Saturday, February 24, 2007

Run, Mike, Run

I'm in for $100 if Mike Richter runs for this seat.

SwingStateProject: CT-04: Chris Shays vs... Mike Richter?

Well, ain't this intriguing. According to Nathan Gonzales of the Rothenberg Political Report, Connecticut Democrats are weighing the possibility of running former NHL superstar Mike Richter against the last Republican House member left standing in New England: the battle-hardened Chris Shays.

Dennis Johnson. Flawed Human

Until his too early death this week, I had forgotten about the incident where DJ was charged with assaulting his wife. And I couldn't find anything about it on the 'net, except for the fact that seemingly the family had stayed together. Globe columnist Derrick Jackson lays out what happened.

He kept coming to the game

Johnson, who died suddenly Thursday of a heart attack at 52, had a basketball intelligence that seemed destined for a head coaching job. By most accounts, he took himself off the fast track by being arrested for grabbing his wife’s throat, threatening her with a knife and threatening one of his sons in their Orlando home in 1997.

Johnson was also much talked about as a candidate for the Basketball Hall of Fame. ‘‘If someone is a convicted felon,’’ Hall of Fame president Joe O’Brien said at the time, ‘‘we would eliminate them from consideration.’’

We never heard much about this from his wife, Donna. She did not file charges. But one must figure she was strong in the face of Johnson’s fury. The police report said she told him, ‘‘What are you going to do, kill me? Go ahead.’’

Johnson apparently tried to kill the beast within himself. In the following years, he pleaded to anyone who would listen that he went to counseling and repeatedly apologized to his wife and family. He told the Los Angeles Times that he ‘‘needed to correct myself.’’ He understood how to correct the cost to himself professionally. He got on basketball’s version of the warehouse forklift. He died a minor-league coach.

Johnson told the Globe’s Bob Ryan in 2000, ‘‘People say, ‘Why didn’t she leave you?’ It wasn’t that simple. You’ve got to look at it this way: 22 years invested in a marriage vs. 10 very bad minutes. I knew the next year was going to be bad, and I knew it would be at least that long before I worked again, but I decided I’d have to face the music. I did my counseling. And I never hid ... I tried my best to repair the damage I did.’’

That still leaves Johnson — like most human beings — short of sainthood. But it sounds better than politicians who say they take responsibility without showing how they did. It’s a lot better than O.J. Simpson, who tried to peddle the book ‘‘If I Did It’’ about the murder of his ex-wife, for which he was acquitted, and has paid only a fraction of a $33.5 million civil judgment to his ex-wife’s family.

In a nation where nearly a quarter of women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, experience violence from an intimate partner sometime in their lives, it is important if Johnson really did turn his 10 bad minutes into nearly 10 more years of a healthier marriage before his death. He hasn’t made the Hall of Fame. But NBA commissioner David Stern on Thursday hailed Johnson as ‘‘a man of extraordinary character.’’

Only Donna Johnson knows for sure. If she agrees with Stern, it is because her husband kept coming to the game.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Another Reason I Wish I Was In New York Today

Wildlife Conservation Society

Biologists filmed José the beaver in the Bronx.

NYTimes: After 200 Years, a Beaver Is Back in New York City

A crudely fashioned lodge perched along the snow-covered banks of the Bronx River — no more than a mound of twigs and mud strewn together in the shadow of the Bronx Zoo — sits steps away from an empty parking lot and a busy intersection.

Scientists say that the discovery of this cone-shaped dwelling signifies something remarkable: For the first time in two centuries, the North American beaver, forced out of town by agricultural development and overeager fur traders, has returned to New York City.

The discovery of a beaver setting up camp in the Bronx is a testament to both the animal’s versatility and to an increasingly healthy Bronx River.

A few years ago the river was a dumping ground for abandoned cars and rubber tires, but it has been brought back to life recently through a big cleanup effort.

I Wish I Was In New York Today

So I could see this spectacle.

