Saturday, January 24, 2009

Gotta Lie

It has come to light that a CBO report on the proposed stimulus plan, a report Congressional Republicans have been sing as fodder to push back against Pres. Obama's proposal, doesn't exist.
This week, congressional Republicans seized on a new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) showing the limited short-term stimulative effects of the Democrats' proposed rescue package. It's also led to widespread media coverage undermining the White House's arguments about the benefits of a stimulus plan.

There is, however, a problem. The CBO report, as it's been described, doesn't exist.


It appears that the preliminary, incomplete numbers put together by the CBO were distributed to a small handful of lawmakers in both parties earlier in the week. Someone (Republican congressional offices) then passed the misleading data onto the AP, which predictably ran with the incomplete numbers, telling the public that it "will take years before an infrastructure spending program proposed by President-elect Barack Obama will boost the economy."

Other major media outlets quickly followed, and voila, Republicans had a talking point: "Boehner and other Republican aides roamed the Capitol press galleries, flogging the CBO numbers."

Obviously, congressional Republicans were less concerned about reality than undermining an economic rescue package. But as DDay noted, let's not brush past media culpability: "It's pretty clear that the media has no ability to or interest in understanding this stuff, because then they wouldn't have their precious 'conflict.' So they regurgitate whatever some GOP staffer feeds them, just to spice things up."

It's like they can't help themselves.

Prophecy Is Fulfilled

This past week, America celebrated the inauguration of a new President. It celebrated the coming of the new, the ushering in of a complete change in our political direction. Most important, it celebrated the arrival of our first African-American President. That our President is who he is, is a sign. A very conservative member of our Church told Lisa on Tuesday, after her morning Bible study sat and watched the swearing in and listened to his inaugural address, "Well, prophecy is fulfilled today. Forty years ago, Martin Luther King said he had a dream, and today it is fulfilled."

Last night, we were treated to dinner with two couples from church. We could not help but speak of the events of the past week. I could not tell you what their politics were, and I honestly do not care, but one thing one gentleman said struck me. He spoke of how moved he was, watching the events on television, as the camera panned around the crowd, and how it looked like the world. Indeed. Black and white faces cheek by jowl, crying and cheering our new President. That was all of us represented out there, America as it really is - all sorts of different faces and colors and creeds all together celebrating the arrival of Barack Obama.

Now, I don't believe that Obama's election means our days of institutionalized racism are now, officially, behind us. It is a tremendous leap forward, a marker we should celebrate. His reception by a grateful nation is indicative, I think, that most realize how important not just his policies will be, but how important he is not only as an individual, but as an American of African descent. I couldn't help but think, as I watched Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts bungle the oath, of another Chief Justice, Roger Taney. Taney wrote the infamous Dred Scot v Sanford decision, which upheld the Fugitive Slave Act. In his opinion, Taney roamed far beyond the question of the constitutionality of the law itself, and asserted that "a black man has no rights a white man" needs to honor or respect in any way. Taney asserted that even free blacks were not citizens; being black of skin was enough to disqualify one from being American. This was indeed the law of the land until the post-Civil War constitutional amendments overturned Dred Scot, providing citizenship to all former slaves.

I was recently accused of believing that, because of the stain of American racism, I think American history is far worse than that of any other country. On the contrary. I think our history is remarkable. I also think it is remarkably horrible in certain instances. My question to the person who made this accusation was simple - to what other country's history am I as an American answerable? We have made giant steps this week, and I believe that, in a very large measure, King's vision has been redeemed. In that vast crowd, and in homes and churches, libraries and even theaters that broadcast the inauguration, people came together to celebrate America as it is, in all our glorious differences.

As we move forward in the ensuing weeks and months, I think it will be important to remember that Barack Obama's elevation to the Presidency has given America something for which we should all be proud. We now understand, in a very deep way, that difference is just that. We are, all of us, in King's words, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, joined together in this journey of being America.

