Friday, June 08, 2007


Open Thread

Following a non-moving, non-sick week, we can now get back to our regularly-scheduled end-of-week "open thread." Jump in, the water's fine!

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Sorry, Paris

Back to jail -- for the remainder of the full 45-day sentence!

A round of schadenfreude for all!

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Dept. Of Missing Information

The New York Times' slogan is still "All the News That's Fit To Print."

Consider this nice article on presidential pardons -- particularly whether George W. Bush should pardon former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Note this passage:
Kenneth L. Adelman, the former director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and one of Mr. Libby’s prominent supporters, said he did not believe a pardon of Mr. Libby would have any bearing on Mr. Bush’s legacy.

“Clinton is very popular in the world, and he pardoned Marc Rich, of all things,” Mr. Adelman said. (Mr. Rich was a fugitive from charges of conspiracy, tax evasion, racketeering and violating United States sanctions by trading oil with Iran when Mr. Clinton pardoned him.)

Mr. Adelman said he was chagrined by what he described as the president’s inconsistent application of loyalty, which he said seems to be cutting against Mr. Libby after having played out in favor of former Defense Secretary
Donald H. Rumsfeld and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, “who were palpably doing a terrible job.”

Leave aside the connection between Clinton's "popularity" and the Rich pardon. Shouldn't the writer have mentioned this little point, i.e. that Libby was one of Rich's lawyers who pushed the Clinton White House for a pardon?

No, that information does not have direct bearing on whether Bush should pardon Libby, but it is rather material to the question of how presidents in general are occasionally lobbied in the pardoning of certain individuals. The info would have also put Adelman's "of all things" line in a rather ironic light.

Yet, not one mention of the Rich-Libby relationship. Guess it wasn't "fit to print."

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Border IN-Security

The Washington Post's Dan Balz goes to that favorite Beltway bete noire, the D.C. political culture in assigning blame to the collapse of the immigration bill:
The collapse of comprehensive immigration revision in the Senate last night represents a political defeat for President Bush, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), the bill's most prominent sponsors. More significantly, it represents a scathing indictment of the political culture of Washington.

The defeat of the legislation can be laid at the doorstep of opponents on the right and left, on congressional leaders who couldn't move their troops and on an increasingly weakened president and his
White House team. But together it added up to another example of a polarized political system in which the center could not hold.

The partisan blame game was already at fever pitch as the bill was going down yesterday. But to those far removed from the backrooms of
Capitol Hill, what happened will fuel cynicism toward a political system that appears incapable of finding ways to resolve the nation's big challenges.

But blaming "the culture" is like blaming "the system" or "The Man." It clearly manages to ignore the actual real-world factors that are at play. Real-world factors such as:

1) A president with a below-30 approval rating has no political capital with which to push a bill that he has considered a priority since his earliest days in office. He had no strength with which to bring along recalcitrant members of his own party.

2) With the narrowest possible majority in the Senate (essentially 51-49 Democrat), there could not be a worse "bipartisan" duo than Ted Kennedy and John McCain to have their names on the bill if the idea was to get Republicans and conservatives to sign on. For nearly four decades, Kennedy has been the poster child for liberal America. Amazingly, even with Hillary Clinton in the Senate, Kennedy likely retains the heavyweight championship belt of Most Hated Senate Liberal. John McCain (unfairly, in my view -- except for campaign finance reform) is the conservative base's most despised Republican.

3) Despite what they say for the cameras, Democrats had absolutely no reason to be supportive of this bill. They are confident that they will win the White House next year and get a bill more liberal and more to their liking. Far better to let this one collapse, blame it on the Republicans and the helpless White House -- and go for an even-greater-amnesty bill next time around.

Finally, conservatives and libertarians (as represented, in this case, by The Wall Street Journal's editorial board) need to have their own discussion on the issue immigration -- illegal and otherwise. Michelle Malkin's video exposes the truly raw sentiments within the right-wing base. Her "gotcha" on the, ahem, "diversity" at the WSJ ed. board is a cheap shot -- but quite funny.

