Monday, August 31, 2009

Fair-Minded Conservative?

David Brooks, conservative columnist in a recent interview with The New Republic:

“Obama sees himself as a Burkean,” Brooks says. “He sees his view of the world as a view that understands complexity and the organic nature of change.” Moreover, after the Bush years, Brooks seems relieved to have an intellectual in the White House again. “I divide people into people who talk like us and who don’t talk like us,” he explains. “Of recent presidents, Clinton could sort of talk like us, but Obama is definitely--you could see him as a New Republic writer. He can do the jurisprudence, he can do the political philosophy, and he can do the politics. I think he’s more talented than anyone in my lifetime. I mean, he is pretty dazzling when he walks into a room. So, that’s why it’s important he doesn’t fuck this up.”
The Courtship The New Republic

Sounds as if he is the rare beast on the right that may be intellectually honest. It does sound as if he is getting a little too close to the White House though.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Lawless Thug

Andrew Sullivan writes about our Dick the Dick's support of torture by any means for whatever reason HE deems fit...and his quote from the founder of Cheney's own party during the civil war.

The Daily Dish By Andrew Sullivan:
Cheney Endorses Torture Even Beyond His Own Limits

Here's the salient quote from the Fox 'interview' with former journalist, Chris Wallace:
WALLACE: So even these cases where they went beyond the specific legal authorization, you're OK with it?
The former vice-president of the United States is here backing torture techniques that even his own hack lawyers believed were illegal. He is basically saying that the law had no salience or relevance in his program of torturing prisoners. He is attacking the rule of law in its entirety. Let that sink in: we had a vice-president who had contempt for the rule of law.
At moments like these, when a war criminal is given a totally supine platform to spew propaganda, it's worth recalling the following quote from 1863. It's from Abraham Lincoln:
'Military necessity does not admit of cruelty nor of torture to procure confessions.'
From Lincoln to Cheney, from a lawyer president to a lawless thug."

Friday, August 28, 2009


Apparently, Mitt Romney won't take the plunge afterall. Guess he decided I was right.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Romney Pondering Plunge in Boston Harbor

Today's gossip, according to Peter Roff of US News & World Report is that Mitt Romney is thinking about running for Senator Kennedy's open seat in January. As I said in the Kennedy post, one of the joys in my voting life was voting for him. His challenger at the time was Mitt Romney. He was famous for his work during the Salt Lake City Olympics and his father being a governor. Romney campaigned hard, but in the end Ted Kennedy ran away with it. I remember thinking that Mitt was a little plastic; that he would say anything to get elected.

The year I left Massachusetts the people elected Romney as their governor. I'm not really sure what happened, but we did have a record of electing some republicans. (remember Bill Weld)

Word from family and friends in Massachusetts at the time was that there was buyer's remorse with Romney. He got elected as a moderate and governed that way for a time. In the end he seemed to be moving in the opposite direction. After he declared his intention to run for president we all knew why. I don't know why conservative republicans support a politician who campaigned and governed as a moderate in a pretty liberal state, then all of a sudden changes his stripes and becomes a good conservative. Do people remember when the biggest knock on John Kerry was that he was a "flip-flopper?" Totally bizarre, but then these days most republicans don't make a lot of sense anyway.

Even with all the money that he and the republicans would pour into the senate race if Romney were to announce, I don't think he has much of a chance. "Fool me once, shame on you, food me twice, the good people of Massachusetts would not be fooled again." Or in the words of Joe Liebermann to Alex Baldwin, "Bring it on!"

Go Patriots!

Here's a pic of the team that were the Super Bowl World Champions a couple of years ago. This year's Super Bowl World Champions will be very similar to this pic. Different super bowl number, different stadium in the background, a couple of different players, but, SAME TEAM!
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Views from the Net

I live in a european country where we have free health care and we cannot understand why Americans are so much against it....we shake our heads when we see that Americans don't want health care reforms. What are we missing?

If you step back and look at this entire fiasco, it's quite mind boggling. What kind of government official (and what kind of ordinary people) tries to stop the expansion of medical care to fellow citizens? When you watch folks screaming and yelling and carrying weapons, you'd think our constitution had actually been dispensed with and there had been a third-world style, military coup. In a million years, an unknowing person wouldn't guess people were up in arms about giving access to medical care to other Americans, many of whom are in great need through no fault of their own.

Exactly. This is a conflict of interest. (Of government officials) They should be impeached.

Just take away their health care coverage and make them work on a bill to get their (and the uninsureds) coverage back.

Senator Edward Kennedy 1932-2009

"For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." - Senator Edward Kennedy at the Democratic National Convention 1980.

