Saturday, February 27, 2010

Not Feeling Well

See you in a while.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Most Serious Obstacle To Health Care Reform - UPDATED

I watched about a half hour of the President's meeting on healthcare reform, and came to realize both the seriousness and the depth of the primary obstacle facing its accomplishment:


Yes, for the most part, it IS that simple: people who show all the sympathy and sensitivity to the problems of real working Americans that, say, a drill sergeant shows toward raw recruits are forced to pretend for a few hours that they actually give a damn about someone not in their contributor list. It must be a terrible strain for them.

After a half hour watching that farce, I am more persuaded than ever that nothing good can come of this process.

UPDATE:  No, I didn't watch all of it. I could barely stand to watch any of it. But Jason Rosenbaum's excellent summaries persuade me I was regrettably right: Republicans see this entirely and only in political terms, and the healthcare circumstances of ordinary Americans do not matter one good damn to them. Shame!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Blogger's Blog List Control Behaves Badly

Blogger has a widget I use to implement the blogroll. To add an entry, you give it a URL and it decides what URL you REALLY want, retrieves the site name and adds the entry. You can edit the name, but the control does not allow you to edit the URL. Ever wonder why Huffington Post isn't on the blogroll here? No offense, but Blogger somehow retrieves a feed, not the site itself. Maybe Blogger's fault; maybe not.

But today's incident is clearly Blogger's fault. I clicked on Firedoglake, which has been on the roll for a long while, and was taken to its Feedburner feed. Without any action on my part, overnight, the link was changed. Deleting the entry, closing and reopening the widget's interface, and re-adding the entry restored the correct link.

This troubles me. Am I going to have to create a manual blogroll in a text control? Is that what it will take to give me some confidence it won't be changed behind my back?


Birthers Again
This time, it's GOPers in the Arizona legislature. The best response was from commenter jsdc007:
Look, even if Jesus were to come down from the heavens above and produce [the certificate]  for the Republicans, they'd still say its a fake, denounce Jesus, and make Ronald Reagan their new god.
Couldn't have said it better myself.
Be Still, My, Um, Heart
Cheney leaves hospital after 'mild' heart attack
Ex-VP experienced chest pains Monday, underwent heart catheterization

Former Vice President Dick Cheney left a Washington hospital on Wednesday following a heart attack he suffered earlier in the week.

Spokesman Peter Long said Cheney was feeling good. "He will resume his normal schedule shortly," Long said of Cheney, who has remained an active player in Republican politics.
Another Republican Governor...
... caught in flagrante delicto. Ho-hum. Republican, thy name is hypocrite.
Some Things Bugger [sic] Belief
The results of this poll leave me drop-jawed:
Poll: Public Thinks Democrats Should Give Something Up For Bipartisanship
Eric Kleefeld | February 24, 2010, 11:16AM

A new CNN poll finds that Americans think both Democrats and Republicans are failing to act in a bipartisan manner -- and that the Democrats should be the first ones to give up some of their proposals.

Among a half-sample of a their larger national poll, CNN found that that only 47% say President Obama is doing enough to cooperate with Republicans in Congress, to 52% who say he is not doing enough. As for the Republicans in Congress, they have an even worse score of only 31%-67%.

Drop-jawed, I tell you. To some extent, the questions render this a sort of push-poll... read the article and see for yourself... but if this is even remotely true, we haven't even begun to fathom the depths of the nightmare we're about to experience.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How To Spend (Waste) A Couple Of Hours Enjoyably

If you use Firefox 3.6, select a new persona for your browser chrome. Warning: there are only 30,000+ to choose from. At the moment, I'm using Cosmic Sunrise, but switching to new ones can be downright addictive...

Correction: Cosmic Sunset. You know how it is... sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset, swiftly flow the personas...

Monday, February 22, 2010


UPDATE: OK, I give up. Either Blogger (i.e., Google) or YouTube (i.e., Google) is blocking views of the video below. Fuck 'em dead; I'm tired of fiddling with it.

This video has appeared on the YSS at least twice before, but this seems an appropriate time for a reminder...