I was mildly more supportive of this comprehensive bill. However, Malkin makes a number of fair points (memo to Michelle: for the love of God, lose the gorilla schtick) -- and the Journal shouldn't just dismiss the claims of "the right" as being purely cultural (though, yes, "fear of a brown planet" does factor into the immigration issue; it's not all just "law-and-order").

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Thursday, June 07, 2007


Early Checkout @ the Paris Hilton

Amnesty after only 3 days in jail!


Did someone mistake her for an illegal immigrant or something?

(Thanks to E.R.A.!)

UPDATE: After making allowances for the self-serving nature of the statement (and the reminder of his hosting "SNL", sadly, Rev. Al Sharpton is exactly right.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Open Thread

OK, I admit it. Other duties caused me to blow off the GOP debate last night. From the news stories -- and the commentary in the previous post -- it doesn't look like I missed that much. The Act of God/electric wiring glitch during Rudy's latest dissembling on abortion was kind of cool though (a very pro-life good friend of mine felt the need to text me the minute it happened).

Anyway, feel free to toss an idea or two in the Comments section. I'll try to chime in a little later in the day.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007


The Fox-CBC Debate Was All But Dead Anyway

So what if the news channel confuses a partisan hack with an indicted crook?

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The N-Word

Between Michael Richards and Don Imus, there's been a fair bit of controversy over the last several months on what words can be used, by whom and in what setting. Well, this video helps clarify things with respect to that word that got Kramer in trouble (white people, please pay close attenion):

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Cum On Feel Tha Noize

Damn, don't this make ya feel nostalgic for the 80s?

Well, this certainly resolves one thing. Obama doesn't need to go trolling for a campaign theme song
the way his main opponent is.

He's got his -- right here:

Hmmm...actually, it would be kinda cool to see Barack actually take over the lead singing from Kevin DuBrow, do sort of an Ice-T/Body Count riff on the anthem!

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Quick Hits

1) Scooter Libby sentenced to 30 months in prison. Like most special/independent prosecutor trials, this is the end result of a partisan/political fight. Still, as with Bill Clinton, just because there may be a political witch hunt going on, it doesn't give an individual the right to lie to prosecutors or grand juries.

2) Rep. William "Cold Cash" Jefferson indicted on multiple corruption charges. One question: What the hell took so long?

3) Wyoming Sen. Craig Thomas passes away from leukemia. Condolences to Sen. Thomas' family. However, from a political standpoint, the interesting thing here is that Wyoming seems to have the smartest succession law in the country:

Gov. Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, will appoint a successor from one of three
finalists chosen by the state Republican Party.

This strikes me as a very wise way to insure that the basic will of a state's voters in the previous statewide Senate election are respected -- and the U.S. Senate wouldn't necessarily be thrown into chaos because of the possible switch of a Senate seat due to a death.

The officeholder's party gives the governor three names (obviously from the same party) and the governor then chooses who fills the vacancy. That actually seems, in certain ways, respecting the spirit of the old pre-17th amenedment way of electing senators -- through the state legislature.

More states would be wiser to adopt the Wyoming method.

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FCC-'in A!

Oh $#!%! A federal appeals court tells government watchdogs to get over themselves!

This point tickled me to no end:

But the judges said vulgar words are just as often used out of frustration or excitement, and not to convey any broader obscene meaning. “In recent times even the top leaders of our government have used variants of these expletives in a manner that no reasonable person would believe referenced sexual or excretory organs or activities.”

Adopting an argument made by lawyers for NBC, the judges then cited examples in which Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney had used the same language that would be penalized under the policy. Mr. Bush was caught on videotape last July using a common vulgarity that the commission finds objectionable in a conversation with Prime Minister
Tony Blair of Britain. Three years ago, Mr. Cheney was widely reported to have muttered an angry obscene version of “get lost” to Senator
Patrick Leahy
on the floor of the United States Senate.

I have a line in my stand-up routine where I point to Bush's vulgarity and pair it with Cheney's shooting incident and ask the question: When did the Republican Party become sponsored by Hot 97?

