Saturday, November 17, 2007

What's In a Name?

This New York Times article has a nifty graphic that lets you see how common your last name is. I'm in the 3000s; of every 100,000 people, 4 will have my last name.

Of course, the point of the article is that are a lot more people of Hispanic origin in this country, which is why all this anti-immigration hysteria by the party of the white males is going to redound against them some day. Unless the Democrats are stupid enough to take the advice of the Democratic consultants, Hispanics should be solidly in the Democratic column.

NYTimes: In U.S. Name Count, Garcias Are Catching Up With Joneses

Stop Crazier-Than-Cheney Rudy Giuliani: An Ongoing Series

Rudy Giuliani is batshit crazy, and he's leading the Republican field to be their 2008 candidate. This scares the shit out of me, because George W. Bush was dumb as a stump and he lead the Republican field in 2000 -- and look where that got us. So we'll be collecting the stories about the nutjob in the race, so our readers can get the word out: Rudy is crazy, and he must be stopped.

Glenn Greenwald, Rudy Giuliani's messianic paranoia

[F]ar more significant [is] Giuliani's expressed view of what he thinks his mission will be as President. After proclaiming that "America has a special, even a divinely inspired role in the world," Giuliani vowed:

It was this nation that saved the world from the two great tyrannies of the 20th century, Nazism and Communism. It's this country that's going to save civilization from Islamic terrorism.

So Islamic Terrorism is no longer merely "a threat to our freedoms." It isn't even just an existential threat to our country any more. It's been upgraded rather severely in Giuliani's mind: it's now a threat to civilization itself. And Rudy Giuliani is running for President because he is "going to save civilization" -- his words -- from the Terrorists.

In one sense, this isn't surprising. After all, Giuliani -- with barely any attention from the press -- has assembled a foreign policy team led by someone who just wrote a book declaring "World War IV" and whose "prayers" consist of the deranged plea that bombs be dropped now on Iran.

Boston Herald: Jakes to rip Rudy over 9/11 legacy
Converge on Granite State

A group of New York City firefighters who lost brother jakes in the 9/11 attacks is taking its anti-Rudy Giuliani message to New Hampshire this weekend, blasting the Big Apple’s ex-mayor for “exploiting” the catastrophe for political gain.

The New York City Firefighters & Families will be spreading its “Rudy’s No Hero” campaign at firehouses and diners in the Granite State tomorrow and will host a town hall forum at Dartmouth College on Monday.

“We want them to know about him. He’s saying he’s the big 9/11 hero. It’s a big fabrication,” said New York Fire Deputy Lt. Jim Riches, whose firefighter son Jimmy died at Ground Zero. “He failed to prepare us for 9/11.”


“America’s mayor” has been dogged by New York firefighters who claim he misrepresented his leadership before and after the attacks. Chief among the group’s complaints are that the New York Fire Department had the same malfunctioning radios on Sept. 11, 2001, that failed during the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

“Why did they give radios to my son that didn’t work?”
Riches asked. “I want him to answer all the questions and admit the mistakes that were made.”

The group also says Giuliani cut the recovery effort short, allowed human remains to be shipped to a Staten Island dump, falsely declared the Ground Zero air safe and didn’t provide rescue workers adequate respirators.

Here's a link to the video about how Giuliani's failure to get the FDNY new radios after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing contributed to 343 firemen dying on 9/11.

The Village Voice: Runnin' Scared
Crisis-Mode Rudy
Just wait till the rest of the country sees Giuliani unhinged

But what about Rudy's maxims? After all, a president has to have some moral touchstones for political action. Here's one of Rudy's: "Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do and how you do it."

Dexter Shoe Founder Dies

When I was in high school, we took summer vacations in Maine, and usually did some school shopping while we were there. Thus I was introduced to Dexter Shoes. They had outlets all over the state of Maine, and they were manufactured in Maine. And they were cheap!

Harold Alfond, who died yesterday, was the owner, and he sold out to Warren Buffet in 1993; less than 10 years later, those Maine factories were closed and the production offshored.

While all the obituaries pay tribute to his generosity, apparently he wasn't so generous towards the workers who made him rich:


Alfond donations such as the one to MaineGeneral always bring favorable publicity — and rightfully so.

But whenever there's an announcement of his generosity, or another glowing television report, there is also grumbling from people who say they knew a different Harold Alfond.

There are many who knew him as a hard-driving boss. People who worked in his factories.

So if Alfond is now considered Maine's very own Santa Claus, there are a raft of former employees who still — years after they left shoe shops behind — consider him a real-life Scrooge.

"Sweat shops," said Royce Libby of Skowhegan, referring to the Alfond-led factories where he worked for 20 years. "That's the only way I can describe it."

Libby and others remember grueling days of hard labor that paid poorly and offered few benefits. They remember longtime workers fired for arriving a few minutes late. They remember unsympathetic foremen who pushed workers beyond their limits.

Workers remember Alfond as a boss who would visit the factories sporadically. Once there, he'd sometimes gather employees around, exhorting them to work harder in the face of foreign competition.

It's unclear if Alfond's factories were harder places to work than others during a time of heavy industry. It's equally unclear if it was Alfond's desire to compete and win that led him to push his workers.

But it is clear that hard feelings toward Alfond linger in some parts of central Maine.

Alice White, 63, of Clinton once worked in a Norrwock Shoe factory.

She was 17 and recently married when she went to work there.

"Was it a good place to work?" she said. "No. We worked like hell."

White jokes that everyone should have a chance to work in an Alfond-run factory, because the experience creates an appreciation for every other workplace.

But White was serious when she said many of Alfond's workers led tough lives. They worked hard to support their families. They did the best they could. And, White said, they could have used even a miniscule bit of the generosity Alfond now is so famous for.

I recall a pair of boat-like shoes with huge white soles (I think I'm wearing them in a couple of high school yearbook shots) fondly and with a little embarrassment -- they were really awful.

Anyway, that's why this obituary jumped out at me today.

Bangor Daily News: Maine philanthropist dies at 93; his generosity to live on

Boston Globe: Harold Alfond, gave generously for healthcare and sports

Kennebec Journal (2005): Historical Profile: Alfond’s pockets deep, more than likely open

Friday, November 16, 2007

Democratic Debate Highlight Reel

Couldn't stomach watching Wolf Blitzer bloviate or ask for a show of hands on irrelevant questions? Or watch Republican wife Campbell Brown (married to Republican aparatchick Dan Senor) questioning the Democrats last night? Here's a video of less than 10 minutes of the highlights. Hat tip to Talking Points Memo.

My summary: Hillary polished, Obama green, Edwards in attack mode, but crowd against attacking fellow Democrats (BOO! they said), Biden funny, "journalists" tried to play gotcha but failed.

And Dailykos is Junior High School Level....

And I pride myself on writing clearly. Maybe not so much.....

cash advance

You can click on the link to test your favorite blog.

Sweeney Pleads To A Lesser Offense

Former U.S. Rep. John Sweeney, left, walks out of the Town of Clifton Park court with his lawyer, E. Stewart Jones, after pleading guilty to DWI Wednesday, Nov. 14. (Philip Kamrass / Times Union)

Amazingly, this multiple DWI loser only loses his license for 6 months (and he can petition to get it back once he attends drunk driver's school, what a joke), and only pays a $1,000 fine. You and I would have faced much harsher consequences, I imagine. The glasses are a nice touch. You always want to look serious after getting caught on the Northway drunk with a girl your children's age in your lap.

Albany Times-Union: Sweeney makes plea, apologies
Ex-congressman fined $1,000, has license suspended for driving drunk

CapitalNews9: Sweeney accepts plea deal (with video link)

Barroid Indicted

The Home Run Steroid King has been indicted by the feds in California, four perjury counts and one obstruction of justice, for lying in testimony to a federal grand jury in 2003. I can't decide. Is this a sad day for baseball, or a day of joy? I suppose it's both. Sad that baseball let itself get to this position by ignoring the rash of Mr.-Potato-Head home run hitters in the 1990s, and joy that the most brazen of the lot will be taken down. It's a little like Al Capone being jailed over back taxes, though; we really wish Barry could be charged with being a junkie, but we'll take the lying indictments.

And any excuse to post this picture:

"Ruth did it on hot dogs and Beer. Aaron did it with class. How did YOU do it?"

The Smoking Gun: Barry Bonds Indicted (the indictment itself)

San Francisco Chronicle: Barry Bonds indicted on 4 perjury counts, obstruction of justice

The Sporting News: Bonds indictment: How others see it
Excepts from commentary from news organizations across the web

Krugman to Obama: There. Is. No. Crisis.

Paul Krugman, NYTimes: Played for a Sucker

Lately, Barack Obama has been saying that major action is needed to avert what he keeps calling a “crisis” in Social Security — most recently in an interview with The National Journal. Progressives who fought hard and successfully against the Bush administration’s attempt to panic America into privatizing the New Deal’s crown jewel are outraged, and rightly so.


But the “everyone” who knows that Social Security is doomed doesn’t include anyone who actually understands the numbers. In fact, the whole Beltway obsession with the fiscal burden of an aging population is misguided.

As Peter Orszag, the director of the Congressional Budget Office, put it in a recent article co-authored with senior analyst Philip Ellis: “The long-term fiscal condition of the United States has been largely misdiagnosed. Despite all the attention paid to demographic challenges, such as the coming retirement of the baby-boom generation, our country’s financial health will in fact be determined primarily by the growth rate of per capita health care costs.”

How has conventional wisdom gotten this so wrong? Well, in large part it’s the result of decades of scare-mongering about Social Security’s future from conservative ideologues, whose ultimate goal is to undermine the program.


I don’t believe Mr. Obama is a closet privatizer. He is, however, someone who keeps insisting that he can transcend the partisanship of our times — and in this case, that turned him into a sucker.

Mr. Obama wanted a way to distinguish himself from Hillary Clinton — and for Mr. Obama, who has said that the reason “we can’t tackle the big problems that demand solutions” is that “politics has become so bitter and partisan,” joining in the attack on Senator Clinton’s Social Security position must have seemed like a golden opportunity to sound forceful yet bipartisan.

But Social Security isn’t a big problem that demands a solution; it’s a small problem, way down the list of major issues facing America, that has nonetheless become an obsession of Beltway insiders. And on Social Security, as on many other issues, what Washington means by bipartisanship is mainly that everyone should come together to give conservatives what they want.

We all wish that American politics weren’t so bitter and partisan. But if you try to find common ground where none exists — which is the case for many issues today — you end up being played for a fool. And that’s what has just happened to Mr. Obama.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

England Pays Women Footballers a Pittance

BBCSport: England women angry at £40 wage

Teamtalk (uk): England's women earned £40 a day
England women's team can scarcely believe their talent is worth only £40-a-day each - the payment they received at the recent World Cup.

England's Football Association probably spent more money on airfare for all the mucky-mucks to go to China to pat themselves on the back about all they've done for women's football. While paying the players like counter help at McDonald's. Go ahead, wear the national team jersey for pride. Because you're not in it for the money, unless you're a man.

No wonder Kelly Smith kissed her boots -- she was looking for holes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

USSoccer Hires Pia Sundhage

USSoccer's search committee made short work of the search for a new coach for the USWNT, hiring Pia Sundhage yesterday. (BTW, her name is pronounced Soond-hahg-Eh.)

This is a good hire for so many reasons:

1. A woman should be coach of the national team. (I meant to link to this Christine Brennan column earlier. Yes, Christine, a woman should be the coach. You are late to the party, but correct.)

2. She has international experience as a player (Sweden's all-time-leading goal scorer, 6th in the 2000 voting for FIFA player of the century).

3. She has international experience as a coach (WUSA, Swedish league, China)

4. She wants the USWNT to play a possession style of football.

5. She has coached Kristine Lilly in the past (Boston Breakers) so will have that advantage in dealing with the change in strategy, Lilly's place on the team, and the reconciliation of Hope Solo.

6. I am cautiously optimistic that she will reunite Hope Solo with the team. She said in the press call announcing her appointment that Solo would remain with the team and that she is a good goalkeeper. Not exactly ringing endorsements, but given the strong positions taken on all sides it will be difficult to repair.

The woman was so popular in Sweden that they put her face on a postage stamp. Let's hope she leads the US to another gold medal at the Olympics next year.

NYTimes: New Coach for Women’s U.S. Soccer Team

USAToady: U.S. Soccer hires new women's team coach

ESPN: Sundhage to reshape U.S. team's offensive style

SoccerAmerica: Swede takes charge of U.S. women's coach [sic]

Gillibrand: Grants, Not Earmarks

Kirsten Gillibrand, the Congresswoman for NY-20, has come up with a great strategy for bringing money into her district. Rather than concentrate only on earmarks, she has her office helping her constituents apply for federal grant money.

In March, Gillibrand launched "grants central" on her Web site, and staff members in her D.C. office began counseling local officials on how to apply for grants.

Gillibrand's aides do not write the applications for the groups and officials seeking help. Instead, she said, she and her staff "facilitate" the grants by giving information to local residents and writing letters of support to accompany the applications.

Gillibrand jokes that half of her 15 staff members have become "experts" on grants. Staffers at the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service say no other office has contacted them for as much information about available grants.

Gillibrand also started up a regular electronic newsletter listing funding for farmers, firefighters, schools and local government. At first, the newsletter had about 30 subscribers. Now it has topped 1,000.

And the office has tallied up $11.7 million in grants to cities, counties and programs in upstate New York since she started the initiative.

They include:

$184,000 from the USDA to help the town of Schroon, Essex County, pay for the final upgrades to a wastewater treatment plant.

$172,900 from the Department of Homeland Security to help the Davenport (Delaware County) Fire Department buy new vehicles.

$278,000 from the USDA to help the small Catskill Mountain region town of Margaretville, Delaware County, replace a well destroyed by flooding.

That's what you get when you elect a smart person to Congress. A smart idea! And people who aren't trying to strangle government actually try to help it run properly. Competence!

Albany Times-Union: Gillibrand inspires $11.7M in grants
Representative builds ties with key groups through program that helps them apply for federal money

Congressman KickAss Arrested

The Union College party in 2006; trolling for a date?

Former Congressman John Sweeney was arrested Monday for aggravated drunk driving. He was pulled over on the Northway (I-87) and blew a .18 on the breathalyzer. No surprise given his history of drunk driving incidents:

In 1978, Sweeney, then 23, was convicted of driving while ability impaired after being stopped in Rensselaer County. That didn't keep him from becoming the county's Stop-DWI coordinator four years later. He was elected to Congress in 1998.

In 2001, Sweeney slammed a Jeep into a utility pole on his way home from the Willard Mountain ski area, cutting power to part of Washington County. At the time, State Police said Sweeney took his eye off the road to adjust the radio and lost control on the gravel on the right shoulder. No charges were filed.

[from earlier in the story]

In April 2006, the Union College student newspaper, the Concordiensis, ran photos of Sweeney at a college fraternity party. Students quoted in that story and in the Times Union said Sweeney appeared intoxicated, a charge he later denied.


Sweeney and his ex-wife, Gayle, finalized their divorce in September. The pair exchanged allegations of domestic abuse last summer, with Gayle Sweeney saying she feared for her life. In 2006, the Times Union obtained a State Police dispatch report which showed Gayle Sweeney called police in December 2005, alleging her husband was "knocking her around."
Sweeney was also reportedly in a bar fight in 2004.

The surprise part of Sweeney's arrest is the 23-year-old woman on his lap. Maybe he met her at Union College last spring? Or one of his children introduced him to on of their friends. Local Republicans are probably just happy that it wasn't a 23-year-old man.
Albany Times-Union: Source: Sweeney passenger a shock
Arresting State Police officers in DWI case surprised to find a woman on ex-congressman's lap

Let's hope Sweeney sees the light and goes into alcohol rehab; at least the judge should take away his driver's license. He is a menace to society, thinking he can drink and drive and break the law with impunity.