January 31, 2006


Now that was amusing. Bush said last year Congress failed to act on his proposal to save Social Security, and all the Democrats stood and applauded wildly.


Update: He also said this:

Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms; creating or implanting embryos for experiments; creating human-animal hybrids; and buying, selling or patenting human embryos.

Human-animal hybrids?

Who speaks for the chimeras?

Update 2: PZ Myers explains that there is in fact some human-to-animal research going on. It shows promise in understanding Down's syndrome. That's interesting, but dollars-to-donuts that nobody in the White House knew that before the line in the speech was written.

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:44 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Take this job and shove it

Look. If you hire on to do a job, you do the job. Your personal beliefs have to be set aside. You knew when you studied to be a pharmacist that you might have to fill prescriptions for birth control pills or the morning-after pill; if you became a doctor, you knew you might have to treat patients whose lifestyles make you uncomfortable. If the job requirements cause you to blanch, then find a different job.

It gets better (or worse), too:

At least nine states are considering "right of refusal" bills that are far broader. Some would protect virtually any worker involved in health care; others would extend protection to hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities. Some would protect only workers who refuse to provide certain health services, but many would be far more expansive.

At least five of the broad bills would allow insurance companies to opt out of covering services they find objectionable for religious reasons. A sixth state, Pennsylvania, is considering a bill designed for insurers.

Like the insurance companies need any more handouts, after the Medicare Part D (prescription drug) fiasco?

I predict some unserved customer will shoot a pharmacist, and we'll have a new phrase to go along with "going postal." It'll be "going patient."

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We've been told repeatedly that George Bush is a bold President. We've also been told repeatedly that he likes to hit the hay no later than 10:00pm.

Here's a suggestion, Mr. President:

Break tradition. Address the nation with your State-of-the-Union speech at 7:00pm rather than 9:00pm. It would have two advantages: you could make it back to your cozy residence in time for your usual bedtime, and you wouldn't pre-empt Scrubs, House, According to Jim, or Criminal Minds. I'll bet your popularity numbers would go up by a couple of points.

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January 30, 2006

Sour grapes and internecine grumbling

After the cloture vote came down I heard some CNN reporter say there was muttering in the halls of Capitol Hill to the effect of "why didn't Kerry start this filibuster effort earlier? We might have had a chance if he had."

My response to those clowns is "What? Your arm was broke? You could have tried earlier -- why didn't you?"

Miserable puling jerks.

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Cloture vote goes down 72-25

On this vote, a "yes" vote was a vote to end the debate and a "no" vote was a vote to filibuster the nomination.

Have you got the courage of your convictions?

Democrats voting to end debate (anti-filibuster):

Akaka, Hawaii; Baucus, Mont.; Bingaman, N.M.; Byrd, W.Va.; Cantwell, Wash.; Carper, Del.; Conrad, N.D.; Dorgan, N.D.; Inouye, Hawaii; Johnson, S.D.; Kohl, Wis.; Landrieu, La.; Lieberman, Conn.; Lincoln, Ark.; Nelson, Fla.; Nelson, Neb.; Pryor, Ark.; Rockefeller, W.Va.; Salazar, Colo.

Who, me? Convictions?

Gutless wonders, the lot of them.

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January 29, 2006

Sportscasting through the ages

If ESPN had been around through Asian History:

1206 A.D. Genghis Khan founds Mongol Empire

ESPN sportscaster: "A new ownership group has taken over Central Asia."

1368: Mongols driven out of China; Zhu Yuanzhang founds Ming dynasty

ESPN sportscaster #1: "After years of stagnation and strife, the storied franchise begun by Genghis Khan has finally collapsed."

ESPN sportscaster #2: "Yes, Fred. As it fades, let's remember the glory years when it pillaged most of its region. Sources say that after this the Chinese plan to strengthen their wall to keep them out."

1402: Tamerlane, Mongol conqueror from central Asia, defeats Ottomans at battle of Ankyra in Turkey

ESPN: "Only 34 years after the Mongols were driven from China, they've re-focused and won a dramatic come-from-behind victory in the Western regionals."

1600-14: English, Dutch, Danish, and French East India Companies founded

ESPN: "After years of consolidation, Europe has undertaken its first expansion outside its natural geographic boundaries."

1763 Britain becomes dominant power in India as a result of the Treaty of Paris

ESPN: "Britain becomes majority shareholder in India as a result of a leveraged buyout."

1784 United States begins to trade with China

ESPN: "Only 12 years after it came into existence, the upstart United States entered the major leagues today through a massive trade with China."