Saturday Rock Show

I've seen the Woodstock film innumerable times, but without a doubt, this is my favorite performance. I had a discussion with a friend just yesterday on CS&N, remarking that I love their harmonies, they way the melody seemed to float along, with the harmonies being the melody. "Suite Judy Blue Eyes" was written for Judy Collins, with whom Stephen Stills had a brief, intense affair.

Friday, January 23, 2009

More Right-Wing Marital Advice My Sister Will Agree With

I suppose I should blame Travis at Sadly, No! for linking to this steaming pile of manure. I mean, how can anyone take the following as anything other than parody, unless of course you are a desperate nincompoop?
I was just talking with a formerly-married guy about just how true this is, who was not only complaining himself, but also recounting another married guy's complaints. Many women simply do not buy this, but guys are pretty miserable when they're working hard and doing all the stuff they're told to do to be a good husband, and yet aren't getting sex reliably, or without begging and arguments, from their wives.

Among the sentences never spoken in human history: "Your Honor, I was compelled to have an affair. My wife was fucking me too damn much."

I really don't think women get how important this is to guys. Not just in the negative way, in that a lack of sex leads to all sorts of bad attitudes and bad behavior by men. But in a positive way -- it really doesn't take an awful lot to wrap a guy around your finger. The word "pussy-whipped" wasn't invented out of thin air. It describes a real condition. A guy getting laid a lot is noticeably, even oddly, agreeable when it comes to his partner.

And, just so women know: for most guys, I am guessing that the women they remember the most -- the ones that stick in their minds, the ones they never quite get over -- are the ones that were the most aggressive and accessible sexually. Want to make an impression on a guy that will last forever? It doesn't have anything to do with haircuts or fashionable purses.

My only comment is: Is it any wonder a guy who thinks this way doesn't get laid very often?

"I Won"

This article from is a masterful presentation of really stupid reporters not quite getting it.
President Obama listened to Republican gripes about his stimulus package during a meeting with congressional leaders Friday morning - but he also left no doubt about who's in charge of these negotiations. "I won," Obama noted matter-of-factly, according to sources familiar with the conversation.

I am quite sure there are folks who will consider such a response "arrogant", but it isn't. It is a statement of fact. Obama won, in part because people trusted that he was calm enough, smart enough, and willing to do what was necessary to carry us through our current troubles.

The following, from unnamed "sources" (my guess is Boehner, but that is, again, just a guess), is a masterful demonstration of why the Republicans are no longer in power.
The exchange arose as top House and Senate Republicans expressed concern to the president about the amount of spending in the package. They also raised red flags about a refundable tax credit that returns money to those who don’t pay income taxes, the sources said.


“We expressed our concerns about some of the spending that’s being proposed in the House bill,” House Minority Leader John Boehner said after meeting with Obama.

“How can you spend hundreds of millions of dollars on contraceptives?” Boehner asked. “How does that stimulate the economy?”

Boehner said congressional Republicans are also concerned about the size of the package.

“Government can’t solve this problem,” he said.

The first part refers to this, apparently.
One of the Bush administration's stated objections to the Senate package was language that would reverse a provision in the 2006 Deficit Reduction Act (PL 109-171) that created a disincentive for pharmaceutical companies to provide large discounts on some drugs to family planning clinics and university health centers (Higa, CQ Today, 9/26). As a result of the Deficit Reduction Act language, the cost of birth control at health centers has risen dramatically. The bill was supported by both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) (Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 9/26).

In a statement, the White House said the House bill "will not provide short-term stimulus or long-term growth for the economy. ... Instead, the bill would simply increase government spending including self-perpetuating entitlement spending by tens of billions of dollars. If this bill were presented to the president, he would veto the bill" (CQ Today, 9/26).

Yeah, Boehner hit that one on the nose, didn't he . . .

As for the whole "government can't solve the problem" line, well, no one is suggesting it can. Not even President Obama. But, sitting around and doing nothing, and insisting on doing nothing - that's why people go rid of Republicans in the first place.

