Thursday, January 31, 2008

Simple Things

Has anyone else noticed that our lives have become so complicated that we don’t fully appreciate them? A good song and a glass of wine go almost unnoticed.

When I was in college I lived in Boston for the summer. I was training for cross-country and cleaning floors in the nuclear engineering labs at MIT. I would get up and run ten to twelve miles along the Charles River. At three o’clock I would get a bagel and cream cheese and go to work the second shift. I would have eaten more, but I had to live on ten dollars a week until I got a pay check. I remember thinking how much I just wanted a Coca Cola. I could not afford the extravagance. I vowed that when I made some money I would have a whole closet full of Coca Cola.

I now have two houses and three cars. I have a wonderful family. We eat well, and watch movies, or go out to dinner, when we want to. I often wonder if, in our hyper-complex lives, we miss how good a simple thing like a can of Coke, or a good song, can be.

Perhaps I should clear out a closet this weekend. I will put in a single can of Coke, just to remind me to be happy with the little things.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

John Edwards ends his bid.

I am sorry to see John Edwards end his bid for President. I would have been happy to have worked and voted for him, had he won the nomination. He was my second choice in a field packed with worthy candidates. My hope is he is offered the job of Attorney General if a Democrat wins the Presidency.

We have lost a strong voice for the poor in John’s ending. He made his career fighting for the disenfranchised against corporate America. The cynical among us will say that fighting corporate America was where the money was for him. They will say that what we don’t need as a lawyer as President. I beg to differ. We should have a lawyer as President. We should have a man or woman who will understand the law and how it defends the rights of less fortunate Americans. We elect a President to fight for all Americans, not just the big campaign donors or those who can afford to hire lobbyists.

Let us hope that whoever prevails will remember John’s message of working for those in poverty and near poverty. These are people who have been ignored by Washington for far too long.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Both Democrats and Republicans show their creepy side on the FISA bill

Update from Glenn Greenwald:

"The vote on the Motion for Cloture on the 30-day extension (i.e., to proceed to a vote on it) just failed -- 48-45 (again, 60 votes are needed). All Democrats (including Clinton and Obama) voted in favor of the Motion, but no Republicans did -- not a single one. Thus, at least as of today, there will be no 30-day extension of the PAA and it will expire on Friday.

Reid, however, indicated that it was certain that the House will vote in favor of an extension tomorrow, which means it will be sent to the Senate for another vote. It's possible, then, that the Senate will vote again later in the week on an extension, but it's hard to imagine any Republicans ever voting in favor of an extension since Bush has vowed to veto it.

By blocking an extension, Republicans just basically assured that the PAA -- which they spent the last seven months shrilly insisting was crucial if we are going to be Saved from The Terrorists -- will expire on Friday without any new bill in place. " (emphasis mine)

But the Democrats have been just as creepy on this issue:

"In essence, the reason Senate Democrats were able to successfully filibuster today is not because they oppose the Cheney/Rockefeller Senate Intelligence Committee bill. It's not because they stood firm against telecom immunity or warrantless eavesdropping. Quite the contrary, more than enough Senate Democrats were and still are prepared to vote for that bill in order to ensure passage (as they demonstrated on Thursday when 12 of them, in essence, voted for that bill).
The only reason Democrats were able to hold their caucus together today to filibuster is because The Senators were offended that their inalienable Senatorial Right to vote on amendments was deprived by the GOP's premature Cloture Motion. The one (and only) "principle" that can really inspire many of these Senators to take a stand is the protection of their Senatorial prerogatives. Many of them don't actually have any beliefs other than that.
Reward lawbreaking with immunity? Fine. Give the President new warrantless eavesdropping powers? No problem. Abolish habeas corpus and legalize torture? Sure. Deprive a Senator of the Right to vote on an amendment before cloture? Unacceptable! " (emphasis mine again)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Campaign Eruptions a la Stewart

What's at stake today in the Senate's FISA filibuster vote

From Glenn Greenwald:

"It has been a long, long time since Democrats contravened orders from the White House and Senate Republicans in any way (can anyone remember the last time?) A successful filibuster today would be an extremely mild step. It would not mean that they are rejecting telecom immunity. It would not mean that they are standing against new warrantless spying on Americans. Even with a filibuster and 30-day extension, they still have plenty of time to capitulate on those issues if they want to (although, as I argued on Saturday, even a short extension could be vital in marshalling public opposition to immunity and/or expanded warrantless spying powers).
At most, a sustained filibuster today would simply mean that they are demanding the right to vote (probably with futility) on their own amendments before passing Bush's new law and demonstrating that there is at least some very weak limit on the administration's ability to bully and humiliate them with the most transparently manipulative tactics imaginable. If they filibuster, Bush will undoubtedly attack them as Soft on Terrorism in tonight's State of the Union speech, but nobody outside of David Broder, Joe Klein and the Super Tough Blue Dogs listens any more or cares about George Bush's attacks.
Any rational person has long ago given up the hope that Congressional Democrats will stand for any actual political convictions, but the most basic sense of personal pride and human dignity -- which one thought was an intrinsic part of human nature -- would preclude their capitulation today. If they don't stand up to the White House and Senate Republicans under these circumstances, one might as well accept that they never will do so." (emphasis mine)

