Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Really, itg's all the same story

A typical day in soccer, as a Man U fan was stabbed in Rome, where the red shirts will be playing Barcelona in the Champions League final this week.

Pao Gasol wants the ball more in the low post. Big surprise. The Lakers are not in big trouble as their series is even and games 5, 6, and 7 almost always go to the home team.

The Cavaliers are done, and were it not for a miracle shot in Game that series would be over. In spite of the conventional wisdom that the Cavaliers were the best team in Basketball and a shoe-in for the title, the result is typical as well: the team with the great player can't win because he takes too many shots. In the three games that LaBron as over 40 points in this series the Cavaliers have lost. Typical.

But can you imagine the networks tearing their hair out, and the suits at NBA headquarters crying themselves to sleep, thinking about the possibility of a Denver vs. Orlando final? This was supposed to be Kobe vs. Labron, the games two biggest stars, Olympic teammates now rivals. Not Carmello Anthony and Dwight Howard. But that is typical too.

But most typical of all is the Republican talking heads bashing Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's choice for Supreme Court. While Rachel Maddow paints Sotomayor as not liberal enough, Limbaugh and his crowd have her taking tea with Castro. From a media and confirmation standpoint the pick was near perfect. Sotomayor is Hispanic, a woman, and has a great rags to riches Horatio Alger story. If the Republicans attack her the risk alienating Hispanics for the next two election cycles, and possible blue collar workers and women as well. The PACs on both sides of the aisle are gearing up to use this as a fund raising tool, but the buzz is that Republicans don't ahve a stomach for this fight. Not only that, but she would be one liberal justice replacing another. The real fight doesn't start until Kennedy retires (which could still come this year). But Limbaugh and Hannity and all the bubble heads at Fox are running their mouths off proclaiming here to be proof that Obama is the most liberal president ever and is trying to sell us down the road to godless socialism. Typical.

Maddow's point, by the way, is an interesting one. She says that it is a mistake to ask whether or not Sotomayor is, as the White House is trying to paint her, "conservative enough". Why, she asks, should we want a conservative or even a moderate on a court that already skews so far to the right. Why not appoint a real liberal, someone who is truly radical in their judicial thinking, to the court and try to restore some sort of balance to a court that has been curtailing abortion rights, siding consistently with business and polluters, and recently overturned eighty years of jurisprudence regarding gun laws in favor of an individual as opposed to collective right to keep and bear arms? Why not, say Maddow, fight now, when Obama's political capital is at its peak, have a real liberal on the court? Also typical.

Thankfully, she wasn't making the pick.

63 37 to confirm. Maybe even more.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More "Change we can believe in"

Meet the new boss and all that....

A great article from the LA Times on how the US has been holding an Iraqi journalist who works for Reuters since September, in spite of an Iraqi court order to release him and in spite of not charging him with any crime.

Exactly where is that change we were supposed to believe in?

Hate Mongers Win

There was little doubt that the California Supreme Court would uphold Proposition 8 when it ruled earlier today. The same court that last May 15 held that gays had a constitutional right to marry this morning ruled that the constitutional amendment that passed last November (helped in part by Latino and African American church goers who turned out to back President Obama). Precedent and the justices own questioning seemed to indicate the way it would go: the constitutional amendment was not illegal, nor did it take away an inalienable right as Jerry argued. (I thought Jerry's argument was extremely creative and cogent, but it didn't stand much of a chance). Now it will go to the ballot box again, and hopefully equality will win out over bigotry this time.

However, a key provision of the law, one that is extremely far reaching, remains intact: sexual orientation is now treated like race and gender and afforded "the highest protection" in discrimination cases. This was part of the California Supreme Court's original ruling allowing gay marriage, and Prop 8 did nothing to overturn it. So some small blow for justice has indeed been struck.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Mr. President, no!

It is time for me to write about President Obama’s decision to keep some GITMO inmates in indefinite detention, and to try some others in military tribunals—tweaking but essentially maintaining a policy that he promised to abolish. What do I think of that?

