Friday, November 04, 2005

David Ortiz Is MVP

According to the players, that is. Not F-Rod. Ortiz, the true MVP.

Big Papi was voted American League Outstanding Player in the 2005 Players Choice Awards, as voted by his fellow players.

Let's hope the baseball writers do the right thing. Dan Shaughnessy, the cowardly writer/steno who helped run Theo out of town, gets to vote. That makes me sick.

Congratulations to the Chicago White Sox, the latest curse-breaking team!

Turn the Other Cheek

Now this could make me go to Tex-ass. From ActforLove

Moon the Klan
Wow, now this is a protest we can get "behind" for sure...

US health care: "[T]he highest error rates, most disorganized care and highest costs"

From the WaPo:

For Americans, Getting Sick Has Its Price
Survey Says U.S. Patients Pay More, Get Less Than Those in Other Western Nations

Americans pay more when they get sick than people in other Western nations and get more confused, error-prone treatment, according to the largest survey to compare U.S. health care with other nations.

The survey of nearly 7,000 sick adults in the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Britain and Germany found Americans were the most likely to pay at least $1,000 in out-of-pocket expenses. More than half went without needed care because of cost and more than one-third endured mistakes and disorganized care when they did get treated.

Although patients in every nation sometimes run into obstacles to getting care and deficiencies when they do get treated, the United States stood out for having the highest error rates, most disorganized care and highest costs, the survey found.

Do not allow the statement "We have the greatest health care system in the world" go unchallenged. It's bullshit. Because of our crazy patchwork system, we pay more for much worse care. And that's people who can afford to pay. There are still some 45.8 million Americans who have no health insurance.

The Incompetence, The Corruption, The Cronyism: November 4, 2005 edition

The Incompetence:

Heckuva Job Brownie, aka Mike Brown, late Director of FEMA, who is still on the federal payroll, is back in the news. Even this kind of breathtaking stupidity can't get the breathtakingly stupid President to just fire your ass.

In Katrina's aftermath, FEMA chief mused about his future

On Aug. 31, two days after the storm flooded the city, a FEMA regional director sent Brown an urgent e-mail about patients dying "within hours," a lack of food and water, hundreds of rescues and a situation "past critical."

Brown's response? "Thanks for update. Anything specific I need to do or tweak?"


E-mails released last month by Collins' committee showed that Brown and his press secretary, Sharon Worthy, were concerned about time for dinner at a Baton Rouge, La., restaurant and an upcoming TV interview while a FEMA regional director, Marty Bahamonde, warned of the desperate situation at the New Orleans Superdome.

Wednesday's release added further insight into their concerns, with one showing Worthy advising Brown to roll up his sleeves to "just below the elbow" the way President Bush did: "In this crisis and on TV you just need to look more hard-working ... ROLL UP THE SLEEVES."

The Corruption:

A 62-year-old Republican state legislator from Hawaii was convicted of sexually molesting a 27 year old woman on an airline flight. Ewwwww. The incident happened on a flight to California, so that's where the trial took place. He didn't even reveal he had been charged until he was convicted.

Testimony against legislator includes details of molestation

The 27-year-old woman who accused state Rep. Galen Fox of sexually molesting her on a United Airlines flight testified that she awoke to find his hand inside her jeans and rubbing her crotch.


In her statement, the woman, identified only as Jane Doe in court documents, told the FBI that she had taken a sleeping pill because she wanted to rest and fell asleep holding a folded airline blanket on her lap, her arms crossed over her blanket.

She said she awoke to a warm sensation pressing against her crotch. Lifting her blanket, she saw Fox's right hand rubbing her crotch, according to a statement of probable cause filed by Special Agent Rodney G. Fung of the FBI's Los Angeles International Airport Office.

According to the affidavit, the woman jumped up and said, "What the ---- are you doing?" to which Fox allegedly replied, "I touched you, I'm sorry I touched you." The woman alerted her parents who sat across the aisle from her and then notified flight attendants, who moved them to other seats.


