Oct 31, 2005

Man, this just ain't right.

I know the whole Alito nomination is no laughing matter, but I just can't get past this picture. Courtesy of The Bulldog Manifesto.


After Miers withdrew her SC nomination, rampant speculation suggested that whomever Dubya picked as his next nominee would be even more conservative.

They were right.

Sam Alito, currently an appeals judge in the 3rd circuit, bears a "hefty legal resume," unlike his predecessor. But this time, it's not a question of experience; it's a question of ideology.

This isn't about elected officials who are dedicated to public service; this is about the continuation of the conservatives' greedy power grab, and desire to infiltrate all three branches of government. What we have today is another example of Dubya kowtowing to his conservative base. Senator Kennedy said it best:

Rather than selecting a nominee for the good of the nation and the court, President Bush has picked a nominee whom he hopes will stop the massive hemorrhaging of support on his right wing. This is a nomination based on weakness, not strength.

So predictable. And quite frankly, I'm afraid. If Scalito gets the job (and I wouldn't be surprised if he does), our judiciary will be extremely right-leaning, Roe v. Wade will be overturned, and our country's cultural and political progress will devolve into a new Dark Age. I'm sorry to feel so pessimistic, but seriously, I can feel it.

Oct 30, 2005

Oh, Good Lord.

Raj, the bow-tied smarm meister on "The Apprentice" is running for Congress. I don't even know what else to say.

Bhakta, 29, has never been elected to anything but project manager. But the real-estate developer thinks he'll defeat incumbent Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Allyson Schwartz in '06. "People would be remiss to think, 'Who is this guy from a television show?' We're not talking like I made it on 'The Real World'."
Beyond the prospect of Omarosa stumping for him, Bhakta is an unusual candidate. He's a pro-choice Republican with reservations about President Bush's policies toward Iraq and the economy. "One of the reasons I'm getting involved in politics is an overall platform of reform, reform, reform," Bhakta says. "Our government needs to begin focusing on education, health care and the environment."

Doctors Delighted to Serve

As if the rich don't have enough privilege in this country, I just read about a new trend in healthcare: Concierge doctors.

For a yearly retainer, these doctors provide same-day or next-day appointments, 24-hour phone access, and lots and lots of personal time and attention with their patients. Waiting rooms are filled with bowls of fruit salad and platters of bagels and sponge cake to tide you over while you wait to see your doctor.

These doctors charge fees as high as $10,000 a year, depending on the services promised. The majority charge $1,500 to $2,000. Basic services consist of same-day or next-day appointments and 24-hour telephone access to the doctor. The most expensive may also promise the doctor will make home visits, deliver medications and accompany patients on visits to other doctors.

It sounds like a great concept, and if you have the money, I guess it's great if you or a family member is getting old and need to have this level of service. But something about this whole setup leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe this is one reason. In the NY Times article, it highlights one Dr. Kaminetsky, whose patient load went from 2500 patients to 600 once he became a conceirge doctor.
Despite the drastic decrease in patient load after he changed the way he ran his practice, Dr. Kaminetsky's personal compensation and the salaries of his office staff members increased by about 60 percent.The arithmetic behind this seeming contradiction results from the low per-visit reimbursement rates set by Medicare for primary care office practices. Medicare now pays an internist like Dr. Kaminetsky slightly over $50 for an average office visit. Thus, a regular internist might earn about $200 a year from Medicare for caring for the average older patient with high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol but no other major health problems.

Aside from how much money they're making, these doctors also appear to be straying from this notion I have that healthcare should be equally accessible by all citizens. This emerging boutique system of healthcare further divides services for the rich and the poor, and I can only see this as turning into a huge crisis later on. I'm seeing 10-20 years down the line a shortage of doctors who will want to work at city/county hospitals because they know they'd make so much more money as concierge doctors.

Oct 28, 2005

Get Lucky

Okay, I may have had a lot of beers last night, but I know I wasn't full of shit.