It’s criminal.

Not the promising to abolish and then reneging. That’s not criminal. Politicians do that all the time. No, I mean the war crimes part. I mean the part for which Dick Cheney and possibly George W. Bush should and actually might stand trial in an international court. That’s the part that is criminal, as in it is a crime.

Do I feel let down or disillusioned? Not really. I didn’t have any illusions that Obama would change the world. Disappointed? Yes. I’m disappointed because the thing I voted for most of all in Obama was a return to the rule of law, to the constitution, away from the illegal big-brother dictatorship of Bush 43. I knew I was getting an intellectual who was also a pragmatic politician, someone who wasn’t particularly liberal but who leaned a bit to the left of center, but I did believe him when he said he was going to close GITMO and return our country to the rule of law. I honestly think he wanted to. I honestly think the JAG convinced him that if we actually tried some people we would lose and have to release men that we knew were terrorists—possibly because we had tortured them and therefore under American law all the evidence we had gotten from them was tainted. And he didn’t want to be responsible for releasing terrorists. Ignore for a moment the fact that holding these men without trial proves us to be hypocrites who have no right to call ourselves a nation of laws, any kind of example to the rest of the world, or any of that garbage. How can we claim to be the leader of the free world when we are not ourselves free, when we refuse to uphold the freedoms we scold others for not upholding?

We can’t.

I’m still not sorry I voted for Obama. I still think he’s the finest and best qualified person to hold the office since Roosevelt. I still believe in him. But I pray he will come to his senses.

Friday, May 22, 2009

I want my OTV

Here's a flash for you: politicians like to spin the news.

This is the lesson of a recent report that when President Obama shot hoops with the national champion UConn Women's B-ball team that pool reporters were not permitted to film it and, instead, the White House produced a video on the event themselves and gave it to the news outlets. The White House press corps cried foul. "They're not letting us play" seemed to be the refrain. They whined about how they weren't being allowed to do their jobs and fretted that if all news was filtered through the White House there's be no actual news anymore. Well, maybe they have a point, but the White House Press Corps already gets filtered news from the White House. That's what the press secretary does: filter the news and spin it for the press corps. They can accept it or challenge it but they are not getting unadulterated news by any stretch of the imagination. Nonetheless I understand their frustration. They are supposed to be the ones taking the photos of these events--at least that's how its always been. I'm not too upset about this because it was just a basket ball game, and all of this stuff is carefully staged and choreographed to put the president in a good light. My suspicion is that they just didn't want any camera's around to see him get beat by a bunch of girls.

But here is what strikes me of the coverage on ABC's web site: every time I read one of these stories and then read the comments from people on them I despair for the future of America. These people are insane. I know they are not a random sampling, that the people who read these stories are usually biased, and the people who b other to write about them are ignorant morons and conspiracy freaks. But still it amazes me that people beleive this shit:

This is the first step of Obama's dictatorial take over of America.

It's a little trick he learned from his comrade Hugo Chavez.

How can the White House want to spin the news when they've already got a love fest from every news source but Fox?

Next stop concentration camps for Christians.

And on and on and on. My God! How can people believe this drivel? I suppose it's the same as the nuts (my apologies to Mr. Hicks) who believe that Bush and Cheney were responsible for 9/11.

I get it, I guess. The right is panicking because it is suddenly irrelevant. The American people have left them and they, firm in their belief that they are patriots and they are right, have to point out to every body what is REALLY GOING ON!!! Like many on the left, who have been in the wilderness since 1980, they have to believe that their is some sinister cabal of forces deceiving the world that is behind all of this because the alternative--that the American People have moved on and left them behind--is just too unfathomable. But the polls show that all this so called socialism is what the people want, and history as shown that Reganomics was a failure and is a failure. But they can't deal with that, so they have to say that Obama is in league with either the communists or Al Queda. In fact, most of them believe he is in league with both, demonstrating their complete ignorance (one is fundamentally atheist, the other religiously fundamentalist, they cannot be allied). I felt this way most of my life. I came of voting age two years after Regan was elected, and America had definitely left me and mine behind.

