Saturday, June 09, 2007


U.S. President George W. Bush (L) presents Pope Benedict XVI with a walking stick, hand carved by a former homeless man from Texas, during their meeting at the Vatican June 9, 2007. REUTERS/Plinio Lepri/Pool (VATICAN)

I'm not concerned for the tender sensibilities of Joey Ratz or the Catholic church, but shouldn't we expect the President to have some sense of decorum? Shrub gets pretty ticked off if people don't genuflect to him.

News24: Bush in holy gaffe

Vatican City - US President George W Bush drew gasps at the Vatican on Saturday by referring to Pope Benedict XVI as "sir" instead of the expected "His Holiness", pool reporters said.

They could clearly hear the US leader say "Yes, sir" when the pope asked him if he was going to meet with officials of the lay Catholic Sant'Egidio community at the US embassy later during his visit.

A handful of pool reporters were on hand as Benedict greeted Bush at the door of his private library ahead of a private audience of about half an hour.

On his way to see the 80-year-old pontiff, the US leader apparently recognised someone he knew, and could be heard greeting the person with a casual "How ya doin'?"

The pool reporters also noted Bush's relaxed posture, crossing his legs "Texan style" while facing the pope across his desk in the private study of the apostolic palace.


Blue Mass. Group: Tort Reform Zealot Robert Bork Sues the Yale Club for $1M

We all remember Robert Bork, right? Reagan nominated him to the Supreme Court but we liberals kept him off. (Whoo, liberals, whoo!) Ted Kennedy described Bork and his philosophy in these immortal words (which helped sink his nomination), ""Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of government." Bork is also a long-time proponent of tort reform (or as we lawyers call it, tort deform) which would severely curtail access to the courts for individuals.

Mr roll-back-the-clock Borkie wants compensatory and punitive damages because he fell down and got a boo-boo. He was climbing onto a dais and fell off. Apparently he was the only person at the event who couldn't make the step up.

He seeks actual damages which he claims are in excess of $1,000,000, punitive damages, interest, and attorney's fees.

One of his tort reform buddies at the American Enterprise Institute called the suit "embarrassingly silly." I must concur.

Wildlife on Hidden Camera

Today's Boston Herald has an article trashing the MBTA for raising the rails of trains so that wildlife can cross unimpeded. Typical right wing complaining about public spending.

I liked the cool gallery of images of wildlife caught on hidden camera that accompanied the article.

Friday, June 08, 2007

It's a Bird, It's a Plane...

Who is this?

Photo courtesy Sports Illustrated.

hat tip Joy of Sox

Footie News

Oguchi Onyewu taunts the fans after being sent off in the 73rd minute.

The US men's national team eked out a 1-0 win against Guatemala in the Gold Cup last night. Not carried on English-speaking TV, but I watched it on Telemundo. The good news: Great goal by Clint Dempsey (video here), with assists from Taylor Twellman and DaMarcus Beasley. Bad news: Despite being played in California, the crowd was 90% Guatamelan. More bad news: Oguchi Onyewu got sent off with a second yellow red card. He really lost his cool with the flopping of Guatemalan ace Carlos Ruiz. The other good news is that I didn't have to listen to Dave O'Brien, who was doing the MLS game on ESPN2. I tuned in after the USMNT game to hear O'Brien intone "It's a final, US 1, Guatemala 0, and Clint Dempsey responsible for that score." What an idiot. Dempsey scored a goal; he isn't responsible for the score of the whole game. Listening to O'Brien talk about soccer reminds me of reading a badly translated menu in a Chinese restaurant. (ESPN so does not get soccer. One of their graphics for a player last night said, "Played in England for two years". So -- was he playing pickup in Holland Park, or in the Premier League? It was probably somewhere in between, but ESPN doesn't think American soccer fans would know the difference between the Premier League and League Two.)

This week US Soccer dedicated Field 1 at the Home Depot Center to Glenn "Mooch" Myernick. Soccer fan Drew Carey donated $160,000 to the Mooch Myernich Memorial Fund.
The fund was established to help increase the number of children playing the sport in metropolitan communities nationwide, and to assist soccer clubs and organizations in urban areas to create and sustain soccer opportunities for local underserved children. Prior to Tuesday’s event, the Foundation had already raised more than $100,000 from individual and corporate donors in Myernick’s honor to help support the growth of soccer in major metropolitan areas across the country. An assistant coach for the USA in the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cup, Myernick was universally admired, respected and loved by all those whose lives he touched. He passed away in October of 2006 at the age of 51.

