Monthly Archives: December 2010

We were all Fair Game

Convicted criminal Scooter Libby with his boss, Dick Cheney

Saw Fair Game yesterday, the current movie about the outing of  the CIA’s Valerie Plame by the Bush White House, done to punish her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson for speaking truth to power –  it was a classic drama in real time and a worthy movie subject.

But. It would have been a much better movie without Sean Penn and it would have been a much more honest movie had it not borrowed so freely from All The President’s Men. Penn was a problem – I thought – because his personal involvement with left-wing causes spilled over into the Wilson character.

It’s always good to be reminded of some of the more sordid moments in our history. Especially given – as we’ve since learned – how deeply Plame was involved in counter-terrorism at the time that the White House ‘outed’ her. How petty the retribution against Wilson was – had they understood any history, they would have known that the best way to minimize damage from  Wilson’s revelations would have been to ignore them. But they let their lesser natures rule and did far more damage to their cause than Wilson’s op-ed ever could have. Silly and petty people.

And the thing they were protecting wasn’t information; they were protecting their own lies.

And so we’re still in Iraq. And of course we’re still in Afghanistan where today is the 70th day of the tenth year of that war.

Comment spam anyone?

I’ve got a mailbox full of comments on a single post – all one sentence, all look legitimate. But they’re spam. Started last night – I also had dozens in my spam filter at wordpress which I deleted, but these made it through – and they’re still coming.

Anyone else experiencing this?

UPDATE: Via Emma and Auntbethany, I find that I’m on WordPress’ Front Page today. Or this hour. Or these ten minutes. It’s definitely cool though a fleeting honor. That probably explains the onslaught of comments, so perhaps it’s temporary. But then, it appears a dozen or so have subscribed here. If it doesn’t slow down I’ll have to contact my blog host. Tootin’ my own horn here; someone’s got to do it.

UPDATE 2: Dear Elvis! There are 142 comments waiting in my spam filter at this moment. I’m headed off shortly – I almost dread what I’ll return to. Have a feeling I’ll definitely be contacting WordPress today.

More stores! More lanes! More, more, more!

 On widening a local road:

“[My County Commissioner Jon] Thaxton compared widening roads to relieve traffic congestion to “loosening one’s belt buckle to cure obesity.”

He’s said – perfectly – what I feel.

Some ‘slow growth’ candidates have recently made it into office – a great thing for my local county, where for years we’ve followed the Los Angeles development model: sprawl. And that means roads, big barren multi-lane roads that look like airport runways.

In the 16 years I’ve lived here, I’ve mourned as tree lined streets became Walgreen’s or CVS’s with their enormous, blindingly lighted, paved parking lots – the lots retard water absorption in the rainy season,  causing a lot of water runoff . Which has to go somewhere. So we construct elaborate and expensive ground water catch systems so the roads don’t flood. And that water – which is supposed to go into the ground so it can seep back into the Florida aquifer (so we can do things like drink it) –  instead is directed to the local waterways where it is dumped into the bays and eventually the Gulf.

But this is America and if Walgreens wants to build a drugstore on every corner, that’s their right so they can sell us beach chairs (even though we could buy those beach chairs at any of the frackin’ 800 other stores that sell them) so we can go and watch the water run into the Gulf

According to this morning’s Herald Tribune (link not working):

“But now, with the $54 million project on the cusp of moving forward, some prominent county leaders are coming out against the project, calling it a waste of money that will not significantly reduce congestion.

“On Monday, the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization — a panel of local officials including mayors and county commissioners — voted to include the bypass widening in a list of projects it wants the state and federal government to fund between July 1, 2011, and June 20, 2016.

“But the 9-5 vote signals the project could face trouble. Ordinarily, votes by the MPO’s board are unanimous. Dissension, especially by as many as five members, has been virtually unheard-of.”

This is just excellent. They’ll probably lose this time, but that fat lady hasn’t sung yet.

Richard Holbrooke and Scotty

I just heard that Ambassador Richard Holbrook has died. You can read all about him pretty much anywhere – one of the giants in contemporary American foreign policy. It’s a big loss for all of us.

But it’s a particular loss for my nephew (in-law) – a bright, enthusiastic, gifted young man who works at the State Department where his beat is Afghanistan / Pakistan. And where Richard Holbrooke mentored him from the beginning.  He’s  traveled to Af/Pak, met some of the people I can only read about, and actually knows some people whose books I read! An accomplished kid of whom we’re all proud.

