I’m dreeeeeeeeeaming . . . .

May 29, 2009

That’s right, friends. It was on this day in 1942 that the A #1 best-selling single of all time was recorded by crooner Bing Crosby for Decca Records–Irving Berln’s White Christmas. The song, written for the movie Holiday Inn, sold more than 30 million copies for Crosby himself (can you think of another song he sang?) and another 40 million for others, including Clyde McPhatter and Bill Pinkney, who’s soulful version can be enjoyed through my favorite You Tube clip.

Today is also the day Rhode Island (1790) and Wisconsin (1848) joined the Union. In 1922, the US Supreme Court shamed itself by holding that professional baseball was a sport, not a business (could have fooled the owners!), and, therefore, the loathed Reserve Clause could stand and relegate players to tenant-farmer status for another half-century. In 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first people to reach the top of Mt. Everest. Speaking of firsts, on this day in 1962, the legendary John (Buck) O’Neil became the first African-American coach hired by a major-league baseball team, the Cubs. We Cardinal fans thank him for developing the talent of a young outfielder named Lou Brock.

Speaking of the Cardinals, they go to San Francisco tonight to take on the Giants, coming off a good stretch when they swept the Cubs (see May 22nd’s post) and took two out of three from the Royals and Brewers. Pitching matchup tonight favors the Giants, but we’re hoping for a good weekend, overall. The Redbirds now lead the NL Central with the second-best record in baseball.

Born on this date: King Charles II, firebrand orator Patrick Henry, author G.K. Chesterton, comedian Bob Hope, 35th President John F. Kennedy, biologist Paul Ehrlich, Indy 500 winner (four times!) Al Unser, pop musician/composer Danny Elfman, singer LaToya Jackson, actress Annette Bening, and singer/songwriter Melissa Ethridge.

And kudos to 13-year-old Kavya Shivashankar, of Olathe, KS, for winning the 82nd national spelling bee. The final word was “laodicean,” meaning lukewarm or indifferent, particularly in matters of religion.



Idiot Wind, II

May 29, 2009

She eats rice, beans and pork! She’s racist! She’s crabby! (Ever listened to Scalia?) She has a name that’s hard for Anglos to pronounce (no, it’s not; see my May 26th post or just listen to her)! She’s (eek!) empathetic!

It is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much fun watching the Rs get their shorts in a knot over Judge Sonia (not Maria, Mike Huckable . . . ) Sotomayor.


Idiot Wind

May 27, 2009

Here in Vermont, as in other parts of the nation, we have an ongoing debate about developing wind power in order to wean us of our heavy dependence (especially for winter home heating) on fossil fuels. Problem – to some folks – is that to harness wind power, you need wind mills, and rather tall ones at that. The aforementioned “some folks” object to seeing the mills dotting the landscape, especially if they have to see them from out their kitchen windows. So they organize to stop construction, much in the same way as they organize to oppose affordable housing development.

I have serious problems with this position. Unless we’re planning to go back to wood heat (with the attendant air pollution problems), candles (for more than romantic dinners), and horses (much as I like them), and abandon most forms of modern communication (although I personally lament the passing of letter-writing), we’re going to have to generate electricity and feed the fires of our furnaces and internal-combustion engines. We’ve seen the price we’ve had to pay for that in the past, and with global warming making itself more clearly manifest every day, we need (have needed for a couple of decades) to figure out a safe, clean way to keep our accustomed level of civilization going. Water, solar, biomass, and, certainly, serious conservation are part of that, as must be wind. The price will be several large dots on the pastoral horizon, but I find that preferable to losing the horizon altogether.

That’s why I gnash my teeth when I read about locals who form groups to “save” certain landscapes when a wind farm is proposed. Seems to me the people who rally `round to stop wind farms from being developed in order to preserve their pastoral views should either propose a reasonable alternative or at least demonstrate how they are pitching in to help us save our state and planet. Do they all drive cars that get at least 35 mpg, average? Do they carpool? Do they walk or bicycle whenever possible? Have they taken every reasonable energy conservation measure in their homes? Do they turn down the heat and put on more sweaters or blankets?

