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Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor received the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, just hours after Obama paid tribute to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic woman to sit on the high court.

“When a young Sandra Day graduated from Stanford Law School near the top of her class — in two years instead of the usual three — she was offered just one job in the private sector. Her prospective employer asked her how well she typed and told her there might be work for her as a legal secretary,” Obama said before hanging the medal around O’Connor’s neck. “Now, I cannot know how she would have fared as a legal secretary, but she made a mighty fine justice of the United States Supreme Court

fyi

Aug. 12th, 2009 07:34 pm
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another post up at Thers and Molly's

fyi

Aug. 9th, 2009 05:39 pm
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Thers tossed me a set of keys, so I posted about Governor Sanford's latest troubles over at Whiskey Fire
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There are teachers who stay with you your whole life. Mr. McCourt was one of mine.

I was one of those neurotic high school kids he talked about in Angela's Ashes whose dramatic little miseries confounded him in the face of his own great one. It's a measure of the man that I never knew that. All I knew was that he was smart and honest and sharp and funny and kind. He occasionally came to first period exuding a faint air of last night's Guinness (which at the time I thought was terribly glamorous) but always on time and prepared and treating his job with respect and ready to pay attention to us.

He was the first person to tell me I was a writer, and I was starstruck enough that I believed it.

I bought his book the first day it came out. To me, it was a celebrity biography. Her Majesty was just born, and I was still figuring out being a parent, and the whole redemption thing really helped. I got a later edition signed. That first one was all mine.

I got a few of his books signed. He seemed at peace, and I was really glad.

I am glad. I'm glad that he had those last years of people listening to his stories, and I'm glad that his last marriage was a happy one, and I'm glad that he got to know the children of his much-beloved daughter.

And I'm really glad the rest of you got to meet him.

Rest in peace, Mr. McCourt.
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They were careless people, Tom and Daisy-they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money and vast carelessness

— F Scott Fitzgerald

Bush laughs when he hears that Joe the Plumber briefed House Republicans on Gaza. He doesn't seem to really believe it. Brother and son of recent Republican presidents, he doesn't seem to fully understand what's going on in the party his family has dominated for more than two decades. "Joe the Plumber? Really?" he says. "Well, that... Really?" In response, he mounts a defense of erudition and expertise.

— Tucker Carlson

I think it's okay to have a deeper understanding of things. I think it's okay to talk in three-syllable words. The world we're living in is incredibly complex. And simplifying things to the point where you're misunderstanding where we are as a nation isn't going to help people overcome their fears or give them hope that they can achieve great things. I don't get inspired by shameless populism.

— Jeb! Bush



bonus specialtude: the complex Bush brother apparently has his own issues with long words. That's not actually how "collectivism" works, but since Jeb! supports his brother's bailout, I'm kind of charmed to hear that he thinks so.
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so via Thers I see that some random edgy scenester wrote a bathroom wall-level list of pensées (erm, "vile little épater") about conservative women he'd like to chasten with the mighty power of his luggage, and for some reason Playboy published it online* (I'm guessing Blanche is putting on lipstick because she has a gentleman caller coming).

the rude part )
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Ask your local etiquette expert what this gesture signifies

The Times has taken up the burning question of Sonia Sotomayor's temperament
 
Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s Supreme Court choice, has a blunt and even testy side, and it was on display in December during an argument before the federal appeals court in New York. The case concerned a Canadian man who said American officials had sent him to Syria to be tortured, and Judge Sotomayor peppered a government lawyer with skeptical questions.

“So the minute the executive raises the specter of foreign policy, national security,” Judge Sotomayor asked the lawyer, Jonathan F. Cohn, “it is the government’s position that that is a license to torture anyone?”

Mr. Cohn managed to get out two and a half words: “No, your hon—— .”

Judge Sotomayor cut him off, then hit him with two more questions and a flat declaration of what she said was his position. The lawyer managed to say she was wrong, but could not clarify the point until the chief judge, Dennis G. Jacobs, stepped in, asking, “Why don’t we just get the position?”

To supporters, Judge Sotomayor’s vigorous questioning of the Bush administration’s position in the case of the Canadian, Maher Arar, showcases some of her strengths. She is known as a formidably intelligent judge with a prodigious memory who meticulously prepares for oral arguments and is not shy about grilling the lawyers who appear before her to ensure that she fully understands their arguments.