1854 Treaty of Kanagawa; United States and Japan agree their first modern trade treaty

ESPN sportscaster #1: "The US and Japan today signed a deal which will make both countries major players in the world market."

ESPN sportscaster #2: "Yes, Bob. As I understand it, Commodore Matthew Perry came to the party with a fleet of black ships and refused to give up until the deal was signed."

1941-42 Japanese overrun much of southeast Asia

ESPN: "Continuing the effort he began in 1937 to consolidate the Far Eastern region, Emperor Hirohito claimed draft rights of most of his neighbors."

1945 United States drops atomic bombs on Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

ESPN: "In a completely unexpected move, US stuns Hirohito, demands he renounce all claims to his neighbors' territories."

Tune in next week (if I feel like it) for ESPN's view of European history, brought to you by Coors Silver Bullet.

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January 28, 2006

Ads which make no sense

There are two guys surfcasting on a beach. One suddenly says "Oh!" The other guy then says:

  • "Are you hurt?"
  • "Got a bite?"
  • "Fifteenth letter of the alphabet"
  • "Susannah!"

Now c'mon. If I'm fishing with a buddy and he makes a sound, the first thing I'm gonna say is "Got a bite?" But no, the other guy jumps immediately to the conclusion that his buddy is hurt and offers him some Aleve.


Posted by Linkmeister at 01:08 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 27, 2006

Call your Senators

Numbers here.

Tell them you support a filibuster of Judge Alito. Tell them you've been told for years how important the Supreme Court is, and you believe it. Tell them (if they're reported as wavering) that they should follow their own advice and take the Supreme Court seriously as a co-equal third branch of government. Tell them (particularly if they're Republicans) that Alito has already shown in Rybar (that's the machine gun case where he dissented, saying Congress had no authority to regulate their sale) that he doesn't think much of Congress's power, and why would they vote for a guy willing to diminish that power?

This is important, and it won't take but 10 minutes of your time. Be civil but firm. Please call.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:19 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Corruption loses

I don't like the results of the Palestinian elections any better than most of the rest of the democratic world, but let's hope that the American people will be as fed up with a corrupt leadership come November as the Palestinians apparently were Wednesday with Fatah.

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January 26, 2006

fStop heaven

Chinese landscape photographs from the Guilin region. They're absolutely stunning, but don't take my word for it.

Via Making Light.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:58 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

L.A. Confidential

Another true crime story from Los Angeles (hey, I'm a mystery fan who knows the town a little bit, what can I say?) garners high praise from CJR Daily.

No, the Orange County Register isn't serializing a novel. These are the first few lines of a series of eight gripping articles that appeared in the paper in December, telling the incredible story of Linda Cummings, and one reporter's attempt to uncover the source of her death over 30 years ago.


In his series, Welborn explores her death and his role in the recent reopening of the case (he was even present at an exhumation of Cummings' body that yielded no DNA evidence) up until the arrest in November of the man now charged with her murder.


The whole thing works, and it's hard to put down. And it got us thinking about how rare it is to find a truly transfixing narrative these days, a good story, in a newspaper.

I think I'll find a little time this afternoon to read that series.

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To Live and Die in L.A.

When I lived in Long Beach I was too young to be told about the Black Dahlia, but I learned about it later.

If you've ever lived in LA, you've got an interest in true crime, you've enjoyed Raymond Chandler's stories, or you want to learn about mid-20th century Southern California architecture, the 1947 Project is for you.

"The blog, a day-by-day blotter of 1947's more lurid moments, and the tour, which visited crime scenes from that and other years, offer a peek at Los Angeles then and now, seen through the lens of acts horrific or quirky. They also reflect a continuing fascination with all that is sinister under the perpetual Southern California sun."

You can read a background story about it here.

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January 25, 2006

Geeky help wanted

If anyone wants to do a "view source" and explain why there's all that blank space at the top of the post immediately below this one, I'd be most pleased.

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A report just out says the Army is overextended, nearly to a breaking point. As you would expect, Rummy denies it.

I have a little experience with an overextended force. Back in 1973 I was stationed at the US Naval Communications Station in Japan. In May the Navy decided to institute what was called an "early out," which meant that anyone who was scheduled to get out of the Navy within 60 or 90 days (I can't remember which) would be able to get out earlier than his original date.

