Billie’s Quickies … “A censor is a man who knows more than he thinks you ought to.”

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  • Sound Advice: “I would encourage everybody, think in terms of what your reader wants. These are ultimately consumer businesses and if you piss off enough of them, you will not have any more.”
  • On the decline of the English Department: ” … at the root is the failure of departments of English across the country to champion, with passion, the books they teach and to make a strong case to undergraduates that the knowledge of those books and the tradition in which they exist is a human good in and of itself.”
  • Toilet Paper Origami? Fabulous!
  • Touching story about what happens when appearance changes after becoming ill.
  • Military daughters inspiring other military daughters.
  • Somebody oughta jump on this! We could save millions, I say, millllions: “‘The federal government risks losing millions of dollars in royalties from natural gas production because it does not promptly determine and collect when it gets shortchanged, according to congressional auditors.”
  • 20 countries weigh in on stimulus measures and government oversight of economies.
  • What if keeping women safe meant educating men?
  • Need to find an ‘ism’? Well this list probably has more than you need.
  • History of female matadors in Spain … totally cool (not for the bull, but definitely for women in the sport).
  • “Failure to understand the adversary” among the top ten strategic blunders according to Richard Rumelt.
  • “…we win the minds of Iraqis by building things like schools, bridges, and roads, but we win their hearts by building relationships and giving them respect.”  A Foreign Service Officer reflects on his time in Iraq.
  • I can’t IMAGINE why the general public could be so ill informed with regard to the health insurance reform debate:  “We urge TV health news decision-makers to realize how often they’re doing more harm than good with so many of their non-evidence-based, cheerleading promotions of treatments for wrinkles, weight loss, baldness, toenail fungus, etc.- and breathless enthusiasm for new devices and other “new stuff” in health care.”
  • Health Insurance Reform Health Insurance Reform Health Insurance Reform.

Finally…

If you haven’t seen the following, you MUST!


UPDATED: Drudge the linker can’t be bothered to use teh google:

bllieddoseSo, this evening (Monday), I’m going through my daily TweetDeck catch up when Joe Scarborough tweets wondering what the heck Drudge means by this:  “Senate Committee scheduled for too-close-to-call vote to block use of insurance vouchers for abortions … Developing.”

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Well, there happens to be no linkage, so … google to the rescue.  I tweeted this link back to Joe,  and he gave his thanks.

There is little doubt – in my mind, though who knows what’s going on in Drudge’s – that he’s referring to Sharon Lerner’s column on the topic in The Nation.  Essentially, according to this guy, Republicans may be planning to stonewall EVEN MORE … like they don’t already have enough crap to stonewall.  In this case, the plan may be to fiddle with the Capps Amendment about which “… pro-choice groups largely held their fire, seeing that, to the extent it circumvented the issue, the Capps language could allow everyone to move past abortion and on to the larger matter at hand.”

Well, screw the larger matter at hand – i.e. health insurance reform – on to delays and making the already difficult to choice of electing to have an abortion even MORE ridiculously cruel.

Meanwhile, Texas finally is figuring out that abstinence only education alone probably does ABSOLUTELY NO GOOD AT ALL.  Yay for teen pregnancy … or something! *sigh*

UPDATE:  Upon further investigation and follow up on the proposed amendment that may be “too close to call,” the New York Times has a story up stating that the “Senate Finance Committee is expected to vote this week.”  The article goes on to say:

“Nancy Keenan, president of Naral Pro-Choice America, argued that if the bill blocked the use of subsidies for abortion coverage, private insurers would stop covering abortion because those plans would be excluded from the federally subsidized programs.

‘Women who already have this coverage would lose it,’ Ms. Keenan said.”

This vote is definitely one to watch!

As of 12:45 AM CST, Drudge had yet to link to a story.

Tuesday Morning: Well, Drudge finally got around to posting a link … guess what? I was right.

ACORN Worker From Pimp Video Reported Incident to Police?

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Someone tweeted the link to this AP story this morning (I don’t remember who), and wondered if Fox News would be reporting this.  The headline is “Police: ACORN worker in video reported couple.”

With a hed like that, I wouldn’t expect Fox News to report that story, but if they actually read the story, I’m thinking they would.  As a defense of ACORN, this story is a miserable failure.  Here’s the meat:

National City police said Monday that Juan Carlos Vera contacted his cousin, a police detective, to get advice on what to with information on possible human smuggling.

Police say he contacted law enforcement two days later. The detective consulted another police official who served on a federal human smuggling task force, who said he needed more details.

So, he didn’t actually “contact authorities” as much as he called up his cousin for advice.  And, he waited 2 days to do it.  Not exactly a slate-wiper.