But to detractors, Judge Sotomayor’s sharp-tongued and occasionally combative manner — some lawyers have described her as “difficult” and “nasty” — raises questions about her judicial temperament and willingness to listen.

and right down as far below the fold as they could get and still be in the same article, they give you Mr. Cohn's reaction (which, unlike most of the negative responses in the article, was not anonymous)
 
Mr. Cohn, the government lawyer in the Arar case, said he had not been taken aback by Judge Sotomayor’s volley of inquiries. “I thought her questions and demeanor were reasonable and fine,” he said.
 
McClatchy, who I usually like, was equally silly with the lede on their article

Judge Sonia Sotomayor can be blunt, aggressive and impatient. So get ready for another public debate, and probably some insinuations, about her judicial temperament.

Twenty-two years ago, Robert Bork's Supreme Court nomination foundered in part over similar questions.
 
Um, yeah. That's what I remember Bork foundering over. The way he was bitchy to Archibald Cox when he had his period.


From what I can see, Judge Sotomayor (although I'm an unabashed fan of her life story) is not a clear win for the DFHs of the left. Considering that she got her current job from a Republican president, there's a case to be made that she's not a clear loss for the right.

In either case, it would be far easier to weigh the merits of the claims on both sides if people stopped talking nonsense.

I vote reporters first.

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they say Michael Steele is a bad female parent (close your mouth) but I'm making reference to Michael Steele (then we are essentially in agreeance)

Michael Steele says he takes no offense to [sic] President Obama's teasing at last week's White House press corps dinner.

"That was just good love between two brothers," the chairman of the Republican National Committee explained Sunday.

Obama ribbed Steele, who is also black, at the correspondents' dinner for his frequent use of slang and attempts to bring a hipper approach to the Republican Party.

"Michael Steele is in the house tonight, or as he would say, 'in the heezy.' What's up?" Obama said at the dinner, to uproarious laughter. "Michael, for the last time, the Republican Party does not qualify for a bailout. Rush Limbaugh does not count as a troubled asset, I'm sorry."

Asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" if he felt he was being mocked, Steele said no.

"I really appreciate the president throwing me a shout-out," Steele said. "It took me totally by surprise, and so this morning I just wanna say 'what's up' right back at ya'."

WADR to whoever Chairman Steele has working on his outreach to the young and diverse, if US News and World Report (which is, to put it mildly, not precisely Vibe) is "hipper" than you are, you might want to consider saving this particular rhetorical trope for dinner parties. Fox, on their end, might want to consider sending someone other than Maynard G. Krebs to cover those dinner parties (ribbed? a hipper approach? srsly?)

'What's up' indeed. Right back at, er, ya'.

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Michael Savage is upset. He's so upset that he's asking Hillary Clinton for help

Right-wing radio host Michael Savage makes Hillary Rodham Clinton a frequent target of his verbal barbs. Now he's asking the secretary of state for help.

Savage, recently banned from the United Kingdom for allegedly fostering extremism, asked Clinton in a letter to take up his cause.

"She's the secretary of state and I'm an American citizen," he said in a letter sent Wednesday by his lawyer. "Her new position requires her to represent the citizens of the U.S. and their interests."

On his show, he has referred to Clinton as a fraudulent huckster, a dangerous yokel and a race baiter.

A list released May 5 named Savage among 22 people banned from Britain, putting the radio host in the company of Russian gang members and some others accused of criminal offenses.

...

Savage, who broadcasts are carried by nearly 400 stations, has repeatedly made the news by offending immigrants and minorities.

But that's no reason to be barred from entering a country and to be lumped in with terrorists, said Savage.

"Speech that is shocking, or whatever, is actually protected," he said.

Aw, Mikey. Bless your heart. While you don't appear to realize that the first amendment applies in America

On the October 9 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage declared that former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is a "traitor" who "should be tried for treason, and when she's found guilty, she should be hung." Savage called Albright a "traitor" because he said she "went to North Korea" and "came back like [former British Prime Minister Neville] Chamberlain came back and said, 'Chancellor [Adolf] Hitler has told me he simply wants to take a little piece of territory.' " Savage, who also branded former Clinton national security adviser Samuel "Sandy" Berger a "traitor" and referred to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) as "Nancy Paleolosi, because ... [she] is living in the Paleolithic," added of Albright: "[W]hen she is hung, maybe the other quislings in our government will get the message that we're going to crack down on them."

you also don't seem to realize that it doesn't apply anywhere else.

