Tuli Can't Stop Talking

These are just my thoughts on contemporary issues and an attempt to open up a dialogue.

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Location: New York City

A citizen who cares deeply about the United States Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Harvey Korman


1927 – 2008

Comedian Harvey Korman, Laughing Until We Cried

By Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 31, 2008; C01

If you were a boy growing up in the '70s and interested in learning how to make people laugh, there were three easily accessible instructional videos in the art form: "The Carol Burnett Show," Mel Brooks's movies and the "Pink Panther" films.

Harvey Korman, who died Thursday at 81, was an indispensable part of the first two and even showed up in a couple versions of the latter.

The bigger kids in the '70s were playing George Carlin's "Class Clown" and Richard Pryor's "Greatest Hits" albums. Those of us a little younger were not allowed to listen to those cutting-edge comedians yet. Instead, we grew up on a borscht-based diet of slapstick, ethnic exaggerations and groan-inducing puns. It's odd to think about it now: It was like training an entire generation of teenagers how to be 50-year-old Jewish stand-up comics.

The tall, Mephistophelean Korman was much more than that. Described as the quintessential second banana, Korman became the embodiment of a classic comedy role: The scheming, mustachioed Talleyrand, unctuously seeming to serve his superior -- usually played by Brooks -- but ever plotting for his own gain, only to be hilariously undone by his vanity and unfortunate choice of names. Think of him as a wonderfully hammy American version of David Niven.

In Brooks's 1974 ribald Old West spoof, "Blazing Saddles," Korman played Hedley Lamarr, a corrupt attorney general to Brooks's clueless governor. Korman's character is constantly referred to as Hedy Lamarr, the 1940s actress, which of course made no sense, timeline-wise. But that was Brooks's delightful world. It was merely a construct to allow Korman, in his upright, annoyed priggishness, to continually protest throughout the movie: "It's pronounced 'Hedley!' "

In Brooks's 1981 "History of the World: Part 1," which adroitly tells the stories of the Roman Empire, Jesus, the Spanish Inquisition (a show-stopping musical number!) and the French Revolution, Korman plays a powdered, prissy and lecherous noble at the court of Louis XVI.

Brooks was the king of the pun, and in "History," Korman's character was named Count de Monet. The gag still worked, at least in Korman's hands. The memorable scene came when a footman raced toward Korman shouting, "Count de money! Count de money!" (Hahaha!) Korman squeezed the footman's mouth like that of a fish, trying in vain to get him to pronounce it right: "That's de Mo-NAY! Say it with me: de Mo-NAY!"

(There is a scene in Brooks's 1977 "High Anxiety," a Hitchcock sendup, that involves Korman, a mental patient, a rubber band, paper clips and werewolf teeth. It is impossible to describe but a masterful piece of comic choreography.)

Most people, though, knew Korman from his work on "The Carol Burnett Show," which ran from 1967 to 1978 on CBS. As part of an ensemble cast including Burnett, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner and Tim Conway, Korman was the yeoman comic, playing any number of roles. Korman did voice work on "The Flintstones" animated series (he was the Great Gazoo) before "Carol Burnett," and in live action was able to showcase his physical timing in addition to his vocal flair.

Korman's most memorable work on "Carol Burnett" came from mistakes.

He seemed incapable of sharing a scene with Conway without cracking up. Whether Conway was doing his shuffling old man or his "Mrs. a-Wiggins" boss, if he and Korman made eye contact, Korman was down for the count. The shorter Conway would gaze up at Korman, fixing him with a blank stare, as Korman tried in vain to get off his line, his face contorted in comic agony, his rigid body rippling with unsuppressible snickering. By then, the audience at home was in tears.

Understand this: It is a generous act by a comic actor to let the audience see him break character. That means he is comfortable enough in his skin to let the other actor have his moment. And Korman knew that sometimes the best way to get someone else to laugh is simply to let them see you doing it.

Thank you Mr. Korman!

Update: This was so Bushy for me I couldn’t stand it:

And then there is Hedley Lemar:

Teamed with Mel Brooks he made and reflected cultural history!

Scotty We Hardly Knew You!

Even though McClellan’s book didn’t really reveal anything we Dirty Fucking Hippies (DFH’s) didn’t already know it is not without value. I just watched Scott McClellan on Olberman. Now many folks are saying that based on his performance at the podium it should be clear that this book was too well written to have been produced by him and there must have been a ghost writer.

Well, Scotty is apparently far more articulate and erudite than we knew. This was on display on Countdown. He was not the bumbling fool we witnessed day after day at the Whitehouse.


Now we all know that some people are talkers and some people are writers. I am in the appellate business and there are lawyers who can do oral argument and write merely adequate briefs. Then there are those who write fabulous briefs and are not so great at oral argument. There are also those, I am thinking Krugman here, who are terrific at writing and not so great in interviews.

So, what I am saying here is that after watching Scotty present his case in the court of public opinion I am saying that he is not the bumbling idiot that many of us, including me, presumed him to be. Nor do I find it hard to believe that he wrote an articulate, informative and well written book.

Once released from the bubble, Scott McClellan is far more thoughtful than I thought. And perhaps he should have been involved in policy in this less than thoughtful Whitehouse.

The major lesson for Scotty is: it’s not good to be a true believer!

Because it is obvious that you are not as stupid as you appeared from the podium.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Little Scotty: Stooge

I remember watching Scott McClellan, acting as the Whitehouse Mouthpiece, and I often felt sorry for him. It was quite obvious that unlike Abu Gonzalez, he didn’t relish the dodging and lying part. I didn’t really get it until I watched Abu dodge and lie in front of Congress. Both of these guys were merely willing stooges. I always knew that Abu was a willing stooge. But I hadn’t quite pinned that on Scotty. In some part of me I still saw him as just so totally un-equipped to do the job he was hired for. Pity was what I felt actually.

Well, no more. He was a willing stooge just like AGAG but without the zest for the job.

As Athenae points out in her excellent post he stayed on the job until April 2006.

May 27, 2008

Fine With It, Vol. 347

Via the Crack Den, oh goody, another participant in the bloody Bush war machine now tells us all how the whole thing went so terribly bad:

Among the most explosive revelations in the 341-page book, titled “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception” (Public Affairs, $27.95):

• McClellan charges that Bush relied on “propaganda” to sell the war.

• He says the White House press corps was too easy on the administration during the run-up to the war.

• He admits that some of his own assertions from the briefing room podium turned out to be “badly misguided.”

• The longtime Bush loyalist also suggests that two top aides held a secret West Wing meeting to get their story straight about the CIA leak case at a time when federal prosecutors were after them — and McClellan was continuing to defend them despite mounting evidence they had not given him all the facts.

• McClellan asserts that the aides — Karl Rove, the president’s senior adviser, and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the vice president’s chief of staff — “had at best misled” him about their role in the disclosure of former CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity.

Let me just double check here. When did McClellan leave the White House?

April 2006.

April 20FUCKING06.

So let's review for a moment. The whole thing was a train wreck, Bush was gonna kill the party, not to mention a few thousand American men and women in uniform, not to mention a few hundred thousand Iraqis, not to mention outing a CIA agent and torturing some innocent people and sending Americans to secret prisons and spying on them illegally. The whole thing was a flaming train wreck with FAIL icing, and McClellan was privy to all of this, and he left the White House in April 2006, when the train was not only off the tracks, but had careened into a gorge, the fire had been put out, the goats evacuated and most of the cargo salvaged, and NOW here he comes, to tell us that he had a sneaking suspicion the engineer was not entirely up to snuff before the damn thing ever hit the rails, the fuel was inadequate and one of the porters was playing with a Zippo? SERIOUSLY?

