January 31, 2008

Don't save me from terrorists this way, please

I despair of our idiot government ever understanding the real world.

Under the new system, citizens will have two options. They can present one document that proves both identity and citizenship, such as a passport; U.S. military identification; or a government-issued Trusted Traveler Card such as the SENTRI pass.

Alternatively, they can present a driver's license and proof of citizenship, which can take the form of a birth certificate (a photocopy is OK) or certificate of naturalization.

Those rules go into effect today. Here is the full set of rules.

I note that a current passport fulfills the single-document requirement, "proving" both citizenship and identity. (Let's not go into the possibility that someone might get a forged passport.) If you're planning a trip to El Paso or San Diego, do you carry your passport? If not, forget going over to Ciudad Juarez or Tijuana. And that two-document alternative? A driver's license fulfills the ID portion, but a birth certificate is the recommended proof of citizenship.

How many of us can even lay their hands on a copy of their birth certificate?

I hate what this government is doing to us in the name of protecting us.

Oh, and what the hell is a SENTRI pass? Ah.

SENTRI is the Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection, Customs and Border Protection’s trusted traveler program for approved frequent border crossers. SENTRI allows members access to a dedicated commuter lane that expedites crossing between the U.S. and Mexico.

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Commitment issues

I admit it. "Lost" begins tonight, and I have both anticipation and dread.

Anticipation because it's a very well-done program with the things I like in books: mystery and a tinge of the unknown. Dread because I've never been good at "appointment" television and it bothers me to know by watching tonight I'm committing to at least eight Thursday nights where I'm semi-required to be doing one thing for an hour to the exclusion of whatever else I might be interested in at that moment.

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January 30, 2008

Candidates on Unitary Executive Power

Speaking of signing statements, the Boston Globe's Charlie Savage (who first wrote about them and won a Pulitzer for his work last year) surveyed the Presidential candidates back in December to determine where they each stood on executive power. Half the field has dropped out since then, but Clinton, Obama, McCain and Romney all responded (links to each reply are on the sidebar there).

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I don't need your stinkin' laws

If the New York Times editorial board thinks Bush's signing statement on the Defense Authorization Bill is so damned important, why is it that its news pages didn't mention it?

What does that signing statement say? Among other things, that

four sections of the bill unconstitutionally infringe on his powers, and so the executive branch is not bound to obey them.

"Provisions of the act . . . purport to impose requirements that could inhibit the president's ability to carry out his constitutional obligations to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, to protect national security, to supervise the executive branch, and to execute his authority as commander in chief," Bush said. "The executive branch shall construe such provisions in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President."

One section Bush targeted created a statute that forbids spending taxpayer money "to establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq" or "to exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq."

I don't know about you, but that looks to me like he intends to build permanent bases in Iraq no matter what Congress says, which would lock the United States into that country long past his term and tie the hands of any future President who might think that's a bad idea.

While several members of Congress noticed and spoke up against it (Froomkin, pages 2-3), the news pages of the NYT, WaPo, LAT and WSJ have not reported on it (yet). I wonder why.

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January 29, 2008

Spectacle rather than game?

The Super Bowl, in the eyes of real sports fans, is for the tourists. It’s not just that you must sift through the clutter of all the off-field hype for an interminable two weeks, or that it’s the one sporting event covered by morning talk-show hosts who otherwise have no apparent connection to the world of football today. (Like, say, Tiki Barber.) It’s that the actual game of football, at the moment when it is supposed to be at its glorious peak, is utterly irrelevant. It is impossible to keep up the appropriate level – the expected level — of psychotic fandom when the pregame show is 10 hours long, three-quarters of the people at your party are sprinting into the room when the commercials come on and Vegas is taking bets on the duration of the inevitable Tom Petty nipple slip. When the Patriots and Giants take the field Sunday, a fan can be forgiven for thinking, for the first time, that the game itself is oddly small.

Amen, brother.

'Course, it doesn't help when the game action is less than compelling. In 51 games, the average point differential between winners and losers is 15.

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Say what?

In a semi-serious article asking "Where Did All Those Gorgeous Russians Come From?" brought on by watching the Australian (tennis) Open, Anne Applebaum reminds me of a somewhat-related question I asked about fifteen years ago: "How much training was required for American television sportscasters before they could pronounce names like Kournikova, Linetskaya and Poutchkova, and how strongly did they resist?"

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January 28, 2008

Almost the back of him

Heard at the top of the 12:00pm HST NPR newscast, "President Bush will make his final State of the Union speech this evening."

I'm tempted to quote the old spiritual:

Free at last,
free at last,
Thank God Almighty I'm free at last

Except we still have 357 days until it's really true.

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Brokered convention

With John Edwards continually running third in primaries and caucuses, there's been speculation that he might become a "kingmaker" at the convention. Maybe, maybe not. But my question is, in these health-conscious times we're in, "What replaces smoke-filled rooms?"