See, England? Not the same country as this one is. We had a revolution. Also a tea party. I was sure you'd heard.

Anyway, the first amendment only (and only because you didn't have anything to say about it) protects speech here.

You may want to look for a new rationale. I'm guessing "because I totally said so" will work with anyone who was willing to take you seriously to begin with.
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Marcy Wheeler, this year's winner of a Hillman Foundation award for "journalists, writers and public figures whose work promotes social and economic justice."

Marcy Wheeler, Emptywheel.Firedoglake.com

Just last month, Marcy Wheeler made the front page of the New York Times after she became the first person to notice that a newly-released Justice Department memo revealed that Khalid Sheik Mohammed had been waterboarded 183 times in one month. Last year, Wheeler’s groundbreaking investigative work on the CIA leak case also made the front page of the Times. Her early and powerful reporting about malfeasance by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales helped to propel him out of the Bush administrations. And her live blogging from the Scooter Libby trial in 2007 is widely regarded as one of the seminal moments in online journalism. Wheeler also produced outstanding coverage of the American auto industry crisis. Combining her background in the industry with a deep commitment to American workers, her depth of analysis was unrivaled.

Now just imagine what she could accomplish if she were doing this for a living.

Jane's raising money to allow Marcy to work full time on her journalism and hire a researcher. I think that's a very good investment.

The donor page is here. Reward good behavior.

edit: neat. The New Organizing Institute is matching today's donations up to $5k. It's always nice to let folks know we appreciate institutional support when we get it...
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It's hard out there for an iconic figure inspiring the masses to transcendence by her very being:

At American Daily, Thomas Lindaman exhorted the troops, "You are not alone. When you stand, you stand with legions of others who agree... When you stand, you scream, 'I am John Galt, and I will not submit!'" without, alas, announcing that he would be joining them -- though with his declaration that "John Galt is Sarah Palin, a woman who was no-nonsense in her approach to government and to this country," Lindaman is probably not predicting that Palin will go off the grid, but rather implying that a no-nonsense attitude will serve as Galtism enough for patriots who'd rather not make actual financial sacrifices.

but going Galt (it's a passion of Dr. Mrs. Instapundit. It's essentially a principled rationale for snatching the tip off the table when your tenured public schooteacher husband goes for your coats) appears not to have worked out for Sarah Palin
Gov. Sarah Palin has signed a book deal with HarperCollins Publishers for what is described as her memoir.

"There have been so many things written and said through mainstream media that have not been accurate and it will be nice through an unfiltered forum to get to speak truthfully about who we are and what we stand for and what Alaska is all about," Palin said in an interview today in which she announced the deal.

Palin and HarperCollins would not say how much she was being paid. Asked why, the governor and former Republican nominee for vice president said she didn't want to distract from the substance of the book.

"The idea is to focus on the content of the book and what's coming in terms of me being able to tell my story unrestrained and unfiltered," Palin said.

The governor said details will be disclosed as required under Alaska law when her annual financial disclosures are due next March. Her advance from the publisher is likely to be paid in stages, though, and it's not clear if she has to disclose the full amount on that report or only the portion received in 2009, according to the state public offices commission.

The book is to be published sometime in the spring of 2010. Palin will collaborate on the book with a professional writer, who is expected to be chosen soon. The governor said she wants to do a lot of the writing herself, and that it will be her story and her words.

"It will be nice to put my journalism degree to work on this and get to tell my story, Alaska's story. There have been so many unauthorized books and publications that have spoken to somebody else's opinion of who I am what my family represents and what Alaska is all about," she said.

Published reports this winter suggested Palin was pursuing an $11 million advance. She called that figure "laughable" in January but has never provided another. Palin she'd give a portion of the book money to charities, although she hasn't decided how much or which ones.
Governor Palin is currently appearing in an off-off-off-off Broadway production of Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner for the same theater chain.
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Remember this?

HENNEN: Some people are wringing their hands saying, “This is an example of why the party needs to change, to hear the message of Specter,” that, as Colin Powell said, the Republican Party needs to moderate. Do you think the Republican Party needs to moderate? Is that the message of the Specter defection, or the state of the party these days?

