Thursday, May 31, 2007
I understand there's some question about whether or not he was really in much of a contagious state - if at all. And he seems to have some proof that the warnings he got were not too severe. But when the CDC tracks you down in Italy to tell you they just discovered your strain of tuberculosis is extremely resistant to drugs and they instruct you to turn yourself in to authorities instead of risking the health of the rest of the world by getting on an airplane, and you decide *aw screw it* and sneak your way back anyway...that pretty much makes you a jerk right? Not knowing much about TB, so I don't really understand the danger level, still I tend to agree with Michael Seitzman on this one.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Via Kos, the AP reports:
The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease.You can't make this stuff up can you? Oh wait, I think we can. Let's play a little game. Take that first sentence in the quote above - a fabulous indictment of our Executive. We'll play a little bit of MadLibs.
The Agriculture Department tests fewer than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. A beef producer in the western state of Kansas, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, wants to test all of its cows.
Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone should test its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive tests on their larger herds as well.
First we need an industry or occupation - let's say "car manufacturers." Now think of one of the most responsible things they could do - say, "reducing CO2 emissions." Now, plug them into that sentence and you've got: "The Bush Administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep car manufacturers from reducing CO2 emissions."
See? Anyone can play! Predict the next Bush travesty with your friends! Here's another:"The Bush Administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep the Justice Department from applying the law without political bias."
And one more, because this is really too much depressing fun: "The Bush Administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep FEMA from preparing for predictable, horrendous humanitarian disasters here at home."
I want to see your efforts in the comments below.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
and shiny new poll numbers. Ezra Klein at Tapped discusses the health care proposal. It sounds to me like there's just enough federal bureaucracy for the GOP to caricature, just enough private insurance involvement to annoy liberals and just enough confusion to keep everyone else from knowing just what to think.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Money buys access and influence. Money greases the process that will yield us a new president in 2008. When it comes to Iraq, money ensures that the concerns of big business, big oil, bellicose evangelicals and Middle East allies gain a hearing. By comparison, the lives of U.S. soldiers figure as an afterthought.
Memorial Day orators will say that a G.I.'s life is priceless. Don't believe it. I know what value the U.S. government assigns to a soldier's life: I've been handed the check. It's roughly what the Yankees will pay Roger Clemens per inning once he starts pitching next month.
to read more, go here.
Friday, May 25, 2007
For the weekend. I think there's Internet access at the hotel - we'll see. Either way, any of you with the keys to the blog please keep us all entertained and informed the next couple of days.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
The State Senate passed the Governor's smoking ban in workplaces across the state - including bars and restauraunts. It moves to the House now. Keep your fingers crossed. There is more tobacco influence in the House than in the Senate. But we're halfway there...
Listening in to the President just now in a press conference, in talking about the issue of immigration, he sounds - gulp - (easy....steady...you can say it) good, dare I say passionate. Quotes coming soon so you can decide for yourself if I've lost my mind.
[UPDATE: In case there's confusion, and because I can anticipate your first question, I mean the President...of the United States. Bush.]
[UPDATE2: Here's the snippet that caught my attention--
I knew this was going to be an explosive issue. It's easy to hold up somebody who is here and working hard as a political target. I would like to get this bill done for a lot of reasons. I'd like to get it done because it's the right thing to do. I'd like to get it done because I happen to believe the approach that is now being discussed in the Senate is an approach that will actually solve the problem. I'd like to get it out of politics. I don't think it's good to be, you know, holding people up. We've been through immigration debates in this country, and they can bring out the worst, sometimes, in people. We're a land of immigrants.
I was touched yesterday when the kid from the Coast Guard Academy, ensign -- now ensign talked about his migrant grandfather from Mexico. And here's this guy, this man standing up in front of the President of the United States and his class, talking about serving America. He wasn't -- you know, his grandfather wasn't born here. I don't know what job he did -- I suspect it was probably manual labor. I don't know, I didn't ask him.
But I do know he spoke with pride. I do know he represents the best about what immigration can mean for America. You know, welcoming people here who want to work and realize the American Dream renews our spirit and soul. It's been the case throughout generations. And we have an opportunity to put a good law in place now -- right now. And it's going to be hard work. And sure politics will get involved. But the question is, will members of Congress rise above politics? I will. It's the right thing to have a comprehensive bill.]
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
In the spirit of equal time - which I generally don't believe in here at Article 19 - it's worth giving all of you this warning of truth, as we go forth properly bashing Pat Robertson's Regent University Law School. A team from Regent will participate in the International Negotiation competition in July. Why? Because they won first place in the ABA national competition (last year's winner was from Harvard). Go figure.