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January 27, 2008

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I'm not sure what the venue was, but it looks to be Kristofferson and some other good ol' boys just sitting around shooting the breeze. Check out Kris's aside after he sings the line "I smoked so much the night before my mouth felt like an ashtray I'd been licking..."

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January 26, 2008

We send faxes

Senator Inouye,

I am a constituent of yours, living in XXXX. I'm writing to express my dismay at your vote today on S.2248, tabling the Judiciary Committee's version of the FISA bill. The Judiciary Committee's amendment expressly denies blanket immunity to telecommunications companies which freely went along with the Bush Administration's blatant violation of the FISA law, wiretapping American citizens without cause or review by the FISA court.

For some reason, you don't think that this is a good idea. Why?

If I asked you if I might have blanket immunity for any and all crimes I might have committed over the past six years you'd laugh at me and my request would be denied. But apparently if I'm a telecomm company I can make a similar request and you'll agree to it.

Does the rule of law mean nothing?

I repeat, I'm dismayed and disappointed in you. Please vote against the Intelligence Committee's version of this bill which grants immunity to these lawbreaking companies. If the 40 lawsuits currently ongoing against these companies are not allowed to proceed, the American people may never learn the full extent of the Bush Administration's criminal activity. Is that what you want?


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Recipe advice

If the recipe calls for you to blanch vegetables, this does not mean you should take them to the theater to see a play by Tennessee Williams.

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January 25, 2008

Shuffle "All"

Stealing an idea from Fred Clark at Slacktivist, here are the ten songs from my iTunes library that begin with the word "All." What's in your library which fits that requirement?

All 'Er Nothin', Celeste Holm & Lee Dixon
All I Ask Of You, Sarah Brightman & Cliff Richard
All I Left Behind, Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris
All I Really Want To Do, The Byrds
All My Life, Linda Ronstadt & Aaron Neville
All Of Me, Frank Sinatra
All Of You, Fred Astaire
All That You Dream, Linda Ronstadt (sung here by Little Feat)
All You Get From Love Is A Love Song, The Carpenters
All You Need Is Love, The Beatles

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January 24, 2008

Grieving is the right term

Patt Morrison in the LA Times:

I can't forget that, in the nation's name, these men have abused power to defeat the constitutional remedies for abuse of power. They've turned every government agency into a hit squad for Bush-Cheney Inc. They've despoiled this exquisite, singular planet just to stuff a few more millions into billionaires' pockets.

Can I hold out for one more year? Can the nation? Will another election save us? Are we suckers to believe, still, in the ultimate curative power of that brilliantly conceived human instrument, the Constitution? What other choice do we have? I'm ready for a last-minute miracle cure.

Bring it on.

She describes the effect of the Bush years in Kubler-Ross's "grief and loss" terms. It's well worth a read.

via Maha

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January 23, 2008

Stop the insanity immunity

Why in hell are the Democrats (led by Harry Reid for reasons I don't understand) being pushed to go along with the (minority) Republicans' efforts to get FISA passed in compliance with Bush's demand that the telecommunications companies be granted immunity for all their wiretapping help? That makes no sense; if a company was complicit with something it knew was illegal, it should be subject to the law (as should the government officials who persuaded them, but that's another story).

Anyway, it seems to me that Senator Chris Dodd deserves some help in his attempt to derail this, and right now there are three Senators running for President (Clinton, McCain, Obama); to my knowledge none of them have said much recently about their opposition to immunity. CREDO (formerly Working Assets) has created a letter it will send to the three Senators asking them to come back to DC and fight this bill along with Senator Dodd. If you think granting AT&T, Verizon and the others blanket immunity for any criminal activity they might have committed over the past 5 or 6 years, sign it.


You want to be our President, but we need your leadership today as a Senator.

I'm writing today to urge you in the strongest terms possible NOT to support retroactive immunity for big telecom companies that helped the Bush administration spy on Americans without warrants. America needs you to leave the campaign trail and return to Washington to support a potential filibuster by Senator Dodd to protect our civil liberties in the wiretapping bill and stop retroactive immunity.

Letting big telecoms off the hook for their wrongdoing would derail the pursuit of justice in the ongoing investigations of the wiretapping scandal. Ongoing lawsuits are vital in bringing to light the role of the Bush administration in spying on its own citizens, and granting amnesty would render those cases moot.

We cannot allow there to be two standards for justice in America; retroactive immunity for the telecoms would severely undermine the rule of law. We need you to do everything in your power to stop this pernicious legislation.

Please support Senator Dodd in his efforts to ensure that any FISA updates keep Bush and the telecoms accountable and protect our civil liberties, while working toward the common goal of protecting America.

We need you in Washington for this fight. Are the Fourth Amendment and the rule of law important to you? Will you leave the campaign trail and join Senator Dodd for this fight?