CHENEY: No I don’t. I think it would be a mistake for us to moderate. This is about fundamental beliefs and values and ideas…what the role of government should be in our society, and our commitment to the Constitution and Constitutional principles. You know, when you add all those things up the idea that we ought to moderate basically means we ought to fundamentally change our philosophy. I for one am not prepared to do that, and I think most us aren’t.

but some of "us," apparently, are

Even as Gov. Charlie Crist comes under fire from Florida conservatives, he will be getting some important political backing today as he announces that he’s running for the Senate in Florida.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee will be endorsing Crist, according to a senior Hill operative, marking the first time it has taken sides (for a non-incumbent) in a competitive GOP primary this election cycle.

The committee’s decision will make it tougher for former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio to raise money against Crist, given that the party has given the governor its stamp of approval. Rubio has won support from Florida conservatives and has a base in the Cuban-American community, but will need to raise a significant amount of money to credibly compete against Crist in the primary.

so what? Well, Crist is kind of an outlier among GOP governors who are looking at '12

The Stimulus Set-To: Crist was, by far, the most prominent Republican elected official to speak out in favor of President Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus package -- even appearing with the president at an event in the Sunshine State touting the plan. Republican base voters expressed outrage at such spending by the federal government -- taking out their frustration at a series of town halls nationwide on April 15. Crist's primary against Rubio will serve as a litmus test for how politically potent the stimulus package will be in 2010 and beyond. Every poll points to a relatively pedestrian primary victory for Crist over Rubio but the latter candidate is on the right side of the stimulus issue in terms of the base.

and his putative opponent,  a conservative from the politically powerful cuban community, is running in support of the congressional Republicans who put up a solid front against the package

Meanwhile, State Representative Marco Rubio, 37, a Miami Republican and former House speaker, announced last week that he would run for the Senate with a tough appeal to conservatives. “Some believe the path to security and prosperity is a larger government involvement in our economy,” Mr. Rubio said in a videotaped statement. He added, “The majority of us don’t agree with that view.”

...He has overseen billions in budget cuts that are still being felt, while strongly backing the Obama administration’s stimulus. Mr. Crist even appeared with the president in Fort Myers to rally support for it. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Miami Beach, recently told a local reporter that “diehard Republicans are still mad at Charlie” for his fiscal policy.

and the NRSC was supposed to be staying out of it

“All the signals I’ve been getting is that he probably will [get into the race], but I don’t want to make any announcements for him, because he’s the one who will ultimately decide whether to pull the trigger or not,” said Texas Sen. John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

But Cornyn added that he will not intervene in a contested primary, in which Crist would be facing former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio. Rubio, a conservative Republican, announced his candidacy Tuesday and has been critical of Crist for supporting President Barack Obama’s stimulus proposal.

but that was last week.

Before Rush and Dick said the Republican party had to chase out the moderates (Michael Steele said they could stay, as long as they shut up and do what they're told). Guess that's not polling very well.

I guess the NRSC is more frightened of paying for a Florida Senate race than they are of Rush and Dick. Maybe if they offered to pick up the bills?

edit: awesome. Florida conservatives are promising a fight, and they say that Jeb Bush is secretly on their side - maybe because Cornyn bases his endorsement in part on Crist cleaning up the mess Bush left behind him?
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helpfully attached to Dana Milbank's next day story about Rush Limbaugh and the Correspondents Dinner



and what is this "Democrat Party" of which they speak? As promised, the Post helps you understand more about it
The president in his State of the Union address Tuesday night left out a tiny little suffix that means a whole lot to some people. He did it so subtly you could have missed it. Just a little "-ic." What's in an "-ic"?

Bush started the speech on a bipartisan note, honoring the first Madam Speaker, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, and calling on the country to come together.

Then: "I congratulate the Democrat majority," he said, dropping the last two letters from "Democratic."

Bush does this a lot, and while it's hard to say if the omission was intentional in this instance, it is a semantic tactic that's been part of Republican warfare for decades. It's a little thing, a means of needling the opposition by purposefully mispronouncing its name, and of suggesting that the party on the left is not truly small-"d" democratic. The president's pronunciation was all the more striking because it was apparently not what Bush was supposed to say. The prepared speech that the White House distributed beforehand retained that precious "-ic."

