Saturday, January 3, 2009
Anyhoot, two items that I found particularly interesting:
1. A link to a WaPo Christmas Day opinion article from ANC 1C Chairman, Bryan Weaver, discussing the alarming nature of a recent shooting in Adams Morgan -- Callousness Against Hope in D.C. Commissioner Weaver discusses how disappointing it is that people have such a jaded response to crime and are unconcerned with the loss of human life. He makes a very good point in this article and I was shocked to see people asking for an apology from Weaver on the message boards -- gimme a break, AdMo residents.
2. There has been a crazy flurry of messages concerning the new interesection at 18th and Columbia Roads (where the festivus pole is). You can see the official changes to the intersection here, which are not totally completed, by the way. The problem with the intersection after the change is that people want to turn right to get across the bridge to Woodley Park ... but this is next to impossible because of pedestrian traffic. This causes a severe backup of traffic on Columbia Road, which I myself have experienced while riding the 42. The original intentions of the changes were to make the intersection safer to pedestrians ... so I'll take pedestrian safety over faster moving traffic anyday.
Friday, January 2, 2009
According to the AJC (Atlanta Journal Constitution) here , Danica Patrick , if you dont know who she is (Click Here or Here). It is a Sheam that they let her drive, not because she is a
As the AJC states here luggage weighting scales have been off by a few pounds. Now as most people know, i hate spending money on stupid fees. I think when i fly today (and next week, both times) i will insist them to use another scale. It is a really interesting article, considering they only put 40 pounds and it kept reading 52 pounds
*Refusal to sit
NY Times, citing here writes about refusing to sit a Senator, the last time this happened was during the Civil War, or so i recall anyway
Go see it, it is really good. Funny and precise.
Sooooo I've lived in the Mount Pleasant/Adams Morgan neighborhood for 5 months now. I've enjoyed the eclectic restaurants, the plentiful bus lines, the not-to-subtle police presence, and hell -- I've even grown fond of the that crazy homeless lady that rolls around in her wheelchair at 16th and Harvard. Yet somehow, despite my many adventures in Mount Pleasant/Adams Morgan/Columbia Heights, I had never before found myself in Mount Pleasant's hidden gem -- The Raven. Thanks to DCist's double (albeit sarcastic) mention of the Raven this past Wednesday ... I had to discover what made this little establishment worthy of such renown.
Last night, my friend GWDrew was in town and I took him out to show him the 'hood. As with anyone who rarely ventures outside the boundaries of Foggy Bottom during his tenure in the Distrcit (read: any GW undergrad past or present) -- Mount Pleasant was not exactly familiar territory. So, it required a little coaxing, but I took Drew and a few of our friends to Haydee's (3102 Mount Pleasant Street NW), my favorite Mexican/Latin American restaurant in town. Haydee's is an extremely wonderful treasure in Mount Pleasant -- it has cheap margaritas, fried plantains that will change your life, and conversations with the waitstaff that often improve (or rather, force you to employ) your basic understanding of the Spanish language. I adore it.
After we were properly sloshed from our margaritas, we proceeded to
The Raven has cheap beer (none on tap, though), great prices on liquor, and incredible music. The jukebox alone is worth the trip, actually ... but I'll also give a nod to the good company (read: not a tourist for miles), fantasticly ridiculous wall art, and a true dive-bar atmosphere rarely found in Washington. The place makes Matchbox in Chinatown look like a vacuous warehouse, but this tiny watering hole has enough personality to rival any major bar in the city.
If you've never been - you're missin' out.
The passengers (including 3 children under the age of 10) are American-born citizens of South Asian descent and were wearing traditional Islamic garb. They were en-route to a religious retreat in Orlando from Washington, D.C. Two other passengers heard one of the adults in the group remark that they were seated right next to the jets and notified the flight crew that it was a 'suspicious remark'. Are you kidding?!
