Sunday, November 22, 2009

On Obama by Maureen Dowd.

If we could see a Reduced Shakespeare summary of Obama’s presidency so far, it would read:

Dither, dither, speech. Foreign trip, bow, reassure. Seminar, summit. Shoot a jump shot with the guys, throw out the first pitch in mom jeans. Compromise, concede, close the deal. Dither, dither, water down, news conference.

It’s time for the president to reinvent this formula and convey a more three-dimensional person.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Let me not pray to be sheltered from
dangers but to be fearless in facing

Let me not beg for the stilling of
my pain but for the heart to conquer it.

Let me not look for allies in life's
battlefield but to my own strength.

Let me not crave in anxious fear to
be saved but hope for the patience to
win my freedom.

Grant me that I may not be a
coward, feeling your mercy in my
success alone; but let me find the grasp
of your hand in my failure.


Thursday, November 19, 2009


Inside a Secret CIA Prison

An exclusive riding academy in Vilnius Lithuania housed one of the CIA's secret detention centers, ABC News reports. Evidently, a CIA front company bought the property, located near a posh suburb, in 2004. Lithuania had agreed to allow the prison in 2002 after President Bush visited the country and vowed to support Lithuania's bid to join NATO. The CIA constructed the prison inside the riding area of the stable, building a thick concrete wall inside the building, and flying in prefabricated parts to build pods for prisoners. Locals saw large amounts of dirt coming out of the super-secret building, but were turned away by English-speaking guards who were replaced every 90 days. Former CIA agents involved in the program report that as many as eight prisoners were held for more than a year in that facility, which was closed in Nov. 2005 after public disclosures about the program. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and the CIA declined to be interviewed, although a CIA spokesman called ABC News "irresponsible" for reporting the prison's existence, adding, "This agency does not discuss publicly where detention facilities may or may not have been.”

Read it at ABC News
Posted at 11:35 AM, Nov 19, 2009


I'm confident that at the end of this process we will be able to present to the American people in very clear terms what exactly is at stake what we intend to do, how we're going to succeed, how much it's going to cost, how long it's going to take - and I think that's what owed the American people because frankly over the last several years that's not what they've gotten,” Obama said on NBC, taking a dig at the Bush administration.


. Judge: Corps Caused Katrina Flood

Citing “monumental negligence” by the Army Corps of Engineers, a federal judge ruled the U.S. government must pay damages to New Orleans residents whose homes were flooded after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The judge offered a “scathing critique” of the Corps’ maintenance of a shipping channel called the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, which was widened at the cost of protective wetlands that could have slowed Katrina’s storm surge. (The Corps had said it was immune from liability and had properly maintained the channel.) Four people and a business were awarded $720,000.

Read it at NPR


Accountant: Nicolas Cage Was 'Compulsive' Spender

Among the accusations laid out in Levin's the 12 page cross-complaint to Cage's lawsuit against are the below:

• By the time he had hired Levin in 2001, Cage "had already squandered tens of millions of dollars he had earned as a movie star" and owed millions in unpaid income taxes.

• Levin advised him that he needed to earn $30 million a year to keep up his lavish lifestyle.

• Levin tried to stop the financial bleeding, persuading Cage to sell off a dozen of his automobiles and his $1.6 million comic book collection.

• Following a string of box office hits, Cage went on an "epic spending spree." According to Levin, in 2007 the National Treasure star purchased three homes at more than $33 million; 22 cars, including nine Rolls Royces; 12 purchases of expensive jewelry and 47 pieces of artwork.

• Cage "spent huge sums of money taking his sizable entourage on costly vacations and threw enormous Gatsby-scale parties at his residences."

• By 2008, Cage owned 15 palatial homes around the world, four yachts, an Island in the Bahamas, and a Gulfstream jet.

While in his lawsuit Cage alleges that he was in the dark about his dire financial situation, Levin claims he did everything short of cutting up the actor's credit cards, including warning Cage's agents and representatives and pleading with him not to buy more real estate.

