Tuesday, January 31, 2006


This is the best ever. Check it out, via Crooks and Liars.

What We Have Here is a Failure to Anticipate

This article was in yesterday's New York Times and I was remiss in not posting it last night. The article documents, yet again, the Administration's "failure to anticipate" problems of this world.

Can you believe this?

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledged Sunday that the United States had failed to understand the depth of hostility among Palestinians toward their longtime leaders. The hostility led to an election victory by the militant group Hamas that has reduced to tatters crucial assumptions underlying American policies and hopes in the Middle East.

"I've asked why nobody saw it coming," Ms. Rice said, speaking of her own staff. "It does say something about us not having a good enough pulse."

How embarassing is this?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

They Like Us...They Really Like Us

Well, is there hope for Americans after all? Here's a snippet from a story in today's Washington Post about a recent poll.
The poll also shows that the public prefers the direction Democrats in Congress would take the country as opposed to the path set by the president, that Americans trust Democrats over Republicans to address the country's biggest problems and that they strongly favor Democrats over Republicans in their vote for the House.

and this:
By 54 percent to 38 percent, voters surveyed said they would vote for the Democratic candidate over the Republican candidate for the House in November. That is one of the largest margins favoring the Democrats in two decades, although the gerrymandered House districts mean that incumbents are safer today than they were in the past.

By 51 percent to 37 percent, Americans said they trust the Democrats more than the Republicans with the main problems facing the country over the next few years, the first time since spring 1992 that Democrats have gained more than 50 percent support on that question.

Now let's see what the Dems can make of it.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

An Historic Moment

While I have been very skeptical about whether the Democrats can do anything at all to stop the confirmation of ScAlito, I very much support the efforts of my state's senators Kerry and Kennedy. They have called for the filabuster, even though it may be the longest of long shots. I happen to think we should do everything we can do make the Chimp's life miserable. And while we may not have the votes to stop ScAlito, we should at least use the filabuster time to take center stage in the Senate and talk about all the evils being perpetrated by the Administration. Might make a nice counter-punch to all the crap coming up this week in the Chimps's State of the Union speech.

In the meantime, every mainstream media outlet will be complaining about the Democrats and their "lost cause" but I say we should go down fighting, and I'm proud that the senators from Massachusetts are leading the way.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Loco for Coco?

We'll see whether this trade pans out for the Sox -- bottom line is Coco Crisp will be the replacement for the dearly departed Johnny Damon. From what I hear this could be good. Welcome to Boston, Mr. Crisp!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

It's Good To Set Priorities

Recently came across this sign in a restaurant restroom in Lee, Massachusetts. In a world with tsunamis, famine, dictatorships and all manner of evil, it's good to see someone has figured out what really matters.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Confessions of a Political Junky

I have a confession.

I have been a political junky since taking notice of the 1960 presidential election. (OK, I'm old.) My first political memory is a bet my parents had with my aunt and uncle over who would win. Any guesses on who my parents voted for? Anybody?

Yes, of course they voted for JFK and they won the bet.

Another confession - I adore watching political conventions. The first one I remember vividly was 1964, when LBJ was nominated. In those days, it was gavel-to-gavel coverage...during the day. I remember long, hot summer afternoons (pre-air conditioning) watching our black and white TV and listening to old, white men wearing funny hats drone on and on. I loved it. (My own particular high point was the roll call of the states for voting by the only woman to be found on the convention podium...Aaaaaaaal a baaammmmmma!)

Why am I confessing this today, you may ask? It's because I have been hooked on political tv ever since those first days - whether it "Washington Week in Review" or "McLaughlin Group" or "Hardball."

BUT, I think I may have finally reached even MY limit. For years, "Hardball" host Chris Matthews has turned into a mouthpiece for the GOoPers. Last week he tied together the words Osama bin Laden uttered on his recent videotape to those said by Michael Moore. In other words, left-leaning activists are the equivalent of mass murderers. Damn.

Well, this has stirred up the blogosphere in a big way, as you might imagine. I've written to MSNBC requesting an apology. If you're interested in learning more, go here. You'll find a list of advertisers to contact to put pressure on Matthews to apologize for his miserable behavior. Join the fun - hold the MSM's feet to the fire.

Luckily for me, today's 24-hour political fix comes from the internet. Thank God there are enough good writers and activists out there to keep me away from corporate news that's on today's TV.

Anything you'd like to confess? The floor's open.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

They Can't Anticipate Shit

Just like they couldn't anticipate planes going into buildings, the Chimp said no one could "anticipate the levees breaking" in New Orleans.

You won't be surprised to learn that the White House was briefed on this very possibility just before Katrina hit.

