Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dialogue



Did this in response to the article I read over at ElderofZiyon who was quoting from Nick Cohen's piece here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

If the Big Firms Are Too Precious For This Case, I'll Be Happy To Step In

And not because I relish actually winning the case.

Let's back up here. Some of you may have heard how the House of Representatives, because President Obama has refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, took some money from the Department of Justice's budget. This money was to be used to pay former U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement, a partner at King and Spaulding, The idea was that Mr. Clement would act as the attorney for the House of Representatives who would be seeking to intervene in the case.

Gay rights groups, predictably when seeing their chance at an easy win dropping, brought pressure to bear on King and Spaulding. What was surprising was the gutlessness of the firm. Today they announced that they were withdrawing from representing the House of Representatives. The head of the firm where Clement now works, Robert D. Hays,  Jr., stated that the firm was withdrawing because "Last week we worked diligently through the process required for withdrawal,[.]...In reviewing this assignment further, I determined that the process used for vetting this engagement was inadequate. Ultimately I am responsible for any mistakes that occurred and apologize for the challenges this may have created.”

In many reports, its being stated that the real reason is that LGBT groups were putting pressure on the firm.  Mr. Hays has spent the better part of two decades defending mass tort litigation against corporate giants such as GM (defective cars) and companies which pollute the groundwater in particular and the environment in general, as well as defending claims based on recalled medical devices while championing the idea of preemption against tort cases. However, apparently the thought of someone calling him a bigot for defending a law, as opposed to being a corporate shill who seeks to deny compensation for people and communities damaged by corporate greed, was too much for him and others in the partnership. So they withdrew the firm from representation.

Maybe the only one with any moral fiber in the higher echelons of King and Spaudling in Mr. Clement. He has resigned from the firm in protest over the action by his partners. In his letter,which was released, he stated,
...I resign out of the firmly-held belief that a representation should not be abandoned because the client's legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters. Defending unpopular positions is what lawyers do. The adversary system of justice depends on it, especially in cases where the passions run high. Efforts to delegitimize  any representation for one side of a legal controversy are  a profound threat to the rule of law. Much has been said about being on the wrong side of history. But being on the right or wrong side of history on the merits is a question for the clients. When it comes to the lawyers, the surest way to be on the wrong side of history is to abandon a client in the face of hostile criticism.
There is more to the letter, but that paragraph right there sums up what law this is about for lawyers.

When it seemed this would be a half million dollar fee earner for the firm this year, there seemed to be no problem for the leaders of King and Spaulding. But once it got uncomfortable, they showed their true colors and abandoned ship.

For our system to work, there has to be lawyers willing to defend both side of the argument. King and Spaulding only seems to remember this when, apparently, when the cause is politically acceptable in certain sectors (e.g. defending terrorist detainees at Guantanamo). But its not just when the client is a cause celebe or a heart strings case. Sometimes the unpopular position has to be defended or represented because otherwise the system breaks down.

John Adams, one our early patriot leaders and later the second President of the United States, knew this. He was the man who accepted the job of defending the British soldiers accused of murder in the Boston Massacre. He had to defend these men in a court in a town which had become vehemently anti-British  and vehemently anti-army as a result of the Massacre and other legislation passed by Parliament. He did not defend the British soldiers because he liked them. Adams was already one of the leading Patriots in Boston at the time. He took the case because it ensured that the system would operate freely and fairly. When he recevied threats he did not back down, he did not quit on the British soldiers. He fought the case out to verdict.

Apparently King and Spaulding are not cut from the same moral or ethical cloth as John Adams.

If the House of Representatives is willing to go with a solo, I'd take the case. Not because its a law I think should be on the books, but because our system of justice demands that it be defended.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I'd like to say I was surprised at Muni's latest idea...

But I'm not. I mean, what else can we expect from an agency that cannot fulfill its core function. Or from a leader of that agency who has demonstrated time and time again that he does not want the job, and demonstrates it consistently by begging to be hired as far away as possible while neglecting his job here.

What am I talking about?

Apparently Muni, after decades of ignoring a law on the books, has chosen now to suggest increasing parking fees in San Francisco. As some of you may know, almost every garage in San Francisco offers a deal that if you park by a certain time, usually 9 or 10 a.m., then you will get a prices break. This can be, for San Francisco, significant, because the fees can run from $35 dollars for the day and up. Combine this with parking ticket fines of $65 in the downtown area and $55 in the rest of the city, and its difficult to find a reasonable way to park your car. Under the MTA's proposal, this will be abolished.