Tomorrow, Scotty is to become a father for the second time. But tonight, he has lost a friend. That’s a lot at once when you’re young. So I’ll be thinking of Scotty tonight.

TUESDAY UPDATE:  Happy to report that Scott and my neice have just become the proud parents of Charlotte – 20 inches, 7 pounds, black hair (black hair??? they’ve are, respectively, blond and redheaded!) All is well with the world.

The Geminid meteor showers – brrrr, do I have enough blankets in the house?

Well, tonight is to be the coldest of the year – so far. Deep freezes in December? Who knows what January holds!

National Geoghraphic tells me that between midnight and dawn (tonight/tomorrow morning) is  peak time to view the annual Geminid meteor showers. The action is mostly in the western sky – which is the coldest side of the house of course.

Wonder if I’ll make it?

Good morning

The gate yesterday

I suppose on this 68th day of the tenth year of the War in Afghanistan, I should not complain – not about being unbloggy, not about my grapefruit tree producing small fruit (still delicious, but never saw them this puny size before), not about anything really – but I did suffer a tragedy this morning.

My much beloved new addition to the house – the gate I installed to turn the carport into a private and spacious work space, that gate – was blown down and twisted last night when we had gale force winds (and maybe a little local tornado) which made very scary noises thru the night, all presaging a cold front and another blast of that cold cold air – we’ve been told to expect a hard freeze tonight and probably tomorrow.

This morning

This morning from the top

I have spoken to the brilliant Sean who created the gate and repairs will be done as soon as the wind dies down. And he’ll reinforce it a bit.

I imagine if the troops abroad knew about my gate, they’d be very concerned.

8 hours, 35 minutes

Sen. Bernie Sanders just wrapped up his filibuster. Good for him. I listened from 4:30 till now and could have gone on for hours. He was riveting.

Hey Republicans, that’s a real filibuster.

Friday oldie

Still listening to Bernie – an hour ago he said ‘before I go’ . . . but it is Friday, so here you go.

A real filibuster. Right now.

I’ve been off-grid, off-line almost all of today – got home a short while ago and, as I do, checked the news by scanning the news channels. I landed on CSPAN2 and am staying there. Bernie Sanders is filibustering the tax bill. The cryon says he began at 10:25 a.m. today – almost eight hours.

I cannot remember the last time there was an actual filibuster in the US Senate.

UPDATE: Politico has a story up dated 4:04pm, almost an hour and a half ago. They were apparently among the 12,000 people trying to access the Senate’s video servers at the same time – the servers crashed. I don’t understand why their story isn’t being updated. Wonder how long Bernie will go on?

I just checked and the last real filibuster appears to have been in 1986 – SEn. Al D’Amato of NY went for 15 hours. The longest in modern history was by Strom Thurmond. He went for 24 hours trying to stop the 1957 Civil Rights Act.  He read the phone book.

Bernie is still on subject – reading constituent letters right now.

Meet the cyber citizen

As of today, Wikileaks is being mirrored on over 1550 sites worldwide. The numbers are still growing. Meanwhile, thousands of hackers have jumped in to punish those companies who seem to be bowing before Joe Lieberman.

This is more than drama. It’s a harbinger of some unknown thing to come. Something new is happening; segments of society that haven’t tried to move anything before are flexing their muscles and they like how it feels.

This episode is introducing something into our lives that will remain – the cyber citizen has arrived I think.

Well, at least we had Woodstock

I wish there had been Facebook when I was younger. Just read through last few days and there’s so much affection, so much humor, so much fun dirty talk. I’d like to participate at that level, but it’s entirely inappropriate for someone my age, so I pretty much stick with comments, gentle ones at that.

But it would have suited me very well back when.

New GYWO as good as the old GYWO

Get Your War On was an online cartoon series – political, devastating. They stopped publishing a few years ago. But just today- New York Magazine is running a reprise! I hope this portends more in the future. I was a HUGE fan.

There are 21 new panels and here are a few – all about Afghanistan. (this is probably a serious copyright infringement, but information must be free!)

Shoot the messenger – yet again

The Julian Assange saga brings to mind another truth-teller who had to go.    

    Remember Ashleigh Banfield, the former ‘next big thing’ in cable news? Her reporting from the Twin Towers on 9/11 (she personally pulled an injured cop out of harm’s way fer Elvis sake!) and then from Afghanistan and briefly from Iraq was substantial, exciting, fiercely honest.