The woman testified that Fox apparently unfastened the button and zipper of her jeans, and she awoke to find his hand inside her jeans and groping her, Goswami said.

The Cronyism:

So, former baseball owners and Republican fundraisers are experts on intelligence? President La La La, I Can't Hear You thinks so:

In the Company of Friends
Bush may be besieged by charges of cronyism, but they don’t seem to have affected his picks for a panel assessing intelligence matters.

President Bush last week appointed nine campaign contributors, including three longtime fund-raisers, to his Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, a 16-member panel of individuals from the private sector who advise the president on the quality and effectiveness of U.S. intelligence efforts. After watching the fate of Michael Brown as head of FEMA and Harriet Miers as Supreme Court nominee, you might think the president would be wary about the appearance of cronyism—especially with a critical national-security issue such as intelligence. Instead, Bush reappointed William DeWitt, an Ohio businessman who has raised more than $300,000 for the president’s campaigns, for a third two-year term on the panel. Originally appointed in 2001, just a few weeks after the 9/11 attacks, DeWitt, who was also a top fund-raiser for Bush’s 2004 Inaugural committee, was a partner with Bush in the Texas Rangers baseball team.

Other appointees included former Commerce secretary Don Evans, a longtime Bush friend; Texas oilman Ray Hunt; Netscape founder Jim Barksdale, and former congressman and 9/11 Commission vice chairman Lee Hamilton. Like DeWitt, Evans and Hunt have also been longtime Bush fund-raisers, raising more than $100,000 apiece for the president’s campaigns. Barksdale and five other appointees—incoming chairman Stephen Friedman, former Reagan adviser Arthur Culvahouse, retired admiral David Jeremiah, Martin Faga and John L. Morrison—were contributors to the president’s 2004 re-election effort. Friedman also served a year on the intelligence board under President Bill Clinton, who appointed chairmen with very different profiles from Bush's Pioneers: former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. William Crowe, former Defense secretary Les Aspin, former House speaker Tom Foley and former GOP senator Warren Rudman. (Clinton did also appoint two donors who gave $100,000 apiece to the Democratic National Committee: New York investment banker Stan Shuman and Texas real estate magnate Richard Bloch.)

In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.
H. L. Mencken

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Thought for the Day

Just remember though. Governor Ryan? Indictment number 66. Fitzgerald has already shown he has superhuman amounts of patience and persistence. So while an indictment would take a good bit more work, if anyone can do it [indict Cheney], Fitzgerald can.

-- Emptywheel, at The Last Hurrah

[George Ryan is the former (Republican, natch) governor of Illinois, indicted by Fitzgerald's office, currently on trial on fraud and racketeering charges.]

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Gulag Archipelago

From the front page of today's Washington Post:

CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons
Debate Is Growing Within Agency About Legality and Morality of Overseas System Set Up After 9/11

The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.

The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, according to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents.

The hidden global internment network is a central element in the CIA's unconventional war on terrorism. It depends on the cooperation of foreign intelligence services, and on keeping even basic information about the system secret from the public, foreign officials and nearly all members of Congress charged with overseeing the CIA's covert actions.

Now that we've taken over and are operating the old Soviet Union secret prisons, what could be next for the Bush Administration? Maybe we could re-open Auschwitz to get rid of those pesky guys at Guantanimo. Because freedom is just one more word for nothing left to lose.

Bush makes Nixon look like a piker.

This is American? I am sickened.

"Of course he's against abortion."

Alito's Mom: 'Of Course, He's Against Abortion'

From the mouths of old people. So we know he passes that ultra-right wing litmus test.

The lefty blogs are calling him "Scalito", for Scalia. If he is confirmed there will be five Roman Catholics on the Supreme Court.

Let's see if the Democrats in the Senate really have a spine.

Not Just a Tired Seamstress

From Common Dreams:

The Real Rosa Parks
by Paul Rogat Loeb

We learn much from how we present our heroes. A few years ago, on Martin Luther King. Day, I was interviewed on CNN. So was Rosa Parks, by phone from Los Angeles. “We’re very honored to have her,” said the host. “Rosa Parks was the woman who wouldn’t go to the back of the bus. She wouldn’t get up and give her seat in the white section to a white person. That set in motion the year-long bus boycott in Montgomery. It earned Rosa Parks the title of ‘mother of the Civil Rights movement.’”