No, the real defense of ACORN is that this story isn’t what the right is saying it is, and that its trajectory is a dangerous one for anyone the right doesn’t like.

ACORN isn’t perfect, that much is clear, and they’ve done a poor job of fending off this attack.  However, the willingness of the media, and the US Senate, to accept the findings of a partisan activist and his sponsor is truly frightening.  That willingness, according to a just-released study, extends back as far as the eye can see on the ACORN story.

Rachel Sklar posted a good summary of that report yesterday, which brings into stark relief that which most reasonable people who followed the 2008 campaign already know: coverage of the ACORN story has been uniformly unfair.  This report just gives us the numbers to prove it.

The shame of the current iteration of the ACORN smear is that the media, and the US Senate, have allowed ACORN’s enemies to be both prosecutor and judge, letting James O’Keefe and Andrew Breitbart decide which evidence can be seen, and how to interpret it.

Sure, O’Keefe’s tapes are damning, but he and Breitbart have refused to answer legitimate questions about O’Keefe’s “investigation.”  While ACORN has been defensive and evasive, O’Keefe and Breitbart have been given a pass for stonewalling, and even for apparent lying.  They went on record as saying that O’Keefe wasn’t turned away at any ACORN offices, a claim contradicted by police.  While Breitbart is happy to comment on self-serving aspects of this story, he refused to respond to questions raised about O’Keefe’s selective editing of transcripts, or O’Keefe’s funding.

The point is, O’Keefe’s reporting, as it has been presented, wouldn’t have gotten past any news editor in the country.  Breitbart is well aware of this.  He told me in a phone interview that his “strategy” of tightly controlling information about O’Keefe’s investigation, and rolling them out on a careful timetable, was specifically designed to force the mainstream media to cover this story.  In his view, he’s getting around some kind of bias.  In mine, he’s circumnavigating the editorial process, and doing it beautifully.

What’s more incredible is the contrast between the media’s response to O’Keefe’s tightly-controlled, factually light videos, and the work of Michael Moore, an activist filmmaker who is much more transparent about his methods.

Even more disturbing than that is the contrast between the Senate’s response to the decades-old health care crisis, versus the days-old ACORN crisis.

The problems at ACORN may, indeed, run deep, but we’ll probably never know, since they’ve been prematurely convicted in the public eye.  What we do know is that the Democrats in the Senate and the mainstream media have set a course for our country to be led around by the nose by the likes of James O’Keefe.  I guess the pimp costume really worked on them.

Isn’t there an important voting thing today?

In the spirit of the today’s finance committee vote, here’s Al Franken running across the Senate Floor.

Billie’s Quickies … “How very”

bllieddoseI agree with and respect Glenn Greenwald (@glenngreenwald) an awful lot.  He’s an uber smarty pants who – even when I do find something with which to disagree (and I do, even in the article where the quote below came from) – I can still see where he’s coming from and respect him for educating me on something I most surely either simply did not know about or hadn’t thought about in a particular way.  Whether others like him or not, I have to hunker down to read his commentary because it sure ain’t a quick or thoughtless sound bite, and he always gives me something to chew on.  Glenn Greenwald is great for nuggets like this:

“If the Democratic Party is to become a meaningful alternative, free from corporate control, that will happen not because party leaders such as Obama cause it to happen.  Instead, it will only occur from efforts on the part of Democrats to cease support for, and begin working to eject, those elements which keep the Party beholden to the same interests as the ones who own and control the so-called ‘other party.’  Systematic, credible primary challenges — to impose a price for the Party on this behavior (by forcing them to divert resources to fending off primary challenges) and to make incumbents more accountable to their constituents — is the best, perhaps the only, means for accomplishing that, if it can be accomplished at all.”

  • Earlier this year, a small-town business owner decided he would try to stimulate the local economy by handing out $16,000 in cash to his 24 employees.  But,  they had to donate part of it to charity and spend the rest at local businesses.  HuffPo followed up by finding similar stories in April.  Really is a neat idea.  Bootstraps people! And, here’s an interesting “progression of the recession” thingie.
  • Speaking of the economy.  There’s also health insurance reform.  On that topic, here’s some advice on translating your medical bills, spotting errors, and fighting mistakes.
  • Although I don’t necessarily agree with the title or a few remarks in this excellent commentary of the state of feminism today, I totally understand the sentiment … and the noteworthy and ongoing conversation in the comments between it’s author and his complimenters and critics.  A testament to how to begin a conversation – and not abandon it.
  • Because you can’t have Melrose Place come back without it … HEATHERS trivia! Yay.

Finally …

Is President Obama Racist, or Just Blind-ist?