Lucy And The Football... Again - UPDATED

Bills in Congress don't suck much worse than this one. David Dayen, at the end of his summary:
You’ll notice I’ve left off the public option. It’s not in this bill. Neither is any change beyond the Senate bill of the abortion funding provisions.
Individual mandates? You betcha... or you pay a penalty of 2.5 percent of income. Public option, for the 60-70 percent of Americans who would rather go that route? Uh-uh. Dream on. You think this is a representative democracy or something?

Remember, this is Obama's personally crafted plan. It's what he apparently really wants, or at least what Rahm wants. And it withholds the reforms the public wants most, as shown by virtually every poll. Obama has promised both a public option and no individual mandates, but like Lucy, he's yanked away the football again at the last instant. Now that's change you can believe in.

UPDATE: it's official; Obama is against a public option.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A New Outlook On Life

I have new reading glasses, plain over-the-counter commercial glasses one can get at a local pharmacy. They're approximately twice as strong as my previous pair. I've spent the approximately 24 hours since I got them feasting on reading, something that had become increasingly difficult when any aspect of a document... page color, type color, typeface, type size, kerning... was even a little bit challenging. I struggled with probably 10- to 15-year-old glasses, with an occasional assist from a hand magnifier when a word was just beyond my ability to scan. Even reading... an old guy's most pleasurable activity... was no fun under those conditions.

So I've been catching up on reading, mostly from dead trees: a Lilian Jackson Braun book I'm rereading; The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (a superb collection of short stories and novellas from the past three decades, all written by well-known mystery authors); a quirky book titled "expletive deleted" which explores social, cultural and linguistic aspects of cursing; and last but not least... I'm especially glad I have the glasses for this one... A People's History of the United States, by the late great Howard Zinn.

In most respects, life kinda sucks: my health is iffy and President Obama keeps hinting that he'd like to kick the props from under Social Security just before I start to collect. But damn, it's good to be reading again!

Friday, February 19, 2010

GOP Hostility To Medicare

From a column by Joe Conason:
Unfortunately for Republicans like Ryan, there are at least two essential flaws in their plan to privatize Medicare. The first is that Medicare -- that government-run experiment, now almost 45 years old -- remains exceptionally popular across all income, ideological, geographical and age groups. It is especially popular when compared with private insurers, beating them on measures of customer satisfaction, security and trust by 20 percentage points or more.

The second flaw is that Medicare -- that costly, budget-busting entitlement -- continues to exceed private-sector providers in efficiency by well over 10 percent. Only with lavish subsidies have the so-called Medicare Advantage private plans been able to compete for customers. And many elderly consumers have returned to traditional Medicare because the private insurers dropped their coverage when they actually became ill.
Matters of religion aside, a free market simply fails to address certain kinds of problems... and the provision of healthcare is one of them. It's time the market ideologues ceased their plaintive howling, cries of "socialism," whatever: the market does not work in situations in which a consumer has no choice about whether to use a service, but a provider has nearly unlimited discretion about whether to actually provide what it has been paid for. If you think otherwise, read Jason Leopold about the Anthem 39 percent rate hike and their apparent deliberate deception of authorities, now being revealed by Henry Waxman. Yeah, step right up; we got yer free market right here.

Medicare has become wildly popular in its 45 years (consider the infamous tea-bagger's placard reading, "Keep government's hands off Medicare," or something similar), and could be extended into the future and to the whole population, probably for a cost not exceeding that of pursuing an illegal war against a small oil-rich country. But that would spite all of the GOP's customers, um, I mean, base: insurers, large medical institutions, defense contractors and yes, even oil companies. So even if the need grows past urgent to critical, the attempt to kill rather than extend Medicare will continue. There is no stupidity like the stupidity induced by greed.

Friday Maroon Coat Blogging

Samantha aligns as nearly as possible with the maroon coat...
Perhaps she's a Texas Aggie cat?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Court: No Recourse Anywhere For Abused Guantanamo Detainees

Ruling: No Court Can Hear Abuse and Wrongful Death Claims from Guantanamo

February 17, 2010, New York – Yesterday evening, the district court in Washington, D.C. ruled against two men who died in Guantanamo in June 2006 and their families in a case seeking to hold federal officials and the United States responsible for the men’s torture, arbitrary detention and ultimate deaths at Guantánamo.