David Beckham lead England to a 3-0 win over Estonia in their crucial Euro 2008 qualifier. He set up goals with beautiful crosses in to Peter Crouch and Michael Owen. Watch the video of the goals here; Joe Cole's goal was even better. It reminded me of Maxi Rodriguez's goal in the World Cup. The English press isn't finished with Beckham; today's alarming news story puts Becks at high risk for deep vein thrombosis if he tries to travel to England games from LA.

I've discovered a new women's soccer blog, USA Women's Soccer. Filled with news, but I can't figure out how to link to individual posts. This one's about halfway down the May archive:

This one slipped under the radar, but the National Soccer Hall of Fame revamped its election rules at its April 28 board meeting. Instead of the top two vote getters (provided they get over 50% of the vote) getting elected plus the possibility of a third player getting elected if he/she received over 80% of the vote, the new rule states that any candidate that receives over 75% of the vote will be elected to the Hall of Fame. While each Hall of Fame has a different election process, this is the same percentage required as the final round of voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Basketball Hall of Fame, while the Football Hall of Fame requires 80% of the vote. And in case you're curious, if the new rules were in place for the 2007 election, Joy Fawcett still would not have been elected as she only received 67.25% of the vote.

So Appropriate on "Paris Hilton Goes Back to Court" Day

Media crews and the paparazzi wait outside hotel heiress Paris Hilton's home, in the West Hollywood area of Los Angeles, June 7, 2007. (Gus Ruelas/Reuters)

I just turned on the TV to check the weather report and cable news channels have gone Paris Hilton mad. Why didn't I think of dropping my law day job, getting a little plastic surgery, and going on TV? I could be on MSNBCNNBCSBC right now fawning breathlessly over this non-story. Will Paris get to court on time? Will she get sent back to -- horrors -- jail? Meanwhile, the G-8 Summit addressing global warming and the fate of the planet is being ignored. The Iraq Clusterfuck is being ignored; how could this be, what happened to journalism?

Paul Krugman's column today is essentially the obituary for journalism. You know what I say: Journalism is dead; long live the corporate media. The corporate infotainment, bread-and-circus media is the cockroach that will survive us all.

NYTimes: Paul Krugman, Lies, Sighs and Politics (TimesSelect wall; also here and here.)

In Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate, Mitt Romney completely misrepresented how we ended up in Iraq. Later, Mike Huckabee mistakenly claimed that it was Ronald Reagan’s birthday.

Guess which remark The Washington Post identified as the “gaffe of the night”?

Folks, this is serious. If early campaign reporting is any guide, the bad media habits that helped install the worst president ever in the White House haven’t changed a bit.

You may not remember the presidential debate of Oct. 3, 2000, or how it was covered, but you should. It was one of the worst moments in an election marked by news media failure as serious, in its way, as the later failure to question Bush administration claims about Iraq.

Throughout that debate, George W. Bush made blatantly misleading statements, including some outright lies — for example, when he declared of his tax cut that “the vast majority of the help goes to the people at the bottom end of the economic ladder.” That should have told us, right then and there, that he was not a man to be trusted.

But few news reports pointed out the lie. Instead, many news analysts chose to critique the candidates’ acting skills. Al Gore was declared the loser because he sighed and rolled his eyes — failing to conceal his justified disgust at Mr. Bush’s dishonesty. And that’s how Mr. Bush got within chad-and-butterfly range of the presidency.


SI Neg. 2003-12114. Date: 2003...Pacific Lions Paw shell on exhibit at the National Museum of Natural History
Credit: John Steiner (Smithsonian Institution)

News on some stories we've covered previously:

The Washington Post has an article on racist vote-suppressor Hans A. von Spakovsky and his nomination to the Federal Elections Commission; did you know that half the career lawyers in the Voting Rights Section of the Justice Department left during his tenure there? He is a very bad man and must be stopped. Call your Senators; or call these Senators, on the Rules Committee.

Connecticut substitute teacher Julie Amero has been granted a new trial. Now that I think about it, I may not have covered this previously, but I should have; she was convicted for being in an elementary school classroom with a computer running Windows 98 that was filled with porn popups. If that was a crime, half of America would be in jail. If anyone should go to jail, it's Bill Gates or some other Microsoft honcho. Vive la Firefox. Or Safari. Anything but Windows.