Telegraph (uk) Blog: I'm George Bush - please kick me

Beginning this afternoon in New York, the British performance artist Mark McGowan will crawl on his hands and knees for 72 hours dressed as George W Bush. He’ll be wearing a sign on his bottom that says: KICK MY ASS.

It’s obviously an extremely important cultural moment and I’m sure that museums and galleries will be lining up to install McGowan permanently somewhere in New York.

The artist will be on all-fours for 72 hours and will circumnavigate Manhattan covering 36 miles. He’ll wear knee pads and a cushion inside his trousers for protection.

Members of the public are encouraged to take part in the performance by actually kicking his posterior.

McGowan has said that he’s “offering the people of America, New York and visitors a service…a kind of therapeutic engagement. Hopefully people will be able to come and kick me (the President, George Bush) as hard as they like, and gain some comfort in the fact that they can say I kicked George in the ass. On a more serious note this is a protest against George Bush and his policies and I am expecting injuries, I just hope not too severe.”

All Time Great Washington Post Headline Juxtapositions

Darth Cheney and Smirky McChimp, immortalized together on the front page of the Washington Post online right now. I wish I knew how to do screencaps, but at least I can cut and paste.

More Headlines
• Cheney Criticizes China's Arms Buildup
• Chimps Seen Making Weapons for Hunting

Tributes to DJ

Apparently Bob Ryan and Dan Shaughnessy, who made their reputations covering the 1980s Celtics, couldn't be bothered. No respect.

Things I learned (or had forgotten) about DJ: Red traded him for Rick Robey. (Which means we Celtics fans lost the great thrill of hearing Bob Cousy announce, 'Wick Wobey with the webound!' We still had Wobewt Pawwish with the webound, though.) He had those Groucho Marx eyebrows. When he wasn't running, he walked like an old man. His arms were freakishly long. He was a cut up. His coaching career was curtailed after he was charged with assaulting his wife in 1997. He, his wife, and their three kids first names all started with 'D'. (Dennis, Donna, Dwayne, Daniel and Denise.) He wasn't recruited by any college, and spent the year after high school driving a forklift. His first professional basketball coach was Bill Russell in Seattle.

Jackie MacMullan, Boston Globe: He always rose to the occasion

ESPN, Bill Simmons, The Sports Guy, Page 2: DJ should have made Springfield while still alive

East Valley (AZ) Tribune: Ex-Sun Dennis Johnson dies

Seattle Times: Biography | All about D.J. Bio

NYTimes: Dennis Johnson, 52, N.B.A. Defensive Wizard, Dies

Seattle Times: Goodbye, D.J., a favorite when Sonics were champs

Hartford Courant: Career Was No Layup
Dennis Johnson Dies; Bird's `Best' Teammate

LATimes: Dennis Johnson, 52; former NBA star played on 3 championship teams One cool customer
D.J.'s toughness, gamesmanship made him special

Metrowest News: Lenny Megliola: Farewell to a true C's great Celtics lose another great
D.J., coaching in NBDL, collapses after practice, dies at age 52

CapeCodTimes: Remembering DJ

Thursday, February 22, 2007

RIP Dennis Johnson: The Best Player Larry Bird Ever Played With

Celtics 1985-86 championship starters (from left) Larry Bird, Johnson, and Kevin McHale at the Boston Garden.
(Globe File Photo)

Like all basketball fans, I was shocked to hear of Dennis Johnson's untimely death today. I was peripherally aware of Dennis Johnson when the Celtics acquired him in 1983. He had been the NBA Finals MVP in 1979, but I was a new college graduate that year and I don't even think I owned a TV that June. Plus he played in the west, so he only played the east coast teams twice a year. I knew DJ as a tenacious defender, a player who was always on the NBA all-defensive team. He was recognizable with all those freckles.

