Saturday, July 02, 2005

Revenge Is Sweet

I'll be curious to find out how you look in an orange jump suit, Karl, you creep (to wit...).

One Rolex = 1,000 Meals Ready to Eat

Leave it to the Bucks County Courier Times editors, grinches that they are, to point this out (though I reluctantly admit that they have a point).

Thumbs Down to Live 8 organizers who plan to shower performers with expensive gifts – all while bringing attention to poverty in Africa.

Performers aren’t getting paid for their performances but organizers plan to thank them by offering Hugo Boss gift bags loaded with $3,000 in high-fashion goodies. Artists can also personalize their bags by adding $2,000 Gibson guitars and a $4,000 Bertolucci watch.

What? Hello? We realize that these sorts of gifts are often made available to celebrities at awards shows and other star-studded events, but are expensive gifts in the name of poverty really appropriate? Why not forego the gifts and just write a check for the same value (even half the value!) to an African aid organization?

We can only hope that artists, struck with a feeling somewhere between irony and guilt, will chose to shun these gifts. But we’re not holding our breath.
By the way, it looks like no "Live 8" TV for me, since I'm having a full day with the young one:-( (that's OK).

A "Taxi" For Those In Need

What follows is a great Guest Opinion column that appeared in today's Bucks County Courier Times from a man named Greg Rossi about “Live 8,” but more importantly, about a guy who was trying to feed the hungry and not making headlines in the process years ago:

(Rossi is a clinical social worker and a therapist with a private practice in Yardley.)

Today, artists performing at Live 8 will raise money for impoverished people.

Three decades back a passionate and dedicated singer-songwriter steadily gave 50 percent or more of his concert proceeds to organizations that fed hungry people and worked to eliminate the cause of hunger.

Tragically, 24 years ago on July 17th, a car accident on the Long Island expressway cut his life short.

His name was Harry Chapin.

“Feed the man dying of hunger,” the legal philosopher Gratian said, “because if you have not fed him, you have killed him.” Harry Chapin understood these words well. He believed that while it was important to feed the hungry it was also important to free them – to address and remedy the systemic and structural causes of hunger.

Harry knew that there was – and still is today – more than enough food to feed every man, woman, and child on the planet. He understood that hunger is a symptom of poverty and poverty is a symptom of underdevelopment.

Harry was on a mission because he had a vision. Believing that people are basically good, he understood that hunger is a solvable problem, and that heartfelt compassion, when tempered with prudence and reason, can alleviate myriad forms of human suffering.

Harry also understood that compassion is fundamentally an attitude, a choice, and in the final analysis, a decision – the willingness to enter into the heart of someone else’s suffering and be moved to alleviate it. From the gift of one’s heart, he knew that all else, and more flow.

To that end, his passion and his commitment were endless.

So what did Harry do? In addition to committing half of his concert proceeds, this singer-songwriter lobbied then-President Carter to authorize a Presidential Commission on World Hunger, actively served on it, and co-founded the World Hunger Year organization. Sometimes referring to himself as “a third-rate folk singer,” he was a tireless advocate for oppressed people.

In our own country, bodily hunger has many disguises: a child who cannot learn in school because he doesn’t have enough to eat; a senior citizen whose fixed income forces a choice between medication and energy bills; an unemployed person whose resources are necessarily limited and inadequate. Of course, spiritual hunger; be it for companionship, connectedness or community is no less painful.

What can one person do to feed the hungry?

Join an organization such as Bread For The World or World Hunger Year, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or write your legislators to restore funding for school lunch programs. Support the social outreach efforts of your synagogue or church. Read about the systemic and structural roots of hunger. But don’t stop there. There are other hungers. Visit a nursing home, befriend a lonely teenager, or spend time with anyone who has lost a loved one. In your own way, share from your heart. Connect.

The courage to feel others’ pain, the passion to do something about it, a love for humanity, and determination to alleviate human misery – Harry’s was a life well lived. In a tribute written just after he died, Ralph Nader and Mark Green wrote that Harry was “a model of what Justice Felix Frankfurter described as ‘the highest position in a democracy – the office of citizen.” They concluded, “That was no third-rate folk singer. Only a first-rate American.”

Today with Live 8 we celebrate the irrepressible human spirit and the enthused determination of young and older people to touch the lives of others with the kind of patriotism that sees beyond race, creed, class, orientation and national borders to recognize, instead, a friend in the face of those, who, for any reason, suffer.

Compassion that frees, heals and empowers is the kind of music and “live aid” that would make anyone sing out. It was one of Harry’s gifts, it imbued his art and his life, and it was a song he never tired of singing.

That office of citizen? It belongs to us all.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Let's Send A Message

And now, some words from Sen. Patrick Leahy from the beautiful "blue", green mountain state of Vermont:

This morning, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement from the United States Supreme Court.

This is a momentous time in our nation's history. The next justice will have enormous influence on a woman's medical decisions, the rights of workers and consumers, the civil and privacy rights of us all, the enforcement of our environmental laws, how our elections are conducted, and nearly every other aspect of our lives.