Boston College has hired assistant Katie King (three-time Olympic medal winner) to replace sexual harasser Tom Mutch. From the Boston Globe article: "Two-thirds of the Division 1 head coaches in women's hockey are men and only three of Hockey East's are female."

Looks like Joe Scarborough "I-don't-know-nothing-about-that-dead-intern-in-my-office" is leading the pack to replace Don Imus. He's certainly qualified; why just this week, he said this about Fred Thompson's wife Jeri:

Scarborough asks Crawford, "Have you seen Fred Thompson's wife?" Crawford: "Oh yeah." Scarborough: "You think she works the pole?"

I can't believe he'd say such a thing about the shy, retiring Mrs. Thompson:

Paul Wolfowitz, recently shorn of girlfriend, checks out Fred Thompson's assets. He is not looking at her face.

Bush on a Toot

NYTimes: Bush Skips Some Sessions at Group of 8 Due to Illness

HEILIGENDAMM, Germany, June 8—President Bush became ill with a mild stomach ailment Friday morning, forcing him to skip some working sessions and the so-called “family photo” of leaders of the world’s wealthiest democracies, but is now “back on schedule,” a top aide said.

U.S. President George Bush enjoys a cold drink in historic Heiligendamm, Germany, Thursday, June 7, 2007. The leaders of the G8 nations are holding their annual summit in the sea resort on June 6-8, 2007. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

U.S. President George Bush laughs while enjoying drinks with colleagues in historic Heiligendamm, Germany, Thursday, June 7, 2007. The leaders of the G8 nations are holding their annual summit in the Baltic sea resort on June 6-8, 2007. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

U.S. President George Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, enjoy a cold drink in historic Heiligendamm, Germany, Thursday, June 7, 2007. The leaders of the G8 nations are holding their annual summit in the sea resort on June 6-8, 2007. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

ABCNews: Illness Sidelines President Bush at G-8 Summit; Doctor Is Monitoring His Health

U.S. President George W. Bush enjoys a non-alcoholic beer before an official dinner in Heiligendamm June 7, 2007. Leaders from the world's major industrialised nations meet in the Baltic resort of Heiligendamm on June 6-8 for a Group of Eight (G8) summit. (Philippe Wojazer / Reuters)

Non-alcoholic beer, my ass. Number one, there ain't no such creature. All non-alcoholic beer contains some small percentage of alcohol. Recovering alcoholics don't drink non-alcoholic beer. Number two, look at that man. That is not a non-alcoholic beer, and he doesn't have a stomach bug. Here in reality-land, that's called a hangover.

Paris Hilton Free; Genarlow Wilson STILL Rots in Jail

Never thought I'd mention Paris Hilton on this blog, but here goes. OK, tell me race and class don't matter anymore in America. Paris Hilton gets released after 3 days of a 45 day sentence; Genarlow Wilson gets a 10-year sentence for conduct that is now a misdemeanor punishable by six months, and he still rots in jail two years later.

DailyKos: Paris Hilton VS Genarlow Wilson

For those of you unfamiliar, here's a CNN report on Genarlow Wilson's case:

Even though the prosecutor in the CNN piece says he'd be in favor of releasing Wilson, the prosecutor's office opposed the latest appeal by his lawyers, which will be decided Monday.

WaPo: Court Hears Appeal in Teen Oral Sex Case

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Owl Delays Euro 2008 Qualifier

Yesterday, a Euro 2008 qualifier between Belgium and Finland was delayed by an owl on the field; it was a beautiful Eurasian Eagle Owl, and had a great time flying around. Finland eventually won 2-0.

hat tip to Towle Road (& Coach Mom)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

RIP Robert F. Kennedy

Hard to believe that it has been 39 years since Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Robert F. Kennedy's Speech on Martin Luther King's death:

Ted Kennedy eulogy for Robert F. Kennedy:

US 4, China 1

Highlights of the US's 4-1 win over China this weekend, with goals by Beasley, Feilhaber, Dempsey and Onyewu:

hat tip to Who Ate All The Pies?

Go Fill Your Gas Tank

40% of the world's exported oil travels through the Strait of Hormuz, and the biggest cyclone since recordkeeping started in 1945 is barreling towards the Strait. Gas prices will go up.

DailyKos: Cyclone Gonu Shuts Strait of Hormuz - Fill Your Tanks

Anyone who has visited the Gulf states knows that they build to the coastline on sandy land that is mere inches above sea level. The mountain ranges behind the flat plains are marked with wadis - dry river beds - that are ideal conduits for flash floods. The picture below is the Qalhat LNG terminal, with cities being just bigger spreads of such construction.