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I really had to laugh to myself when I saw this item at Hot Air, in which New York Governor David Paterson’s wife, Michelle, seems to indicate that race and/or disability may be behind the White House’s attempt to get him not to run.  Here’s what she said:

“You never heard of that before,” Michelle Paterson, in her first comments on the situation, said following a luncheon in Midtown.

“David’s the first African-American governor in the state of New York and he’s being asked to get out of the race. It’s very unusual and it seems very unfair.”…

In a passionate defense of her husband, New York’s first lady, Michelle Paterson, tells News 4 it’s wrong for the White House to get involved in a local race. She admits there have been some very disappointing times recently where it seemed her husband might not be able to survive politically. But she said he’s “a fighter” who is staying in the race. Mrs. Paterson says she believes David’s blindness is contributing to his low poll numbers.

Here’s why I laughed. On Monday, I was playing a game of “What’s the worst possible question I can ask Robert Gibbs at my next briefing?”  It’s an amusing pastime that I engage in on long car trips, or while waiting at the DMV.  It’s actually a helpful exercise, too, but I’ll get to that later.

So, Monday’s entry, as I drove back from Manhattan, was “Robert, did the President ask David Paterson not to run for re-election because he’s black, or because he’s blind?  Or was it the combination of those two factors?”

It’s a useful exercise because it can help to reveal a deeper point from a superficial starting place.  In this case, I’ve sat through many briefings and press conferences in which reporters tried, repeatedly, to get the White House to weigh in on one race or the other, in even the teensiest way, only to be rebuffed.  Eventually, someone would say “OK, how about this: Can you confirm that a Senate race exists in Illinois?”  Gibbs: “It would not be appropriate for the President to comment on another race.”

So, I was really surprised to learn that the White House had asked Paterson not to run for re-election, in a fairly public fashion.  It’s a bad move on several levels, actually, and inconsistent.

First of all, no-one was under any illusions that Paterson earned himself any goodwill with the White House with his handling of the Hillary Clinton Senate seat.  His poll numbers are also not terrific.  Issuing a decree like this isn’t all that necessary, and has no upside for the White House.  The best case scenario is that Paterson steps aside, something that could have been accomplished with more subtle pressure.  Worst case: Paterson defies the White House, and puts a dent in their leadership credibility.

I also found my mock question illustrative of another prickly point in recent political discourse.  The idea that Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” outburst was related to race has not really been framed all that well by the media.  The question isn’t whether Obama’s race made him do that, but whether it failed to prevent it.  Nobody had ever heckled a white President in such a setting, just as no white Democratic New York Governor has had this problem before.

You also have  to wonder if the President would have called an iconic white pop star a “jackass,” and what the reaction to that would have been.

If we’re all being honest, race does frequently have some impact on the way we deal with people.  As a writer, I know I’ve found myself debating the use of seemingly innocuous phrases that could be distracting when applied to a black President.  I recall changing the word “tarred” in reference to a negative campaign ad, for example.

One of the reasons that discussions of race are so poisonous is that the objective, frequently, is not to gain greater understanding, but rather to score points.  That’s really too bad, because this kind of on-the-job learning could be a valuable object lesson  for the rest of us.

I didn’t know the first thing about Joe Wilson before “You lie,” but since then, I’ve been informed that he supported the flying of the Confederate flag, and that he disparaged the illegitimate black daughter of Strom Thurmond.  Still, people can learn and grow, and if Wilson had held a press conference after his outburst to say something like, “Upon reflection, and despite my continued belief in the substance of my objection, I think it is possible that I might not have done that to a white President,” well, a statement like that would impress the hell out of me.  Unfortunately, it would also lead to headlines like “Wilson a Self-Avowed Racist!”

Conversely, the right has already shown no compunction about calling the President a racist, and all Democrats along with him.  So, instead of “teachable moments,” we get ugly little food fights.

All Your Clark Bar are Belong to us

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There’s a family of candy bars that I’ve always loved, the defining characteristic of which is a solid, layered center that becomes flaky when you bite into it, then almost chewy after most of it has melted in your mouth.  I refer to this substance as “Butterfingery goodness,” which is its scientific name.  The members of this family include Butterfinger, Zagnut, 5th Avenue, and Clark bars.

So, you can imagine my excitement today when I discovered a Clark variety pack that includes 2 as-yet-unheard-of variations of the Clark bar.  That picture is of the actual candy bars, which I have now eaten.

The standard, red-wrapper Clark was the delicious treat that I expected it to be.  A Clark bar is basically a Zagnut, but with chocolate instead of toasted coconut.

The light brown coconut Clark, as it turns out, is basically a Zagnut.  Still, nothing to complain about.

Clark Dark, aside from its cool rhyming name, was a bit of a disappointment.  Maybe dark chocolate doesn’t mix well with “the goodness,” or maybe they just didn’t get the best chocolate available.