We ran four shifts of roughly 25 people apiece, 24/7. When the early release took effect, in the aggregate we lost nearly an entire shift. This meant that we went from our usual schedule of two day shifts, two mid shifts and two swing shifts (first table) to a cycle of one day shift, one mid shift, and one swing shift (second table). This lasted for about a month, until we got a new class of newbies from the training schools in San Diego and Great Lakes. This was certainly what I'd call "overextended." And nobody was shooting at us.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:43 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Executive Privilege

That phrase got a bad name during the Nixon years, and for good reason. Mr. Nixon tried to withhold the infamous tapes made in his office, citing the principle of executive privilege. Now the current occupant of the White House is doing the same, this time refusing to release documents (including e-mails) about the Administration's response to Katrina. Not only that, it's refusing to allow employees of various agencies to testify before Congress about that response.

"There has been a near total lack of cooperation that has made it impossible, in my opinion, for us to do the thorough investigation that we have a responsibility to do," Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, said at Tuesday's hearing of the Senate committee investigating the response. His spokeswoman said he would ask for a subpoena for documents and testimony if the White House did not comply.

In response to questions later from a reporter, the deputy White House spokesman, Trent Duffy, said the administration had declined requests to provide testimony by Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff; Mr. Card's deputy, Joe Hagin; Frances Fragos Townsend, the domestic security adviser; and her deputy, Ken Rapuano.

Mr. Duffy said the administration had also declined to provide storm-related e-mail correspondence and other communications involving White House staff members. Mr. Rapuano has given briefings to the committees, but the sessions were closed to the public and were not considered formal testimony.

"The White House and the administration are cooperating with both the House and Senate," Mr. Duffy said. "But we have also maintained the president's ability to get advice and have conversations with his top advisers that remain confidential."

Odd form of "cooperation" that is, wouldn't you say?

If Alito is confirmed, expect to see more of this. He's deferential enough to the executive branch that any case against such privileges which might make it to SCOTUS would begin with at least one vote against it.

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January 24, 2006

Up to you, Senators

Ok, Senators. Now that the Judiciary Committee has voted 10-8 in favor of Judge Alito, it's up to you. Let me put it to you plainly: he doesn't think much of Congressional authority. "[H]e wrote in a dissent (Sec. 78, et. seq.) in U.S. v. Rybar, 103 F.3d 273 (1996), that a ban on private ownership of machine guns was not a valid exercise of congressional power to regulate interstate commerce."

He also seems to think that the Executive Branch has authority far exceeding that written in the Constitution. In a 1989 speech to the Federalist Society, speaking of a SCOTUS ruling on the independent counsel law,

Alito said the 1988 ruling upholding the law undercut several important doctrines that had protected presidential power "from congressional pilfering."

Alito's views on presidential power are significant on several fronts, not the least of which is what deference the chief executive should get to conduct anti-terrorism efforts, legal analysts said. President Bush has claimed the right to try foreign terrorism suspects before military tribunals, an issue that may come before the Supreme Court this term.

The 7 to 1 ruling upholding the independent counsel law was written by then-Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and seen as a blow to the Reagan administration.

The decision, Alito said, meant that any alleged infringements on the president's power "would be judged by whether, in the court's subjective view at the time, the encroachment went too far."

So what's it gonna be, Senators? Republicans, is it more important to you to get one of "your guys" on the bench than it is to hold on to the doctrine of separation of powers? Do you want to throw 200+ years of a working system down the tubes for the sake of the unborn child? What might the man do besides overturn Roe v. Wade? You owe it to yourselves to think long and hard about that.

Democrats, if you believe that the current Administration has already gone too far down the road toward authoritarianism, then you need to filibuster this man.

Update: ReddHedd at Firedoglake makes a similar argument.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:06 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

An unexpected present

Well I'll be hornswoggled. Somebody nominated this blog (or maybe a bolt of lightning struck the selectors -- I'm not sure how this process works) over at the Koufax Awards for "Most Deserving of Wider Recognition." What's the intent of the Koufax Awards?

The idea behind the awards is to recognize the contributions of a number of people who give of their time, effort, insight, skill and humor without compensation. It is a chance to say a lot of nice things about a lot of people. We hope to help build and promote a feeling of community among lefty bloggers. This is supposed to be fun for us and for you. Anything that makes it less fun is inappropriate.

Votes for this category are not yet being accepted. The idea is for voters to familiarize themselves with blogs they might not otherwise have seen before voting (What a concept! Informed voters?) In a few days the good folks at Wampum will open up the category for votes, so do your blogospheric civic duty and get knowledgeable before marking your ballots. Oh, and if you've got a few pennies to spare, consider hitting the donation page there: they've budgeted $2,400 for costs associated with this endeavor, and we all know what happens to budgets, right? They get overrun.