If I would have thought fast enough to place an [ahem] interesting wager on the table, I'd be sitting here with the biggest Grin O' Victory on my face right now.

Artist: Loverboy
Album: Get Lucky

Year Released: 1981

Merry Fitzmas?

So as we all know by now, Scooter got the smackdown today for obstruction of justice, making false statements (2 counts), and perjury (2 counts). Where's the charge for leaking classified information? Isn't that the most egregious offense here?

Doughboy is still under investigation. Perhaps Fitz is saving the tastiest nugget for him? Ray of light? Or Doughboy selling out to protect his ass?

And on that note, I want to know what role this "Official A" is going to play going forward. According to unnamed sources within the Bush administration, Official A is none other than Doughboy himself.

But is this Official A going to get it? Or what?

Lest we forget:

"These are very serious charges," said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate minority leader. "They suggest that a senior White House aide put politics ahead of our national security and the rule of law. This case is bigger than the leak of highly classified information. It is about how the Bush White House manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to bolster its case for the war in Iraq and to discredit anyone who dared to challenge the president."

And while Dubya sticks to the talking points today, his evil character-assasination task force was in full swing, apparently trying to build its case:
As recently as the last few days, F.B.I. agents questioned neighbors of the Wilsons in northwest Washington, seeking to determine whether it was commonly known that she was a C.I.A. officer, a person involved in the case said. Ms. Wilson sometimes has been known by her maiden name, Valerie Plame.

Mr. Wilson learned of the indictment while at his home today. "If a crime was committed, it was a crime committed against the country," he said. "It's not about whether I'm vindicated or whether Valerie is vindicated, because this crime was not committed against us."

Amen, brother. Amen. Don't forget, people. Dubya and his cronies played us. And now 2,000 dead soldiers later, I'm hoping this is the beginning of payback time.

Time will tell.

(photo credit: Doug Mills/The New York Times)

Oct 27, 2005

So long, Harriet

So Harriet Miers, Supreme Court nominee and George W. Bush superfan #1, withdrew her nomination this morning. She says:
As I stated in my acceptance remarks in the Oval Office, the strength and independence of our three branches of government are critical to the continued success of this great Nation. Repeatedly in the course of the process of confirmation for nominees for other positions, I have steadfastly maintained that the independence of the Executive Branch be preserved and its confidential documents and information not be released to further a confirmation process. I feel compelled to adhere to this position, especially related to my own nomination. Protection of the prerogatives of the Executive Branch and continued pursuit of my confirmation are in tension. I have decided that seeking my confirmation should yield.
In a statement today, Dubya says:
I understand and share her concern, however, about the current state of the Supreme Court confirmation process. It is clear that Senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House ­ disclosures that would undermine a President’s ability to receive candid counsel. Harriet Miers’ decision demonstrates her deep respect for this essential aspect of the Constitutional separation of powers ­ and confirms my deep respect and admiration for her.

Oh please. It's the Dubya spin machine at work again. From Salon's Tim Grieve:

With the Valerie Plame scandal threatening to hurt Bush further with the middle of the country, the White House needed to move quickly to keep its base on board. Charles Krauthammer laid out a plan for an exit strategy last week, and the White House has followed it to a "T": Manufacture a dispute over White House documents, declare an impasse and let the honorable Harriet Miers spare the nation an irreconcilable dispute between the legislative and executive branches by graciously withdrawing her nomination. When the president was asked Monday about a report that the White House was considering a contingency plan for Miers' withdrawal, Bush blurted out instead that he would never turn over documents from the White House "about the decision-making process, what her recommendations were." It wasn't an answer to the question Bush had been asked, and yet it was: The trumped-up, or at least not yet fully realized, document dispute was, in fact, the "contingency plan."