I look forward to your response to my letter.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 22, 2008

Why I'm leaning Hillary-ward

Melissa McEwan expresses my feelings about Barack Obama very well in the fourth-from-last paragraph of her post:

And there's something else, tangentially related, that undermines my faith. Obama positions himself as transcending the ugliness of partisanship, but I like knowing that Edwards and Hillary hate the goddamned Republicans as much as I do. I love it when Edwards gets into his zone and talks about corporate greed with fury at the anti-American fatcats seething so clearly just below the surface. I love it Hils talks about the GOP through gritted teeth and hides a snarl behind a smile when the name Bush passes her lips. I trust that. And I trust it because I can't imagine anyone who believes the things I do isn't that. f******. angry. at the Republicans at this point. I want to see that anger. I want to feel it. I want to recognize and connect with it.

As I said in her comments:

How in the world could a Democratic candidate for President not be furious at what the Bush Administration and its allies have done over its lifetime in office? Instead he offers up "bipartisanship" and "post-partisanship."

I have to assume from what Senator Obama keeps saying that he genuinely believes that he can work with the Republicans in Congress. Well, I don't believe that. Since 2006 we've seen how obstructionist they've been in the Senate, blocking initiatives to get American soldiers, sailors and marines out of Iraq, to reduce funding for that miserable extension of Bush's imperialist fantasy, to begin weaning the country off foreign oil, and other Democratic initiatives too numerous to count (well, 72 times, if you really want a number), even when they've been in the minority in both Houses. It seems pretty clear to me that they won't work with Democrats while they've got a Republican in the White House; I don't think they'll be much more amenable if a Democratic President is elected.

We need somebody who'll use the White House megaphone to point the finger directly at the Republican Senators and say "These people are keeping us from doing good things for America." I just don't see a President Obama doing that.

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And what music there was

Here's the Doobie Brothers original lineup playing "Listen to the Music" in 1973:

I remember seeing the cover of "What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits" and thinking "Why do they need two full drum kits?"

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January 21, 2008

MLK Jr. Day 2008

There are a lot of letters written by famous people which are remembered long after their deaths; this may be one of the best.

Letter From a Birmingham Jail, April, 1963

An excerpt:

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have never yet engaged in a direct action movement that was "well timed," according to the timetable of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the words [sic]"Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jet-like speed toward the goal of political independence, and we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward the gaining of a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. I guess it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see the depressing clouds of inferiority begin to form in her little mental sky, and see her begin to distort her little personality by unconsciously developing a bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son asking in agonizing pathos: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tip-toe stance never quite knowing what to expect next, and plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"; then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into an abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.

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January 19, 2008

NFL Conference Championships

I'm not emotionally invested in any of the four teams which are playing for the conference titles tomorrow (had Dallas made it I'd have been rooting for whoever their opponent was -- that's what comes of growing up a Redskins fan). However, I don't know enough to make an informed choice about who's gonna win, either.

In the NFC, I'll go with Brett Favre and the Packers over the NY Giants, based on Favre's playoff experience over Eli Manning's spottiness. Also, the game time temperature is expected to be about 1°, and the Packers are more accustomed to the cold.

In the AFC, I'll pick the Patriots. They're playing for history (they'd be the first team to go 19-0 if they win the Super Bowl), and the Chargers have three offensive stars questionable (Gates, Tomlinson, and Rivers).

What are your picks?

AFC Update: Patriots, 21 - 12.

NFC Update: Giants, 23 - 20, OT.

Hard to believe the Giants' kicker could miss two relatively short field goals earlier in the game and then kick a 47-yard one to win, but that's what happened.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:35 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 18, 2008

A Question

Why do Presidents like Bush insist that their tax cuts be made permanent? I'm sure that when the marginal tax rate was put at 94% back in the 1940s FDR hoped it would be "permanent," and that didn't happen. In fact, it dropped to 86% almost immediately, then rose back to 91% in 1951 and stayed around there for 12 years, then began to fall until in 2003 it bottomed out at 35%.

Language is important, but when it's used to buttress an assertion that history shows is highly unlikely to be borne out, why bother?

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I've played with every toy mentioned in this article about the death of Richard Knerr.

I loved the SuperBall particularly, but the Hula Hoop and the Slip n' Slide weren't far behind.

Thanks, Mr. Knerr.

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January 17, 2008

Good ol' Library of Congress

Hey, look at this! The Library of Congress has put 3,000 photos up on Flickr. Now that's a public service!

There are baseball photos, daily life photos, news photos...right now there are two big sets: news photos from the 1910s and color photos from 1930s-1940s. I suspect judging from that categorization that there will be more to come.

via The Griddle

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On a Carousel

Ever wonder what Graham Nash looked like before he joined CSN? He's singing lead here.

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January 16, 2008

You can't be serious!

