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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Kentucky Derby winner is put down

I was very sad to hear this news:


Barbaro, who broke his leg in a race shortly after a stunning victory at the Kentucky Derby last May, has been put down. The four-year-old colt shattered his right hind leg in the Preakness Stakes and underwent a series of operations. But he suffered more complications to the injury over the weekend which needed further surgery. "We reached a point where it would be difficult for him to go on without pain," said co-owner Roy Jackson. "It was the right decision, the right thing to do. We said all along if there was a situation where it would become more difficult for him then it would be time." He first caught the public imagination by winning the Kentucky Derby by nearly seven lengths - the biggest margin in 60 years.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Mess in Iraq

Every day when I watch the news reports about Iraq, I want to throw up. We have made such an unholy mess in that country - the unemployment rate is estimated at 50%, at least 20% of the country lives below the poverty line, utility coverage is still inconsistent. In the fall, there was a mass exodus by the middle class; I recently read that even members elected to the government's Council of Representatives live outside the country because of safety concerns.

And now there is talk of an American troop surge and it's just beyond my comprehension. Four years we've occupied Iraq and this is what we've wrought. How can any thinking person believe that what's needed now is more killing? That the solution to the mess we've made is to kill more people? Unbelievable.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

SOTU Address

Although I liked some of what Bush said, such as promoting alternative fuels, mostly I kept wondering if he choked on all that humble pie that he had to eat before he went over to address Congess.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Worlds collide

Today is a big day for both my major passions - the State of the Union address is tonight and this morning the Academy Awards nominations were announced. Plus the Scooter Libby trial is getting started. And World Economic Forum (annual globalization conference) starts this weekend in Davos, Switzerland (it's 30th anniversary, the world leaders and representatives from major corporations who attend comprise 1/4 of the world's GDP, Topic #1 - global warming!) And the Sundance Film Festival is running all week. I don't know which channel to watch (CNN or the E network!) So much important news in the areas that interest me most!

Academy Awards

There's some very good news - Ryan Gosling got an actor slot for a completely unseen performance in Half Nelson (a movie I've been hearing about for many months), which will deservedly raise the profile of both him and the film. A few other offbeat performances were also recognized, such as Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine and Jackie Earl Haley in Little Children, which is always good. (People are fussing about Jack Nicholson being "overlooked" but please, the guy is so high profile, he hardly needs the publicity! He's a great actor, but it's time to give some other performers the recognition.) Three of the five Best Actress slots went to women over 50 - yahoo! Five of the 20 performance slots went to African Americans - yahoo again. But I'm very upset about Dreamgirls - the film got the most total noms, with 8, but was not honored for Best Picture or Best Director. I can think of no plausible explanation other than racism - the Academy loves big musicals - it fell all over itself for Chicago in 2002. I really feel that this is a sign that things haven't changed as much as I thought or even hoped.

The Gruesome Factor

This may be Scorsese's year, and he's so overdue, but I skipped The Departed myself, because my personal gruesome quotient was met (exceeded really) by the many, many other films this year featuring mass graves, torture, machetes, the death of parents, the deaths of children, ball peen hammers, straight razors, the on- and off-screen severing of limbs . . . need I go on? And these are all featured in the prestige films that are currently nominated for Oscars - awards for movies nobody sees (as I've heard them described). I can't recall a year when so many "serious" films were so filled with such murder and mayhem (Children of Men, Pan's Labryinth, Last King of Scotland, Blood Diamond, The Good Shepherd; I haven't seen The Departed or Letter from Iwo Jima or Apocalypto). I'm not sure what to think of this development. Does this have something to do with other film trends, like the prevelance of gory teen fare like Saw and Hostel? Or does this reflect the current state of the world, such as the war in Iraq?

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Is the U.S. ready?

My friend Steve, a hard core Republican, says that the U.S. is more ready for an African-American president than they are for a woman. Wow, I'd say he's off by a mile. You don't need to do a very in-depth electoral analysis to see what the U.S. population is comfortable with . . . Congress has a pretty good number of African-American Representatives because of district gerry-mandering, but how many African-Americans are there in the Senate (which requires winning a state-wide contest)? That's right, just on, and almost anyone can name him, he's from the Chicago area and he's a superstar. How many women serve in the Senate? SIXTEEN! And how many people can name more than one? The numbers don't lie. The current situations of race and gender are completely different, and in my opinion makes it very obvious what voters are willing to do at this point in time.