But they are hypocrites. The right, I mean. They chastised the left for not supporting President Bush and called us traitors for protesting against him, and now they are being far worse. I know there are good people on the right, but the voices I hear are a bunch of hypocritical, bigoted, loud mouthed bullies who don't care a damn about America, just about being in power. And now they are out of power.

I've got a message for them: get used to it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Democracy in action

George Stephanopolus once famously said "Let me make one small vote for the NRA. They're good citizens. They call their Congressmen. They write. They vote. They contribute. And they get what they want over time." So when the NRA wins something in congress, and my people start whining about how the NRA is setting the agenda now, maybe they (we) should take a long hard look at why.

Most people in American support gun ownership.

In order to win back the House and Senate the democratci party was forced to open up the big tent.

Obama is too busy wrestling with the economy to take on social issues.

And eh's really not a liberal (he just plas one--or just plays to a base--on TV).

Let's face it: to beat the republicans we had to welcmoe back those who had been ostracized by the zealots in our ranks: hunters, anglers, gun enthusiasts, small business people, property rights advocates, libertarians and even, unfortunately, some pro life activists. Those who are now crying about that would probably rather ahve a pure party with about 20% of the house. They are the leftie equivilents of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hanity who advocate orthodoxy over results. People like Carolyn McCarthy, who this week quoted as saying "The NRA is taking over the House and Senate." (She is mostly laying the groundwork for her campaing to unseat Kirsten Gilliland in next year's New York Sentae special elelction).

The cause of all this hoopla is a measure attached tot he Credit Card Bill of Rights that allows people to carry loaded guns in nationl parks. This measure was sponsored and heavilly pushed by the NRA, and so the NRA is once again the boogey man. My liberal compatriots are rending their garments that this measure could pass in a democratically controlled congress. But it's not just democratically controlled. It is America controlled, and this is the type of measure most people in America want. That doesn't mean shut up and like it. This is America: fight it, protest, if that's what you think you should do. But be honest about it and admit that at the moment you, the anti gun forces, are in the minority.

And, in fact, the real answer to this is "big deal." If a person can carry a gun up to the national park legally, making him unload it at the gate is silly. I do have a concernt hat some yahoo might pop a cap in a brown bear in Yosemite Valley after this. Brown Bears in Yosemite are about as dangerous as pekinese in Central Park, but tell that to some idiot who catches one crawling into his tent with him because said idiot was dumb enough to take a bag of Doritos to bed.

But I digress. This measure is not a big deal. But it is a big symbollic deal. It shows that in a Democratic controlled congress witha Democratic president the anti-gun loby has lost its power. It does not bode well for Diane's plans to reinstate the assault weapons ban.

I'm a long time supporter of Diane Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer. I've voted for all of them in the past and if I still lived in San Francisco I would do so again. On most issues, and many that are important to me, they are the politicians I believe in and trust to fight for what is right. But I plan to volunteer for Kirsten Gilliland's cmpaing next year, becasue she is the future of the Democratic Party. And the assault weapons ban is as good as dead already.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sanity in sports

My mom sent me a link to the Fox Sports column On The Mark. Today it has the best thing I've read so far about Michael Vick. Check it out.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Yay us!

A student from our department at CCNY has won a student Oscar for narrative film! The story is in Indiewire.