Two U.S. Marshalls were on board and reported the activity to the airport police, and the pilot chose to delay the flight. All 104 passengers were de-planed and rescreened. The 9 passengers travelling together were taken into FBI custody for several hours, and eventuall released. However, the airline (AirTran) refused to let them back on the flight.
This is absurd. I completely understand the need for airport security, but this is above and beyond ridiculous. These people were harassed and detained based, it seems, almost entirely on their appearance. The pilot, airline, airport police, and TSA all openly acknowledge that their appearance was a factor in their detainment. Can you imagine any white person being detained for making a similar comment? Of course not.
This kind of 'security' protocol is outrageous and I can't believe that the TSA et al is defending it. The fact that this story isn't bigger news or considered outrageous by more people is equally disturbing.
***Turn Tail and Run- Politico is reporting that many Republicans are leaving town for Obama's inauguration. Some are heading to the Alps for some skiing, others to watch the NFL Playoffs, some to Vegas to hold a last supper with old Mitt Romney. While I can somewhat sympathize with their decision, I can't say that I'll miss them...
***Aaron Belkin has an interesting (snarky?) column over at HuffPo about the atrocities of the Bush administration and how we can move forward. It's definitely worth a read, especially for you SHEAm. :-)
***Movie Theater Justice - This is a few days old, but I've been meaning to write about it since I first heard about it. Over the Christmas holiday a disgruntled movie-goer shot an overly-boistrous theater-enthusiast at a screening of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button". This is inspiring to me for several reasons.
First of all, as anyone who has ever had to experience loud and talkative people while at the movies: it's really obnoxious and annoying. A little talk here and there? Maybe that's ok. But the constant talkers need to be somehow phased out. Maybe a three-strikes rule for lack of etiquette or something. I can't stand it.
Moreover, while I can't say I'm a particular fan of vigilante justice (or carrying concealed handguns), this citizen was clearly doing us all a favor. The 'perpetrator', Mr. Cialella is an Iraq War Veteran (thank you!) and generally upstanding citizen. The 'victim' is a Mr. Lomax, whose arm was broken in the incident.
Now, I recently went with SHEAm and a few others to see the "Benjamin Button", and I must say it is an exquisite film. Go see it! However, just like Mr. Cialella, my experience was somewhat dampened by some of my fellow patrons. I completely share his frustration at having an excellent movie ruined by near-by dolts. A series of unforunate events unfolded that made this a memorable, if somewhat unreal experience. I've rarely witnessed so many rude people in such a small space. Getting up, sitting down, talking, yelling, coming in late, standing in the middle of the theater blocking people's view of the screen as your group finds seats in that row, the list goes on. And this is only a list of things that happened more than 30 minutes into the show. The first half hour was even more excruciating.
I now have a much clearer understanding of our restrictive gun laws. I was very tempted to follow Mr. Cialella's example of community justice. I strongly encourage President Bush to issue a full pardon to this brave young hero.
*** In some sad news, the creator of the Pell Grant, Clairborne Pell, has passed away. Mr. Pell was a U.S. Senator from Rhode Island for 36 years, and helped found the revolutionary college tuition program that still bears his name. As a recipient of the grant 4 years running, I salute you, sir.
*** Toyota is apparently working on an all-solar car. Sounds exciting, even if it is years away!
***Adopt Progressive Policies- So clearly I've taken to reading HuffPo much more often. Here is a piece from Bob Burnett that encourages the country to really take another look at some progressive policies (some basically dating back to T. Roosevelt, others much more recent). Among the winners, a real living wage based on region, health care (duh), and a new homestead act. It's worth a read!
***And Finally... Fox News actually aired a text from viewers that mentions "Barack the Magic Negro" which I've already written about... INSANE!
Cocktail has ended his campaign of injustice against the denizens of Pittsburgh! In a post he wrote yesterday, he finally relented and has agreed to write an entire entry dedicated to the Steel City. He specifically noted the hard work of many of you, dear readers, in convincing him to change his policy. Good work!! Read the announcement here.
