Friday, January 29, 2010

Are My References That Obscure?

Granted, I was using a legal-esque pop culture reference. But then again, I was making it to another attorney. It all started as we were preparing for an upcoming trial, trying to agree on the order that we would have the witnesses testify. Finally we came to a witness I'll call Jack. And here's what follows:

Angrybell: So this witness Jack, ...

Co-Counsel: He's a terrible witness. His memory is awful.

AB: So will he remember what he heard?

CC: He'll be lucky to remember his name. He's not going to remember anything.

AB: But we'll keep him on the witness list.

CC: Definitely. He told our client's he heard everything. Maybe the other side will think that his memory is better than it is.

AB: So he's our Airman O'Malley witness. Cool.

CC: Airman O'Malley? What?

AB: Airman O'Malley and Airman Perez... you know ...

CC: Is this another of your pop-culture references?

AB: It's from A Few Good Men....

CC: Never seen it.

And in my head I've got Shawn Spencer saying "These are classic references I'm making here". Alright, maybe not for everyone but for lawyers... C'mon.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Got Sucked Into the State of The Union

I really dislike listening to the State of the Union address. I think it takes too long because the presidents I've listened to go on long rambling examples of their achievements.

After a year in office, I have to say, President Obama is not as smart as I thought he was. And tonight's speech went a ways to confirming that. Why do I say this?

Well, let's look at what most of America is suffering from. Number one on that list has to be the economy. Did he talk about this? Yes, he did. But he started off right away saying "One year ago, I took office amid two wars, an economy rocked by severe recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse, and a government deeply in debt."

Gotta love that for leadership. Instead of saying, "We have a problem and here's how I'm going to try and fix it," we get the man in the Oval Office saying "I didn't cause the problem." To which I have to say: Grow the frak up Mr. President. It does not matter who caused the mess. Fix it and stop bellyaching that it was someone else's mess.

After waxing somewhat eloquently about the effects of the recession, which he finishes by stating "They are tired of the partisanship and the shouting and the pettiness. They know we can't afford it. Not now." Really, is this the moment to get into it? To make the veiled insult that its wrong to advocate one's side?

Let's stop the notion that bipartisanship is the only way forward. Its become the Democrat excuse for not getting anything done beyond collecting their pay checks. The Democrats begged for a chance to be the government. They need to start acting like they are the party in power and not some clueless gaggle of 1st year law students.

So what does he propose will help with jobs? A tax on the banks. Huh? This is the way to tell people you are going to do something about creating jobs... by going after the banks. Who wrote this speech? Does anyone there understand how to structure an argument?

Alright, so as you are waiting for how the Obama Administration is going to help with the jobs, you are then treated to statistics about jobs saved. This seems rather ironic when you take into account that unemployment is north of 10 %.

After patting himself on the back, President Obama finally reveals how he is going to help people get jobs. His plan is,
So tonight, I'm proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat. I am also proposing a new small business tax credit - one that will go to over one million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages. While we're at it, let's also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment; and provide a tax incentive for all businesses, large and small, to invest in new plants and equipment.

Next, we can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow. From the first railroads to the interstate highway system, our nation has always been built to compete. There's no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories that manufacture clean energy products.
The first part is interesting as an idea. However, can anyone tell me what qualifies as a community bank? In my community, most of the banks that are around are either large National Banks (i.e. Chase, Wells Fargo, etc.) or a few overseas banks that do business here in the State. Then there is the question of how one insures that the money will be used for small businesses, rather than to just give community banks the ability to reward failures. Will this mean some sort of oversight? Or is this going to be like TARP where we throw money down the drain?

As far as the infrastructure proposal goes, that is just old hat. Its what he ran on in the campaign in part. In fact, he is simply borrowing the idea from the old WPA that FDR ran. Would I like to see improvements in my country's infrastructure? Hell yes. Do I think he is serious about it given his track record so far? Not in the least.

The frustrating thing about this president is that it demands Congress to do something. However, he does not lay out a clear idea of what it should be. President Obama says "I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay." Ok, fine. How about setting out some criteria for the jobs bill. Or is it simply that any pork projects that makes it through committee is good enough for a jobs bill?

Then he meanders through the platitudes that every modern President states (i.e. that America is great; that other countries are getting smarter, etc.) before finally getting to his next objective: the financial system. But while he is calling for reform, he once again does not say what the reform should look like. Its maddening listening to him because he never states what he wants to see in a bill from Congress until after Congress has always highjacked the agenda and managed to turn it into another political fight.