We cannot allow the independence of our courts to be threatened by a judicial activist who places personal ideology above the law. The Supreme Court is no place for fringe judges. And the Senate is not a rubber stamp for any president's nominations.

Join me in calling for inclusive, thoughtful deliberations during this process:

The Constitution requires that the President seek the Senate's advice and consent in making appointments to the federal courts. As a Senator and as the Democratic leader of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I take this responsibility very seriously.

America must maintain separate but equal branches of government. Neither the legislature, nor the judiciary, should be subjugated to the will of any president - or to the loudest wing of any political party.

In recent years, the President has chosen a path of confrontation rather than consultation with the Senate.

I voted against Janice Rogers Brown, a judge quoted telling conservative audiences that the New Deal "mark[ed] the triumph of our own socialist revolution," and that elderly Americans who depend on Social Security "blithely cannibalize their grandchildren."

I voted against Priscilla Owen, a judge who inserts her opinions into the law so freely that President Bush's own attorney general once called her behavior "unconscionable ... judicial activism."

Once again, the power to avoid political warfare over a judicial nominee -- this time to the Supreme Court -- is in the hands of the President. The process begins with him.

President Bush will decide whether there will be a divisive or unifying process and nomination. If consensus is a goal, bipartisan consultation will help achieve it. I believe that is what the American people want and what they deserve. The President can unite the nation and the Senate with his choice, or he can once again divide us.

Join me in calling for meaningful consultation between the President and Senators on both sides of the aisle at:

If the President chooses a Supreme Court nominee because of that nominee's ideological fervor or record of activism in the hope that he or she will deliver political victories, the President will have done so knowing that he is again choosing the path of confrontation. He will do so knowing that we will once again be forced to defend our belief that the Supreme Court should not be an arm of either political party. It belongs to all Americans.

If the right-wing activists who were disappointed that their nuclear option was averted convince the President to choose a divisive nominee, they will not prevail without a difficult Senate battle. And if they do, what will they have wrought? The American people will be the losers: The independence of and respect for the judiciary will have suffered a damaging blow from which the judiciary may not soon recover.

We need to send a message that the Supreme Court should be above such partisan politics at:

The President and Republican leaders have a choice: choose a battle that divides America, or seek a middle ground with a nominee we all can trust to fairly interpret and uphold the Constitution and the law. Let the Senators who will make this important decision know that America doesn't want us to rubber stamp the President's nominee. Tell them now:

I will be working with Democracy for America during this historic period to keep you up to date on the Senate's deliberations. If you would like to send me your thoughts during this debate, please do so at:

Thank you,

Senator Patrick Leahy
Ranking Democratic Member, Senate Judiciary Committee

Justice O'Connor Steps Down

I'm sure you've read the story by now, but in case you haven't...

(David Sirota had another good take on this, by the way...this site isn't really a commercial for his blog; it just seems that way sometimes.)

In my mind, Justice O'Connor distinguished herself in recent years, particularly in her remarks about the eminent domain ruling recently (though, as I said, I think she was arguing about something other than what the court was ruling on). Another diplomatic moment for her came in this area when she was awarded the Liberty Medal at the opening of the Constitution Center on July 4, 2003, and the stage scaffolding around her collapsed. (It was a squabble between two of the unions, and I'm a union guy, but even I admit that's what me.) Luckily, neither she nor Gov. Ed Rendell were hurt. However, Sen. Rick Santorum was denied the blow on the head that he truly deserved then as now:-).

Justice O'Connor also wrote the 5-4 decision of the court in 2003 endorsing race-based college admissions at the University of Michigan's law school. To me, that was another conservative hissy fit anyway. Sure, go nuts over this, but then wouldn't there be a problem with "legacy" college admissions because they often receive preferential treatment also?

Anyway, I think one of the best ways to appreciate her work is to read these quotes from decisions in which she was involved to one degree or another (even though she was one of the "Stop-The-Bush-Gore-Recount" bunch, I think she redeemed herself somewhat). These are from "".
Do the best you can in every task, no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time. No one learns more about a problem than the person at the bottom.

• I don't know that there are any shortcuts to doing a good job.

• We don't accomplish anything in this world alone, and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one's life and all the weavings of individual threads form one to another that creates something.

• Slaying the dragon of delay is no sport for the short-winded.

• Young women today often have very little appreciation for the real battles that took place to get women where they are today in this country. I don't know how much history young women today know about those battles. (2003)

• Society as a whole benefits immeasurably from a climate in which all persons, regardless of race or gender, may have the opportunity to earn respect, responsibility, advancement and remuneration based on ability.

• Yes, I will bring the understanding of a woman to the Court, but I doubt that alone will affect my decisions. I think the important thing about my appointment is not that I will decide cases as a woman, but that I am a woman who will get to decide cases.

• The power I exert on the court depends on the power of my arguments, not on my gender.

• The more education a woman has, the wider the gap between men's and women's earnings for the same work.