Here's a copy of another email from a good friend (Dan!) who emailed Cocktail to lobby him for this great cause:
I noticed that in your planned series on 'going home' you are planning a section about the 'rest' of PA, but not Pittsburgh. I strongly encourage you to include an independent post about the Steel City. The home of the "Stillers" is far different than surrounding communities of the Amish. Pittsburgh has its own joie de vivre -- unique from that of the rest of the state and worth exploring in its own right.
When you cover it, please discuss such local traditions as pierogies, Primanti Bros., Heinz Ketchup and the Strip District, not to mention Shady Side for the arts, the Incline, the difference between the South and North Hills and of course other neighborhoods that have their own traditions and unique characteristics.
I hope none of you are are at work today. Unfortunately, I do...
"Have you even been inside of a RadioShack recently?" [the CEO] asked. "Just walking into the place makes you feel vaguely depressed and alienated. Maybe our customers are at the mall anyway and don't feel like driving to Best Buy? I suppose that's possible, but still, it's just...weird."
CVS/pharmacy used to be a subsidiary of Melville Corporation until Melville changed its name to CVS Corporation in 1996.The initials once stood for Consumer Value Stores, but CEO Tom Ryan has said he now considers it to stand for "Customer, Value, and Service."During the company's days as a regional chain in the Northeastern U.S., many of CVS's stores did not include pharmacies. These stores were simply called "CVS", while the ones with pharmacies were called "CVS/pharmacy." Additionally, in some jurisdictions, pharmacies are required to label themselves as such. Today, the company no longer builds new stores without pharmacies, and is gradually phasing out the old convenience store-type shops that remain in New England, New York, Washington, D.C., and shopping malls.
(http://www.cvscaremark.com/our-company/history) and of course Wikipedia.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Happy New Year! In the age-old tradition of sharing goofy and uplifting things on such holidays, I leave you with a bit of art from the venerable Arlo Guthrie. Enjoy!
Mooses Come Walking
Mooses come walking over the hill
Mooses come walking, they rarely stand still
When mooses come walking they go where they will
When mooses come walking over the hill.
Mooses look into your window at nightSo, if you see mooses while lying in bed
They look to the left and they look to the right
The mooses are smiling, they think it's a zoo
And that's why the mooses like looking at you
It's best to just stay there pretending you're dead
The mooses will leave and you'll get the thrill
Of seeing the mooses go over the hill
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I'm sure you're all aware of our friend Cocktail's blog, SHEAm has mentioned it a few times. Cocktail (aka Marc) has decided to do a little series on why people enjoy their home state/city/region. Quite a noble idea, and sure to be entertaining. You can check out his first post on the Philly area here.
He also published his schedule for future posts. In doing so he included some sure-fire winners like Ohio, "The South", Texas, etc. He also included on the list "The Rest of Pa". Now as I'm sure all our dear readers know, Pittsburgh (like Philadelphia) is quite different from the rest of Pa. The middle part is affectionately known as "Pennsyltuckey"; full of hillbillies and gun-nuts. James Carville famously noted that Pennsylvania is comprised of "Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Alabama in between".
So I'm asking you, dear readers, to help me lobby and educate Marc. I encourage you to contact him and let him know that Pittsburgh, with it's fair hills, winning teams, beautiful spires, 3 rivers, etc is worthy of it's own entry. If you, like me, love the Steel City: comment on Marc's blog If you hate Pittsburgh, but love the outlying areas of PA and don't want the two associated with one another: comment on Marc's blog. Alternatively, you can write to me or comment here and I'll make sure he sees it.