Also, I have to not recommend watching hearings like the one Monica Goodling is in currently. Could there be a worse format for asking serious questions? Each member gets just enough time to maybe hint at an area of questioning, but are then cut off by the clock. Then every other questioner is a Republican who makes glowing speeches until their time runs out. No momentum, no continuity, it's kind of pointless. If you want to know the highlight - watch this brief clip. [UPDATE: and, better yet, this one.]
One thing is for sure - her lack of experience was on display in the execution of her job...but which Bush appointee would we *not* say that about?
Maybe it hasn't gotten much notice since we all believe he would do this with or without documentation, but in a May 9 "National Security Presidential Directive" bush has given himself total control of the federal government in case of a "catastrophic emergency."
According to a Progressive article by Matthew Rothschild:
The subject of the document is entitled “National Continuity Policy.”
It defines a “catastrophic emergency” as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government function.”
This could mean another 9/11, or another Katrina, or a major earthquake in California, I imagine, since it says it would include “localized acts of nature, accidents, and technological or attack-related emergencies.”
I thought after the November elections my rage quotient would not shoot off the charts again until we start bombing Iran but with this news and its lack of attention from our side, along with the dems caving to Mr. 28% on war withdrawal timelines, I'm back in the saddle.
My favorite exchange from Gore's interview with Larry King comes several minutes after Al has expressed his opinion that the TV media seems uninterested in talking seriously about the very real problems we face.
KING: We are with Al Gore. We have another King cam question. Our men on the street with cameras. This one is about gas prices. Go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think it's a good thing that gas prices are high so that people don't use as much gas?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Uh-huh. Al?
GORE: Don't think it's a good thing that the increases are going to Saudi Arabia and Venezuela and the other suppliers of oil. Here is -- I have made what many regard as a radical and politically impractical proposal but I believe in it very deeply, Larry. Here it is what I think we ought to do.
I think we ought to eliminate the taxes on employment, the payroll taxes that discourage jobs and make it up dollar for dollar -- no tax increase, revenue neutral. Eliminate the payroll tax and make it up dollar for dollar with pollution taxes, principally C02 taxes and, yes, that would raise the price of gasoline but it would come back to the American people in the form of sharply reduced taxes on payrolls. And for those places where there was a difficult adjustment, make special provisions there because you would have the money to do it.
KING: Let's grab another call. Green Bay, Wisconsin...
GORE: See, that's considered so impractical, there's no followup.
KING: No, it's pretty practical. Green Bay, hello?
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Or at least feel like one of the stupider people anywhere, after her interview with Gore this morning. We'll see if Larry King outdoes her tonight.
Less stupidly, the NYTimes reviewed Gore's new book:
Part civics lesson, part political jeremiad, part philosophical tract, “The Assault on Reason” reveals an angry, impassioned Al Gore — a far cry from the carefully scripted, earth-tone-wearing Al Gore of the 2000 presidential campaign and the programmed “creature of Washington” described in the reporter Bill Turque’s 2000 biography of him, “Inventing Al Gore.”
Much the way that the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” showed a more accessible Al Gore — at ease with himself and passionate about the dangers of global warming — this book shows a fiery, throw-caution-to-the winds Al Gore, who, whether or not he runs for the White House again, has decided to lay it all on the line with a blistering assessment of the Bush administration and the state of public discourse in America at this “fateful juncture” in history.
Monday, May 21, 2007
What have you been reading, listening to, watching?
Good TV Alert
Al Gore will be on Larry King Tuesday.
I didn't read this whole piece - not wanting to learn movie details - but it looks like people are praising Michael Moore's new film which just played at Cannes.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Anybody else feel like every scene is incredibly intense in these last few episodes? Spoilers in the comments..
California re-froze! A section of Antarctica the size of California did, anyway. Of course, this means that first it melted - "the most significant thawing in thirty years" - but hey, who cares? It froze again!
In other news, you may have heard that one of our technological hopes for combating industrial CO2 emissions is something called "carbon sequestration." Here, carbon would be captured - sent down into the depths of the Earth, perhaps - instead of released into the atmosphere. We don't know quite how to do that efficiently on a large scale yet, but it's a plan. Until then, the best repositories for carbon capture we have are natural means of sequestration: forests and oceans, which soak up carbon themselves. Problem is, the oceans are getting full.