To paraphrase whichever character in The Princess Bride says "I don't think that word means what you think it means," I don't think Mike Huckabee knows what the First Amendment's Establishment Clause means.

From Raw Story's video clip:

"I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution," Huckabee told a Michigan audience on Monday. "But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view."

And this clown just got 16% of the Republican vote in Michigan. Michigan, not known as a hotbed of evangelical Christians.

Now I'm beginning to worry about him as a candidate.

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January 15, 2008

Now I understand!

Via Kevin Drum, a theory outlining a nefarious plot to take out Osama bin Laden with an extraordinary agent.

For the sake of the person suspected, I really hope it's true.

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Every blog that has linked to this has used a candy/sweetness descriptor, so I'm not gonna do it (always the iconoclast, that's me; besides, I can't think of one that's unused).

Anyway, here's The Battle of Pelennor Fields from The Return of the King, rendered entirely in candy. It's amazing.

(via Avedon)

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January 14, 2008

A Cautionary Note

Do not inadvertently put a plastic grocery bag down on an electric burner, no matter that it's recently been turned off. The resulting mess will take a while to clean, even with EZ Off.

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Susie Madrak had a wonderful dream the other night, full of media takedowns.

Huh. The best I've done recently is one in which I was being issued a blue book and needed to provide my 1968 U of Arizona matriculation number. The scary thing is that I remembered it correctly.

Hers is better; go read it.

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January 13, 2008

Into the vault

I don't have a lot of country music in my music collection, but I do have a few vinyl albums. Nashville Skyline was probably the first pure country album I ever bought, and I'm sure I was surprised when I heard it. I'd bought it because it was a Dylan album (a completist even in my 20s!), and to hear him sing this style of music was a revelation. It's got some great songs on it, including "Lay Lady Lay" and "Girl From the North Country," the latter a duet with Johnny Cash.

Wikipedia's entry for the album has some interesting background on Cash's involvement with the record. He'd been recording in a studio in the same building, dropped by to listen, and ended up recording a whole slew of duets with Dylan, none of which have ever been released, although some have made to bootlegged albums.

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I thought I knew this, but I didn't realize...

Well now. Jamison Foser of Media Matters has compiled quite the list of examples of Chris Matthews' bon mots about Hillary (and, to a lesser extent, other women) over the years. Here's just a sample:

Matthews periodically gets it into his head that the most important question in the world is whether Bill Clinton will be a "distraction" or whether he will "behave himself." He badgers Clinton aides about the question and warns that Bill Clinton "better watch it." He asks if Clinton will be a "good boy" or be guilty of "misbehavior." Matthews is not so subtly referring to Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky. But curiously, he doesn't have the same concerns about McCain or about Rudy Giuliani, as I wrote nearly a year ago.

Think about this for a second: Chris Matthews is holding it against Hillary Clinton that her husband cheated on her. But he doesn't hold it against John McCain and Rudy Giuliani that they cheated on their spouses. Matthews seems to think women are to blame when their husbands have affairs -- and men who cheat on their spouses are blameless.

And then there's Matthews' fixation on Hillary Clinton's "ambition." In December 1999, Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson appeared on Hardball to discuss Clinton's Senate campaign. Matthews asked Wolfson eight consecutive questions about whether Clinton was "ambitious." Finally, Matthews said, "People who seek political power are ambitious by definition," leading Wolfson to tell him: "if you say so. If it will make you happy, I'll agree." If Matthews has ever displayed as much interest in the "ambition" of male candidates like John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, or Mike Huckabee, he has done so in private.

And, in the midst of his years-long assault on Hillary Clinton, much of it either directly based on her gender or on a sexist double standard, Matthews has the audacity to accuse Clinton of being "anti-male" and to insist that "she should just lighten up on this gender -- 'the boys are coming to get me' routine."

And that's the milder stuff. Go read the rest; Clorox for the brain may be required.

Why is this man still employed by a major news corporation?

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January 12, 2008

Real ID isn't

I don't know whether to be relieved that this national ID idea has been given such an extended time for implementation or appalled that our government thought it would really serve the purpose it claims. I'm sure Chertoff thinks it really would diminish the threat of terrorists getting into the country illegally, but I don't know why he thinks that. What's to prevent somebody from forging this document any more than he could a drivers license or Social Security card?

That's in addition to the worry I have about giving this kind of authority and information to a government which already wiretaps us indiscriminately, claims to have the power to detain us without cause, and generally has shown itself to be oblivious to any check or balance the Constitution intended.


states have until May 2011 before they need to begin issuing licenses that meet the department's new guidelines, and until December 2014 to begin replacing current licenses. Drivers over the age of 50 will not have to obtain new licenses until the end of 2017.

That should give Congress and a new President time to rethink this intrusive plan.

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January 11, 2008

Planned obsolescence?