Saturday, January 20, 2007

More Democratic progress

This may not go anywhere, but I was so thrilled to hear about it!

Pelosi creates committee to deal with global warming
SF Chronicle
Friday, January 19, 2007

Washington -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi created the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming on Thursday, a group she hopes will coordinate work among the eight committees with jurisdiction over the issue and U.S. energy policy and help come up with sweeping legislation by early summer. The panel won't write legislation, Pelosi said. Instead, it is designed to focus attention on the issues by holding hearings around the country and get the eight committees to work together. "It's a very important issue,'' Pelosi said in announcing the panel. ''It says to the American people we are about the future.''


Friday, January 19, 2007

Democrat's 100 hour plan

I have to admit I'm loving this. I'm sure they won't ultimately get everything they (we) want (the Seante has to weigh in), but at least they're finally talking about issues that matter to me!

SF Chronicle
Friday, January 19, 2007
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her House Democrats celebrated the completion of their initial 100-hour legislative agenda on Thursday. Over the past two weeks, the House has passed bills putting more of the Sept. 11 commission's recommendations into law, raising the federal minimum wage, enabling Medicare to seek discounts on prescription drugs, expanding embryonic stem cell research and cutting the cost of college student loans. And separately it passed new rules that crack down on lobbyists and reinstate pay-as-you-go budgeting rules.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

More federal prosecutors resign under pressure

I saw this story on Keith Olberman last night, a show I unfortunately almost never watch. I was stunned that this is going on completely under the radar - the Bush administration is believed to be driving prosecutors who are Democrats out of office and using a new law that allows them to appoint "temporary" replacements for an indefinite period.

(AP) -- Two U.S. Attorneys in California announced they are stepping down, as critics alleged political pressure from the Bush administration was pushing them and others out of their jobs. The two are among 11 top federal prosecutors who have resigned or announced their resignations since an obscure provision in the USA Patriot Act reauthorization last year enabled the U.S. attorney general to appoint replacements without Senate confirmation.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), complained on the Senate floor Tuesday that the White House is using the provision to oust Ryan, Lam and other federal prosecutors and replace them with Republican allies. "The Bush administration is pushing out U.S. attorneys from across the country under the cloak of secrecy and then appointing indefinite replacements," Feinstein said.

In her tenure leading the Southern District, Carol Lam prioritized prosecuting political corruption and health care fraud. She also oversaw the government's case against Randy "Duke" Cunningham, the former Republican congressman who pleaded guilty to taking $2.4 million in bribes, and her office won corruption convictions of two San Diego city councilmen.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Gonzales says judges should "defer to will of Prez"

I saw this story on CNN. As far as I can tell, an "activist judge" is anyone who disagrees with the administration - they certainly don't apply that label to Antonin Scalia, regardless of how well it fits. Apparently Gonzales has never heard of "checks and balances" - he should go back to his HS government class.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says federal judges are unqualified to make rulings affecting national security policy, ramping up his criticism of how they handle terrorism cases. In remarks prepared for delivery Wednesday, Gonzales says judges generally should defer to the will of the president and Congress when deciding national security cases. He also raps jurists who "apply an activist philosophy that stretches the law to suit policy preferences."


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Rice-Boxer exchange provides needed distraction

California Senator Barbara Boxer's comment on the Iraq War to Condolezza Rice during a contentious Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last week: "Who pays the price? I'm not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old and my grandchild is too young. You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families."

The reference to Rice's personal status was instantly seized upon by right-wing commentators like Rush Limbaugh. Rice later made a pointed (and completely scripted) response on Fox News: "Gee, I thought single women had come further than that." White House spokesman Tony Snow called Boxer's remark "a great leap backward for feminism." Anti-feminist commentator Christina Hoff Sommers said, "She seems to be saying that an unmarried, childless woman should not be involved in decisions that affect traditional families. By that standard, Susan B. Anthony would be disqualified. And how about Elizabeth I?"

I have to say that I'm completely offended by Rice's characterization of Boxer's remark, and flabbergasted by the deliberate misinterpretation by various right-wingers. And hearing Tony Snow defend feminism surely means that hell has frozen over. The whole brouhaha is an obviously calculated attempt to make political hay and represents a new level of disingenuousness in an administration that has already reached dizzying heights of it.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Barack Hussein Obama

For a couple of weeks now I've been hearing about the right wing's use of Obama's middle name as much as possible, to try and stir up opposition to him. His father was Muslim, there's no denying that, but so what? I feel like the haters must be especially desperate, if this is all they can find to pin on him.