Until I’m convinced wind opponents have any interest in this debate other than the view out their windows, I’m not on their side.

On more pleasant topics, my Cardinals finally found their bats again, beating the Brewers 8-1 last night. They’re now 11-12 for May, after a dreadful 10-day bad streak earlier in the month, and if they can manage 3 for 4 through this coming weekend, they’ll rescue a winning month. Still need to work on defense, though; they’ve committed 31 errors in 46 games so far this season. In 2008, they boo-booed 85 times, total.

And it appears President Obama’s choice of Sonia Sotomayor for the US Supreme Court has the Rs tied up in knots, which gladdens my heart. As one who grew up way over to the right side of the Republican Party, but who saw the light – or, in this case, the darkness behind the modern conservative movement – back in the 1970s, I am hopeful we may be taking the first steps towards reversing the ugliy political and social trends that dominated our nation since the backlash against the civil rights movement in the late 1960s.

In the “knock-me-over-with-a-feather” category of news we have, courtesy of Congressional Quarterly, the startling revelation that spies are often less-than-forthright with Congress: http://blogs.cqpolitics.com/spytalk/2009/05/cia-briefers-regularly-mislead.html?referrer=js I am shocked, shocked!

BTW, today is quite the day in history. In 1919, the pop-up toaster was patented. Eleven years later, masking tape was invented. In 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge was dedicated (rode my bike over that a few years ago – awesome). In 1941, the German battleship Bismark was sunk after running a brief rampage in the North Atlantic. And in 1957, Buddy Holly and the Crickets released “That’ll Be the Day.”

If today’s your birthday, felicitations. You share it with many notables in history, including tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt; feminist Amelia Jenks Bloomer (yes, bloomers were named for her); James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok; Julia Ward Howe, who wrote “The Battle Hymn of the Republic;” Harlan Ellison, one of the scariest of science fiction writers; environmentalist Rachel Carson; jazz great Ramsey Lewis; former Secretary of State and war criminal Henry Kissinger; writers Dashiell Hammet, John Barth, and Herman Wouk; golf legend Sam Snead; singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn; rocker Janet Susan Ballion, better-known as Siouxsie Sioux, and actors Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Louis Gossett, Jr., and Joseph Fiennes.

Oh, and something for us English majors to cheer about, today marks the beginning of the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee. You can follow the adventures of the largest field of spellers in the event’s history on ESPN (finals on ABC) or on their website, http://spellingbee.com/.

BTW, ever wonder why it’s called a spelling “bee?” “Bee” is an old word for a social get-together where some task is performed, such as a quilting bee.

Speaking of words, the word-of-the-day is lucubrate, meaning to write in a scholarly fashion.


Welcome, Justice Sotomayor

May 26, 2009

President Obama has chosen his first Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, currently serving on the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. She’s not the progressive flamethrower some have wished for to get Scalia to STFU, but, more objectively, she’s very impressive. Judge Sotomayor, 54, grew up in a housing project in the Bronx, a short walk from Yankee Stadium, which perhaps had a bearing on her 1995 decision that ended the worst labor disagreement in the sport’s history, in favor of the players. She graduated summa cum laude from Princeton, edited the law review at Yale, and was first appointed to the federal bench by George H.W. Bush.

Good luck stopping this one, Senator McConnell . . . .

BTW, it’s pronounced, so-toe-my-YORE.

UPDATE: The Hill’s blog has the Rs’ parrot points against Judge Sotomayor. Not the strongest points I’ve ever read. Big surprise; they’re going to say she’s a radical liberal. You might find it hilarious (I did) to read about how concerned they are that Court appointees arrive on the bench without an ideological agenda (like Justices Scaila, Alito, Thomas and Roberts, for examples). Keep in mind, btw, Judge Sotomayor’s selection to replace Justice Souter will not move the ideological meter on the Court very far:

RNC fumbles Sotomayor talking points
@ 10:56 am by Hill Staff

Whoops. The Republican National Committee (RNC) has apparently inadvertently released its list of talking points on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

Included on the released list were a few hundred influential Republicans who were the intended recipients of the talking points. Unfortunately for the RNC, so were members of the media.