Seriously, this is one helluva surprise, and I'm greatly flattered.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:02 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 23, 2006

The Sign of the Four

Lee tagged me with the Four meme.

Jobs: newspaper carrier, high school janitor, teletype operator, IT manager

Movies: It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Casablanca, McClintock, LOTR

Places I've lived: Washington DC suburbs, Japan, Tucson, Hawai'i

TV Shows: None in particular. At the time, Hill Street Blues

Vacation: Oregon, London, Switzerland, New Mexico

Websites: Making Light, Atrios, Hullabaloo, Michael Bérubé (see blogroll)

Foods: Enchiladas, burgers, asparagus, corn

Places I'd rather be: London, Edinburgh, Arizona, or right here in Hawai'i

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:13 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 22, 2006

You are in a twisty maze of passageways, all alike...

Are any of y'all old enough to remember text games like Adventure or Zork?

This guy is.

Iraqi Invasion: A Text Misadventure
Revision 88 / Serial number 54892

Oval Office
You are standing inside a White House, having just been elected to the presidency of the United States. You knew Scalia would pull through for you.

There is a large desk here, along with a few chairs and couches. The presidential seal is in the middle of the room and there is a full-length mirror upon the wall.

What do you want to do now?

You are not able to do that, yet.

Self-reflection is not your strong suit.

It's not that kind of seal.

They are two several chairs arranged around the center of the room, along with two couches. Under one couch you find Clinton's shoes.

You are unable to fill Clinton's shoes.

It is a large, oak desk, with several drawers.

In one drawer you find a bag of pretzels.

I don't think the pretzel would agree with you.

You are not able to do that, yet.

You are not able to do that, yet.

You are on the far right of the political spectrum.
Jesse Helms is here.
John Ashcroft is here.

Radical Right
You are on the extreme right of the political spectrum.
Dick Cheney is here.
Pat Robertson is here.

You are not able to do that, yet.


Et. Seq.

Just read it all.

(Found at Brad DeLong's place.)

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:40 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 21, 2006

Sanity appears; will the Dems hear?

Molly Ivins on Hillary and the Democrats:

Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever straddling, enough not offending anyone. This is not a Dick Morris election. Sen. Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her. Her failure to speak out on Terri Schiavo, not to mention that gross pandering on flag-burning, are just contemptible little dodges.


What kind of courage does it take, for mercy's sake? The majority of the American people (55 percent) think the war in Iraq is a mistake and that we should get out. The majority (65 percent) of the American people want single-payer health care and are willing to pay more taxes to get it. The majority (86 percent) of the American people favor raising the minimum wage. The majority of the American people (60 percent) favor repealing Bush's tax cuts, or at least those that go only to the rich. The majority (66 percent) wants to reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending, but by reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes.

The majority (77 percent) thinks we should do "whatever it takes" to protect the environment. The majority (87 percent) thinks big oil companies are gouging consumers and would support a windfall profits tax. That is the center, you fools. WHO ARE YOU AFRAID OF?

I listen to people like Rahm Emanuel superciliously explaining elementary politics to us clueless naifs outside the Beltway ("First, you have to win elections.") Can't you even read the damn polls?

Damn straight. Fed up with wishy-washy Democrats, I am. What if you won an election? Would you turkeys behave like Sally Field at the Oscars? "You like me, you really like me!" Or would you say "OK, now we're gonna fix the mess that eight years of a criminal regime has given us, and then we're gonna work on making it a better society for all Americans, not just the upper crust which has benefitted way out of proportion to their relative size within the population for far too long."

I wonder.

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January 20, 2006

The Waiting Room

Things one learns while waiting in an auto shop for a tuneup to be completed:

  • Tony Danza has a talk show
  • Tyra Banks has a talk show
  • Both of those are on the Fox/WB/UPN channel
  • Neither gets A or even B-list celebrities to come on

Fortunately, I had my copy of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell with me.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:56 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 19, 2006

Just say no

If your initial law doesn't meet court standards, what do you do? Why, you subpoena the most successful search engine in the world for data showing search requests for 60 days, and incidentally demand "a random sample of one million Web addresses, known as URLs."

A 2004 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Ashcroft vs ACLU, upheld an injunction that blocked the government from enforcing the law and the Justice Department is seeking evidence from Google and others as part of an appeal of this injunction.

I thought "moral values John" had left DOJ. Also, why can't they do their own damned work? If I had to, I'm sure I could compile a list of a million web addresses; what do they have interns for?

