. Now, veterans of those protests – covered largely as spot news and spectacle – wonder why they didn’t get the weighty, anthropological treatment assigned to the tea parties.

. . .

Murphy, who calls the attention “absolutely ridiculous,” sees it of a piece with what has become the biennial compulsion in the political community to hold up a newly-discovered, and always pivotal, bloc of voters; Like the Angry White Males, NASCAR Dads, Soccer Moms of election cycles past – only on steroids.


In some ways, perceptions of the tea partiers have become much like the politician most frequently identified with the movement – Sarah Palin.

For both the left and the right, both have become symbols that outweigh their actual impact – thanks largely to excessive media attention.

That’s about right.

I know, but

Gay activists, according to this article in the leading gay publication The Advocate, are ‘desperate’ for Obama to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I absolutely understand; they must continue the pressure until it happens, else – in the nature of things – it’ll be pushed down the road forever.

Here’s the ‘but’:  politics matters and unless Obama plays the politics right and chooses his time carefully, I don’t think the repeal will happen at all in this administration. And if he is followed by a Republican, progress could be delayed for a decade or more.

Think the Clinton 1993 health care disaster. Choosing the right time is part of the art of the possible.

When things worked

So today is Earth Day. The 40th Earth Day. There’s a large segment of our society – much larger than there used to be, or at least much louder – who find cause for scorn and ridicule in this.

Forty years ago the United States was a dirty and polluted place. Garbage was visible in all rivers and lakes and parks and on city streets. People thought nothing of tossing food wrappers and empty cigarette cartons out the windows of moving cars. A few lakes were actually on fire. Fish kills were regular events and we all saw them.

In the 60’s my father and a friend were forced into the Hudson River in NYC to clear a propeller of debris or their small boat would have been stranded in a busy shipping lane with very likely fatal consequences. Drifting was not an option. Before entering the river, they coated their bodies – especially ‘orifices’ – with motor oil. And once they had the motor restarted, they headed directly to the 79th Street pier, where they hailed a cab and went to the nearest hospital. The river was that bad. And it terrified them. Both men remembered with sadness their own boyhoods  in the 19-teens and twenties, when the Hudson River was their local ‘swimming hole’.

The air was filthy and dangerous. Los Angeles would go months without seeing a clear sky. The air in NYC was full of visible particulate matter and every factory in the country just dumped their waste product into smokestacks and rivers.

The legislation we began to enact back then gave us the much cleaner and healthier air and water we have today.

We should be encouraged that people can indeed be a force. Earth Day mattered. It still matters.

Today we have a paralyzed legislature which doesn’t move as quickly as their predecessors did, when it moves at all. So perhaps before we return to nation-wide activism for new ecological action, we should address the matter of our Congress and our enabling media.

The question is as it always was – how?

Good morning

Well. Almost caught up – spent two days at the theatre where a previous assistant and I built a digital library from 60 years of photo archives (45 of which were paper photos needing to be scanned from almost 500 unique productions) as well as historic stuff – buildings and people. Fun but furious. Two days of seven intense hours each day on a single project is not something I’ve done in a while. It was nice to be so needed and utterly utterly exhausting.

A meeting today on a separate project almost wraps up my backlog caused by the crud, whatever it was. And in any case, as summer approaches things begin to slow down.

The pool nears completion – they say two weeks. A younger and stronger friend will then join me in cleaning up and replanting the back yard. Progress.

It would be nice to see more progress in Afghanistan, where it is the 196th day of the ninth year of the war.

Sometimes . . .

. . . the blog takes a back seat – a way back seat. And so it’s been for a number of days now, as I climb out from under altogether too many obligations. There’s a tee shirt out there that says “stop me before I volunteer again” which is funny, but doesn’t ring true for me. My volunteer commitments involve ongoing responsibilities I have undertaken.  To back off a bit would  take some time. And I’m not even sure I want to back off; the last three weeks I got behind and am now in catch up mode. So once I get through the current to-do list, I’ll reevaluate. But till then, blogging will continue light.

But my personal schedule doesn’t stop the clock – today is in fact the 194th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

Lights. Camera. Action!

