Monthly Archives: July 2010

There’s a fat lady out there singing for me

Not that it ever mattered, but I have always believed there would never ever ever be a time in my life when I would agree with anything uttered by Jonah Goldberg (editor of NRO, spawn of Lucienne Goldberg [LBJ’s Monica] and frequently and inelegantly referred to in the lefty blogshpere as the ‘doughy pantload’ – vulgar, I know, but . . . ), but omg, here I am doing  just that.

In a post on NRO’s blog The Corner, he gently, softly and affectionately takes to task his dear dear wonderful and usually so upright friend Andrew Breitbart (the author of yesterday’s “racist black lady!!!” kerfulle) on that subject. And in so doing, he adds:

“Meanwhile, as a matter of politics, I think this episode demonstrates that this White House is a much more tightly wound outfit than it lets on in public. The rapid-response firing suggests a level of fear over Glenn Beck and Fox that speaks volumes.”

I agree. Maybe not with the why, but with the inappropriate speed of the responses. The fat lady cometh.

Empty, empty, empty

I’ve been trying to wean myself off commenting on the vacuous and vacant kefuffles that erupt and pass for news. And failing. (As it says to the right, I find that “Resistance is futile”.)

But bad behavior by ‘journalists’ in the ‘liberal media’ is always on my list. And now, bad unprofessional behavior by two in 2008, criticized as such by fellow journalists at the time, has been redrawn as proof that not only is the media liberal but they conspire to protect Obama.

The outrage of the last week or so has centered on a ‘list serve’ called Journolist, begun by Ezra Klein of the Washington Post. He created it as a place for journalists to discuss and tangle with the stuff they were reporting about. List serves are common in industries – hell, I belong to one and am about to try to start another. But they’re not public – although anything with hundreds of members is not very secret.

The way this became an outrage is just too long for me to recount. Go google it.

Now over the last 48 hours, there’s a new twist which has inspired hours of radio time, the usual FOX treatment and an explosion of right wing outrage in the blogshpere. The indignity – the thing which has set them off –  has to do with comments on the list serve following the 2008 Presidential debates, where George Stephanopolous had asked Obama about Rev. Wright and also why he didnt’ wear a flag pin. At the time, a number of media critics and list serve participants –  took issue with that – charging  the two moderators with a failure to address or ask about the pressing issues of the day.

This old and sorry and not particularly substantive story is what’s set our right wing friends afire. They’ve interpreted it to mean that liberal journalists conspired to protect Obama from hard questions and the criticism following the debate was because anything re Rev. Wright was a hard question so that proves conspiracy. Follow that?

My head hurts.

This 2008 column from Greg Mitchell at Editor & Publisher pretty much describes what the list serve thread was criticizing:

“In perhaps the most embarrassing performance by the media in a major presidential debate in years, ABC News hosts Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos focused mainly on trivial issues as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama faced off in Philadelphia. They, and their network, should hang their collective heads in shame.

“Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the health care and mortgage crises, the overall state of the economy and dozens of other pressing issues had to wait for their few moments in the sun as Obama was pressed to explain his recent “bitter” gaffe and relationship with Rev. Wright and not wearing a flag pin — while Clinton had to answer again for her Bosnia trip exaggerations.

“Then it was back to Obama to defend his slim association with a former ’60s radical [Bill Ayers] — a question that came out of right-wing talk radio and Sean Hannity on TV, but was delivered by former Bill Clinton aide Stephanopoulos. This approach led to a claim that Clinton’s husband pardoned two other ’60s radicals. And so on. The travesty continued.

“More time was spent on all of this than segments on getting out of Iraq and keeping people from losing their homes and — you name it. Gibson only got excited complaining that someone might raise his capital gains tax. Yet neither candidate had the courage to ask the moderators to turn to those far more important issues. Talking heads on other networks followed up by not pressing that point either. The crowd booed Gibson near the end. Why didn’t every other responsible journalist on TV?” [emphasis mine]

 

Stop me . . . .

Friend Elaine tells me there’s a t-shirt out there for retirees that says Stop me before I volunteer again. Certainly something to keep in mind for the future. But right now the stuff I do tends to be stuff I always did. I’m just doing more of it. (That being said – every friggin’ thing I get involved with seems to share a deadline date with every friggin’ other thing. Which is not fair!)