• Despite the encouraging and wonderful gains and the changes for women which have occurred in my lifetime, there is still room to advance and to promote correction of the remaining deficiencies and imbalances.

• Each of us brings to our job, whatever it is, our lifetime of experience and our values.

• The family unit plays a critical role in our society and in the training of the generation to come.

• We pay a price when we deprive children of the exposure to the values, principles, and education they need to make them good citizens.

• The courts of this country should not be the places where resolution of disputes begins. They should be the places where the disputes end after alternative methods of resolving disputes have been considered and tried.

• (PLANNED PARENTHOOD v. CASEY, June 29, 1992: Opinion written by Justices O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter; joined in part by Stevens and Blackmun) Liberty finds no refuge in a jurisprudence of doubt. Yet, 19 years after our holding that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy in its early stages, Roe v. Wade (1973), that definition of liberty is still questioned.

We are led to conclude this: the essential holding of Roe v. Wade should be retained and once again reaffirmed, in three parts:

1. The right of the woman to choose to have an abortion before viability.
2. The State may restrict abortions after fetal viability if the law contains exceptions for pregnancies which endanger the woman’s health.
3. The State has legitimate interests from the outset of the pregnancy in protecting the health of the woman and the life of the fetus that may become a child.

• The Establishment Clause prohibits government from making adherence to a religion relevant in any way to a person's standing in the political community. (from Lynch v. Donnelly, concurring opinion, 1984)

• It is difficult to discern a serious threat to religious liberty from a room of silent, thoughtful schoolchildren.

• A moment of silence is not inherently religious.

• It is a measure of the framers' fear that a passing majority might find it expedient to compromise 4th Amendment values that these values were embodied in the Constitution itself.

• Senator Barry Goldwater, in response to Jerry Falwell's statement that "good Christians" should oppose Sandra Day O'Connor's nomination to the Supreme Court: "I think every good Christian ought to kick Falwell's ass."
Update 7/6: For another opinion, click here.

Support Through Dissent

In light of the upcoming holiday, I thought Ellen’s Goodman’s recent column about everyone with a “Support Our Troops” decal on their vehicle was thought-provoking, though I have to admit that I don’t feel “silenced” in this debate. As far as I’m concerned, “SOT” is code from Frank Luntz meaning, “shut up and do what Bushco tells you to do,” though I have seen those stickers sharing space with Kerry/Edwards stickers (kind of makes we wonder, though that’s probably just a well-intentioned gesture).

I also thought Bill Moyers had some great things to say about this a few weeks ago in a speech defending himself against Kenneth Tomlinson, Bush's hit man recently put in charge of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Here is what Moyers recalled saying on a broadcast of NOW before the start of Iraq War II about all the "Support Our Troops" decals and jacket/dress pins:

“I wore my flag tonight (on my jacket), (for the) first time. Until now I haven’t thought it necessary to display a little metallic icon of patriotism for everyone to see. It was enough to vote, pay my taxes, perform my civic duties, speak my mind and do my best to raise our kids to be good Americans. Sometimes I would offer a small prayer of gratitude that I had been born in a country whose institutions sustain me, whose armed forces protected me and whose ideals inspired me. I offered my heart’s affection in return. It no more occurred to me to flaunt the flag on my chest than it did to pin my mother’s picture on my lapel to prove her son’s love. Mother knew where I stood. So does my country. I even tuck a valentine in my tax returns on April 15th.

"So what’s this doing here? I put it on to take it back. The flag’s been hijacked and turned into a logo, the trademark – the trademark of a monopoly on patriotism. On most Sunday morning talk shows, official chests appear adorned with the flag as if it’s the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. During the State of the Union, did you notice Bush and Cheney wearing the flag? How come? No administration’s patriotism is ever in doubt, only its policies. And the flag bestows no immunity from error. When I see flags sprouting on official labels, I think of the time in China when I saw Mao’s Little Red Book of orthodoxy on every official’s desk, omnipresent and unread.

”But more galling than anything are all those moralistic ideologues in Washington sporting the flag in their lapel while writing books and running web sites and publishing magazines attacking dissenters as un-American. They are people whose ardor for war grows disproportionately to their distance from the fighting. They’re in the same league as those swarms of corporate lobbyists wearing flags and prowling Capitol Hill for tax breaks, even as they call for spending more on war.

”So I put this on as a modest riposte to men with flags in their lapels who shoot missiles from the safety of Washington think tanks, or argue that sacrifice is good as long as they don’t have to make it, or approve of bribing governments to join the ‘Coalition of the Willing.’ I put it on to remind myself that not every patriot thinks we should do to the people of Baghdad what bin Laden did to us. The flag belongs to the country, not to the government, and it reminds me that it’s not un-American to think that war, except in self defense, is a failure of moral imagination, political nerve and diplomacy. Come to think of it, standing up to your government can mean standing up for your country.”
I couldn't agree more.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Intelligent Psychosis

Someone called Michael Shermer has a great message for Kansas (courtesy of The Huffington Post).

