Thursday, July 30, 2009

Political Squawk: Bisecting Health Care

The state line runs down the center of Bristol, bisecting the city into two distinct sides: Virginia and Tennessee.

In fact, my brothers and I enjoyed our long ago visits to the area, just so we could wait for traffic to clear, run out to the center of the road and stand in two states at one time by stepping a foot on either side of the state line.

Wednesday, it was once again, all about sides and lines in Bristol, Virginia. As the President discussed health care reform with citizens at a local grocery, two hundred protesters entrenched themselves flamingo-style on their side of the line, displaying signs that read "Your plan makes me sick!" and "Obamacare is political malpractice."

Yet, figuratively standing on the actual health-care line were 2700 people who received medical attention at a recent annual free clinic held at nearby Wise, Virginia. Many seeking help were turned away.

Standing in the line of fire, his approval ratings down?

President Obama.

"I saw some signs," he told about 100 Kroger cashiers, baggers, deli workers and managers. He said he knew "folks were all riled up."

"First of all, no one is talking about a government takeover health care plan," Obama said after he took the podium for the town hall meeting near the produce section.

He insisted he has "tried to say this over and over again — if you are happy with your health care, if you are happy with your doctor, we are not going to force you to change."

What he does hope to change are inefficiencies in the Medicare system that are contributing to skyrocketing costs, lower drug prices, forcing companies that don't provide health insurance to "pay or play" and create a system that will provide affordable quality health care for the nation's millions of uninsured, he has said.

At home in the District, Blue Dog Democrats are back in line, having reached a deal with their House Democratic brethren, clearing the way for a September vote on "sweeping health care legislation". The Senate is currently at work on a bill "...to extend coverage to 95 percent of all Americans without raising federal deficits. "We're on the edge, we're almost there," said Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican involved in the secretive Senate talks."

Sounds like the finish line is within sight.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

International Press Dishes US Health Care Reform

We have quite the health care debate in progress over at 9-1-1 in Cambridge (go figure), so feel free to jump in and add your two cents.

Before heading over, the international press is offering up their own opinions on America's attempted wrestle of the health care system away from the grip of health care insurers.


Germany's Spiegel Online (7/27/09):

Will Health Care Be Obama's Legacy or Waterloo?


“Every day during the economic crisis, another estimated 14,000 people lose their jobs, and therefore their health insurance. Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that thousands of Americans die each year because they are denied the most basic health care. For America, a superpower that likes to set an example to the rest of the world, that is a damning indictment.

“Obama may have inherited a lot of problems from his predecessor, but the reorganization of the American health care system is a crusade he has chosen. If he succeeds, that alone will see him go down in history as a notable leader. If he fails, though, it will be his first serious defeat. At the moment, the situation isn't looking very good for him.

“The plan is as bold as it is overdue. The American health care system is expensive, ineffective and socially inequitable -- and it comes at an annual per capita cost of $7,500 -- twice as high as in Germany. Since 2000, doctors, hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry have managed to achieve a 70-percent increase in earnings, which Obama calls "health inflation."

“The renowned Institute of Medicine even estimates that almost one-third of all medical care in the US -- or about $700 billion worth -- is "pure waste." This figure is one-and-a-half times the German federal budget and even exceeds the US military budget.

“The magnitude of the problems has always been overshadowed by the size of the anti-reform coalition. Once again, the Republicans are intent on launching a battle of the cultures. Because while the debate revolves around party tactics, it also touches on some fundamental issues about American culture. How American should America be in the 21st century?”



Thailand's Asian Review (7/25/2009):

The Options – Healing the Sick or ‘Breaking’ Obama


“Obama approaches the health care debate from three directions. First, there is the profoundly human side to it, with close to 50 million people in the Affluent Society without any health insurance at all. Like numerous others, he finds this form of gross inequity intolerable, and is determined to change it.
“Second, he sees the current health care system as not serving most of the insured adequately, because of (a) steadily increasing costs and also because (b) many crucial decisions are taken not by doctors but by insurance companies. The latter fact is glossed over by critics of health care reform who argue that a “public option” would take the power of choice away from doctors.