The latest project is a committee formed by the local LGBT group under the auspices of Equality Florida. A terrific group with a great goal – get our municipality to pass a Human Rights ordinance which will include gender language. For this one, I was approached by a friend who’s deeply involved and begged that I join – You don’t have to do anything. Really. We just need a few straight people on this committee who know other people. Honest. That is all you have to do. Just be there.” 

Being a tech savvy bunch, we do our business mostly on a Google group list serve which is very convenient. This morning, I have 16 emails from that list serve group. Now I’m thinking of going back to bed.

Like Elaine said: Stop me before I volunteer again.

Irresistible. Totally.

Via Dependable Renegade today:

Also . . .

They’re just figuring this out now?

Former Vice President Dick Cheney is recuperating from surgery to implant the kind of mechanical pump now being given to a small but growing number of people with heart failure so severe that they would most likely die within a few months without it.

The pumps are partial artificial hearts known as ventricular assist devices, and they come in various models. Mr. Cheney’s kind is about the size of a D battery and leaves most recipients without a pulse because it pushes blood continuously instead of mimicking the heart’s own pulsatile beat. Most such pulse-less patients feel nothing unusual. But they are urged to wear bracelets or other identifications to alert emergency room doctors as to why they have no pulse.

Remember this?

In the Bush administration, and after 9/11, Admiral John Poindexter proposed a new level of surveillance inside the country. Deaf to the power of language apparently, he named the program Total Information Awareness. Most people recoiled. Press reports at the time said the program was not undertaken or it was begun but shut down or it was merged into other programs – press reports were garbled and ultimately not reliable. Wikipedia’s entry (link above) seems sound.

If the name of the program weren’t sufficiently frightening, the logo they developed is terrifying.

This morning, The Washington Post has released a very important study, compiled and reported over two years and in cooperation with Public Broadcasting’s Frontline program, of the size and state of the US Intelligence apparatus.

From the summary:

“After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.”

They’ve created a separate and very interactive website is up and it includes a trailer for the Frontline documentary to be aired in October.

Top Secret America:– A Washington Post investigation –  A hidden world, growing beyond control

I think we are all obliged to read it. And then, I think we are all obliged to make noise. Although it may just be too late to undo what’s been done.

Let us hope it’s not too late to bring some troops home from the escalating war in Afghanistan. Today is the 284th day of our ninth year there.

Here’s why

So Argentina has made gay marriage fully legal in the country. Well, good for them. Here’s a video Ed sent me – says it all really.

Friday oldie

It was blessedly cool this morning here in southwest Florida and I headed out to the backyard to do a chore I’ve been eyeing for some weeks. Now, I am not a gardener and I fail at most yard work. But this had been bothering me – a high quality perennial being strangled by a vine. I went at it.  FAIL.

Regaining my senses, I fled back inside and poured a Diet Coke.

This one goes way back.

Nuff said?

July 15 (Bloomberg) — Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, whose endorsement of George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cuts helped persuade Congress to pass them, said lawmakers should allow the cuts to expire at the end of the year.

“They should follow the law and let them lapse,” Greenspan said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Conversations with Judy Woodruff,” citing a need for the tax revenue to reduce the federal budget deficit.

It always happens

An old six year projection from CNN

Obama is turning grey. Of course he’s at an age when aging becomes visible. Our last two presidents entered office already having grey hair (although Clinton went from grey to white), so we haven’t seen this in a while.

The TV is on and he’s congratulating the congress on passing the financial reform bill.

He looks good grey. And it’s a comfort to those of us who aren’t crazy about having presidents younger than ourselves.

Living history

A cool story from The New York Times this morning – excavators at the site of the Trade Towers have unearthed an 18th century wooden ship. The archeologists have been called in. I hope they’re able to actually expose the entire thing.

Nope. Reading further, it appears that’s not going to happen:

The area under excavation, between Liberty and Cedar Streets, had not been dug out for the original trade center. The vessel, presumably dating from the mid- to late 1700s, was evidently undisturbed more than 200 years.