"[Cage] knows that his losses are entirely and solely the result of his own compulsive, self-destructive spending, which he engaged in against Levin's advice," states the complaint.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009



enough money within her control to move out
and rent a place of her own,
even if she never wants to or needs to...

something perfect to wear if the employer,
or date of her dreams wants to see her in an hour...

a youth she's content to leave behind....

a past juicy enough that she's looking forward to
retelling it in her old age....

a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill,
and a black lace bra...

one friend who always makes her laugh..
and one who lets her cry...

a good piece of furniture
not previously owned by anyone else in her

eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems,
and a recipe for a meal,
that will make her guests feel honored...

a feeling of control over her destiny..

how to fall in love without losing herself..

how to quit a job,
break up with a lover,
and confront a friend
without ruining the friendship...

when to try harder... and WHEN TO WALK

that she can't change the length of her calves,
the width of her hips, or the nature of her parents..

that her childhood may not have been perfect...
but it's over...

what she would and wouldn't do
for love or more...

how to live
alone... even if she doesn't like it...

whom she can trust,
whom she can't,
and why she shouldn't take it personally...

where to go...
be it to her best friend's kitchen table..
or a charming Inn in the woods....
when her soul needs

What she can and can't accomplish in a day...
a month...and a year...

John Brown by Luisa May Alcott

No breath of shame can touch his shield,
Nor ages dim its shine
Living he made life beautiful
Dying, made death divine.

The execution of John Brown it was hoped would put an end to the pesky black demand for dignified co-existence.

"John Brown's body lies a -moulding in the grave
But his soul goes marching on."

John Brown's eloquent final address to the court included the following.

" I am yet too young to understand that God is any respecter of persons. I believe that to have interfeed as I have done - as I have always freely admitted I have done - in behalf of his dispised poor, was not wrong but right.
Now if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children and the blood of millions in this slave country, whose, whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments - I submit, so let it be done."

Alan Dershowitz contends, "Orsini's attempt on Louis Napoleon, and John Brown's attempt at Harper's Ferry were, in their philosophy, prcisely the same."


Titans Owner Pays $250K for Flipping Bird

Never, since the age of Julius Caesar's gladiatorial thumbs, has a finger made such a difference. Bud Adams, owner of football team the Tennessee Titans, has been ordered to pay a quarter of a million dollars for waving his middle fingers at a game. Adams displayed his middle fingers—first on one hand, then the other, then both in unison—at a game against the Buffalo Bills last weekend. The Titans won the day 41-17, but Adams lost out for "conduct detrimental to the league." For his unsporting behavior, Adams apologized "to the Bills, their fans, our fans, and the NFL." He has agreed to pay his fine.

Read it at CNN

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Just for kicks. :-)))

Groups of Americans were traveling by tour bus through Holland . As they
stopped at a cheese farm, a young guide led them through the
process of cheese making, explaining that goat's milk was
used. She showed the group a lovely hillside where many goats
were grazing. 'These,' she explained, 'are the older
goats put out to pasture when they no longer produce.'

She then asked, 'What do you do in America with your old
goats?' A spry old gentleman answered, 'They send us on
bus tours!

Just for kicks. :-)))

A man went to church one day and afterward he stopped to shake the preacher's hand.. He said, 'Preacher, I'll tell you, that was a damned fine sermon. Damned good!'

The preacher said, 'Thank you sir, but I'd rather you didn't use

The man said, 'I was so damned impressed with that sermon I put five thousand dollars in the offering plate!'

The preacher said, 'No shit?'

Friday, November 13, 2009


With the publication of an interview with Sgt. Mark Todd, the actual cop who gunned down the killer at Fort Hood -- following its account of an unnamed eyewitness last night -- the New York Times finally underlined what some of us noticed from nearly the start: the media fell hook, line and sinker once again for a military account of what happened during the tragedy.

First, it was the "death" of Major Hasan, not corrected for many hours. Then, for days, the story of how a female cop brought down the shooter, even as she was receiving serious wounds. Yet I noticed just hours after the attack that scattered eyewitnesses, via the Web and Twitter, were saying that the killer re-loaded after Kimberly Munley went down.

How could he have done that if she had just plugged him four times, supposedly ending the rampage? Some of those witnesses said they yelled at the second cop to shoot Hasan--which he did, and then went up and kicked his gun away. Yet for days the media rarely questioned the military's "official" story of Munley as savior. The New York Times was one of many who put Munley on the front page and declared, on Nov. 7, that she was the person who nailed Hasan. Its headline: "She ran to gunfire, and ended it." It said flatly that she "brought down the gunman."