However, San Francisco continues to operate under the delusion that because it has decreed a "transit first" policy, that it actually has a transit system that meets the needs of the people living and working in the city. Apparently, someone has not clued in Nathan Ford at Muni or the Supervisors that simply decreeing it does not make it happen.

Sad facts: the buses don't run any near to their target goals. Service has been cut and fares have been increased.

So who is going to take the hit for it? The people who commute into the city and the people who are so frustrated with inefficiency and unreliability of Muni that they drive instead.

Gee thanks Muni.

How about we do something that doesn't increase the cost to those who foot the bill here in San Francisco. How about we start by ensuring that the fares get collected, regardless of race or economic status (which for Muni would be a revolutionary concept apparently). How about fixing the travesty that is the contract with the operator's union (or better yet just breaking the union entirely).

Then, once Muni has cleaned house, and dealt with the real issues rather than grasping at "low hanging fruit", then come back to the community and ask for more our money.

Nathan Ford and the Operator Union Local 250-A need to be dealt with. One needs to lose his job. The other needs to be shown that they are not worth what they think they are based on their performance.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

We Know Who Is Answering The Phone at 3 a.m.



But has he done enough to earn another four years in office? When the phone is wrong, has he made the right choices? Has he made choices at all?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dancing With The Stars American Week Edition

Ok, what moron came up with this idea? Let's have an American themed week on a week where most of the people are dancing very foreign/international dances. I mean really, a samba to "Sweet Home Alabama"? Why not just say "Ralph, we're stunned by your vote totals and we're going to do whatever it takes to make you look bad so that the others have a chance to knock you off. Sorry."

But before we get to the rest of the dances, let's talk Kendra. For a woman who insists she is tough and powerful, I've never seen someone with so much of a glass jaw when it comes to taking criticism. What am I talking about? Apparently she cannot take constructive criticism labeling Carrie Ann Inaba's criticisms from last week as belittling and embarrassing.  Let's get something straight, the only thing embarassing is her attitude.

Mrs. Angrybell was stunned when Hines Ward and Kym came out. As she put it "It was Officer and a Gentlemen meets a fringed lamp without any hip action." And please, a rumba to "G-d Bless The USA"?  That was just cruel. Not sure what dance Carrie Ann was watching.  The 9s from the judges on that one were totally out of left field.

And really, can someone please, please, please make Maksim put his shirt on. Between the faux tattoos and a chest that rivals mine for needing to get to the bench press, its a miracle that the FCC has not slapped it with an indecency fine already. I can't even tell you about the dance,... I was too stunned by the outfit, the lack of competant hairography, and the Maksim... being Maksim.

The scores this week were nuts. On the one hand, you had Macchio & Smirnoff and Jericho & Burke getting hit with every little technical deduction. Then you have to judges gushing over the dreck that Kendra and Louis through out there. To be fair, Louis was going with the spirit of the song, but Kendra's stomping all over the floor did not make it a dance.

The one thing that needs to happen: people need to start voting for Chelsea and Mark. She is good. She is probably the best of the female dancers left. The problem is America not voting for her. She does not deserve to be in the bottom. Hopefully people saw that this week. Fortunately, Mark resisted his urge to do something odd and showcased her doing a good party samba to that Miley Cyrus song.

So where does that leave us?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

While I'm Thinking On Government Reform

Is this a bad idea? As I was looking at news, I saw that BART is going to have to pay $1 million in severance to the outgoing director. And then I remember that Nathaniel Ford, who still hasn't managed to find a better job than being the head of the MTA here in San Francisco, has what is essentially a pay or play contract that makes it economically almost impossible to terminate. And I wonder to myself, whiny are entities funded by our tax dollars paying CEOs as if they were the heads of GM or Goldman Sachs?

Essentially they are just hired civil servants, right? I'm not trying to put down civil servants. I'd like to go back to being one. But why should the head of an agency that underperforms, as in the case of Mr. Ford, have a golden parachute that makes it nearly impossible to get rid of them. Especially when he has made it clear that he does not want to stay in the job.

Maybe we need an amendment to the city charter which prevents these types of contracts are being offered or allowed. I know the argument is that it will cost us good people at Lulu's two other municipalities. But so far, it hasn't brought us anybody who's delivered on any of the lawfully mandated minimum requirements either.