“Actually, in many cases it would take that power away from medically untutored insurance staff. Meanwhile, insurance premiums are doubling every nine years, rising faster than wages and causing great hardship to many of those who are fully insured.
“Third, he is convinced that ballooning health care costs are a major driver of the federal deficit. Health care costs account for almost 18 percent of GDP thereby affecting the health of the economy.

“Meanwhile, doctors, nurses, professional institutions, and the American Association of Retired Persons have come out in strong support of reform. Public attitudes, as measured by polls, are sharply divided. Both the insured and the uninsured want reform. The insured do not want anything less than what they now have. Neither group wants reform to involve escalating costs down the years.

“Then there are the exponents of “Nobama-Obama” politics. They have thrown all kinds of dirt at him – including the discredited allegation that he is not a natural-born US citizen – expecting some of the dirt to stick to him. They forget, of course, that dirt adheres to those who do the throwing. Their purpose, having failed to prevent him from gaining the presidency through the people’s vote, is to prevent him from winning a second term. They appear confident that they can exploit health care reform to bring about his eventual downfall.”


Italy's AGI (7/23/2009):


“The reform of the US health system is "central" to the US economy and Congress must approve it by the end of the year.

“But the measure must deal with opposition in both parties: the conservative democrats who maintain that the stalemate is due to a lack of information on how the government will save money or pay for the new healthcare system; the liberal democrats concerned that the project will not be sufficient and the Republicans who have attacked the plan saying that it has exorbitant costs.”


Feel free to browse over the pond and post what you find here.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

9-1-1 in Cambridge

What follows is likely the most anticipated tape of a 9-1-1 call in recent history.

(Or this summer anyway.)

Unfortunately, with the release, the reporting of the story has now become part of the story.

The woman whose report of a possible house break-in led to the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. said she never mentioned race during her 911 call and is “personally devastated’’ by media accounts that suggest she placed the call because the men she observed on the porch were black, according to a lawyer acting as her spokeswoman.

Walter Cronkite has got to be rolling over in his grave.

The Boston Globe has the full story here.

A transcript is provided for those unable to download the YouTube.

911 OPERATOR: 9-1-1, what is the exact location of your emergency?

FEMALE WITNESS CALLER: Hi, I'm actually at (inaudible) street in Cambridge, the house number is 7 Ware Street.

911 OPERATOR: OK ma'am, your cell phone cut out, what's the address again?

FEMALE WITNESS CALLER: Sorry, it's 7 Ware Street. That's W-A-R-E Street.

911 OPERATOR: The emergency is at 7 Ware Street, right?

FEMALE WITNESS CALLER: Well no, I'm sorry. 17. Some other woman is talking next to me but it's 17, 1-7 Ware Street.

911 OPERATOR: What's the phone number you're calling me from?

FEMALE WITNESS CALLER: I'm calling you from my cell phone number.

911 OPERATOR: All right, tell me exactly what happened?

FEMALE WITNESS CALLER: Um, I don't know what's happening. I just had an older woman standing here and she had noticed two gentlemen trying to get in a house at that number, 17 Ware Street. And they kind of had to barge in and they broke the screen door and they finally got in. When I had looked, I went further, closer to the house a little bit after the gentlemen were already in the house. I noticed two suitcases. So, I'm not sure if this is two individuals who actually work there, I mean, who live there.

911 OPERATOR: You think they might have been breaking in?

FEMALE WITNESS CALLER: I don't know 'cause I have no idea. I just noticed.

911 OPERATOR: So you're saying you think the possibility might have been there? What do you mean by barged in? You mean they kicked the door in?

FEMALE WITNESS CALLER: No, they were pushing the door in. Like, umm, the screen part of the front door was kind of like cut.

911 OPERATOR: How did they open the door itself with the lock?

FEMALE WITNESS CALLER: They, I didn't see a key or anything 'cause I was a little bit away from the door. But I did notice that they pushed their (interrupted).

911 OPERATOR: And what do the suitcases have to do with anything?

FEMALE WITNESS CALLER: I don't know, I'm just saying that's what I saw.

