Friday, July 31, 2009

Four Guys Drinking Beer

Yesterday four guys sat down to have a beer together. This was a good thing, since three of them had famously lost their cool in the last week, and this was a way to calm things down. Sgt. James Crowley came out of this looking the best:
“What you had today was two gentlemen who agreed to disagree on a particular issue,” a poised and smooth Sergeant Crowley said in a 15-minute news conference after the session. “We didn’t spend too much time dwelling on the past, and we decided to look forward.”
The NY Times came out of it looking the worst. Kevin Drum says why. The whole transcript is even more horrifying.

Health Insurance Reform

Paul Krugman tells this story today:
At a recent town hall meeting, a man stood up and told Representative Bob Inglis to “keep your government hands off my Medicare.” The congressman, a Republican from South Carolina, tried to explain that Medicare is already a government program — but the voter, Mr. Inglis said, “wasn’t having any of it.”

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Health Care Insurance Reform

Through my sister, Kay, I learn that my brother, Ted, has offered trenchant criticism of Obama's Health Care Reform agenda. It shouldn't be called Health Care Reform, it should be called Health Insurance Reform, which is what it is.

People might wonder why we need to reform health care, but everybody knows health insurance is screwed up and leads to unacceptable outcomes. It's all about how you frame the issue, isn't it?

Besides, I've never actually written "trenchant" before, and wanted to avail myself of the opportunity.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Down Into the Pit

These guys say that Barack Obama – son of a white woman, raised by his white grandparents – hates white people.

Well, after seeing these clowns in action, who could blame him? I'm starting to, too.

Is there no one at the networks with enough decency to pull the plug on these bottom-feeding demagogues?

Answer: no.

Afterword: Margaret and Helen say Rush Limbaugh is big!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Things You Can Get Used To

BBC News has an online feature called Day in Pictures. You can always count on seeing some stunning images there.

Today they offered several, including this one, from the Associated Press:

The caption says, "In Dhaka, Bangladeshi commuters struggle through waist-deep floodwater as they make their way to work."

As they make their way work!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Musical Interlude -- godhead

I saw a godhead video today that I hadn't seen before, and it reminded me of days gone by, when the band used to stay at our house when they were on the road and had a show in Chicago. It was always a lot of fun for us. We used tell the neighbors that godhead was coming to stay with us, and they'd send their daughters out of town.

Actually, that last part is not really true, but I'm sure the band wouldn't mind at all that we tell that story, and would rather I didn't tell the truth, which is that they were always quiet, polite, and respectful of others. (Shh! Don't tell anybody!)

We even went to their concerts when we could, and raised the average age in the room a good bump. At one, a late-teenish couple couldn't resist asking us why we were there. When we explained we were Jason's aunt and uncle, you'd think we'd said we were Paul McCartney's parents.

Jason, the lead singer, is the son of my older (not oldest) brother, and Suellen and I remember him singing Rocky Mountain High at the top of his lungs as a 4-year-old.

This is still my favorite video of theirs, although the sound and image don't synch too well. They did in the original video:

And this is the one that started me reminiscing about godhead on the road:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Worst Lede of the Year (so far)

Katharine Q. Seelye starts off her obligatory article on the race question directed to Obama at last night's presser with:
Americans got a rare glimpse Wednesday night of what it means to have a black president in the Oval Office.
What in Hades could she have meant by that? Didn't anybody's alarm go off when they read that on the copy desk? The longer you think about it, the worse it gets.

Update: Josh Marshall thinks it's only the Lede of the Day. I challenge anyone to find me a worse one in 2009.

Booman Tribune expresses its consternation a bit more colorfully than we like to here, but is exactly on target.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Minnesota Isn't the Only State with Loons

We've talked about the "birthers" before: the folks who think Obama is a citizen of Indonesia, or Kenya, or who knows where – they have as many theories as they have guns; they just know Obama's a citizen of anywhere but the United States. Here's a birther, expressing her concerns to Congressman Mike Castle of Delaware, compliments of Crooks and Liars:

Monday, July 20, 2009

What the Health Care Debate Is About

I don't link to Bill Moyers anywhere near as often as I should.

If you're wondering why health care reform is such a problem, this 3-minute video essay by Moyers gives some hints.