Following a two-year investigation, the military concluded that the men had committed suicide. Recent first-hand accounts by four soldiers stationed at the base at the time of the deaths, however, raise serious questions about the cause and circumstances of the deaths, including the possibility that the men died as the result of torture.

In dismissing the case, the district court ruled that the deceased’s constitutional claims that it was a violation of due process and cruel treatment to detain them for four years without charge while subjecting them to inhumane and degrading conditions of confinement and violent acts of torture and abuse, could not be heard in federal court. The men were held on the basis of an “enemy combatant” finding by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal later found by the Supreme Court itself to be inadequate. 

The district court held that the claims were barred by a jurisdiction-stripping provision of the 2006 Military Commissions Act...
I do not know if there is any appeal of this decision possible. If not, any remaining shred of international reputation the United States may have retained regarding its commitment to the law and due process just blew away in the winds. In opening and populating Guantanamo, the Bush administration set out to create a no-man's-land outside the rule of U.S. law and international law. Now Cheney and Bush, with an assist from Barack Obama, appear to have succeeded. I regret to report that the bad guys have won outright.

You may as well pop open a cold one and watch the Winter Olympics. The U.S. is racking up incredible numbers of gold medals this year, and all of that is sure to redeem America's standing in the international community. And the Moon is made of really aromatic green cheese. So relax... here, have another beer.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Waxing Eloquent In Vegas

Wax models of Oval Office, Obama unveiled in Las Vegas on Presidents Day
AP News

Feb 15, 2010 14:52 EST
A wax museum on the Las Vegas Strip is unveiling a statue of President Barack Obama in a replica of the Oval Office just in time for Presidents Day.
The museum says the Oval Office model is its only replica of the room west of the Mississippi River. It says the model of Obama standing behind his desk with his arms folded cost $300,000.

No expense was spared to capture every element of detail. The Obama replica contains a speaker, enabling it to babble comforting platitudes and needless concessions to Republicans, and a working right arm with which it closes the door in the face of the public and the media while presumably cutting secret deals with industry associations in the replica Oval Office. A craven, cowering wax model of Harry Reid, reportedly in the works, is said to be indistinguishable from the original, and a wax model of Rahm Emanuel will contain animatronics to simulate Grima Wormtongue.  As with every ride in the Washington/Vegas amusement park, visitors pay up front even to step in the door.

Monday, February 15, 2010

How Bad Is The Texas State School Board?

Russell Shorto of the NYT answers the question with a question of his own: How Christian Were the Founders? The Texas state school board answers that question in its textbook requirements process, which is determined wholly by right-wing ideology and fundamentalist religious doctrine.

As Texas has one of the largest textbook budgets in the nation, this affects other states profoundly. And the de facto head of the board... not the chair, just an aggressive bully of a man named Don McLeroy... does not stick at quite literally rewriting history in the state's textbooks. You may want to read this very long article because Texas's textbook selection may affect you and your children in your state.

The effort to inject right-wing ideology and evangelical religion into the Texas public school classroom has been going on since at least the 1960s and 70s when my late father fought it before the board in his capacity as a middle school science teacher. Well, guess what: a half century later, the bad guys seem to have won. If you have a child in public school, perhaps you should look into this.

Excuse me; I hear Dad in my living room, turning over in his urn...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Difference, Illustrated

Just to make sure there's no confusion...


Scheming Punk

No one in the world deserves the comparison more. What's the primary difference? The steampunk dalek on the left has more compassion.

Be Sure You're Ready For Microsoft...

... when they do this.