Is it now the rule that coffeemakers only last about a year? Mine quit halfway through the brew cycle yesterday, but I got it to work by jiggling it. Today it got about one-third of the way through and quit. No matter how hard I cussed, jiggled or bashed it it wouldn't complete the cycle, nor would its warming plate stay hot.

I guess a year is about all we're supposed to expect for $20, huh? I got the one which just quit in July 2006.

This ain't no off-brand pot, either; it's Proctor-Silex. The one before this was Black & Decker.

Update: The new one (same brand, different model) has a cord that's about two inches shorter than the previous one (and they're both embedded in the base). This means I have to either use an extension cord (not usually a good plan for a machine with a heating element, I'm told), put the coffeemaker on the second shelf of my teacart, or put the thing on the countertop. This means either the top is hard to access because of the cart's upper shelf or the new machine takes up space on my counter.

Do they not teach design anymore?

Upon reflection, I'm going to buy a multi-outlet surge strip and hide it on the second shelf of the teacart behind the bag of filters and the sugar substitute container. That will shorten the distance sufficiently that I can put the thing on the cart where I've been used to finding it for the past 27 years.

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Union ball

As the NFL playoffs head into their first full weekend, here's some food for thought.

I remember reading about former NFL players and their difficulties getting disability checks out of their own union, despite a separate fund set up within the pension system to do just that. I had no idea it was this bad.

[NFL Players Association head Gene] Upshaw, who refused to speak for this article and elected to leave the country when Congress staged a hearing on the union's treatment of injured vets in late June, has responded to his critics with schoolyard taunts, calling [former player and Chicago Bears coach Mike] Ditka too "dumb" to understand the issue and threatening to break [former Buffalo Bills lineman Joe] DeLamielleure's neck.

This is odd behavior for one of the highest-paid officials in the history of organized labor, and, in any case, these attacks duck the issue at hand: the needs of broke and battered ex-players. An exhaustive investigation -- including interviews with dozens of injured vets, evaluations of their medical charts and reports from doctors selected by the league, and conversations with critics of the Players Association in the medical and legal community -- reveals a pattern of conduct by the NFLPA that denies former players the money they need and to which their injuries should entitle them. What emerges is a picture of a labor union that has turned its back on the men who built it, and officials who use their power not to advocate for their brethren but to protect the assets of the 32 owners with whom they once did battle.

How has the union failed its members? Well,

From his bellicose beginnings as a union chief in 1983, Upshaw, the Hall of Fame guard for the Oakland Raiders, has been dogged by allegations of fiscal mismanagement. As reported by the Boston Globe in 1990, the sloppy bookkeeping included a loan of $100,000 made by the union to Upshaw that prompted a Department of Labor investigation in 1988 (it's illegal for a union to lend any official more than $2,000), but that was later chalked up to back pay, deferred salary, or an advance on his severance.

But the greater outrage, by far, is what he hasn't accomplished. He failed to win guaranteed contracts in bargaining, failed to get his players long-term health insurance, and failed to get as big a percentage of total revenues as union chiefs have in other sports. Baseball, which took in $5.1 billion in revenues in 2006, provides 10-year veterans a maximum annual pension of $180,000; football, by contrast, which grossed $6 billion last season, pays 10-year vets only about $50,000 a year. On a yearly basis, according to figures provided by union critic Parrish, baseball pensions average three times the NFLPA's (roughly $36,000 to a sub-poverty $12,000). Some of the greatest men who ever played the game receive pensions of a couple of hundred dollars a month.

"It's a colossal failure of leadership by Upshaw, who simply refuses to admit he made mistakes," says Cy Smith, who was co-counsel in the Webster case. "He failed to account for the violence of the game by getting insurance and disability, and is afraid to go back to the owners now and say, 'Guess what? I f***ed up.' "

There are horrific examples in this article. Here's one:

[Mike] Mosley, a blazingly fast returner and flanker for the Buffalo Bills in the '80s, ripped his right knee making a cut on turf and went down in a heap, untouched. The doctor who attended to him botched the treatment so badly that Mosley, who ran a 4.28 in the 40, could barely stop and start on a two-move pattern. "He 'fixed' the cartilage, which was fine, and left the ligament, which was torn, and I ran on it and frayed it completely," says Mosley, now 49, in the thick-as-gravy accent of small-town central Texas. "I went from being the return champ in 1982 to being unable to bend my knee by '84. Then the leg withered, and that was it. I was home on my front porch at 26."

Mosley, a golden boy in high school and college -- he was the wishbone quarterback at Texas A&M, where boosters threw cash and cars at him and the girls lined up to ride shotgun -- fell fast and hard once football was done, lapsing into deep depression. He tried to get a job, but his knee kept buckling, and he had additional problems with his shins and back. In 1998 he filed for disability and, to his shock and relief, was approved. The $9,000 a month allowed him to buy a small house and win custody of his five-year-old daughter Kendall, and though medical expenses ate up most of the rest, he was able to fashion a life again. And then in '04, without a word of warning, the pension board cut him off. He appealed to the union, but it soon stopped taking his calls. In short order he lost his house and truck, and he and his daughter were forced to move in with his 75-year-old mother. She is in very frail health, has run through her savings, and must feed three people on her Social Security check of $319 a month. Mosley, a man of 49, hides in his room, surrounded by football trophies. The look he wears when you flush him out is that of a dying quail.