There's more, following immediately, which I just adore.
Reid said a Congressional Budget Office report that says the stimulus funds won’t be pumped into the economy until 2010 doesn’t provide an accurate picture.

Republicans have used the report to back up their argument against a near $1 trillion package. But Reid said Obama Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag told them CBO only analyzed 40 percent of the bill.

By all means block the bill because it will take time to pump all that money in to the economy through expanded government infrastructure spending and the like, delaying the money even further.

The Republicans don't quite get it. Neither do establishment reporters, either, I think, considering the way this story is written.

Post Opinions II - Charles Krauthammer

I think all I can say about Charles Krauthammer's column is this: Did he hear the same speech I did?

Post Opinions I - Michael Gerson

The reviews of Inauguration Day are still coming in, as columnists who had yet to make their views public finally get their say. It is well that this is so, even if those views I will be looking at here are odd precisely because they seem so out of tune with the general national spirit of joy, of confidence in our new President, and relief that the era of Bush is now in the rear-view mirror.

Michael Gerson, whose one claim to fame was being a speech writer for former Pres. Bush, exhibits what I can only describe as a split-personality in his column. After recognizing the historic character of the inauguration of our first African-American President, he then asks a series of questions that show a remarkably tin ear to our historic moment.
If the outcome had been different in November, would John McCain's inaugural coverage have been quite as worshipful as President Obama's -- during which the "shiver" up the leg of journalists finally became full-fledged convulsions? Why were the biblical references in Obama's inaugural speech not considered a coded assault on the Constitution, as George W. Bush's were sometimes viewed? And I can only imagine the cascades of hilarity and derision that would have come had Bush messed up the inaugural oath, no matter the cause.

To the first, one can only say that, had John McCain won in November (not likely, but certainly technically possible), no, in all likelihood there would have been very little jubilation and celebration, for a variety of reasons. I'm not sure where "worshipful" enter in to the picture, except for the odd, fact-free notion that liberals and others "worship" Obama as a "Savior". As to messing up the oath, the fault lies totally with Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts, who could have read the thing off a tiny card.

It is this double-mindedness that haunts the entire column. He wants to be magnanimous. He wants to celebrate. Yet, like many on the right, he just cannot except that Barack Obama is our President, and that many, many people, including many people who voted for John McCain, are happy at the fact. He makes this double-mindedness a bit more clear further down, explicitly celebrating the racial nature of the day - he discusses a meeting he had with Rep. John Lewis on the matter of our first African-American President - yet, hinting at a certain disgruntlement over the new ideological bent, not just of the Administration, but the country in general.
But there was a second, less sympathetic, Obama enthusiasm at work. In a Newsweek essay, Michael Hirsh mentioned Obama's racial achievement. But he went on to say that "there's something else that I'm even happier about -- positively giddy. . . . What Obama's election means, above all, is that brains are back." Hirsh declared that the Obama era means the defeat of "yahooism" and "jingoism" and "flag-pin shallowness" and "religious zealotry" and "anti-intellectualism." Obama is a "guy who keeps religion in its proper place -- in the pew."

There is much not to like with Hirsh's assessment, I will grant Gerson at least that much. Yet, one cannot disguise the fact that the Bush Administration, from its first days until its last, was hardly a beacon of enlightenment or intellectual depth. Not that these are prerequisites for Executive office; indeed, the only true "intellectual" to ever hold the office, Woodrow Wilson, had a mixed record at best.

Yet, the lack of intellectual curiosity, of seeing the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake as a joyous adventure, and the hardened anti-science of so much of the specialized executive areas - from "abstinence only" sex education to dumbing down speeches park rangers were allowed to give at national parks so creationists wouldn't be insulted by scientific facts - stand in such stark contrast to one simple, outstanding quality of our new President. Barack Obama is not just intelligent; he is not just intellectually curious; he has a knack for using diverse knowledge and understanding, and integrating it in to practical ideas. His faith, certainly, lies at the heart of his life, yet he does not allow that faith to tie his hands, or blind him to realities he must face. Or, perhaps better put, precisely because his is a humble, rather than exultant, faith, it recognizes its limits. In many ways, Barack Obama is a model of a new kind of Christian statesman.