I was excited to hear Parks’s voice and to be part of the same show. Then it occurred to me that the host’s description--the story’s standard rendition and one repeated even in many of her obituaries--stripped the Montgomery boycott of all of its context. Before refusing to give up her bus seat, Parks had been active for twelve years in the local NAACP chapter, serving as its secretary. The summer before her arrest, she’d had attended a ten-day training session at Tennessee’s labor and civil rights organizing school, the Highlander Center, where she’d met an older generation of civil rights activists, like South Carolina teacher Septima Clark, and discussed the recent Supreme Court decision banning “separate-but-equal” schools. During this period of involvement and education, Parks had become familiar with previous challenges to segregation: Another Montgomery bus boycott, fifty years earlier, successfully eased some restrictions; a bus boycott in Baton Rouge won limited gains two years before Parks was arrested; and the previous spring, a young Montgomery woman had also refused to move to the back of the bus, causing the NAACP to consider a legal challenge until it turned out that she was unmarried and pregnant, and therefore a poor symbol for a campaign.

In short, Rosa Parks didn’t make a spur-of-the-moment decision. She didn’t single-handedly give birth to the civil rights efforts, but she was part of an existing movement for change, at a time when success was far from certain. We all know Parks’s name, but few of us know about Montgomery NAACP head E.D. Nixon, who served as one of her mentors and first got Martin Luther King involved. Nixon carried people’s suitcases on the trains, and was active in the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the union founded by legendary civil rights activist A. Philip Randolph. He played a key role in the campaign. No one talks of him, any more than they talk of JoAnn Robinson, who taught nearby at an underfunded and segregated Black college and whose Women’s Political Council distributed the initial leaflets following Parks’s arrest. Without the often lonely work of people like Nixon, Randolph, and Robinson, Parks would likely have never taken her stand, and if she had, it would never have had the same impact.


Think again about the different ways one can frame Rosa Parks’s historic action. In the prevailing myth, Parks decides to act almost on a whim, in isolation. She’s a virgin to politics, a holy innocent. The lesson seems to be that if any of us suddenly got the urge to do something equally heroic, that would be great. Of course most of us don’t, so we wait our entire lives to find the ideal moment.

Parks’s real story conveys a far more empowering moral. She begins with seemingly modest steps. She goes to a meeting, and then another, helping build the community that in turn supported her path. Hesitant at first, she gains confidence as she speaks out. She keeps on despite a profoundly uncertain context, as she and others act as best they can to challenge deeply entrenched injustices, with little certainty of results. Had she and others given up after her tenth or eleventh year of commitment, we might never have heard of Montgomery....

I first learned the "true" story behind Rosa Parks seven years ago while preparing a case for trial. I was trying to come up with a good analogy in a sex discrimination case where my client tried for years to get a job for which she was qualified, for which only men were hired. She didn't have any monetary damages as the law recognizes them, because the job she held instead paid just as much as the one she longed to hold. When I suggested using Rosa Parks as our analogy -- how much could that bus ride have cost, 5 cents, but how much was it really worth, to be treated as a human being -- my friend S asked me if I knew the real story, that Parks was a local NAACP activist. I was shocked, having never heard anything but the sanitized version.

While I was in England most of the English papers printed the true, NAACP activist story. Was that the case here in the US?

Thought for the Day

Received this quote in an email:

"Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable."

--- Sydney J. Harris, American journalist (1917 - 1986)

Things I did not do that I regret: I didn't apply to Harvard, thinking it would be too hard for me. I would have loved it, I now realize. I turned down the honors program at my college; I didn't want to be different than the rest of the students, and I was intimidated by the reading list. I wonder who I would have met. I didn't invite my parents to my swearing-in as a lawyer. I didn't realize it would be such a big deal, in Faneuil Hall, with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court presiding.

Live and learn.