The Celtics had won the NBA championship in 1981, but Tiny Archibald retired at the end of 1983 season. Danny Ainge and Gerald Henderson were no Tiny Archibald, so Red (Auerbach, also recently RIP) went out and pulled another rabbit out of the hat. DJ arrived in Boston with a mixed reputation. He had been traded twice in three years, and Seattle had traded him the year after he was MVP of the NBA Finals, which was weird in itself, and it was rumored he was a problem in the lockerroom. (David Halberstam painted an unflattering portrait of DJ in Breaks of The Game, the best book ever on basketball, as well.) That's the context in which Larry Bird started talking about DJ as the best teammate he'd ever had. He was telling Celtics fans, this guy is your guy.

And if DJ was Larry's guy, he was our guy. And he played like Bird. They shared that hypercompetitiveness and confidence. If Larry wasn't taking the final shot in a game, you wanted it to be DJ. He could have shot 1 for 12 in the game, but if he took a shot with the game on the line he made it. He wanted to take that final shot. He loved to win, and he hated to lose, and he took the game into his hands in those situations. You had to love a player like that.

DJ had a very distinctive style. He always played low to the ground, and when he went for the ball he went in underhanded. He would put a body on a guy when he did it, but unlike everyone else going in and slapping at the ball overhand, DJ hardly ever got called for fouls no matter how much contact there was.

It's a sad day for Celtics fans, and for basketball fans everywhere. Even those who hated DJ respected him. Thanks for the memories, DJ. We'll never forget you. Dennis Johnson Career Statistics

Randy Hill, FoxSports: DJ overcame obstacles time and time again

WaPo: Former NBA Star Dennis Johnson Dies

Dennis Johnson Through the Years: Boston Globe Photo Gallery

Yahoo Slide Show: Dennis Johnson

YouTube: The Play Johnny Most: "Now there's a steal by Bird. Underneath to DJ, he lays it in. Right at one second left. What a play by Bird! Bird stole the inbounding pass. Laid it off to DJ, DJ, laid it up and in. And Boston has a one point lead with one second left! Oh, my, this place is going crazy!"

ESPN Page 2: Ex-hoopsters who should be in Hall

2. Dennis Johnson (23 letters)
I hate the Celtics. I drove in Boston once and one rotary was enough to make me eternally despise all things New England. All things, that is, except Dennis Johnson. While Kevin McHale mugged people down low, Larry Bird practiced his career-long imitation of Rick Barry, and Danny Ainge played basketball as well as any other Blue Jay, Dennis Johnson played defense.

The Hall's lack of Dennis Johnson ranks as one more example of non-white Boston athletes screwed by their sports. Rather than whining about Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach should join Page 2 and recognize that Dennis Johnson belongs in the Hall.
Greg Allison
Las Cruces, N.M.

If I may quote Basketball Jesus, "The best player I ever played with was Dennis Johnson." -- Larry Bird. 'Nuff said.

Get DJ in the Hall.
Shane Papatolicas
San Francisco

Why Does Rafa Want David Villa?

Watch this video and you'll see why.

David Villa free kick v. Inter Milan in yesterday's 2-2 tie.

Bellamy Tees Off

Liverpool's Craig Bellamy, center, celebrates scoring a goal against Barcelona by pretending to swing a golf club in the Champions League first knockout round, first-leg soccer match at the Camp Nou Stadium, Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday Feb. 21, 2007. The gesture appears to be a reference to claims that Bellamy allegedly hit team mate John Arne Riise in the legs with a golf club in a fracas while Liverpool was in Portugal at a training camp preparing for a Champions League match against defending champion FC Barcelona. Bellamy now faces a fine of 80,000 pounds (US$155,000; 118,000) and an uncertain future with the 18-time English league champions, who were recently taken over by a pair of American businessmen. At right is Liverpool's Steven Gerrard. (AP Photo/Peter Byrne/PA)