Banfield in Tora Tora with Afghan fighters

That was then. In April of 2003, a month after we invaded Iraq, in a speech at Kansas State, she criticized the news coverage of Iraq and how news out of Afghanistan had dropped off the radar. She said news coverage of the wars was shallow. Continue reading

Bad news all around

Brian tell me that Aretha Franklin is dying. Much suckitude this week.

Wars are easy

Ben reminds me this morning that “the price is now estimated at some three trillion dollars for the two wars. Not only that, we’ve had to borrow that money from Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, and other Middle Eastern countries so we could have our tax cuts.”

Oh, shame, shame on us.

And meanwhile, today is the 64th day of the tenth year of the War in Afghanistan.

Another of Moe’s pet peeves

This is the second time I’ve posted a pet peeve and it is once again about language. I was just listening to CNN – something I usually avoid as I do all morning TV – and they were reporting a story about police getting ready to blow up a residence that was full of bombs. The reader reported that “they’ll blow up this home . . . ” Ouch.

When I grew up and for the centuries before then, a building where families or single people resided  (or even intended for that purpose) was a ‘house’ . In it, said people made a ‘home’. We understood ‘home’ to be pretty much where Mommy and Daddy lived – in thier house.

In the 1980’s, as residential real estate agents moved from being service providers to being masters of the universe, ‘home’ became the more marketable concept. It especially had cachet for those who’d never owned a house before.

And so today, one word has completely replaced the other and – I believe – lost meaning in the process; it’s become cheap. ‘Home’ is no longer ‘where the heart is’; it’s just  a building. Usually for sale.

Before the day is over

Ohhh, they like ole Joe as much as I do . . .

The Guardian.uk is live blogging the entire wikileaks cables story. I was just there and found this delightful little throw away:

“Speaking of Senator Joe Lieberman’s one-man war against WikiLeaks – which mainly consists of Joe going on TV. . . “

Don’t bother me with details!

(Update below) Wikileaks is now being mirrored on something like 750 sites (list here) world wide which pretty much guarantees continued access to their information. I don’t know if Sen. Lieberman (and now Sen. Diane Feinstein) are in the mood to go after web sites all over the world.

I just visited Wikileaks.ch (first time for me). Here’s something from their introduction page re the diplomatic cables which we’re unlikely to hear:

The cables, which date from 1966 up until the end of February this year, contain confidential communications between 274 embassies in countries throughout the world and the State Department in Washington DC. 15,652 of the cables are classified Secret. [My note: that’s 15,652 of the quarter million cables they have.]

And I’ll never stop saying this:

(It’s still about the banks guys. Wonder when that promised document dump from inside a ‘major US bank’ is coming?)

UPDATE: As of 11pm tonight, Wikileaks is being mirrored on 1005 sites – it doubled in a few hours. I’ll look in the a.m. and see what it’s up to.

The long long road from a White House tradition to Matt Drudge’s front page

Headline at Drudge Report:

How many people does it take to put up a Christmas tree for the Obamas?

The above headline appears under a picture  of the White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room. Where there has never before been a White House Christmas tree.

He got it from here.

I can’t leave this alone

And the reason I can’t leave it alone is because it’s important. We should all be disturbed by the unprecedented attack on wikileak’s founder/editor Julian Assange.

I have said before – I am agnostic about him, his actions and his organization. I am, however, not agnostic about the attacks on wikileaks web site and the attempts to silence an inconvenient muckraker, whistleblower – call him what you will, the man is not a criminal.

Glenn Greenwald today:

WikiLeaks has posted to its website only 960 of the 251,297 diplomatic cables it has.  Almost every one of these cables was first published by one of its newspaper partners which are disclosing them (The Guardian, the NYT, El Pais, Le Monde, Der Speigel, etc.).  Moreover, the cables posted by WikiLeaks were not only first published by these newspapers, but contain the redactions applied by those papers to protect innocent people and otherwise minimize harm. 

So when is Joe Lieberman going after those papers?

Image from here, where you’ll also find an ironic statement from Hillary Clinton which includes this:

Courageous journalists across the globe risk their freedom and their lives to provide independent information on government actions and their consequences; report the news from conflict zones; expose crime, corruption and wrongdoing; and reveal human rights violations – all despite efforts, in some cases, by governments and others, to control what people read, hear and think.

And, again:

(It’s still about the banks guys. Wonder when that promised document dump from inside a ‘major US bank’ is coming?)

Meanwhile . . .