Obama Has To Be Pushed Kicking And Screaming To Act Like An Adult

So earlier this year president Obama proposes one of the most ludicrous budget proposals floated by a sitting president in decades. It completely ignored the work done by the deficit reduction committee, a committee formed at his request, which issued its report late last year.

This budget, coming in at a whopping $3.7 trillion, showed that the president was completely not serious when it came to the question of how to deal with the budget deficit. (This budget claims to hold spending of $3.7 trillion, however other commentators have noted that the true cost of this budget could actually be closer to $5.8 trillion.) In fact, although he touted the proposal as one which would reduce the deficit, most, if not all, of the savings contained within the proposal would not occur until after Obama left office. That is, if he left office in 2016. In fact, most of the savings contained in his proposal were not actually savings at all. What they were, two thirds of the time, were simply a freeze in the amount that we would be spending. In other words, we still spend the same and not have to reduce anywhere.

Does that make sense to anyone else? What credit card company accept the argument that you have increased your spending, but merely maintain the same level but she did that sometime in the past?

Then we have the Republicans trying to make political hay out of this. A lot of them were recently elected on the promise they would cut $100 billion from the federal budget this year. The problem was, they seem to only target the parts of the budget which were controversial among their base. High on their list were Planned Parenthood and NPR.the problem with the Republican version of cutting the budget deficit is 1) the cuts were too small and 2)  they did not address the problem of entitlements.

When they finally did manage to push through their cups, it seems the Republicans were just as dishonest about what they were cutting as the Democrats are in what they are "investing" in. Instead of actually cutting expenditures, it seems that the majority with the GOP managed to do a budget deal with the President that averted the shutdown, was to merely not spend money which has not been spent yet.

Add into that the problem of the debt ceiling and you think that some people would start taking process of reforming the budget a little more seriously.

It took the threat of a government shutdown  for President Obama to his knowledge that maybe his proposal might not be on target. So then we get today's address from the president. after months of talking about "winning the future", and being confronted with Congressman Ryan's budget proposal (not perfect, but at least its an honest attempt to deal with the problems), that maybe something had to be done to look like he was going to do something about the problem. After all, he is up for election next year.

And nothing gets Obama working at the thought that he may have to campaign to on to his job.

So what does he do? He becomes a born-again believer in the deficit reduction commission of 2010 (aka National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform)! Except, he really doesn't. He just says that he wants to adopt some of the proposals of the committee that he created. And then ignored.

President Obama starts with the overused trope that, "We have to live within our means, we have to reduce our deficit, and we have to get back on a path that will oust to pay down our debt[.]" (Gee, you mean all those people who've been deficit hawks may actually have a point?) But, it wouldn't be a president Obama policy speech if he didn't have someone to blame for the problem that was going on. Fortunately, he can go to his old standby and blame President Bush for all problems. Nice to know that our president has his priorities straight and fixes the blame before he does anything else.

When the president finally deemed to describe what his plan would involve this is what we get:

Approximately $770 billion in nonsecurity, discretionary spending cuts through the year 2023. This would be coupled with $360 billion worth of cuts over the same period to mandatory spending. allegedly this would save approximately $1.1 trillion.. Heaven only knows if this is actual cuts or simply spending freezes, which don't actually reduce the amount of money we're spending.  The

When it comes to the big problems, Medicare and Social Security, the President was much more vague as to what he wanted to do. the president Obama's plan, there will be no reason to the Medicare retirement age nor a switch in how payments under Medicare made. With regards to Social Security, president Obama was even less specific, although he did take the position that Social Security is not in crisis nor is it contributing to the deficit problem.

Apparently, Social Security is solvent because it still has assets. The assets which Social Security has are not cash on hand because that's already been spent. The assets which so security has our bonds which a purchase from the federal government. In order to get the money they would have to redeem the bonds from the federal government. Which would mean the government have to issue more bonds and take on more debt in order to pay the Social Security payments  which people are entitled to. So no, I guess Social Security isn't insolvent, yet. It's just that the federal government is going to have to come up with a whole bunch of money to pay back to Social Security for the loans that it's taken out from Social Security over the years. (I would suggest you read this article written by someone a lot smarter than me on the subject.)

The President Obama's minds that must sound perfectly solvent and not a drain on the budget. To me it sounds like a house of cards about to be blown over.