I agree with Tom. This isn't about documents. This isn't about Harriet being a noble American rising above the ugliness of partisan politics. It's about Dubya again showing his ineptitude as a leader, succumbing again to Neocon pressure. It wasn't the left that forced her out. It was the conservative right, who has Dubya by the balls, that did it. He's turned the GOP into the mouth of the neoconservative movement, an inextricable association that will continue to harm this country. Unless the left really gets its act together and gets this bunch of inept leaders out of office.

Oct 25, 2005

Get Informed On Next Month's Special Election

If you're like me, you're probably looking for a central place to go where you can find out information on the ballot initiatives in next month's special election. And you've been so busy that you haven't had a chance to do your research until now.

Fear not. The Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley has done just that. In their "Hot Topics!" section, the Institute provides a high-level synopsis of each state ballot initiative, background information, links to key web sites, relevant newspaper articles, and official voter information.

I'm not going to tell you to vote "yes" or "no" on any particular issue - that's for you to decide for yourself. Chances are if you're reading this blog, you're interested in implementing laws that will help the greater good rather than a chosen few. But it’s important to arm yourself with the facts when you go to the polls. Here’s a good place to start.

(cross-posted on NorCal Politics)

Oct 24, 2005

Is Paul Hackett The Guy?

(photo credit: AP/Al Behrman)

Marine Reservist Maj. Paul Hackett, according to this article in Salon, just might have the chutzpah to fire up the Democratic party. The first Iraq veteran to enter the political arena, he's already called Dubya a "chicken hawk" and a "son of a bitch" with regard to the war.

Not that name calling (no matter how true it is) should be the sole reason in choosing a candidate for Senate, of course.

In his race for the Ohio Senate seat, Hackett comes out, guns blazing:

[...] Hackett conveys the kind of straight-shooting image that Democrats have been struggling so mightily to regain. He doesn't hesitate to endorse same-sex marriage, decry right-wing religious zealotry or, as an NRA member, disagree with other liberals about gun control. In a wide-ranging interview, Hackett spoke with Salon about withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, rethinking the failed war on drugs, reviving the progressive side of the party, and more.
Here's what he had to say about the Democratic Party and what it needs to do to inspire people and get this country moving in the right direction:

What do Democrats need to do to win and get the country back on track?

Stand up and fight for what they believe in and not be afraid of it. I think [there's been] a failure of ideas, a failure of leadership and a failure of having a message to convey. I'm harshly critical of the Democratic leadership to the extent that they stood by and had no critical comment or discussion leading up to their OK'ing the war in Iraq.

Does the Democratic Party stand for progressivism anymore?

There are pockets within the party that do. The constituents and the grass roots and the people out here in Ohio stand for that. I think they've been let down by their leadership.

Do you count yourself among the party's progressives?

Sure, if "progressive" means standing up for the things that made this country great. If it means fighting for working Americans, fighting for an economy that allows working Americans to survive and provide for their families, and if it means demanding a rational discussion about how our military is used or misused ... If that's what progressive stands for, yeah, you bet I'm progressive.

I'll be curious to see how well the DNC and Howard Dean - another spitfire - heed this advice. Should be interesting ...

Oct 13, 2005

I want outrage, people.

I've long noticed the correlation between not-so-helpful-to-Bush news stories and changes in terror levels, but I've never thought to document it.

Keith Olberman does exactly this in his blog today. Remember how in "Fahrenheit 911" Michael Moore draws a connection between government and its need to keep us in fear? Olberman gives a few examples as to how the Bush administration does this.
Are these coincidences signs that the government’s approach has worked because none of the announced threats ever materialized? Are they signs that the government has not yet mastered how and when to inform the public?

Is there, in addition to the "fog of war" a simple, benign, "fog of intelligence”? But, if merely a reasonable case can be made that any of these juxtapositions of events are more than just coincidences, it underscores the need for questions to be asked in this country - questions about what is prudence, and what is fear-mongering; questions about which is the threat of death by terror, and which is the terror of threat.
Either way, Olberman's post again underscores the point that this administration does not know how to govern except by use of fear, deception, and bullying. I always used to bemoan the general public's blind faith in this president and their support of the things he and his administration does, but based on today's approval rating - 39% - criticism of the president is growing.