911 OPERATOR: Do you know what apartment they broke into?

FEMALE WITNESS CALLER: No, they're just they first floor. I don't even think that it's an apartment. It's 17 Ware Street. It's a house, it's a yellow house. Number 17. I don't know if they live there and they just had a hard time with their key but I did notice that they kind of used their shoulder to kind of barge in and they got in. I don't know if they had a key or not because I couldn't see from my angle. But, you know, when I looked a little closely that's what I saw.

911 OPERATOR: (inaudible) guy or Hispanic?


911 OPERATOR: Are they still in the house?

FEMALE WITNESS CALLER: They're still in the house, I believe, yeah.

911 OPERATOR: Were they white, black or Hispanic?

FEMALE WITNESS CALLER: Umm, well there were two larger men, one looked kind of Hispanic but I'm not really sure. And the other one entered and I didn't see what he looked like at all. I just saw it from a distance and this older woman was worried thinking someone's breaking in someone's house, they've been barging in. And she interrupted me and that's when I had noticed otherwise I probably wouldn't have noticed it at all, to be honest with you. So, I was just calling 'cause she was a concerned neighbor, I guess.

911 OPERATOR: OK, are you standing outside?

FEMALE WITNESS CALLER: I'm standing outside, yes.

911 OPERATOR: All right, the police are on the way, you can meet them then they get there. What's your name?

FEMALE WITNESS CALLER: Yeah, my name is (deleted).

911 OPERATOR: All right, we're on the way.

FEMALE WITNESS CALLER: Ok. All right, I guess I'll wait. Thanks.

--Fox News, 7/27/2009

"In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story."

--Walter Cronkite


Monday, July 27, 2009

Tax Revvvenue

As cash-strapped states bandy about the legalization of marijuana as a tax revenue source--particularly in California, where medical cannabis is legal and reportedly the tax and sale would cha-ching $1.3 billion a year to the state coffers--I think what might put the brakes on such are not lawmakers, but law enforcement.

Take this sheriff out of Wake County. He's pulling over North Carolina lead footers behind the wheel of a Corvette, seized from a drug dealer. Left me pondering how such a vehicle escaped public auction, but the sheriff's suddenly got his head beneath the hood and he's not talking. (Read more here).

With Vettes confiscated in the deep South, I can only imagine what's being seized out of Miami.

Oh well. One man's asset forfeiture is another man's legalized theft.

I prefer to call the seizure of property, free toys.

And I seriously doubt those who protect and serve will want to give up any of this perk (or the laws that would certainly become blue) to haul their states out of economic decline via de-criminalization of marijuana, medical or otherwise.

Talk to Me.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Weekend Zen

When logic and proportion

Have fallen sloppy dead

And the White Knight is talking backwards

And the Red Queen's "off with her head!"

Remember what the dormouse said;


Jefferson Airplane.


White Rabbit.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Political Squawk: An Arrest Hits Home

The squawk over the past few days has swirled around comments made by President Obama regarding the arrest of his friend, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who serves as Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Late this morning, regrets over the furor caused by the remarks were issued by the White House.

Quick summary. Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct at his Cambridge home following reports of a crime in process. Gates disputed the charge, which has since been dropped.

We've heard from Obama, we've heard from the Cambridge police department and as I write this post, a press conference with arresting officer Sgt. James M. Crowley is scheduled.

But what about Gates?

What are his reflections on an arrest that hit home?

As reported by The Root, 7/21/2009:

"I would sooner have believed the sky was going to fall from the heavens than I would have believed this could happen to me, and it shouldn’t happen to anyone.

As a college professor, I want to make this a teaching experience. I am going to devote my considerable resources, intellectual and otherwise, to making sure this doesn’t happen again. I’m thinking about making a documentary film about racial profiling, and I’m in talks with PBS about that.

TR: Does this put to rest the idea that America is post-racial?

HLG: I thought the whole idea that America was post-racial and post-black was laughable from the beginning. There is no more important event in the history of black people in America than the election of Barack Obama. I cried when he was elected, and I cried at his inauguration, but that does not change the percentage of black men in prison, the percentage of black men harassed by racial profiling. It does not change the number of black children living near the poverty line. Which is almost a similar percentage as were under poverty when Martin Luther King was assassinated.