*rolling eyes*

The NISAC analysis accurately predicted the collapse of floodwalls along New Orleans's Lake Pontchartrain shoreline, an event that the report described as "the greatest concern." The breach of two canal floodwalls near the lake was the key failure that left much of central New Orleans underwater and accounted for the bulk of Louisiana's 1,100 Katrina-related deaths.

A Letter to David Gregory, NBC News

Dear David,
Last week, I read news accounts and heard on the radio, your exchange with Scott McClellan regarding the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. A lot of people are giving you kudos for your fiesty retorts to the perennial stonewalling being perpetuated by the press secretary.

I beg to differ.

Specifically, I've been wanting to ask you, David, why do you bother going to the White House to actually get information? After five years, it's clear that the Bush administration is not going to tell you anything. I can just picture you every morning, getting up and preparing the questions you are going to ask your friend Scott. And then, you get smacked down time after time at what is euphamistically called a "briefing" at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

In light of this repeated smack-down, I have a suggestion. Why don't you and your pals skip tomorrow's briefing and go to the mall instead?...or get a massage?...even clean the gutters on your house? It's clear that taking this time away would get you every bit as far as sitting there in the press room, matching wits with that moron. David, understand this: you demean yourselves and your profession by hanging around waiting for the White House scraps. What would they do if you guys just didn't show up? Somehow I think that the country would survive - or perhaps even be better served without us having to listen to the lies that come out of that place, day after day.

Or, if you'd feel guilty killing time with these extracurricular activities, why don't you do some actual reporting? There must be sources that can be cultivated somewhere in Washington. I am old enough to remember a time when actual reporters brought down an actual president (although I'm not sure Bob Woodward remembers this). Perhaps you can contact Carl Bernstein for a few pointers.

In the meantime, David, remember the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.


The Amaryllis That Ate Shrewsbury

Instead of buying poinsettias at Christmas, which has been my tradition, I sprung for a couple of amaryllis that are both blooming now. (Believe it or not, this picture is only one plant.) Considering this hasn't been the coldest of winters so far, having these around has been quite a nice distraction.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Left Curve is One Year Old

Just a bit over a year ago, I followed a link to a website called "blogger.com" and within 5 minutes, I had a blog. That Friday night, I had not expected to start a blog; didn't have any plan in mind for maintaining a blog. But, like most successes in my life, my instincts took care of any careful planning I should have done. And now, on this auspicious anniversary, I'm pleased to say I've had this blog for a year.

What are the highlights of this past year? My favorite story is from last year's blizzard, and the miracle of Russell Avenue. I'm also fond of my own personal tracking of the 2004 world champion Red Sox, and the plans for Bob and my trip to San Francisco to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Politically, my favorite time was the late summer's celebration of "Fitzmas" when Scooter Libby went down; the saddest time was Hurricane Katrina. The fact that these events allowed the Chimp's approval ratings to drop through the floor made them somewhat more palatable.

Although I haven't had as much inspiration for writing the blog more recently, I do have an explanation. In recent weeks, my time has been sucked up by some new toys in my home - a large screen plasma HD-TV and a new device called a "digital video recorder" (aka TiVo). Because of this handy device, I've been able to actually watch shows that are broadcast after my relatively early bedtime, as well as those airing during the middle of the night or the middle of the workday. Seeing Letterman every day is a pleasure; watching the Daily Show/Colbert Report has allowed me to stay up with cultural references; seeing long PBS documentaries (like one on Willa Cather and Eleanor Roosevelt) has been fulfilling.

BUT, there's one major problem that I hadn't really anticipated: it takes TIME to watch all this TV and my list of recorded shows seems never-ending. So, I have been feeling this pressure to watch everything I record, and move things quickly through the DVR. The good part is I haven't really seen a whole tv commercial in quite some time. The bad news is that I haven't accomplished much else during any free time.

In spite of my less than regular blogging, I can say that when I started this blog last year, I knew for certain that I was doing it for me. If other people found it interesting, that would be great. But if no one even read it that would be fine Having said that, there was a time when I was obsessed with metrics and who was linking to Left Curve, etc. But now I'm certain that if I'm happy with the blog, that's enough for me.

So, here's to another year of blogging. And may we find ourselves with the same good health and happiness next January. Happy Blog Year everyone!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Monica v. the NSA

Wonder how the New York Times and the Washington Post covered two important stories: the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal and the NSA illegal wiretapping story? This article from Media Matters shows the difference in the coverage - and as you probably expect, we find out again how much sex sells. Sad, and true.

Haliburton at it Again

Now here's a surprise.

WASHINGTON - Troops and civilians at a U.S. military base in Iraq were exposed to contaminated water last year and employees for the responsible contractor, Halliburton, couldn’t get their company to inform camp residents, according to interviews and internal company documents.

Halliburton, the company formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, disputes the allegations about water problems at Camp Junction City, in Ramadi, even though they were made by its own employees and documented in company e-mails.