BBC: Barcelona 1-2 Liverpool

What a game, what a game. Can the defending title holders recover from giving up two away goals? Unfortunately for me I had to watch it time-delayed on ESPN Classic, with Seamus Malin and some other ill-informed boob sitting in the booth in Bristol, Connecticut mailing it in. They didn't even give the line-ups, and maybe that's why it took the morons a full half to figure out that Liverpool newboy Arbeloa was playing left back, not right back (the Stevie Finnan position). And how could they say nothing when Bellamy did the golf swing celebration. How could you not mention the Bellamy-Riise bust-up at that moment? How could you not be aware of it? ESPN, bringing you the very worst in soccer announcers consistently. I guess I should be thankful that I didn't have to listen to Dave O'Baseball. And Liverpool with another improbable win. Can't win in the Premier League, can't lose in Europe. Go figure.

Telegraph: Bellamy tees up Liverpool success (hey, that headline was my idea!)

Telegraph: Bellamy swings it as Barcelona are stunned

Independent (uk): Barcelona 1 Liverpool 2: Bellamy and Riise get in the swing for Liverpool

Richard Williams, Guardian SportBlog: Bellamy rewards the pragmatism of Benítez and stuns Camp Nou
Craig Bellamy repaid Rafa Benítez's faith in him by silencing his critics at the Camp Nou.

Times (uk): Bellamy and Riise swing into action for Liverpool

Guardian: Player Ratings

How can Pepe Reina get an '8' when he waved harmlessly at THREE balls in the box in the final 10 minutes?

Bellamy's coming after me with a driver! Heeeeeellllp!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Mutliple Choice Mittwit

Mitt Romney's position on abortion

Go check out the video of Mitt Romney's gubernatorial debate with Democrat Shannon O'Brien from 2002, posted by BlueMassGroup. Shannon O'Brien is right on when she says "He's not pro-choice. He's not pro-life. He's multiple choice."

I've transcribed some of the portions of the video that will make the anti-choicers heads explode:

"I will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose."

"I am not going to change our pro-choice laws in Massachusetts in any way."

"My position has been the same throughout my political career, and it goes back to the days of 1970. There was a woman who was running for political office, U.S. Senate, she took a very bold and courageous stand in 1970, and that was in a conservative state. That was that a woman should have the right to make her own choice as to whether or not to have an abortion. Her name was Lenore Romney. She was my mom. Even though she lost, she established a record of courage in that regard. She had very strong personal beliefs about what decision she would make for herself and her family if offered to make that choice, but she also made it clear that she thought a woman should have her own right to choose, and believed in the separation of church and state. I have held that view consistently."

"I do not take the position of a pro-life candidate."

Is Lenore Romney rolling over in her grave yet?

Update: The corporate media takes notice: Ruth Marcus, WaPo: Mitt Romney's Extreme Makeover

From there, Romney proceeded to expound one of the odder positions I've heard in years of listening to politicians talk about a subject most would prefer to avoid: "I can tell you what my position is, and it's in a very narrowly defined sphere, as candidate for governor and as governor of Massachusetts," he said. "What I said to people was that I personally did not favor abortion, that I am personally pro-life. However, as governor I would not change the laws of the commonwealth relating to abortion.

"Now I don't try and put a bow around that and say what does that mean you are -- does that mean you're pro-life or pro-choice, because that whole package -- meaning I'm personally pro-life but I won't change the laws, you could describe that as -- well, I don't think you can describe it in one hyphenated word."

Got it? I didn't, and I asked, "Do you support making abortion illegal? I'm not talking about what you would do as governor of Massachusetts."

Romney: "But that's the furthest I'm going to take you right now. I'm governor of Massachusetts, and I'm telling you exactly what I will do as governor of Massachusetts, but I'm not going to tell you what I'd do as mayor of Boston or a congressman or any of those positions."

I reprint so much of Romney's answer (you can read or listen to the full exchange online) because its baroque circumlocutions seemed to say so much about him. It was hard to know what Romney actually thought about abortion rights other than that this was a political minefield it was best to avoid stepping into for as long as possible.