(Did I mention this is Florida.)

More about missing the point

Glenn Greenwald at Salon has a series of terrific posts about government and corporate overreaction re wikileaks and especially about Julian Assange. And about the dangers inherent in what constitutes an attack on free speech.

Greenwald is a constitutional lawyer, a long time blogger before his Salon gig, a tad verbose (but he does have a lot of good stuff to say!) and prolific. He’s always worth checking in with.

He’s here.

The realm of the ridiculous

Al Capone. Mugshot information from Science an...

Image via Wikipedia

I guess this is like arresting Al Capone on tax evasion. Julian Assange of wikileaks is now in custody in London and has been denied bail.

Naomi Wolf writes an open letter to Interpol today with one of the all-time great headlines:

Julian Assange Captured by World’s Dating Police

She notes:

I see that Julian Assange is accused of having consensual sex with two women, in one case using a condom that broke. I understand, from the alleged victims’ complaints to the media, that Assange is also accused of texting and tweeting in the taxi on the way to one of the women’s apartments while on a date, and, disgustingly enough, ‘reading stories about himself online’ in the cab.

Both alleged victims are also upset that he began dating a second woman while still being in a relationship with the first.

Of course, the ever alert Chris Matthews, upon hearing of htis for the friggin’ first time last week, sputtered “but this guy’s a rapist! A rapist!” Matthews is great on politics, not so good on anything else.

(It’s still about the banks guys. Wonder when that promised document dump from inside a ‘major US bank’ is coming?)

I haz a sad

Thrasybulus (what a wonderful 18th century nom de plume!)at conscience of a progressive  is not happy with a president about whom he was very enthusiastic  not long ago. He speaks for many of us, although, in comments, I disagreed with the ‘messianic’ part. What I see is a failure of leadership and a failure to trust the core principles of progressivism, of liberalism, of the Democratic Party – name it what you will, our president isn’t delivering.

Such short memories

While commenters here and pundits everywhere bluster about how Obama’s policies are to blame for today’s unemployment and debt – not to mention the world wide financial crisis that was well under way by the time he took office, I feel compelled to re-post a few old favorites.

Here’s a little history lesson re the debt. Periods of debt (as a percentage of GDP) increases are seen in grey.

This chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is number of jobs lost, which of course – cumulatively – is the basis for unemployment figures. (Jan ’08 to Nov ’09)

New boss, same as the old boss

We’re finally crackin’ down on those Wall Street miscreants! Yippeeee! The AG had a press conference yesterday and he said they at the Justice Department were all kinds of proud of ‘Operation Broken Promise’ and have “brought cases against 343 criminal defendants and 189 civil defendants”

Way to go Justice Department, right?

Today, New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin says “I actually called some chief executives after Mr. Holder’s news conference, and not one had heard of Operation Broken Trust.

“That’s because in the two years since the peak” of the financial crisis, the government has not brought one criminal case against a big-time corporate official of any sort.

“Instead, inexplicably, prosecutors are busy chasing small-timers: penny-stock frauds, a husband-and-wife team charged in an insider trading case and mini-Ponzi schemes.”

Yeah, that’ll do it.

Hello god, this is Florida calling

And if you don’t mind, that artic air mass is a tad too far south.

Good morning

I watched the Wikileaks story percolate over the weekend and observed careless people saying many careless things. Sen. Joe Lieberman for instance (along with the Iranians and Chinese) appears to be all for The State coming down on anyone who takes tea with someone who was rude to The State. But then, ole’ Joe gave us that odiously named Department of Homeland Security, didn’t he.  So no real surprise.

Sometimes I wonder if this sad man who finessed himself into representing my old home state (Joe to CT Dems: Not going to elect me? Screw you, I’ll run against your so-called primary ‘winner’) despite their clear desire to toss him out is actually some bizarre historical joke. How can a child of the Holocaust admire a name like Homeland? It does not compute.

Anyway, this short not well thought-out rant is all that I have at the moment.  And I embrace any opportunity to repeat how angry I get when thinking of how Joe Lieberman betrayed us.

More of him please.

Small city mayor and most popular ever. Long time Congressman, now Senator. Bernie Sanders is the goods. I treasure that I met him a few times when he was a mayor – the first time, he was very busy and juggling phones, paperwork etc and mid sentence started handing me things. “Hold that, will you?’ Back to the phones. Then, “hand me that, will you?”. We hadn’t yet been introduced. I was enchanted.

Bernie says what no one else will.