Read entire article here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Al Fires Back

Naturally, ever since Al Gore spoke out yesterday about the current administration, everyone in the media has relegated him to the role of "crazy uncle in the attic" with "an axe to grind."

If you actually read Vice President Gore's speech, you know it was thoughtful, heart-felt and as patriotic a message as any I've heard in a long time.

But, clearly it appears that Mr. Gore has a plan, because he responded to these attacks today:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following is a statement by former Vice President Al Gore:

"The Administration's response to my speech illustrates perfectly the need for a special counsel to review the legality of the NSA wiretapping program. The Attorney General is making a political defense of the President without even addressing the substantive legal questions that have so troubled millions of Americans in both political parties.

"There are two problems with the Attorney General's effort to focus attention on the past instead of the present Administration's behavior. First, as others have thoroughly documented, his charges are factually wrong. Both before and after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was amended in 1995, the Clinton/Gore Administration complied fully and completely with the terms of the law.

"Second, the Attorney General's attempt to cite a previous administration's activity as precedent for theirs -- even though factually wrong -- ironically demonstrates another reason why we must be so vigilant about their brazen disregard for the law. If unchecked, their behavior would serve as a precedent to encourage future presidents to claim these same powers, which many legal experts in both parties believe are clearly illegal.

"The issue, simply put, is that for more than four years, the executive branch has been wiretapping many thousands of American citizens without warrants in direct contradiction of American law. It is clearly wrong and disrespectful to the American people to allow a close political associate of the president to be in charge of reviewing serious charges against him.

"The country needs a full and independent investigation into the facts and legality of the present Administration's program."

Monday, January 16, 2006

God Bless Al Gore

Why in hell can't more Democrats speak as clearly as Al Gore did today regarding the NSA wiretapping story?

Here's the link.

An excerpt:

As we begin this new year, the Executive Branch of our government has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress to prevent such abuses.

It is imperative that respect for the rule of law be restored.

So, many of us have come here to Constitution Hall to sound an alarm and call upon our fellow citizens to put aside partisan differences and join with us in demanding that our Constitution be defended and preserved.

It is appropriate that we make this appeal on the day our nation has set aside to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who challenged America to breathe new life into our oldest values by extending its promise to all our people.

On this particular Martin Luther King Day, it is especially important to recall that for the last several years of his life, Dr. King was illegally wiretapped-one of hundreds of thousands of Americans whose private communications were intercepted by the U.S. government during this period.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Good Government at Work

I'm old enough to remember when government actually worked for the citizens of the US, and didn't just take things away. Here's a great example of our public servants improving the lives of their constituents and setting a standard for others to follow:

Maryland legislators voted Thursday to enact a first-in-the-nation requirement that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spend more on employee health care. The measure, touted as a money-saver for the state-supported Medicaid program, takes effect despite the governor’s veto of the bill.

Labor unions have said they are seeking similar legislation this year in at least 30 other states. Supporters say the retailing giant unfairly takes advantage of taxpayer-funded health care plans because some workers can’t afford Wal-Mart’s health insurance.

“The taxpayers are giving a health-care subsidy to the largest retailer on earth,” argued Democratic Delegate Kumar Barve. The House and Senate, both controlled by Democrats, both notched the three-fifths margins needed to override a veto last May by Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich.

Wal-Mart sucks.

Spying BEFORE 9/11

According to Truthout.org, the Chimp's administration began spying on Americans PRIOR to 9/11.

The National Security Agency advised President Bush in early 2001 that it had been eavesdropping on Americans during the course of its work monitoring suspected terrorists and foreigners believed to have ties to terrorist groups, according to a declassified document.

The NSA's vast data-mining activities began shortly after Bush was sworn in as president and the document contradicts his assertion that the 9/11 attacks prompted him to take the unprecedented step of signing a secret executive order authorizing the NSA to monitor a select number of American citizens thought to have ties to terrorist groups.

In its "Transition 2001" report, the NSA said that the ever-changing world of global communication means that "American communication and targeted adversary communication will coexist."

"Make no mistake, NSA can and will perform its missions consistent with the Fourth Amendment and all applicable laws," the document says.

However, it adds that "senior leadership must understand that the NSA's mission will demand a 'powerful, permanent presence' on global telecommunications networks that host both 'protected' communications of Americans and the communications of adversaries the agency wants to target."

There's more at the link.

For those of you who think war is an acceptable time to spy without warrants, how do you react to this? Is the Chimp above the law? I think not.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Baseball Memories

Spring training is 5 weeks away. In commemoration, here's my favorite picture.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Take That, Wolf!

On yesterday's CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, Howard Dean set the record straight on the Democrats' relationship to the Abramoff scandal (which I didn't even know):

BLITZER: Should Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff, who has now pleaded guilty to bribery charges, among other charges, a Republican lobbyist in Washington, should the Democrat who took money from him give that money to charity or give it back?