Following this demand (or plea) for a jobs bill, President Obama then began to talk about gridlock in Washington. No, he was not talking about the beltway. He was talking about the stall on reforming the economic system.

President Obama stated,
From the day I took office, I've been told that addressing our larger challenges is too ambitious; such an effort would be too contentious. I've been told that our political system is too gridlocked, and that we should just put things on hold for a while.
For those who make these claims, I have one simple question: How long should we wait? How long should America put its future on hold?
Coming from someone who did not have large majorities in both Houses of Congress, this might be a real question. Coming from this President, who had a fillibuster-proof Senate and a large majority in the House of Representatives, it seems somewhat disingenuous. If you had a plan, why not present it? Why did you wait over a year, piss away a fillibuster-proof Senate, and accomplish nothing before saying "hey, maybe we ought to start acting".

President Obama then continues on his meander through his call to reform the economic system, touching on the banks. Then suddenly, his switches gears to advocating more funding for basic research.


Did anyone else get whiplash listening to this speech?

Once again, he outlines a problem, calls for reform. But utterly fails to say what should be done while at the same time warning against an evil (in this case "Now, the House has already passed financial reform with many of these changes. (Applause.) And the lobbyists are trying to kill it.") He then goes on to state that "And if the bill that ends up on my desk does not meet the test of real reform, I will send it back until we get it right. We've got to get it right."

Again, Mr. President, what should the bill do? Is the House one which he is referring to "real reform" or is it one that you will send back. Care to take a stand on something definite other than some airy concept? Nope. So we go on with this speech.

I am not going to dissect his next statements on green jobs and energy. It basically looks like the speech-writing crew cribbed form the campaign remarks.

For one of the few times, he manages to provide a link between one section of the speech. He made a somewhat effective argument about how even if you doubt climate change, greater energy efficiency is in our economic interest. Now, whoever wrote this portion of speech might have a brain. Because following on this link, the President finally makes a specific policy statement when he proclaimed,

Third, we need to export more of our goods. (Applause.) Because the more products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we support right here in America. (Applause.) So tonight, we set a new goal: We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support two million jobs in America. (Applause.) To help meet this goal, we're launching a National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports, and reform export controls consistent with national security. (Applause.)

Problem. Goal. Means to achieving the goal. Its not so hard to do is it Mr. President?

Of course, if you have increased exports, you are going to need someone skilled enough to make them. And to do this, the President started to talk about education reform. And this is something I've been thinking about for a while. Apparently, in order to succeed, we need better educated people. However, instead of increasing the standards of our primary and secondary education, we need to funnel more people to community colleges, because community colleges are the panacea apparently.

(Now this is my radical idea. Let's demand more out of our existing educational system. Other countries seem to be able to turn out high school graduates who are skilled enough to get a job without having to attend a further 2 to 4 years of formal education. For some reason, its ok to expect colleges to do the job that public elementary and secondary schools are unable to do.)

Then to help people to pay community colleges and universities, President Obama suggest we stop incentivizing the private banks from making school loans. Instead he proposes that the subsidy, which is part of the incentive of the banks to loan to people, become a $10,000 grant to each person to pay for college. If this was 1975, maybe that would help. This year, the average in-state tuition for a four year college, per year, is $7,020. It is expected to rise again, probably by about 4 to 6%. Combined with a decline in the consumer price index, and the price is even larger. So what President Obama has done is proposed a grant which will cover about 1.5 years of a 4 year education. Then he hopes that there will be enough Pell Grants (remember, he wants to increase those also) to go around to make up the difference.

By the way, how are we to pay for all this when the government is already in a deficit larger than the last time we had to save the world? When the dollar is weaker than its been ... oh... forever? When the government simultaneously want a huge healthcare reform bill which contains carve-outs for those with the political pull, ensuring that the reform is underfunded?

At least President Obama recognizes that higher education is expensive. However, his solution for this is,
That's why last year I asked Vice President Biden to chair a task force on middle-class families. That's why we're nearly doubling the child care tax credit, and making it easier to save for retirement by giving access to every worker a retirement account and expanding the tax credit for those who start a nest egg. That's why we're working to lift the value of a family's single largest investment –- their home. The steps we took last year to shore up the housing market have allowed millions of Americans to take out new loans and save an average of $1,500 on mortgage payments.

How do retirement accounts pay for education? Aren't they for people when they retire? Is that not the whole point?