There haven’t been fundamental structural changes in America. There’s been a very important symbolic change and that is the election of Barack Obama. But the only black people who truly live in a post-racial world in America all live in a very nice house on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

Update. Sgt. Crowley did not speak or answer questions at the noon press conference. Police union officials spoke on his behalf, expressing support for the sergeant and although not demanding an apology from the President (or anyone, for that matter), hoped upon reflection, such words might be forthcoming.

Read more about the press conference over at The Boston Globe.


"More than 60% of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities. For Black males in their twenties, 1 in every 8 is in prison or jail on any given day. These trends have been intensified by the disproportionate impact of the "war on drugs," in which three-fourths of all persons in prison for drug offenses are people of color."

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Seeing Past the Weeds

A few years back, I developed symptoms of the female persuasion, just aggravating enough to mention to my physician, but in my humble opinion, nothing to write Gray's Anatomy about.

Cutting to the chase before I lose my male readers, cut was just what the doctor ordered. Having spent a lifetime of talking medical professionals out of procedures (I harbor a serious injection phobia), I talked this one down stat with questions regarding less invasive treatments.

I wondered later if I hadn't asked, would I have been told the less than lucrative, yet viable alternatives?

During last night's press conference, President Obama used an example of a parent seeking medical attention for a child's a sore throat with the doctor suggesting tonsillectomy as the immediate course of action. As all health conditions are uniquely human, perhaps the kid is out of school more than in and really needs the annoying buggers removed, but on the other end of the scalpel, perhaps the recommendation is based on the fee payment schedule, meaning somewhere out there, an insurance company is weighing in hot and heavy regarding the treatment decision.

In a perfect world, it's best to share a trustful working relationship with your doctor, but for those who believe these professionals totally walk on water, remember this. They work for you. Instead of cutting the yard like your lawn guys, sometimes it's you they want to cut into.

And it's okay
to take ownership of your health care to question just who's manning the weed whacker.

Read the transcript of the President's fifth press conference over at the New York Times.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I Could've Been a Multi-Grainer

Teaching kids is a lot like making bread dough.

Mix the wonders of the world with a mash of the facts and knead, knead, knead until their minds are no longer sticking to your fingers.

I'm all for accountability in education, but I fear many of today's students are a bit half-baked, lacking the ability to think outside the loaf.

Template writing is exactly what the late Frank McCourt referred when addressing No Child Left Behind as "...a tool (with) emphasis on standardized testing (that) discouraged teachers from truly developing students' minds." (paraphrased by The LA Times, 7/19/09)

As reported by Florida Today, (7/21/2009) five area elementary schools stand in review "... after state education officials saw the exact same phrases in answers from fourth-graders taking the 2009 writing FCAT."


During the FCAT writing test, students are encouraged to use creativity, drama, suspense or humor to develop a story line. Officials say "template writing" distorts the writing task and encourages a "fill in the blank" type exercise.Examples given by the state were phrases such as "one ordinary day turned into an extraordinary day. . . " and "A kaleidoscope of colors encircled me. . . POOF!"

Bread sometimes falls while baking. Good bakers know a sprinkle of salt to the dough prevents a risen loaf from falling. Still tastes the same and when the oven timer is buzzing time to bake, time to bake, time to bake, the end product is guaranteed to slice up all the same.

Same being the problem.

What's lacking from the mix is a dash of creativity.... and the instructional time necessary to whip a basic bread into a multi-grain...

...without an extra pinch of salt.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Frank McCourt

I fell in love with teaching all over again because of a thrown sandwich.

Stunned a student would waste food no matter how angst the adolescent point, new teacher Frank McCourt utilized the situation as what we in education call a discrepant event.

He picked up the sandwich and ate it.

From his memoir, Teacher Man: A Memoir:

"And there's the bologna sandwich. What are you going to do about a situation like that? No professor at NYU told us what to do about flying bologna sandwiches. They don't get into that. They have higher level philosophy of education. There's a sandwich. What are you going to do?"