You Go, Pre-Title IX Girls

Stephen Mally for The New York Times

Marlene Carver, 57, leading the pregame warm-ups for the Robins Late Bloomers last Wednesday.

NYTimes: Grannies Are Flexing Their Muscles, Gently

I don't have any nostalgia for six-a-side basketball or being forced to play in zones on the court. When I was in grade school we played that crazy game & I was always a defender, never a shooter, so I hated it; I never got to handle the ball! I love this article about the Granny Basketball League for that picture of those happy athletes finally getting their shot. If I had been born in 1953 instead of 1957, I would never have gotten to play high school sports. (Title IX became law in 1972.) If my sister had been born in 1957 rather than 1961, she wouldn't have gone to college on a basketball scholarship or played professionally. (Scholarships for women were first awarded by the AIAW in 1977.) I'm glad these women finally got a chance to play.
To the theme music from “The Sting,” members of the Cedar Rapids Sizzlers and the Robins Late Bloomers — two of the eight teams in the Granny Basketball League in Iowa, for women 50 and older — took the court. Dressed in white blouses, black bloomers and horizontally striped socks, the women lined up as they would have if their game had been played here in the 1920s.


The games involve teams of six players. Two players from each side must remain in each of the three distinct sections of the court. Running and tight guarding are forbidden, and players can dribble only twice per possession.

Six-on-six basketball was an Iowa staple for girls for most of the 20th century, and it remained a source of pride long after the rest of the nation had adopted the five-on-five game.

Only the Granny Basketball League’s oldest participants saw or played the three-court game. Iowa switched to two courts in 1935, according to Troy Dannen, executive director of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union. Six-on-six games were played exclusively from the late 1800s through 1984, when the style was challenged in court by three girls who argued that it damaged their chances for college scholarships.

To settle the suit, the state agreed to sanction five-on-five and six-on-six competition, with schools choosing which to play. The athletic union’s board voted in 1993 to end six-player teams. At the time, Dannen said, roughly 140 of the state’s 396 schools were still playing it.

But many in Iowa remain nostalgic for the old style and for the dynamic scorers it produced, like Denise Long and Molly Bolin. Long was the first woman drafted by an N.B.A. team; the San Francisco Warriors selected her in 1969, but the selection was disallowed because high school players could not be drafted. Bolin, who was nicknamed Machine Gun, starred in the Women’s Professional Basketball League, which existed from 1978 to 1981.

The state tournament at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines was the ultimate event for Iowa schoolgirls, and the championship game frequently sold out. Those memories play into the Granny Basketball League’s popularity.

“I’m 63,” said Linda Toerper, McPherson’s sister, who plays for the Sizzlers. “But I’m really 16.”


The game also offers a second chance to women who never played in high school. Irene Reinking, a 69-year-old from Cedar Rapids who has 14 grandchildren, stopped playing after eighth grade. “My dad didn’t think practicing basketball was the most important thing in the world,” she said. “So I stayed on the farm.”

Sen. Tim Johnson Update

Good news again -- Senator Johnson has been discharged from the hospital into a rehabilitation facility.


More than two months after suffering a brain hemorrhage, Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) has left a Washington hospital and entered a private rehabilitation facility, his office said yesterday.

NYTimes: Sen. Johnson Moved to Private Rehab Facility

NYTimes Caucus Blog: Johnson Leaves Hospital

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Billionaires for Bush

Estate tax statistics from an article by Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone (on the net on Alternet) on how Bush's budget compares to the estate tax cuts he wants to make permanent. (hat tip to Digby of Hullabaloo)

If the Estate Tax were to be repealed completely, the estimated savings to just one family -- the Walton family, the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune -- would be about $32.7 billion dollars over the next ten years.

The proposed reductions to Medicaid over the same time frame? $28 billion.