And we're supposed to do ... what now, with this? Wer'e supposed to ... I dunno, give him some kind of cookie? Throw him a party? Pat him on the back with cable news appearances and guest columns because, like Dougie "I'm Not A War Criminal, But I Play One In The Government" Feith, he's courageously telling the truth a half-decade after it would have fucking helped us at all? He's asking for recognition here that doesn't involve being put in the fucking stocks? He's asking that we mark his courage in telling his "inside story," or something? Because unless this is public atonement, unless every page, every paragraph, hell, every predicate ends with "I'm sorry," unless this is penance of some kind, unless he's apologizing, I'm not for one second inclined to listen.

I wrote months ago that we could expect a parade of these stupid fools marching down the National Mall declaring themselves newly enconscienced and full of horror at what Bush had done to fuck up whatever perfection they themselves had planned for a Republican presidency. Feith wasn't the first, that was either Gingrich or Fucking Ari, but now they're coming fast and furious, counting on us to be so riveted by their performances as actual human beings that we don't dare ask the only question worth asking of these opportunistic scum-feedling cockroaches:


Because you were, you ten-a-penny fascisti, you kitchen appliances, you insults to the memory of anyone who's ever called himself a public servant. You were fine with it when Iraqis and poor Americans were dying, you were fine with it while cities were being wiped out, you were fine with it while innocents at home and abroad were being tortured and deported and driven insane, you were fine with it when the lies were exposed as lies and you were fine with it when the crimes were called crimes. You were fine with motherfucking everything until it started to get uncomfortable in just one place: the voting booth.

Then you started to sweat like the guilty bastards you are, then you started looking over your shoulder for the villagers with pitchforks and torches. Then you ripped off your BUSH ROOLS DEMS DROOL shirts and put on some nondescript fucking polo and backed away, muttering, "not us, man, we were never even THERE" while you stuffed your big Republican foam finger down the garbage disposal. Then you gave a shit about American lives, then you gave a shit about the mortgage and the gas pump, then you gave a shit about the coffins coming home. Until then, you were fine with it, you were happy as clams, you were dancing a fucking jig and anybody who so much as whispered "Constitution" was a terrorist-appeasing pussy. You were fine with it until you realized you couldn't hump it across the finish line one last time.

So don't you dare come to me now, with your declarations of knowing all along that we were gonna get fucked. Don't you dare come to me now with your explanations of how you knew, way back when, that the liars were liars and the crimes were crimes. Don't you dare come to me now, try to tell me a story, because while it was happening, you were fine with it, and that's the only part of your bloviating on and on that I can even fucking hear. You were fine with it. Don't you dare come to me now, try to tell me anything else, and expect me to give you the courtesy of not turning my back in the street.

Until April 2006, McClellan worked for these people. Until April 2006, he was fine enough with what he now abhors that he kept right on cashing the checks.


Say “Amen!”

No Justice, No Peace!

It is about time.

May 27, 2008


Thirty-Five Years of Rockefeller ‘Justice’

Enacted in 1973, New York’s Rockefeller drug laws penalized some first-time drug offenders more severely than murderers. Named for Nelson Rockefeller, who was governor at the time, the laws tied the hands of judges and mandated lengthy sentences for young offenders who often deserved a second chance. The laws, which were supposed to ensnare “kingpins,” have filled the prisons with drug addicts who would have been better dealt with through treatment programs. They also undermined faith in the fairness of the justice system by singling out poor and minority offenders while exempting wealthy ones.

New York has made incremental changes in laws in recent years but has failed to restore judicial discretion. A sentencing commission appointed by Eliot Spitzer, the former New York governor, pretty much ducked the issue in an interim report issued last fall. But criminal justice advocates have higher hopes for Mr. Spitzer’s successor, David Paterson, who spoke out vigorously for Rockefeller reform as a state senator. He was arrested while demonstrating against the laws in 2002.

If Governor Paterson is looking for motivation to take on this issue, he can find it in a recent report from The Correctional Association of New York, a nonprofit group that monitors prison conditions. According to the report, New York is currently paying $500 million a year to house its drug offenders. The costs are rising as more people go to prison for minor, nonviolent drug offenses.

The law often metes out long prison terms to addicts, petty dealers or people only peripherally involved in the trade. Indeed, 4 in 10 drug offenders in the state’s prisons were locked up for possession as opposed to selling. These are hardly kingpins. In fact, nearly half the drug offenders in the state’s prisons were convicted of the lowest level crimes.

Many of these people are clearly addicts who would benefit from treatment. But the mandatory sentencing guidelines limit the courts’ ability to choose the treatment option. It is long past time for New York to overturn these laws and to return judicial discretion. Governor Paterson, who can cite chapter and verse on this issue, should to take the lead in this important fight.

Disclosure: I work for a public defender.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Superhighway to Bliss?

You know that I love Jill Bolte Taylor. Here is an article in the NYT’s which points out some of why I think she is fantastic. She is holistic in the largest sense of the word. Though my neurological incident (stroke) did give me a totally different take on life, I was in no way as articulate as Dr. Taylor or as transformed.

So that said, here is the article:

May 25, 2008

A Superhighway to Bliss


JILL BOLTE TAYLOR was a neuroscientist working at Harvard’s brain research center when she experienced nirvana.

But she did it by having a stroke.

On Dec. 10, 1996, Dr. Taylor, then 37, woke up in her apartment near Boston with a piercing pain behind her eye. A blood vessel in her brain had popped. Within minutes, her left lobe — the source of ego, analysis, judgment and context — began to fail her. Oddly, it felt great.

The incessant chatter that normally filled her mind disappeared. Her everyday worries — about a brother with schizophrenia and her high-powered job — untethered themselves from her and slid away.

Her perceptions changed, too. She could see that the atoms and molecules making up her body blended with the space around her; the whole world and the creatures in it were all part of the same magnificent field of shimmering energy.

“My perception of physical boundaries was no longer limited to where my skin met air,” she has written in her memoir, “My Stroke of Insight,” which was just published by Viking.

After experiencing intense pain, she said, her body disconnected from her mind. “I felt like a genie liberated from its bottle,” she wrote in her book. “The energy of my spirit seemed to flow like a great whale gliding through a sea of silent euphoria.”

While her spirit soared, her body struggled to live. She had a clot the size of a golf ball in her head, and without the use of her left hemisphere she lost basic analytical functions like her ability to speak, to understand numbers or letters, and even, at first, to recognize her mother. A friend took her to the hospital. Surgery and eight years of recovery followed.

Her desire to teach others about nirvana, Dr. Taylor said, strongly motivated her to squeeze her spirit back into her body and to get well.

This story is not typical of stroke victims. Left-brain injuries don’t necessarily lead to blissful enlightenment; people sometimes sink into a helplessly moody state: their emotions run riot. Dr. Taylor was also helped because her left hemisphere was not destroyed, and that probably explains how she was able to recover fully.

Today, she says, she is a new person, one who “can step into the consciousness of my right hemisphere” on command and be “one with all that is.”

To her it is not faith, but science. She brings a deep personal understanding to something she long studied: that the two lobes of the brain have very different personalities. Generally, the left brain gives us context, ego, time, logic. The right brain gives us creativity and empathy. For most English-speakers, the left brain, which processes language, is dominant. Dr. Taylor’s insight is that it doesn’t have to be so.