The South Carolina senator who hasn't been "hiking the Appalachian Trail" pronounced last week that "If we're able to stop Obama on [health care], it will be his Waterloo. It will break him." And a Republican doesn't need a better reason to make sure that millions of Americans don't get health care at a reasonable cost. They're the political party with "values", remember.

Today Obama had a response:

The Obama video link is through Talking Points Memo. Did you catch the blooper?

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Walter Cronkite died yesterday.

I suspect that makes most people my age and older pause for a moment or two. Cronkite was one of the best, no doubt about it. The man had integrity, something so rare now. People ten years younger than I have heard of him, but probably have no idea how different TV news was then. It's more, um..., entertaining now.

I was looking for a YouTube of Cronkite's appearance on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, where a fawning Ted Baxter was beside himself with excitement; but it looks like nobody has posted it yet. I was going to compare today's modern TV news people to Ted Baxter. But not favorably.

Excuse me – I turn 60 this month, so I'm practicing sounding like an Old Fart. I think I've got it down pretty good.

And I'm sorry to use language like that in a post about Walter Cronkite's death. He certainly deserves better than that. Here's an interesting op-ed he wrote for the NY Times.

Friday, July 17, 2009

It's 1984 All Over Again

After reading this NY Times piece, my desire to own a Kindle just got set back a few years:
This morning, hundreds of Amazon Kindle owners awoke to discover that books by a certain famous author had mysteriously disappeared from their e-book readers. These were books that they had bought and paid for—thought they owned.

But no, apparently the publisher changed its mind about offering an electronic edition, and apparently Amazon, whose business lives and dies by publisher happiness, caved. It electronically deleted all books by this author from people’s Kindles and credited their accounts for the price.
The rest is here.

Update: There's even more here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Abused Monkeys

You've no doubt seen the news story about Canto and Owen, the rhesus monkeys shown above. One has been fed a restricted diet; the other eats pretty much what he pleases.

What can you read in their faces?

Roger Cohen, who just weeks ago was bravely reporting from the streets of Tehran, thinks he knows.

And speaking of monkeys, Gail Collins has the condensed version of the Sotomayor hearings. She does not confine her satire to the Republican Party death spiral, although she strangely let go Al Franken's ruminations on how cool it was that Sotomayor watched Perry Mason with her family, at the same time he watched Perry Mason with his family.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It's Time for Health Care Reform

Barack Obama's people have struggled mightily to keep the people who elected him President engaged in politics. After the election, his campaign morphed into Organizing for America, and if you ever gave a dime to the Obama campaign, you're getting very frequent emails from them – just as you got emails from the Obama campaign. In fact, their web address is

They're now coming out with what I believe is their first television ad:

This will run on cable television stations for a couple of weeks, and on networks in the states of Democratic and Republican senators who want to support health care reform but are getting push-back from their party (Republicans) or the health industry in their state (which regularly passes out money to politicians who vote "correctly").

It looks like a pretty effective ad from here. We'll see.

A week or so ago Andrew Tobias had a paragraph about a young woman who had health insurance, got sick, and the insurance company balked at paying. The woman was going to be responsible for a $100,000 medical bill. She fought the insurance company, and won. The insurance company then negotiated the bill down to $40,000.

Uninsured people pay $100,000. Insurance companies pay $40,000 on the same bill.

Something is seriously wrong here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Judging Sotomayor II

[Please read Judging Sotomayor I before you read this. Thank you.]

In 1981, Ronald Reagan's political director, Lee Atwater (shown here), gave an interview in which he described the Southern Strategy:

Atwater: As to the whole Southern strategy that Harry Dent and others put together in 1968, opposition to the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the South. Now [the new Southern Strategy of Ronald Reagan] doesn’t have to do that. All you have to do to keep the South is for Reagan to run in place on the issues he’s campaigned on since 1964… and that’s fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cut taxes, you know, the whole cluster...

Questioner: But the fact is, isn’t it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps...?

Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can't say “nigger”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”
Bolded emphasis is mine.

This was the birth of the modern Republican party, and the intellectual foundation of "The Conservative Movement."

A Palindrone!

The Washington Post is now printing op-eds ghost-written by lobbyists. Very impressive!

C'mon, folks. Palin did not write that, and we all know it.