My dear friend Dave already wrote to Marc imploring him to include the Pittsburgh area in a separate post. Here is Dave, in his own words:
I understand the instinct to call Pennsylvania a state defined by Philadelphia and "everywhere else." As a New Jerseyan, I'm rather jealous, because I live in a state that is entirely composed of "everywhere else." But to ignore the importance and relevance of Pittsburgh is do a grave disservice to the state of Pennyslvania and the residents of Pittsburgh.Why consider Pittsburgh? Media treatment dictates that Pittsburgh be relegated to the same heap of small and largely irrelevant midwestern cities that are close together and lack distinction like Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Milwaukee. Just because the media elite believes that relevant cities must be located on the coasts (in the case of Chicago, the beautiful coast of Lake Michigan) and be defined by financial centers and white collars does not mean you have to fall prey to such embarrassing assumptions. Consider the following:Pittsburgh has three major professional sports teams: The Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates. Some of them have been fantastic. And, if you hate the Pirates as much as they probably hate themselves, well at least you can watch a better opposing team in what is a beautiful ballpark.Pittsburgh is a great college town. Pitt, Duquesne, and Carnegie Mellon all call this fair city home. It has a vibrant nightlife and Allegheny cemetary provides ample opportunities for morning soul searching after wasted freshmen realize they drunkenly urinated on some of the nation's greatest leaders of industry.Pittsburgh's downtown is a beautiful and quaint little area. They too have a coast, seated quite nicely along three rivers. Its up-hill carts along old steel and coal mills allow breathtaking views of beautiful architecture and topography in the area. Bringing your kids? Make them a student of economics and understand the spoils and risks of capitalism as you help them understand how changing markets and free trade can make or break what was once a bustling and cosmopolitan part of the country. Teach them history by describing the days of the gilded age.Marc, while I recognize that Philadelphia, that liberal bastion of sports loser-dom (I still refuse to recognize the Phillies victory because all World Series won after the first snow of the year are null and void) is an easy target for a vacation spot, let us be mindful that there is much more than that scandal-ridden city where the bells are made so poorly they break. Remember that Ben Franklin got the hell out of Philadelphia for Europe. That's right, Philadelphia actually made him hate America so much he left! Had he lived in Pittsburgh, well, perhaps he'd have been with us for far longer. Besides, have you ever tried to ride the SEPTA system or watch Eagles fans get wasted and throw up on fans of the opposing team? You can't tell the zoo from the stadium!Pittsburgh is a city of simultaneous grit and class. If Pittsburgh was indicative of "everywhere else" in Pennsylvania, believe you me, this world would be a much better place. Unfortunately it is limited to this small swath of land that Corrupt once called home.
Here's some news from around the world today:
***In a surprising move, the Vatican has taken further steps toward total independence. Previously, the Vatican, tough a pseudo independent city-state, has automatically accepted all Italian laws as their own, except in extreme cases. Now that practice will stop and only fully acceptable laws will be integrated into Vatican City, and only after careful review. Pope Benedict XVI isn't messing around! I can't say I blame him, given the crazy and unstable state of Italian politics...
***Huffington Post is reporting that Republicans are privately preparing for Coleman's defeat in Minnesota. While all regular ballots have been counted (and Franken is ahead by only 50), there are 1600 improperly rejected absentee ballots to consider, which both camps think will likely favor Franken. This leaves Coleman with the options to either let it go or pursue legal action. I wonder if Republicans who all chastised Al Gore for taking legal action to require all votes to be counted in Florida will be just as quick to criticize Coleman for taking an electoral challenge to Court?? Somehow, I doubt it. He already filed a case trying to stop the voting, but that didn't work out for Republicans this time.
Some conservatives don't want Coleman to come back at all. He's under investigation by the FBI for improperly taking $75,000 and failing to report it. Many GOPers don't want to perpetuate the image of corruption that has been part of the party brand the past few years...
***HuffPo also has a story about Cali suing the Bush administration to save the Endangered Species Act. I have to say, Cali really is a great state with a great Governor (minus that whole Prop 8 thing). They are the leaders in clean energy, fuel efficiency standards, etc. And now this. Republicans should follow the Governator's lead and move back to the center!
*** In news of the bizzare, Blago's last grasping reach for power (Burris) has a shrine to himself in Illinois. Politico reports that he has a crypt already made with a chiseled-in list of his accomplishments. My favorite is that you can see the words "Trail Blazer" on the crypt. Don't worry, he left room for some more.
***Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez is writing a tell-all book about his time with the Bush Administration. I wonder if he'll 'tell-all' about how he fired U.S. Attorneys for not prosecuting enough Democrats.... you know the reason he had to resign and all.
***Atheists are suing Chief Justice Roberts to stop the practice of addng "So help me God" at the end of the Presidential Inauguration. While it is rumored that George Washington ended his oath with those words, it wasn't a common practice until the Greatest of All Presidents, His Emminence Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office in 1933. It has been customary ever since. I say: back off Atheists. While I completely agree in the separation of church and state and think sometimes this country gets the two a little too close, this is personal choice. If Obama chooses to do so, let him invoke the blessing of his God.
That's all for now!!
Apparently Roland Burris is under the impression that his appointment isn't an issue. While he might have a legitimate view that his appointment is fully legal and appropriate, he'd have to be living on another planet to not think it was a controversial move. For the first time this makes me question his ability to serve...
Providing some historical perspective: Obama backed Burris in the last statewide primary for the Governorship... over Blago. But Obama has agreed with the Senate Democrats that he should not be seated and that any appointment made by Blago while under scrutiny for trying to sell that very same seat is toxic.
Now on to commentary in response to SHEAm: let's get a few things straight. First off - Harry Reid is a pro-life Mormon from a relatively conservative state. Hardly a left-winger. And more importantly, he's a former boxer and used to run the Nevada Gaming Commission. While running the commission he was repeatedly threatened, had a bomb attached to his car, and served as an FBI informant and busted an attempted bribe from La Toya Jackson's manager. A character in the movie Casino was based on him. He also went to GWU. Translation: Don't mess with Harry Reid. He's badass.
As for the appointment: I think at this point very few people are making the argument that Blago cannot under any circumstances appoint Burris. The state Supreme Court made it clear that the Attny Gen can't remove him or suspend him for being 'incapacitated', etc. And I absolutely agree that anyone who is charged or indicted is innocent until proven guilty. The issue really boils down to: how can this guy even pretend to be functioning as Governor and doing the people's work when he spends the vast majority of his time hunkered down with legal counsel trying to fight these criminal charges?!? And it just adds insult to injury that not only is he making this appointment under a general cloud of scrutiny that would already undermine whomever he appointed, but Blago is being investigated for selling that very Senate seat!
All in all, it's a mess. Blago, step down for your own sake and the sake of your state.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
For the first time in a long time ... I can say that I respect a sitting Democratic Governor ... Rod Blagojavich is that man. He ... like all American people is innocent until proven guilty. And says he has done nothing wrong and will remain in his role as Governor - and he has the right to do that. Whether or not you disagree with his decision, it is his decision to make - and he is choosing to carry out the duties of his office.
Of course things just get even better ... in no surprising move at all the US Senate Democrats led by left-winger Harry Reid have announced they will not allow Mr. Blagojavich's nominee, Mr. Burris, to be sat. That is rich ... the Senate thinks they can prevent a fellow Senator from entering their body. I'm sorry Mr. Reid we have laws in this country. Please learn to uphold them. Even left-winger Corrupt has said that the 1969 SCOTUS ruling in Powell v. McCormack allows for Mr. Burris to be seated, no matter what Mr. Reid seems to think.
To add icing to the cake liberal mudslinger Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White says he will refuse to certify Mr. Blagovich's appointment. Who do these people think they are?
I know almost everyone out there reading this will be up in arms about this post, including Corrupt, but I think Mr. Blagojavich is perfect within line. Nowhere in the Illinois Constitution is Mr. Blagojavich forced to resign for being accused of a crime. The man has not has his day in court.
Do I think he is guilty? Of course; he's a Democrat, they are all corrupt.
But the fact still stands the man is Governor and has the power to appoint anyone he so pleases to this seat.
Editors Note: This post is partially satire.
What I assumed would be a typical Tuesday evening, turned out to be anything but ...