Her message, that people can choose to live a more peaceful, spiritual life by sidestepping their left brain, has resonated widely.

In February, Dr. Taylor spoke at the Technology, Entertainment, Design conference (known as TED), the annual forum for presenting innovative scientific ideas. The result was electric. After her 18-minute address was posted as a video on TED’s Web site, she become a mini-celebrity. More than two million viewers have watched her talk, and about 20,000 more a day continue to do so. An interview with her was also posted on Oprah Winfrey’s Web site, and she was chosen as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world for 2008.

She also receives more than 100 e-mail messages a day from fans. Some are brain scientists, who are fascinated that one of their own has had a stroke and can now come back and translate the experience in terms they can use. Some are stroke victims or their caregivers who want to share their stories and thank her for her openness.

But many reaching out are spiritual seekers, particularly Buddhists and meditation practitioners, who say her experience confirms their belief that there is an attainable state of joy.

“People are so taken with it,” said Sharon Salzberg, a founder of the Insight Mediation Society in Barre, Mass. “I keep getting that video in e-mail. I must have 100 copies.”

She is excited by Dr. Taylor’s speech because it uses the language of science to describe an occurrence that is normally ethereal. Dr. Taylor shows the less mystically inclined, she said, that this experience of deep contentment “is part of the capacity of the human mind.”

Since the stroke, Dr. Taylor has moved to Bloomington, Ind., an hour from where she was raised in Terre Haute and where her mother, Gladys Gillman Taylor, who nursed her back to health, still lives.

Originally, Dr. Taylor became a brain scientist — she has a Ph.D. in life sciences with a specialty in neuroanatomy — because she has a mentally ill brother who suffers from delusions that he is in direct contact with Jesus. And for her old research lab at Harvard, she continues to speak on behalf of the mentally ill.

But otherwise, she has dialed back her once loaded work schedule. Her house is on a leafy cul-de-sac minutes from Indiana University, which she attended as an undergraduate and where she now teaches at the medical school.

Her foyer is painted a vibrant purple. She greets a stranger at the door with a warm hug. When she talks, her pale blue eyes make extended contact.

Never married, she lives with her dog and two cats. She unselfconsciously calls her mother, 82, her best friend.

She seems bemused but not at all put off by the hundreds who have reached out to her on a spiritual level. Religious ecstatics who claim to see angels have asked her to appear on their radio and television programs.

She has declined these offers. Although her father is an Episcopal minister and she was raised in his church, she cannot be counted among the traditionally faithful. “Religion is a story that the left brain tells the right brain,” she said.

Still, Dr. Taylor says, “nirvana exists right now.”

“There is no doubt that it is a beautiful state and that we can get there,” she said.

That belief has certainly sparked debate. On Web sites like evolvingbeings.com and in Eckhart Tolle discussion groups, people debate whether she is truly enlightened or just physically damaged and confused.

Even her own scientific brethren have wondered.

“When I saw her on the TED video, at first I thought, Oh my god, is she losing it,” said Dr. Francine M. Benes, director of the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center, where Dr. Taylor once worked.

Dr. Benes makes clear that she still thinks Dr. Taylor is an extraordinary and competent woman. “It is just that the mystical side was not apparent when she was at Harvard,” Dr. Benes said.

Dr. Taylor makes no excuses or apologies, or even explanations. She says instead that she continues to battle her left brain for the better. She gently offers tips on how it might be done.

“As the child of divorced parents and a mentally ill brother, I was angry,” she said. Now when she feels anger rising, she trumps it with a thought of a person or activity that brings her pleasure. No meditation necessary, she says, just the belief that the left brain can be tamed.

Her newfound connection to other living beings means that she is no longer interested in performing experiments on live rat brains, which she did as a researcher.

She is committed to making time for passions — physical and visual — that she believes exercise her right brain, including water-skiing, guitar playing and stained-glass making. A picture of one of her intricate stained-glass pieces — of a brain — graces the cover of her book.

Karen Armstrong, a religious historian who has written several popular books including one on the Buddha, says there are odd parallels between his story and Dr. Taylor’s.

“Like this lady, he was reluctant to return to this world,” she said. “He wanted to luxuriate in the sense of enlightenment.”

But, she said, “the dynamic of the religious required that he go out into the world and share his sense of compassion.”

And in the end, compassion is why Dr. Taylor says she wrote her memoir. She thinks there is much to be mined from her experience on how brain-trauma patients might best recover and, in fact, she hopes to open a center in Indiana to treat such patients based on those principles.

And then there is the question of world peace. No, Dr. Taylor doesn’t know how to attain that, but she does think the right hemisphere could help. Or as she told the TED conference:

“I believe that the more time we spend choosing to run the deep inner peace circuitry of our right hemispheres, the more peace we will project into the world, and the more peaceful our planet will be.”

It almost seems like science.

Unfortunately science has its limits. Life is as Chaos Theory posits: Chaotic!

Though I am a fan of empirical evidence I also believe in Miracles or Chaos such as it were! And of course I believe in Epiphanies.

Lieberman, Censorship and the Intertubes!

Is it time to censor Senator Lieberman’s phone calls? I guess he thinks so. He feels he has a right to tell Youtube.com to remove videos that he doesn’t like. I would imagine that many of those videos are of him making a fool of himself, which is often. Though I’m not saying, I’m just saying.

May 25, 2008


Joe Lieberman, Would-Be Censor

The Internet is simply a means of communication, like the telephone, but that has not prevented attempts to demonize it — the latest being the ludicrous claim that the Internet promotes terrorism.

Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut is trying to pressure YouTube to pull down videos he does not like, and a recent Senate report and a bill pending in Congress also raise the specter of censorship. It is important for online speech to be protected against these assaults.

Mr. Lieberman recently demanded that YouTube take down hundreds of videos produced by Islamist terrorist organizations or their supporters. YouTube reviewed the videos to determine whether they violated its guidelines, which prohibit hate speech and graphic or gratuitous violence. It took down 80 videos, but left others up. Mr. Lieberman said that was “not enough,” and demanded that more come down.

Earlier this month, the Senate homeland security committee, which is led by Mr. Lieberman, issued a report titled “Violent Islamist Extremism, the Internet, and the Homegrown Terrorist Threat.” The report identified the Internet as “one of the primary drivers” of the terrorist threat to the United States.

All of this comes against the backdrop of a troubling Congressional antiterrorism bill that also focuses on the Internet. The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, which passed the House last year by a 404-to-6 vote, would establish a commission to study the terrorist threat and propose legislation. The bill, which the Senate has not acted on, has a finding that the Internet promotes radicalization and terrorism.

Although the report by the homeland security committee stopped short of making recommendations for reining in online speech, it did ask “what, if any, new laws” were needed. The answer is that no new laws are needed — or justifiable — any more than it would be tolerable to enact laws restricting speech over the telephone, in a newspaper or a book, on a street corner, or in a church, mosque or synagogue.

While it is fortunate that Mr. Lieberman does not have the power to tell YouTube that it must remove videos, it is profoundly disturbing that an influential senator would even consider telling a media company to shut down constitutionally protected speech. The American Civil Liberties Union has warned that the “Homegrown Terrorism” bill and related efforts “could be a precursor to proposals to censor and regulate speech on the Internet.”