The phenomenon wasn't expected to be apparent for decades, Le Quere said in a telephone interview from the University of East Anglia in Britain.But not to worry. Some guy went to Antarctica and he says it's still pretty cold and we should stop all the kvetching.
"We thought we would be able to detect these only the second half of this century, say 2050 or so," she said. But data from 1981 through 2004 show the sink is already full of carbon dioxide. "So I find this really quite alarming."
Friday, May 18, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
After the shocking testimony of James Comey yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the NYTimes lays it out correctly: "someone at the White House (and Americans need to know who) dispatched Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card to Mr. Ashcroft’s hospital bed." Today, Bush was asked if it was him and if not does he approve of such an action. See for yourself.
This is, of course, outrageous, the President finding ever more thumbs to poke into the public eye. Remember when he said something to the effect of: being a dictator would be easier? I think he really really really meant it.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
I was introduced to the paintings of Mark Rothko by my composition instructor in grad school because Rothko was an important influence on the music of Morton Feldman, whose work we were studying - and which I've grown to love (and, of course, hate...so it goes). His paintings are majestically depressing, and exactly the sort of minimalist expression that opponents of contemporary art (you know who you are) find maddening. I usually show a piece or 2 to my modern music students, to illustrate Feldman and to generate discussion on minimalist art. Try as I might to present it as inspiring and beautiful and haunting, I always get an overwhelming majority of sneers and chuckles, disbelief and a chorus of some version of "I could do that..."
To stand in front of one of his signature works up close is to feel almost toppled by his bending rectangles of swirling color. Large vertical canvases ask you to lean your head back to see the top. He intended for these pieces to be spiritual experiences, to re-create the intimacy of quiet religious knowing through an overwhelming space, one in which to become lost, for the sake of that urge that craves the divine. That's the part that makes my students most roll their eyes - the allegation of spiritual intent - since all there seemingly is to see are shapes and colors.
Maybe it was the childhood memories of death-pits of murdered Jews in his Russian hometown. Maybe it was the loss of his father when Mark was 10, just months after the Rothkowitzes emigrated to America to escape the call of the army of the Czar. Maybe it was the conflict of being the only religiously educated Jew in a family of secular Jews - in an age where to be a Jew of any kind was to be fearful, hated and ostracized. Whatever it was, his work longs for the intimately human and spiritual, but does not find it in stories and mythologies, or in the images of things known. It seeks that experience even as it seems, on the surface anyway, to deny it under panels of abstraction.
The more fame he achieved, the more misunderstood he felt. Rising prices of his work seemed to be accompanied by acclaim for his sense of form and color, when what he wanted to be known for was his sense of ecstasy and tragedy and humanity. And why try to paint those things? Because you overflow with the spiritual? or because you lack it? Because you have so much to offer? or because you need it so badly - that drop of water to cool the tongue?
Abstract expression is never just that - abstract. It is not the voice of the sterile or the inhuman or, certainly, the unimaginative. In Rothko's case, he bubbled over with the needs and desires for transcendent aesthetic experience. Ultimately marked by alcohol and drug abuse, chronic illness and broken marriages, his life - which ended in suicide in 1970 - was one of turbulent humanity, not of a technician's cold distance.
I bring this up now because last night, at a Sotheby's auction, misunderstood or not, Mark Rothko's "White Center" sold to an anonymous bidder for $73 million, the most ever paid for a post-war artwork, by far. You can take a look at an itty-bitty version of the work, which in reality stands almost 7 feet tall, here.
If you haven't read about former Justice Dept. official James Comey's testimony yet, you must. It shows just how bad things have gotten under Bush and Gonzalez, that Mr. Patriot Act himself, John Ashcroft, may have been the last line of defense for our civil liberties. Their plan to bypass his resistance? Get to him while incapacitated in a hospital bed.
What Bush has done to our foreign policy and international standing, Gonzalez has done to our commitment to civil liberties and due process.
I expected otherwise, but she was one of only 29 Democratic Senators to vote for the Reid-Feingold amendment today. It called for the end of war funding by early 2008 and the gradual withdrawal of troops beginning in 120 days. Candidates Obama, Biden and Dodd also voted yes.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Watching Republican debate #2, I can only deduce that a possible test for whether a male is a Republican is this: whether or not he gets an erection at the thought of the United States being under terrorist attack with him playing Jack Bauer running around torturing everyone he can. With the exception of McCain (draw your own conclusions), the rest of them are falling on themselves with excitement. Romney was unable to stand up straight talking about his love for a vibrant, growing, torture-filled Guantanamo.