Or how about this: if the Estate Tax goes, the heirs to the Mars candy corporation -- some of the world's evilest scumbags, incidentally, routinely ripped by human rights organizations for trafficking in child labor to work cocoa farms in places like Cote D'Ivoire -- if the estate tax goes, those assholes will receive about $11.7 billion in tax breaks. That's more than three times the amount Bush wants to cut from the VA budget ($3.4 billion) over the same time period.

Some other notable estimate estate tax breaks, versus corresponding cuts:

* Cox family (Cox cable TV) receives $9.7 billion tax break while education would get $1.5 billion in cuts

* Nordstrom family (Nordstrom dept. stores) receives $826.5 million tax break while Community Service Block Grants would be eliminated, a $630 million cut

* Ernest Gallo family (shitty wines) receives a $468.4 million cut while LIHEAP (heating oil to poor) would get a $420 million cut

And so on and so on. Sanders additionally pointed out that the family of former Exxon/Mobil CEO Lee Raymond, who received a $400 million retirement package, would receive about $164 million in tax breaks.

Compare that to the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which Bush proposes be completely eliminated, at a savings of $108 million over ten years. The program sent one bag of groceries per month to 480,000 seniors, mothers and newborn children.

And think about how much money the government would have to spend on veteran's benefits if we weren't giving the heirs of Sam Walton billions of dollars.

Georgia State Senator Blocks Bill That Would Free Genarlow Wilson

For extra credit, readers, guess the race of GOP Senate President Pro Tempore Eric Johnson (R-District 1). He is the politician who blocked consideration of the bill which would free Genarlow Wilson and hundreds of others convicted of statutory rape and given mandatory 10-year sentences for consensual sex. Answer (& picture) below.

Karen Russell, HuffPo: GOP Rep. Blocks Bill To Free Genarlow Wilson

Yesterday GOP lawmaker Eric Johnson wrote an op-ed criticizing the bill after he originally supported the bill:

Usually, society complains about sentences that are perceived as too soft. Granted, this sentence was harsh. But it was MANDATORY under the law. Life comes with accountability for our decisions. Genarlow Wilson could have selected different friends to hang with. He could have joined millions of law-abiding teens all over the country enjoying New Years' Eve without alcohol, drugs and sex. He could have left the hotel when "the fun" started. He didn't. He made a choice. Now his life has changed forever. That is sad. I hope other young men and girls will learn from this tragedy and avoid his errors.

Johnson admits the sentence his harsh and tragic, yet he remains willing to throw this young man's life away. As Johnson himself says, "life comes with accountability for our decisions". I say we hold Johnson accountable for his decision to continue this injustice. The Georgia legislature and its flip-flopping leader Johnson must be held accountable for this tragedy. The bill should be placed back on the agenda and Georgians should have the chance to correct this gross miscarriage of justice.

NYTimes: Bill to Aid Georgian Convicted of Sex Crime Stalls in Assembly

ATLANTA, Feb. 19 — The second piece of legislation introduced with the intent of helping Genarlow Wilson, a former honor student and star athlete who is serving a 10-year prison sentence for having oral sex with a 15-year-old classmate, may be in trouble in the Georgia General Assembly.

Senator Emanuel D. Jones, a Democrat, sponsored the legislation, which would make it possible for judges to reconsider the cases of hundreds of young adults, including Mr. Wilson, who are serving long mandatory minimum sentences in prison for having consensual sex with teenage minors. Mr. Jones said the bill was mysteriously left off the agenda of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

And on Monday, the Senate’s leader, Eric Johnson, publicly denounced the bill and said that although Mr. Wilson, now 20, was serving a harsh sentence, he deserved no leniency.

Genarlow Wilson Online Petition

Question Answer: Georgia State Senate Leadership

Unsurprisingly, he's white.

Kirsten Gillibrand in NYTimes

Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

An Albany International Airport worker greeted his new congresswoman, Kirsten Gillibrand, with her mother, Polly Rutnik, and her son, Theo, 3.