For all that he wants to praise Barack Obama, and celebrate with the vast majority of Americans, and support our new President as he helps us help ourselves through all that is to come, I believe Michael Gerson suffers from the same sadness many liberals felt in 1968, 1972, 1980, 1988, and 2000. Not just a party, but an entire set of ideas, principles, and guides for practical governance have been handed a defeat of historic proportions. One cannot help but feel a little sympathy for the Michael Gerson's of this world, even if we should all wish he could set aside his grievances for the day and celebrate with us.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Executive Orders

I used to read Tom Clancy novels. I considered them popcorn for the brain; kind of a fun treat, but certainly not nutritious. Then came the two-parter, Debt of Honor and Executive Orders. Not content to continually wage imaginary wars with the Soviet Union or the IRA or have Islamic terrorists build a faulty atom bomb in a cave and destroy the Super Bowl (the Super Bowl!!!), he actually killed off all but two members of Congress and President with - wait for it - a jetliner crashing in to the Capitol (this after a brief war with Japan, started by the Japanese, of course). Then, without Congress to actually make laws, the new President manages to get caught up with a bio-attack by Iran (it's Ebola!!!). These multiple fantasies of political destruction and hyper-war were just a bit much for me, so I swore off Clancy just as I swore off popcorn.

Today, Pres. Obama (Lord, I love typing that . . .) signed an Executive Order of which any American should be proud - Guantanamo Bay prison camp will be closed no later than a year from today. All those horrid awful mean filthy terrorists, the majority of whom have been released because they weren't actually terrorists at all, may (or may not) enter the American prison and judicial system, where actual courts of real laws will deal with them.
Today's orders send "an unmistakable signal that our actions in defense of liberty will be as just as our cause," Obama told State Department employees. "We did not ask for the burden that history has asked us to bear, but Americans will bear it. We must bear it."

That about sums it up. You don't claim to wage a war for freedom by curtailing it. You don't uphold the values of the Constitution by deciding, unilaterally, that the Constitution doesn't apply to everyone. You don't defend America by insisting that some of our freedoms just don't work.

You bear the burden. We bear the burden. We pay the price. This is what Kennedy meant. This is what Obama means. These are Executive Orders in which one can be proud.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Love This Photo

Getty Images via Washington Post

My Last Word On This Subject

Revising and extending. . .

I'm quite tired of the abortion debate. The country has reached a consensus of sorts. We are a pro-choice nation, with restrictions. De facto restrictions exist in most rural areas, where abortion providers are non-existent (I think North Dakota has one ob-gyn who performs them, but he comes in from Minnesota; that's one for all of North Dakota). Yet, for some, that just isn't enough. For some, all of our politics, all of their religion, boils down to the holy fetus. It is their idol.

If, as some so believe, abortion is state-sanctioned mass murder; if, as some believe, being pro-choice is supporting a holocaust of millions of murdered children; if, as some believe, my pro-choice position is akin to Stalinism and Nazism; if all this is true for them, my challenge is this - don't sit around and whine. Grow a pair and do something about it. Bomb an abortion clinic. Shoot an abortion doctor. Kidnap a young woman entering a woman's clinic to protect the life of her fetus.

After all, if it is some transcendent moral evil to allow abortion; if abortion is a Holocaust, sitting around and calling liberals names isn't enough. Our politics has obviously failed to protect the holy fetus. Do what is necessary to stop the slaughter. Man up, do what is necessary to stop this evil in our time.

Or, shut the fuck up.