"There's nothing left," he says. "They took it all from me, and never even gave a reason. If you talk to Upshaw -- and I tried like hell to -- could you ask him how he lives with himself?"

Upshaw was a helluva player for the Raiders, but he seems to have learned all of his management philosophy from that team's owner Al Davis. The Raiders, after all, left their birthplace in Oakland for greener pastures and more money south in L.A., and then went back north once they'd tapped out all the entertainment dollar they could get in Southern California. In the process, Davis and his co-owners have kept a lot of money for themselves. Upshaw seems to think that he owns the Players Association and its cash. Why else would he pay himself $6.7M a year? (For comparison, the NBA's players union pays its boss $2.1M, while the baseball players union pays its boss a paltry $1M per year.)

On second thought, maybe Upshaw's trying to emulate Jimmy Hoffa; milk the union for as much as you can for as long as you can.

If you're a pro football fan and you have a dollar or two to spare, you might go look at Gridiron Greats, a non-profit assistance fund designed to help former players who need it.

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January 10, 2008

Now I'm worried

Not that I'm a conspiracy theorist, but I find Bush's words from a joint press conference hosted by President Bush and Palestinian Authority President Abbas a little disturbing:

And I believe it's possible -- not only possible, I believe it's going to happen, that there will be a signed peace treaty by the time I leave office.

Given the nearly intractable differences between Israel and the PA on refugee resettlement, the continued firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel, the continued construction of settlements by Israel on PA land, and the desire of each party to own Jerusalem, just when do you plan to leave office, Mr. Bush? I know your term is up in January 2009, but...

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

Sound advice

Gene Lyons has some thoughts about what Hillary should say to Obama if she could afford absolute straight talk:

Everybody’s sickened by Washington-style partisan warfare. We all have Republican friends and relatives whose ideals we value. It’s never been true that all the good ideas belong to one faction or party.

But when I cross party lines, they call it cynical ‘triangulation.’ When you do, it’s praiseworthy ‘bipartisanship.’ Until you’re nominated, that is. That’s when the GOP smear machine will start on you. It’s a Washington thing, run by paid political operatives who have browbeaten and bribed much of the Beltway media into seeing things their way.

Their way means that, as a Democrat, you’re either a weak, ineffectual man or an unnatural, bitchy woman — effete, unpatriotic and downright weird. Your marriage is a sham, your religion a fraud. If you think you’re above it, you’re dreaming.

Nothing’s sacred to them, not even the sacred. Some of it circulates in anonymous e-mails; some on dubious Web sites, on far-right talk radio; some in ‘conservative’ newspapers, magazines and TV networks, which will broadcast almost anything.

Eventually, ‘mainstream’ pundits chatter about it on ‘Hardball’ because it’s ‘out there.’ Since 1992, I’ve been accused of everything up to and including murder. Then after the charges were proved false, they decided I was ‘polarizing.’ And I’m still standing.

Today, you’re the great liberal hero because job one is taking me out. Tomorrow ? Well, ‘hope’ is not a plan. Remember, the original ‘man from Hope’ was my husband.

Lyons is the co-author of "The Hunting of the President"; he's been documenting what the right-wing and its allies in the media have done for years, specifically to the Clintons and generally to the Democrats. While the rest of us notice the slime machine, snort in disgust and move on, Lyons keeps track.

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January 09, 2008

How "services" are defined

Here's a personal example of financial services companies screwing their customers: one of my credit cards has a payment due date this month of January 11. Today, January 9, I went online to pay it directly from my checking account through the Automated Clearing House system. The payment date was auto-filled as January 14. Note that that date is three days past the due date. I tried to switch the payment date to January 10 and the system informed me that it couldn't process that payment any earlier than the January 14 date. Through an automatic charge to my checking account!

If I accepted that, I'd be charged a $29 fee for a late payment and be charged interest at 16.5% APR on my $95 balance. I'm not gonna do that; I'll walk it in and get a printed receipt with today's date on it and fight it out after the fact if necessary.

Oh, in case you're saying "Linkmeister, what sort of card company could be that greedy?" That would be American Express.

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Scott Long writes an occasional series at The Juice he calls "Please Explain" wherein he asks why a certain person/phenomenon captures our attention. Previous subjects have included Whoopi Goldberg, Danica Patrick, Bon Jovi, "Deal or No Deal," Larry King and Kenny Chesney. After reading this nasty column from Maureen Dowd following Hillary's NH win, I'm tempted to contract a piece from him on Ms. Dowd's Clinton-hatred.