Memo to Howard Dean

Read David Sirota's blog post today...


Blue Dress Stain vs. Iraq

The Daily Kos reminds us that Bob Herbert, Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times, recently had this to say:

The incompetence at the highest levels of government in Washington has undermined the U.S. troops who have fought honorably and bravely in Iraq, which is why the troops are now stuck in a murderous quagmire. If a Democratic administration had conducted a war this incompetently, the Republicans in Congress would be dusting off their impeachment manuals.
To be sure.

Also, Jamo Foser is blogging today for The Al Franken Show site (link in the right column) with more great thoughts in a similar vein.

(update 7/1 - Chris Floyd does it again!)

A Coward In Charge

In a way, I’m surprised by this, but in a way, I’m not.

If our former hostages say Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was one of those criminals, then I believe them.

The problem is that we really can’t do anything about it. What we should do is go to the U.N. and try to get some satisfaction; namely, an investigation into Ahmadinejad’s background to find out if he really was one of them. If it turns out that he was, then he should make reparations of one sort or another to the hostages he victimized.

You’re reading this (hopefully) and probably thinking, “I’ll just bet he tries to blame Bush for this somehow”.


Because we wasted so much good will after 9/11 on Bushco’s illegal war (as well as that truly idiotic “axis of evil” reference in that State of the Union speech a few years ago), we don’t have the credibility in the eyes of other member nations in the U.N. that we once did to get moving with what I suggested above (and yes, we DO NEED THE U.N., in case any right wing knuckle draggers out there are reading this). Trying to get that whack job John Bolton named U.N. ambassador (who probably will get in as a “recess” appointment, unfortunately) doesn’t help the cause either.

As a result of our poisoned relations with so much of the rest of the world, nationalist sentiments are taking over. That explains the election result in Iran (and Rummy can have as big a hissy fit as he wants to over it, but it won’t change a thing). Of course, God forbid that we would actually reach out to Iranian moderates like Khatami. By our strident rhetoric, we put people like him on the defense immediately and cut off any chance we may have of reform.

Do you want an example of the right way to reach out to leaders who are trying to get democracies started in their countries? Read “The Unfinished Presidency” by Douglas Brinkley about Jimmy Carter, especially the chapter about Daniel Ortega and Nicaragua. When was the last time you heard about turmoil in that country, by the way?

(Here's an update...and why exactly should we take the word of thugs and criminals?)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

200 Years Of...Shopping?

My policy on the old site that I've tried to carry forward here was that I wouldn’t write about BS involving media personalities, though I know I made a joke about Tom Cruise earlier (and how could you not…let’s be honest).

I’m about to make another exception. I’d heard a little bit about this business with Oprah Winfrey and this high-end French department store that turned her away, but I really hadn’t read much about it until a few minutes ago, and I can tell you that that was quite by accident.

Apparently, what happened is that she had planned to shop after hours, possibly (depending on the account) to buy a watch for Tina Turner, her dining companion of the evening in question, and the store told her that they were closed and couldn’t accommodate her because they were setting up for some kind of publicity event. Another account stated that, though Winfrey and three friends saw others shopping inside, neither a clerk nor the store manager would let her in.

What really gets me about this, though, is some of the rhetoric that has been flying around regarding Winfrey and this story.

“The presumption in America is that if you have the wealth, you’ll get equality, but where’s Oprah’s equality?” asks Bruce D. Haynes, a sociologist at the University of California, Davis. “It picks up on every inkling of discrimination that a black person might experience in daily life.”
People, we’re talking about shopping at a department store here. It’s not like a cab in midtown Manhattan refused to pick her up on a rainy night at rush hour, or a cop stopped her illegally while she was driving and arrested her for a loaded handgun or a crack pipe, or she was denied a mortgage by an unscrupulous realtor because of the color of her skin.

She wasn’t allowed to shop at a department store because it was closed. I’m going to repeat that: She…wasn’t…allowed…to…shop…at…a…department…store…because…it…was…closed.

“Winfrey’s friend, Gayle King, who was there, told Entertainment Tonight, ‘Oprah describes it as one of the most humiliating moments of her life’.”

Harpo (Harpo Productions, Winfrey’s company) says Winfrey plans to discuss the incident in the context of race relations on her show this fall. Winfrey referred to the incident as “her ‘Crash’ moment,” a reference to the film dealing with this topic.
Let me just share something with you, OK? Now I am definitely just an average guy, no big deal in the scheme of things. On our honeymoon in Vermont, my wife and I wanted to buy a chandelier from a store in Manchester Center, but we got there a few minutes late. I tried calling the place, and my wife knocked on the door of the store, and they eventually let us in. However, they didn’t have to do that. It would have been a big pain in the butt to go back there again later, but we know that that would have been on us if that had been the case. Rightly or wrongly, that story is my frame of reference in this matter.