Then, still not answering how he will help people afford college, he trumpets his plan to help people refinance their mortgages. I wonder if anyone has informed how well the Obama foreclosure relief plan has worked. (Answer: Not very well)

Then he, finally, talks about healthcare reform. He recites the same mantra that politicians have been stating since Bill Clinton ran for office (or as some have stated, since the Nixon Administration). He names the usual bogeyman identified by Democratic party (the insurance companies. And in case you wondered, the usual bogeyman for healthcare from the GOP perspective, its the lawyers). He trumpets the Democratic plan.

President Obama then turns to talking about deficits. And unsurprisingly, he lays all the ills at the feet of the President Bush. In his address, President Obama states,
At the beginning of the last decade, the year 2000, America had a budget surplus of over $200 billion. (Applause.) By the time I took office, we had a one-year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade. Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program. On top of that, the effects of the recession put a $3 trillion hole in our budget. All this was before I walked in the door.
Yes, the Bush Administration ran up so large debt. But interestingly enough, in many cases, the Democrats voted to approve it. In fact, since 2006, the Democrats have been the party in control of the House and Senate. Yet, everything that President Bust wanted done, got done.

Perhaps if then-Senator Obama had voted "no", instead of "present", on some fo those bills, we would not have the deficit we have today. Radical notion.

Here's another one: it matters not who ran up the deficit. The deficit is a fact. We need to deal with it, not place blame. Let the historians do that.

Then comes President Obama's "big" policy of the night: the freeze on US Government spending. Apparently, they (whoever they are) will go through line by line and eliminate programs. This should, President Obama tells us, save us about $20 billion. Apparently, he wants to make up the rest from those evil oil companies and investment fund managers, as well as those people making over $250,000.00. Because apparently, they are the ones who caused all the problems. Or something.

But then comes for my favorite line: "Now, even after paying for what we spent on my watch, we'll still face the massive deficit we had when I took office." Paying for what we spent on his watch? According to some calculations, that could run as low as $787 billion or high as $3.27 trillion. Either number is not going to be paid off anytime soon.

President Obama then meandered in his fashion to identifying the next bogey man: the lobbyists! And how his administration has taken bold steps by publishing on the web every visitor to the White House. Great.

Now comes, for me, the part of the speech I have the most mixed feelings about. President Obama, in his attack on lobbyists, stated that,
But we can't stop there. It's time to require lobbyists to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my administration or with Congress. It's time to put strict limits on the contributions that lobbyists give to candidates for federal office.
With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests –- including foreign corporations –- to spend without limit in our elections. (Applause.) I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. (Applause.) They should be decided by the American people. And I'd urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.
It's not that he called out the Supreme Court in the State of Union. Nor is it that Justice Alito disagreed with President Obama's characterization of the decision. My problem is the balance between freedom of speech, and freedom from corruption in our political life. On the one hand, the money which corporations and unions can bring to bear in political race is substantial and corrupting. On the other hand, how can we say that a type of political speech is not protected.

I was not happy with McCain-Feingold. I am equally unhappy with the Supreme Court's decision. The question is, what is the solution? I don't know.

The president then went on to decry politics as usual in Washington. Complaining that well-qualified public servant's confirmations were being held up by extremists in the parties. Did the speech writers take this from one of the Bush addresses?

Oddly enough, he finally calls out his own compatriots, stating, "To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve problems, not run for the hills." Of course, he ruins that call to action by immediately serving up the excuse that if nothing gets done its because the Republicans are fillibustering everything.

Can this man please cowboy up at some point? Or is it beyond him? But going on...

Finally, two-thirds of the way through the speech, President Obama reaches terrorism. Or as he calls it "security". Oddly enough, President Obama trumpets the body count that the U.S. military has run up this year. He does not state that the U.S. military has been victorious in Iraq, though he takes credit for troops being withdrawn. But he does manage to tar our image with allegations of torture.

Then he goes on to trumpet his decision to add troops to Afghanistan. Of course, by the time the troops get there, it will be time for them to leave, since he is still calling for a handover of Afghanistan in 2011. I understand that this man has never served in the military, something which I do not believe is a requirement to lead this country. However, could he at least have read Charlie Wilson's War? Maybe watched the movie? He might have learned something about quitting before the job gets done.

President Obama then goes on to trumpet one of his favorite tropes when talking about national security: eliminating nuclear weapons. In the State of the Union, he mentions working together with Russia to reduce stockpiles. He mentions securing nuclear material to prevent terrorists from getting nuclear weapons. He announces his intention to further turn the screws on North Korea's nuclear program.

As for Iran, all he says is: "They, too, will face growing consequences. That is a promise." Translation: we'll impose ineffective sanctions on you and hope that Israel does not handle the job for us.