...

But for those who see a big symbol in two little letters, the question becomes: Is a man who can't say "-ic" capable of being bipartisan?
although that explanation is, oddly, not linked to the graphic.

Baby steps.

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this never happened



and the AP didn't refer to it as "gentle Bush ribbing" and the villagers didn't defend it as harmless, self-deprecating and funny.

and this definitely did not appear in Ms. Lopez' National Review afterwards

I happened to be at the Correspondent's Dinner on Wednesday night and there's no doubt about it: Bush did well. As a former stand-up, I felt for A. J. Jamal, the comedian who had to follow the president that night. (Jamal tanked, by the way.) The gathered throng saw the photos, heard him deliver his "Those Weapons of Mass Destruction must be around here somewhere," and burst out laughing.

At least, everyone around me did. It turns out some people had a very different reaction. Here's this from socialist writer David Corn, who was also at the event:

The audience laughed. I grimaced... Disapproval must have registered upon my face, for one of my tablemates said, 'Come on, David, this is funny.' I wanted to reply, Over 500 Americans and literally countless Iraqis are dead because of a war that was supposedly fought to find weapons of mass destruction, and Bush is joking about it. Instead, I took a long drink of the lovely white wine that had come with our dinner [emphasis in the original]."

Oh, the humanity! The president is joking, my fellow journalists are laughing, and I'm sitting here swilling cheap banquet-hall chardonnay!

Some of the comedy complaints can be dismissed as pure partisan attacks of the "Bush did it so it must be bad" stripe. Interestingly, Kerry & Co. appear to be truly sincere in their offense. What happened Wednesday night really hurt them.

I think that what has aroused their passion isn't the joke, but the laughter. "Don't you know how bad things are in America?" Democrats seem to demand. "Don't you know how evil President Bush is? How can you laugh at that monster, particularly when he's talking about the most horrendous moment in American history — the invasion of Iraq!"

What the laughter from Wednesday's left-of-center Washington audience shows is that, even among their rank-and-file, the image of Bush as a plotting warmonger heartlessly making light of his foreign-policy trickery doesn't stick. President Bush was mocking himself and his current political predicament regarding WMDs, and the joke works because he clearly believes he's doing the right thing. Even the Washington press corps knows it.

But this is an election year, and political calculations conquer all, and so the Democratic p.r. machine will continue to push their anti-humor assault for as long as they think it will attract voters. But will it?

The Democrats are currently busy dividing the electorate into those who like to laugh and those who don't; between those who don't take themselves too seriously and those who do; between those of us who are smiling and the people who want to wipe that grin off our faces.

I know which team I want to be on in November.

You know. The team Katherine Jean Lopez plays for. The one which thinks we're in a war "not of our choosing," but at least it's funnier than Dick Cheney.
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I always wondered if there was some reason other than just purely the presence of Joe Trippi for the way that campaign was run.

Kudos, ladies and gentlemen. You got to keep the jobs you didn't plan to do as long as possible, and nobody got screwed but a bunch of people who wrote checks to pay your salaries in return for the privilege of throwing their votes away.

And hell, they were a pack of hippies (so unserious, the whole working class thing), so it's not as if they were going to get to pick anyway.

Well played.

Godspeed

May. 1st, 2009 12:28 pm
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My father-in-law passed last night, a few months short of his ninetieth birthday. He and my mother-in-law have been married since he returned from World War 2. He left seven children and eleven grandchildren.

He was a good man.

Rest in peace, Harry.

ouch.

Apr. 30th, 2009 02:59 am
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Tom Shales, television reporter for the Washington Post, on last night's Obama press conference
He's not the student who wears a button that says, "Smartest kid in class," but clearly he is, at least when surrounded by the White House press corps.
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I think it was ten minutes after I first heard about Arlen Specter that I saw the first joke about this being good for the Republican party (it's an article of faith among liberal bloggers who followed the eight years of George W. Bush that there is no disaster that will not be spun by our journalist friends in the gang of Heathers as good for the Republican party).

It took a few hours for the actual article to appear
DeMint: 60 Dems 'best thing' for GOP

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) insisted Tuesday that Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter’s decision to switch parties and give the Democrats their likely 60th seat could be the “best thing” for Republicans.

“If [Democrats] begin to expand spending and government programs because they have a couple more votes, I think there's going to be a lot of backlash from the American people,” DeMint explained during an interview on CNN.