I know this may be strange talk coming from someone who calls himself The Liberal Doomsayer, but this is where I come down on the whole thing with Oprah Winfrey. There’s a word, and that word is ‘context’ (another word is ‘perspective’). When you stack this up against the civil rights struggles of the 60s, lynchings, and all of the other awful misery African Americans have had to endure in this country, I just don’t see where, to paraphrase Bogie, “this amounts to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”

One more thing: In case you’re wondering, I’m white.

Smile Awhile

Or, as the minister eulogizing Chuckles The Clown on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" said, "A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants."

(courtesy of

Risky Business Indeed

Geez, first he jumps all over Oprah's couch, then he gets all combative with Matt Lauer on the Today show, and now he says we should believe in aliens.

You think maybe Tom Cruise needs a shrink or something?:-)

A Slender Thread

This has been reported pretty thoroughly on other blogs, but today is the day that Matthew Miller and Judith Cooper will find out if they will be sentenced.

In case you haven’t been following this (which would be surprising to me), Miller and Cooper are the two New York Times reporters implicated in the scandal that outed Valerie Plame, a spy who is the wife of Joe Wilson, a diplomat who took Bushco to task over the fake “Niger Letter” that was proof, supposedly, that Saddam Hussein was purchasing yellowcake, an unfinished form of uranium commonly used to develop nuclear weapons (part of the justification for the war, of course). Outing Plame was Bushco’s payback against Wilson.

It is widely believed that conservative shill Robert Novak, who wrote the story that outed Plame, had to have received Plame’s identity from someone inside the White House, and if someone did that, that person is guilty of a felony. An irony to me is that Novak isn’t going to be touched along with any of his sources. Cooper was working on a story that had not been printed yet, and Miller was only gathering background information. Another irony in this is that Miller came down against John Kerry in her reporting of the 2004 presidential election.

The conventional wisdom that I’m reading says that, if any of them go up for this (and I’m temporarily downplaying the horrible “chilling effect” that this would have on news organizations for now), it will be Cooper, since she would never reveal a source. I read a spirited defense of her by conservative “godfather” William Safire, who also said that Novak should come clean and that this case should spur immediate Congressional action on “shield law” legislation across the country – I heartily agree, but good luck seeing that happen with the bunch we have now. I would link to Safire’s remarks, but to get the full background, you have to go to the New York Times site and register, and they have the worst online registration process that I’ve ever seen. I’ve also read that a deal may be in the works for Miller to turn over his notes, which would basically accomplish the purpose of revealing his source and let him off the hook.

(Update: the four reporters in the Wen Ho Lee case lost their appeal today also, though the reporting on that case, as much as I can determine, was a total hatchet job on Lee.)

(Another update on 7/1...Cooper is spared.)

As I was checking about this stuff online, I went to the Editor and Publisher site ( to find out more information, and came across information on this criminal case in Montreal.

As you can read from this link, convicted killer Karla Homolka is seeking an injunction against the press from reporting on her in any way after her anticipated release from prison, which could come soon. I haven’t seen any reporting on this story, though I’m sure it’s a big deal up north. I definitely do not support her action – she committed brutal, heinous crimes, and I believe she must deal with any consequences from that even though she has served her jail time.

This story concerns me because I can easily see the lawyers for this piece of human refuse named Dennis Rader – the self-confessed “BTK” killer who terrorized the area of Wichita, Kansas since the early 1970s – finding a way to try and fit Homolka’s legal action for their own purposes. I don’t think they will succeed either (I sincerely hope not, anyway).

Do I see a pattern between the Cooper/Miller and Homolka stories? Yes, even if that is a bit of a stretch because Homolka is in Canada. An injunction such as Homolka’s would have been unthinkable years ago, but her lawyers obviously believe that it could succeed because (I believe) the courts, acting on signals from politicians and the public, think they can get away with squelching information and suppressing the public’s right to know (even though that right often allows stretches into prurient territory). I admit that these two cases are vastly different in subject matter, but as I said, I think there is a bit of a slender thread between them.

Also (speaking of suppressing information), let’s look at the case of the records of Dick Cheney’s secret energy task force which met shortly after Dubya’s installation as president (the most prominent task force member being Ken Lay of Enron). David Sirota (who else?) uncovered this information regarding the judge who decided the records should remain secret.

It turns out US District Judge A. Raymond Randolph, who ruled in favor of Vice President Dick Cheney's efforts to keep his energy task force records secret, has ties to the oil industry. David Sirota notes that Randolph serves on the Judicial Advisory Board of George Mason's Law & Economics Center (he has apparently served there for at least a few years, and may still currently). This is the same Law & Economics Center famous for taking judges on training junkets, and for being financed with huge amounts of cash from oil industry giants like Exxon. Raymond is also an adjunct law professor at George Mason University, a place that has taken millions from Koch Industries -- another major oil company (for more on Koch's multi-million dollar ties to George Mason, see Media Transparency's special site).
This is another problem with court decisions regarding public information. Often, the judges who rule in these matters were either appointed or elected by people with a predisposition in support of business interests that don’t have an advocacy point of view, any desire whatsoever to state publicly what it is that they’re doing, or any motivation to comply with “sunshine laws” or other legislation passed with the goal of ensuring that the electorate is informed enough to act in a responsible way.