Now imagine massive rain, 100 mph winds and tidal surges of 1-2m inundating and pounding those plains simultaneously. As of yesterday the official line being spun from the Gulf was not to worry, that the oil would keep flowing. As of this morning, I find that line impossible to believe.

WaPo: Thousands Evacuated Ahead of Cyclone

MUSCAT, Oman -- Oman evacuated tens of thousands of people Wednesday, suspended oil exports, and closed the major port of Sohar as a weakening Cyclone Gonu roared toward the Strait of Hormuz _ the world's major transport artery for Persian Gulf oil.

Oil prices rose amid forecasts that the storm _ a rarity in the region _ was barreling toward Iran.

'How's Your Summer Going?'

Matt Damon on David Letterman this week:


My friend Mary Peck makes the papers!

Lip service

Canandaigua Elementary teacher Mary Peck kisses the floor of her classroom every time all her students get their homework in on time. For her retirement year, the class hopes to have 50 days of perfect homework records. Thursday was 44, and they have 13 days left for the final six.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Scooter, Go To Jail. (Pardon Pool Starting)

Jail? Who, me?

Scooter Libby was sentenced today to 30 months in jail and a $250,000 fine. How soon before Bush pardons him? I've got January 19, 2009: The last day possible. A little "fuck you" to the justice system as Chimpy crawls back to Crawford.

Of note, the letters in support of Scooter were released by the court. One of the pleaders for mercy for poor, pitiful Scooter? James Carville. He should hand in his Democratic Party membership right now and join his wife's party.

And The Leading Republican Is....

Leslie (he calls himself Wolf) Blitzer? He dominated tonight's debate.

hat tip to Atrios; graphic from the Chris Dodd blog.

There's a Shock

Fat cat Roberts Court Proves Good for Business
Business has a lot to cheer about as the Supreme Court term enters its final month.

Business boasts seven wins and only two losses after the June 4 ruling in Safeco Insurance Co. of America v. Burr decided together with GEICO General Insurance Co. v. Edo, which limited the ability of consumers to sue under a credit-reporting law and came just a week after the court's 5-4 decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company Inc. In that case, the justices reversed decades of practice that allowed people to file complaints years after the initial event by insisting on a tight, 180-day timeframe for filing pay discrimination complaints under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which covers employment decisions based on gender, race, religion, national origin, etc. The decision is likely to make it harder to press pay discrimination suits because employees often don't know for several years that other workers are being paid more.

Call Your Senators

And tell them to say NO to Leslie Southwick's lifetime appointment to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The guy thinks it's OK to call someone a "good ol' nigger" in the workplace. He thinks it's OK for homosexuals to lose custody of their children. He's wrong for America in 2007. Use the link below to write to your Senator. Then call him/her tomorrow. The Senate Judiciary Committee votes on his nomination tomorrow.

Congressional Switchboard: Senate (202) 224-3121

Alliance for Justice: Say NO to Southwick

Nan Aron, HuffPo: One of These Things is A Lot Like The Other

Only one senator has expressed opposition to Judge Southwick: Barack Obama (D-IL).

RIP Steve Gilliard, A Fighting Liberal

Steve Gilliard, leftie blogger who ran The News Blog, died on Saturday morning. He was only 42 years old. I was incredibly sad to hear of his death even though I'd never met him. Steve was the first "big" blogger ever to run a post of mine; we exchanged two emails which was the sum total of our interaction; but he was the second blog I read every day (after Big Blue).

What made him special: His powerful voice. He knew more about military history than anyone on the 'net. He hated Rudy Giuliani and knew why Al Sharpton gets respect. He was the only soccer fan among the major bloggers. He loved New York. And even though I disagreed with him part of the time, I respected his point of view all of the time. He will be missed, terrbly.

The News Blog has a Paypal button for anyone wanting to contribute to help his family with funeral expenses.

Jon Swift has a roundup of blog tributes to Steve.

My all-time favorite Steve Gilliard post/manifesto:

You know, I've studied history, I've read about America and you know something, if it weren't for liberals, we'd be living in a dark, evil country, far worse than anything Bush could conjure up. A world where children were told to piss on the side of the road because they weren't fit to pee in a white outhouse, where women had to get back alley abortions and where rape was a joke, unless the alleged criminal was black, whereupon he was hung from a tree and castrated.