Then he moves into civil rights territory, funnelling from corruption and discrimination overseas to what happens in the United States. President Obama promises that the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice will prosecute cases once more. That's great, but is it going to be a color blind prosecution? Or is it going to be free passes for the Black Panthers and their ilk because they, as minorities, cannot possibly be guilty of violations of the law?

Let's try this on for size. How about the professionals at the DOJ decide who gets prosecuted and who does not. When political appointees make the decision, the DOJ loses credibility.

The speech mericifully ends with a meditation on getting back to his basic campaign promise: Change. However, all he offers are lofty ideals, with no firm goals set.

If Toby Ziegler ever saw this speech on his desk, I shiver to think what would have happened to the communications staffer who drafted it. In one fell swoop, President Obama managed to make President Bush look both eloquent and thoughtful. This speech was all over the map. It lacked, like the Administration which produced it, a clear sense of what is to be accomplished beyond lofty ideals. This speech, to me, represents a man who got to his goal, and then realized he had no idea of how to actually operate the office to which he was entrusted.

Don't believe me? Watch it again. I did.

What's worse, the political payback by the hardcore of the Republican party is something I fear. At the rate that President Obama is going, he will be a one termer. He will be vying with President Carter as the worst President of the United States since the Civil War.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Can You Say Spineless?

I mean seriously, how did we ever elect these bozos. First, we elect President Obama. Simultaneously we give him super-majority in Senate and a more than clear majority in the House of Representatives. The expectation is that they do something to solve the problems that were neglected or caused by eight years of President Bush's administration.

In just over a year, the Democrat controlled congress has managed to accomplish....I think that the term is bubkiss. To say they are failing, in my opinion, is an understatement.

Then comes today's news: the Democrats are pulling back on healthcare reform.

Really? They have two ways to get the bill passed, and with large majorities in both houses of Congress they can't possibly get anything done? Wow, the leadership of the country and Democratic party is truly spineless.

Then again, this is the party that once upon a time put up George B. McClellan as their candidate for president. Apparently, the modern Democratic party has decided to emulate the old master of the slows. They couldn't emulate Harry Truman? Or perhaps FDR? Or perhaps someone who got something done?

The Democratic party is a waste of time and resources. They are just a coalition of special interest which just can't seem to agree to move forward with something in the hopes that something perfect will come tomorrow.

What Is This Prosecutor Thinking

Assistant District Attorney Daryl Reed is prosecuting a case of prostitution that seems to have spun a bit out of control for him. Mr. Reed is the ADA from the New York District Attorney's office who is prosecuting one of the prostitution cases coming out Big Daddy Lou's Hot Lap Dance Club arrests (which happened in 2008). NYPD ran undercover officers in the club to investigate charges of prostitution. (I'm wondering if it was hard to get volunteers for that one.)

Apparently, they found enough to make their case as they raided the establishing in 2008. According to people who were there, the NYPD raided the place in full riot gear with weapons drawn. Among the 26 people arrested was porn star Alexia Moore and Swedish model Sabrina Mari (who oddly enough does not list Big Daddy Lou's as a client).

Alexia Moore has been charged with prostitution. Apparently she and another dancer propositioned one of the undercover officers, offering a menage a trois for $5,000.

Now the other dancer, Falynn Rodriguez (she on the right without the blackberry in the picture), has already had the charges against her dismissed. However, Ms. Moore still faces charges. Mr. Reed, who seems very intent on getting a conviction, has gone the extra mile to ensure her conviction.

He has alleged to the court that because Ms. Alexia does a lot of sapphic themed (or as some might say "girl on girl") porn that she should not allowed to claim a "lesbian defense". According to the report, he noticed her ... work choices, after reviewing her films (again, I wonder how hard it was to get a volunteer to do that research for him.).

So my question is, when did being a lesbian mean that a woman can't be a prostitute with male clients? Seems like he should be working on making sure he has the testimony and evidence necessary to make his case, rather than focusing on who she does and does not sleep with when she is not on the clock.

Oops, too late. It just came out that Ms. Moore was found not guilty in her trial today.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Topic to discuss

The latest question which me and Mrs. Angrybell are pondering:

Is the magic uterus more power than the magic penis. I say the former.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Friday, January 22, 2010

This will be a field day for the conspiracy theorists and the Jihadis

I was reading over at Elder of Zion about criticism that the Israeli relief mission to Haiti has been getting. In case you did not see it, just after the quake, Israel dispatched a relief force composed rescue units and medical teams to Haiti to help. The Israeli hospital unit, in particular, has been getting some really good press for the work that they have been doing. According to some accounts, they seem to be the only government dispatched field hospital to have their act together (then again, I suppose it helps that they don't have USAID telling the US Army that they aren't allowed to give out food to starving people).