Frenetic Start in Congress for One Democrat, Class of ’06

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — When Kirsten Gillibrand was elected to Congress this past November in a tide of Democratic victories, she soon learned that her campaigning was not over.

This political novice found herself in a precarious position: a Democrat trying to represent an overwhelmingly Republican district extending into the state’s North Country, a onetime Manhattan lawyer in a place of factory and mill workers, dairy farmers and retired military veterans.

Now, even as the congratulatory letters continue to trickle in, she often looks like a candidate who is still on the run. Ms. Gillibrand, 40, spends virtually every free moment scurrying back from Washington to her district to attend town hall gatherings, meet-and-greets at local malls and — yes, already — a fund-raiser.

That frenetic pace reflects her uncomfortable reality: that her victory last fall, like the success of Democrats nationwide, may have been an aberration that could be undone with a swing in the mood of the electorate or by formidable opposition.

Politically, the first term is typically when House incumbents are most at risk of defeat. And Kirsten Gillibrand is among the most vulnerable of this group. Even her closest advisers acknowledged during last year’s campaign that her odds of winning were slim, given that she was facing a four-term Republican incumbent in a district where Republicans outnumbered Democrats by roughly 80,000.

Gillibrand was criticized in a recent post on firedoglake for her middle of the road positions and constant fundraising; I don't think people understand just how conservative and Republican her district is. Having grown up there, I do.

More from the NYTimes article on the district:

The passion the war arouses in her district was illustrated at that meeting. A constituent rushed up to her and loudly warned her not to support any of the resolutions that Democrats were considering to express disapproval of Mr. Bush’s proposed troop buildup in Iraq.

Pointing directly at Ms. Gillibrand, the man, Dave Browner, told her that many lives were at stake. “You’re in the big leagues now,” he said, his voice rising. “Any resolution will put our troops in danger.”

Then, as he turned and began storming off, Ms. Gillibrand did something that seemed to disarm him: she gently held him by the arm and thanked him for his thoughts. But ultimately, she did not commit to a position.

(As it turned out, on Feb. 16 she voted for a nonbinding resolution denouncing the president’s plan but including two simple clauses expressing support for the troops.)

Roots in the District

Such passions typify the 20th Congressional District, a bedrock Republican area that encompasses dairy farms, stretches of Adirondack State Park and the northern counties of exurban New York City, including Columbia and upper Dutchess, areas that have increasingly drawn New York commuters and second-home buyers.

I'm not sure if this is good news or not for Gillibrand (I no longer trust the Grey Lady after they withheld information about Bush Administration lawbreaking before the 2004 election, and then there's Judy Miller and the Clinton attacks of the 1990s) but the Times says this article is part of continuing series:

The Freshman
Settling In
This is the first article in a series that will chronicle Kirsten Gillibrand’s first year in Congress.

Wildlife Spotted

This bobcat was photographed by a woman in her backyard in Barre, Mass., west and north of Worcester. (Worcester Telegram)

Try Not To Think About This While You're Going Through Airport Security

BoingBoing: TSA site pwned by identity thieves

The TSA's website was hacked by identity thieves who used the "Click here if you're on a no-fly list" to harvest personal information. Lots of sites get pwned by hackers. Most of those sites aren't run by entities who claim that they're keeping the skies safe by taking away our toothpaste. Is it any wonder that an organization that thinks flip-flops are made safer by passing through the X-ray machine is incapable of managing to secure its own servers?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Supporting The Troops, Republican Style

Smile for the photo op, soldier! caption: President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush talk with Sgt. Patrick Hagood of Anderson, S.C., Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2005, during their visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. White House photo by Paul Morse

The Hotel Aftermath
Inside Mologne House, the Survivors of War Wrestle With Military Bureaucracy and Personal Demons

Returning veterans who have served in the army of AWOL McFlightsuit and five-deferments-I-had-other-priorities Darth Cheney are treated like shit by the underfunded Veterans Administration. But aren't you glad millionaires are getting all those great tax cuts!