I went to get my haircut with the fabulous Marsha at Shears Hair Salon off of McPherson Square (I've been going to her for 5+ years - she's fantastic!), and while leaving around 6pm, I heard some screaming and chanting in front of the White House. After determining that, no, it wasn't the crazy lady with a helmet glued to her head in Lafayette Park ... I walked over to H and 16th Streets to investigate. There was an enormous march/protest going down H Street toward GW. As this was the way I was walking back to my office, I decided to walk along and see what the commotion was about.
The protesters were screaming "Free Free Palestine" from what I could make out, or perhaps it was "Re-Free Palestine" ... but that doesn't make much sense. There was also a chant "George Bush - you will see /Palestine will be free." I am bad at estimating numbers, but from the mass I saw there were certainly close to 1000 people.
I became a little weary as the people marching turned up Pennsylvania Avenue toward my office at GW ... but I followed along, snapping pictures on my camera phone now and then. I caught up to the front of the protesters as they made a left from Pennsylvania onto 21st Street (with police escort). I legit thought they were going to march right into Kogan Plaza in the center of GW's campus, but I believe they continued down 21st Street toward the mall. I scurried into my office before seeing where their final destination was.
Thoughts on the current issues in Palestine?
****President Bush continues to surprise me this month. In a little bit of a Christmas present, it seems that Bush has signed a piece of legislation that actually helps gay and lesbian couples. I know, I'm as confused as you are. There must be a catch...
The Worker, Retireee, and Employer Recovery Act of 2008 makes it mandatory for businesses to roll over retirement benefits to a same sex partner should an employee die. Married heterosexual couples already enjoy this right (and thus avoid tax penalties), but the right is now being extended to same-sex couples. I'm glad to see Bush is joining the civilized world and at least helping us gain just a little more of the equality cookie. Better late than never!
**** Blago is making a Senate appointment- Despite the conventional wisdom of... well everyone, the embattled Illinois Governor is going to go ahead and apoint Obama's successor to the U.S. Senate. Word is he's going to appoint former state Attorney General Roland Burris to the seat. Blago and Burris are former rivals, yet Burris seems to be a safe choice and relatively uncontroversial. Also of note: Burris will be the 4th African American Senator in the body's history, and the third from Illinois. You read it here first! (hopefully)
UPDATE: The Democratic Caucus in the U.S. Senate, via Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and others are now saying that they will NOT seat Blago's pick of Burris. They issued the following statement outlining that while they respect Burris, anyone appointed by Blago is not acceptable:
"It is truly regrettable that despite requests from all 50 Democratic Senators and public officials throughout Illinois, Gov. Blagojevich would take the imprudent step of appointing someone to the United States Senate who would serve under a shadow and be plagued by questions of impropriety. We say this without prejudice toward Roland Burris's ability, and we respect his years of public service. But this is not about Mr. Burris; it is about the integrity of a governor accused of attempting to sell this United States Senate seat. Under these circumstances, anyone appointed by Gov. Blagojevich cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois and, as we have said, will not be seated by the Democratic Caucus.There is some little precedent for individuals to not be seated in the Senate when there are questions about the propriety of the election that that individual won. Constitutionall, each house of Congress has the right to check the qualifications and election of all it's members. However, in the 1960s the House of Representatives refused to seat incumbent Adam Clatyon Powell due to charges of corruption. The case went to the Supreme Court and in an 8-1 decision the Court held that the House had no right to exclude Powell. The Court said that the House could only exclude members when they don't meet the basic qualifications or if they were not properly elected. Since Burris meets the age, citizenship, and residency requirements of Illinois and Blago as Governor has the legal ability to appoint anyone, the question is: Does the Senate even have the option to refuse to seat Burris?? Let me know your thoughts
"Next week we will start one of the most important debates of the year - outlining an economic recovery plan to create jobs and invest in America. And in the coming weeks, we will be working to protect homeowners and consumers, make America more energy independent, strengthen our national security, and improve health care and educational opportunities. There is much work to do and a lot at stake. It is thus critical that Illinois and every other state have two seated Senators without delay.