Here are the talking points:

o President Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court is an important decision that will have an impact on the United States long after his administration.

o Republicans are committed to a fair confirmation process and will reserve judgment until more is known about Judge Sotomayor’s legal views, judicial record and qualifications.

o Until we have a full view of the facts and comprehensive understanding of Judge Sotomayor’s record, Republicans will avoid partisanship and knee-jerk judgments – which is in stark contrast to how the Democrats responded to the Judge Roberts and Alito nominations.

o To be clear, Republicans do not view this nomination without concern. Judge Sotomayor has received praise and high ratings from liberal special interest groups. Judge Sotomayor has also said that policy is made on the U.S. Court of Appeals.

o Republicans believe that the confirmation process is the most responsible way to learn more about her views on a number of important issues.

o The confirmation process will help Republicans, and all Americans, understand more about judge Sotomayor’s thoughts on the importance of the Supreme Court’s fidelity to the Constitution and the rule of law.

o Republicans are the minority party, but our belief that judges should interpret rather than make law is shared by a majority of Americans.

o Republicans look forward to learning more about Judge Sotomayor’s legal views and to determining whether her views reflect the values of mainstream America.

President Obama on Judicial Nominees

o Liberal ideology, not legal qualification, is likely to guide the president’s choice of judicial nominees.

o Obama has said his criterion for nominating judges would be their “heart” and “empathy.”

o Obama said he believes Supreme Court justices should understand the Court’s role “to protect people who may be vulnerable in the political process.”

o Obama has declared: “We need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom, the empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old-and that’s the criterion by which I’ll be selecting my judges.”

Additional Talking Points

o Justice Souter’s retirement could move the Court to the left and provide a critical fifth vote for:

o Further eroding the rights of the unborn and property owners;

o Imposing a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage;

o Stripping “under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance and completely secularizing the public square;

o Abolishing the death penalty;

o Judicial micromanagement of the government’s war powers.

Daily Kos has a rundown of past voting on Judge Sotomayor’s appointment to the @nd Circuit Court of Appeals:

Sotomayor nomination: Gang of 14 breakdown
by David Waldman
Tue May 26, 2009 at 10:02:03 AM PDT

Today’s obviously going to be largely about the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. And the Congress Matters angle will have to be about the voting, even though I don’t think there’s much question about how it’s going to go.

But let’s at least air it out as to why.

This morning’s events drove the braincasters on Twitter to wondering what the nettlesome middle-of-the-roaders like Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Arlen Specter (D-PA), Ben Nelson (D-NE), etc. would do with this pick.

CQ Politics (in the person of Taegan Goddard) was at it early, too, with a Tweet announcing that it had found that seven current GOP Senators had voted against Sotomayor’s nomination to the 2nd Circuit in 1998. The roll call gives us the list, and reveals that the number is actually 11:

Sam Brownback (R-KS)
Mike Enzi (R-WY)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)
Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
John McCain (R-AZ)
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III (R-AL)
Richard Shelby (R-AL)

The story with the count of 7 was pulled in favor of a version with the corrected count of 11.

As to the question of the Gang of 14, it turns out that only one member of the Gang — noted bitter curmudgeon John McCain — voted against her in 1998. Eight other Gang members who were in the Senate for the ’98 vote voted in favor: John Warner (R-VA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mike DeWine (R-OH), Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Robert Byrd (D-WV), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Dan Inouye (D-HI).

The other five members of the Gang weren’t yet in the Senate, like Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Ken Salazar (D-CO) — and of course two of them (Chafee and Salazar) no longer are.

It might be worth noting that the four members of the Gang (2D, 2R) no longer in the Senate have all been replaced by Democrats. John Warner (R-VA) by Mark Warner (D-VA), Mike DeWine (R-OH) by Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) by Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ken Salazar (D-CO) by Michael Bennet (D-CO).

Ironically, while this is going on, the current Court just moved further to erode our Constitutional rights:

Justices Ease Rules on Questioning Suspects

Filed at 12:32 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a long-standing ruling that stopped police from initiating questions unless a defendant’s lawyer was present, a move that will make it easier for prosecutors to interrogate suspects.