It May Be A New Day, But The Press Is Still Dumb

One would hope for better, but smart don't happen overnight. The headline on this story is misleading, because the emphasis was not on the first "100 Days" (which is enough stupid anyway), but on Obama's First Day.

Renee Montagne interviewed Stephen Hess from Brookings, and the entire thing was not about the "100 Days", or the monumental challenges he faces. She even asked, "Will this first day be remembered on his last day?"

Unfortunately, I will remember that stupid question for the rest of my life.

Rule Of Law

Apparently, some Republicans in the United States Senate are afraid the Justice Department might actually mete out some justice.
Republicans on the Senate Judiciary committee are delaying for up to a week a vote on Eric Holder's nomination to be Attorney General, with some saying they want more time to consider his record on torture.
Part of my concern relates to his statements at the hearing with regard to torture and what his intentions are toward our intelligence personnel who were operating in good faith based on their understanding of what the law was.(John Cornyn - R, TX)

Last time I checked, doing illegal stuff that someone told you was legal was still illegal. Military personnel are not only not required to obey an illegal order, they can report it and have the superior court-martialed. Same rule applies here, one would think.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Joseph Lowery's Benediction

"In the joy of a new beginning . . ."

Beautiful. Moving. Faithful.

Amen. And amen. And finally . . . AMEN!

Words To Work By

Barack Hussein Obama is now our 44th President. From Think Progress comes a transcript of his inaugural address.
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

A day of celebration, to be sure. Before too long, perhaps before the sun sets, it will also be a day to begin. Together.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Content Of Their Character

One of the great thefts of our time has been the appropriation of this single line from a speech by King by the American Right. King's vision of a time when skin color would count for less than the merits of each individual as a human being is certainly in keeping with his very American vision of justice. Yet, it is also a deeply Christian, eschatological vision.

Part of my disdain for this appropriation is simply this - the price to be paid for reaching this time has yet to be made by those who have decided to ignore the color of skin. In other words, the right is still filled with the bilge of racism; it is deeply ingrained in our national psyche, and while we have indeed made great strides, as events tomorrow will demonstrate, we still have a long way to go. In the end, American racism is not about individual bigotry. It is about an entire country making amends for centuries of dehumanization. Racism is about power, and its lack. It is about accepting responsibility for our own participation in structures that benefit some, while denying entry to others. While we should most certainly move away from individual acts of hatred, we should also recognize the simple fact that ours is still a deeply racist society. We have to say this again and again, accept our complicity in this racism, and do what we can to change it, not to participate in it, to say it again and again.

The Right denies this. They want no part of accepting their part in the on-going racism of America. They have no desire to accept their own complicity in our nation's history of racial violence, dehumanization, cruelty, and state-sanctioned murder. They seem to believe that saying "I never owned slaves" is enough. They seem to believe that not participating in a lynching is something others should see as a mark of virtue.

While King's struggle was certainly a legal one - he wanted the entire structure of segregation, north and south, de jure and de facto dismantled - it also transcended simple legal redress. He was pursuing Justice, God's justice, the Kingdom of God. It is a struggle that will always be ongoing, and we can never lag behind in our commitment to it. It is not enough to simply decide to take King at his words, when the end result is to judge those of a different skin color of less worth using a different set of criteria. This is dressing one's bigotry up in a nice suit. No price is paid to those whose mangled bodies and lives line our history, their blood crying out from the earth.

Only when we all can stand without fear, admitting for all the world that this history is a living thing, a blood-soaked, hate-filled thing that hovers over all of us, embraces us, calls us to the easy way, to take the benefits offered without merit can we start to appropriate this part of King's dream. Only when those who still hold hate in their hearts admit to that hate, and are willing to pay a price to rid themselves of it, can I listen with anything like equanimity to those who prattle on about "content of their character".

Music For Your Monday

I've never been a big fan of Madonna. I remember the first video I saw - her writhing in the street to "Burning Up". I also saw her performance at the first MTV Video Music Awards, as she writhed around on stage in a wedding dress. Big deal.