News of the find spread quickly. Archaeologists and officials hurried to the site, not only because of the magnitude of the discovery but because construction work could not be interrupted and because the timber, no longer safe in its cocoon of ooze, began deteriorating as soon as it was exposed to air.

For that reason, Doug Mackey, the chief regional archaeologist for the New York State Historic Preservation Office, was grateful for the rainfall. “If the sun had been out,” he said, “the wood would already have started to fall apart.”

Oh fer god’s sake . . .

FOX News is terrified of and outraged about the “New Black Panther Party”.  And they want you to be very afraid. Very very afraid. 

I rarely watch Keith Olbermann anymore, but am glad I tuned in for a few minutes tonight to hear him put the ‘threat’ in perspective. 

“The New Black Panther Party is three guys. 

America is at greater risk from the New Christy Minstrels.” 

U.S.A.!!! U.S.A.!!!

Long ago and far away and why were we all squinting?

Friend Jim sent me a link to today’s Tom Friedman column. He often makes my teeth hurt – Friedman, not Jim! – (anyone remember the Friedman Unit?). But this installment is rich with stuff I didn’t know before. Like:

“Look, if you had told me that we had just arrested 11 Finns who were spying on our schools, then I’d really have felt good — since Finland’s public schools always score at the top of the world education tables. If you had told me that 11 Singaporeans were arrested spying on how our government works, then I’d really have felt good — since Singapore has one of the cleanest, well-run bureaucracies in the world and pays its cabinet ministers $1 million-plus a year. If you had told me that 11 Hong Kong Chinese had been arrested studying how we regulate our financial markets, then I’d really have felt good — since that is something Hong Kong excels at. And if you had told me that 11 South Koreans were arrested studying our high-speed bandwidth penetration, then I’d really have felt good — because we’ve been lagging them for a long time.”

Singapore pays its ministers a million a year? Holy Elvis!

 

A friend returns

One of my favorite new bloggers has been a bit too busy to entertain me recently, but he’s back today with a wicked good post about BP. Check it out.

They’re eating their own

And still the punditocracy thinks the GOP can take congress in November.

We apparently have two Tea Parties in Iowa. And they are not on the same page.

 “The North Iowa Tea Party paid to put up the billboard in downtown Mason City, drawing criticism — including criticism from others in the Tea Party movement.  Rhodes, the chairman of the Iowa Tea Party, hopes the new blank slate that’s now in that spot could be put to better use.”

Maybe they can get Rand Paul on the ticket too

If I were Glenn Beck and had any actual aspirations, I’d move heaven and earth to shut this down.

Money for money

BP has their fingers crossed yet again, and a few million residents of the Gulf Coast weep as their way of life disappears. Just another day in the greatest country ever governed by an almost entirely owned Congress.

From today’s New York Times‘ (that paper so thoroughly quoted by Glenn Beck) lead editorial:

“No industry enjoys the array of tax breaks and subsidies that the oil and gas industry does . . . Industry has spent $340 million on lobbying over the last two years to block [initiates to limit the tax breaks]”

So. Let’s see how that goes.

I drive by a big box store with a fully lit parking light six hours after the store has closed and am comforted by the knowledge that those lights can burn on as long as our soldiers keep fighting those wars. Like in Afghanistan, where today is the 277th day of the ninth year of the war.

Nothing short of higher energy prices will change how we behave in this country. Our disgraceful wasteful ways go on. We should be so very ashamed.

He just broke the looking glass

 

The liberal media wants to eat your children

Lonesome Rhodes just told his FOX audience that the government is complicit in denying the media access to areas of the Gulf oil spill. And he says, the media has been silent about this outrage. 

To prove his point, he quoted extensively from a story in The New York Times

There are no sharks left. 

Ends at 2pm; whoops, sorry. Ends at 1:47pm

CNN Sunday – Fareed Zacharia’s show GPS; 1pm to 2pm. Always a great show. Today – probably been this way all along, but I hadn’t paid such close attention before – it effectively was over at 1:47pm. From that point, in between the commercials (at least 20), CNN gave us a 30-second ‘top news’ segment: there’s oil in gulf and some bandit doesn’t wear shoes. At 1:54pm, they brought Zacharia back for 60-seconds to do the requisite podcast, twitter part. And now at 1:55 we are back to the commercials. I believe there will be one more 30-second segment coming in which Zacharia will recommend a book and tell us he hopes we have a great week and to come back next Sunday, on which day his show will no doubt end at 1:46pm.