Do you run Windows 7 or plan to do so (perhaps compelled by work)? If you don't deliberately dodge Microsoft's KB971033 update, you may find that your Windows 7 system "phones home" every 90 days to check whether M$'s authentication system believes you have a genuine licensed copy of Windows... and if it determines you do not, IT SUMMARILY DOWNGRADES YOUR SYSTEM, no delay, no appeal, demanding you pay for a new license right away. If you feel you were somehow "had," you can petition Microsoft to restore the system, but YOU have to prove to THEIR satisfaction that you are not a user of a pirated copy of Windows. And this is "cradle-to-grave": your system may have registered as "genuine" for five years since you bought the machine, but suddenly one morning begin complaining of piracy. Tough shit, kiddo; it's M$, after all.

What does this mean for us beleagured end-users, the people whom Microsoft once viewed as "customers" before it embarked on paranoid fantasies? It means we have few options. One is to pray that it's not your particular computer on which the phone-home procedure happens to run amok today. But you know, if M$ applies its draconian piracy remedy today, what will it do tomorrow, when (inevitably) widespread piracy is NOT brought to a screeching halt? How far will they go? How much raw hostility will they manifest toward their customers in the interest of stymieing their non-customers?

There is only one guaranteed effective solution for users: don't use Windows for any mission-critical application. That's right... just don't use Windows. Go to a decently maintained and secured version of, say, Linux; develop your apps to that non-Windows platform, and thereby simply refuse to be abused by Microsoft. This is of course neither a trouble-free nor a zero-cost solution. But now is a good time to begin thinking about it, because inevitably you, whether you are a sophisticated wizard or an ordinary home user, have no choice but to respond. Push HAS come to shove.

(H/T lambert.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Love Of Labor Lost

No, not by The Bard. I'm talking about President Obama's tossing away the love of organized labor... specifically, this time, his refusal to make an interim appointment of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board. GeeDubya Bush's NLRB appointees... seven of eight of which were recess appointments... were of course all corporate management types with no interest in fulfilling the mandate of the office. Becker... well-qualified by any reasonable standard... has become the vehicle for numerous private, unrelated political interests by Republican and Democratic senators alike. Almost unprecedented is that his nomination's cloture vote was filibustered by... yes, GOPers of course, but also Democrats (in name only) Blanche Lincoln and Ben Nelson.

I think Obama must not realize the degree to which he depends on organized labor for political support. I doubt he could offend so badly as to drive union workers to vote for his presumed Republican opponent in 2012, but he could damned surely give us reason to stay home on Election Day.

Locating Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's Trial

There has been a lot of needless controversy over the location of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's trial. Republicans, some Democrats, and apparently a few shit-in-the-pants NYC residents have objected, on grounds ranging from pure political advantage to abject fear, to holding the trial in NYC.

Let me assert that, once the decision to try Mohammed in a civilian court was made, the location was nailed down beyond tinkering by politicians or terrified people. Who says so? How about... the Constitution?

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, ...
(Emphasis mine.)

Only if KSM were unable to get a fair trial in NYC could the venue arguably be changed. But if not NYC, then where? No American citizen, anywhere, has not heard of 9/11, and many... in NYC and elsewhere... were deeply and personally affected by it, through family members killed in the tragedy.

If Obama had any 'nads, he would not be "personally involved in choosing the location" of the trial, but would point to the Sixth Amendment and be done with it. Somehow, though, I regret that Obama seems to have forgotten his once-vast store of knowledge of constitutional law.

Friday Blue Blogging

Samantha knows she looks best in blue:
Mere moments before this snap, Samantha stood before a bookcase, contemplating a biography of FDR. Oh, the shots we miss...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


From a HuffPo article on the proposed Google broadband experimental network:

"Our goal is to trial new technologies and figure out what kinds of applications you can send over these big pipes," said Richard Whitt, Google's Washington-based counsel for telecommunications and media. "There may be next-generation applications that are being held back right now."
"Trial" has been verbed, and as we all know, verbing weirds language...

WiFi = Wireless, FINALLY!

Back when I applied Win XP SP3 to this laptop... in other words, years ago... that "upgrade" broke my wireless connection at home. WiFi continued to work many other places, just not at home. Somehow, for this combination of network card (RaLink) and router (LinkSys), things went into an endless loop of connecting... disconnecting... connecting... disconnecting... at approximately one-second intervals.