Incomprehensibly, the British continue to emulate “the American way” and have now added American-style PM debates to their campaign process. Of course, they’ve also been availing themselves of US campaign strategy companies, who now sell their services all over the world because campaigning is an industry now and no longer just a season.

So the Brits have jumped in. The first televised debate was this week. I think campaigns have a time limit by law in England, but our James Carvilles and Karl Roves will no doubt figure out a way around that, because there is m-o-n-e-y to be made. And the longer the campaign, the more money there is to be made.

I think they’ll discover that as practiced today, debates are no longer an integral part of the democratic process. They are pure entertainment, and they diminish us by trivializing leadership and leadership issues.

Of course, no matter how much we dilute the seriousness of government and governance, we somehow always find the political will to send soldiers marching to war. As in Afghanistan, where today was the 192nd day of the ninth year of that war.

Friday. Yet again

Oh lovely. Either I forget Friday altogether, or mistake Thursday for the big oldies day. I shall consider yesterday’s premature post of the Friday oldie as a bonus. Here, on this 190th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan, is the real Friday night oldie. Enjoy.  How sad that this voice was eventually lost to the spectacle of stardom.

Eating their own. So yummy.

Starring Michael Steele and Karl Rove. Bring on the popcorn!

Catholic disgrace

I’m sure we’re all pretty versed in the disgraceful behavior of the Catholic Church hierarchy in the pedophile scandal. As horrendous as the actions of the involved priests were, they were criminal matters and should have been handled as such. The disgrace to me has been the Church’s own reaction: cover up by bishops, cover up by Vatican hierarchy, tolerance of the behavior. A good deal of the cover up was also criminal behavior, but no need to hold our breaths on that one.

As a woman, raised Catholic, who left its odd embrace in my late teens, I’ve always viewed it as a ‘woman hating’ institution. I still  feel that way.  Ironically, had they been able to get past that and abandon celibacy, I don’t believe this would ever have happened.

If priests were parents, if bishops were parents, this would never have been tolerated. It’s their very place outside the human experience that allowed such perversion of moral  judgement to thrive.

Do we care about tomorrow?

This morning, Gene directs me to an article in the New York Review of Books, by Tony Judt, taken from his new book Ill Fares the Land. I entirely agree with Gene that this is a very important article/book indeed. It describes where we are presently as a society, compares that to where we were until the 80’s, and compares quality of life measurement with our sister nations – mostly Europe – where financial and social practices track our own to a large extent.

The article reads well even to the economic novice and includes clear graphs measuring his premises. The gist is that we have turned away from being a social democracy invested in our future and well being, to an increasingly unequal society with collapsing infrastructure increasingly beholden to the moneyed class whose interests are not the good of this nation but only of their own wealth. It’s a fine read for tax day – makes me want to pay more taxes.  It does.

Some outtakes that struck me:

No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.  —Adam Smith

“Something is profoundly wrong with the way we live today. For thirty years we have made a virtue out of the pursuit of material self-interest: indeed, this very pursuit now constitutes whatever remains of our sense of collective purpose. We know what things cost but have no idea what they are worth. We no longer ask of a judicial ruling or a legislative act: Is it good? Is it fair? Is it just? Is it right? Will it help bring about a better society or a better world? Those used to be the political questions, even if they invited no easy answers.

“. . . Poverty is an abstraction, even for the poor. But the symptoms of collective impoverishment are all about us. Broken highways, bankrupt cities, collapsing bridges, failed schools, the unemployed, the underpaid, and the uninsured: all suggest a collective failure of will. These shortcomings are so endemic that we no longer know how to talk about what is wrong, much less set about repairing it. And yet something is seriously amiss. Even as the US budgets tens of billions of dollars on a futile military campaign in Afghanistan, we fret nervously at the implications of any increase in public spending on social services or infrastructure.

“. . . The consequences are clear. There has been a collapse in intergenerational mobility: in contrast to their parents and grandparents, children today in the UK as in the US have very little expectation of improving upon the condition into which they were born.