I could fill this site with all kinds of information from reputable sources and demonstrate conclusively that George W. Bush is perhaps the biggest empty suit to hold the position of President that this country has ever seen, but a lot of other people have done a good job of that already, and I'm trying to do something different here.

Suffice to say that, apparently, last night's latest attempt to pass himself off as someone worthy of his position by harping on the same warmed-over propaganda over and over was another cringing media moment that inspired dread more than anything else. With that in mind, I thought Arianna Huffington's take on it was interesting (with the appropriate tongue-in-cheek humor).

Today's CNN Quick Vote question: Which word best describes Bush's speech?

Reassuring - 17 percent
Uplifting - 7 percent
Worrying - 76 percent

Also, the best analysis I've seen of the speech so far (and I've seen a lot of good stuff) is at the Lying Media Bastards site (accessible from the right column link).

One more thing: isn't it nice to see how Bushco "supports our troops"?

(Update on 6/30 - Zogby dares to mention the "I" word: hmmm...)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Straight Dope On The Speech

Go to The Daily Kos and Americablog for lots of great coverage on Dubya's foray into prime time tonight (including his approval ratings, showing 50 percent or better in only 11 states, a fake moment of applause - unbelievable - and an excellent rebuttal from Sen. Harry Reid). They covered it better there than I could here.

Future Crock

(Or maybe not..this will be a long one).

Today on CNN’s site, there is a section that contains a bunch of commentaries by various people from different disciplines about the future and what they think it holds in store (my comments are blocked out in brown).

One of these individuals, a man named Ian Pearson, foresees the rise of a “care economy,” in which skills such as teaching and nursing will be very much in demand. His thought is that robots will do much of the rough manual labor that we do now and sophisticated AI applications (“artificial intelligence” for the uninitiated) will perform sophisticated business functions. The futurists have been talking about AI for years, by the way, but we may actually be getting closer to realizing that vision.

Also, in Pearson’s words, “We will be spending more time on human interaction and doing personal services for other people -- jobs like fitness gurus, lifestyles gurus, feng shui consultants, color therapists, job's that reduce people's stress, these sorts of things will expand dramatically and a lot of people will be working in these jobs.”

“Color therapists?” You mean like than man and wife in that goofball singing family in the folk music parody “A Mighty Wind”? “Oooh, honey….I’m stroking aqua velour fabric while chartreuse is permeating my being. Ommmm….”

To be serious about that for a minute, though, I should point out that I once worked with a very nice lady who left our employer to start her own personal services company (picking up cleaning, taking care of the house, overseeing the landscaping, etc.) to do the work that well-to-do or uber-rich people can’t do because they either don’t want to or they’re so busy with their jobs that they can’t be bothered. The last time I spoke with her, she was so busy that she barely had a minute to herself. I don’t know how profitable the venture was, though.
Also, Dr. Jakob Nielsen, the web usability guru, basically says that we will be able to do so much without leaving our homes that the price of real estate will fall through the floor, since, theoretically, it will make less of a difference where you live because you can do anything anywhere. Also, he says that “small hospitals will have the world’s greatest medical specialists on standby to diagnose patients through remote sensing.”
“Oh, honey, can you please dial the interactive medical channel for me on our 50-inch, high definition, plasma TV? I think I need some hormones for male dysfunction again, and my urologist is having an online diagnosis session beginning in a few minutes. I tried the orgasmatron, but I didn’t have any luck with it.”
Regarding travel, Ronald G. Larson, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Michigan, says that because we are increasingly mobile, viruses such as SARS and avian flu “pose a continual threat of a worldwide pandemic” (oh, great), but “novel, ‘lab on chip’ technologies are emerging that offer the potential for rapid, inexpensive, portable genotyping of viruses, allowing for the possibility of ‘on the spot’ diagnosis”.
From the New York Times, date 6/11/05:

Two reported new outbreaks of avian flu among birds in western China have raised fears that the virus is being spread widely by migrating birds and mutating rapidly.

The regional director for the World Health Organization, Dr. Shigeru Omi, told reporters in Beijing yesterday that the two recent outbreaks in remote areas in which hundreds of birds died were worrisome because they involved migratory waterfowl and domestic geese, birds that until now had been fairly resistant to the disease.

More than 13,000 geese were destroyed in Tacheng, in the Xinjiang autonomous region, after about 500 died of H5N1 avian flu, China's Agriculture Ministry reported.

Upon hearing of the news, the Bush Administration immediately questioned the scientific validity of the data, lambasted the Times as “a clearing house for liberal propaganda,” and stated that “the progress of free market reforms will enable China to implement health care measures to ensure public safety to a greater degree than ever before while we continue to run up irresponsible trade deficits with an oppressive regime that continually violates the basic human rights of its citizens.”