California Leads Again

There was a book called "Promised Land" a few years back that posited that California because of its population and huge economy, leads the way on most social revolutions in the US by about twenty years (though sadly not so on Gay Marriage, where New England is leading us out of the Dark Ages strangely enough). So I find it interesting that Jerry Brown has just sent out an email blast noting that President Obama, California, and the car companies have reached a deal whereby the federal government will adopt California's tougher emissions standards as national. Go Cal.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Citizenship and Statesmanship

Proof that the republicans are completely morally bankrupt comes from the fact that, before President Obama has even nominated anyone to the Supreme Court, they are already mounting attacks against his choice. Is this any different than what the Democrats have done in the past? I don’t know. It seems like, when they challenged an appointee, they did so once we knew who the appointee was. And there is the cynicism angle: the Republicans are not doing this to advance any policy, they are not doing it because they actually think they can get someone one the court who will overturn Roe v. Wade; they are doing this for completely political purposes, to energize their base. Obama is going to get the nominee that he wants. The Republicans, as the Democrats did before them, will try to filibuster in hope of forcing the president to back down and pick a second nominee and therefore look bad. Some of them might actually think they will get from Obama what they couldn’t get from the Bushes or Regan—the overturning of Roe v. Wade, but that’s not going to happen and the smart ones know it. In fact, they probably won’t be able to filibuster. The democrats will stick together, Specter will stick with the democrats, and if it comes down to it Al Franken will join the court at some time in June before and there will be no filibuster. For eight years Republicans have been screaming and whining that a president’s court choices deserve a straight up and down vote and that filibusters of judicial appointees are wrong. But, as they say, the shoe is on the other glove now and many of them will prove to be hypocrites: many, but not all. Republican senators facing tough re-election campaigns have a hard choice to face. Those whose political futures depend upon attracting moderates would be ill advised to take part in a filibuster. Those who are running for reelection in safe districts and who would be safe in a primary as well can vote their conscience. Some of them might be inclined to stick to principle and oppose a filibuster. Boss Limbaugh and the pachyderm bully brigade may try to intimidate Senators with primary challenges as they did to drive Specter out of the Senate, and that will scare some of the more cowardly republicans into joining the hypocrisy. But it won’t do anything to actually derail the nomination.

I am such a wonk. This morning I got up and was channel surfing, and instead of watching morning sports I stopped on C-Span, where Mario Cuomo was being interviewed about the separation of church and state. Cuomo, whom many democrats like myself wanted to run for president in 92 and wanted to see on the Supreme Court in 95: Cuomo who is the greatest statesman the Democratic Party has. When discussing this issue Cuomo gave a concise history of the Supreme Court and noted that the court was intended to be apolitical. He used the analogy of an umpire who can’t make a call on a pitch that hasn’t been thrown to make the point that a justice can’t come in with an opinion on a case he or she hasn’t heard yet. But that, he said, is only an ideal.

It is now a political battle and he predicted that in a political battle Obama will win. The republicans are just being cynical partisan hacks. They are an embarrassment to democracy.

So to, by the way, are those at Notre Dame and Arizona State who would deny the president an honorary degree. In Arizona, the state that resisted a Martin Luther King holiday until it was the last one without one, it just looks bad. Their argument that he had not yet accomplished enough is absurd. They didn’t give him the (totally useless, by the way) degree when he spoke there this week. Notre Dame will give him a degree, but under a cloud of pro-life protests. It is clear they don’t’ teach citizenship at Notre Dame. Let me say that I was opposed to President Bush and his policies. I wrote a book about it. I protested the 2004 convention in New York. But I would have been honored to have him speak at my graduation and to shake his hand, because he is the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES and though we may oppose his policies and his actions as chief executive we must support the office and his position as head of state. It is as head of state the president acts in ceremonial functions and it is our duty as citizens to support and honor him in that function, whether we are protesting.

So shut up about it and stop embarrassing us. Thankfully the administration t Notre Dame understands citizenship.

Monday, May 11, 2009

You may be shocked

A lot of my readers know that, in spite of my second amendment stance, I am a big supporter of Nancy Pelosi. One of the things I hated most about changing my registration to New York City was that the Big Three Women of California, Nancy, Diane Feinstein, and Barbara Boxer, would no longer be representing me. I like all three of them and even if I don't agree with them on a lot of things I do on a lot of others. Plus they are all from the Bay Area so they are my peeps. Barbara lived three blocks form me in the City, and I saw on the street often. Nancy was my congress person for several years. Boxer, from Marin County, has always fought hard for causes I believe in. I was immensely proud when Nancy became speaker of the house.