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 18, 2006

Flickr Tools

If you've got a Flickr account, you might want to explore Flickr Toys. It's a collection of programs which allow you to do all manner of things with photos from Flickr, including adding a frame, creating a magazine cover or movie poster, and creating a calendar.

Found via mmulibra.

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January 17, 2006

Bush Gored

Al Gore made quite a speech yesterday. He thinks the Administration's domestic spying program should be investigated by a special counsel.

At present, we still have much to learn about the NSA's domestic surveillance. What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the President of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently.


The President's men have minced words about America's laws. The Attorney General openly conceded that the "kind of surveillance" we now know they have been conducting requires a court order unless authorized by statute. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act self-evidently does not authorize what the NSA has been doing, and no one inside or outside the Administration claims that it does. Incredibly, the Administration claims instead that the surveillance was implicitly authorized when Congress voted to use force against those who attacked us on September 11th.

This argument just does not hold any water. Without getting into the legal intricacies, it faces a number of embarrassing facts. First, another admission by the Attorney General: he concedes that the Administration knew that the NSA project was prohibited by existing law and that they consulted with some members of Congress about changing the statute. Gonzalez says that they were told this probably would not be possible. So how can they now argue that the Authorization for the Use of Military Force somehow implicitly authorized it all along? Second, when the Authorization was being debated, the Administration did in fact seek to have language inserted in it that would have authorized them to use military force domestically - and the Congress did not agree. Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Jim McGovern, among others, made statements during the Authorization debate clearly restating that that Authorization did not operate domestically.

When President Bush failed to convince Congress to give him all the power he wanted when they passed the AUMF, he secretly assumed that power anyway, as if congressional authorization was a useless bother.


A special counsel should immediately be appointed by the Attorney General to remedy the obvious conflict of interest that prevents him from investigating what many believe are serious violations of law by the President. We have had a fresh demonstration of how an independent investigation by a special counsel with integrity can rebuild confidence in our system of justice. Patrick Fitzgerald has, by all accounts, shown neither fear nor favor in pursuing allegations that the Executive Branch has violated other laws.

Republican as well as Democratic members of Congress should support the bipartisan call of the Liberty Coalition for the appointment of a special counsel to pursue the criminal issues raised by warrantless wiretapping of Americans by the President. (All emphasis mine)

It's a stemwinder, and it needed to be said. Now if the Democrats will grow a spine, make common ground with the few responsible Republicans there are left, and demand a special counsel, maybe this assault on American civil liberties can be turned back.

Full text here. Video here (Real Time Streaming Player required).

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January 16, 2006

Bremer and Revisionist History

Larry Johnson has been watching and listening to Paul Bremer flog his book, and begs to differ.

I wrote a paper and circulated the draft among several friends and former colleagues, including Jerry Bremer. The paper prominently featured these judgments:

An invasion of Iraq will topple Hussein and eliminate Baghdad’s ability to develop or use weapons of mass destruction for the foreseeable future, but it will do little to destroy the infrastructure of radical Islamic terrorism responsible for the 9-11 attacks. In fact there is a serious risk that a U.S. led war against Iraq may crystallize the diffused anger in the Arab and Muslim world—a heretofore unattained goal of bin Laden and his followers—and persuade more Muslim youths to take up the terrorist banner against America and her citizens.

If we go to war we must prudently prepare for expanded terrorist activity, at least in the short term, from Islamic extremists and their sympathizers. While we can hope that a US invasion will unleash a pent up Jeffersonian democracy inside Iraq, odds are that the United States and its UN allies will be forced to occupy Iraq for the foreseeable future. No occupying force, no matter how benign or charitable, will avoid facing opposition at some point from the local population. Add to this mix a belligerent outsider, like Iran, and the potential for terrorist attacks against the “occupying” force increases dramatically.

Jerry responded by telling me I was missing the point. That it did not matter what Saddam’s record on terrorism was. We were going to war and he would be deposed. I tried to get the paper published but no one in the main stream media was interested.

Johnson goes on to explain further efforts made on his part as well as that of others (notably Pat Lang, whom many of us remember from his appearances on The News Hour) were similarly ignored, and says that Bremer's book is an attempt at whitewash. Johnson's article is well worth a read.

Via Wolcott.

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Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Here's Martin Luther King Jr.'s biography at the Nobel Prize site. It's interesting that he was the youngest-ever recipient of the Peace Prize.