“That may be the best thing that could happen to the Republican Party right now,” he added, “because people know those checks and balances are very important and they've seen the Democrat Party overreach already.”

DeMint disagreed with Specter’s statement that the GOP has moved too far to the right, adding that best thing Republicans can do is “stand up for what they say they do.”
Actually, Senator, it's called the Democratic - oh, never mind.

Sos anyway, as this is Politico, it's actually a report on what happened earlier on CNN, where they're apparently starting to include some context in this kind of story
“I don't think many Americans are going to agree that the Republican Party has become too conservative,” DeMint said. “We're seeing across the country right now that the biggest tent of all is the tent of freedom.”

“What the hell does that mean?” asked CNN host Rick Sanchez.

“I mean, the biggest tent is freedom? Freedom?” he asked. “I mean, you gotta do better than that.”

“What it means is what has worked in America are free people, free markets for years,” DeMint responded. “I think what we've seen is both parties have pushed the envelope too far and now America is pushing back. I think you'll see this next election to be totally different.”
Presumably we're pushing back on stuff like this
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) led the GOP’s unanimous opposition to the $787 billion stimulus, blasting the inclusion of $8 billion for mass transit projects.

At the time, he took aim at the possible use of some cash for a Vegas-to-Disneyland mag-lev light rail project.

During a March 15 appearance on “Meet the Press,” Cantor said: “Over the last 50 days, we have passed the stimulus bill ... you’ve got that train from Disneyland to Las Vegas, you have, you know, you have other things like the, the money that goes to remove pig, pig odor.”

Alas, the Richmond Times-Dispatch is now reporting that Cantor joined a group of local officials lobbying to direct greater federal funding toward a planned Richmond-to-Washington 110-mph train that would cut the travel time between the two capitals to 45 minutes.
The pig odor thing? Was to pay for research to deal with problems created by the feces lagoons at factory farms
Smithfield Foods actually faces a more difficult task than transmogrifying the populations of America's thirty-two largest cities into edible packages of meat. Hogs produce three times more excrement than human beings do. The 500,000 pigs at a single Smithfield subsidiary in Utah generate more fecal matter each year than the 1.5 million inhabitants of Manhattan. The best estimates put Smithfield's total waste discharge at 26 million tons a year. That would fill four Yankee Stadiums. Even when divided among the many small pig production units that surround the company's slaughterhouses, that is not a containable amount.

Smithfield estimates that its total sales will reach $11.4 billion this year. So prodigious is its fecal waste, however, that if the company treated its effluvia as big-city governments do -- even if it came marginally close to that standard -- it would lose money. So many of its contractors allow great volumes of waste to run out of their slope-floored barns and sit blithely in the open, untreated, where the elements break it down and gravity pulls it into groundwater and river systems. Although the company proclaims a culture of environmental responsibility, ostentatious pollution is a linchpin of Smithfield's business model.

How silly of us. I'm sure not dealing with that isn't going to cost a thing.

Obviously, I'm a DFH, so take it for what it's worth, but I suspect that americans don't so much have a problem with paying for government services. I think they have a problem with legislators who are ideologically opposed to giving us government services unless we have friends in high places in the GOP. Outside the beltway, that's not what most people took away from the Reagan revolution.

I'm just not convinced that it's really a natural rallying cry for the new non-RINO GOP. FWIW.
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MoDo, honey, seriously. Are you kidding?

Maybe it’s because I’m staying at the Sunset Tower on Sunset Boulevard, but I keep thinking of newspapers as Norma Desmond.

Papers are still big. It’s the screens that got small.

Now that everybody can check their iPhones and laptops for news that personally interests them, now that they can Google, blog and tweet, as well as shop — and stalk — on Craigslist, old-school newspapers seem like aging silent film stars, stricken to find themselves outmoded by technology.

As a disgusted Desmond asks from behind dark glasses: “And who have they got now? Some nobodies — a lot of pale little frogs croaking pish-posh.”

Well, gracious.

Let's quickly get your leading conceit out of the way - you're not flashing on Norma because of your hotel. You're flashing on Norma because you're running out of material. You used her three weeks ago as a metaphor for american exceptionalism in a column which related Michelle Obama's dress to unfortunate developments in the US auto industry. Note: people say a bunch of zingy stuff about politics in Casablanca. Just a thought.