The President's position seems even more absurd if you look at what he actually said in his speech. President Obama stated
Up until now, the cuts proposed by a lot of folks in Washington have focused almost exclusively on that 12%. But cut to 12% alone won't solve the problem. So a serious plan to tackle our deficit will require us to put everything on the table, it takes on excess spending wherever it exists in the budget. A serious plan doesn't require us to balance our budget over night-in fact, economists think that with the economy district to grow again, we will need a phase I approach-but it does require tough decisions and support from leaders of both parties. And above all, it will require us to choose a vision of America we want to see live in 10 or 20 years down the road.
It's so nice to see that everything on the table means we're not going to talk about Social Security and Medicare changes.

President Obama went on to say that would be wrong to make changes to Medicare and Social Security because in 10 years it would affect a person who turns 65. That is, a hypothetical person who, 10 years from now, turns 65. 10 years is an awful long time to readjust your planning for the future. You can do a lot in a decade. Apparently, President Obama does not have the faith in the American people to make adjustments given a 10 year lead time.

Not content to believing that the average American is incapable of making any future plans, President  Obama began to make the case for increasing taxes and decreasing the amount that Americans get to keep their own money. President Obama states, "Beyond that, the tax code is also loaded up with spending on things like itemized deductions. And while I agree with the goals of many of these deductions, like homeownership for charitable giving, we cannot ignore the fact that they provide millionaires average tax break of $75,000 while doing nothing for the typical middle-class family that doesn't itemize." To that end, the president is going to propose more changes to the tax code by restricting the amount of itemization deductions for the wealthiest 2% of Americans.

Part of the reason why Americans donate to his right thing to do. Another part of why we donate is because it's something that we can write off our taxes, an incentive that the government encourages. In fact, in 2006 for instance, the donations by Americans equaled 1.7% of the total economy for that year. In terms of total dollars, those in the top tax brackets give more than those in the bottom. Percentage wise story is different.

In a way, this is an interesting insight into President Obama's philosophy. He is a liberal politician. And in this country, liberals give less of their money to charity then conservatives. To President Obama's mind, going after itemization such as charitable donations make sense. Why? Because, if the governments job to provide, and not the individual or local community groups.

In addition to calling for restrictions on itemization, President Obama then makes a rather interesting comment. He states, "But to reduce the deficit, I believe we should go further. That's why I'm calling on Congress to reform our individual tax code so that it is fair and simple-so that the amount of taxes you pay isn't determined by what account and you can afford."this is curious for a number of ways. First, it suggests that individuals are escaping paying their tax liabilities a far higher rate than say corporations. Second, it seems to indicate that he wants to radically change the tax code in some fashion. Disney suddenly wants to go with a flat tax? I find that to be highly unlikely. Which brings me to my third question: is this president Obama's way of saying that he intends to start asking for a VAT tax?

(If you wish to read the entire speech, you can find it here.)

In short, this was another "hope and change" speech that ignores reality. President Obama is short on specifics, and long on platitudes. He calls on people to remember the better days that existed in the past and to hope that they will exist in the future while promising not to make any fundamental changes to massive burdens which are driving the deficit in this country.

Once again, President Obama refuses to deal with the problems this country faces and instead promises to continue the "bread and circuses" policy has been the heart of his administration. it seems that I President Obama's mind,  there is no sacrifice worth taking today that can ensure the future tomorrow because to do so may cause someone discomfort. 

While I do not like the idea of losing some of the cherished itemization benefits than current US tax code, I realize that there may come a time when those will have to be changed or abolished in favor of a system which adequately provide for the needs of the country. However, it is my belief that changes need to be made now and not in the future. plans for the future should be made based off of the worst-case scenario and not the best case scenario. It is also my belief that before we begin taking property away from people, whether it be through direct taxation or through amendments to the tax code which would abolish the advantages provided to a wide range of people through homeowner mortgage deductions or Roth IRAs, that we first make serious cuts alterations to the programs which we already have and have paid for.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Classical Week Madness On DWTS

Alright, so if you haven't been paying attention, there's a little scandal brewing on Dancing With The Stars. It seems that Karina Smirnoff has posed for playboy. And she didn't clear it, or it seems notified, the show. This all started when Hef went and let the cat out of the bag in a tweet. Now, some stories are saying that if this is indeed true, DWTS is taking a dim view and will end her tenure on the show. Apparently, the ABC image makers are not pleased about this and view this as Karina sullying the reputation of the show for posing in Playboy.

Excuse me? This is the pot calling the kettle black. Over the past few seasons, they have been putting up celebrities who are known primarily because they have posed in Playboy (um...hello? Kendra this season and Pamela Anderson in season 10, Joanna Krupa in season 9, and Holly Madison in season 8 have all graced the pages of Playboy nude.) The ABC and DWTS need to get over themselves and let her go on. Its not going to make DWTS any more tawdry.