Anyways, there has been debate about whether or not this is just a propoganda ploy by the Israelis. Some wingnuts have gone further, creating a modern blood libel charge (specifically that Israel is only there to harvest organs). Personally, I think its one of those great moments where doing the right thing allows you to get the good publicity.

So today I was a bit flabbergasted to see what the UN requested of Israel. They asked for armed police officers from Israel to help patrol Haiti to keep the violence and looting in check.

Man, this is going to be like manna from heaven for the wingnuts who believe that the Jews are trying to dominate the word. They're going to point to this and say "see, now you see the Jews are being overt in their world domination!"

Oy gevalt. The things that some people will believe when they are so desperate to believe anything. So I leave you all with this for now:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

365 Days Later

And what has he Obama Administration accomplished or not this year?

Well, as far as I can tell, the only thing that the Obama Administration has accomplished, domestically, is the passage of what is commonly known as the "Obama Plan" for people in danger of being foreclosed upon. The concensus at this point is that has been a pretty much a failure.

In foreign policy terms, the Obama administration has managed to abandon the countries of Eastern Europe (including Poland and the Ukraine) to Russian. He has also managed to put the U.S. on the same side as Venezuela on some issues, most notably what happened in Honduras.

Apparently, I forgot about that organic garden at the White House and the non-binding agreement thing on greenhouse gases.

What has he failed to do:
End the war in Iraq: We still have troops in Iraq (thankfully). And Iraq has not fallen into chaos (thankfully).

Focus on the war in Afghnistan: We still have troops in Afghanistan (again, thankfully). And its still a mess there.

Close the prison at Guantanamo Bay: Guantanamo is still in operation.

Fix the economy. Nope still a mess.

Healthcare reform: Hopelessly stalled (even before Obama lost the supermajority).

Somehow this guy could not get his agenda put into action with 60 votes in the Senate and 265 votes (out of 435) in the House of Representatives. That would be a fillibuster proof majority in the Senate until today, and a majority of 78 in the House of Representatives.

And he could not get anything done?


This is the best that the Democratic party could do with all that power?

Can someone really argue that these guys are not just a bunch of chumps and losers? I mean really. If this were the NHL, the GOP managed to kill an almost period long power play where they had two guys in the penalty box and held the Democrats to one shot on goal.


And for all this President Obama says he would give his first year in office a B+. More like an F.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Will Somone Tell The Santa Clara County Superior Court That This Is 2010

I mean really, is it so hard to have a court website that is actually worth the money you spent on it?

As it was explained to me, a few years ago (back before the turn of the century when the internet was still bubbling), the legislature decreed that all courts create a website to disseminate information. The problem was that it was left to the individual counties' courts to figure out how to do that. Now, if anyone has ever noticed, courts are great at sucking in information. They are not so good about giving it out.

(Ever wondered where they put up things that they are required by law to post at the court house? Its in the back and the last time I looked, it had notices on it from early 2009 and late 2008 for things that have long since happened, but it did not have a notice in a case that I was involved in, go figure.)

Now, the courts rightly figured that they hav ea lot of information that should never hit the internet. Like in Family Court, you have to give the court an insane amount of private information for tis files in order to get divorced. If some of that info were to ever get out, it would be Christmas in July for an identify thief.

However, there are a lot cases in which the only information is embarrassing stuff. Like which landlord failed to maintain heat for their tenants in the winter. Or which tenant failed to pay their rent. Or ... and the list goes on. Oddly enough, this stuff is all public record.

But a lot of the information is actually kind of important. Like, what court room is going to be having which hearing.

Finding it online is damn near impossible in some counties. Like Santa Clara County. The Santa Clara County Superior Court's case information (or the misnamed Public Access Case Information Site) barely gives the public any information. Hell, it barely gives attorneys any information. And with the Santa Clara County Clerk not liking me, its about the only way I can get information about minor things, like when the next freaking hearing is without going to the other side and begging them for the date. It makes no matter that I've sent in letters to the clerk of the court on this one. Aside from the notice of arbiters (which arrived late to the point that I had to send it back right away or miss the chance to strike an arbiter who was going to be heavily biased against my client) (One missed notice is understanable, twice happens occasionally, third, fourth, and fifth notices... I mean really) I have received nada. And since I sort of have to go to court on this one, it would be nice to find out which freaking court I am supposed to go to.

So now I am going to have to talk to the clerk's office again. Which under the best of circumstances is not to be desired (I mean, after all, their budget's been cut, they're understaffed to begin with and only a few of them speak English that would be recognizable to the Queen). (Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating about the last part, but my experience informs me otherwise.)