This may be the worst story in the article; this poor double amputee was left off the guest list for a White House ceremony because his missing legs would show. Sick.

Perks and stardom do not come to every amputee. Sgt. David Thomas, a gunner with the Tennessee National Guard, spent his first three months at Walter Reed with no decent clothes; medics in Samarra had cut off his uniform. Heavily drugged, missing one leg and suffering from traumatic brain injury, David, 42, was finally told by a physical therapist to go to the Red Cross office, where he was given a T-shirt and sweat pants. He was awarded a Purple Heart but had no underwear.

David tangled with Walter Reed's image machine when he wanted to attend a ceremony for a fellow amputee, a Mexican national who was being granted U.S. citizenship by President Bush. A case worker quizzed him about what he would wear. It was summer, so David said shorts. The case manager said the media would be there and shorts were not advisable because the amputees would be seated in the front row.

" 'Are you telling me that I can't go to the ceremony 'cause I'm an amputee?' " David recalled asking. "She said, 'No, I'm saying you need to wear pants.' "

David told the case worker, "I'm not ashamed of what I did, and y'all shouldn't be neither." When the guest list came out for the ceremony, his name was not on it.

Here's the link for the first part of the story from Sunday's WaPo.

Has Anyone Told John McCain?

I don't think Tom Brady has been practicing abstinence, do you?

Boston Globe: Tom Brady's former girlfriend pregnant
Actress identifies Patriots QB as father

Boston Herald: Daddy oh! Bridget’s pregnant, but Tom has no plans to marry ex-galpal

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Support the Troops is Just a Catchphrase in Bushworld

Hey, man, we're just here for the photo op. caption: President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush talk with Sgt. Patrick Hagood of Anderson, S.C., Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2005, during their visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. White House photo by Paul Morse

Here's your compassionate conservatism. Walter Reed Army Medical Center is a frightening labrynth where soldiers and their families are left to cope basically on their own, a direct result of the starvation diet veteran's programs have been on via Bush's tax cutting war budgets. Plus, Chimpy McFlightsuit would rather scatter $10 billion dollars to a bunch of lowlife leeches like Halliburton than fund care for the soldiers he sends off to fight his war. Shame. Maybe Bush's handlers could send him into Building 18 so it will get cleaned up for the photo-op?

WaPo: Soldiers Face Neglect, Frustration At Army's Top Medical Facility

Behind the door of Army Spec. Jeremy Duncan's room, part of the wall is torn and hangs in the air, weighted down with black mold. When the wounded combat engineer stands in his shower and looks up, he can see the bathtub on the floor above through a rotted hole. The entire building, constructed between the world wars, often smells like greasy carry-out. Signs of neglect are everywhere: mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses.

This is the world of Building 18, not the kind of place where Duncan expected to recover when he was evacuated to Walter Reed Army Medical Center from Iraq last February with a broken neck and a shredded left ear, nearly dead from blood loss. But the old lodge, just outside the gates of the hospital and five miles up the road from the White House, has housed hundreds of maimed soldiers recuperating from injuries suffered in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


While the hospital is a place of scrubbed-down order and daily miracles, with medical advances saving more soldiers than ever, the outpatients in the Other Walter Reed encounter a messy bureaucratic battlefield nearly as chaotic as the real battlefields they faced overseas.

On the worst days, soldiers say they feel like they are living a chapter of "Catch-22." The wounded manage other wounded. Soldiers dealing with psychological disorders of their own have been put in charge of others at risk of suicide.

Disengaged clerks, unqualified platoon sergeants and overworked case managers fumble with simple needs: feeding soldiers' families who are close to poverty, replacing a uniform ripped off by medics in the desert sand or helping a brain-damaged soldier remember his next appointment.