The high court, in a 5-4 ruling, overturned the 1986 Michigan v. Jackson ruling, which said police may not initiate questioning of a defendant who has a lawyer or has asked for one unless the attorney is present. The Michigan ruling applied even to defendants who agreed to talk to the authorities without their lawyers.

The court’s conservatives overturned that opinion, with Justice Antonin Scalia saying ”it was poorly reasoned.”

Under the Jackson opinion, police could not even ask a defendant who had been appointed a lawyer if he wanted to talk, Scalia said.

”It would be completely unjustified to presume that a defendant’s consent to police-initiated interrogation was involuntary or coerced simply because he had previously been appointed a lawyer,” Scalia said in the court’s opinion.

Scalia, who read the opinion from the bench, said the decision will have ”minimal” effects on criminal defendants because of the protections the court has provided in other decisions. ”The considerable adverse effect of this rule upon society’s ability to solve crimes and bring criminals to justice far outweighs its capacity to prevent a genuinely coerced agreement to speak without counsel present,” Scalia said.

The Michigan v. Jackson opinion was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, the only current justice who was on the court at the time. He and Justices David Souter, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented from the ruling, and in an unusual move Stevens read his dissent aloud from the bench. It was the first time this term a justice had read a dissent aloud.

”The police interrogation in this case clearly violated petitioner’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel,” Stevens said. Overruling the Jackson case, he said, ”can only diminish the public’s confidence in the reliability and fairness of our system of justice.”

The Obama administration had asked the court to overturn Michigan v. Jackson, disappointing civil rights and civil liberties groups that expected President Barack Obama to reverse the policies of his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush.

The Justice Department, in a brief signed by Solicitor General Elena Kagan, said the 1986 decision ”serves no real purpose” and offers only ”meager benefits.” The government said defendants who don’t wish to talk to police don’t have to and that officers must respect that decision. But it said there is no reason a defendant who wants to should not be able to respond to officers’ questions.

Eleven states also echoed the administration’s call to overrule the 1986 case.

The decision comes in the case of Jesse Jay Montejo, who was found guilty in 2005 of the shooting death of Louis Ferrari in the victim’s home on Sept. 5, 2002.

Montejo was appointed a public defender at his Sept. 10, 2002 hearing, but never indicated that he wanted the lawyer’s help. Montejo then went with police detectives to help them look for the murder weapon. While in the car, Montejo wrote a letter to Ferrari’s widow incriminating himself.

When they returned to the prison, a public defender was waiting for Montejo, irate that his client had been questioned in his absence. Police used the letter against Montejo at trial, and he was convicted and sentenced to death. He appealed, but the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the conviction and sentence.

The Supreme Court sent the case back for a determination of whether any of Montejo’s other court-provided protections, like his Miranda rights, were violated.

The case is Montejo v. Louisiana, 07-1529.

BTW, on this day in history . . . .

Explorers Lewis and Clarke caught their first sight of the Rocky Mountains on their way to the Pacific, in 1805.
In 1896, the Dow Jones ticker first started ticking.
The first 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race got the green flag in 1923.
In 1959, Pittsburgh’s Harvey Haddix pitched 12 no-hit innings against the Braves, only to lose in the 13th, 1-0. (Cardinal pitcher Chris Carpenter now knows what Haddix felt; he took a perfect game against the Brewers into the 7th yesterday, but got zero run support, and the Redbirds lost in the 10th, 1-0).
In 1969, John and Yoko commenced their “bed-in” in the Queen Elizabeth hotel in Montreal.
And in 1977, George Lucas solidified the concept of the summer special-effects blockbuster, releasing “Star Wars.”

Born this date:

Poet Alexander Pushkin, dancer Isadora Duncan, photographer Dorothea Lange, philanthropist Laurence Rockefeller, singer Peggy Lee, drummer Levon Helm, singer Stevie Nicks, Sally Ride, America’s first female astronaut, rocker Lenny Kravitz, and actors Marion Morrison (better known as John Wayne), Robert Morley, Peter Cushing, Jay Silverheels, James Arness, and Helena Bonham Carter.

And the word-of-the-day is swoopstake, meaning an indiscriminate action.