We have a copy of The Dream that I haven't yet read. From the Amazon description:

Opening with an enthralling account of the August day in 1963 that saw 250,000 Americans converge at the March on Washington, The Dream delves into the fascinating and little-known history of King's speech. Hansen explores King's compositional strategies and techniques, and proceeds to a brilliant analysis of the "I Have a Dream" speech itself, examining it on various levels: as a political treatise, a work of poetry, and as a masterfully delivered and improvised sermon bursting with biblical language and imagery.

In tracing the legacy of "I Have a Dream" since 1963, The Dream insightfully considers how King's incomparable speech "has slowly remade the American imagination," and led us closer to King's visionary goal of a redeemed America.

My parents were there; they were concerned about violence and left me at home. After they heard the speech and understood its significance, they came to regret it.

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January 15, 2006

Are you ready for some football?

Seattle v. Carolina and Pittsburgh v. Denver in the conference championship games next weekend. Well, it means new faces in the Super Bowl, anyway.

And c'mon. Can it really be Super Bowl XL? Forty? Forty of these spectacles? (Ok, so numbers I and II weren't called the Super Bowl; nonetheless...)

Dearie me. Where's my cane?

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One should not have to have one's newspaper's circulation/delivery phone number on speed dial.

Posted by Linkmeister at 07:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 14, 2006

Deliberate or inept?

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd be speculating that the new Medicare prescription drug plan was deliberately screwed up by the Administration in order to prove that government can't do anything right. On NPR's "Weekend Edition" this morning I heard a pharmacist say "this is the government which gave us FEMA." I think he's ascribing the blame to the wrong entity; it's not "the government," it's "the Bush Administration."

Speaking of FEMA:

According to half a dozen other current or former FEMA managers who did not want their name used for fear of retribution, more than 50 people have left FEMA in the past four months. One official inside FEMA who has seen the agency's attrition data says 56 people have left in the past five weeks alone.


"They're getting out not because they're tired and want to work in the garden but because they're just sickened by the agency's failure -- very public failure -- and just sickened to see nobody doing anything to lift a finger to fix the problems," Bosner says of the departing employees.

The Bushies muck up everything they touch.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:54 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 13, 2006

The ever-expanding to-be-read pile

I thought I'd better use my Borders gift certificate before some unknown penalty kicked in, so I picked up The Handmaid's Tale and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

I got the Atwood book because I've heard about it for a long time, and America under a theocracy seems like a more distinct possibility than it once did. I figured I should study up. The Susanna Clarke book seemed like an 800-page lark. How can I resist magicians attempting to defeat Napoleon?

'Course, I still have to finish the other three Christmas books.

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January 12, 2006

What the media gets for its trouble

How is it that the media gets so little respect? Well, in part it's because the Republicans trash it unmercifully when it produces good objective analysis.

It's a story of how Knight-Ridder wrote a long article which looked at some 300 cases on which Judge Alito ruled, sent it out to its affiliates, and what happened when it was published. Briefly, the Senate Republican Conference claimed the facts were wrong, one of its Senators wrote an op-ed denouncing the story, the White House found a former Alito law clerk who said his former boss was a good man (what a shock, huh?), a conservative columnist called the story "illiterate," a critique of the article was inserted into the record of the Judiciary Committee (with comments to the effect that to the inserting Senator's knowledge the story had been discredited), and the credibility of one of the authors was attacked.

This is frightening stuff, and it just goes to show how orchestrated the party in power is when it feels it's under pressure. If you're the publisher, how long would it be before you decide to self-censor just because you don't want the grief?

Jane at Firedoglake has more, including some rather telling quotes. Read the whole thing.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Er, yeah

From a story about the PGA Tour's new television package:

ESPN is currently in more than 90 million households compared to The Golf Channel's 70 million. "Obviously they (The Golf Channel) have a very strong and dedicated following especially when it comes to golf...

That line wins my award for acutely obvious statement of the week. As far as I know The Golf Channel broadcasts nothing but golf.

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January 11, 2006

What concerned alumni outfit was that?

While reading this discussion of Judge Alito and his membership in the Concerned Alumni of Princeton, I tried to remember where I was in the initial draft lottery of 1969. My lottery number was 266. I can still remember the relief, particularly when the highest number taken in the draft was 195.

The Judge appears to be disavowing his membership in that misogynistic racist outfit (scroll down to questions from Senator Leahy):

This is a group that received attention because it was put together but it resisted the admission of women and minorities to Princeton. They were hostile to what they felt were people that did not fit Princeton's traditional mold: women and minorities.