What has conservatism given America? A stable social order? A peaceful homelife? Respect for law and order? No. Hell, no. It hasn't given us anything we didn't have and it wants to take away our freedoms.

The Founding Fathers, as flawed as they were, slaveowners and pornographers, smugglers and terrorists, understood one thing, a man's path to God needed no help from the state. Is the religion of these conservatives so fragile that they need the state to prop it up, to tell us how to pray and think? Is that what they stand for? Is that their America?

Conservatism plays on fear and thrives on lies and dishonesty. I grew up with honest, decent conservatives and those people have been replaced by the party of greed. It is one thing to want less government interference and smaller, fiscally responsible government. It is another thing entirely to be a corporate whore, selling out to the highest bidder because the CEO fattens your campaign chest. They are building an America which cannot be sustained. One based on the benefit of the few at the cost of the many. The indifferent boss who hires too few people and works them to death or until they break down sick. Cheap labor capitalism has replaced common sense. "Globalism" which is really guise for exploitation, replaced fair trade, which is nothing like fair for the trapped semi-slaves of the maquliadoras. In the Texas border towns, hundreds of these women have been used as sex slaves and then apparently killed,the FBI powerless to do anything as the criminals sit in Mexico untouched by law.

For the better part of a decade, the conservatives made liberal a dirty word. Well, it isn't. It represents the best and most noble nature of what America stands for: equitable government services, old age pensions, health care, education, fair trials and humane imprisonment. It is the heart and soul of what made American different and better than other countries. Not only an escape from oppression, but the opportunity to thrive in land free of tradition and the repression that can bring. We offered a democracy which didn't enshrine the rich and made them feel they had an obligation to their workers.

Bush and the people around him disdain that. They think, by accident of birth and circumstance, they were meant to rule the world and those who did not agree would suffer.

Liberal does not and has not meant weak until the conservatives said it did. Was Martin Luther King weak? Bobby Kennedy? Gene McCarthy? It was the liberals who remade this country and ended legal segregation and legal sexism. Not the conservatives, who wanted to hold on to the old ways.

It's time to regain the sprit of FDR and Truman and the people around them. People who believed in the public good over private gain. It is time to stop apologizing for being a liberal and be proud to fight for your beliefs. No more shying away or being defined by other people. Liberals believe in a strong defense and punishment for crime. But not preemption and pointless jail sentences. We believe no American should be turned away from a hospital because they are too poor or lack a proper legal defense. We believe that people should make enough from one job to live on, to spend time on raising their family. We believe that individuals and not the state should dictate who gets married and why. The best way to defend marriage is to expand, not restrict it.

It was the liberals who opposed the Nazis while the conservatives were plotting to get their brown shirts or fund Hitler. It was the liberals who warned about Spain and fought there, who joined the RAF to fight the Germans, who brought democracy to Germany and Japan. Let us not forget it was the conservatives who opposed defending America until the Germans sank our ships. They would have done nothing as Britain came under Nazi control. It was they who supported Joe McCarthy and his baseless, drink fueled claims.

Without liberals, there would be no modern America, just a Nazi sattlelite state. Liberals weak on defense? Liberals created America's defense. The conservatives only need vets at election time.

It is time to stop looking for an accomodation with the right. They want none for us. They want to win, at any price. So, you have a choice: be a fighting liberal or sit quietly. I know what I am, what are you?

: Steve made the NYTimes, in death if not in life.

NYTimes: Steven Gilliard Jr., 42, Dies; Founder of Liberal Political Blog

Sawx Fans Mawk A-Rawd

Fans at Fenway Park in Boston wear blonde masks as New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez goes to bat in the first inning of their baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston Friday, June 1, 2007. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

A-Rod getting caught with a stripper (not his wife) by the tabloids brought out the blonde ambitious at Fenway for their three-game series this weekend. A-Rod had the last laugh when he hit a home run off Papelbon to win the third game Sunday night, but the Yankees are still 12 1/2 games back and going nowhere.


For more photos of the blonde bombshells at Fenway, check out this photo gallery.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Word of the Day

The American Kakistocracy


Kakistocracy, rule by the least-able or least-principled of citizens, is a form of government in which the people least qualified to control the government are the people who control the government.

The origin of this word is Greek, derived from the superlative of the Greek adjective kakos (bad), the superlative form being kakistos (worst).

Hat tip to this dailykos diary.