Not only do these efforts contradict fundamental American values, it is not clear if they would help fight terrorism. Even if YouTube pulled down every video Mr. Lieberman did not like, radical groups could post the same videos on their own Web sites. Trying to restrain the Internet is a game of “whack-a-mole” that cannot be won, says John Morris of the Center for Democracy and Technology. Having the videos on YouTube may even be a good thing, because it makes it easier for law enforcement officials, the media and the public to monitor the groups and their messages.

Terrorism is a real concern. All Americans know that. They also know that if we give up our fundamental rights, the terrorists win. If people use speech to engage in criminal acts, they should be prosecuted. Cutting off free speech is never the right answer.

Now we all realize Senator Joementum isn’t exactly a constitutional scholar. But even the rest of us non-constitutional scholars (Glennzilla, our constitutional scholar, does the work for us) know this is offensive to what is purportedly “American.”

Though I think what is purportedly “American” has changed dramatically in the last seven and a half years. Again, I’m just saying!

Breast Feeding versus Similac?

Why is this even up for discussion? I don’t get it? If you are all about “Organic” why would you do anything but breastfeed? It seems illogical to me. Breastfeeding is organic and using Similac, no matter what its formula, isn’t. That is plain and simple.

Does that mean that women who use Similac or other faux organic formulas are deluding themselves? I think it does.

Either you breastfeed your child and give them a leg-up or you don’t. There is no in between or excuse.

But then I am a La Leche Nazi.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Fear Many of Us Share.

My sister has consistently said, “Barack Obama is one of the bravest men she has ever seen.” I remember feeling that way about MLK in the 60’s. And in the United States of America a very smart Black Man being the frontrunner in the Presidential Campaign and continuing to run despite death threats is indeed a Very Brave Man.

So, it is indeed beyond disappointing that Hillary “stooped” to this excuse in using history to vindicate her reason for staying in the race to the end. There are other, I believe, more reasonable reasons to stay in till the end. But the horrors of 1968 aren’t reasonable considering the situation and reality surrounding the Obama Candidacy.

I think that Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast has a very good post on this.

Here it is:

Friday, May 23, 2008

Oh no she di'int!

Oh, yes she did:

You know, I never put any stock in all the stories about Clinton Body Counts and stuff like that. I remember the whole shooting-watermelons-in-the-yard thing and all the raving about how the Clintons were responsible for everything from the crucifixion of Jesus to the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby to the fixing of the 1919 World Series to Steve Bartman catching that home run ball in game six of the 2003 NLCS. But holy moly, when she pulls shit like this you almost have to wonder.

She "clarified" later on...

...but note how she ONLY apologizes to the Kennedy family, not for the obvious reference that if the presumptive nominee has someone, say, someone who attended an NRA conference at which Mike Huckabee joked about it, take a shot at him, then she'd be the logical choice.

As always, you can rely on Rachel Maddow to strip away the bullshit and get right to the point:

There's something about the idea of Barack Obama in the White House, constantly watching his back while Bill and Hillary conspire in the hallway, that makes me think about Papa Boleyn and son George talking about how if Henry VIII dies from his jousting wounds and Elizabeth becomes the heir apparent, then Papa Boleyn gets to run the country until she comes of age. And remarks like this don't help. Either Hillary is mind-bogglingly tone-deaf, or she knew damn well what she was saying.

I'm not ascribing any murderous intentions to her, but this sure doesn't look like what you want to say if you're hoping to be picked for the Vice President slot. At BEST it's another example of the kind of sloppy, off-the-cuff remark that brought us news of her plan to "obliterate" Iran.

And no, this isn't about smacking her around for saying this because she's a woman. It's smacking her around for saying this because she's smart enough to know better.

UPDATE: I should have figured that some of those reading this would latch onto my mention of the wingnut Clinton Derangement Syndrome that characterized the years 1992 through 2000 and musing on perhaps this kind of remark is why they escalated these people into Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett. I don't believe for one minute that Hillary Clinton is going to assassinate or hire someone to assassinate Barack Obama. She may be ruthless and utterly convinced that she deserves this nomination, but she's not a monster. But as Keith Olbermann just mentioned in his special comment tonight (which was both accurate AND over-the-top), there are other examples of a campaign going on into June without invoking assassination that she could have used in a year when a black candidate is the, or a, front-runner for the nomination, one who had Secret Service protection early on because of death threats, one whose candidacy has had people telling pollsters to hang him from a tree.

We're finishing up eight years of someone who doesn't think before speaking, who says "Bring it on" and shoots (if you'll pardon the expression) first and deals with the press later. Throughout this campaign, Hillary Clinton has shown the same alarming tendency, along with an ominous inability to admit to mistakes. Whether it's the Iraq War vote, or her Bosnia tales, or drawing this unfortunate analogy, she refuses to admit to being wrong. She could have defused this with a public statement acknowledging how awful it sounded and how she didn't mean it to sound the way it did. She should have called the Obama campaign and apologized not "if they were offended", but for how it sounded. But instead she did what she always does -- dug in her heels, apologized for something completely different from what the problem was, and so the story goes on.

People say unthinkingly thoughtless things sometimes. I recently went on a rant about parents who don't discipline their kids and then wonder why their kids are using drugs in their teens in front of someone who lost her child to drugs. After I realized how it must have sounded, I called her and apologized, saying I hadn't been impugning her parenting and acknowledging that it must have sounded terrible to her, that it was thoughtless and I was sorry. It's hard to do, but not that hard -- and it's mandatory in a presidential candidate. I'm sure that being reminded of that day in 1968 is painful to the Kennedy family, especially now. But being reminded that a man who's a father of two young children has to deal with the reality that there are people who would rather see him dead than president is painful too. And Barack Obama deserved an apology too -- not "if he was offended", but for the remarks made. Because if Hillary Clinton can't acknowledge a mistake, she's no different from what we have now.

Jill has many good insights and makes many good points. This is now beyond troubling.

Update: Mark Kleiman over at the Realilty Based Community has a different take on this:

May 23, 2008

Posted by Mark Kleiman

No, Hillary Clinton wasn't speculating about an Obama assassination.

She was merely using the date of the assassination (June) to point out that not every nominating contest ends in May. Of course, 1968 is the classic case of the Democrats fighting all the way to the convention and not being able to reunify in November, so I don't think the example supports the argument. But it's absurd to read anything nefarious into her remarks. And I wish the Obama campaign had resisted the temptation to get huffy.

Still, I would propose a moratorium on the use of that word.

DUH! That would be a good idea. Just MHO!

Supporting Our Troops!

The Bush Administration and its Congressional Minions use the “Support our Troops” meme as a cudgel on anyone who is opposed to the Mess-O-Potamia quagmire and/or wants to do something about it. Now that Bush & Co., including “Our War Hero, McSame, have made it clear that they only support our troops with words and not deeds by opposing the New G.I. Bill we should remember another aspect of their PR campaign.

May 11, 2008


The Suffering of Soldiers

Several years into a pair of wars, the Department of Veterans Affairs is struggling to cope with a task for which it was tragically unready: the care of soldiers who left Afghanistan and Iraq with an extra burden of brain injury and psychic anguish. The last thing they need is the toxic blend of secrecy, arrogance and heedlessness that helped to send many of them into harm’s way.

“Shh!” said the e-mail in February from Dr. Ira Katz, head of mental health services for V.A., to a colleague. “Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1,000 suicide attempts per month among the veterans we see in our medical facilities. Is this something we should (carefully) address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?”

Dr. Katz’s hushed-up figure was nowhere near the number he gave to the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee last year; he said there had been 790 suicide attempts in all of 2007, and denied there was a suicide epidemic. The veterans affairs secretary, James Peake, apologized for Dr. Katz’s “unfortunate set of words” and promised more candor and transparency.