News I Pay For. Not.

UPDATE: No book. 15 second segment only and it seems soccer is good. And now back to regualr CNN news: there’s oil in gulf and some bandit is barefoot.

Maybe now?

It’s long past time to take those damn tasers out of the hands of  police and private security. Way past time. We’ve been treated to the taser outrage of the week for a few years now. They’re weapons of an authoritarian state and they’re too often  in the hands of people who are ill-equipped to make judgement calls.

But now that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s own nephew has been criminally abused at a New Orleans hospital, will the issue be re-examined?  I hope so.

From Raw Story today:

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is reportedly “outraged” after security guards at a New Orleans-area hospital were accused of punching and tasing his epileptic nephew, a news report states.

Derek Thomas was admitted to West Jefferson Hospital in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, Thursday, after a possible suicide attempt, reports ABC affiliate WGNO.

When the Supreme Court justice’s nephew refused to put on a hospital gown and said he wanted to leave the hospital, doctors ordered security to restrain him.

Security guards “punched him in his lip, pulled out more than a fistful of his dreadlocks and tasered him to restrain him,” a statement from Thomas’ family said.

Shortly afterwards, family members say, Thomas suffered a “massive epileptic seizure.”

Dear god. This is so distrubing.

Where’s the beef? Oh.

I’ve dropped a few comments into a thread over at The Center Square touching on the matter of income inequality. So it’s somewhat serendipitous that I just saw  new data on the subject:

The gap between the wealthiest Americans and middle- and working-class Americans has more than tripled in the past three decades, according to a June 25 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

New data show that the gaps in after-tax income between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest parts of the population in 2007 was the highest it’s been in 80 years, while the share of income going to the middle one-fifth of Americans shrank to its lowest level ever.

At Crooks and Liars, I picked up this chart from the published CBPP report. It’s stunning really. It only measures one decade, but the direction is pretty clear. And this is before the Bush tax cuts that mostly benefitted the top 1%. (I’m sure they thought that was really decent of him!)

To lighten your load

Housecleaning here at the blog this morning (I know, I know. The house, I know). I found a vid dropped in comments by The Arborist* some time back. And what a delight it is, especially if you ever loved Star Wars. And even if you didn’t.

(* – Arb, I’m in HTML mode and can’t seem to link. Sorry.)

Friday night oldie

There were a legion of very silly songs in the early 60’s; they were the last gasp of an earlier day at a time when rock was gaining ground (early rock, really really early rock). The Chordettes (Andrews Sisters wanna-be’s – fail!) were a group I’d managed to forget. But they had a few hits. Here’s their big one. (Catch Andy Williams and – at the very end – a quick glimpse of The Everly Brothers!)

UPDATE: Just relistening to some of  my oldies here (because of a flurry of comments on Friday Oldies from Doug); these lyrics are stunningly graphically sexual – or that’s how they’d be read today. Back then, that was NOT how they were written. Such a different world.

This is just exhausting

Here’s how to wind down on a summer night in Southwest Florida . . .

  • load dishwasher and turn it on
  • step out onto lanai, strip stark nekkid and slide into the pool
  • float
  • look at sky (and whatever stars manage to show themselves through the ambient light of 14 million people)
  • dry off just a bit, come inside wearing towel and slippers
  • pour a drink, sit down and settle in for the Daily Show.

Teh sardonic

Yikes. This will mess up the script at FOX News and the EIB Network – yup, it’ll really screw up that script. Wonder what Neil Cavutto will have to say tomorrow?

“Whether it is their residence, a second home or a house bought as an investment, the rich have stopped paying the mortgage at a rate that greatly exceeds the rest of the population.  More than one in seven homeowners with loans in excess of a million dollars is seriously delinquent . . .”

Formatting fail

In the post below part of my own language got caught up in formating so it looked like part of the quote.

The line “CNN fired her. Cowards.” is mine, not the reporter’s from Think Progress.

That is all.

Bowing to the State

Don't get in the way of Mr. Kristol's wars you tart!