This blog occasionally uses one or two of those famous "seven words" George Carlin couldn't use on television (though most can be said on broadcast TV these days) -- though usually more in the Comments section than in the main posts. However, no one would confuse this blog with, say, a gangsta rap song. I try to keep something of a mature standard. Still, I don't try to censor myself or my colleagues. There are times when a coarse word or phrase is appropriate -- sometimes as punchline, sometimes as a way to emphasized a point.

Thus, I thought that the Federal Communications Commission was becoming a bit too much of a blue nose censoring body in going after broadcast networks for "incidental" airing of naughty words, supposedly to protect the sainted ears of our tender youth (many of whom are buying those aforementioned rap songs).

It will be interesting to see what the Supreme Court determines if the FCC appeals.

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Monday, June 04, 2007


On The Hilltop

Ryan Sager gets it right -- in both the big and little picture on Sunday's Democratic presidential debate: Edwards and Obama bash each other, Hillary is wins by staying above the fray -- and the lower tier does nothing to break out of the pack.

Between his disastrous "Meet The Press" appearance two weekends ago and now this debate, Bill Richardson has managed to blow up what was, on paper, a rather promising candidacy. Which is why -- in light of the sports post below -- they don't play the games on paper.

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Fear Of A Mack Planet

Gawker comes up with brilliant, if demented, 20-year cultural reference to explain the News Corp-Dow Jones deal.

What's rather ironic about this idea is News Corp., obviously, owns Fox News Channel which featured Chuck D as one of its original "contributors" (he was sort of the J.J. Johnson of FNC back in the day). Fox did this even despite Chuck's long-standing claim that "Rap is CNN for black people." Once upon a time, I would have dared make the alternate correlation that FOX is rap for white people -- but not now.

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Can Sports Make a President?

I love sports, but politics are really my true passion. I've followed politics ever since I was a little kid because of the intense rivalry in a race for power. For my money, even the most thrilling sporting event doesn't hold a candle compared to an election night. Especially a presidential election night.

Think back to the 2000 presidential election. Not only did we not find out who would be the next leader of the free world on the actual election night, but it took over a month to finally determine who would be the next Commander in Chief. Imagine if that could be translated into a sporting event? It would be like a Super Bowl going into 18 sudden death over times. Or a baseball game venturing into possibly 50 innings. Except instead of a trophy on the line, and pride you have the weight of the free world. Human lives, jobs, wealth, worldly decision are at stake in a heated election. Can you ask for better competition with more at stake?

Is it any coincidence then that most of our presidents have aspired to be involved in athletics? Even if they are not gifted athletes they want to be involved in some sport that allows them to vent their stress into a healthy arena.

Teddy Roosevelt when he was President asked engineers to allow for the Potomac river to flow right up to the White House, so that every morning he could go for long swims before returning to work.

President Ulysses S. Grant was a champion horseback rider. After his presidency, he went across the world on a two year tour, showing of his skills on a horse.

President Dwight Eisenhower guided us through the beginnings of the Cold War. He managed his stress through golf. He had a handicap of only 14-18, and it is rumored that he only broke 80 three times in his life.

Recently we all learned what kind of athlete President Gerald R. Ford was in his day. He could have been a professional football player, but turned down certain NFL contracts in order to pursue a career in law.

Who can forget when President George W. Bush, himself a former MLB owner of the Texas Rangers, threw a perfect strike at Yankee Stadium a month after September 11, 2001, during the World Series while the New York crowded chanted "USA, USA, USA."

I realize that I may be showing a bias here since every president I mentioned was or is a republican. But this holds true for democrats as well. President Clinton used his daily jog as way to garner support for bills while he was in the White House. President Kennedy was an avid sailor, and would use his vacations to play everything from golf to football.

President Franklin Roosevelt fought against his polio stricken body by going down to Georgia, using intense physical therapy to rise out of his wheel chair.

It is clear just how great the connection is between our presidents and athletics.

Is it any wonder then that as our nation begins its search for new leadership in the year 2008, sports might be a good barometer to judge the character of a leader? Just recently in the New York Times, there was a great article about how basketball can tell us an awful lot about presidential hopeful, Senator Barack Obama:

Last Christmas, Senator Barack Obama flew to Hawaii to contemplate a presidential bid in the peace of his childhood home. But there, on a humid playground near Waikiki Beach, he found himself being roughed up by some of his best friends. It was the third and final game of the group’s annual three-on-three basketball showdown, and with the score nearly tied, things were getting dirty.