May 22, 2009

Yes, I know there are many important things happening in the world today, but what lifts my weary heart this Friday morning is that the Cardinals just completed a 3-game sweep of the Cubs at Busch Stadium last night.

All great games, pitchers’ duels (3-0, 2-1, 3-1). So it was a royal relief to see Cardinal pitching finally return to form. Joel Pineiro, after dropping two in a row, pitched a 3-hit complete-game gem Tuesday night, needing only 92 pitches, 64 of them strikes. Chris Carpenter returned from the DL Wednesday to throw five shutout innings. In fact, he hasn’t allowed a run in the 15 innings he’s worked. Still early, but encouraging. Adam Wainwright (a fave of mine ever since he froze Carlos Beltran with a hard curve on strike 3 with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning in Game 7 of the NLCS 2 1/2 years ago) has apparently re-gained his former polished mechanics, as he allowed only one run in 8 2/3 innings. In fact the Cubs scored only two runs the entire series.

Before the Cubs series began, Cardinal starters had been 1-10 since May 1st. That really puts the “ugh” in ugly.

El Hombre Pujols broke out of a slump with a towering home run in the first inning last night, and his BA is back up near where it should be at .326. Chris Duncan (admittedly, never a fave of mine) also began hitting again, and rookie Colby Rasmus continues to impress. And . . . we played three errorless games, not a small thing for a team with a tradition of excellent defense, but which has not been doing well in that area so far this year.

Onto Kansas City this weekend, then a major re-match with the Brewers (who swept us last weekend) in Milwaukee.

Gotta love it.

On this day in history, in 1841, one Henry Kennedy of Philadelphia invented the reclining chair. Eight years later, an Illinois lawyer named Abraham Lincoln received a patent for his floating dry dock design. The Beatles were Number 1 for the eighth consecutive time with “Ticket to Ride” in 1965, and the Boss recorded his very first song, “That’s What You Get,” with his band, the Castilles. It was, as far as I know, never released. (Hey, Bruce, let’s hear it!). In 1972, Richard Nixon became the first American president to visit Moscow, and in 1992, Johnny Carson signed off for the last time on The Tonight Show, after 30 years of late-night hegemony.

As we swing into the Memorial Day weekend, note the birth this day of composer Richard Wagner, artist Mary Cassatt, doctor and writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (it is supposed by some that Sherlock Holmes’ sidekick, Dr. Watson, was Doyle’s alter-ego), jazz great Sun Ra, actors Richard Benjamin, Frank Converse, Susan Strasberg, Paul Winfield, and Michael Sarrazin, lyricist Bernie Taupin, and former pitcher and World’s Most Famous Surgery Patient Tommy John.

And the Word of the Day is anacreontic, meaning jovial, festive and amorous; celebrating love and drinking. After Anacreon, a Greek poet (563-478 B.C.) noted for his songs praising love and wine. Only pieces of his poetry remain. Pity.

In the nooz: Sign of progress this week. On Tuesday, James A. Young won the Democratic mayoral primary in Philadelphia, Mississippi, making it likely that the city, known as the place where three young civil rights workers – James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner – were brutally murdered in 1964, will swear in its first African-American mayor.

In the wake of the Obama administration’s annoucement earlier this week of new mileage/emissions standards, the Waxman/Markey energy and climate protection bill moved out of committee yesterday and heads for floor action in the House. Look for the troglodytes in the Senate to try to bottle it up when it arrives there.

The administration’s apparently going to run GM through bankruptcy as part of the bailout of the automaker. Meanwhile, GM has his German subsidiary, Opel, on the market. Pick up a great deal, somebody; Opel, little-known here (they used to sell them through Buick dealers, go figure), makes some terrific cars. In fact, my first car was a `72 Opel 1900 Rally. Not the fastest thing I’ve ever driven – topped out around 90 – but handling, shifting and braking were excellent, and the car was comfortable and, until its later months, reliable. Sounded nice, too, once I tacked on an ANSA exhaust system.

Many papers fronting has-been war criminal Cheney v. President Obama, both speaking yesterday on terrorism strategy and the Gitmo shitpit. Whenever I heard Cheney’s name, I am reminded of Mary McCarthy’s famous jab at Lillian Hellman, “”Every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.'”