Since I began voting in l978, and I have voted a lot, my greatest privilege was voting for the greatest senator of my lifetime, Ted Kennedy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Barack Obama on the brink of deal for Middle East peace talks

The Guardian Online has announced that the US, Israel, and The Palestinians are on the verge of a major announcement of a resumption of middle east peace talks. France and Russia are offering to host middle east peace conferences regarding these talks. The announcement with President Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is tentatively scheduled for the meeting of world leaders at the UN General Assembly in New York, or the next day or two during a summit of the G-20 in Pittsburgh.

Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Morocco are all on board so far. Saudi Arabia is said not to be on board, but does not seem to be stopping other Arab States from joining, and is thought to maybe jump on board in the end.

Read the whole story here.

The article went on to say that some were hopeful of a complete middle east peace deal in two years, others thought that was too optimistic. The idea of middle east peace sounds great and I hope and pray it will be achieved. I'm happy our envoy George Mitchell is involved and I think his involvement will add to the possibility of success. The rough terms seem to be that Israel has agreed to a partial stop in building settlements on the west bank in exchange for the US taking a much harsher stance towards Iran and their nuclear ambitions.

Before this announcement maybe I was naive but I was hoping for some kind of improved relations with Iran. In general I think many people in Iran want and deserve a relationship with us. Most of the leaders and religious wackos don't want and don't deserve a relationship with us. So what are we to do? Because of Israel's insistence that we and other countries push for very tough sanctions on Iran with the purpose of crippling their economy, we are in a tough bind. I doubt Russia and France will be two of those countries that stand with us in supporting the new tough sanctions.

I don't know that Israel is giving up all that much for 1.) the promise of peace with the Palestinians and 2.) US aggression against Iran as their proxy. Israel agrees to a partial stop to building in the west bank. Maybe I'm wrong, but is that enough?

This may work out for the US because we may have had to do something about Iran's nuclear threat in the future but I just don't like the sounding of this. Here's to peace.

Dick the Dick

Yesterday, the Obama administration following the order of the circuit court of appeals, released hundreds of pages of material, (much of which was heavily redacted), relating to the CIA and torture during the Bush administration. The administration fought the lawsuit brought by the ACLU under the freedom of information act, on the grounds that releasing the documents would harm national security. They lost. About the same time Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he was appointing a special prosecutor, still working on related matters, to look into whether there was sufficient evidence to bring charges against the people involved. Evidence had been mounting that there were serious accounts of "over-reaching" made by the CIA and outside contractors concerning torture of prisoners. Rep. Whitehouse (D-RI) had for months said that the people involved did not follow even the rules, as outlined by the Bush administration, and that they needed to be investigated. That's saying something.

So, you may have heard that some of these tactics involved stripping a prisoner naked, putting a hood over his head, and clicking a gun next to his temple, making the sound like the bullet was put in the chamber, and threatening to kill him. Other allegations involved telling a detainee that if he didn't talk, they would rape his mother in front of him, and shooting a gun off in the next room, then taking the detainee out of his room past an agent on the floor pretending to have been shot. And we have all heard about waterboarding.

In the abstract I can't say that if the point of the interrogations were to scare the beejezus out of the detainees to get them to talk about information regarding the terrorists plans for future attacks, that they were totally wrong. After all, we had been attacked and were trying everything to prevent another attack. But in reality, torture is torture. Torture is illegal according to our laws. If we are a nation of laws, we must follow them, and they apply to everyone from the agents who performed these tortures on up to the officials who authorized them.

Now what really pisses me off is Dick Cheney. Call him Darth Vader, call him Shooter, call him the most dangerous, scary, and power grabbing man ever to hold the position of vice president. He released a statement yesterday saying this "fuels doubts about this administration's ability to be responsible for our nations security." Really? This coming from the man who accused the Obama administration of putting our national security in danger because they decided to close Guantanamo Bay prison, when his own president decided it best to close it, and he was silent. President Bush didn't have the guts to do the right thing, at least Obama does.

It seems like now that he is out of office he cannot keep quiet about anything. When he was in office he believed everything they did should be kept secret. A man who from the very beginning of their administration would not release the names of his energy task force. An administration who had to be sued for those names, and who turned out to be buddies from energy companies from Texas like Haliburton.