The right wing press has taken to the fainting couch today ( mostly the neo-con ‘we’re gonna kill them all’ corner – or rather, the ‘we’ll be sending someone else’s sons and daughters to kill them all’ corner) over CNN’s Senior Editor of Mideast Affairs Octavia Nasr. Upon the death of a Lebanese Grand Ayatollah, she dared to tweet that he was a loss. She said she had respect for him.

Legions of heroes immediately began clamoring for her head. She then tweeted a follow up:

“I’m sorry because it [the tweet] conveyed that I supported Fadlallah’s life’s work. That’s not the case at all . . .  

Here’s what I should have conveyed more fully:

I used the words “respect” and “sad” because to me as a Middle Eastern woman, Fadlallah took a contrarian and pioneering stand among Shia clerics on woman’s rights. He called for the abolition of the tribal system of “honor killing.” He called the practice primitive and non-productive. He warned Muslim men that abuse of women was against Islam. […]

Sayyed Fadlallah. Revered across borders yet designated a terrorist. Not the kind of life to be commenting about in a brief tweet. It’s something I deeply regret.”

CNN fired her. Cowards.

Think Progress adds:

“The punchline here is that Sayyed Fadlallah was the religious guide, or marja’ al-taqlid, to numerous members of Iraq’s ruling Da’wa Party, including Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. This means that they looked to Fadlallah as a source of religious authority on matters relating to correct Islamic life and practice, and committed to following his edicts on those matters. So here’s the neocon logic: When a reporter acknowledges the passing of a revered, if controversial figure in a way that doesn’t sufficiently convey what a completely evil terrorist neocons think that figure was — that’s unacceptable. But when the United States spends nearly a trillion dollars, loses over 4,000 of its own troops and over 100,000 Iraqis to establish a new government largely dominated by that same “terrorist’s” avowed acolytes — that’s victory.”

Emerging meme

Suddenly, I seem to be encountering a somewhat archaic idea – have heard it referenced three times in the last few days. Let’s keep an eye on the phrase ‘social cost’, expressed as a legitimate consideration in evaluating freedoms (nothing new, but the philosophical underpinning has been somewhat out of favor in recent decades).

An example today from Andrew Sullivan: Sin taxes are not the same as prohibition; they just help to finance the social costs of the sin.

The subject was a possible ‘sugar tax’ on soda, something that’s been discussed for a number of years. Probably decades – now it seems to be making its way into the media.

Common sense peeking out?

This – from James Fallows at The Atlantic – would make me hopeful that we stand a chance of returning to some sort of sanity in this country had I not seen far more evidence pointing the other way. I’ve just hated this stuff ever since I saw my first New Jersey barrier.

Fallows:

“A reader who works in the main Citibank building in Manhattan writes to report:

  • “My office building is the world headquarters of Citibank. In the wake of 9/11 they decided they needed increased security and so have required all bags and packages to go through an x-ray machine. You could be carrying Dirty Harry’s revolver in a shoulder holster under your jacket,, or ten pounds of plastic explosive taped to your chest, but your attaché case had to be screened. Amazingly, after nearly nine years of doing this, they stopped this week, although the announcement from building management reassuringly told us that the x-ray machines are in storage and can be wheeled out at a moment’s notice. “

“[May we] hope that the broader society will follow this brave beacon? “

My own local county court shares a building with many other county offices and the building is wide open to the public. It has multiple entrances and parking lots on three sides. The courtroom, which is upstairs, has elaborate security set up at the entrance, manned by as many as four deputies at a time (they trip over each other). Getting to the courtroom from elsewhere in the building wouldn’t be difficult, but I assume the fancy pricey security equipment makes everyone feel safer. 

So we hide behind our scanners and let strangers look inside our shoes, while a few hundred thousand young Americans do their jobs under fire, walking across land mines on this 271st day of the ninth year of the War in Afghanistan.

When they come home, they’ll probably find us under our beds; we are such sissies.

Unbloggiest evah!

Unbloggy happens. Attention turns elsewhere. Holiday mind set continues past holiday. Plus, I have a good book.

Without a hitch

The American Civil War was about a lot of things, but it wasn’t about presidential succession – we’ve managed to do that seamlessly for 234 years. Just wow. Thanks gentlemen. And Happy Fourth!