Give some credit, anyway, to Mr. Peake for realizing that there is no hope of denying or wishing away this problem. As the economists Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes made clear in “The Three Trillion Dollar War,” their analysis of Iraq, the medical toll of a war rises in a swelling curve for many decades after the shooting stops. The current suicide figures include a large proportion of aging and ailing veterans of Vietnam. Suffering for that long, on that scale, will not be covered up.

A study by the Rand Corporation last month found that nearly one in five service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, or about 300,000, have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression. About 19 percent reported having a possible traumatic brain injury from these bomb-afflicted wars.

Alarmingly, only half have sought treatment, the study found, and they have encountered severe delays and shortfalls in getting care. The V.A.’s inspector general has faulted the agency’s case management of brain-injured veterans, and a federal lawsuit by veterans’ groups in San Francisco seeks to force the V.A. to streamline and improve treatment.

Fortunately, the solutions are clear: more money for mental health services, closer tracking of suicides and more aggressive preventive efforts, more efficiency at managing veterans’ treatment and more help for their families. If this country gave back to wounded troops even a fraction of the commitment and service that it has received from them, they will be well cared for.

But that would mean taking some of the money this crew gives to its cronies and war profiteers to really “Support our Troops.” It would also mean that government might be proven effective. Heaven forbid!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Are Independents Really Suckers?

Or are they just really low-information voters?

Frank Rich asks the question:

May 18, 2008

Op-Ed Columnist

McCain Can Run, but Bush Won’t Hide


THE biggest gift President Bush has given his party this year was to keep his daughter’s wedding nearly as private as Connie Corleone’s. Now that his disapproval rating has reached the Nixon nadir of negativity, even a joyous familial ritual isn’t enough to make the country glad to see him. The G.O.P.’s best hope would be for both the president and Dick Cheney to lock themselves in a closet until the morning after Election Day.

Republicans finally recognized the gravity of their situation three days after Jenna Bush took her vows in Crawford. As Hillary Clinton romped in West Virginia, voters in Mississippi elected a Democrat in a Congressional district that went for Bush-Cheney by 25 percentage points just four years ago. It’s the third “safe” Republican House seat to fall in a special election since March.

Party leaders have been haplessly trying to identify possible remedies ever since. It didn’t help that their recent stab at an Obamaesque national Congressional campaign slogan, “The Change You Deserve,” was humiliatingly identified as the advertising pitch for the anti-depressant Effexor. (If they’re going to go the pharmaceutical route, “Viva Viagra” might be more to the point.) Yet for all the Republican self-flagellation, it’s still not clear that the party even understands the particular dimensions of its latest defeat and its full implications for both Congressional races and John McCain in November.

The Mississippi election was actually a runoff, required by law after a preliminary vote left neither candidate with the required 50 percent. In the last round, on April 22, the Democrat, Travis Childers, beat the Republican, Greg Davis, 49 percent to 46 percent. (The rest went to minor candidates.) On Tuesday, that margin increased dramatically: the Republican remained at 46 percent while the Democrat jumped to 54 percent.

What happened in the intervening three weeks helps explain why. The G.O.P. didn’t merely step up its expensive negative campaign, attempting to take down Mr. Childers (who is a white, conservative Democrat) by linking him with Mr. Obama, a ranting Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Nancy Pelosi. It also brought in the party’s big guns. Mr. Bush and Mr. McCain recorded mass phone pitches for Mr. Davis. Karl Rove and Mr. Cheney campaigned for him.

The vice president’s visit was last Monday, the centerpiece of a get-out-the-vote rally in DeSoto County, a G.O.P. stronghold. “We’ll put our shoulders to the wheel for John McCain,” the vice president promised as he bestowed his benediction on Mr. Davis. Well, he got out the vote all right. In the election results the next day, the Childers total in DeSoto County increased 142 percent, while the Davis count went up only 47 percent.

The district as a whole is the second whitest in Mississippi. (Its black population is 27.2 percent.) It’s the sole district Mr. Obama lost to Mrs. Clinton in the state’s Democratic primary in March. Yet even in this unlikely political terrain the combination of a race-based Republican campaign and the personal intervention of Mr. Cheney energized enough white moderates and black voters to flip the district to the Democrats. Keep in mind, it’s the Deep South we’re talking about here. Imagine how the lethal combination of the Bush-Cheney brand and backlash-inducing G.O.P. race-baiting could whip up a torrential turnout by young voters, black voters and independents in true swing states farther north and west.

Just 36 hours after the Mississippi debacle, Mr. McCain tried to distance himself from the administration by flip-flopping on his signature issue, Iraq, suddenly endorsing just the kind of timetable for withdrawal he has characterized as “surrender” when proposed by Democrats or Mitt Romney. (When Mr. McCain proposes it, he labels it “victory.”) But hardly had Mr. McCain spoken than his message was upstaged by Mr. Bush’s partisan political speech in Israel. The president implied that Mr. Obama would have enabled the Nazis even more foolishly than his own grandfather, Prescott Bush, did in the 1930s when he maintained “investment relationships with Hitler’s Germany,” as Kevin Phillips delicately describes it in “American Dynasty.”

Mr. McCain’s Iraq stunt was his second effort in a week to flee Mr. Bush, following a speech bemoaning administration inaction on climate change. These gambits were in turn preceded by Mr. McCain’s attack on the White House response to Hurricane Katrina. Too bad he took this strong stand nearly three years after it might have sped relief to those suffering in New Orleans.

The McCain campaign is hoping that such showy, if tardy, departures from Bush-Cheney doctrine will constitute a galaxy of Sister Souljah moments, each with headlines reading “McCain Breaks With Bush on...” and the usual knee-jerk press references to Mr. McCain as a “maverick.” Enough of these, you see, and those much-needed independent voters might be flimflammed into believing that the G.O.P. candidate bears no responsibility for the administration’s toxically unpopular policies.

You can’t blame him for trying. Independents favor Democrats over Republicans on most issues, according to the April New York Times/CBS News poll, including the economy (by 30 points), Iraq (by 13 points) and health care (48 points).

But are independents suckers? They’d have to be to fall for the pitch that Mr. McCain is an apostate in his own party in 2008. He has been an outspoken Bush defender since helping him sell the Iraq war in 2002 and barnstorming for him in 2004. Despite Mr. McCain’s campaign claims to the contrary, he never publicly called for the firing of Donald Rumsfeld. He is still one of the president’s most stalwart supporters in Congress, even signing on to the president’s wildly unpopular veto of an expansion of children’s health insurance.

Mr. McCain’s one major domestic policy rebellion, over the Bush tax cuts, has long since been ditched. Last Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” his economic surrogate, Carly Fiorina, implied that Mr. McCain would make budgetary ends meet by cutting earmarks — federal pork that, in her inflated estimate, amounted to $42 billion over the past two years. But even if he cut all $42 billion, total federal spending would still be reduced by only 0.78 percent.

Hard as it is for Mr. McCain to run from the Bush policies he supports, it will be far harder to escape from Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney themselves. When Mr. McCain accepted Mr. Bush’s endorsement at the White House in March, he referred three times to the president’s “busy schedule,” as if wishing aloud that the lame-duck incumbent would have no time to appear at, say, get-out-the-vote rallies. Alas, Mr. Bush and company are not going gently into retirement.