“. . . Inequality is corrosive. It rots societies from within. The impact of material differences takes a while to show up: but in due course competition for status and goods increases; people feel a growing sense of superiority (or inferiority) based on their possessions; prejudice toward those on the lower rungs of the social ladder hardens; crime spikes and the pathologies of social disadvantage become ever more marked. The legacy of unregulated wealth creation is bitter indeed

“. . . Although countries as far apart as New Zealand and Denmark, France and Brazil have expressed periodic interest in deregulation, none has matched Britain or the United States in their unwavering thirty-year commitment to the unraveling of decades of social legislation and economic oversight.”

Well worth a read. And well worth some thought.

Yup. Friday oldies.

When I was a teen, The Platters were my favorite group, probably because their sound was perfect for ‘slow dancing’, which was where we fell in love on a regular basis. Back then, being ‘asked to dance’ was proof positive of eternal devotion. So it felt pretty good.

OMG, OMG

For decades, April 15 has inspired passion among the don’t-tread-on-me crowd. So for today’s Tea Party, it’s a defining day. They’re gathering in Freedom Plaza (where the hell is that?) in D.C. to make their voices heard. And we can be sure they will be heard, because if there are more than a few dozen and they have cool signs, our fearless cable media will be there with cameras tightly focused so that a few thousand look like a real crowd.

Seems a good time to review the ‘founding document’, compiled by interested observers and named “The Pledge”. It’s a platform if you will. A platform for the Tea Party in the form of an oath.

UPDATE: Digby at Hullabaloo, one of the savviest of bloggers and a founding liberal voice in the blogshpere, has read her way through the latest NY Times/CBS News poll (so you don’t have to). From her post:

They are extremely negative and angry. And they really, really hate Barack Obama.

. . . Regardless of your overall opinion, do you think the views of the people in the tea party movement generally reflect the views of most Americans? 84% of the self-identified teabaggers said yes. (In fact, 25% of the general public agrees with the view of  the tea party movement). 78% of them said they hadn’t donated or attended a rally. 68% haven’t even visited a web site.

Where are they getting their information? 63% of them get their TV news from FOX. 53% believe that Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity are news shows.

UPDATE II:  A great observation from Digby (I do like the way this woman thinks): I was pretty stunned to see that over half the public [not just the Tea Party] believes Obama is moving the country toward socialism. I’m beginning to think he might as well do it.

Money, money, money, money

She can buy her own camo now for those photo ops. No more borrowing jackets from the local National Guard. When I look at this picture, I think I can hear what she’s actually thinking. Hmmmmm. . . .

“Ouch! This material is too rough, they should use a softer fabric! Anyway, I like the green ones better guys! Wonder if they’ll let me keep this? I could use it on the boat.”

Or maybe she’s thinking about other things. Like quitting her job as Alaska Governor so she could begin to haul in the cash from the rubes. The Palin knows exactly what she’s doing.  $12,000,000 in  nine months. And even more delicious, her unmarried-mother teenage daughter has just made an abstinence commercial.

We are indeed the rubes. We deserve to this show-biz nonsense; we deserve to be shown as the utter fools that we are. And the Palins may laugh all the way to the bank.  The grifters among us; whole damn family.

Manwhile, the folks who wear real camo and carry 80 pounds of gear every waking moment have families are food stamps while they’re in Afghanistan on this 189th day of the ninth year of the War there.

Our best and brightest

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) is on CSpan and he’s deeply worried that we are going to chase all our derivates business off shore because our regulations are going to be sooooooo unfair. Why, these companies exposed themselves to HUGE risks, he says, and we need to keep that kind of spirit in the U.S.

Johanns is a new Senator; he’s a former Governor.

He thinks financial reform legislation was doing fine until Obama and the Democrats got involved in the process. The more he talks, the angrier he’s making me and that’s not the right way to start a day.

He is an idiot.

A lovely morning

At least it’s still morning here in my cozy little breezy and sunny latitude. This was my front yard this morning, this 188th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

These are lovely egrets – shore birds who visit the neighborhood periodically, especially after rain when the pickin’s are good!

Bet he’s a bud of Boykins*

At least the Army is court martialing his ass. Jeez. There are always a few of these wandering around in the Military, but a Lietenant Colonel?

 * General William Boykin, Christian solider

Oh just grow up

Or, as Antonin Scalia put it re Bush v Gore, “get over it”.  Chris Cilizza of  The Washington Post is one of the very whiniest of the famously whiney White House Press Corps who continue to be certain that it’s all about them. Silly silly childish people. I’m very tired of them.