Teachers often find themselves sandwiched between the politics of education and the minds seated before them, students hungry for knowledge, but many, just hungry. As I write, a family lives tucked within the scrubs of a large vacant expanse, just a a couple of sandwich throws away from my home. My son stumbled across the camp one day while out walking the dog. Clothes hang from branches as if hung out to dry and a single unlit candle serves as a poor man's lantern. A can of mosquito repellent stands guard over toys scattered beneath a pine tree where a child's teddy bear nestles in the fork of two branches. We've yet to sight the family during the day, but as darkness falls, our dog's low growl and glance toward the door serves as a doorbell to a world very much unlike ours.

If a child is indeed sleeping beneath the sky and is of of school-age, in a few short weeks, he or she will enter a classroom, likely hungry for knowledge but mostly, just hungry. These kids are easy to spot--tired, worn out, wearing a hang dog look of everyday desperation, yet school is the very best part of their day, a haven, if only for a few hours. As the best and brightest teachers well know the stomach is a direct link to the brain, my guess is, if that bologna sandwich were thrown today, Frank McCourt would eat half and save the other for the kid whose eyes lingered a bit too long during the ceremonial unwrapping of the cellophane.

Frank McCourt lost his battle with cancer Monday, July 19th. A teacher for nearly thirty years, his legacy lives on through his memoirs, his family and his extended family...

...his students, in particular, McCourt's first, who learned on one long ago day that education is sometimes "... layered with slices of tomato, onions and peppers, drizzled with olive oil and charged with a tongue-dazzling relish."

May the road rise up to meet you, Teacher Man.

"Instead of teaching, I told stories.

Anything to keep them quiet and in their seats.

They thought I was teaching.

I thought I was teaching.

I was learning."

--Frank McCourt
Teacher and Author
Angela's Ashes, 'Tis and Teacher Man

Read what students have to say about Mr. McCourt over at the New York Times.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Weekend Zen

And you better pick yourself up from the ground

Before they bring the curtain down...

Princes Trust Concert, Hyde Park 1996.

Eric Clapton.



Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Political Squawk: The Secret of Bees

With all the political posturing (and moaning and groaning) over at The Bee Master (7/14/2009), right-leaning Talk to Me readers have seemingly skirted over one glaring disconnect.

Sworn in as Director of the CIA on February 16, 2009, Leon Panetta did not learn of "...the secret terrorist-assassination program..." until June 23, 2009...

... four months after he assumed the role as Director.

Explain that away.

Oh, many will offer the argument that the essence of the CIA is cloaked with the challenge of protecting this nation. But when the very Director of the CIA is left out of the loop of his own agency?

Not buying the flag-waving, folks.

Panetta informed congressional intelligence oversight committees of the "plan" that never came to be the very next day, June 24.

TIME (7/15/2009) gave the Director kudos for his quick action.

"Distancing the agency from a project with Cheney's fingerprints was politically astute. "As a good politician, Panetta probably knew that [Cheney's involvement] was precisely the reason we should get nervous about it," says Paul Pillar, a former deputy director of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center.

Some argue that Panetta's tendency to look through a political lens is a weakness. "He's a decent guy, but I think he doesn't fully understand the intelligence business, and that hurts," says a former high-ranking operations official. An intel veteran, he argues, would have recognized the program for what it was — little more than an idea — and not rushed to inform Congress. But others, like Zegart, say Panetta's political chops may have saved the agency from even greater criticism. In any case, she says, "we don't know the counterfactual: How much worse would it have been [for the CIA] if Panetta was not the director?"

But as the Right would say, that's buzzing backwards.

"A person who is too nice an observer of the business of the crowd, like one who is too curious in observing the labor of bees, will often be stung for his curiosity."

--Alexander Pope

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Bee Master

Busy bees have figured out a way to ruin honey. Dilute it with something equally sticky.

Nancy Gentry of Interlachen, owner of the Cross Creek Honey Co. and a member of the state honey technical council, said, "Honey is a magical food from an insect that comes to us pure right from the beginning."

"Unfortunately," she said, "We've had a lot of people decide they want to make more money from the product they got so they cut it (mix it)."

(Yep. I hear you, Nancy. Sort of like mixing a failed businessman with a crafty former CEO of Halliburton and electing both to the White House, with one thinking he's the President while the other guy actually did the job from the shadows.)