Remember that he was the one who went on Meet the Press and when asked by Tim Russert about his concern for the number of Americans who were increasingly not supportive of his war of choice in Iraq said, "So?" Remember he was the one who leaked Valerie Plame's name to the press about being an undercover CIA agent. He was the one who let his right hand man, Scooter Libby fall on the sword for him, not for leaking her name, but for lying about where he heard it. Cheney was the one who was so furious at President Bush during his last week in office for saying no to pardoning Mr. Libby that he asked him three times to change his mind after he had been told no. Talk about someone who is not in reality. Can you imagine if something happened to President Bush and Cheney became POTUS?

Lastly, remember about two months ago when Cheney and his patronage job, assistant state department kind of hack, blow-hard daughter named Lynn, both went on TV and said the skies are falling. Be afraid, be very afraid of Barack Obama. At that time they were practically begging the Obama administration to release these documents. They said it proves the point that valuable information was secured by these techniques.

Well, they got their wish. Only trouble is, now they are critical because they were released. It should be pointed out that while the documents do say information was obtained about future terrorist plots, that information did not necessarily come from the advanced interrogations. If they were paying attention they only had to watch a congressional panel questioning what happened. They had some panelists who knew a little about what they were talking about and some panelists who were clueless. The most interesting and informative panelist was a CIA agent testifying in-cognito behind a box. He was the one who first interrogated Kalid Sheik Mohammed. (the one whom the Cheney's often cite as their most prolific information witness). The agent said that KSM was more than willing to spill the beans during the interrogation. If I remember correctly, one of the carrots they gave him were candy bars.

The agent said that the interrogations were so successful that they were continuing for a day and a half and saw no reason to stop the carrot instead of the stick routine. All of a sudden a call came through from the administration that they were to stop these methods, and new people and new methods would be used. The agent felt that he had developed a rapport with KSM and could not understand why they were stopping. Then the waterboarding started. He was waterboarded something like 80 times. The agent said they got nothing from the waterboarding but that when they stopped and acted reasonable, they got more information. Then they waterboarded again and got nothing. He said he was finally asked to leave and did not know what, if anything more they got from him.

So, who are you going to believe? A career CIA agent who had no hidden agenda, who was not a partisan for any administration, and who believed in his country and his calling? Or, are you going to believe one of the biggest liars and crushers of the constitution and all it stands for, in the history of this country.

One more thing. President Obama said that he would rather not look back but look forward and focus on the challenges we face today. I could not agree more. But if the attorney general does decide that he needs to pursue this, then I think they should start with the people at the top first. Go after the ones who gave the orders. Start with Cheney, then on down. Don't buy for a minute that these agents and contractors were lone wolfs acting without orders. They got away with it in the Abu Graihb scandal. They should not get away with it now.

From the blogs...

The best mens room line I ever heard was from Steve Martin. I was at the urinal at the Lincoln Center in New York, and he pulls up next to me. I say "Hey Steve, how ya doin'?" He says, "In here, we are all peers."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Play and Results from Saturday Night

The results at the end, but first the most exciting hand of the night.

All the players folded to Mark and Tim pre-flop. Mark was the short stack. Tim made a medium bet, Mark thought about calling Tim's bet and said "I'm all-in". Then Tim feigned concern for a couple of moments messing with his chips and said "Mark, I gotta call your all- in".

In our games it rarely happens that only two players are left to see the flop. Most of the players think their hand has a chance and usually call the pre-flop bets and raises. It is also very rare for one player to announce all-in and have the other player call, pre-flop. So what was interesting to the rest of the table was that we were going to see head-to-head action with both players turning up their cards. (Since Mark had called all-in and their were no other players in this hand, there would be no more betting).

So, it got our attention. Tim turned over his two cards first, pocket queens, or as Mark likes to say "hello ladies", then Mark turns over pocket kings! At this point, you realize that if nothing crazy comes up on the board, Mark's pocket kings have Tim's pocket queens dominated. (Meaning that a pair of kings beats a pair of queens).

The players watching let out an "Oh" when we saw the two very close pocket pairs. Then the dealer dealt the first three cards of the community pile (called the flop). Low and behold it was a king, a queen, and a low card. Then everyone let out a "wow" meaning that you don't normally expect a pocket pair to get a third matching card (called trips) on the flop. When we saw first the king come out, we thought it was all over for Tim. Then the second card comes out a queen and it was pretty long odds that this flop would happen like this.

In the end the last two community cards dealt, (the turn, and the river) turned out to be lower number cards which had no meaning to the hand. Mark won, Tim extended his hand across and table and said "Good hand".

When you play hand over hand of sometimes boring cards, it was fun to watch one like this.