I am hoping the rating goes down to 25% by year end.

(Props to Paco for the Olbermann link.)

Oct 11, 2005

Streetwars SF: Get Your Assassination On

Street Wars, the round-robin, 24/7 water gun assassination tournament in NYC and Vancouver is making its way to San Francisco.

Get in touch with your inner La Femme Nikita/John Wilkes Booth/Lee Harvey Oswald and sign up by Nov. 2.

At the start of the game you will receive a manila envelope containing the following:
  • A picture of your intended target(s)
  • The home address of your intended target(s)
  • The work address of your intended target(s)
  • The name of your intended target(s)
  • Contact information of your intended target(s)

Upon receipt of these items, your (or your team's) mission is to find and kill (by way of water gun, water balloon or super soaker) your target(s). You can hunt your target down any way you see fit; you can pose as a delivery person and jack them when they open the door, disguise yourself and take them out on the street, etc. If you are successful in your assassination attempt, the person you killed will give you their envelope and the person they were supposed to kill becomes your new target. This continues until you work yourself through all the players and retrieve the envelope with your (or your team's) picture(s) and name(s). Then you win. Cash…but first live in fear.

This sounds like uberfun of the freakiest kind. I don't live *in* San Francisco, so I wonder if I can still participate ...

Oct 10, 2005

If you're not doing anything on Saturday ...

... come wish our Bay Area's own Shortkut a happy birthday @ The Milk Bar on Haight @ Stanyan in San Francisco.

Shortkut is one of the best dancehall DJs I know. Come out and get your dance on. I'll be there - come say hi!

For Job Seekers

For those looking to land a sweet gig with the Bush Administration, check out this site. It might be just the thing you need to get your foot in the door.

(Props to Scott for the link.)

Oct 7, 2005

A Kinder, Gentler Cheney

Yeah. Right.

Mr. Go Fuck Yourself is wagging his bitter tongue again. This time his poison barbs are directed at 75-year-old Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), who questioned Cheney's ability to fulfill his vice presidential duties due to Mr. GFY's heart condition.

"[He's] a lot older than I am, and it shows," Cheney replied.

You gotta hand it to ol' Chuck though. He doesn't miss a beat:

"I would like to believe he's sick rather than just mean and evil," Rangel said.

Me too, man. Me too.

(Photo credit: Shakespeare's Sister via the AP.)

Oct 6, 2005

Onward, [Born-Again] Christian Soldiers!

I don't know why this is such an "ah-ha" moment for me, the fact that Supreme Court Justice Nominee Harriet Miers is a born-again Christian. I should have known. Bush's "trust me" is code, as in, "trust me, she's stealth like that, just you wait and see."

And the fact that James Dobson knows "confidential" information about her just makes this all the more sticky.

The more accolades I read about her and by looking at the people who make such grand statements to her character, the more I think Harriet needs to be denied [emphasis mine]:

"Harriet is what you would call a Southern lady," cooed Merrie Spaeth, the Ronald Reagan staffer turned Swift Boat promoter last year. "It is marvelous to watch her in meetings with huge egos, where she allows people to think good results are the product of their own ideas." In the same Times piece Wednesday, Valley View Christian Church colleagues told a similar story. "She never took a role where she was trying to stand out front," said office manager Vickie Wilson. "She put herself in servant roles, making coffee every Sunday morning and putting doughnuts out."

"Yes, she goes to a pro-life church," [one of the most conservative members of the Republican-dominated Texas Supreme Court] Justice Hecht
said, adding, "I know Harriet is, too." The two attended "two or three" anti-abortion fund-raising dinners in the early 1990's, he said, but added that she had not otherwise been active in the anti-abortion movement. "You can be just as pro-life as the day is long and can decide the Constitution requires Roe" to be upheld, he said.