"We again urge Gov. Blagojevich to not make this appointment. It is unfair to Mr. Burris, it is unfair to the people of Illinois and it will ultimately not stand. The governor must put the interests of the people of Illinois and all Americans first by stepping aside now and letting his successor appoint someone who we will seat."
***Caroline Kennedy - I've said it before and I'll say it again: NO. I like the Kennedy family in general. I especially like the Kennedy's who have served in public office. I'm not from New York, Massachusetts, or Rhode Island- all places represented in Congress at one time or another by a Kennedy, but I greatly respect their dedication to public service, and I quite frequently find myself in total agreement with policies they support (read: healthcare, education, equality). However, the idea that Caroline Kennedy can just walz in to New York and basically declare herself Senator is absurd. Is there precedent for this kind of stuff? Absolutely. Just look at the seat being held for Biden's son in Delaware or that was held for Edward Kennedy in Massachusetts after JFK's election as president. I'd say that ended up working out well for the nation given the enormous influence Senator Edward M. Kennedy has had on public policy in America. But that doesn't excuse the less than desirable way in which the seat was handed down to him.
Let me pause here and say that I have a great affinity for the British Monarchy, especially as castrated from power the Royal Family is presently. I appreciate the pomp and circumstance that goes into have a royal head of state and occasionally long for that level of pomposity here in the US. That being said, we don't have inhereted positions of power in America and I hope we never do. True, there have been occasional dynastic leanings from time to time. One need look no further than our current president. But the incidence of 'handing down' these positions seems to be growing more and more common. There is obviously the large and powerful Kennedy family, but also look at Senator Murkowski of Alaska (appointed by her father, the now-former governor), Al Gore (who took his father's senate seat), Chris Dodd (who took his father's senate seat), Lincoln Chaffee (who took his father's senate seat) or the siblings/cousins in Congress: the Diaz-Balart brothers, Sanchez sisters, Levin brothers, Udall cousins, etc. It seems to be getting a bit out of hand. And this isn't even including the wives of politicians who take their husband's seats.
All in all, there should never be a sense of entitlement to an elective office, even if a temporary replacement is being appointed. We live in a democratic republic. Let's not forget the first operative word in that phrase. Not even for a Kennedy.
*** Frank Rich in the NYT (SHEAm's paper of record)- Frequent readers (both of you out there... hello!) will know that I've ranted a few times about the whole Rick Warren flap with Obama. If you've been asleep the last month, Obama invited the head of a megachurch in California, who helped lead the charge to pass Prop 8, to give the invocation at his inauguration. Yes, behind the seal of the President.
I've gone through a few stages of emotions here. First just general outrage, especially since this is supposed to be the first 'pro-glbt' president. Then I moved into the more activist, 'let's make sure he knows this decision hurts' phase. Part of that was feeling rather dejected/taken for granted by the incoming administration. Following that little flirtatious with activism, I took a more long-term view shared by many in the 'community' that perhaps this wasn't so bad, and that while Obama was just showing that he's welcoming to all, he would still be sure to fight for some of our big ticket issues like workplace protection. Maybe. Hopefully. After all, if there's a good kinf of evangelical political activist, it's one like Warren who helps fight poverty and HIV/AIDS.
I let things go for a little while. Now, today I read Frank Rich's op-ed in the NYT and it has me thinking about the whole episode again, this time with a little less raw emotion and hopefully a little more long-looking maturity. I basically agree entirely with Rich's column, which has some interesting persepectives from openly gay Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson and others. I'll include some of the better quotes:
There’s no reason why Obama shouldn’t return the favor by inviting him to Washington. But there’s a difference between including Warren among the cacophony of voices weighing in on policy and anointing him as the inaugural’s de facto pope. You can’t blame V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop and an early Obama booster, for feeling as if he’d been slapped in the face. “I’m all for Rick Warren being at the table,” he told The Times, but “we’re talking about putting someone up front and center at what will be the most-watched inauguration in history, and asking his blessing on the nation. And the God that he’s praying to is not the God that I know.”Warren, whose ego is no less than Obama’s, likes to advertise his “commitment to model civility in America.” But as Rachel Maddow of MSNBC reminded her audience, “comparing gay relationships to child abuse” is a “strange model of civility.” Less strange but equally hard to take is Warren’s defensive insistence that some of his best friends are the gays: His boasts of having “eaten dinner in gay homes” and loving Melissa Etheridge records will not protect any gay families’ civil rights.