Now, two prominent Princetonians -- one, Bill Frist, who is now the majority leader of the United States Senate -- in a committee roundly criticized CAP; Bill Bradley, who had joined it and then found out what it was, left it and roundly criticized it.

And yet you proudly, in 1985, well after -- well after the criticisms of this -- in your job application proudly put that you were a member of it, a member of Concerned Alumni of Princeton University, a conservative alumni group.

Why in heaven's name, Judge, with your background and what your father faced, why in heaven's name were you proud of being part of CAP?

ALITO: Well, Senator, I have wracked my memory about this issue, and I really have no specific recollection of that organization.

In 1985 the Judge was 35. Putting that membership on his résumé was no casual oversight. And in all the prep he and the White House have done for these hearings, he suddenly can't remember what that organization stood for?

I don't buy it. And if he lies about that, what else is he lying about?

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:43 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 10, 2006

Speaking of taxes...

Go read this post from Kevin Drum at Political Animal. Be sure to follow the links to the two articles.

Unless you're at the Executive V-P level of a Fortune 500 company, I suspect you'll be a little annoyed by it.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sales incentives 101

I used TurboTax to do my state and federal taxes last year. Does Intuit offer a discount for previous customers? Nope. They will offer you free shipping if you complain, but why would you pay $9.95 - $39.95 and then wait for it to arrive when you can go to your local Office Depot (or even Safeway, where I got mine last year) and have it in your hot little hands immediately for the same price?

Not the brightest of sales practices, I'd have thought. After all, you need the updated product every year, and there are competitors; why wouldn't it make sense for Intuit to offer a $5-off rebate or something?

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 09, 2006

Consumer Alert

If you live in one of the states where Diamond Pet Food is sold, take note: certain brands have been recalled. The states are: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky (eastern), Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Vermont, and Virginia.

Apparently many batches of this food (there are multiple brands involved; read the story) have been contaminated with a toxin which causes liver failure. "As of Jan. 6, more than 100 dogs have died from the illness caused by the contaminated pet food."

Fortunately, Tigger eats Science Diet, but if you normally feed your dog something by Diamond, stop!

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Unwanted advice, I'm sure

Since the Republicans love to give Democrats advice, I hope they won't mind if I take a page out of their book and do the same.

Gentleman and ladies: Your best choice to replace Tom Delay should be either John Boehner, who handed out tobacco-industry checks on the House floor back in 1996, or Roy Blunt, who has used his office as Majority Whip to delegate "authority to Washington business and trade association lobbyists to help negotiate deals with individual House members to produce majorities on important issues."

Either of these gentlemen would carry on the fine work that former Majority Leader DeLay did so well until his forced resignation this Saturday. Why, either might even improve on it! Goodness me, they seem to be cut from the same mold as Mr. DeLay!

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January 08, 2006

Pesticide for the BugMan

DeLay's out. Why?

On one side of the machine, a hose vacuumed the pockets of large corporations, wealthy individuals and legions of lobbyists on K Street, all instructed by DeLay to contribute only to Republicans. Out the other side, at some later date, came legislation of interest to many of the donors. Inside the machine, twisting its knobs and pulling its levers, was DeLay -- who was unabashed about his pay-to-play philosophy and relentless in enforcing his political rules.

That's about as succinct a description of what DeLay has been doing since 1994 as you'll find anywhere. I'm just surprised to find it in the Washington Post.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 07, 2006

Unlawful intruder

We've lived here 30 years and we've never seen a mongoose in the yard until recently.

I was sitting on the floor in the playroom pulling ornaments off a miniature tree when the dog started pointing (yes, the classic pose). Then she started barking, and I saw this guy go past me on the other side of the window. He went on down to the gate, went under it, and started sunning himself on the side deck. Then he got up and went down to the hedge. I wish I had a stronger zoom lens on this camera!
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DOD fails; people die

A secret Pentagon study has found that as many as 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to the upper body could have survived if they had had extra body armor. Such armor has been available since 2003, but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials.

The Pentagon has known about the failings of its body armor since the beginning of this war, the article says, but the Marines didn't start buying extra plates until September of last year, and the Army is still deciding which sizes to buy.

Additional forensic studies by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner's unit that were obtained by The Times indicate that about 340 American troops have died solely from torso wounds.

Is no one at DOD in his right mind? We've lost over 2,100 men and women over there, and some number of those deaths seem to have been preventable, but weren't because the flipping procurement people can't get off their backsides to make a decision?