And you have to wonder, as this reader of Kevin Drum's blog at Mother Jones did, how you can write a whole editorial about cap and trade without mentioning global warming even once. It's the kind of misdirection play we expect from "The Conservative Movement", but really, The Washington Post used to have editors knowledgeable enough about issues to catch things like that. What an embarrassment.

Judging Sotomayor I

Senator Jeff Sessions, a member of the Southern Strategy Republican "base", accuses Sonia Sotomayor of prejudice. That may play well in some parts of Alabama, but the comic irony of it is too much for the rest of us to ignore.

Update: Kevin Drum states it clearly.
The almost manic eagerness of the right to inject race into the Sotomayor nomination at every opportunity is enough to make you ill. It started within minutes of her nomination being announced, and it's continued ever since. Sen. Jeff Sessions took up the reins today.

There's never been any reason for it, of course. It was ostensibly based on one sentence in a speech and one court decision out of hundreds she's made. In reality, it's just because she's a Hispanic liberal and conservatives figure that a race-based attack is the one most likely to resonate with their base. And I suppose they're right, aren't they?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Don't Ask – Don't Tell

In 1993 Bill Clinton tried to fulfill a campaign promise to end discrimination against gays in the military. One thing he hadn't figured in his equation was the unwillingness of the military brass, including General Colin Powell, to accept that. The result was a law referred to as Don't Ask – Don't Tell (DADT) – a compromise that allowed gay men and women to serve as long as they kept their sexual orientation a secret.

And, as Andy Griffith used to say when describing the opera Carmen, "the curtain falls and time passes."

In the intervening years, public opinion about homosexuality continued to change. Because more gay people were brave enough to be open to others about their sexual orientation, more people who thought they didn't know any gay people found out they were wrong about that. And when the person being discriminated against is no longer some unknown person, but someone you happen to know is a fine human being, you start to see things in a different way.

Now the curtain has opened again, and we see that DADT is actually hurting us. More than 13,000 men and women have been discharged from the military under DADT, men and women who have had skills the services sorely need. The classic example of that is Arabic-speaking translators. DADT is a policy that dictates, "Unlock gun, fire at foot."

Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy, a bronze star veteran of the Iraq War, is co-sponsoring the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1283) to repeal the law that implemented DADT. So far he has lined up 153 co-sponsors for the bill. Congressman Murphy (who looks like he's about 20 years old) makes his case for the bill here.

Colin Powell says it's time to "review" DADT. It certainly is. President Obama has said he will sign H.R. 1283 if it reaches his desk.

Addendum: I forgot to acknowledge Andrew Tobias as the person who inspired me to make this post and gave me the link to Congressman Murphy's interview.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Musical Interlude –– Ben Sollee

There are all kinds of music in the world. Here's something unusual.

Click on the center after it starts to make it full-frame. Play to the 1-minute mark. If you don't like it by then, you're excused.

All of a sudden these You Tube videos are too large for my simple little blog. There's a logical explanation, but I'm to lazy to figure it out tonight.

Margaret and Helen II

Last year I linked to a blog called Margaret and Helen.

A comment over at Midlife by Farmlight sent me back there, and it was a visit well worth making.

Go see what they have to say about Sarah Palin, and laugh your head off. Then read the one before that. And the one before that.

Monday, July 06, 2009


Here's some beautiful, and educational, climate change propaganda. It's a 1½-hour video called Home. Very nicely produced.

Notice the new tools YouTube offers, like that little light bulb in the upper right. It's called "Turn Down the Lights".

Addendum: I'm afraid by calling this video "climate change propaganda" I may have given the impression it was not really worth watching. The fact that it's propaganda doesn't make it not true.

The photography will mesmerize you. It is fantastic.

Oh, yes, and the Earth is dying.

Congrats Al!

Via Andrew Tobias:

Congratulations, Al Franken!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A Man of His Word

Today I headed downtown to resolve a little matter with the City Clerk (successfully), then scooted over to Millennium Park.

Only problem: rain.

The place was pretty deserted, but I cleverly hid my reflection in this picture.

Music was coming from the Pritzker Pavillion, so I headed over there and caught the scene on video. Sorry for the rain on the lens.

In case you're worried about nobody showing up for the concert, this was a rehearsal. The actual concert was two hours off. I went to sit down for a while, which is how I discovered that security had roped off the first ten rows of seats – the seats that were under the bandshell overhang. The dry seats.

Another day in the big city. Ho hum.