Ask yourself this: Should Congress let the President demand that any industry unnecessarily break the laws of the land and then give that industry immunity when they knowingly follow what the President demands at our expense?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Oscars Round Table Discussion

Some of the greatest actors of the past year sit around and talk about politics, fame, photographers and acting. Very interesting.

Here is the link

Friday, January 18, 2008

My latest addiction: Robert B. Parker novels.

If anyone needs a little brain candy, Robert B. Parker is the man for you. I am on book 24 of who knows how many. I have read them in order and I recommend doing that. His first books are a but much. Spencer, Parker's main character is too full of himself. As the series moves along Spencer gets deeper and better. Less smack and more thought.

The last two I have read made me laugh out loud at times. My wife hates it, because then I want to read paragraphs to her.

If you want to read a book about a thug who can cook, is well read and has interesting friends, read Parker.

Bobby Fischer, Chess Master, Dies at 64

He got a bit nutty in the last decade and some will argue he always was.

Mr Fisher's death does remind me of a wonderful movie. Searching for Bobby Fisher. It is a relatively true story and a wonderful movie for the whole family.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bush in the Middle East

Why is it that when a US President gets to the last year of his presidency he wants to solve the “Israel Palestinian problem?” Clinton almost pulled it off and only the last minute cold feet of Arafat stopped him. Now it is the supremely obtuse Bush, who can’t know much about the complexities of the problem or it’s history, who will give it a try. I wish him luck.

And another thing:

Have you noticed the “Promoter of democracy” in Iraq does not seem to be interested in doing the same for either Saudi Arabia or Egypt. I am not saying that democracy should not be promoted in the Middle East but if Bush has any chance of being taken seriously by anyone he should at least pay lip service to promoting it for Palestinians, Saudis, and Egyptians. Perhaps we should be relieved since his last Democracy Promotional Tour has cost us half a trillion to date.

I have an idea. We might be better off if we just gave each dictator about fifty billion and an island. It would save us lots of money. Oh, I forgot. Bush can’t do that. How would his supporters at Halliburton make billions from our Treasury if we just gave it to the dictator to leave. Not to mention some new dictator would just take over, because democracy was not achieved organically.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sexism works for Hillary

Even the casual observer knows that, in the halls of power, sexism is alive and well in America. This will ultimately end up working for Hillary Clinton in her quest for the presidency.

I realize that many women are just as sexist as the most neanderthal man among us. However, when a man in politics, the media, or business is confronted by a powerful women we can use the interaction as a window into their sexist/non-sexist souls. Should these men or women mistreat the powerful woman (Hillary), it has the potential to alienate 51% of the electorate.

It will be interesting to watch a bunch of angry white men take lessons in how to be non-sexist in a confrontation with a powerful woman. Those who can't master the art of being non-sexist under pressure, will find themselves jeopardizing their careers.

Here is an example of how not to do it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Media and Hillary

I am waiting for someone from the media to ask a substantive question of a candidate of either party. I am holding my breath.....turning red.... turning blue....white....... I died waiting.

Here is Media Matters analysis of Chris Mattews' comments on Hillary vs. his comments on Rudy. I have confidence that Mr. Mathews actuyally believes he treats each of these candidates fairly and reasonably. I am willing to bet analysis of other news organizations would show the same thing.

I actually don't want to bog down in the "liberal media's" unfair treatment of some of the candidates. What I really want to point out is the media's lack of real reporting. The spend all thier time handycapping the race, rather than asking substantive questions like this: Hillary, John Edwards has a health care plan that proposes to do this, that, and the other thing. How does yours differ?
Rudy, you want to cut taxes on this, that, and the other thing. What programs do you plan to cut to balance a budget already in the red?

Glenn Greenwald has been following this issue for a while and everyone should occasionally log onto his site to get the scoop.

Stephen Coughlin, the Pentagon specialist on Islamic law and Islamist extremism, has been fired from his position on the military’s Joint Staff.

Good riddance! It is unqualified nuts like this, that have led policy decisions, in the current Administration for the last seven years. No wonder we have such a mess on our hands in the Middle East.