(OK, that last paragraph wasn’t really in the story – you got me. Nothing funny about this stuff, actually.)
Finally, Dean Kamen, inventor of The Segway (remember how our MSM cousins, including the Philadelphia Inquirer, went ga-ga over this novel but, for now, irrelevant piece of machinery?) had this interesting thought:

“The largest single cause of human disease, the cause of 80 percent of illness, is water-borne pathogens. This year 5.2 million people will die because of bad water. Yet in rich countries we use drinkable water to wash our cars and flush our toilets. I think in the next century you will see that all but disappear. Water will become more costly than oil.

The goal in my mind is to give people a way to take any source of water and make it pure -- to put a box in the middle of a village that would supply drinking water, no matter what the contamination, for 100 people. We're testing a device now and we're very excited about it.”

I can see it now – “Coming to a multiplex near you, that big-summer blockbuster everyone has been talking about: ‘Oilworld,’ starring Kevin Costner and Dennis Hopper, with Reese Witherspoon as the gratuitous bit of T&A. Special appearances by George W. and George H.W. Bush, Jim Baker, King Fahd, the president of Venezuela, and the Unocal Corporation.”

Actually, this makes it all the more urgent to deal with global warming and climate change (to be serious again for a minute), since that is probably hurting Africa more than any other continent, drying up more and more of the country and leading to subsequently more of the tribal chaos and civil wars that we’ve seen to date (that behavior happens for more than just environmental reasons, I know).

By the way, I’m not for a minute saying that we should own Africa’s problems. All I’m saying is that we should keep our eye on “the big picture” since, when it comes to other continents, we have an interest in each other because we all share the same ecosystem.

Of course, we can’t even realistically consider a more active role in the problem of African drought until after January 2009 at the earliest, when Bushco departs (ugh).
(back to me…)

As I read all of this, though, the one thought I have over and over is this. Who on earth is going to be able to afford all of these great innovations that will enable people to do everything from the safety of their homes and hardly ever interact with the outside world? All of this will surely come at a cost, though that is never discussed in these types of stories. Under the Bushco world of the “haves,” “have mores,” and “have nothings,” I hate to admit that I think I know the answer.

Also, I don’t think anything that makes us retreat unto ourselves is such a great development. When we do that, we hurt our ability to interact and communicate effectively with each other (an ironic observation I admit, as I type onto my keyboard and get ready to publish this to a location where it will hopefully be read by an unknown audience:-). I don’t think that, as a nation, we’re doing that great of a job of communicating with each other anyway. We have the Internet, Email, voice mail, iPods ™, Blackberries™…all kinds of means to reach out to each other. The irony to me is that so many of us are too busy to do that.

I applaud the visionary observations of the people that CNN profiled in their feature today. I would just like somehow to see this information presented in more of a present-day context, so that, one day ten years down the road, we aren’t watching our TVs talk to us, our appliances start to perform functions without our command, and our computers tell us what medicines to take without saying, “How the $#@! did this happen?”

Items Of Note

The Al Franken Show blog today contains a post by a man named Erick Campbell, who has worked in our government's Bureau of Land Management for 30 years under both Republican and Democratic administrations. I thought that what he has to say about Bushco, though not really that surprising, was shocking anyway. Please take a look.

Also, the cover photo on The Huffington Post showing "Christians" protesting at military funerals was gut wrenching and borderline nauseating. These people should all be shipped over to that hell hole in the Middle East that we created and be forced to ride in non-up armored Humvees, taking their chances on buying it from an IED at any moment.

Finally, I'm going on record as saying that I'm not going to watch the Liar in Chief tonight. Assuming I believe a word he says (and I don't), I've found it to be embarrassing watching him tap dance, obfuscate and mangle the English language in a manner more befitting an elementary school student than a reasonable adult, let alone the President of the United States.

Yep, just go ahead and take a shot at me as a typical liberal for not bothering to watch. But life is short, he's never listened to anything anyone has had to say, and we're all living with the result, so he deserves what he gets.

Oh, and by the way, as Bush tries to justify the abomination to which he has subjected our troops, please keep in mind these words from Molly Ivins.

An Icon Passes From Our Midst


He would probably laugh at that characterization, but if you saw any of "The Civil War" by Ken Burns on PBS, you'd know he was that and much more.

Toby Keith At Live 8?

That's like The Dixie Chicks performing at a rally for The Young Republicans.

Hey, you support Bushco, so guess what? You are not entitled to free media time for yourself on behalf of causes that might not need to be publicized if Dubya had paid any attention to them whatsoever.

For a refresher on why I'm feeling this surge of indignation, check this out.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Win George Bush's Money

The latest polls are in on Dubya (hee, hee)...

The only thing that is keeping him afloat is the fact that there has been no repeat of 9/11 (and I want to emphasize as strongly as I can that NO SANE PERSON WANTS THAT, INCLUDING ME!). His marks absolutely stink on everything else, and rightly so.

It disgusts me unutterably that the Repugs are the successful propagandists that they are (though, to execute a con properly, you need an easy mark), but that is an undeniable fact, and as far as I'm concerned, that explains the fact that Bushco received a second term.