Back to our regular questions. Mrs. Angrybell wants to know if Brooke Burke is pregnant. Otherwise, she says, Ms. Burke needs to can her stylists for putting her in something that makes her look as big as Kirstie Alley.

Thankfully, this week the DWTS production crew told us who was dancing what. It didn't make sense to go through the whole introduction thing for the baby pros and then not tell us which pair is dancing which dance each week when they are so made up that its hard to tell.

Romeo and Chelsea lead off doing a paso. He has the right demeanor, but his steps, at least int eh begining are not confident enough. As it goes on, he starts to become more confident, but there are transitions where the flow stops and it hurts the dance. And then at the end, there is the gratuitous shirtlessness as he gores the cape. I'm not sure why he is goring the cape, he's supposed to be a matador and they gore the bull. Mrs. Angrybell would give it 7s. Instead, the judges went with a 7/8/8 for 23.

Kendra and Louis follow that up with a Viennese Waltz to "Time To Say Goodbye".  She's got posture problems. She is making the right steps, but somehow is not getting the rise and fall down. During the spin, she got very afraid, and it caused her to blow it a bit, fortunately, Louis held her up. This dance is a bit of a dog's breakfast. Her arm are not strong, which is throwing her frame all over the place. At leat the death spiral went well. This was not a pretty dance. Mrs. Angrybell found herself in agreement with Carrie Ann for once, but that was about sexy and elegant comments. The 18 was a gift.

Anna and Sugar Ray are up to do a Viennese Waltz. All I can say is Anna looks tough. She may almost be as tough as my mother, who has been known to put the fear of G-d into combat veterans, but that's another story. Too much mucking about in the start of the dance. This is much better than what we saw from Kendra. The problem is that they went a little too much ballet in this dance and its over powering the viennese waltz flavor. It was a marked improvement over last week. He looks elegant. he flowed when they were in hold. My only criticism with the choreography is that it felt too ballet-ee. Sure, he's got some technical problems and sure his frame could have been better at times, but it was an improvement. Well he got better than 20, with the 21.

Dmitri and Petra are trying to get angry for their Paso Doble. They got a good song, whose name always escapes me. She has some stunningly ungraceful moments in this dance. I know it hard. But she is supposed to flow. There are a lot of transitions in this dance so far where she looks like she is stopping and then starting again. When she is in hold, things are uneven. Not good. Not terrible. But problematic. Its like a step sideways from last week. Bruno was watching a different dance. Either that or he felt like an hour was down and he hadn't gotten to start one of his almost stripteases. This 23 was too high.

Ralph and Karina are looking to come back from the rumba with this week's Viennese Waltz. The acting in the beginning was scaring small children. But then they got into the dance. He's actually got some heel leads in where appropriate. Len may cry if he realizes this. This song enforces a very slow tempo for the waltz, but he is doing a good job with it. It just looks like he is letting his bum out too much sometimes. The 25 felt a little low. I dunno, almost felt like there should have been a little more there.

Hines Ward and Kym are up looking to build off of last week. This week they're doing a paso doble. This is interesting. Where Romeo looked intense, even when his feet weren't showing the intensity, Hines' face does not look intense to start off, but his steps are intense. As it goes on, the two start to become in sync. I would not call this a perfect dance, but its being done very well. There is only one little hiccup towards the end where it looks like they got a little crossed up with their hands. The 25 was good, I think there should have been a second 9 in there.

Chelsea and Mark are up to do a Viennese Waltz. Her frame is nice. her footwork has a common problem of nocies. She is dancing it on her toes mostly. This is preventing her from always getting the nice rise and fall of a waltz. She really threw herself into that spin at the end. Shows how much she trusts him, which Kendra clearly did not with Louis. It was good. Not great. Bruno needs to work with his expelliarmus a bit.So there was a 26.

Are Chris and Cheryl up for the paso this week? Let's find out. They got a good song with the Sorcerer's Apprentice song. He has the look down. His footwork looks confident too. If I didn't know better, Id swear he was leading this dance. It was really good. The only time that it seemed to not look right was when he was stepping over her as she rolled in his hold parallel (more of less) to the ground. What Len was talking about in his critique was shading. He liked it. What would have made it better was if he had found a way to show an increase in the intensity and the force of the dance. They got hosed on the judging with the 23. It should have been a 25.