Just look at Mr. Rove. Some Democrats are outraged that he is now employed as a pundit by Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal as well as Fox News. Instead of complaining, they should be thrilled that Mr. Rove keeps inviting Republican complacency by constantly locating silver linings in the party’s bad news. His ubiquitous TV presence as a thinly veiled McCain surrogate has the added virtue of wrapping the Republican ticket in a daily and suffocating Bush bearhug, since Mr. Rove is far more synonymous with his former boss than Mr. Obama is with his former pastor.

The Democrats can only hope that Mr. Rove will be a color commentator, so to speak, at the conventions. The parties’ weeklong infomercials are shaping up as quite a study in contrasts. For all the fears of a Democratic civil war, the planets may be aligning for a truce, and possibly a celebration. As fate has it, the nominee’s acceptance speech is scheduled for the night of Aug. 28, exactly 45 years after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. electrified the nation with “I Have a Dream.”

The next day brings another anniversary: Mr. McCain turns 72. And then, on Sept. 1, comes the virtually all-white G.O.P. vaudeville in Minneapolis. You’ll be pleased to know the show will go on despite the fact that the convention manager, chosen by the McCain campaign, had to resign last weekend after being exposed as the chief executive of a lobbying and consulting firm hired by the military junta in Myanmar.

The conventioneers will arrive via the airport whose men’s room was immortalized by a Republican senator still serving the good people of Idaho. This will be a most picturesque backdrop to the party’s eternal platform battles over family values, from same-sex marriage to abortion.

For good measure, antiwar demonstrators from within the G.O.P. — Ron Paul devotees — could provide at least a smidgen of the 1968-style disruptions the Democrats may avoid. In April, the Nevada Republican state convention abruptly adjourned in midsession after the Paul forces won rule changes. The Los Angeles Times reported last week that other Paul cadres, operating below the national press’s radar, have also been fighting guerrilla battles “at county and state conventions from Washington and Missouri to Maine and Mississippi.”

Already one of the national convention’s de facto hosts — Minnesota’s endangered Senator Norm Coleman — is frantically trying to save his seat by disowning his record as an Iraq war booster and disentangling himself from the president. Good luck! But how can Mr. McCain escape the dread specter of this White House at the convention? Surely Mr. Bush will exercise his prerogative to address the nation in prime time.

Unless, of course, Labor Day week just happens to be the perfect moment for a second Bush daughter to tie the knot in Crawford.

The Republican Brand is definitely in trouble. But I don’t think that has really been reflected in the public discourse. Bush & Co.’s lack of credibility should be the news of today. There is so much to pick from. Or could it be possible that the Corporate MSM just isn’t doing its job and informing the public? I have my HO what is yours?

How come the McSame theme isn’t getting much play? I am not saying, I’m just saying!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I Love UPS!

Big Brown did it again in the Peakness. So, now on to the Triple Crown and we will be right there at the Belmont Park finish line. The question is can he do a mile and a half. Most three year olds can’t and it doesn’t look like the crowd he has been running against can get there.

Jerry Bailey is impressed. So am I.

Though, I must say, I have been disappointed before. Not to mention the fact that I would not be pleased if Dutrow won the Triple Crown. I am just saying!

PS. Please note that our very own Bugler Sam Grossman from Belmont Park called the horses to the post at Pimlico.

Update: I just wanted to add that I can’t wait to see Big Brown in person. I usually get a good idea of what is up from the up close inspection of a horse. That is how I knew that Rags to Riches was going to win last year. She looked AWESOME! After seeing her in the Paddock we all ran (well I didn’t exactly run) back to our seats singing the theme song from “Rocky.” Hopefully the boy looks that good in the Paddock this year.

What a Hoot!

Wow, Tweety, I am shocked!

When you ain’t got nothing, and you know nothing, raising your voice and yelling won’t get you anywhere with the Talking Points except with other idiots.

The problem is that this works with an awful lot of people who are seemingly without any historical perspective. And unfortunately it happens all too often.

And that is not a hoot!

Thankfully Tweety wasn’t haven’t any of it! It is about what real patriotism is about.

Update: Upon considerable reflection it occurs to me that this exposition of the shallowness of the Right-Wing Talking Points may be so obvious that there maybe hope for even the MSM, and Matthews is an influential part of the MSM. Let us hope we see more moments like this.

Fuck You FCC, Etc.

Here’s a trip down memory lane:

That was a nice trip wasn’t it?

And keep in mind:

Eric Idle, genius, c’est du moins mon opinion.

And when things are getting you down:

So, vote for the Democratic candidate because it is always about perspective:

Nuff said!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

From the Reality Based Community

From Jonathan Zasloff:

Hit 'em again--harder, harder

Posted by Jonathan Zasloff

Who says that Barack Obama can't attack? His statement today on McCain's supposed commitment to climate change regulation:

It is truly breathtaking for John McCain to talk about combating climate change while voting against virtually every recent effort to actually invest in clean energy. You don't have to look further than the wind turbine plant where Senator McCain is speaking today to assess his commitment to this cause. While Senator McCain talks about the need to invest in alternative energy, he rejected the single biggest investment in renewable energy in history, including incentives that contributed to a nearly 50% increase in wind power generation last year, and he has repeatedly opposed renewable fuel mandates and higher fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks.

In stark contrast, I've called for a national standard to ensure that we're using more renewable energy, an expansion of our green energy sector that would create millions of green jobs, and a bipartisan plan to double our fuel efficiency standards. That is why the American people will have a clear choice in November when I am the nominee - between a candidate who opposes real solutions to our energy crisis, and leadership that will solve it once and for all.

I'm sure that McCain's people will respond with something like, "so much for Obama wanting to establish a new discourse in politics. He's a hypocrite, yadda yadda yadda...." The question is whether the press falls for it. I'm sure that McCain would like to have a rule that says that criticism of their candidate is off-limits. But if he can't stand up to a wholly policy-based attack, then how can he stand up to the terrorists?

Does McCain really want to stand up to the terrorists? I am not saying, I am just saying!

McCain’s Free Market!

As Dave Johnson of Seeing the Forest would say, “Not!”

May 14, 2008

Do Republicans Believe In Free Markets?

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

A news story on Monday, McCain urges free-market principles to reduce global warming. Which"free-market principles" does McCain mean?

McCain's major solution is to implement a cap-and-trade program on carbon-fuel emissions, like a similar program in the Clean Air Act that was used to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions that triggered acid rain.

Summary: the government sets a limit on how much CO2 companies will be allowed to emit. The government sets a fee for any emissions above that level. The government allows companies with emissions below that limit to sell "credits" to companies above the limit.

McCain describes this as a "free market" approach.

Conservatives always come up with nice-sounding ways to describe their ideas. They talk about "free markets." "Free" sounds so good. Has a nice ring to it. But is there really such a thing?

In McCain's example every single component of this market is defined, set up and regulated by government. But conservatives always say that government is the enemy of freedom and of markets. Do they not see the contradiction?

In fact, is there a market that is not defined, set up and regulated by government? Would markets even exist if there were no government? First, there is the money that is exchanged in a market. Unless we revert to a pure barter system where goods are exchanged money is entirely a creation of government. And it is entirely regulated by government. Next are the laws that, excuse the word, "govern" the market system. These laws are entirely a creation of government and it is government that enforces them and government that runs the courts that resolve disputes. And yes, these laws are "regulations."

So when conservatives complain about "government" and "regulation" and advocate "free markets" what is it they are really saying? The best way to understand what they want is to look at what they do, not what they say. If we look closely at the results of those times when conservatives gain power we can see that they really seem to mean they will use the power of government to protect the wealthiest people and biggest corporations.