Wouldn't it just be easier to add in to the court room. I mean, you could slip it in to the Time Box and just rename it "Time and Dept".

Involved PartiesCalendared EventsDocuments
DateTimeEvent DescriptionResultNotice PrintedReset
X/XX/2010 11:00AM CV Trial Setting Conference None None None 12/21/09 None None
xx/X/2009 10:15AM CV Arb Order Review Hrng Award of Arb. Rec/Filed K 11/20/09 None None None

Honest. You could. It would save me wasting your time trying to sort this out in the morning.

Its not that hard. Talk to the fine gentlemen who run the San Francisco Superior Court's site. Or if you don;t like people having that easy a time finding case information, perhaps chat with the people at the Alameda County Superior Court. They have one that gives pretty good information too.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Words Mrs. Angrybell Never Thought She'd Hear

So we just moved into our new home last week and have been digging out of the mass of boxes that helped get us here. Mrs. Angrybell believes that a small forest in Brazil died to make all the boxes.

But that is neither here nor there. This morning, as we were preparing for the the parents and grandparents to arrive to look at our new base of operations, I found myself unpacking glasses and putting them on the shelf. Where I found dust.

Not like a little dust, but like an inch thick of dust was each shelf as I was trying to put the glasses and other stuff on the shelf. That was when I said it.

"Hun, where's the swiffer? I need to use it."

She had me repeat the question a few times and has marked it as a day of celebration. I fear for my guy card.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

If this is how he's got your back...

It might be better to not have someone have your back.

Comcast's ad campaign cheerfully reminds you when you call their 800 number that "Shaq's got your back."

I guess in their lexicon, it means that they will fail to properly install your cable. That when you call them for service, they will tell you that the only possible way for the problem to be resolved is to send someone out there. And when they do send someone out, they call a few minutes in advance to say that they are not going to do the job because "it's not what they do".

Then when I call their 800 line, they inform you that, without giving you any notice, they have changed your appointment. Leaving you to pay for cable when you have not been getting what you are supposed to be getting.

Apparently "having your back" also means transferring the call to an office that is closed and has not voicemail system. It also means that once you navigate the labyrinthine phone system, you get someone with no authority to do anything. Who has to escalate the problem to someone else who finally starts to admit that "maybe something has gone wrong here."

That person then promises to have the problem corrected by dispatching technicians during a 2 hour window the next day. Technicians who do not show up.

Which means another call to Comcast, where Shaq informs you that "they have your back". Which leads to a conversation with another first line operator who has no authority. Who informs you that he will terminate the call for hostility.

At this point, hostility is not even close to what I feel towards them.

So Shaq's people came out. And have one of the tv's operational. But the first one is still operational. 1 for 2 is a great day in baseball. This ain't baseball. I guess I get to deal with this mother frakers again.

Its times like this that its a good thing I don't have a firearm.

Seriously, how hard is it to do the job right?

This Is Ludicrous

Apparently, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (or they who turn the hands of the Doomsday Clock) announced today that we are now at 6 minutes to midnight, or still very close to Armageddon.

Want to know who they credit with this?

That's right, like the Nobel Committee, they credit President Barak Obama with the rollback of the doomsday clock.


Are we not still fighting two wars in Asia? Are we not conducting a semi-covert campaign against Muslim terrorists operating from safe havens in Yemen and the Horn of Africa? Have we not abandoned missile defense systems in Europe? (You'd think that was a good thing right? Wrong!) Are we still allowing a state sponsor of terror to develop nuclear weapons?

The answer to all those is yes.

Let's start with the basic premise that since the Second World War, there have been a number of wars being fought around the globe every hour of every day. Most are not even noticed by the American public. And yet in a way, they continue to fester, acting to spew out those who cannot or will not give up the fight and take it elsewhere.

Think that Al-Qaeda came out about on its own? Check out the Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan. These wars breed instability because we do not resolve them in a way that all parties realize that war is no longer a viable alternative.

But I digress. So what has President Obama done that helped turn back the doomsday clock? Aparently, he has made "a change in the US government's orientation toward international affairs, [.]"

The only change I've detected is one for the worst. He accepts the status quo of nations. Tolerating and even praising those who would crush individual liberties for their own gain. He has failed to adequately support those who yearn to be free.

His policies do not make us safer. Instead they make us more vulnerable by surrendering the position of strength. In foreign affairs, equals may trade. They may contract. They may discuss. But they do not accomplish things. To be effective in international affairs, one must have strength and demonstrate the willingness to use that strength, even if it is never actually used.