This was twice as scary as the last GOP debate.
The Washington Times sounds like it's all but decided - the NY mayor will bring $1 Billion (yep, with a B) to a general election as an independent. This should prove more interesting than the Ross Perot experiment. The question is, can he find a high-enough profile VP candidate willing to buck party and form a legitimate ticket? Chuck Hagel? Colin Powell?
All in all, if it comes true, this strikes me as good news for Hillary Clinton.
Heard just now on MSNBC, as they carry on about Jerry Falwell (my transcription),
Contessa Brewer (speaking to Chris Matthews):
You're looking at a guy - Jerry Falwell - who had a lot of influence on the current President, even now. One of my producers, Chris, just pulled up a page from whitehouse.org where they say "Jerry Falwell has earned his role as the de facto executive director of domestic and global policy for the White House." How much influence did he have on George W. Bush?Of course, and apparently unbeknownst to the crack detective staff at MSNBC, whitehouse.org is a satire site... the actual web address of the White House is whitehouse.gov. It's nice to see the mainstream media snatching satire from the jaws of the serious here.
[UPDATE: TPM has posted the video here.]
Monday, May 14, 2007
what have you been watching, listening to, reading?
Author and Beatles expert Tim Riley pleads with Paul McCartney to save EMI.
Weekend Box Office
1. Spiderman 3
2. 28 Weeks Later
3. Georgia Rule
5. Delta Farce
Movies I saw in the last week: #87, Air Guitar Nation, and #6, Fracture. The first is a pretty funny look at a funny event - the world air guitar championships. COuld have been better, but worth a rental if you're looking for something light and funny that's not stupid Hollywood fare. Fracture was a decent twist on the legal thriller genre. 3 things bugged me: I don't know anything about acting or accents - and surely Anthony Hopkins of all people knows what he's doing. But I'd swear his accent in some scenes was strangely Irish, but not in most scenes. 2) Ryan Gosling was thoroughly unlikable and unbelievable; 3) the film noirish lighting was pointlessly over-the-top. Despite those things, believe it or not, a decent thriller, if you're into that.
...was awesome last night. My favorite episode of the new batch.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
I'm starting a new feature here at Article 19. I could use your help giving it a proper name. The thing is, there's just so much encouraging, good news these days. We're so collectively healthy, taking such good care of the environment (and so flowing with sarcasm), that we deserve some regular inspirational words from the world of science. Today, I'd like to assure you that you're fat. Even if you don't think you are, even if you don't look like you are. Trust me, you are.
Some doctors now think that the internal fat surrounding vital organs like the heart, liver or pancreas — invisible to the naked eye — could be as dangerous as the more obvious external fat that bulges underneath the skin.So what should I call this fluffy good-news feature? I was thinking - "Believe Me, You're Screwed," but I'm open to ideas.
According to the data, people who maintain their weight through diet rather than exercise are likely to have major deposits of internal fat, even if they are otherwise slim. “The whole concept of being fat needs to be redefined,” said Bell, whose research is funded by Britain’s Medical Research Council.
Without a clear warning signal — like a rounder middle — doctors worry that thin people may be lulled into falsely assuming that because they’re not overweight, they’re healthy.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Thursday, May 10, 2007
I've become energy-efficiency conscious. Not especially helpful, mind you - certainly not engaging in enough responsible lifestyle-changing, just...conscious. And while I'm aware of the story that goes: new appliances are much more energy efficient than the old, I can't help but wonder....how can that be?? Pay attention to the stuff you have plugged in, and check to see how hard it is to turn them off....really all the way off.
Our new TVs are on all the time, remembering our setup preferences and favorite channels. The microwave, the coffee maker even -- if you want them to use zero energy while they're not actively cooking stuff and making coffee, you have to unplug them. Do you leave the speakers on your computer turned on while your computer is off? The printer? The stereo with the clock, the phone charger, the cable box...they don't use much to be sure, not much at all. My point is we're plugged in *all the time,* so much so that even a concerted effort to turn off the stuff you're not using is not so easy. Give it a try and you'll see.
When I'm asleep the only things I'd like to stay running are the a/c (at a reasonable temp), my alarm clock, my phone charger, my refrigerator (so the milk doesn't go bad, and the milk that's already gone bad doesn't grow legs), and my fire alarm. But the list of things running a slow drip of electricity without my need, or even consent, really, is much longer than that, and longer than you'd think.