Warren’s defamation of gay people illustrates why, as does our president-elect’s rationalization of it. When Obama defends Warren’s words by calling them an example of the “wide range of viewpoints” in a “diverse and noisy and opinionated” America, he is being too cute by half. He knows full well that a “viewpoint” defaming any minority group by linking it to sexual crimes like pedophilia is unacceptable.Like SHEAm, I encourage you to read the entire column. It's a good bit of perspective from someone who is not directly effected by this particular slap in the face, but why Obama's lack of civility toward any one community should be a warning to all those who supported him.
It is even more toxic in a year when that group has been marginalized and stripped of its rights by ballot initiatives fomenting precisely such fears. “You’ve got to give them hope” was the refrain of the pioneering 1970s gay politician Harvey Milk, so stunningly brought back to life by Sean Penn on screen this winter. Milk reminds us that hope has to mean action, not just words.
By the historical standards of presidential hubris, Obama’s disingenuous defense of his tone-deaf invitation to Warren is nonetheless a relatively tiny infraction. It’s no Bay of Pigs. But it does add an asterisk to the joyous inaugural of our first black president. It’s bizarre that Obama, of all people, would allow himself to be on the wrong side of this history.
***Rahm Emanuel is scheduled to resign from the House by the end of the week, per WaPo. Let's just hope this doesn't somehow, someway end up extending the Blago story. While the Gov doesn't get to appoint a replacement, he is in control of setting up the special election to replace Emanuel, something I'm sure he could find a way to sell...
***Update in Minn: According the unofficial counts by the two big papers in MN, Al Franken is up by only a mere 47 votes in the Minnesota recount debacle. They are now in the process of deciding which mistakenly rejected ballots are going to be counted. The state Supreme Court ordered the campaigns to find common ground and agree on which ones to count, but we all know that's never going to happen. Instead, it looks like local election boards will decide the contested ballots 1 by 1. This process has already been excruciating, and way longer than the 2000 insanity with the Presidential election (though this is preferable to SCOTUS' decision to just not count the ballots in 2000). There simply has to be a better way. While I generally hope that Franken was elected, this just looks like it's going to be a complete mess for whomever is eventually declared the victor.
***Slick Willy Auditions! Are you an aspiring actor? Maybe slightly overweight, white, and can throw a gentle southern accent? Then this is your lucky day. Posted on BizJournals (via DCist) is a story about open auditions being held for the part of President Bill Clinton in a 'non-political comedy' about ol' Bill an Monica called "The Blue Dress". While this seems like an insane joke, it's legit. There are several roles cast, but many seem to still be open, including the role for Al Gore, Kenneth Star, and others. Good luck if you go!
***DEAN is a Prophet- As you all know, Howard Dean should have been nominated and then elected President in 2004. Fact. But since he was sandbagged by the media, instead he took over the Democratic Party. Good for him, good for Democrats, and now it seems good for the country. While many were very skeptical of Dean's 50 state strategy (mainly of using DNC dollars to build the party in remote GOP places like the deep south or Montana, etc), it seems to have paid off. In addition to President Bush's enormous help to the Democrats by being a monumental fuck up, Dean's strategy laid the groundwork for the new Democratic Congress and now our incoming President. The Nation has a great piece on it here. I may post more about it later on.
That's all for now. Have some more coming up later on Transformers, Public Service, and maybe more on Dean...