January 2006
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Month January 2006

Two retirements

By a truly peculiar coincidence, today was the last day in office for both Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.  Both were appointed by President Ronald Reagan, O’Connor in 1981 and Greenspan in 1987.  Both had a tremendous impact on the institutions in which they worked, and on the country.  And both, I think it is fair to say, have served their country with distinction, even though we may all find things to criticize in both of their records. Thanks to both of them.

My plan for SOTU tonight

  • 4-5 oz vodka (run the cheap stuff through the Brita filter if you have to)
  • martini glass from the freezer
  • Enough dry vermouth to mist the glass
  • strip of lemon rind

  • Shaken and poured. Makes the lies, incompetence, utter insanity, and their accompanying standing ovations, go down easier.

    Use Russian vodka if things get really Soviet in their corrupt stupidity. Actually, count on it.

    Again, I’ll be “liveblogging” on paper.

    UPDATE: All right, here are my quick hit impressions:

    Not much to see or hear, overall. More terra terra terra, things are

    great in Iraq, democracy, purple fingers and everything. I wish I lived

    in his world — sounds better than reality, seeing some of the Jill

    Carroll video tonight — crushingly awful.
    (More after the flip)

    The Globe: Oops and double Oops

    As many of you may already know, the Boston Globe and sister publication the Worcester Telegram and Gazette accidently released the credit card, bank card or check routing numbers ofnearly a 1/4 of a million people. Dispite what the story says, as of 7;30 on 1/31/06 when you call their special hotline, they can still can not tell you if you credit card number has potentialy fallen into criminal hands. Update, they took the hotline # out of the story.  After the customer service people said they could not give me the info, I call the reporter and said the info in his story was wrong.  He said he got it off a press release he got.  About 15 minutes later, I got a call from the customer service supervisor saying I was not part of the 240,000 affected.  For those who read my (sometime) blog rants, I was annoyed enough that they wanted to got back to me. But apparently don’t want to release the phone # because they can’t handle the volume (at one point they said they had the info, but couldn’t go thru the 240,000 names).  Sounds like a FUBAR

    Reality check

    I happened to pick up a copy of the Boston Metro newspaper today – you know, the free one that you can get at any subway stop.  Page 1 headline: family of kid who was expelled from Milton Academy and prosecuted for “receiving oral sex” from a 15-year-old girl has sued the school.  Huge headline on page 2: dominatrix acquitted of murder.  Story about Reilly choosing St. Fleur as his running mate: small teaser on p. 1, and a short story in small type at the bottom of p. 2.  Very little about the Gabrieli imbroglio, though it’s mentioned in a little sidebar on p. 2 called “Second choices.”  Story about failure of Alito filibuster: right side of the page in small print on p. 5, next to a huge headline about Jill Carroll in Iraq. I’m guessing that the Boston Metro is a pretty decent barometer of what normal people (i.e., those not obsessed with the daily ins and outs of politics) are paying attention to.  Which is to say that it’s as most of us suspected: not too many people really care about these stories.  Supreme Court stuff only goes on the public’s radar screen when there’s a […]

    What Kind of Candidate Should Democrats Nominate?

    I’ve noticed a kind of philosohical question emerging in this whole LG imbroglio and it’s this:

    What kind of candidates should Democrats put out there? 

    Should we put experienced, seasoned politicians with deep connections to a political base out there?

    Should we put up more “private” citizens who have distinguished themselves in a non-political arena?

    With the past 16 years as our guide, I think the Democrats should consider the latter.  And here’s a simple reason why:  career politicians have lost  the last three Gov. elections.  It’s time to try something else.

    HSAs and Orange Juice

    In the baseball memoir Ball Four, Jim Bouton recalls when his team stopped providing orange juice in the clubhouse. “Well, you guys would just drink it all up anyway,” says the clubhouse guy. Such is the stunning logic of health savings accounts, or HSAs, which President Bush will tout as his New Big Stupid Idea in the State of the Union address tonight. As Josh Marshall says, they are the solution to the problem of folks having too much insurance. So if you have to pay for it yourself, you won’t have all those unnecessary trips to the doctor, or take those unnecessary medications, or have those unnecessary tests. It’s the ownership society — when it comes to your health, you’re on your own. Fine, huh? Except that it turns out that folks skip the necessary tests, the necessary medications, the necessary procedures, too. Why? Because we don’t know what’s necessary. That’s a doctor’s job. And as is thoroughly documented in the book Uninsured in America, late and inadequate treatment of disease leads to an economic and literal “death spiral”, as the costs of care rise and an individual’s earning power is crippled by poor health. The HSA is a […]

    Reilly creates a fundraising problem for himself.

    By anointing a candidate with only $18,000 in her campaign account, is the Reilly camp aware of the problem they have made for themselves?  This year it is apparent that Goldberg, Murray and Silbert will have well funded campaigns, with Silbert and Murray probably spending in the $1 to 1.5 million range (and maybe more) and Goldberg potentially spending in the gazillion range.

    Ineffective v. Effective

    Meanwhile, on dailyKos, Kos writes, “While we obsessed over the cloture vote, that was not news to the rest of the country …. What was? Bob Woodruff almost getting killed and Jill Carroll pleading for her life …. This isn’t meant to minimize the importance of the Alito vote, but to note that this has not been a glorious day for Dear Leader. In fact, it’s one of those days that may very well have turned the public against his presidency once and for all.” Please. This kind of pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking — Filibuster Alito from Davos! The public is about turn on Bush because of hostages in Iraq! — shows how extremist and out of touch some members of our community, perhaps in desperation, have become. The way to win is to concentrate on specific, realistic, attainable solutions to existing problems; build a coalition with conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans; and make sure effective candidates get the money and attention they need to succeed. I invite you to reach out to good candidates you know who are running for office, or thinking of running for office. Ask them to write a post introducing themselves. I’ll promote any candidate for […]

    And now, the obligatory “I told you so” post

    Way back when the worst we had to worry about on the Supreme Court was John Roberts, I wrote the following: The WORST POSSIBLE STRATEGY for the Democrats, in my view, is the one that they appear to be pursuing: everyone does what they feel like, with the result that, let’s say, about 20 Democrats vote “no,” about 25 vote “yes,” Roberts is comfortably confirmed, and the Democrats have failed to stake out any ground whatsoever for the next nomination.  Look, we cannot, and probably (in my view) should not, prevent John Roberts from becoming the next Chief Justice of the United States.  But we CAN, and we SHOULD, send a powerful message of some sort to President Bush and the Senate Republicans that Justice O’Connor’s replacement is a different kettle of fish because of her unique role on the Court.  If we fail to do that, we really suck. Sure enough, we really sucked.  More precisely, the Democrats moved forward on Roberts with no strategy whatsoever – even though useful and viable strategies were certainly available (as I noted here) – and split right down the middle, 22 for and 22 against. And now, having totally failed to do […]

    State of the Union in 1941

    Franklin Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, 1941: In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor — anywhere in the wold. That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called “new order” of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb. To that new order […]