Scouring the M$ site and the boards yielded nothing useful. Finally I said "screw it" and bought a 100-foot Cat 5 cable, which was long enough for most any likely location in my old apartment. A few weeks ago I strung it here, from the router in the office, over and under a number of doors and pieces of furniture, to the big recliner in the den.

Today, after receiving the Windows update, I happened to glance at the Hardware (Optional) update list. There it was: the driver of my dreams for the Ralink card! Was it always listed? did I overlook it repeatedly for years? I feel a bit foolish, but I thought I had checked that years ago.

I suspect Stella will be very glad to see the last of the 100-foot cable!

Grow Up, Democrats! Rachel's Catalog Of GOP Hypocrisy

Just how relentlessly have GOPers supported policies that they believe are good for the country, then voted in the House and Senate against the relevant bills introduced by the Obama administration? How often have congressional GOPers voted against allocating funds for worthy projects, e.g. through the stimulus, then, as state governors, gleefully and with much fanfare, accepted the money that comes to their states, often effectively claiming the largess as their very own?

If you've got 10 minutes, Rachel Maddow will show you... not every example; 10 minutes isn't nearly enough for that. But I hope you will watch all of what she presents. Then she says, regarding Obama's "bipartisanship," "GROW UP, DEMOCRATS!!"

Nothing... nothing in the world... will ever change the GOP's Lucy-and-the-football attitude, and Charlie Brown may as well adjust his kick a few inches.

Here's Rachel:

(H/T Scarecrow.)

Pot Stickers

We have vegetable potstickers perhaps twice a month for lunch or dinner. South Carolina appears to encourage the same idea by selling pot stickers, but their pot stickers represent a slightly different vegetable content:
S.C. Drug Tax Stamps Have Little Effect
March 17, 2005
A decade of requiring marijuana dealers to purchase tax stamps to affix to their goods has done little to impact drug use or raise revenues for the state of South Carolina, the Associate Press reported March 14.
The 433 state tax stamps sold since the law went into effect in 1994 were apparently all purchased by collectors; not one was sold to an actual drug dealer, state officials said. Under the law, a tax stamp is supposed to be bought for every gram of illegal drugs sold in the state. Stamps for marijuana cost $3.50; the cocaine sticker costs $200, and stamps for pills cost $2,000. Only the pot stickers have been sold, according the the state Department of Revenue.
Of course, that was five years ago. I'm certain the stickers have since become wildly effective in the intervening five years in preventing illegal drug trafficing... so much so that a South Carolina government agency is about to be instituted, called the Drug Trafficking Getting-The-State's-Share De-pot-ment... (just kidding, of course).

It's time for me to begin preparing lunch. What shall I have? Hmmm... potstickers, perhaps?

(H/T Lisa Derrick.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Argument That Practically Unmakes Itself

Found recently on the main page of TPM (no, I can't figure out a way to link it) among several short articles on Sarah Palin:

Invalid Argument

The Facebook Connect cross-domain receiver URL ( must have the application's Connect URL ( as a prefix. You can configure the Connect URL in the Application Settings Editor.
Wow. I guess Sarah finally asserted a position so ridiculous that even the Facebook API recognizes it and objects to it!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Why I Am No Longer A Democrat, Reason #2

(Part of an ongoing series.)

Democrats no longer support workers' right to unionize:

Ben Nelson to Join Filibuster of Craig Becker
By: Michael Whitney Monday February 8, 2010 7:50 pm

Ben Nelson just issued a statement saying he’ll vote no on cloture for Craig Becker tomorrow, joining the Republican filibuster. “Mr. Becker’s previous statements strongly indicate that he would take an aggressive personal agenda to the NLRB, and that he would pursue a personal agenda there, rather than that of the Administration,” said Senator Nelson. ...
Thank you, Ben Nelson, the very model of a Democrat in name only. This will make the cloture vote a squeaker. If you do not proactively support Labor's right to organize, you shouldn't be taking money from the Democratic Party. And if you're taking that money, I can assure you I will not be giving that money.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

'My Older Brother Plays On The Football Team...'