Kirstie and Maksim are up last tonight. Its a Viennese Waltz. With her hip injury. Why is it htat the singers have better dresses than Brooke Burke? Kirstie starts off the dance slightly ahead of the beat. And then her shoe falls off. But she laughs it off. There was some nice stuff there. The problem was, she was ahead of Maks. Now, when a guy does it, its not so noticeable. The problem is, she is supposed to be following Maks. The 22 was a gift.     

So who should go home? I think its time to say good bye to Kendra. Her dance was not good. She is cracking. Its best she goes home now before something bad happens and she looks really bad. The flip side is Kirstie. She had a bad dance. The 8 from Bruno was a freaking gift. The question is do you penalize her for a bad dance, as opposed to Kendra who has been uneven at best.

Hosed of the week: Chris Jericho. That dance was much better than I thought it would be, but it just wasn't reflected in the scores. If you are looking for someone to vote for, give him your vote, he probably needs it.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Elections Matter - 2012 Starting Up

So I'm still reeling from the fact that my beloved San Francisco Giants managed to drop three of four to the hated Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend when Monday morning rolled in, and I discovered another reason to darken my mood: President Obama is in fact going to run for reelection. under some thinking, somewhere, it's not like president Obama had a choice. He's the officeholder, therefore, he is supposed to run for reelection.

Because apparently, that's the way it's supposed to work.

In America, we can to reelect our president's. Good bad or indifferent, the incumbent officeholder usually beats the challenger. It doesn't take a PhD in history to see that's true. President Reagan and President Bush, the younger, both managed to hold onto their jobs despite having large portions of the population vehemently against their policies. President Clinton did not have nearly the problems of either Reagan or Bush, the younger, plus he had the damage of writing a pretty good economy into the election. In the past 30 years, the only president to be unseated by a challenger was President George H. W. Bush (or Bush, the elder). Bush, the elder, had the misfortune of writing a weakening economy into the election which was coupled with a lack of vision of how to move forward.

If you look at the numbers, President Obama should lose.

President Obama was elected on the promise that he would restore hope in effect change. You made a grand list of campaign promises which included closing Guant√°namo Bay, restoring American prestige abroad, strengthening the economy, doing something about the foreclosure mess, and reforming health care. So let's look at what he's done.

He failed to close the Guant√°namo Bay prison. Whether or not President Obama has restored American prestige abroad depends on your viewpoint. If you prefer the United States to be the contritional apologist who expresses remorse for nearly every action taken in the foreign-policy arena over the past 10 years, coupled with indecision and abdication when it comes to decisions about international crises, then yes, President Obama has restored the United States' prestige.

When it comes to the foreclosure crisis, president Obama did proposing get past a plan which was supposed to encourage resolution that would allow people to keep their homes. However, the plan was so weak, the mandates ineffectual, and the incentives essentially nonexistent, that it has been roundly viewed as a failure. As he demonizes Wall Street fortes profiteering over the foreclosure debacle, he has created a new regime of rules which are designed to prevent a future housing bubble crisis. Yet, under his administration, there has not been an investigation or prosecution, that I am aware of, of any allegedly guilty party.

I suppose it's easier to talk about going after Wall Street rather than actually trying to enforce the laws which are really on the books.

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Monday, April 04, 2011

Joyous Madness in the Post Lacey Era of Dancing With The Stars

Oh it is so good to say that. Lacey Schwimmer is gone. I'm actually bummed that Psycho Mike is gone, he was kind of fun.

Thank you DWTS for letting the baby pros do a bit before the dancing to show us what it should look like. Maybe some of the people in the audience will remember it when its time to boo down Len. Nah. Judging by the way the girl did the rhumba, Edyta has some competition from the baby pros.

Mrs. Angrybell reaction to Brooke's outfit was, "Well... yeah... Noooooooooooooooo!" Apparently, the rebellion of the costuming department against Brooke Burke continues.

Wendy Williams and Tony Dovolani lead-off looking to build on last week. But which is the real Wendy? Last week or opening week? DJ Saved My Life, interesting choice for a foxtrot.  There was some Tony gropage there. This is not working real well as a song. The other problem is she is not very fluid. Her footwork is more of stomping in this one and her frame is nonexistent at times with really week arms. At the end, Tony looks like "I don't know what that was ... well they can only hate us so much." The 15 was generous in my opinion. This was not good.