But back to honey. As a result of the addition of corn syrup and who knows what else to sweet delectable honey, Florida is the first state in the country to impose a standard on honey. "Under the new regulation, honey containing anything other than "natural food product resulting from the harvest of nectar by honeybees" is considered adulterated or mislabeled." (Read more over at (FloridaEnvironments.com, 7/13/2009)

And here's hoping, an investigation of former VP Dick Cheney and his sticky CIA secrets will set the constitutional standard on executive authority, i.e.checks and balances which ensure that the United States government will never again bee adulterated by a one man bee hive.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Is Charlie Crist a Quitter?

Gov. Sarah Palin has taken plenty of incoming regarding her decision to abandon Alaska's ship.

But quite frankly, isn't Gov. Charlie Crist doing the same? Quitting a job Floridians fully expected him to retain for two consecutive terms?

The Orlando Sentinel seems to think so.

In their minds, they're leaders; in ours, quitters.

How else to describe Sarah Palin and Charlie Crist? Ms. Palin announced last week that she not only won't seek a second term as Alaska's governor, she's planning to leave office more than a year before her first term expires.

Mr. Crist announced in May that he won't seek a second term heading Florida's government, making him the state's first sitting governor to decline a re-election bid since the state constitution was changed in 1968 to allow two terms.


There's still time for him as governor to repair the damage to the growth-management laws he helped weaken. Still time to wrest more efficiencies from state agencies. Still time to make positive, long-lasting changes that can strengthen his legacy and the state he still runs. We encourage him to do so.

But we understand that with Mr. Crist, he's always looking to the next job. He's given up each of his statewide posts — education commissioner, attorney general and now, governor — after just one term to seek higher office.

That's Bunyan-sized ambition. But unfortunately it's also the mark of a quitter, one who's concerned that chronic problems he might not be able to solve could tarnish his smaller achievements.

And, as a consequence, block his path to the top.


Read more here Palin & Crist abandoning ship, 7/10/09.


But the game is different this time around Political Musical Chairs. With the number of Floridians registering as Republican plummeting, will Florida Democrats (who outnumber Republicans by 700,000)--tired and weary of a Republican stronghold on the state since the days of Lawton Chiles--really cross over and pull the lever for GOPPER Charlie Crist, a man who would've certainly bailed out on the state even earlier if McCain had bestowed him with VP second fiddle status?

And, as jumping ship appears to be a deep-seated career path pattern demonstrated by the Governor, if elected to the U.S. Senate, will Crist bail out on that seat as well to run as a Republican candidate for President 2012?

Without a doubt...

...Yes He Would.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Weekend Zen

Deep Purple. 1973.

Smoke on the Water.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Political Squawk: Center Staging a Dead Guy

Personally, I feel the presentation of a posthumous humanitarian award to the late Michael Jackson by Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee(D-Texas) at his recent memorial reeked of poor form.

Jackson--love him or hate him--gave more than $50 million worldwide to charities worldwide. Most of us remember his We are the World project which raised millions to help fight hunger in Africa. As a result of that effort and many others--and at the peak of his legal "liabilites"- the African Ambassadors' Spouses Association, (AASA) awarded the artist with the 2003 Humanitarian Award.

But in his own country, a member of Congress waits until the guy is dead before bestowing any sort of recognition.

Because now, it's politically safe to do so.

Or is it?

Per Politico (7/7/09) :


Between high-stakes fights over climate change and health-care reform, Democrats will now have to moonwalk through the minefield of Jackson’s oddball behavior, drug abuse and relationships with young children — all in the politically perilous geography of race relations in America.

“There’s no appetite for this,” one House Democrat told POLITICO. “We have too many other things to deal with right now.”

But it’s not as easy as that.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) needs to stay in the good graces of the Congressional Black Caucus. And while CBC members were reportedly lukewarm on Jackson-Lee’s resolution initially, they now may have little choice but to rally around it.

Staffers say CBC members don’t want to be seen as caving in to Rep. Peter King, the New York Republican who called Jackson a “lowlife” and a “pervert” in a widely viewed YouTube video. And it will be hard for caucus members not to back Jackson-Lee’s resolution after she held a framed copy aloft during the late pop star’s nationally televised memorial service.