When I walked into the office Monday, people were clustering around a computer to watch what they thought they would never see: Hillary Clinton with the unmistakable look of tears in her eyes.

A woman gazing at the screen was grimacing, saying it was bad. Three guys watched it over and over, drawn to the “humanized” Hillary. One reporter who covers security issues cringed. “We are at war,” he said. “Is this how she’ll talk to Kim Jong-il?”

Another reporter joked: “That crying really seemed genuine. I’ll bet she spent hours thinking about it beforehand.” He added dryly: “Crying doesn’t usually work in campaigns. Only in relationships.”

Bill Clinton was known for biting his lip, but here was Hillary doing the Muskie. Certainly it was impressive that she could choke up and stay on message.

She won her Senate seat after being embarrassed by a man. She pulled out New Hampshire and saved her presidential campaign after being embarrassed by another man. She was seen as so controlling when she ran for the Senate that she had to be seen as losing control, as she did during the Monica scandal, before she seemed soft enough to attract many New York voters.

Fortunately, several other people have already tried to explain it. A partial list:Sorry, Scott!

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No coronations here, please

Barack won Iowa, and now Hillary has won New Hampshire.

Good. I'm fed up with this idiotic system which determines who my party's nominee is long before any big states get to vote. All due respect to Iowa and New Hampshire voters, but there aren't a lot of them, not a lot of them come out to vote in caucuses or primaries (although there was record turnout for Democrats in both places this year), and they're too white. I want a contest between good candidates, not a coronation after two events. Make no mistake, had Obama won tonight, that's what the media spin would have been. It might even have been true (although we saw from tonight's results that the polls coming into the voting booths were very very wrong).

Now we see what happens in Nevada on January 19 (the Republicans also hold their SC primary that day) and in South Carolina on January 26 before heading into Super Tuesday on February 5, when 24 states hold primaries or caucuses. CNN has a good map and calendar here.

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January 08, 2008

Old foof music-fest

From Rhino Records, here's a new 4-CD boxed set entitled "Love is the Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-1970." The CDs are contained within a 120-page hardbound book with rare photos and essays.

There are some big hits here, but there are a lot of songs from bands which never made it outside of the Bay Area, too. Amazon has a full track list. Ed Ward reviewed it for "Fresh Air."

For flavor, here are some of the bands on Disc One:

  • Dino Valenti (pre-Quicksilver)
  • Country Joe & the Fish
  • We Five
  • Quicksilver Messenger Service
  • The Beau Brummels
  • The Warlocks (precursor to the Grateful Dead)
  • The Great Society (from which came Grace Slick)

Disc Three includes material from:

  • Moby Grape
  • Big Brother & the Holding Company
  • Blue Cheer
  • Sly and the Family Stone
  • Jefferson Airplane

Looks like a winner to me.

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Please do take it personally

When faced with the depredations of the Bush Administration over the past six years, I've gotten fairly emotional at times. It's hard for me to fault Hillary if she does the same. Who among us hasn't occasionally felt like weeping for the direction this country has been taken since 2000?

Think Progress notes that when men, particularly Republican men, tear up, it's "genuine," "poignant," and "extraordinary." There's a double standard here, and it's not a pretty one.

Oh, by the way, later in the day she had to cope with a couple of idiots in a room demanding that she "iron my shirt!"

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January 07, 2008

What music arrangers can do

Remember The Beatles' "Ticket to Ride?" Very upbeat tempo, right? Have you ever heard Richard Carpenter's arrangement? There's a poignancy and sense of foreboding about this version that I really like.

The video's cheesy (hey, it was 1969!), but the recording is excellent.

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January 06, 2008

Our elite media

I like Charlie Gibson, I really do. But he needs to get away from the media class and meet some other folks.

Case in point: Last night during the Democratic debate he posed a hypothetical question about the combined wages of two married professors at St. Anselm, the school where the debate was held. He suggested the two earned upwards of $200K and thus would be losers if the Bush tax cuts were repealed.

The audience exploded. Hillary told him “Maybe at NYU, Charlie.” Gibson didn’t even look chastened.

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January 05, 2008

Mother Nature

This week is the 25th anniversary of the eruption of Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawai'i. Here's some spectacular video of it.

What brought this to mind was seeing ABC News' pictures of snow falling in Truckee, California the other night. Way back in 1983 I drove up to Yosemite and went through Truckee at some point. Along the way I stopped at Donner State Park. There's an impressive museum and statue there memorializing the Donner Party, but the thing that really struck me was seeing a grove of trees, all lopped off about 15 feet up in the air. The explanation? Those trees had been cut for firewood at what was ground level when the Donners got there in the winter of 1846-1847.

Imagine that. 15 feet of snow, so packed that it was perceived as the ground. Then imagine how desperate the Donner Party was.