It's difficult to be responsible - which is one reason why we could use the help of some government regulations, to hopefully do to cars what they have done for major appliances - earlier this year the new "energy star" specifications came out for appliances, more stringent than in the past. If you're in the market for something big, shell out the few extra bucks to make sure it has the "energy star" rating.
Mostly though it's difficult to keep your eyes on everything, right? I might change the thermostat when I leave, and keep power strips off for things I don't need. But if I make one needless trip in the car, I've pretty well undone all that stuff and more, as far as damage to the environment. And if I use one of those canisters to clean the computer keyboard, I might as well drive cross country and back for all the damage I've done.
How's a well-meaning, but gadget-loving person supposed to keep up?
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
We've discussed this before here - Obama's plan to offer the Auto industry help with health benefits in return for their finally agreeing to reaise auto emission standards. He gave a great speech in Detroit yesterday, where this idea is controversial - makes me appreciate his courage - would be an easy thing to bring up in California, right? You can read the entire speech at the end of this Gristmill post.
Steve Clemons objects that this plan isn't "comprehensive" enough to save us from the doom of climate change. I say - that's a dumb reason to be against it at this point.
Monday, May 07, 2007
What have you been reading, listening to, watching?
Over the weekend I caught Christian Bale's amazing performance, but have to say it was one of the more disturbing films I've seen in a while. I can't remember the last time I was so tempted to change the channel during a movie, just to not have to see what comes next.
Sopranos Question of the Day
Does Christopher's surprising action (I won't give it away) in last night's episode make it more, or less, likely that he'll rat out Tony and the rest of the crew? Seems like you could take it either way.
Friday, May 04, 2007
Remember Jeff Gannon? The guy with dubious press credentials who was allowed to cover the White House lobbing softballs instead of actual questions until it was revealed that he hired himself out online as a gay prostitute at sites like HotMilitaryStud.com? (Just typing that sentence it's hard to believe that whole story actually happened.) You'll never guess who he works for now - the International Bible Reading Association. Yeah, strange journeys. The Washington Post's Dana Milbank reports on yesterday's IBRA event for which Gannon was the spokesman - a public reading of the Bible on "national prayer day."
Organizers put out 600 folding chairs on the lawn -- the spot where presidents are inaugurated -- and set up a huge stage with powerful amplifiers. But at 9:30 a.m. yesterday, not one of the 600 seats was occupied. By 11 a.m., as a woman read a passage from Revelations, attendance had grown -- to four people. Finally, at 1 p.m., 37 of the 600 seats were occupied, though many of those people were tourists eating lunch.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Bumbling, scary fools...including maybe especially the moderator, Chris Matthews. If you missed it, here's a rundown in a sentence: they want to bomb Iran and believe the day Roe v. Wade is repealed will be the greatest day in American history, except for Giuliani, who could take it or leave it, preferably both. (if you think that's confusing, you should have heard his answer)
Big debate winner? Fred Thompson - who wasn't there.
I have this fear, it goes like this: that 50 years from now I'll still be (barely) alive and when I watch the political news - or drink it, or however we're ingesting it by then - it will feature black leaders and (occasional) black candidates decrying the anti-intellectualism and the naughty language of predominantly African-American culture, the same as Obama is doing today, and the same as we've been hearing in critiques for some time now, especially from people with money, power, influence.
So far as I can tell, the only person whose life was improved by Bill Clinton's "Sister Souljah" critique was Bill Clinton. I haven't heard of one person's life turned around by Bill Cosby's rant.
I'm starting to think that critiquing from afar is not the answer. One day, someone will actually get about the business of changing the situation on the ground, as they say. I hope I'm still alive to see it. As far as I can tell - 2007 looks and sounds alot like 1987 in terms of race relations and the problems plaguing the poorest in America and affecting the vilest of our pop culture, so often an easy target of exploitation by those seeking to promote themselves.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
2 bits of bad news.
First, Arctic ice is disappearing faster than expected, melting about 30 years ahead of the already-troubling schedule. Summers will, at this rate, feature an iceless Arctic by 2020, not 2050. Don't buy stock in polar bears or walruses (or coastal property).
Second, just in case you thought the recent discovery of the new Earth might be a saving grace from our ruin of this one, I happened to catch astro-physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on Colbert, who says it would take a wee bit longer than you might think to get there. See for yourself:
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Americans United for Change will start running this ad as soon as the President vetoes the Iraq funding bill that would mandate beginning withdrawal of troops. I have to admit I don't really understand the tag line: "you can't veto the truth,"but it's a decent spot, making an important and obvious point: the country's not with him. Take a look.