The Associated Press talked to Sgt. Todd later that day and he described his actions, but Munley's role remained murky. To its credit: The Times much later did help bring out the truth.

Most news outlets for days labeled Munley "the" (singular) Fort Hood hero. She was the "Mighty Mouse." It wasn't until two days ago that Sgt.Todd got feature billing, although in a secondary role. Now, in the past day, he is finally getting his due as the original account begins to fall away. The cop most responsible for saving the day, it turns out, is a black man, not a white woman.

What else will turn out false about Fort Hood claims from military, e.g. the "Allahu Akbar" shouts by Hasan? Was there any reason that the military deliberately boosted Munley and slighted Todd?

Yes, Munley is a hero for facing the bullets. And, no, this isn't another Jessica Lynch case, but it does have some disturbing similarities. Fool me once this past week, blame the military. Fool me twice, blame the media. What happens next?

UPDATE: For response from Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, go to E&P article.

Greg Mitchell is editor of Editor & Publisher. His most recent book is "Why Obama Won." His twitter feed is @GregMitch and he blogs here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The High Cost of Dying

Michael Jackson's Burial Cost $1 Million

Michael Jackson's funeral last September was certainly fit for a king. The king of pop was interred at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California, which cost a whopping $1 million. That number doesn’t even include the $35,000 price tag for Jackson's eternal outfit, which was cremated along with the pop star. Court documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times also show that flowers for the ceremony totaled $16,000. Jackson's remains rest among the likes of Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard, and Clark Gable, who all occupy the Holy Terrace section of the cemetery's mausoleum.

Read it at Los Angeles Times

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


. 21-Year-Old Wins World Series of Poker

Still paying off student loans? Do yourself a favor and stop reading now. 21-year-old college dropout Joe Cada became the youngest-ever World Series of Poker winner after making an astounding comeback against the second-place finisher, lumberjack Darvin Moon. His prize? $8.5 million. Playing before an audience of 1,500 people at the Rio, Cada came back from a low of two million chips out of 194.8 million on Saturday, besting Moon, who won $5.1 million, with a pair of nines. The field was whittled down from 6,494 to 9 in July, and Moon and Cada knocked out Antoine Saout on Saturday. Cada, a Detroit native, is the son of a auto parts design engineer and a blackjack dealer.

Read it at AFP


Nabokov’s Lost Novel Reviewed

Should Dmitri Nabokov, son of Vladimir, have published his father’s final, unfinished work, The Original of Laura? “In many respects, the release of a rudimentary version of his last novel does a disservice to a writer who deeply cherished precision and was practiced in the art of revision,” Michiko Kakutani writes. “Yet, at the same time, these bits and pieces of Laura will beckon and beguile Nabokov fans, who will find many of the author’s perennial themes and obsessions percolating through the story of Philip.” The novel, written on Nabokov’s death bed, “explores the subjects of death and the otherworldly with contemplative urgency,” Kakutani writes.

Read it at The New York Times

Sunday, November 08, 2009


Health-Care Reform Passes in House

After an in-person push by President Obama and his fellow Democratic leaders kicked off an intense, daylong debate, the trillion-dollar health-care legislation was passed by House Democrats with a final vote of 220-215 late Saturday night. Thirty-nine Democrats voted against the health-care bill, along with every Republican except Joseph Cao of Louisiana. Meanwhile, the controversial abortion compromise passed with a vote of 240-194. The amendment to bar federal funding for most abortions was put in front of the House after Speaker Nancy Pelosi helped negotiate with two dozen anti-abortion Democrats over the bill. As expected, the Republican alternative health-care plan failed earlier in the night on a vote of 176-258, and Timothy Johnson of Illinois was the only GOP lawmaker to cross party lines. The historic vote ended with a triumphant Pelosi proclaiming "That was easy" as she left the floor, and after her tooth-and-nail fight for the bill, many are hailing health-care reform as more of a victory for the Speaker than for President Obama. "I think this is probably the biggest win she'll have in all the years she serves," said Rep. John Murtha.