In the end, the big winner was Tim, who started with his original buy-in and played all night. Most of the night, Kenny had a commanding lead and still ended up with a win, but gave a lot of chips back to Keith and Tim towards the end. I played with my original buy-in most of the night, just didn't get many good hands, bought in for $10 more, and finally lost that as well. It was a fun evening but fun just ain't cuttin' it without winning!

My strategy of sometimes playing tight/aggressive and sometimes loose/weak betting did not show the results that I had hoped. Here's hoping for better luck next week.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday Night Poker

Time to start contemplating how tonight's friendly neighborhood Texas Hold-em cash game is gonna go. I'll start by explaining that about four months ago a small bunch of us in the neighborhood starting getting together Saturday night for a game of poker. I had played only once before. Most of the others were more experienced but I thought now is the time to learn. For about the first month or so we played what is called "tournament texas hold-em". This is where you have a table of about 7-8 players, each player buys in for $10, and the winner takes all in the end after the losers lose their $10 worth of chips one by one. At the end of you have what is called "head to head" where the two players left with chips battle each other for the money.

Fun to play and good to learn, but if you are not the most experienced or the most lucky with good cards, hard not to lose your $10. I think I lost most of these games.

Then we came up with the idea of playing a "cash game". People would buy in for $10., play their chips and either stop playing when their chips were gone, buy-in a second time for more chips, or "cash out" their chips when they were tired of playing, had to go home, or just wanted to preserve their winnings.

We found this cash game way more equitable in that more people could leave with at least something rather than losing all, and the winner might make more money than the tournament style because people might be buying in for more money thus increasing the amount of chips being played. This happened two weeks ago when Kenny came in with an all-night long winning streak and won close to $90., a new record for us.

Most of us almost never play any time other than Saturday night but this week Keith came over to watch a football game on tv, we decided to play, invited our neighbor Greg to play, and Mark and I made 4. Fun night, with Keith the winner. Full disclosure, I lost my buy-in this time, and lost my buy-in at last Saturday's regular game over at Sarah's house. So my thoughts on tonight's game are leaning towards how to stop the two time losing steak and make some money!

"The book" says to succeed in these games to play tight and aggressive. (Meaning that you bid and bet on relatively good hands, but also bet aggressively trying to get other players to fold better hands.) This strategy has served me well during the last couple of months but lately, it seems Keith may have borrowed a page from this book. Should I start playing loose and timid, or a little bit of both styles? Follow tomorrow for results from tonight's game.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Health Care Reform/Bashing Senator Snow

I just finished reading an entry on the Huffington Post which stated that Senator Snow said in an interview that there would be no public option. She said they were working on other options because right now, a public option will not fly in the Senate. I think she might be right. At the end of the article there were about 400 comments about her statement. Some included that she was ugly. Some put her in the same boat as Senator's Grassley, Kyl, DeMint, the idiot doctor Senator from the Dakota's, even Senator Lieberman. They sounded like a bunch of bees surrounding a person who had been dipped in honey and about to sting. Ouch!

I don't feel she is in the same boat as the above mentioned blow-hards, and yes even some liars. For at least 50 years the republican party has been the party of scare-tactics, distortions, and threats. Notice all the armed protesters at the recent town hall meetings just exercising their "rights" to carry guns. A little scary and threatening? I think so.

Here's where I stand. I agree with many of the comments at HuffPost that with-out a public option it will be harder to lower costs, insure everyone, no discrimination for pre-existing conditions, let you take your insurance from one job to the next, no dropping you after a claim, and mostly choice.

But what if by some miracle the senators do come up with something that takes care of those concerns? Basically I have read that many people say "no public option, no health care reform bill". Really? You wouldn't vote for something like above as a start? That's ridiculous. I think some need to take a deep breath, exhale slowly, think, and work together.

How about a national day of support for our side, the right side.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Victoria's Garden, Swampscott, MA, June 19, 2008

First Post

It's a hot summer's evening here in the deep South of Jersey. I just finished watering my dry plants outside. The cacti seem to like the heat but some of the others need a splash every day. The reason for this blog is mainly a place to get my thoughts down. I guess I feel if they are published somewhere they have meaning. That's not to say that I don't want readers (and commentors), I do. So if anybody has anything to say, please go ahead. I have a lot of interests and hopefully will be able to explore some of them here. Politics, world events, local interests, gardening and so on. I read a lot of blogs now so if you see something that looks like it is borrowed from someone else, it probably was. One of the blogs that I like is Andrew Sullivan's blog "The Daily Dish" He has a lot of inciteful commentary and also a feature called "The View From Your Window" He shows pics from different places around the world framed from inside a window. I would like to copy that here. So since this is my first attempt at this I'm going to go figure how to post a pic as a blog entry.