Theodore Roosevelt grasped this.

John F. Kennedy had to learn the hard way how to do it properly.

Ronald Regan managed it better than anyone ever thought a washed-up actor could.

But the longer this presidency goes, the more and more it looks like it is a repeat of all the failures of the Carter Administration. What's worse, the backlash that will come is not going to be pretty. And those policies that were put off by the Bush Administration are going to rear their ugly head.

Frak me. The only person who fails upward this well is Lane Kiffin.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Color Me Suprised

The home of Hizbullah and a sponsor of terrorism are protesting new screening rules for U.S. bound flights. Terrorists and their supporters not happy with airline security? What next? Republicans complaining about campaign finance reform? Democrats complaining about how George Bush ruined America?

Friday, January 08, 2010

I wonder what they bill out at

Can't wait to see what they build out of a junk pile (of course MacGuyver would think that was too easy a challenge) they are imprisoned in by the bad guys.

We have come to this?

Its sad. We have gone from:

If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. -- George Washington

I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end... I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me. -- Abraham Lincoln

I would rather go out of politics feeling that I had done what was right than stay in with the approval of all men, knowing in my heart that I had acted as I ought not to. -- Theodore Roosevelt.

You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play it better than anyone else. -- Dianne Feinstein.

To a boor who proudly states:

For 2010, I vow to use the word "f-" in each of my remaining Board of Supervisors meetings.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Andrew Sullivan and what's wrong with the west

I rarely read Andrew Sullivan's page over at the Atlantic magazine. However, I ran across his latest screed and it just seemed to scream out what is wrong with the West right now.

Boiled down it is this: If it is messy and hard, its better to give in.

What brought this about? In his column today, Mr. Sullivan wrote:

I too am sick of the Israelis for their contempt for the interests of their most important ally, their continuation of brutalizing colonization of the West Bank, their shameless ethnic engineering in East Jerusalem, their pulverization of Gaza, the direct manipulation of domestic American politics by their ambassador, and on and on. And, yes, I'm also sick of the war crimes and theocratic insanity of Hamas, and the lame passive-aggression of the PA, and the inability of the Palestinian leadership to prepare for actual governance as opposed to the victimized preening and theatrics and violence they prefer to the difficult compromises required if we are to move forward.
This is apparently in response to a story that originated, as near as I can tell in Haaretz (an Israeli newspaper) where Rahm Emmanuel threatened the Israeli ambassador with pulling the U.S. out of the Arab-Israeli peace process.

However, when I read Mr. Sullivan's drivel, what I see something that happens far too much. The problem is messy. Its hard. The two sides are pretty far apart. And Mr. Sullivan wants to destroy the sovereignty of one nation in order to rewards people, who in my opinion, are terrorists.

The thinking is, if only the Jews (meaning Israel) would just compromise, this would all be so easy. Newsflash Mr. Sullivan, the situation in Israel is not that simple. To date, Israel has continually compromised. Israel has pulled out of the territories, except for the settlements. It has recognized a two state solution on numerous occasions. It has attempted to fully withdraw from the Arab-controlled territories of the West Bank and Gaza. The other half of the compromise was supposed to be recognition of the State of Israel, an end to violence by the Arabs in the territories as a means of achieving their political goals.

To date, the Arabs have continually refused to honor their commitments, demanding over and over that Israel compromise further. A civil war within the Arab ranks (pitting Fatah against Hamas) has split the Arab-controlled territories. In the West Bank, Fatah has control and is generally less violent towards Israel (though there are still actions carried out by Fatah's military wing). From the West Bank, there has been a rain of mortar and rocket attacks against Israeli towns. It took a full scale invasion to slow the attacks Israeli civillians.

Mr. Sullivan, sitting somewhere comfortably where I doubt he has ever had to worry about his personal security, would just impose a solution on both people, irrespective of what they have done. He would treat the aggressor (the Arabs) the same as the Israelis. Its simple. Just commit troops to Israel and force a solution.

Except its not that simple.

And it just demonstrates the problem with some people on the fringes. They want it neat. They want it without a fuss. They want it so that the most important issue becomes ... anything else that does not involve hard choices where people will most certainly live or die.

The world does not work that way.

Its also interesting how Mr. Sullivan is willing to toss the only long-term functional democracy in the Middle East on the dustbin of history. He would see a thugocracy (or perhaps theocracy, the jury is still out on what Hamas is) over the region. He would violate Israel's sovereignty.