Here's some more: the Pentagon contracted with a company in South Carolina (hmm...whose Congressional district, I wonder?) to make new vehicles which apparently deflect roadside bombs. But the company had never mass-produced the things, and it's had problems such that while the contract was awarded in May of last year, the first delivery won't be made until June of this year.

Fire the lot of them. Start with Bush and move down through Cheney, Rumsfeld, and whoever's in charge of acquisitions. This is unbelievable.

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January 06, 2006

New Orleans Four Months On

The Rude Pundit made a trip there over Christmas. Suffice to say, if the national media were still showing pictures like he's taken, there'd likely be a bit more of an uproar about what's not happening post-Katrina.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

Via Neddie Jingo

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Seasonal ads

Now that Christmas is over (tree down, house in process of undecorating), there were a couple of ads from the season I thought were amusing. One was the new Jack-in-the-Box one where one of the antenna balls copies his backside and leaves the copy in the machine, to be found by someone (who looks really familiar, but I can't place him) who then says "That's just wrong." The agency's people have obviously been to a few office Christmas parties.

Another one was the AFLAC one where Santa gets stuck in the chimney, and the little girl says "Could you just throw down the presents?"

Folgers reprised its college boy-comes-home ad a few times. That one always tugs my heartstrings a little.

But if Bill O'Reilly wanted to get his knickers in a twist about "Happy Holidays," couldn't he have targeted that omnipresent "Happy Honda Days" one? Gah!

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January 05, 2006

Where's Lloyd Bentsen when we need him?

What is most amazing about the Bush administration’s new found desire to wrap itself in Truman-era ideas and heroic imagery is its sheer chutzpah. Bush and his advisors want to have it both ways. They want to say that the world has changed – so they are not bound by old postwar rules, institutions, commitments, partnerships, and ways of doing business. It is a brave new world – we can make it up anew. But they also want to gain the respectability and legitimacy by being seen as walking in Truman’s and Acheson’s shoes. They want to overturn the international order that Truman and Acheson built but they also want to be look Trumanesque while they do it.

That's the conclusion that John Ikenberry reaches at TPM Café. How does he come to that conclusion? Read the whole thing. It's well worth your time, particularly if, like me, you're offended by the self-serving comparisons the Bush Administration has recently been making of its work with that of Harry Truman.

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January 04, 2006

Rose Bowl politics

Will Texas dethrone USC as national champs? Will Traveller outdo Bevo? Will the blue state overcome the red state? Will the Republicans succeed in convincing the media that the Abramoff scandal isn't part of the party's modus operandi? Will Democrats get off their knees and begin throwing C-bombs (for corruption) at the Republicans? Will the media forget its fixation with "he said/she-said" articles and report honestly about bribery at the highest levels of the US government?

Fortunately, around 11:30pm EST there should be an answer to the first three questions.

I'm pickin' SC by a touchdown. Reggie Bush runs for 150 yards, Vince Young gets about 35 yards on the ground and 200 in the air but is intercepted twice, and Leinart throws for 250 yards himself.

Update: Ok, I was wrong. Vince Young is one amazing quarterback, but there sure were a bunch of missed tackles allowing him to move down the field.

Nonetheless, that was one heck of a football game.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:48 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 03, 2006

My kind of aging

At 79 and 76, respectively, Paterno and Bowden are the patriarchs of the college coaching profession. Bowden has the most victories with 359, while Paterno is right behind at 353. They're both in their 40th year as head coaches, with Paterno spending all of his time at Penn State and Bowden in his 30th season in Tallahassee.

Shouldn't the Orange Bowl be called the AARP Bowl?

I'm pickin' Penn State by a touchdown.

Update: Ok, a field goal, on the third try in the third overtime. Man! Extra kicking practice for both teams!

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Ah, homeownership


When Drano and Liquid Plumb'r don't work.

On the bright side, the estimate was also the final price. How often does that happen?

Update: No, I didn't find Jack Abramoff in the U-bend. He was otherwise occupied.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 02, 2006

Gratuitous food shot

We don't make a habit of having a big holiday dinner for New Year's Day, but I had this lamb shoulder in the freezer, see...

First meal of the season which didn't require Tupperware for leftovers; there were none.
Posted by Linkmeister at 08:42 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 01, 2006

New Year's musical interlude

After the usual mayhem and fireworks last night, I needed some pleasant music, so I decided to start the New Year off with Streisand Live at the Forum. It sounded good enough that I moved on from there to her Broadway Album. Then, switching to the vinyl collection, A Happening in Central Park, and on to The Way We Were, which, frankly, I'd forgotten I owned.

Man, can that woman sing.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:25 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack