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Four of My Favorite Things

I got to combine four of my favorite things last weekend: time with Vicki, a visit to Monterrey, bike riding and the Firesign Theater. My favorite comedy troupe from the 1960s is giving what they have said, in at least one venue, might be their final live concert. That alone would make the tip exciting. Those of you who know Vicki may be surprised that she's willing to come to the concert, as the Firesign boys are not her taste. However, she does like Monterey and bicycle riding--and, for that matter, me--and decided she'd just as soon see a comedy performance she's lukewarm about as sit around in the B&B while I see it. The weather's going to be cool and cloudy--just the way I like it. Details upon our return.

The Truth About Torture, Where It Came From, Who Brought It Here

Let's cut to the chase. No amount of mealy-mouthed obfuscation, desperate chatter, or careful legal analysis can obscure the fundamental facts here: what the Bushies did to the "high value" detainees was torture, and worst of all it didn't do any good. Talk about pointless AND useless! Not to mention in total contravention to everything America stands for. We don't torture. When Bush said that, he was lying, and he knew he was lying. You can spin legal arguments all day, but as the science fiction writer Douglas Adams once noted, even if you do prove black is white and white is black, you'll be run over by a truck the next time you use a [marked road] crossing. As one poster noted at TPM: "If only Saddam Hussein had been smart enough to solicit a legal opinion from his government lawyers that gassing people was within the law, he could have been playing golf in Myrtle Beach right now."

The prosecution of torturers has nothing to do with retribution or the politicization of policy differences and everything to do with honoring the sacrifice, in altogether too many cases the ultimate sacrifice, of our parents and relatives who defeated Nazi Germany in World War II. Our parents did not serve and sacrifice so Nazi tactics would be implemented, defended, admired, paid for, and rewarded by the United States Government. As confirmed by a recent official unanimous bipartisan Senate report, the torture tactics of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan were brought to America by George W. Bush whose grandfather helped finance Hitler. George W. Bush is the fifth in a line of politicians who have betrayed our country.

First, Nelson Rockefeller, as Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs during World War II, arranged for the Standard Oil Company, in which he and his family held substantial amounts of stock, to sell oil to the Nazis through South America. This oil fueled the Nazi war machine which killed uniformed American soldiers, sailors, and aviators.

Second, Richard Nixon, as a Presidential candidate in 1968 was recorded on audiotape, encouraging the South Vietnamese government to thwart the peace proposals being made to end the conflict in Vietnam by the President of the United States of America, Lyndon Johnson. Nixon's treachery resulted in the continuation of the war and the deaths of thousands of uniformed American soldiers, sailors, and aviators.

Third and fourth, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, as, respectively, candidates for President and Vice President in 1980, encouraged the Iranian government to continue to hold Americans hostage at the U.S embassy in Tehran in return for a promise of weapons if Reagan won the election. After Reagan was inaugurated he kept his promise and secretly delivered the weapons to what Reagan referred to as the terrorist government of Iran.

In 1986, in violation of an explicit Congressional ban on support to terrorists in Nicaragua and as reported by a major American television network, Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush caused weapons to be delivered to the terrorists in Central America in exchange for illegal drugs which were then unlawfully imported into the United States. The terrorists supplied by Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush in Nicaragua murdered many people. The number of people who died in the United States as a result of the illegal drugs Reagan and Bush caused to be unlawfully imported into the United States is not known.

Barack Obama solemnly swore that he would preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States which, due to the application of Article VI and the Convention Against Torture, requires prosecution, if supported by the evidence, of those who engaged in or enabled torture. A prosecution by the Obama Administration's Justice Department (or a Special Prosecutor) would not involve retribution (political or otherwise) of any type, kind, or description. Each prosecution would just be Barack Obama faithfully executing that which he solemnly swore to do as required before the people of the United States let him begin executing the duties of President. The investigations and, as appropriate, prosecutions exemplify a forward looking focus on the future.

But you don't have to look as far back as WWII. How about this year?

The United States Senate Armed Services Committee official bipartisan report (without apparent dissent from any Senator of any party) arguably establishes that George W. Bush conspired to commit torture.

Others with potential criminal culpability (which could result in sentences of multiple lifes in prison to be served consecutively) based on the official government report include Richard Cheney, David Addington (an alleged attorney serving as an advisor to Cheney), Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of State Condoleezea Rice, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, United States Circuit Judge Jay Bybee, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, John Rizzo (an alleged attorney who allegedly worked for the CIA), Jonathan Fredman (an alleged attorney who allegedly worked for the CIA's CounterTerrorist Center), Defense Department General Counsel William Haynes, Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez (commander of U.S. and "coalition" forces in Iraq), U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller (commander of the Guantanamo detention operation), and U.S. Army General Richard Myers, then the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The report also stated that the deaths of two detainees in U.S. military custody were homicides.

According to the Senate Armed Services Committee: "The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of 'a few bad apples' acting on their own. The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees. Those efforts damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies, and compromised our moral authority."

Republican Jack Goldsmith, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel, wrote that a memorandum written by United States Circuit Judge Jay Bybee essentially stated the policy that the President and actions taken at the direction of the President are not subject to United States law. This policy was first enunciated and followed by Republican President Richard Nixon who was impeached by the House in July 1974 and resigned early the next month after the Republican leadership of the Senate informed Nixon that he would become the first U.S. President to be convicted and removed from office if he did not resign.

There are two possible punishments for impeachment and conviction. The first is removal from office. The second is permanent unpardonable disqualification from holding any federal office. Under the U.S. Constitution, Richard Cheney could be elected to, and serve, two full terms as President. The House Judiciary Committee has not commenced hearings to determine whether Richard Cheney should be impeached, convicted and permanently disqualified from holding any federal office (for example, President).

And, of course, have you communicated with your representative and senators to direct and instruct them to impeach and convict alleged torture enabler United States Circuit Judge Jay Bybee currently collecting a government salary and purporting to dispense justice in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit? If so, what response did you receive? If not, why not? He's getting ready; he's retained a defense attorney.



  • Goldman's games
  • The big banks and their affiliated securities houses (joined at the hip since Bill Clinton, Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, and Phil Gramm repealed Glass Steagall) are pleased to offer the American investing public a Royal Left Handed Threaded Big Screw.
  • The political descendants of Rose Mary Woods, or, a shredding we will go.
  • The effort should be to stop any bank mergers resulting in a bank with assets in excess of $50B to $75B and, over time, to break-up any banks with assets in excess of $100B. In the interim, banks with over $100B in assets should be required to be very well capitalized (with cash and stable immediately marketable U.S. government obligations on the order of at least 20% of assets - the bankers may object that this will reduce profits - too bad).
  • Summers and Geithner are stupid and/or warped and/or co-opted and/or corrupt enough to support this debt to equity conversion plan. The key issue: Is Obama stupid enough?
  • Elliot Spitzer case: we still don't know everything. Spitzer was posed to shut down predatory lending just before the Feds took him down, in a case in which he was never charged, and in which there was, in any case, no possible federal charge.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid to discuss the creation of a congressional panel to investigate the causes of the financial crisis and worsening recession.

State of Play

4 stars out of 5

Cards on the table; the closest I ever came to blowing the lid off something was when I revealed the sneaky rehiring of a disgraced former power company executive, who was re-fired after my article appeared--and all I had to do was read the footnotes in the proxy statement.

I'm going to divide this review into two parts: about the movie qua journalism movie, then a few words about the movie as an entertainment.

By my ranking, it falls short of five stars on both fronts. As a journalism movie, it offers a few howlers, and a basic plot hole. As entertainment, it's fast-paced and entertaining, but not exactly thought-provoking or artistic.

There are two scenes in this film which guarantee it a place in the pantheon of journalism movies, both of which could be said to be paying homage to the past. The montage of the newspaper being printed which plays out under the end credits recalls the similar black and white montage which opened Frank Capra's 1928 classic black and white film The Power Of The Press, but of course this time the scene is in color and features modern equipment, including a newsprint delivery robot.

The other scene which guarantees the film immortality is a pale echo of Humphrey Bogart's, "That's the sound of a free press, baby," from Deadline USA, and William Conrad's, "and it only costs a nickel" speech from -30-. Universal has cleverly removed all trace of the script from the Internet, so I'll have to wait for the DVD to transcribe the speech, but Russell Crowe, as Washington Globe reporter Cal McAffrey lectures Ben Affleck as Rep.Stephen Collins with a speech that begins, "Why, because people don't read newspapers any more?" and ends with "printing the truth." It's a pale echo because it's short, both in terms of length and soaring rhetoric.

Also pale is the echo of the slammed doors that faced Woodward and Bernstein (or Hoffman and Redford, if you will) in All The President's Men. In this case, Rachel McAdams, playing Internet columnist Della Frye, conducts "real" reporting, in the face of slammed door after slammed door, hang up after hangup. While not as relentless as the cinematic original, it marks the first time in years a journalism movie has spent much quality time showing reporters doing actual reporting. Which is kind of amazing, since there is no sign of journalism in the résumés of screenwriters Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilroy and Billy Ray--except that Billy Ray did write another excellent recent journalism film, Shattered Glass, about the downfall of the New Republic's Stephen Glass (reviewed here).

Many of the old familiar journalism movie memes are on display here. One is the messy newsroom, with the messiest desk belonging to the protagonist. In an era when most screen heroes are middle or upper middle class--as are most journalists-Crowe plays McAffrey as an affable Irish drunk. The kind of person who couldn't get a job at a daily newspaper in any market larger than Waco, Texas, and certainly not at the Washington Post clone which is the Washington Globe in this film. The recent corporate takeover may seem "ripped from the headlines," but it too is venerable, most visibly in Deadline USA, where the new owners are shutting the paper down, as opposed to merely emasculating it, as they are in this film. The crusty managing editor is a journalism movie trope older than sound pictures, with the twist that it can now sometimes be a woman. It was Glenn Close in The Paper, and now it is Helen Mirren as Cameron Lynne in State Of Play, turning in another first class performance, in which she ravages the reporters in private and defends them in public, just like a real ME. And, when the story is hot enough, she tells the accountant to buzz off when he reminds her that holding the presses costs $20,000 an hour. OK, it's true only an idealized managing editors would ever do that, and almost none today, more's the pity.

On the other hand, the movie introduces at least two features that I have not seen before in a Hollywood journalism film: an Internet desk (whose columnist Della Frye is an equal partner in the reporting of the big story), and frequent references to the imminent collapse of the newspaper--not from a sale or merger, but just from the end of newspapers in general.

The engine that runs the story, alas, is a conflict of interest that would not be tolerated at any newspaper larger than a weekly shopper: Crowe, the central reporter on the story is best friend of and former roommate of the central figure, Affleck, and the managing editor knows it. A reporter might get away with this if he kept his management in the dark, but that's not how it's played here. In fact, R.B. Brenner of the Washington Post, who served as a journalism consultant on State of Play, says he told the filmmakers this was unrealistic. They decided the story was, with reference to this element, more important than fidelity to real-world journalistic practice. (Check out an audio interview with Brenner at the Washington Post site)

Strictly from the entertainment point of view, State of Play is a bit pat, but with a few nice twists. A young man is shot to death in an alley. A young woman jumps in front of a train. Turns out the murder and the suicide are related. The police don't want to talk, but as always, the reporter runs rings around the detectives. The woman is an aide to the senator, who admits, early on, that he was having an affair with his intern. But it turns out the reporter (is having? Once had?) an affair with the senator's wife as well. There are mercenaries, and they are certainly all more noble than most mercenaries I've ever heard of, and more cooperative with reporters. The reporters work hard to find the truth (even though the police tell them to lay off), and have the story put to bed when there is a sudden last minute twist. I don't do spoilers, so aside from telling you that the film doesn't end when it seems to, I won't tell you exactly what happens.

When it rains it pours; after months of no mainstream Hollywood journalism movies, State of Play opened April 17. The Soloist opens April 24; it features Steve Lopez, of the Los Angeles Times (Robert Downey,Jr,) writing about, and saving, a homeless but musically talented Jamie Foxx, and will be reviewed here as soon as possible.

Neal Vitale Reviews (on DVD): Elegy

4.5 stars out of 5

In Elegy, an aging celebrity professor (TV and radio shows, articles in The New Yorker) has an affair with a student, which becomes the backdrop for a (re)examination of his life - his behavior, his relationships, and his emotions. It is an unusually mature and finely-crafted film, well-written, elegantly staged, and beautifully acted. Sir Ben Kingsley (Transsiberian, The Wackness) plays opposite Penelope Cruz (Oscar winner for Vicky Cristina Barcelona) in the lead roles, and create one of the most believable "May-December" romances that I've seen on film, through subtlety and restraint. Dennis Hopper, Patricia Clarkson, and Peter Sarsgaard add strong supporting performances. (Blondie lead singer Deborah Harry has a very small part, but is still instantly recognizable.) Elegy ends on a note of ambiguity and uncertainty that somewhat undercuts what has preceded, but it is nonetheless a very fine film that merits watching.

Neal Vitale: Day One In The Desert

Despite a life of loving music and attending countless live performances, I had never been to a multi-day, multi-act event - I had missed Woodstock, Monterey, Newport, New Orleans, etc.. The Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival (CVMAF), held a couple of hours east of Los Angeles, beckoned, but I had resisted its charms over the years, even while tempted by the prospects of performances by the Arcade Fire, Prince, and Bjork. It just seemed like too much of a hassle, I was too old, it'd be too hot, blah, blah - I had plenty of excuses.

But I have a 15-year-old daughter, Marissa, and, for her, the prospects of going to Coachella were intoxicating (even if Dad went along). For me, a little father-daughter bonding would be icing on the cake. So I booked a hotel, bought tickets for the three-day event ($269 per person, plus fees), and coordinated with a few adult friends to meet for at least a day at the festival. Marissa knew she would see plenty of her classmates from Marlborough School.

Last Thursday, after school, we decamped for the desert. CVMAF takes place in Indio, a town of about 50,000, southeast of Palm Springs by roughly 25 miles. Indio is in the Coachella Valley, the bulk of which is occupied by the Salton Sea. We stayed in LaQuinta, a few miles west of the Empire Polo Club festival site. (Small world note - Marissa is an equestrian, and she has participated in a six-week event called "Horse Shows In The Sun" that, until recently, took place each winter at  the Empire Polo Club. So this was fairly familiar territory.)

The gates open at 11am each day (Friday-Sunday) and the music generally starts around noon, and runs through at least midnight. There are five venues - a large "main" stage, the moderately smaller "Outdoor" stage, and three tents - Gobi, Mojave, and Sahara. To give you some idea of the size of the site, there is amazingly little "bleed" of sound from one powerfully amplified stage to the next. While there is a constant throb of bass throughout the day, the sound from one performer is remarkably free from neighborly intrusion. Each act (other than the main stage headliner that ends each evening) is allotted 45-55 minutes, which makes for tightly-focused sets, and disaster if there's an equipment problem.

The festival has a strong online presence (, in the weeks leading up to it, Marissa and I were tracking who was playing when and planning our viewing. With none of Friday's early bands high on our list, we ate lunch at the hotel - not quite sure what we'd find on the grounds - and aimed to get to CVMAF around 3:30pm. The day was in the 80s, a far cry from what can be blistering desert heat. Other than a significant delay in getting into the (free) parking lot, the trip from the hotel was uneventful. We were a major hike away from the stages, though, so it took us a while to get in. Long security lines added to the time, and we arrived a little behind schedule. We Are Scientists were wrapping up their set on the main stage; we hurried over to the Gobi tent to catch a few painful minutes of LA hip hop duo People Under The Stairs.

We grabbed some water - the theme of music in the desert is hydration - and headed back to the main stage to connect with a couple of friends. One had come in from Gloucester, MA, and brought her two teenage sons; the other was from Santa Barbara - her daughter was also at the festival, but on her own, and their contact was purely by cellphone. In the background (but not far enough), Mexican rap-metal band Molotov raised quite a clamor as we waited for The Airborne Toxic Event. Their set was energetic and powerful, and the beauty of the venue started to register. As the sun began to move toward the surrounding mountains, gorgeous gleaming vistas were picked up by on-stage cameras and reflected on the flanking video banks.

Akron, OH, blues rock duo followed and, while their crunching thick sound was faithfully recreated live, there wasn't much of a spark - we might as well have been listening to CDs (admittedly cranked past 10 on the volume dial) - and we wandered off. Some went off to see M. Ward and then Conor Oberst, both in more rocking modes than one would have expected from their recordings, and I went to catch snippets of bands at the tents - Los Campesinos!, The Hold Steady, The Ting Tings, Buraka Som Sistema, and Felix Da Housecat. The Sahara tent was the techno/dance/DJ spot for the weekend, and you could usually find a mass of bodies bobbing to a pounding electronic beat - my glimpse of Felix Da Housecat was a sliver of stage above pulsating outstretched arms, a scene that would be repeated a few hours later for sampling master Girl Talk. For the rest of my stay at CVMAF, I stopped short of Sahara.

I swung back to the main stage to catch a few songs from Scottish rock group, Franz Ferdinand - polished, tight, and energetic, keeping a large audience on its feet. The sun was close to setting, and I was cajoled by my friends to see Leonard Cohen on the Outdoor stage. I wasn't enthusiastic but went along - how many more chances would I have to see the 74-year-old Cohen? We squeezed down front, to about the second row from the stage on the right. Cohen is a poet who has written numerous great songs - "Suzanne," "Hallelujah," "Dance Me To The End Of Love," "I'm Your Man," and "Bird On A Wire" - mostly made famous by other singers. I was worried that the soft rock arrangements and Cohen's croak would be offputting. But I shouldn't have been - he turned in a magical, enchanting set. Cohen radiated warmth, humility, and engagement, and the crowd loved him.

It was barely 8:30pm when Cohen finished, so the night was still young. The property is scattered with art, much of which is best suited for darkness. There is a fire-spined metal serpent, towers producing lightening, a three-dimensional multi-colored LED display, twisting bands of purple plastic and light, and an enormous metal hand that is used to grab and toss around junk cars. Arty New Mexico band Beirut was playing its exotic, vaguely Eastern European tunes in the Mojave tent as I headed back to the Outdoor stage. LA band Silversun Pickups ran through a screeching, shrill set, while former Smiths singer Morrissey - the king of mope rock - battled  sound problems on the main stage. 

But Friday night belonged to Paul McCartney. On the anniversary of the death of his wife Linda, McCartney played for over three hours - 50 minutes past curfew, at $1,000 per minute of fines - some 30+ songs. Those who stayed said it was great - emotional, exciting, and memorable, for many their only time ever hearing a Beatle perform. But, for Marissa and me, we listened to a few songs - I thought the set started sluggishly, with "Jet" and "Drive My Car" feeling slow and labored - and headed out. I had seen McCartney a few years earlier and had great memories of a solid show, it had been a long day, and Marissa has no particular connection to the Beatles, Wings, or any other Sir Paul incarnation. We got back to LaQuinta  in minutes, well before midnight, and went for a late night snack. [My friends stayed to watch and listen. They got to their car around 1:45am and, after hours in the traffic lines, to their hotel at 4:30am. We canceled getting together for breakfast for Saturday.]

FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS: Leonard Cohen, The Airborne Toxic Event

[Next week - Day Two in the Desert]

New Google Stuff, Time-Warner Backdown, Mac V. PC, Dan Grobstein File

  • A friend writes with a few good links:

    Google rolls out search changes

    I just ran across Similar Images yesterday. For example I did an image search for "golden gate", picked one result and got this collection of similar images, right down to the framing and lighting conditions.

    He also found two in Business Week:
    Time Warner's CEO said "It is clear from the public response over the last two weeks that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about our plans to roll out additional tests on consumption-based billing." The point he seems to be missing is that the public knew exactly what was going on, that "great deal of misunderstanding" was in the board room of Time Warner. Time Warner Cable Backs Away from Pricing Change

    Mac vs. PC: What You Don't Get for $699
    A 17-in. PC may cost a lot less than a 17-inch Mac. But you get less, too, including security, multimedia tools, and, some say, satisfaction



Dan Grobstein File

  • What with the merging of sections and the new ads at the bottom of the front page the new slogan of the times should be "all the news that fits we print". I know that phrase is not original with me.
  • U.S. / POLITICS | April 20, 2009
    Picking Letters, 10 a Day, That Reach Obama
    An official assembles a briefing book of the letters, which offer the president a way to keep in touch with the public.
  • I believe that France also has rules which tell you what you can name
    your child.

    From The New York Times:

    Name Not on Our List? Change It, China Says

    Untold numbers of Chinese have characters in their names that a new
    system for ID cards cannot process....


At the risk of being accused of a bad case of cranky old man disease, I would like, once again, to complain about change. I am not all that fond of change. I am facing the prospect of change at work next year, both in supporting technology and possibly my schedule. If I could just teach the same three classes for the same three periods for the rest of my career, I think I would be a happy camper. As Ian Shoales once put it, "a middle-aged man likes change about as much as he likes a heart attack."

I have had to change my diet, because, as I was warned, a diet that is perfectly good for weight maintenance eventually becomes not good enough as your body adapts to it. The same goes for my exercise regimen. Worked for 18 months. Has begun to stop working, which is scaring the heck out of me. Watch this space to see if I really swim as often and as long as I hope this year. My goal: at least three times a week, and eventually 32 laps (up from the 20, then 22, at which I have started in a 25-yard pool).

I am not facing any serious changes in my personal life--everyone is alive, well, healthy and as happy as can be expected.

Still doesn't mean I like the changes I am facing.

And a final note about site maintenance--I know the "now showing" and "dvd" movies are out of date in the bar down the side of the column. I am still behind from my spring break vacation in Oregon. I just got an Iphone, and moving my life into it is, of course, proving time consuming. The promise, is, of course, that I will have one device that will replace my palm pilot, my ipod mini and my faltering telephone. If only I can figure out how to work it, and load up everything I need on it (and can someone tell me why the built-in Iphone contact search sucks so bad that I have to pay for an application to search my contacts?)

I am sure I will look back on all this someday and laugh. I hope I am laughing from a happy place and not some blasted out crater.

Last Week in Politics

  • Hmm? Can you think of anyone would pay more than market value for this stuff? Seems to be a clear constitutional Bill of Rights violation because the absolute inviolable individual right to bear arms made from this stuff is apparently infringed.
  • Speaking of which, why does the NRA fail and refuse to advocate for the cessation of the infringement of the clear and absolute constitutional right to bear personal arms constructed from this material? After all, if one has a home on residential property (say a typical ordinary residential square 30 miles on a side with the house tucked into an upwind corner at an elevation of about 3,000 feet above sea level and a 14,000 foot mountain range bisecting the property), these personal arms certainly can be used in defense of one's home and surrounding land (especially the downwind side of the property).
  • Wrong! What transparency will do is make civil servants more likely to follow the clear mandates of national and international law in the future (one wonders if they would cross a rush hour freeway (say the 10 between downtown LA and the beach about 4:30 p.m. any weekday afternoon) on foot against traffic if they had a legal opinion telling them it was lawful). Since these techniques will not be used in the future it is irrelevant if some train to withstand techniques to which they will never ever be subjected by the U.S. There will be no substantial involvement or embroilment of lower level officials (those not elected by a nationwide vote or long-time employees of a given agency) because they can be given full immunity for everything except perjury or obstruction of justice in their comments and actions after they receive immunity.
    "What the intelligence officials want to hide is that--even after they did this damage to Abu Zubadaydah (though before the ICRC called it torture in 2007)--Steven Bradbury wrote an OLC memo declaring this treatment legal."
  • The primaries are starting early: Pelosi for President (talk about relatively low probability events)
  • Ridicule by Obama's spokesperson (a paid employee of the public) of those asking whether the Obama Administration would stand for justice and assist, when asked, those seeking to bring torturers to justice. This is not change. This is smug, arrogant, supercilious, belittling, degrading Ari Fleisher and Dana Perino all over again.
  • Something is very seriously wrong if Joe Biden is silent. Biden was elected directly by the people's representatives in the Electoral College; his oath is to the Constitution as opposed to any other person or official. Perhaps Biden will do a better job of remembering this than the job done by Colin Powell who reportedly thought he had some obligation of loyalty to George W. Bush rather than to the oath of office Powell took willingly, freely, and voluntarily.
  • How dumb can we be in Iraq?
  • Mother Jones magazine: "Our treasury secretary hopes to circumvent laws enacted to protect the economy by subsidizing a bunch of multimillionaire investors—ostensibly to help regulators fulfill their most basic job description—in a bid to prop up bankers who cooked their books to support a gambling binge and still refuse to admit they lost."
  • Use a line prompt, go to jail (at Boston College) (honest students use icons?)
  • We were thinking about bombing North Korea
  • Veteran of United States Army and United States Marine Corps commits truth (thereby disqualifying himself permanently from joining preponderance of Washington journalistic press corps) by truthfully advising Rush Limbuagh that he (Limbaugh) is a "brainwashed Nazi" due to, inter alia, his support of torture. Audio here
  • Report by Prof. Scott Horton, lawyer and correspondent for Harper's Magazine, confirms Pres. Obama and Attorney General Holder violate their oaths of office by failing to investigate conspiracy to torture by a now-sitting federal appellate judge, an employee of a major American oil company, the former Attorney General, and three other former government employees:
  • Franken wins in Minnesota Senate race per Minnesota Election Contest Court
    While The NYTimes did note in the first sentence that Franken was the victor ("A three-judge state panel Monday declared Al Franken, a Democrat, the victor in a Senate race here that has dragged Minnesota through prolonged litigation and recounts."), Nagourney went on to write this false statement: "By any measure, this latest ruling – the latest in a string against Mr. Coleman – further diminishes his hopes of holding on to his seat."
    The seat is in no sense Coleman's. Coleman has not been a U.S. Senator since about Jan. 6, 2009, when the senators elected in November 2008 (with the exception of Franken) were sworn into office. If the seat belongs to anyone it belongs to the people of Minnesota. Coleman has not been paid for any work in the Senate since about Jan. 6, 2009, which was the ending date of the term Coleman won after his opponent, U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone, was killed two weeks before the 2002 election and a few days after Senator Wellstone appeared to gain a lead in pre-election polls.
    The Associated Press did not distinguish itself either in its reporting of Franken's victory: "A Minnesota court confirmed Monday that Democrat Al Franken won the most votes in his 2008 Senate race against Republican Norm Coleman."
    At least one observer missed the AP report after the Jan. 2009 counting of the electoral votes won in the Nov. 2008 election in which AP alleged that Barack Obama won the most electoral votes but failed to report that Obama won the election.
  • Ex bureau director Freeh apparently admits to assisting a foreign nation in circumvention of Congressional arms control oversight.
    Did Freeh look the other way (deliberately or recklessly or negligently) (when the bureau field agents were stopped from making inquiries which probably would have prevented the events of 2001) for Bandar and the Saudis in the run-up to September 2001 which happened a matter of days after his successor took over at the bureau?
    What role, if any, did Freeh play in getting all of the Saudis out of the U.S. by plane just after (or before) the U.S. air system was opened for U.S. citizens in 2001?

ISPs Bandwidth Plans, Nilsson spots the Anti-Rush Effect

Lucky for all of us, one of my friends keeps track of the whole ISP/Internet world and can serve us up only the best, most interesting links:

Cable Industry Jumps in to Defend Bandwidth Caps,2817,2345370,00.asp

Free Press Debates the Cable Lobby on Internet Penalties

Phone company shelves unpopular Internet cap plan

Bob Nilsson writes:

If anyone was worried about the bad effects Rush Limbaugh and his kind have on this country, it turns out people of his ilk may push Americans in the opposite direction. Benjamin Sarlin connects some dots in his blog.

Also FYI, I saw The Paper on cable the other night and would put it near the top of my list of best movies.

Which means Bob agrees with my assessment of The Paper.