DEAN: There are no Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff, not one, not one single Democrat. Every person named in this scandal is a Republican. Every person under investigation is a Republican. Every person indicted is a Republican. This is a Republican finance scandal. There is no evidence that Jack Abramoff ever gave any Democrat any money. And we've looked through all of those FEC reports to make sure that's true.

BLITZER: But through various Abramoff-related organizations and outfits, a bunch of Democrats did take money that presumably originated with Jack Abramoff.

DEAN: That's not true either. There's no evidence for that either. There is no evidence...

BLITZER: What about Senator Byron Dorgan?

DEAN: Senator Byron Dorgan and some others took money from Indian tribes. They're not agents of Jack Abramoff. There's no evidence that I've seen that Jack Abramoff directed any contributions to Democrats. I know the Republican National Committee would like to get the Democrats involved in this. They're scared. They should be scared. They haven't told the truth. They have misled the American people. And now it appears they're stealing from Indian tribes. The Democrats are not involved in this.

BLITZER: Unfortunately Mr. Chairman, we got to leave it right there.

Hillary Looking Into Armor Issue

In case you wondered if anyone at all is paying attention in Washington...Senator Clinton is looking into the armor issue as noted a few days ago in this post.

Give 'em hell, Hillary.

And thank you.

Does Every Problem Come from the Chimp's Administration?

From a Knight Ridder investigation:

WASHINGTON - Since the Bush administration took office in 2001, it has been more lenient than its predecessors toward mining companies facing serious safety violations, issuing fewer and smaller major fines and collecting less than half of the money that violators owed, a Knight Ridder investigation has found.

At one point last year, the Mine Safety and Health Administration fined a coal company $440 for a "significant and substantial" violation that ended in the death of a Kentucky man. The firm, International Coal Group Inc., is the same company that owns the Sago mine in West Virginia, where 12 workers died last week.

The $440 fine remains unpaid.

Good Lord. There is no shame.

Friday, January 06, 2006

This is Sad, Just Sad

From the NY Times:

A secret Pentagon study has found that at least 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to their upper body could have survived if they had extra body armor. That armor has been available since 2003 but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials.

The ceramic plates in vests currently worn by the majority of military personnel in Iraq cover only some of the chest and back. In at least 74 of the 93 fatal wounds that were analyzed in the Pentagon study of marines from March 2003 through June 2005, bullets and shrapnel struck the marines' shoulders, sides or areas of the torso where the plates do not reach.
Additional forensic studies by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner's unit that were obtained by The Times indicate that about 340 American troops have died solely from torso wounds.

Military officials said they had originally decided against using the extra plates because they were concerned they added too much weight to the vests or constricted the movement of soldiers. Marine Corps officials said the findings of the Pentagon study caused field commanders to override those concerns in the interest of greater protection.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

60% of What You Say is Crap

Let's hear it for David Letterman! If you haven't seen or heard, Mr. Letterman took Bill O'Reilly to task last night. Here's the video via Crooks & Liars.

Doesn't it figure that just when we get a Digital Video Recording system, I don't have it set to tape Letterman. Doh.

No on Alito

Please join me in writing a short note to your Senators, asking them to oppose Judge Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court.

Judge Alito has a record of extreme views on issues like privacy and civil rights and a pattern of deception to hide them from congress and the public. He's the wrong choice for the highest court in the land. We don't need another corporate lawyer on the Supreme Court.

You can write a short letter to your Senators and deliver it online just by going here:



Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

2006 is here and here's hoping it treats the Chimp just as well as 2005 did!

As for the rest of us, 2005 was actually pretty good, now that I've started to look at it, but I'm looking forward to a few improvements in the New Year. This includes better mental health for my hubbles, better physical health for me. Can I finally get back to losing weight? I have been gaining and losing the same 4 or 5 pounds for a year (or so). The good news is I'm not gaining, but it's time to move my weight even further down this coming year. We're also looking into joining a yoga class or two - for His stress relief, to help me improve my back.

Come to think of it, 2005 finally brought an end to my back problems. Who knew that getting off my ass would be precisely what I need? (I know, practically all of you reading this blog know this, I guess I'm a slow learner.) I can credit my chiropractor for delicately suggesting that this would be exactly what I needed. Danielle, here's to you!

We had a great New Year's Eve - watched DVD concerts, circa 1970s. First on tap was "The Concert for Bangladesh" with Leon Russell stealing the show. Next, we watched Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's concert from the 30th Anniversary disc of "Born to Run," which was fabulous (kinda reminding me of my first Bruce concert in 1978). Then we watched probably the best concert movie of all time "The Last Waltz." If you haven't seen it, and you enjoy good bluesy rock and roll, get to it soon.

Anyway, Happy New Year to all -- hopefully I'll also regain my blogging habit!

All the best to all of you.