But here's the truth that Mr. Sullivan is not willing to face up to. Even if Israel were to disappear today, the problems which we have with Arabs in particular and Islam in general would not go away. All it would do is erase one of the most vibrant political, economic, and artistic entities in the region and the world.

Yes, I am a supporter of Israel. No I do not like everything Israel does. Do I think Israel is perfect? No more so than I think the U.S. is. However, the alternatives are far worse than a society which, while not always living up to its ideals, still strives to be better.

People today in the West don't like to do hard things. They are becoming less concerned with doing right, than in doing what is comfortable. In this country, its not just one party that is at fault. Both parties do it. The Democrats and the left of the political spectrum do it when they want the government to determine morality and creating mandates that people must do, mandates that were never meant to be imposed or contemplated by the framers of the Constitution. The Republicans and the right of the political spectrum when they try to pass laws that shield certain entites in the name of economic efficiency, rather than making them stand up to take responsibility for the wrongs they do, in the name of "saving the economy". Somewhere in the middle is where we should be. But that requires work, and compromise, and creative thought.

But like Mr. Sullivan's solution (force it on them when they don't dance to your tune), it is as though we are unwilling to muster the will to make hard choice. To undertake hard operations. To have the will to finish something, as costly as it may be. To stand up to tyrants, and help those who aspire to do better, rather than to do what is politically correct and expedient.

Our ancestors may have been made of stuff sterner than sugar candy, but now I wonder about our leaders and those whom we have given the charge to make decisions of national importance. Instead of Mr. Sullivan's ilk, we should have people saying things like:

There shall be no halting, or half measures, there shall be no compromise, or parley. These gangs of bandits have sought to darken the light of the world; have sought to stand between the common people of all the lands and their march forward into their inheritance. They shall themselves be cast into the pit of death and shame, and only when the earth has been cleansed and purged of their crimes and their villainy shall we turn from the task which they have forced upon us, a task which we were reluctant to undertake, but which we shall now most faithfully and punctiliously discharge. According to my sense of proportion, this is no time to speak of the hopes of the future, or the broader world which lies beyond our struggles and our victory. We have to win that world for our children. We have to win it by our sacrifices. We have not won it yet. The crisis is upon us. The power of the enemy is immense. If we were in any way to underrate the strength, the resources or the ruthless savagery of that enemy, we should jeopardize, not only our lives, for they will be offered freely, but the cause of human freedom and progress to which we have vowed ourselves and all we have. We cannot for a moment afford to relax. On the contrary we must drive ourselves forward with unrelenting zeal. In this strange, terrible world war there is a place for everyone, man and woman, old and young, hale and halt; service in a thousand forms is open. There is no room now for the dilettante, the weakling, for the shirker, or the sluggard. The mine, the factory, the dockyard, the salt sea waves, the fields to till, the home, the hospital, the chair of the scientist, the pulpit of the preacher - from the highest to the humblest tasks, all are of equal honour; all have their part to play. The enemies ranged against us, coalesced and combined against us, have asked for total war. Let us make sure they get it.

Instead, we get:
We'll have to use diplomacy, because no one nation can meet the challenges of an interconnected world acting alone. I've spent this year renewing our alliances and forging new partnerships. And we have forged a new beginning between America and the Muslim world, one that recognizes our mutual interest in breaking a cycle of conflict and that promises a future in which those who kill innocents are isolated by those who stand up for peace and prosperity and human dignity.
And, finally, we must draw on the strength of our values, for the challenges that we face may have changed, but the things that we believe in must not. That's why we must promote our values by living them at home, which is why I've prohibited torture and will close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
And we must make it clear to every man, woman and child around the world who lives under the dark cloud of tyranny that America will speak out on behalf of their human rights and tend for the light of freedom and justice and opportunity and respect for the dignity of all peoples. That is who we are; that is the source, the moral source of America's authority.
One wants to spread the burden. The other seeks to take it up. I know which I believe we should be doing.

Friday, January 01, 2010

A Moment of True Geekiness

Alright, a little background. When I was young and not so angrybell, my favorite afternoon cartoon (as opposed to Saturday morning cartoon) was Star Blazers. This was one of the early Japanese cartoon (alright, I know anime, but I never called it that. Too high falutin for me) imports (I think that G-Force was the first, but don't quote me on that). Of course, I had really, really lousy luck and it literally took my 2 decades to see the final episode of the American. But no matter, I still think its awesome.

So now the Japanese are making it into a live-action movie. I don't understand a lick of Japanese, but the images look like they have been uber-faithful to the original! Wow!

Now if only American adaptions of other cartoons/comics would be as faithful.

H/T to for putting this one up.