For example, conservatives in government have always defended the big energy companies against threats to use of their products. They oppose mass transit, alternative energy research, even requiring cars to get better gas mileage.

A closer look reveals that what they really stand for is a protection of the status quo, defending the rich and powerful against the rest of us.

Does Bear Stearns ring a bell? Yes, I am sure that with a little creativity that too can be spun as the Free-Market working its self out! So, let’s see how McCain and company tackle that because unless the Dems are idiots, and that is a possibility, it should come up before November.

Two of My Favorite People

Ricky Lee Jones and Dr. John make Woopie.

And I love it. Besides with the way things are going lately we can all use a little Woopie!

h/t fdl

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Now I was an Edwards supporter and I plan to vote for the Democratic Nominee in the General no matter who it is, but as a girl this video still sends chills up my spine. It also makes me so sad for what could have been in so many ways.

Maybe the next time the campaign will be run by someone differently. Anyway you know that I never thought the girl could get there.

Who to Believe?

I am going with Kevin’s analysis here.

May 11, 2008

JINGLE MAIL....Has there been a sea change in the way Americans view the responsibility of paying off their mortgages? Has it become common to simply toss the keys to your house in the mailbox and walk away if you don't feel like making your payments any more? Even if you can afford to? This has recently acquired the status of conventional wisdom, but Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times says there's a problem with this story:

When pressed for the number of borrowers who could afford their mortgage payments, major banks and lender groups could not produce numbers figures.

Nor could the Mortgage Bankers Assn., the leading trade group for housing lenders....Wachovia's [Don] Truslow acknowledged during the bank's conference call April 14 that walkaways were "hard to quantify."....Bank of America spokesman Terry Francisco said the bank had seen indications that some homeowners were taking pains to keep their credit card accounts current at the expense of their mortgage balances....But he said the bank did not have "firm figures" on how many homeowners were unnecessarily defaulting on their mortgages.

....At Fannie Mae, the government-chartered company that owns or guarantees billions of dollars in home mortgages, Senior Vice President Marianne Sullivan conceded that there was growing "folklore" about residential walkaways but said that the phenomenon was more likely connected to investors than people who live in their homes, or "owner-occupants."

"The vast majority of borrowers we find have been acting in good faith," she said. "If they get behind, they are interested in working with their lender."

If this is right, there's been no sea change at all. What there's been is a huge increase in houses purchased by speculators and a huge increase in lenders willing to provide them with mortgages. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that speculators are willing to walk away from mortgages if they no longer look like a profitable investment, but this says nothing about the attitudes of ordinary homeowners. What it says is that banks should be careful about loaning money to speculators.

But they weren't, so now they're trying to construct an urban legend about feckless home buyers who are defaulting not because their loans are resetting and they can't afford them, but merely because they feel like it. Hardworking bankers are just the latest victims of a liberal culture that no longer values personal responsibility, you see.

Maybe. But like most self-serving narratives coming from the moneyed class, you might want to ask for evidence beyond a few anecdotes before you believe it. Who knows? Maybe this one is no more real than that mythical family farmer tossed off his land by a cruel and unjust estate tax. We never did get his name either.

The “Toss the Blame” around narrative is so necessary to keep the Financial Service Industry in business and unregulated that I am going with the “who could possibly believe anything these folks say” crowd. They have been wrong all along and I am willing to bet they are still “wrong.”

It’s Mother’s Day!

In my world every day is Mother’s Day. Shouldn’t it be the same for you, sans the terrible phone traffic?

Read Liberal Citizen on Mother’s Day. It is quite good and I am not saying that just because I love Andros! Oh, and the artwork is wonderful.

I Hope He’s Right!

Mr. Rich:

For five years boomers have been asking, “Why are the kids not in the streets screaming about the war the way we were?” The simple answer: no draft. But as Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais show in “Millennial Makeover,” their book about the post-1982 American generation, that energy has been plowed into quieter social activism and grand-scale social networking, often linked on the same Web page. The millennials’ bottom-up digital superstructure was there to be mined, for an amalgam of political organizing, fund-raising and fun, and Mr. Obama’s camp knew how to work it. The part of the press that can’t tell the difference between Facebook and, say, AOL, was too busy salivating over the Clintons’ vintage 1990s roster of fat-cat donors to hear the major earthquake rumbling underground.

The demographic reshaping of the electoral map, though more widely noted, still isn’t fully understood. From Rust Belt Ohio through Tuesday’s primaries, cable bloviators have been fixated on the older, white, working-class vote. Their unspoken (and truly condescending) assumption, lately embraced by Mrs. Clinton, is that these voters are Reagan Democrats, cryogenically frozen since 1980, who come in two flavors: rubes who will be duped by a politician backing a gas-tax pander or racists who are out of Mr. Obama’s reach.

Guess what: there are racists in America and, yes, the occasional rubes (even among Obama voters). Some of them may reside in Indiana, which hasn’t voted for a national Democratic ticket since 1964. But there are many more white working-class voters, both Clinton and Obama supporters, who prefer Democratic policies after seven years of G.O.P. failure. And there is little evidence to suggest that there are enough racists of any class in America, let alone in swing states, to determine the results come fall.

Read the whole column.

This is Going Viral!

Nothing to See Here Just Move Along!

What can one say?

May 10, 2008

NYPD disciplines white officer who stopped black commander


Filed at 5:04 p.m. ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- A white police officer was disciplined for acting ''in a discourteous manner'' when he confronted a black motorist who turned out to be one of the highest-ranking commanders in the New York City Police Department, an agency spokesman said Saturday.

Chief Douglas Zeigler, the head of the NYPD's Community Affairs Bureau and the highest uniformed black officer on the force, was off duty and sitting in his department-issued sport utility vehicle on a street in the borough of Queens on May 2 when two white police officers approached.

The encounter turned testy, and one of the officers tried to wrest open Zeigler's door, even after the three-star chief had identified himself, police spokesman Paul Browne said.

''He dealt with the chief in a discourteous manner, which is unacceptable,'' Browne said.

He did not provide details of why the officers decided to question Zeigler. The New York Daily News reported Saturday that Zeigler was parked near a fire hydrant and that one of the plainclothed officers spotted Zeigler's service weapon inside the vehicle. Browne said he could not confirm whether the officers saw a gun.

He did not specify what discipline was taken by the department. The News said the officer was stripped of his gun and badge and placed on modified duty Friday.

The incident was reported as police are being criticized for stopping and frisking record numbers of pedestrians -- about 145,000 in the first quarter of this year. The majority were black or Hispanic.

Zeigler has headed the Community Affairs Bureau since January 2006. His wife, Neldra Zeigler, is the NYPD's deputy commissioner for equal employment opportunity.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who has been leading demonstrations in the city to protest the acquittal of three police officers in the shooting death of an unarmed man as he left his bachelor party, took note of the Zeigler incident while speaking at his weekly rally in Harlem.

''You can't make this stuff up!'' he said. ''The problem isn't that they didn't recognize him. It is that they don't recognize our rights!''

Also, a New York man has filed a lawsuit claiming that he was taunted and falsely arrested by police officers after they learned that he had the same name as a West African immigrant shot to death by other officers in 1999.

Amadou Diallo said a group of officers confronted him over a broken headlight in February, then searched his vehicle for weapons.

Once the officers learned his name, it became ''a source of much amusement, laughing and inappropriate joking amongst the officers, with crude and disgusting comments,'' Diallo's lawyer said in the suit.