I'm probably going to catch some flak for saying this, but born-again Christians freak me out. One knocked on my dorm room in college one day asking me if I had accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior, and would I be interested in meeting on a weekly basis to talk about this? My perception of born-again Christendom (is that even a term?) is of this almost cultish, slavish, adherence to some ultra-conservative way of life that, while on the surface seems very calm, spiritual, and friendly, is really a miasma of male-dominated elitism, institutionalized racism, and regression.

And that's really not somebody I'd like to have serving a lifetime on the Supreme Court. As much as they say Miers is a "stickler for the rules," which set of rules will she follow?

UPDATE: So I'm browsing through Media Matters archives and came across this one posted on April 11, 2005, in which James Dobson likened Supreme Court Justices to the KKK, implying that the justices are doing a "great wrong to civil rights and humanity." And now Dobson is saying that Harriet Miers is one heckuva gal and would make a great Supreme Court justice. Hmmm ... RED FLAG!

Oct 5, 2005

My Two Cents

Sorry for the light posting. SUPER busy.

I hate talking points. I swear to Jah, if I hear the phrase "judicial philosophy" one more time ...

"Harriet Miers is an intelligent lawyer who shares the president's judicial philosophy." - Leonard Leo, Federalist Society (courtesy of CNN)

"The President, when he looks to nominate someone to the bench, he looks for someone who has a conservative judicial philosophy, a philosophy that is based on strictly interpreting our Constitution and our laws." -
Scott McClellan, 10/5/05 press briefing

"She shares my judicial philosophy. She is a pioneer when it comes to the law. She's an extraordinary woman." -
Dubya, 10/04/05 press conference

And why is James Dobson, Mr. Focus on the Family, all up in the mix? "Some of what I know I am not at liberty to talk about," Dobson tells the New York Times. Why does he know shit about her that nobody else does? What, did he bang her or something?

And I'm sorry, but hearing the words "trust me" from Mr. Go Fuck Yourself hardly puts me at ease.

Oct 3, 2005

Harriet! Harri-ET! *

Dubya and Harriet Miers, in what can only be described as the most unflattering debut pic ever.
(Photo credit: Salon.com)

What's Dubya up to? His recent nomination of White House Counsel (and long-time Dubya crony) Harriet Miers is not only making the left skeptical, but the super-conservative right-wing of the GOP is pissed that they didn't get a cloned version of Scalia or Thomas.

The conservatives reacted first with befuddlement, then with horror. Rush Limbaugh called the nomination a sign of "weakness." The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol declared himself "disappointed, depressed and demoralized." Republican scold Pat Buchanan said Miers' qualifications were "nonexistent." Right-wing strategist Richard Viguerie suggested a betrayal. Former White House speechwriter David Frum, who worked with Miers, asked hopelessly, "What has been done with the opportunity?"

Oy vey. As if they don't control the entire three branches of our nation's government already. Give me a break.

As for my thoughts on all this, all I can say right now - given the fact that I haven't had time to read up on this today - is that ... at least she's a woman. Granted, she's also a woman who thinks Dubya is "brilliant" (I heard that gem on NPR this morning).

Yeah, she doesn't have any experience as a judge. But that could be a good thing. A breath of fresh air. A new perspective.

But the larger context here - a context which makes me feel quite uncomfortable - is that yet again, Dubya has sought to promote, as Media Matters says, well-connected people in high-ranking government positions.

Seriously, is Dubya THAT dumb? To get criticized for the missteps of former FEMA head Michael Brown, to now-Chief Justice Roberts' insta-promotion, and now this. Does the guy NOT have any sense of at least pretending to learn from his mistakes? Maybe distance himself a little, trying not to repeat the past? I mean she was his personal lawyer while he was governor of Texas, for Jah's sake. Oy vey. Time will tell ...

*Nod to "So I Married an Axe Murderer." Don't you just love my sense of humor? Don't answer that.