Chelsea and Mark are looking to get back in the judges' good graces. It almost looks like Mark is more in touch with his feminine side than Chelsea is. Angrybabybelle was trying to learn the dance along with Chelsea.  So let's see this cha cha cha. Takes too long to get into the meat of the dance. Len wont love that. Her hip movement is not great, but its there. Her footwork could be better, but she is having the same problem that Kendra had in the first week with not getting her legs fully straight. They stayed in the syllabus of moves, but it was not her best dance this season. The judges were confused, because Carrie Ann was right, she did look like Julianne. 7 and two 8s (from Bruno and Len) was crazy. Its almost like the fix was in on this dance.

Chris Jericho and Cheryl are up now. Good grief, he chose "Let It Be". Ugh, just such a downer song. His footwork is not bad, but he is not getting the hip action he should be.  Mrs. Angrybell says "Cheryl is so good because she makes her partners look so good."  This may not have been intentionally sexy, but it was. It was a very good rhumba. Now I have to completely look at this year again. If it wasn't for that weird hip action or non action. And of course, Carrie Ann is all but sobbing. Given the way tonight has gone, the 21 is right on.

Kendra and Louis. Oh dear, what is her "thing" going to be tonight?  This rhumba is going to be interesting. And it starts off in smoke.  Maybe Louis needs to rethink that. No one can see her and she trips going down the stairs. She has hip action, but its not going the right way with the music. This costume is causing her problems because she keeps having to readjust her hands to deal with its flowingness. At times, this dance looked great. At times, it looked messy because her legs once again were not extending fully and it was taking away from what would have been a good dance. Guess they need to go to another yard sale for a new smoke machine. Len was right, there was an improvement. Carrie Ann is back to hitting the pipe with the review she is giving this dance. 23 seemed a little high. I would have given it a 7.

Romeo and Chelsea Hightower doing a rhumba. In his leprechaun shoes. Hip action was pretty much non-existent until he passed Chelsea through his legs.  Its nice. Its nothing special though. He wasn't comfortable with this dance. Either that or he is about as divorced from his emotions as L. J. Gibbs. The 20 was generous. It could easily have been 18.

Hines Ward and Kym doing a samba. He looks confident. He is getting his hips into, more so than any of the men tonight. However, he is not quiet getting the good boucne that you see in teh samba, and part of that I think is he is taking such large steps at times. It was pretty good. It just seemed odd because the song is not what I would think of as a samba song normally. I'm split on this dance., It was good, but was it good enough? Dunno. Apparently, the new rule is if Carrie Ann is wearing her engagement ring, she will give effusive reviews proclaiming everything as the greatest ever. Bruno gets caught up in the Carrie Ann tsunami. A 9 and two 8s. Mrs. Angrybell thinks he got an extra point because Carrie Ann is no longer an old maid.

Petra and Dmitri doing a ... waltz to You Raise Me Up. Her frame is pretty good. Her problem, even obscured by all the fog, is ok with the problem she is doing the dance on her toes. This means that hte rise and fall is not natural and has to be forced. It looked great because she got the flow, but technically, it had some problems in the feet. Overall, a significant improvement over the last two weeks. Len's 9 was a little too much. The 25 was .... high, but given the way this week is heaidng, I suppose its not that out of whack.

Sugar Ray and Anna  are hearing the bell. This should play to him this week because he is doing the Paso Doble. Sugar Ray mustve called in a favor to get that Lets Get Ready To Rumble dude. The dance was good, not great, but definitely going in the right direction. Given the way his improvement is going, he's not going ot go that far. But he is going to be safe for a while, given the votes. The 20 was fair.

Kristie and Maksim are up next to do a rhumba to Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Right out the gate it is a train wreck, but the recovery is good. Something went wrong on the first move and Maks went down hard. He looked like he was having to really gut through that performance. He may need to go the doc and have that looked at because it looked really painful. Of course, I'm not sure who could support that amount of weight. Kristie, on the other hand, did what she could do. She is not the most flexible of the contestants, but her footwork was pretty good.

Ralph and Karina. Mrs. Angrybell can't get over the wedding dresses which were in fashion back in 1987. Let's see this Stay Gold rhumba. Arms are better but not where they need to be. His footwork is pretty good, but is holding his hips level. Its not easy for a guy to get the hip action going, but he is having as much trouble, but in different ways, than Chris Jericho. Mrs. Angrybell's feeling was "It was an ok dance, but the song was gawdawful." Seriously, though, Ralph Macchio looks like a 20-something dating a cougar rather a 50-something married to a 50-something. Mrs. Angrybell believes that Mrs. Macchio is in fact Scorpius. The 21 was not great and Ralph is clearly not happy with it

Going strictly on the dancing tonight, the one in jeopardy has got to be Wendy Williams. Front runners has shifted given the way that Macchio's dance was judged. Chris Jericho or Hines Ward are arguably the favorites, given this week plus the fact that they were building on good performances last week.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Have I Figured It Out?