Still, Democrats from conservative districts are almost visibly queasy about the prospect of honoring Jackson further. When CBC (Congressional Black Caucus) members called for a moment of silence for Jackson on the House floor last month, Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) walked out. He said he was “nauseated” by the tribute — and that he was hardly the only Democratic member who felt that way.

“The cloakroom was pretty well packed,” Yarmuth told a Los Angeles radio station. “I think there were a lot of people who were disgusted by it.”

Democratic aides said privately Tuesday that it’s unlikely the House will pass Jackson-Lee’s resolution, which includes a recitation of nearly every charitable contribution Jackson made in the past quarter-century. And King vows to make the process as painful as possible by demanding a roll call vote.


Like I said. Poor form. On both sides of the aisle.

Meanwhile, people in Africa are starving.

Read more about Jackson-Lee's Resolution 600 here.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Senator Al Franken

Al Franken is in the House, 'er the Senate.

I'd like to say better late than never, but for almost 250 days, the state of Minnesota remained under-represented, short-shrifted a vote while the courts pried a certain someone's death grip off his previously held Senate seat.

All post-election ugliness aside, the highly contested race between Franken and opponent Norm Coleman is now one for the history books. The swearing-in of the most junior Senator filibuster-proofs the Democratic majority with an all-important 60th vote.

For Coleman--who conceded the loss of his Senate seat to Franken last week--an opportunity left otherwise unconsidered is all the talk among those who call the Land of 10,000 Lakes home.

Coleman is reportedly mulling about a 2010 run for Governor. (Of Minnesota, although Alaska is up for grabs in a couple of years....PLENTY of time to establish residency, Norm).
"It is easy to criticize, particularly in a political season. But to lead is something altogether different. The leader must live in the real world of the price that might be paid for the goal that has been set."
Wise words spoken by...

...none other than Norm Coleman himself. The interpretation of his remarks, I'll leave up to you.

And with that, Election 2008 is officially over.

Onward and forward.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Colin Powell's Press

As a coffee-lover newly fascinated with the French Press, the findings of a recently released University of Florida study swirls the cream in my cup.

Drinking five cups of coffee a day could reverse memory problems associated with Alzheimer's disease.

The study- which was carried out on mice who were exhibiting signs of dementia- also showed that caffeine helped slow the production of the protein plaques which show up in people who develop the disease.

The study did not address convenient memory, such as those spun by former secretary of state Colin Powell during an interview this past weekend with CNN's John King.

Professing to still believe in limited government and limited taxes, Mr. Powell--lambasted by the GOP for his endorsement of then-candidate Barack Obama-- suggested dropping such "slogans" in exchange for a "...government that works."


"Keep it as small as possible. Keep the tax burden on the American people as small as possible, but at the same time, have government that is solving the problems of the people.”


"And I never would have believed that we would have budgets that are running into the multi-trillions of dollars, and we are amassing a huge, huge national debt that, if we don’t pay for in our lifetime, our kids and grandkids and great grandchildren will have to pay for it."


If my memory serves me correctly, Mr. Powell's recollection of the facts is a bit of a selective trip down Fiscal Memory Lane.
Time for that fifth cup of coffee, sir.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Political Squawk: The Palin Resignation

It's just not a picnic without the ants.

And it won't be politics--petty or otherwise--without Sarah Palin.

(Who is no picnic herself.)

Which causes me to ask...is she really gone?

Is she EVER really gone?

As July 4th Tea Party attendees nationwide scratch their heads today over the unexpected resignation of the Alaska governor--effective at the end of the month--I "visited" with the people who know her best, her Alaskan constituents.

For the real skinny, visit the real people congregating over at The Mudflats post and present.


Yes, it’s true. Governor Sarah Palin, at a hastily called press conference this morning, has announced that she will be stepping down from office on July 25, and turning the reins over to Lt. Governor Sean Parnell “for the good of Alaska.”


Of course, those who have been follwing the Alaska blogosphere closely are aware of the rumors bubbling up that there’s something big…something really big that’s headed her way; the iceberg that’s headed for the S.S. Palin. We’ll see."

And the following Mudflats update pretty much answers my question posed at the beginning of this post.