Read it at The Washington Post

Friday, November 06, 2009


Heroine Who Downed Gunman a 'Tough Cookie'

Sgt. Kimberley Munley put a quick end to the shooting at Fort Hood yesterday, gunning down suspected shooter Major Nidal Malik Hasan in spite of her own injuries, and friends of the police officer are saying that this kind of bravery is standard for Munley. "She was born and bred to be a police officer. If you were ever to be in a fight, she'd be the first person to stand up next to you and back you up,” said a longtime friend of Munley’s. “She's a tough cookie." After being called in to respond to the shooting, Munley fired at Hasan from close range in what officials are calling “an amazing and an aggressive performance,” to which friends credit to her training as a former member of the armed services. Munley is currently in stable condition and spent the rest of Thursday checking in with family and fellow police officers. She is married with two daughters. "I live a good life....a hard one, but I go to sleep peacefully @ night knowing that I may have made a difference in someone's life," Munley wrote on her Twitter page.

Read it at New York Daily News

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Just for kicks. :-)))

A tomcat was tearing around the neighborhood, jumping over fences from one back yard to another. A neighbor, observing the erratic behavior of the animal, went to its owner.

"Something is wrong with your cat," she reported. "I's running around wild."

"Yes, I know," answered the owner. "He's been gelded, and he's rushing around canceling dates."

Just for kicks. :-)))

A very dignified judge was married to an estimable creature, who unfortunately drank a bit too much. At a party one afternoon he reproved her, "My dear, that's the fifth time you've gone up to the bar and asked for another high ball. Doesn't it embarrass you?"

"Why should it?" She answered happily.

" I just explain I'm getting them for you."

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Anti-Interracial Marriage Official Quits

The Louisiana justice of the peace who, to the outrage of many, refused to marry a black and white couple resigned Tuesday. Keith Bardwell left no explanation in his letter of resignation, saying only "I do hereby resign the office of Justice of the Peace for the Eighth Ward of Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, effective November 3, 2009." Bardwell sparked national headlines when he shot down an interracial marriage between Beth Humphrey, who is white, and Terence McKay, who is black. Such treatment was routine for Bardwell, who says he believes interracial marriages to be detrimental to couples' children. Public officials, including Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, had called for Bardwell to step down.

Read it at Associated Press

Just for kicks. :-)))

A somewhat puzzled diner asked the waiter if water was put in the ash trays to extinguish cigarettes more easily.

"Partly that, sir," replied the waiter. "But it also helps keep people from pocketing them as souvenirs."

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Is Australia Dumping Refugees in Indonesia?

A growing population of refugees is stuck in exiled limbo in Indonesia, a nation that some accuse the Australian government of paying off to keep would-be asylum-seekers at bay. The defeat of the Tamil Tigers by the Sri Lankan military in May has created a surplus of refugees flooding Australia’s shores. In the past year, more than 1,700 people have arrived in Australia via boat, compared to 161 last year, and the past month has shown a drastic spike in asylum-seekers. The refugees have been making their way to Australia via Indonesia, where it has become procedure for Australian officials to intercept them. The opposition party in Australia blames the rise in refugees on new relaxed policies and an alleged agreement referred to as the "Indonesian Solution," in which Australia paid $45 million for Indonesia to hold asylum-seekers en route to Australia. The only problem is, the asylum-seekers don't want to stay in Indonesia and have protested with hunger strikes and suicide threats. Neither country wants to take responsibility for the refugees.

Read it at Time

Monday, November 02, 2009

Just for kicks. :-)))

The mother cat, while walking down the street trailed by her four kitten, was approached by a big tomcat.

"Hi'ya, honey," greeted the tomcat familiarly.

"Don't 'honey' me" answered the mother cat angrily. "You told me we were only wrestling."