So you might be surprised to hear that I don't think David Feherty should be fired. It's up to a federal prosecutor to decide if he should be arrested (I don't think that either, but the niceties of such things are not in my bailiwick), but he shouldn't be fired.

If you haven't heard Feherty, a golf analyst for CBS is also a long time supporter of President Bush's and of the war in Iraq, is in hot water. In an interview for a local Dallas magazine, which was interviewing him about Bush moving to Dallas, Feherty said "If you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Osama bin Laden, there's a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice, and Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled to death."

Is that reprehensible? Yes. Is it detestable? Yes. Is it criminal, I don't think so. But it is not a firing offense. This isn't really a freedom of speech issue. Feherty's freedom of speech, like mine, only protects him from government interference. His employers have a right to fire him at any time. A lot of people are complaining that he should be fired because if they don't take action then CBS is endorsing his comments. If these were comments he had made on the air then absolutely. But these are comments that he made in an interview, where he was asked to express his personal (albeit reprehensible) opinion. Don't get me wrong: I would love to see this boob get canned. But it would not be the right thing to do.

But more than that, CBS shouldn't fire this guy because I don't think his asinine opinion will hurt their golf ratings one little bit. Most of the people who play and watch golf are relatively conservative to begin with. There is very little love for the democrats on the golf circuit. I remember the Ryder cup team refusing to meet with President Clinton one year. One of them said "I didn't vote for him." In other words, golfers and their fans are the kind who will make disgusting jokes about Nancy Pelosi. He'll probably get a two and a half point bump out of this, and more if the controversy keeps going, and CBS is unlikely to fire anybody for boosting their ratings.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

OMG The Post!

So I read that article on dogs and birdwatchers by googling it after mom had told me about it. The article was not even handed (it's the post, after all) but it was mostly written from the birdwatchers point of view. At the least they had the largest voice. It wasn't until I got to the bodega later that I saw the cover. While the bird watchers had the first and last word in the article itself, the front page refer, with it sensationalist headline and it's pathetic picture of a sad eyed beagle, definitely sided with the dogs. I burst out laughing when I saw it.

Who let the dogs out?

Apparently, there is a little war brewing in my backyard and I was unaware of it. According to the New York Post. A conflict, which as occasionally erupted into violence, is going on between bird watchers and dog owners in Prospect Park. It's a problem typical of New York, the most arrogant, entitled city in the world. Most of the people involved live in their own little isolated world and woe unto anything or anyone who should disturb it. I don't know the economic status of the people interviewed in the article, but I live around here and I can guarantee that most of them come from Park Slop, Fort Green, or Windsor Terrace, three of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Brooklyn. They are well off yuppies and old school New York complainers who feel that the world revolves around them and either their dogs or their boids. (Dirty... disgusting... filthy... lice-ridden boids. You used to be able to sit out on the stoop like a person. Not anymore! No, sir! Boids!). But as it is happening here (I live two blocks from Prospect Park: it really is my back yard) I suppose I should take notice.

I don't have any proposed solutions, because neither side would listen to reason anyway. This is New York. We have eight million people crammed together, each of us with our own opinions and none of us willing to give an inch. We are obstinate. It is in our nature. This is one of those wonderful New York stories, complete with snooty yuppies and a crazy Brooklynite stirring up trouble for everyone (Look at him: he is right out of Central Casting). So far the violence has been limited to pepper spray directed at dogs and a few threats, but make no mistake: more is on the way. Either somebody is going to sick their dog on a bird watcher, or some bird watcher is going to shoot a dog owner, and then this whole thing will end up on Law and Order (it probably is headed there already). All because, in the natural order of things, dogs chase birds.