“Every time he tried to score, I fouled him,” Martin Nesbitt recalled. “I grabbed him, I’d hit his arm, I’d hold him.” Michael Ramos, another participant, explained, “No blood, no foul.”

Mr. Obama, like everyone else on the court, was laughing. And with a head fake, a bit of contact and a jumper that seemed out of his range, Mr. Obama sank the shot that won the game.

From John F. Kennedy’s sailing to Bill Clinton’s golf mulligans to John Kerry’s windsurfing, sports has been used, correctly or incorrectly, as a personality decoder for presidents and presidential aspirants. So, armchair psychologists and fans of athletic metaphors, take note: Barack Obama is a wily player of pickup basketball, the version of the game with unspoken rules, no referee and lots of elbows. He has been playing since adolescence, on cracked-asphalt playgrounds and at exclusive health clubs, developing a quick offensive style, a left-handed jump shot and relationships that have extended into the political arena...

...It is a theme that runs throughout Mr. Obama’s basketball career: a desire to be perceived as a regular guy despite great advantage and success. As a teenager, he slipped away from his tony school to university courts populated by “gym rats and has-beens” who taught him “that respect came from what you did and not who your daddy was,” Mr. Obama wrote...

...Now, for exercise, Mr. Obama pounds treadmills at hotel gyms. He played a bit last year, with American troops on military bases in Kuwait and Djibouti, and again at Christmas. His staff members laugh when asked if the senator has had any playing time since coming to Washington or hitting the campaign trail. (“I dream of playing basketball,” Mr. Obama said in a television interview on Tuesday.) Before the first Democratic debate in South Carolina, Mr. Robinson reserved a court and a slot on Mr. Obama’s schedule, hoping the candidate could blow off some steam before the big night. It did not happen.

The solution, Mr. Obama’s friends say, is for him to win the presidency, so they can all play together at the White House.

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We're Back II

Yes, we said that last Thursday, but then no post from RAG for three days! Wha hoppen? No, contrary to some rumors, I was not picked up in the Caribbean immigrant-based terrorism plot. (Sigh...why did one of them have to be Trinidadian-born?)

The fact is that I got rather sick. A couple weeks ago, I felt under the weather, with a bad cough. I figured it was a combination of allergies and a cold. I went to the doctor, got antibiotics and went about my business of moving.

Well, I never fully got rid of the bug, but, this time chalked up the coughing and sneezing to the dust from boxes and cleaning up newspapers and old magazines during the move (yeah, I'm a major-league pack rat). Anyway, on Thursday, to play it safe, I made an appointment with my doctor for the next day. But, when Friday came around, I found myself wheezing in a way I hadn't since my last bout of asthma when I was about 12 years old. I decided not to go into work and stayed home until I headed to the doctor's.

It was obviously a good decision not to go into the office since I literally could not walk a block and a half without stopping, holding onto a fence or parking meter while I caught my breath. Hmmm...not too good.

Anyway, after a couple of hours, the doctor hardly needed his stethoscope to tell him that there was a serious upper respiratory problem going on. He prescribed more antibiotics and a couple of inhalers -- one to provide instant relief and another for longer-term treatment. My chest was also X-rayed and if there's any more issues, we'll find out at early in the week.

So, before this turns into an Andrew Sullivan apnea-esque post (Andrew, I kid!), I'll end it there. A scary episode, but bed-rest for most of the weekend (plus the drugs and inhalers) seem to have done the trick so far (fingers crossed).

With any luck, we'll be fully back to "normal" in the coming days.


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Steve Gilliard, R.I.P.

Some months back, liberal blogger Steve Gilliard and I went at it rather intensely, in part his views on black conservatives in general (and Michael Steele in particular). Well, after an illness Steve passed away over the weekend. He was a rather young 41.

While it's obvious that we saw the world very differently, as blogger, he was prolific, provocative and very passionate about his beliefs. My condolences to his family, friends and fans.


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