Amadou Diallo was also the name of an unarmed immigrant killed in 1999 when four plainclothed officers, apparently mistakenly thinking he was reaching for a gun, fired 41 rounds in the doorway of a Bronx apartment building. The officers in that case were also acquitted of criminal charges.

Good thing this guy had some juice. Imagine if his name was Joe Shmo or say Sean Bell!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Saint McCain’s Worse than Wright!

Reverend Parsley is not exactly a “Scary Angry Negro Male” but certainly a very “Scary Angry White Male” but he doesn’t seem to be such a problem with the MSM. Why is that?

McCain’s moral compass and spiritual guide says we “get off on warfare.” And he is only one of the religious wack jobs who support McCain.

Where is the MSM on this?

American Exceptionalism

Why shouldn’t everyone and every country want to be just like us? That is the idea that is being debated over at the Colonel’s place. It is an extremely important question as it infects our foreign policy decisions and how Americans see the world. I am not one of those who see the world from the U.S.A. point of view (POV) because as a Canadian I often have a different POV, even in my own family. Also as someone who is in the American Racial Divide I have a different POV from many of my white counterparts so how could I possibly see the world as having a desire to emulate the U.S.A. Now the Colonel is speaking mostly of foreign policy but I believe it goes much deeper than that.

Here is what he has to say and the comments are very informative:

Qustioning the Value of Our Culture - ?

"Just remember, inside every zip there's an American trying to get out." The crazy cavalry colonel spoke this line on the beach in "Apocalypse Now. A marine DI said much the same thing in "Full Metal Jacket." The attitude was so sadly typical of our entrance on the scene in Vietnam. Maybe one was quoting the other... In any event, I used to joke about this attitude. I no longer think it is funny. In the last year or so I have wandered the country a lot giving talks to college and other audiences. In doing that it has become more and more clear that many, if not most Americans still, (not the right word) as always (better) have a deeply embedded reflexive belief that mankind is evolving socially toward a unified world culture and that this culture is the culture of the West, more specifically of Anglo North America.

After a recent talk at a small college, a faculty member in the business sciences asked me if I had really meant to say that the Iraqis and other Middle Easterners did not want to be "us." When assured that I had meant it, he said that this was most disturbing and that the thought had not occurred to him before. He continued that such a notion was threatening because, if believed, it would require a re-appraisal of the worth of Western culture. He said that he had always assumed that people who lived in significantly different ways did so either from ignorance or because the structure of their societies functioned to hold them in subservience to a primitive way of life. He said that if that were not true and in fact most non-Western people wanted a better life in material terms without adopting the values of the West, then much of his life had been lived in error. "I think of all the foreign students whom I assumed were just waiting for enlightenment."

I asked him, "why can't you just accept the idea that there are many authentic and legitimate ways of life and forms of governance, and that what is good for us is not necessarily wanted by others?" I hope he is still wrestling with the issue. pl

I for one do not believe in American Exceptionalism. I think that there are many things that we need to fix in our country. I don’t believe we are Number One or any other such crap. I think that we are part of the world and as such we need to behave like we care about the value of other nations. Call me naïve!

Republican Sexcapades.

Thanks to Cliff Schecter for the concept. His regular feature on The Young Turks every Thursday is just too easy for him.

May 10, 2008

Op-Ed Columnist

Mother’s Day Scandal


By now we voters are well-versed in how to respond when, say, your law-and-order governor turns out to be a primo patron of the Emperor’s Club V.I.P. Escort Service. But the bar moves ever upward, and this week, New Yorkers are trying to figure out the proper reaction to news that a veteran local congressman, Vito Fossella, is the proud paterfamilias of both a household in Staten Island (wife, three children) and a love nest with mistress and child in Virginia.

Looking back, I think we might have begun to wonder why it was that although Fossella has been in Congress for more than 10 years, he did not seem to have a Washington address. Really, that’s a little long to crash with friends.

Fossella has embarked on a series of mea culpas, beginning with a drunken driving incident that set the whole crisis in motion. “As a parent, I know that taking even one drink of alcohol before getting behind the wheel of a car is wrong,” he said. This was actually one of those nonapology apologies, since “taking even one drink” does not have much relationship to attaining a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit.

His adventures began last week with a White House party to celebrate the New York Giants’ Super Bowl victory. (Although that triumph feels as if it occurred six years ago, the Bush administration was a little slow in taking note.) The congressman continued partying. He was arrested in Alexandria, Va., around midnight after going through a red light and failing the recite-the-alphabet test. (Fossella appeared to have trouble deciding exactly where “H” goes.)

He told the police officer that he was on his way to take his daughter to the hospital, which did not seem like a good plan from the daughter’s perspective. Then he summoned a friend, in the form of Laura Fay, a retired Air Force officer who plunked down $2,500 to spring the man who, we would discover, was the father of her child and a familiar sight to the neighbors of her nearby home.

The people of Staten Island seemed prepared to forgive Fossella for the drunken driving, but the second family threw them for a loop. This is interesting given the fact that the D.U.I. is the only illegal part of the story. Also, while it’s hard to imagine that a love child or two poses any actual threat to a congressman’s constituents, the same cannot be said about having a local lawmaker who is prepared to get behind the wheel of a car when he’s too drunk to remember the rule about not mentioning the daughter in Alexandria to authority figures brandishing pencil and pad.

Although Fossella has never been exactly a legislative lion, his political fate takes on additional interest because he is the only Republican among New York City’s Congressional delegation and the seat, as we like to say, is now in play. “Mr. Fossella is going to have some decisions to make over the weekend,” said the House minority leader, John Boehner.

As The Washington Post noted, this was on the same day that House Republicans moved to reconsider a unanimous vote commemorating Mother’s Day. It all had something to do with a procedural rebellion, but I think we can file that under the extremely large category of Unfortunate Republican Ideas.

Fossella is not the first modern-era congressman to have been caught in this particular pickle. In the 1976, Robert Leggett, a Democrat from California, confessed that he had been supporting a girlfriend and two children in Washington along with his hometown family. Leggett also admitted that he had forged his California wife’s name on the deed to a house he bought for Family 2, and that he had also been conducting an affair with an aide to Speaker Carl Albert. Said aide had just been granted immunity in a corruption investigation, and The Post reported the whole story under the headline: “Life of Immense Complications.”

Leggett was re-elected that November, proving once again that if you are going to go in for this sort of thing, your first step should really be to vote liberal. Unfortunately for Fossella, he is a social conservative who has been very supportive of attempts to post the Ten Commandments in public places. [emphasis mine]

Fossella is not even the only New York politician ever to develop a love child problem. The State Capitol in Albany, in fact, sometimes seems to be awash in them. And, of course, back in 1884, Grover Cleveland almost lost his election for president when Buffalo newspapers came up with an alcoholic sales clerk with an illegitimate son and placed the baby on Cleveland’s doorstep.

In reality, said child was very possibly the offspring of Cleveland’s late law partner, Oscar Folsom. Cleveland, a middle-aged bachelor, kept quiet because he wanted to shield Folsom’s daughter, a beautiful college student who he would marry after he became president. I always felt this would make a great movie were it not for the fact that Cleveland was a rather large balding 51-year-old with a walrus moustache and teeny eyes.

Fossella is much more attractive. Somebody at Lifetime must be working on the script.

Republican Sexcapades isn’t so much about the deed, but it is always about the hypocrisy. In fact all Sexcapades are about hypocrisy and of course with varying degrees of hubris.