(Oh, and by the way Ben Stein, go soak your over-inflated, self-aggrandizing, egotistical Republican face! And they’re STILL hawking the Social Security scam!)

The Teutonic Twist

OK, so I want to understand this. Dubya hosts Gerhard Schroeder, who (in his good sense) did not support the Iraq War but does support the reconstruction (though that, to me, is a little like picking the pockets of people killed in a roadside traffic accident), and Dubya tries to build up Schroeder in the process in a tough election against an incumbent who actually DID support the war. Hmmm....

Apparently, Bushco has come to some sort of realization that it needs "old Europe" and our longtime allies to help bail us out of the mess that they created, and with that in mind, it's a good idea to support leaders they know from past experience (a rare moment of sanity for Bushco, assuming I'm right).

You would think the Bushco diehards would be screaming about a flip flop like this. Of course, they would be if this were Clinton (they'd be frothing at the mouth to the point where they might need an EMT, actually). But again, we're "living in the age of Bushco," unfortunately, where we're not supposed to ask too many questions and let the investor class do what they want while they await "the rapture".

This brings to mind a quote about politics (from an ironic source).

Conservatives Say The Darndest Things

I added a whole bunch of links recently for a number of reasons, and one of them is to do anything within reason to bring traffic to this site. With that in mind, I actually added some conservative links at the bottom right column (I also did that so we can recognize the enemy when we see him).

I poked around some of their sites, and as I expected, I encountered waves and waves of misinformation that I don’t have the time (or the desire, actually) to properly refute here. One of the places I went to was the site for USA Next, one of the Republican Party’s most prominent propaganda vehicles which was responsible for the Swift Boat Liars in last year’s election (see here).

And who should be gracing the home page for these cretins but none other than Art Linkletter. I realize this isn’t much of a surprise to the truly informed, since he’s a right winger from the Barry Goldwater days (someone who had more character in one of his boots than most of the clowns in the current ruling cabal have in their entire bodies, by the way), but perhaps, in my naïveté, I expected better of Linkletter than to lie down with Bushco.

With that in mind, here is some information about a little-known chapter in Linkletter’s long association with the Repugs that may prove to be illuminating.

(By the way, I am truly sorry for his family tragedy, and I am not trying to make light of that in any way.)

Gosh, Piglet Too?

I liked him best in The Odd Couple...

I've got Mr. Carlin on the "Bob Newhart Show" death pool, so we'll see.

Keep It Up, Sen. Scumwad

You're doing great, Ricky. You're making it easier and easier by the minute for Casey, Jr. This stuff all helps that along, as well as that nonsensical bill you tried to sponsor to get dangerous weather warnings banned from broadcasts by the National Weather Service.

David Sirota has the goods on you, and this link provides information which is even more outrageous. I don't think any fawning article in the NY Times magazine will save you on this (or comparing the Democrats to Hitler as you did earlier this year).

Ah, but I can see a way out for you, sadly enough. I'm sure Bushco will continue to infiltrate PA with their minions to raise money from the lemmings and sponsor more TV and radio attack ads, to wit:

"Who’s the REAL Bob Casey, anyway? Is he the one who bilked money from the widows and orphans trust fund as state treasurer? Is he the one who voted against the interests of legitimate sportsmen by siding with Handgun Control, Ira Einhorn and those other liberals from Philadelphia who are trying to take our guns away? (that will REALLY play big). Is he best friends with that jew-boy governor Ed Rendell, a product of those ‘eastern elites’” (well, OK, maybe they won’t go THAT far…hope not, anyway). These ads will be followed by the inevitable disclaimer – “I’m Rick Santorum, and I had nothing whatsoever to do with this message,” as Santorum’s nose gets bigger.
The fact that you are a member of the same organized religion as I am makes me want to throw up. I would strenuously argue, however, that you practice a very different type of spirituality.

Update 7/5: heh, heh, keep it up Ricky (more...) . And on top of that, according to David Sirota, he's even made a video advocating that the mandatory retirement age for Social Security be raised to over 70. You're doing great, you idiot!

Thing One and Thing Two

Thing One: Paul Krugman weighs in on our economic sellout to China (cautionary words from a knowledgeable source).

Thing Two: E.J. Dionne profiles David Obey, showing courage in the best Democratic tradition.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

A Letter to Karl

I read a blog somewhere where Rove was described as "a Mayberry Machaivelli". That's brilliant (color me jealous for not coming up with it myself).

Oh, and by the way, here's a word from someone who is actually "in the sh*t" as they say.

One more thing (on a wholly other note)...R.I.P. Paul Winchell (sniff).

Justice Is Blind (And Stacked Also)

Looks like another legacy from the era of "loser to the dead guy" at the DOJ has bitten the dust.

Yep, the Repugs sure have a thing about bare boobs. Look how they all went nuts after Janet Jackson showed hers.

Oh, and by way, here's a prior column from Molly Ivins to remind us just how illustrious Ashcroft's tenure really was.