And no I'm not talking about why Bochey refused to play fundamental baseball last night against the Dodgers. Don't even get me started on what you should do in a one run game when your team has not been hitting and you get a lead off walk.....


Moving on. To figuring out what President Obama is thinking of when it comes to Libya.


After dithering for weeks, and failing to consult with Congress, Presidnet Obama ordered U.S. military forces into action over Libya. The mission, of kinetic action as they liked to call it in the Obama Administration, was ostensibly to establish a no-fly zone. However, its quickly turned into a ground attack mission to support the rebels, even though President Obama will not admit to it.


Today, the Obama Administration announced that as of Saturday, US air combat assets will be withdrawn from Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR (previously known as Operation ODYSSEY DAWN aka bombing-Qaddafi-in-the-hopes-that-he-will-relinquish-power-to-the-rebels-whom-he-has-on-the-ropes-and-will-probably-exterminate-in-order-to-prove-Obama-is-not-indecisive).   The reason given? The Obama Administration hopes that our NATO partners will take up the slack. 


Why is he doing this? I cannot tell you. There does not appear to be another crisis which poses an imminent threat to our national interests for which the air craft currently deployed to UNIFIED PROTECTOR are needed. If there are, everyone has been strangely silent about it.  Yes, there is fighting going on around the world and, yes, the United States military is in the middle of some of it, but its not like we're fending off an invasion of South Korea.


Why do I think he is doing this? The cynical part of me thinks this is one more chance for Obama to try and defy logic and reason while at the same time throwing our allies under the bus. Libya, as evil as Qaddafi is, has not been a vital U.S. interest in  years. Most of this has to do with the actions of Reagan and Bush. Why? Reagan's raid in 1986, as well as other actions, showed Qaddafi's impotence at projecting power even to the so-called "Line of Death". Bush, that would be George W. Bush, cut the deal in 2004 which ended the Libyan nuclear program An even more cyncial part of me believes its because the poll numbers supporting this have dropped off quickly. Great. We're starting wars to support his poll numbers now?



Is he doing this because the mission has been completed? Well, let's take a look. Qaddafi's forces seem to be maintaining the upper hand in the fighting that over the last few weeks. There are reports that the rebel forces are down to maybe 1,000 active fighters, who ill-equipped, ill-disciplined, and lacking in munitions, and it appears that the desert tribes are remaining somewhat loyal to the Qaddafi regime. 


So what has President Obama's military action done? Has it ended the threat of a massacre of the rebels and the civilians who passively supported them? No. Its merely put the day of reckoning off a little.


Last week, President Obama said,
To brush aside America's responsibility as a leader and — more profoundly — our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.
But apparently every single statement there is a lie. We have a responsibility as a leader because of what the United States is. Yet, with his declaration today, we abdicate, again, our position of leadership in this crisis. We remove from the operation our Navy and Air Force, which has provided the bulk of the combat power, and leave the operation in the hands of a NATO force which is not unified in either purpose or capabilities. The statement released indicated that the U.S. would reconsider the use of combat air craft if the situation became dire enough. So I guess it would mean that President Obama will "wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves" before he continues to take action.


This decision, however, does more than abandon Libyans opposing Qaddafi. Its an action that will embolden other evil-doers who wish to take by force what they are not entitled to have by any other means. Why? Because they see evidence that our nation is unwilling to complete the tasks for which we volunteer. Because they see evidence that our nation will not support the aspirations of people attempting to throw off a tyrannical dictator. Because they see that we are weak. 


And when people believe that the world power is weak, that is when dangerous things begin to happen.


So actually, no,  I have not figured out why President Obama is doing what he is doing. It makes little sense. He is removing nearly half of the combat strength of UNIFIED PROTECTOR. The largest member of the coalition now is France, with 33 aircraft involved, supported by its carrier. Apparently, President Obama is ignoring the lessons of Rwanda and Srebrenica, both places where the U.S. stayed out of the way, allowing our European allies to act alone without out us. 


Apparently, the Obama Doctrine can be summarized as this "The United States will act only in the interest in protecting the reputation of Barack H. Obama and only so long as there is clear support to be found in the poll numbers."


Or am I missing something?