He’s really upset today because Obama had all those cool world leaders over at his place and Chris wasn’t invited.

Ahhh, now I see . . . .

Turns out there is a good reason to fear Obama’s efforts to reach out to the rest of the world. If we let him do this global grown-up stuff, our kids’ education could suffer!

The market speaks

The right seems not to believe the market when it speaks. If the mainstream media is liberal, and corporate America supports mainstream media, and the people support mainstream media (with their dollars), what does that say about the country?

via Media Matters:

At least 100 advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck’s Fox News program since he called President Obama a “racist” who has a “deep-seated hatred for white people.” Here are his April 12 sponsors, in the order they appeared:

  • Rosland capital
  • Easy Water
  • National Review
  • Pfizer/Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals (COPDguide.com)
  • Lear Captial
  • American Petroleum Institute (EnergyTomorrow.org)
  • News Corp. (FoxBusinessWins.com)
  • Hydroxatone
  • Tax Masters
  • Weekly Standard
  • Life Lock
  • Wholesale Direct Metals (HelpWithGold.com)
  • Beaches by Sandals
  • The Jewelry Exchange
  • Merit Financial
  • IRSTaxAgreements.com
  • Goldline International
  • News Corp (Wall Street Journal)
  • NutriSystem
  • American Advisors Group

Ole Glen is so busy warning his audience about who’s out to get ’em, that he hardly some more important things. Like the fact that today is the 187th day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

Admit it! You miss him.

Remember this?

Admiral Awesome

“Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.” Dick Cheney, actual vice-president of the US, April 30, 2001

(Most offensive, condescending and cynical  thing he ever said.)

He forgot to tell the Pentagon not to bother.

USA Today: It’s not just the troops’ uniforms that are green: The U.S. military says its investments to conserve energy and water are beginning to pay off, with benefits for cost, national security and troop safety.

The Army has cut water usage at its permanent bases and other facilities around the world by 31% since 2004, according to Pentagon data. The amount of energy used per square foot at Army facilities declined 10.4% during that same period.

Morning!

Heading out to see if Office Depot has yet figured out how to remanufacture ink cartridges – the exchange transactions alone take sufficient clerical time that they may want to reconsider offering this particular product line. Time perhaps to bite the bullet and buy the big HP cartridges. A friend tells a not nice story about buying refills online. At least buying them in the store makes return more convenient.

The sun is shining and I have no meeting till after lunch, so I have enjoyed a leisurely shower, donned a fresh pair of jeans and am about to treat myself to the NY Times and breakfast outside at a place where they have those wooden picnic tables that swing back and forth in the fresh air. If the pollen stays down, this might be a very nice morning.

It’s also the 186th day of the ninth year of hte War in Afghanistan.

Barney gets it just right

I can’t embed this video – it’s hulu and a plug in seems to be required. Whenever I don’t understand how something works (like plug ins) I keep some distance, So I can only urge you to follow this link.

Barney Frank appeared on the Leno show and they talked about the current political climate and the polarization out in the country. Frank spoke of the difference between ‘then’ (the ’80’s, when Frank came to Congress) and ‘now’. And he says it’s not just wingnuts or crazies – they’ve always been there in abundance on both sides – he says it’s the amount of attention they’re accorded by a careless press. I remember the days of The Weatherman and other assorted leftist crazies – their activities were reported by the press of course; their opinions were never solicited by the press however, it being assumed that they were not be particularly rational.

FRANK: “And I think that part of the problem is that the worst behavior these days gets encouraged rather than discouraged.” and  Frank’s message for today’s protestors?  “Rudeness is not a substitute for thought.”

The media has become part of the problem – inflating things that were once barely worth their attention.

Okay, the real Friday oldie

Running out of oldies accompanied with real time video, but there’s still plenty of fun songs. The Del Vikings!