'... and he's an offensive throwback.' The little girl's line is still a classic after all these years. Oh, and you probably won't find any Super Bowl live-blogging on this site, I suspect that will not put Super Bowl material in any short supply.

Which team do I like? What... you think I'm as stupid as Heckuva-Job Brownie, to call this one? It's true I no longer have computer clients, but when I did, their fandom varied widely even within small offices. No way would I risk business that way! Some even wanted me to participate in an office pool. Uh-uh.

Enjoy the game. Eat responsibly; friends don't let friends drive stuffed.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fire To Warm Our Side

The eminent lefty political blog Firedoglake is running a contest to select members of Congress who have a sufficiently reliable voting record on FDL's signature issues to merit the distinction "FDL Fire Dog." Presumably they'll actively campaign for the Firedogs, and knowing those bloggers, perhaps do some fundraising for them as well. Kudos to them; I consider this a very useful activity: narrowly targeted support for a very small number of liberal members of Congress.

Now for the serious question: is a political ad for a Firedog, paid for by Firedoglake, known as a...

... FIREPLUG?   

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sunrise, Sunset... Sunrise, Sunset...

Swiftly flow the cats, ...
One doesn't try to help another, showing the household's full of brats.

(Sorry; some days, cat blogging just doesn't really work. Not my asphalt.)

Who's Sneakin' Round Your Backdoor?

CNET's Declan McCullagh:

February 3, 2010 4:00 AM PST
Police want backdoor to Web users' private data
by Declan McCullagh
Anyone with an e-mail account likely knows that police can peek inside it if they have a paper search warrant.

But cybercrime investigators are frustrated by the speed of traditional methods of faxing, mailing, or e-mailing companies these documents. They're pushing for the creation of a national Web interface linking police computers with those of Internet and e-mail providers so requests can be sent and received electronically.

CNET has reviewed a survey scheduled to be released at a federal task force meeting on Thursday, which says that law enforcement agencies are virtually unanimous in calling for such an interface to be created. Eighty-nine percent of police surveyed, it says, want to be able to "exchange legal process requests and responses to legal process" through an encrypted, police-only "nationwide computer network." (See one excerpt and another.)

(See McCullagh's article for all links.)

I don't see how this will change my immediate behavior, but it's very easy to misconstrue radical political statements as somehow terroristic. And for a low-level cop, this might just be his or her big chance... gosh, if I could just catch a terr'ist, ... And thus I do not like this notion one damned bit. The presumption is supposed to be of innocence, how hard can that be to understand... but with this apparatus, how can that possibly be the case?

I have read that if the cops pick you up, the best thing is to say nothing until your lawyer is present. Nothing... period. I've thought long and hard about it, and that is what I intend to do. It will not be easy, because I am a cooperative person and inclined to help the police when I can. But things are different these days. No one regrets that more than I do, but think what could be twisted from a cop's transcription of what you or I say. So... no free help from me. You want a statement? Sure; just get my lawyer out here...

As for what you steal by subpoena from my ISP, I can't stop that. But expect me to object strongly in court.

Greenwald: More On Presidential Assassination Orders

Greenwald has more to say about G. W. Bush's issuing of orders for assassination of American citizens by agents of the U.S. government, a practice unapologetically continued by President Obama.

It is difficult to imagine how such a practice could ever comply with several parts of the Bill of Rights, and there is no "wartime exception" as is fondly proclaimed by assassination advocates. At present, says DNI Blair, "a decision to use lethal force against a U.S. citizen must get special permission..." from (guess who) the President. This cannot possibly comply with the "due process" clause of the Fifth Amendment, not unless "due process" is construed to mean "whatever the President says, goes." I think quite a few Americans may be horrified of that approach, no matter who is President. Greenwald reasonably echos the question put before us:
It would be perverse in the extreme, but wouldn't it be preferable to at least require the President to demonstrate to a court that probable cause exists to warrant the assassination of an American citizen before the President should be allowed to order it?  That would basically mean that courts would issue "assassination warrants" or "murder warrants" -- a repugnant idea given that they're tantamount to imposing the death sentence without a trial -- but isn't that minimal safeguard preferable to allowing the President unchecked authority to do it on his own, the very power he has now claimed for himself?

before dismissing that as well, quoting Adam Serwer (see link in Greenwald's article): "[... according to Republicans,] you can be denied rights not through due process of law but merely based on the nature of the crime you are suspected of committing."