In case you think I’m indulging in partisan over-statement, check out McClatchy’s report today: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/226/story/68643.html.

And Jesse Ventura, former Navy Seal, among other things, delivered a smackdown to draft-dodger-faux-tough-guy Cheney on Larry King last night: “You give me a waterboard, Dick Cheney, and one hour, and I’ll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.”

Still waiting on that Truth Commission, btw.

And, apparently, the R’s attack plan against Speaker Nancy Pelosi is losing steam. Looks as though few Americans are buying it, and, predictably, on a party-line vote, they got their heads handed to them yesterday when the House rejected their call for a special investigation.

Stateside, we’re gearing up for a showdown over the state budget, with the Governor promising a veto, although someone on his staff is apparently doing the math and seeing a likely over-ride (it would be the second this term; the first was on equal marriage), because there are conciliatory signals coming from an administration that has been inflexibly bellicose on the subject of taxes and spending heretofore.

State Auditor Tom Salmon, a Dem, appears to be muddying the waters with his offer to mediate. See the Green Mountain Daily blog for more, http://www.greenmountaindaily.com/frontPage.do.

Have more thoughts in a few hours.

Finally, in case you’re wondering whether to get a job with a campaign next year, consider:


Hope I die before I get old . . . .

May 19, 2009

Today we salute Pete Townshend, 64, singer/songwriter/guitarist/author and one of the geniuses of rock ‘n’ roll. He’s best known for his work with The Who of course (“Can’t Explain” is still my favorite), but he’s also done some brilliant solo and duet work (check out his album “Rough Mix” with Ronnie Lane or his solo disc, “Empty Glass”). He also elevated the rock star media interview to an art form, even if he dissed Little Richard once.

Also celebrating nativity today:

Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh, theologian Harvey Cox, arts patron Dorothy Chandler, Malcolm Little, better known as the great black leader Macolm X, former big league pitcher Curt Simmons, playwright Lorraine Hansberry, journalist Jim Lehrer, actress Nancy Kwan, author Nora Ephron, rocker Joey Ramone, and singer/actress Grace Jones.

Big day in pop music history – Bobby Darin released “Splish Splash,” the first single recorded in 8-track, in 1958; Roger Miller went gold with “King of the Road” in 1965; Eddy Arnold led a legion of country stars to Carnegie Hall in 1966; and Stevie Wonder went to Number 1 (again) in 1973 with “You Are the Sunshine of My Life.” This is also the day, in 1588, the Spanish Armada set sail for England (not one of Spain’s better moves), in 1848, Mexico gives us Texas to end the war (a decision still to be reviewed on its merits), in 1884, the Ringling Bros. circus opened its gates for the first time, and in 1973, the great thoroughbred Secretariat won the Preakness, on his way to the Triple Crown.

In the news – it appears Congressional Dems are rallying behind Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the question of the CIA’s veracity (hard to see that acronym followed by that word) with regards to who-told-what-to-whom during closed-door briefings on, ahem, “enhanced interrogation” and other matters. David Obey, D-WI, is the latest to jump in. While the phony controversy has dented Pelosi’s numbers a bit, polling I’ve read and opinions from DC friends tells me most people see this for what it is – the Rs trying to change the subject.

My friend Marie Cocco has a great column on this at the Truthdig blogsite: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20090519_a_truth_commission_beckons/

Meanwhile, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, reading his own dismal numbers back home, where he’s up next year, seems to be having trouble explaining his views on putting suspected terrorists in prison in the US and closing that hell-hole at Guantanamo. Senate Dems moved today to stop funding for closing the place. Shameful.

Just to keep us amused, the Rs are voting tomorrow at their strategy confab on a resolution to start calling the Dems the “Democrat Socialist Party.” Now THERE’s some serious messaging going on!

And I’m in a much better mood this evening. After going 3 – 7 in their last 10 and looking woeful doing it, the Cardinals shut out the Cubs tonight, 3-0. Joel Pineiro, who’s hardly been setting the world on fire of late, threw a three-hit complete-game gem, tossing only 92 pitches, 64 of them for strikes. Chris Carpenter’s back tomorrow night; let’s hope he still has his stuff after a month-long layoff.