Friday, but this isn’t the oldie

Ever since the emergence of the Irish dance troupe Riverdance, there seem to be more and more dance troupes emerging onto the pop scene. Which is only good –  I love it when young people are exposed to more art. Especially forms that are new to them. This one – from Britain’s Got Talent – is clearly the result of hard hard work and extreme discipline. And the final product is superb. Not perfect, but these guys are entirely self taught. Note also the ongoing influence of Michael Jackson, who created an entirely new American dance form. And it will survive. Flawless:

A legend in his own mind

Our old friend, Newt Gingrich, was, remember?, forced out of the House leadership by his own caucus in the 90’s after his strategic move to ‘shut down’ the Federal Goverment ended up exploding in the Republicans faces. Probably one of the most bizaarre and unsucessful of all Newt’s odd endeavors. (Let us neither forget his unique public itterations = remember ‘women having thier periods in foxholes will be how we’d lose wars’? Tell it to Joan of Arc!)

Well, Steve Benen at Washington Monthy, who does real reporting (unlike what I do here which is selective cutting and pasting) notes that Newt is back at it. He seems to have a short memory, Newt does. I think most people do remember their personal humiliations, but I guess that norm can’t stop a disgraced one. Even so, this one is hard to fathom.

“”When we win control of the House and Senate this fall, stage one of the end of Obamaism will be a new Republican Congress in January that simply refuses to fund anymore,” he said. “The Congress doesn’t have to pass the money. If EPA gets no money, it can’t enforce cap and trade.”

Benen goes on: That’s been the new line since the healthcare reform bill passed and Republicans realized they probably wouldn’t be able to repeal it. Gingrich, and some lawmakers, have instead been talking about simply not paying for it. But what Gingrich proposed Thursday went beyond just that — to refusing to pay for anything the (hypothetical) GOP Congress didn’t want to let President Obama do.”

So – let’s do it again. Because it’s bound to work out differently this time. Apparently this line got the biggest applause of the speech. So Newt does not forget alone.

Moving right along

It seems Rep Bart Stupak has announced his retirement. (For the sake of my party, I hope to god he doesn’t go to work for an insurance company!) From the Atlantic Online just now:

“Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) plans to announce his retirement today, Democrats briefed on his decision said. Stupak, the leader of a pro-life faction within his party, had received death threats and was under intense political pressure after he agreed to support the Democratic health care reform legislation even though pro-life groups insisted that it would allow federal funds to be used for abortion.

Stupak negotiated a compromise with the White House, which resulted in President Obama’s issuing of an executive order clarifying the executive branch’s view of the subject. For that, Stupak was called a traitor to the pro-life cause. Stupak has represented Michigan’s first congressional district for 18 years. He will make public his decision at a press conference later today.”

I guess 18 years of stalwart adherence to a cause is not enough for these people. Do they understand that without political compromise we’d be in a permanent state of war? Can they not get around the fact that compromise is the only thing that keeps us functioning as a republic?  No. They do not.

 

Time to say NO! NO! again

TPM tells me that Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens will retire this summer. Per TPM:

“The retirement sets up a Senate confirmation battle for Obama’s nominee over the summer. (The Senate also faces a tough fight in coming months over ratifying the administration’s nuclear arms treaty with Russia, just signed this week in Prague.) Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation took just over two months.”

Since everything Obama does is illegitimate, expect two big fights coming up.

You know who’s not having a good morning? Firefox is not having a good morning.

Web browsers are not allowed to have b-a-a-a-a-d days. Is Firefox not aware of this?

For now, until I or someone who actually knows what they’re doing, locates my problem, I’m using Microsoft Explorer  – which is like going back in time to your childhood home and being surprised by how small it is. For one thing, it stops me at every single point (here, on my own blog for instance) to ask me if I am aware there are (w-h-h-h-o-o-o-o-o-!) insecure items on this page!!

When I need computer help, I turn to the lovely Todd, who was the contract IT guy – still is – at the theatre. Before I retired I saw ole’ Todd pretty often. We became friends. Now, however, whenever he comes or I got to him for problem solving (the mother board dying last month?), he will not be persuaded to charge me actual money.  And while I often drop a case of his favorite beer at his front door, that doesn’t feel sufficient. I am hesitating to call Todd for fear of appearing to abuse the friendship. And upping it to two cases still won’t feel proportionate. Since I need him – and probably can’t trust anyone else at this point – I need to come up with something else. Just sayin’.

I wonder if Microsoft is aware that today is the 183rd day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.