How many of us have witnessed such a spectacle in a courtroom, the prosecutor successfully arguing to a jury, "This crime is so evil you cannot possibly risk freeing a possibly guilty defendant!" Guilt by accusation is the basis of a "murder warrant," and sooner or later is certain to involve assassination of someone the President doesn't like, or finds hazardous to his or her political career. That's why the Bill of Rights prohibits it.Hundreds of years of tradition in American law, and British law before it, confirms the practice; the notion of tossing that out appeals only to radicals. Despite rumors, I know you and I are not radicals in matters of constitutional due process!

How likely is it that the current Supreme Court will curb such behavior? Yes, that's what I think, too.

Why I Am No Longer A Democrat

Jon Stewart explains, with examples. (H/T Avedon.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Three Heds Are Better Than Two

These caught my eye this afternoon...
(You know it's bad when WSJ admits it.)
(How private can it be when ABC News publishes the fact?)
(... in a year or two or ten, when they're through studying the matter...)

Groundhog Day

From 1999...

       Phil's Perspective

Bleary-eyed and slightly yawny,
Phil returns to Punxsutawney,
Rudely wakened from his nappy...
He does not look very happy.

No frenetic, run-around hog,
Phil's a feet-below-the-ground-hog;
Suffers people's baldfaced stares...
Shadow? ask him if he cares.

Phil did not see "Groundhog Day"
(Thought he might have had to pay).
Do it over? Pshaw, he grunts...
Do it right, and do it once!

Wakened, Punxsutawney Phil
Bids you leave, and bids you ill:
Bids you, bloody go away...
Had his Phil of Groundhog Day.

Let him sleep beneath the grass!
Wake him next year, and your ass
Goes for several bucks a pound:
He's groundhog, and you're ground round.

Phil's no fan of long tradition,
Damns his handler to perdition.
Leave poor Phil alone, you creep...
Let the furry critter sleep!

Yanking Phil from field or farm, a
Fellow faces frightful karma:
Thorn, or rash, or broken splinter;
Six more weeks... at least... of winter!
- Steve Bates

'Are You Crazy?'

That's Chris Matthews interviewing Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) (YouTube) on Hensarling's advocating balancing the budget by cutting Social Security benefits. This is one of those rare and pleasant times when Matthews is merciless, even predicting for Hensarling just what his leadership will say about his benefit cuts.

Hensarling's cut-off age is 55: people older than 55 would not have their benefits reduced, so this would not personally affect me. But when he advocates reducing benefits, he is cavalierly tossing away the contract across generations that has assured, since about 1935, that seniors are not forced to retire into poverty, that their spouses are not suddenly poverty-stricken when seniors die, etc. This is not a difficult concept, and it has worked for most of a century. And Social Security can keep working: "Social Security’s funding shortfall is relatively small and manageable." (Medicare is a different and more difficult problem.)

But Hensarling, faced with a "lifeboat" problem, facilely proposes tossing many of us overboard... including himself, right? Well, yes; he's 52... that age at which most people feel they will live forever. But of course if he stays in Congress...

I paid into Social Security most of my life. If you're an American my age, so did you. If you didn't personally pay, a family member paid, on the understanding that as you supported seniors during your working career, you would have an adequate living (i.e., not in poverty) when you reached the age at which you could no longer work. Hensarling is proposing nothing less than stealing society's part of that contract from you. Yes, I said "stealing"; what else can you call it?

Can the Dems turn this into a pick-up in the House? I don't know; what can you expect in a district where P-A-L-E-S-T-I-N-E is pronounced "Pal-steen"?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Not Feeling Well

Give me a day or so to recover. Thank you.

Static Pages (About, Quotes, etc.)

No Police Like H•lmes