But I have to be honest with you, hon. It's not that you wrote slightly more exactly the same column as usual this week. It's this

I asked (SF Chronicle editor-at-large Phil Bronstein) to take me on a justify-your-existence tour.

He started by driving me past an old journalism hangout. “That’s kind of a dead thing, a newspaper bar,” he said. Continuing with the obsolescence theme, he showed me the Linotype machine in the lobby of The Chronicle and his old conference room upstairs.

“This is called the Komodo Dragon Room, for obvious reasons,” he said dryly, referring to the time his ex-wife, Sharon Stone, gave him a meet-and-greet session with a Komodo dragon, who mistook his foot for a snack.

Hey, celebrity anecdote. That kind of justifies his existence right there, doesn't it? But wait, there's more.

We drove around the city for hours, looking at places where journalism had had an impact. At police headquarters, he told of The Chronicle’s coverage of police brutality that forced the department to create a database tracking misbehaving officers. He talked about the paper’s AIDS coverage as we drove through the Castro and past San Francisco General Hospital, where the AIDS wards once overflowed. Parked outside the Giants’ ballpark, he praised the paper’s reporting on Barry Bonds and the steroids scandal, noting that “there are far fewer fly balls going out in the bay.”

His tour ended with cold comfort, as he observed that longer life expectancies may keep us on life support. “For people who still love print, who like to hold it, feel it, rustle it, tear stuff out, do their I. F. Stone thing, it’s important to remember that people are living longer,” he said. “That’s the most hopeful thing you can say about print journalism, that old people are living longer.”

Aw. Cute funny old people reading newspapers. Got in the habit in the old days, when newspapers were different. Nobody's getting in the habit any more. What changed, you  ask?

“When I started as a White House correspondent,” the second female in the position in the Times’ history, “there was a lot of criticism from guys saying, ‘She focuses too much on the person but not enough on policy.’ I never understood that argument at all. I just didn’t agree with the premise,” says Dowd. “Even Scotty Reston,” the storied Washington correspondent who joined the Times the day World War II began and decidedly did not groove on women in the workplace, “said that after the president got the bomb, you had to sort of focus on his judgment and who he was as a person, because that’s all you had. All the great traumatizing events of American history—Watergate, Vietnam, the Iran/contra stuff—have always been about the president’s personal demons and gremlins. So I always thought that criticism was just silly . . . as if it was a girlish thing to be focused on the person.”

Well, it's not girlish any more. It's gender-neutral high-level journalism. Hell, you won a Pulitzer for it

Maureen Dowd was appointed a columnist of The New York Times's Op-Ed page in January 1995 after having served as a correspondent in its Washington bureau since August 1986. There, she covered two Presidential campaigns and served as White House correspondent, gaining a wide following of admirers and imitators for her witty, incisive and acerbic portraits of the powerful.

Incisive and acerbic, dude. Yes, you, Maureen Dowd, are the woman who mainstreamed snark.

So you kind of own the commentary career of William Kristol. You were the precipitating cause of Dana Milbank's decline from a damn good reporter into someone who thinks the readers of his paper tune in to monitor the production of his gall bladder, and the godmother of Ron Fournier's figleaf attempt to disguise naked political partisanship as a fearless determination to remain unspun. You, Red, are a shining symbol of the royal road to success that lies in writing low-content trash which amuses the folks your publisher or your great and good friend the managing editor network with.

And here's the thing - lots of folks, now that they don't have to write journalism with standards any more, are better at it than you are. They're also younger and hungrier, and while they may not all have the sterling family political connections that got you your shot at the big time over others equally young and hungry who had to start a bit lower down the food chain, a lot of them are funnier, and smarter, and didn't spend the last eight years writing think pieces about Hillary's fat ankles.

As a matter of fact, since you don't necessarily need a research department or actual reporting to do what you do, many of the people who are better than you at it write for blogs.

After you, the deluge, sunshine. Hope you wore your hipboots.

Although you know what? I don't, really. And one of the lovely things about earning a living doing something other than being some guy's surrogate spite-hose is that you don't have to pretend extra-hard to be too feminine to be as nasty as you look. It's one of the ways feminism didn't fail the people who tried it.

On the other hand, you're definitely ready for your closeup.
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