Japanese Mobster Jumps Transplant List

Tadamasa Goto, the rumored “Godfather” of the Yakuza, Japan’s 85,000-member mafia, jumped to the top of a liver transplant list at UCLA Medical Center under suspicious circumstances, reports CBS’s 60 Minutes. Despite Goto’s billion-dollar fortune, money could not buy him a new liver in Japan, where organ donations are taboo. The chief of immigration and customs at Tokyo’s U.S. Embassy says the “John Gotti of Japan,” as the richest and most violent mobster is known by U.S. law enforcement, should not have been allowed into the country, based on both his extensive criminal history and membership in a criminal organization. An expert writer and investigator on the Yakuza says Goto made a deal with the FBI, offering to inform on fellow Yakuza members in exchange for a special visa. Though the average waiting time for a liver in California is three years, Goto got one in just six weeks, despite the fact that he was reportedly No. 80 on the hospital’s waiting list. Three of his Yakuza associates also got liver transplants, costing them about $400,000 dollars each, all paid for in cash, CBS reports. Goto and another Yakuza reportedly each gave $100,000 to the UCLA transplant center, despite rules requiring extensive background checks on every patient.

Read it at CBS News
Posted at 11:34 PM, Nov 1, 2009

Just for kicks. :-)))

An attorney arrived home late, after a very tough day trying to get a stay of execution. His last minute plea for clemency to the governor had failed and he was feeling worn out and depressed.
As soon as he walked through the door at home, his wife started on him about, 'What time of night to be getting home is this? Where have you been?
Dinner is cold and I'm not reheating it'. And on and on and on... Too shattered to play his usual role in this familiar ritual, he poured himself a shot of whiskey and headed off for a long hot soak in the bathtub, pursued by the predictable sarcastic remarks as he dragged himself up the stairs.
While he was in the bath, the phone rang. The wife answered and was told that her husband's client, James Wright, had been granted a stay of
execution after all. Wright would not be hanged that night.
Finally realizing what a terrible day he must have had, she decided to go upstairs and give him the good news.
As she opened the bathroom door, she was greeted by the sight of her husband, bent over naked, drying his legs and feet. They're not hanging Wright tonight,' she said.
He whirled around and screamed, 'FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WOMAN, DON'T YOU EVER STOP?!

Just for kicks. :-)))

A beggar was seen standing on the corner holding a hat in each hand.
A stranger approached and asked what was the idea of two hats.
The bum grinned: "Business has been so good that I've opened a branch office."

Sunday, November 01, 2009


A Final Verdict on the Presidential Salute

Published: October 31, 2009
FOR nearly three decades, I’ve felt conflicted about presidential salutes. After all, my United States Marine Corps instructors drilled into me the idea that “you never salute without a cover” which, in civilian, meant without a hat.

My fellow Marines and I were also informed, in no uncertain terms, that we weren’t to salute out of uniform. (I don’t think that presidential blue suits, white shirts and red ties quite qualify.) So whenever I saw a president stepping off a helicopter and bringing hand to brow, my drill instructor’s unambiguous words came back to me with much of their original force.

Then there were the salutes themselves, which ranged from halfhearted to jaunty. None of them fulfilled the characteristically succinct prescription that Capt. Jack O’Donnell of the Marine Corps delivered, in 1963, to my platoon of freshly minted second lieutenants at basic school in Quantico, Va.: “Your salute,” he pronounced, “must be impeccable,” by which we took him to mean like his: a straight line running from elbow to fingertips, the fingers and thumb forming a seamless whole, the arm brought swiftly to the brim of the cap, no palm showing, and then lowered smartly to the side.

Presidents have long been saluted, but they began returning salutes relatively recently. Ronald Reagan was thought to be the first, in 1981. He had sought advice on the matter from Gen. Robert Barrow, commandant of the Marine Corps. According to John Kline, then Mr. Reagan’s military aide and today a member of Congress from Minnesota, General Barrow told the president that as commander in chief he could salute anybody he wished. And so it began.

Mr. Reagan’s successors continued the practice, and I continued to be conflicted — believing that when it comes to salutes (and one or two other matters), presidents deserved to be cut some slack, but also feeling a little uneasy about the whole thing.

My ambivalence came to an end last week, when I saw a videotape of the president’s midnight trip to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where he had participated, very early that morning, in the “dignified transfer” of 15 Army soldiers and three Drug Enforcement Administration agents killed that week in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama stood ramrod straight and saluted as six soldiers carried the coffin bearing the body of Sgt. Dale Griffin of Indiana off a C-17 transport aircraft and into a waiting van. His salute, it struck me, was impeccable in every way.

Carey Winfrey is the editor of Smithsonian magazine.