Okay, I’ve now been able to get independent information from multiple sources that all of this precedes what are said to be possible federal indictments against Palin, concerning an embezzlement scandal related to the building of Palin’s house and the Wasilla Sports Complex built during her tenure. Both structures, it is said, feature the “same windows, same wood, same products.” Federal investigators have been looking into this for some time, and indictments could be imminent, according to the Alaska sources.

Heck yeah! Expect to hear about (and most likely from) Sarah Palin for some time to come.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Political Squawk: GOP Goes Feral on Palin

In my opinion, Alaska governor Sarah Palin is the last person on this earth who needs any additional publicity, especially from this blogger.


...as the squawk for the past few days has been all about Todd Purdum's Vanity Fair profile on SP, I'll give her a Political Squawk, if only for old times sake.

As with anything Sarah, the hiss is expected. But my guess is Purdum himself never fathomed the meeeooww yeeooww Palin caterwauling would from within the internal ranks of her own Republican party.

Per Politico: (6/30/09)


Rival factions close to the McCain campaign have been feuding since last fall over Palin, usually waging the battle in the shadows with anonymous quotes. Now, however, some of the most well-known names in Republican politics are going on-the-record with personal attacks and blame-casting.

William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard and at times an informal adviser to Sen. John McCain, touched off the latest back-and-forth Tuesday morning with a post on his magazine’s blog criticizing the Todd Purdum-authored Palin story and pointing a finger at Steve Schmidt, McCain’s campaign manager.

Kristol cited a passage in Purdum’s piece in which “some top aides” were said to worry about the Alaska governor’s “mental state” and the prospect that the Alaska governor may be suffering from post-partum depression following the birth of her son Trig. “In fact, one aide who raised this possibility in the course of trashing Palin’s mental state to others in the McCain-Palin campaign was Steve Schmidt,” Kristol wrote.

Asked about the accusation, Schmidt fired back in an e-mail: “I'm sure John McCain would be president today if only Bill Kristol had been in charge of the campaign.”

“After all, his management of [former Vice President] Dan Quayle’s public image as his chief of staff is still something that takes your breath away,” Schmidt continued. “His attack on me is categorically false.”

Asked directly in a telephone interview if he brought up the prospect of Palin suffering from post-partum depression, Schmidt said: “His allegation that I was defaming Palin by alleging post-partum depression at the campaign headquarters is categorically untrue. In fact, I think it rises to the level of a slander because it’s about the worst thing you can say about somebody who does what I do for a living.”

But Kristol’s charge was seconded by Randy Scheunemann, a longtime foreign policy adviser to McCain who is also close to the Standard editor and was thought to be a Palin ally within the campaign.

“Steve Schmidt has a congenital aversion to the truth,” Scheunemann said. “On two separate and distinct occasions, he speculated about about Governor Palin having post-partum depression, and on the second he threatened that if more negative publicity about the handling of Governor Palin emerged that he would leak his speculation [about post-partum depression] to the press. It was like meeting Tony Soprano.”

Sounds like these gentlemen (and I use that term loosely) are suffering from a bit of post-election-man-o-pause, i.e. the McCain's candidacy put such a pause in my career, let's be real men and blame this whole thing on the female VP and her hormones.

Read more about the GOP cat fight here.

Happy 4th.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Florida's 152 New Laws

Ah. July 1st.

The official date to effect new Florida laws.

Although the state legislature had a plate full of budget woes this past session, 152 bills managed to side dish their way onto Gov. Charlie Crist's table to be signed into law.

My favorite this year?

Subleasing Florida's prison population to nearby states.

Instead of addressing zero tolerance laws that have severely overcrowded Florida prisons, the Department of Corrections now has the legal blessing to contract our prisoners out to states with housing vacancies. (
And you all were worried about Guantanamo....)

Per The Sentencing Project, no matter how gracious a sister state's hospitality, room at the inn may prove difficult.

"The United States is the world's leader in incarceration with 2.1 million people currently in the nation's prisons or jails -- a 500% increase over the past thirty years...."

Also among the 152, the passage of the Rachel Hoffman law tightens up law enforcement procedure
previous to the recruitment of suspects or offenders for use as informants. Rachel was 23 years old when killed while working undercover as a drug informant for the Tallahassee Police Department.

Read the 2009 Session Summary over at the Florida House here.


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