One of the best books about their experience is Ordeal by Hunger, written by George Stewart (who also wrote the science fiction classic Earth Abides and Storm).

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January 04, 2008

Get thee behind me, Satan

We just got a kitchen catalog in the mail, and it prompted me to tell Mom "I don't want to see that." Next to books and music, cookware is my greatest temptation.

What's yours?

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Chris Matthews, not one of my favorite people anyway, outdid himself Thursday morning. On Morning Joe, which I guess is something put on to make use of Joe Scarborough after his afternoon show failed, he said:

Because if you look at the numbers as they're shaping up, it looks to me like even if Hillary Clinton does manage to squeak it tonight -- I don't think she will -- she's been rejected here in Iowa by two-thirds of the Democratic Party.

Um, Chris? If there's a three-person race, and if it comes out with all three getting 33 percent, that means each candidate failed to get 67 percent or two-thirds of the vote.

Can MSNBC send this clown back to fourth grade to take remedial arithmetic?

As it turned out, Obama got 37 percent, while Edwards and Clinton each got 29 percent in Iowa. I guess in Matthews' mind that means 70 percent rejected the latter two, while 63 percent rejected the winner.

Congratulations to Obama, and better luck in New Hampshire to Clinton and Edwards. (My guy Dodd got under 1 percent and dropped out.)

As for the Republicans, I imagine the money guys are terrified about Huckabee's win. The social conservatives are supposed to be reliable foot-soldiers in the Republican party, not generals.

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January 03, 2008

Weird political spam

Earlier today I got a zipped MS-Word document from this person, purporting to explain "what's behind the Clinton quest for the Presidency."

Just now I got another one as follows:

RE: The immediate Clinton-FBI punishment for sending the information to Iowa voters and police officers.

Dear Madam and/or Sir,

As you may recall, I just emailed the information on what is behind the Clinton quest for U.S. presidency, in fact. Due to the lawlessness of FBI under its Director Robert S. MUELLER, I and my wife are partly homeless. His top level subordinates, including now his executive assistant director Willie HULON and his assistant director Timothy BEREZNAY in charge of National Security Branch NSB of FBI manage that we have been extorted over $70,000.00 in setting up, maintaining computers and the housecleaning for a privilege of doing the house sitting without any pay from Thursdays to Mondays/Tuesdays.

Immediately after sending you the information in question, these and other WSI/SWW and GRU moles in the NSB of FBI for Senator Hillary RODHAM CLINTON and her run for the White House punish us with keeping longer on the street although we have paid much too much for doing the house sitting. We can go there on Friday, instead of Thursday, e.i. TODAY evening which is the day of caucuses in Iowa. We are already 38.0 hours without any sleep. They will keep us for 24.0 hours more. This will be 62.0 hours altogether. It is the torture which is self-explanatory in the contents of my information provided to you as the voter. It speaks for itself.


Slawomir J. Borowy

Um. Mr. Borowy seems to have confused me with an Iowa caucus-goer. More than that, he's incoherent and unclear on FBI hierarchy. The GRU is not a US agency, rather it's Russian Military Intelligence. Moreover, what's it guilty of? How is it keeping Mr. Borowy homeless for another 24 hours? And how/why would one spend $70K setting up computers and cleaning a house one is only going to be in four days a week?

Slawomir, buddy, you've lost it. Check into rehab.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:51 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Declaration of intent

Now that the political process actually has people making choices for President rather than the media village trying to do it for the rest of us, I will express my support for Chris Dodd. The odds of him winning are somewhere between zero and one percent, but who cares?

Dodd is the one Democratic candidate who has clearly stated his opposition to the assault on civil liberties the Bush Administration has mounted over the past six years, and he's the guy who's said that reversing the law which limited habeas corpus rights for people detained for suspicion of intent is high on his to-do list.

Having said that, I could be quite happy with any of the Democrats who are running. The strength of the field on that side is phenomenal, particularly when one looks at the Republican side and sees nothing but candidates who seemingly want to continue the proven-to-be-awful economic and security policies of the Bush Administration.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:20 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 02, 2008

Resolutions made to be broken

  • I will not discuss politics
  • I will not discuss sports
  • I will not discuss food
  • I will not discuss music
  • I will not discuss books
  • I will discuss chaos theory
  • I will discuss animals, vegetables and minerals
  • I will create a new road trip game similarly to "Paddidle"

Oh, and I have a bridge in Brooklyn (to which I have firm title!) for sale.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:11 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 01, 2008

Big game day

hilogo.gif v. ggb.gif

Sugar Bowl. Today. 8:30pm EST.

Go Warriors!

Update: Well, ouch. 41-10, Georgia. Colt Brennan is going to be seeing black-shirted defensive linemen in his sleep tonight. And Coach Jones is going to be recruiting bigger faster offensive linemen to protect his quarterbacks. Eight sacks!

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:57 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Happy New Year!

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