A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou . . . .

May 18, 2009

Today is the birthday, in 1048, of the Persian poet, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher (although he rejected the label) and teacher Omar Khayyam, who gave us his Rubaiyat, as well as his theory of parallels, contributions to algebra, and the calculation of the solar year (365.24219858156 days, correct to six decimal places and more accurate than the Gregorian calendar). Mr. Khayyam has both a lunar crater and a planet named after him. We should all go down so well in history.

Fast-forward almost a millennium to 1992, when the nation’s most famous unwed mother, Murphy Brown, played by Candice Bergen, gave birth to a baby boy in the show’s season finale, prompting then-Vice President Dan Quayle to lash out at the awful example Ms. Bergen/Brown was setting and the contempt she displayed for “family values.”

Also on this date:

1804 – Napolean is declared Emperor of France
1860 – The Republicans nominate Abraham Lincoln for president. How far they have come . . . .
1896 – The US Supreme Court shames us all by approving segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson
1953 – Jaqueline Cochran becomes the first woman to fly faster than sound
1980 – Mount St. Helens erupts

Born on this day in history:

Nobel laureate and philosopher Bertrand Russell; Bauhaus architect Walter Gropius; movie director Frank Capra; composer Meredith Wilson; rhythm-and-blues great Big Joe Turner; crooner Perry Como; dancer Dame Margot Fonteyn; Pope John Paul II; jazz trombonist Kai Winding; baseball greats Brooks Robinson and Reggie Jackson; country singer George Straight; actors Pernell Roberts, Robert Morse, and Tina Fey.

Check out William Pfaff’s piece on the Truthdig blog regarding (and I love this description) “smash-and-grab” capitalism vis a vis the French model: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20090516_as_smash-and-grab_capitalism_collapses_the_french_economy_shines/ Okay, I could do well without 80 percent of my electricity coming from nuclear plants (wonder how the French stack up on energy efficiency?), but the whole package is worth a ponder.

Much in the news today about President Obama knocking `em dead at Notre Dame over the weekend and gearing up for his meeting with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu today.

Meanwhile, the NY Times has a report that Senate Rs are backing away from their earlier to-the-barricades attitude on Obama’s first Supreme Court pick. We’ll see. Obama has chosen Beltway vet Stephanie Cutter, who worked for Sens. Kennedy and Kerry and was a point person on opposition to Dubya’s court picks. She has been toiling as a top advisor to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

Speaking of which, the Washington Post has a good story on the problems (have we reached FUBAR yet?) at Treasury due to a lack of staffing as the appointments process trudges along and the current lines of authority are muddy. Decisions, it seams, are made inside a very tight circle, but things go adrift when its time to implement policy.

Also in the news are reports that former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld liked to sprinkle the cover sheets of his intelligence reports with biblical quotes. You can see examples on the GQ website, http://men.style.com/gq/features/topsecret. Onward, Christian soldiers, indeed.

Here in Vermont, the Governor’s about to veto the state budget, setting up a special session of the legislature June 2nd. Much talk about whether Dem leadership in the Statehouse has the votes to over-ride, as they did on equal marriage. Several news reports in the last week of the regular session had some Dems and Progressives saying they were voting against the budget, but they would vote to over-ride a veto, as they assumed any budget from the Gov would be far less to their liking than the current one.

Speaking of legislators, one fellow I admire, Floyd Nease, (D-Johnson), the current House Majority Leader, is thinking about running for Lt. Gov, against incumbent Brian Dubie. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Deb Markowitz and State-Sen.-and-former-Lt-Gov Doug Racine are tussling. Racine, who lost to Gov. Douglas in 2002, is in it for a re-match, although some Dems (including Markowitz) say he had his shot then. Racine has been meeting with Progressive Party members in an attempt to solicit support and avert a third-party candidacy from the Progs that will drain votes from Dems. (For those of you who don’t live here, Progs and Dems have had a stormy relationship for the last 28 years.) Markowitz emailed the Dem State Committee to make the argument that Racine is been-there-done-that material. There’s more at the Green Mountain Daily site, http://www.greenmountaindaily.org.