Over the years, though, she has proved to be mistress of her own domain. Far smarter than one would have imagined from her early exposure, she has managed to always stay in the public eye, either through her music or one controversy or another - she is an exemplar of the show-biz motto that there is no such thing as bad press. She also continues to change and grow, a kind of David Bowie without Bowie's fake intellectual pretensions.

There have been a few of her songs that have stood out for me, for different reasons.

I think "Live To Tell" was the first time she wasn't presented in a video as a sex symbol. Sitting quite demurely in a chair, in a chaste dress, her hair up, her vocals understated, the song was for a forgettable movie her then-husband, Sean Penn had done, At Close Range. I still don't know why it stands out for me, unless it was just the fact that it was so different from anything she had done before.

"Justify My Love" may not be the best erotic song ever written - Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" probably has that honor - but there's something about that synth opening, her husky whisper. It's like the feel of skin underneath one's lips. Geez, now, I'm getting all sweaty . . .

I liked "Ray of Light" almost instantly, and still do. Don't ask me why. The sound here was taken from a tour rehearsal, overlaid with the original promo video.


G. Bromley Oxnam had a dream. He wanted to have a United Methodist seminary in the nation's capital. There was a seminary at Westminster College in Northern Maryland, and he wanted it moved. In the mid-1960's, he got his wish - being a Bishop of the United Methodist Church had its advantages. He also managed a real coup. He stole L Harold DeWolf from Boston University as a center around which young scholars - J. Philip Wogaman, James Logan, and later William B. "Bobby" McClain would congregate.

DeWolf was famous as the last great exemplar of the school of thought known as personalism. A kind of realist religious philosophy started at the end of the 19th century, it was a vigorous, lively, and by the mid-1960's withering form of philosophical reasoning. DeWolf had another claim to fame as well; he had been the dissertation adviser to a young Baptist minister from Georgia named Martin King (DeWolf's role in the plagiarism scandal that would haunt King after his death has never been revealed fully). When DeWolf died, he donated his personal library to the library of the seminary he was called to help create - Wesley Theological Seminary.

One day, perusing the stacks at the library, I came across a small copy, in German, of Immanuel Kant's Kritik Der Reinen Vernunft, The Critique of Pure Reason. On the inside cover was a book plate; this copy had been DeWolf's. I stood and flipped the pages. It had been well-read; there were many underlinings in pencil, different colored pens, and margin notes that were barely legible. One, however. leaped out at me. In very clear letters, a section had been bracketed, and next to the brackets were the words, "Show Martin".

I stood there in the library and thought, "In my hand I'm holding a book that was once held, and read, by Martin Luther King, Jr." There is a sense of awe and wonder in that, even after all these years. It's such a human connection, a small thing, perhaps. Yet very real. It is a memory I shall always cherish.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

How Long?

I was going to pick a nit with this, but only a literalist would get all caught up with the fact it's closer to forty-one. Am I right?

I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song?
How long to sing this song?
How long...
How sing this song

He set my feet upon a rock
And made my footsteps firm
Many will see
Many will see and fear

I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song
I will sing, sing a new song

How long to sing this song?
How long to sing this song?
How long...

Lest anyone think this is an example of Obama worship, or anything like that, I am referring here to the weird and wonderful reality that, forty years after one great man is murdered in pursuit of justice for all, another is being inaugurated to defend justice for all. Considering the stony road African-Americans have trod, it does seem appropriate that "40" comes up now.

Bush's Lasting Legacy

Two days left, and it seems wrong to kick a guy when he's down and almost out. But what the heck, right?

Osama bin Laden is not only still alive and still at large. He is laughing because, really, in the end, he beat Bush. We are more vulnerable, less prepared, and less secure seven and a half years after 9/11 than before.

That's Bush's real legacy. He got beat by a sick guy living in caves on the Pakistan/Afghanistan frontier. And thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of others are also dead. All those headstones should be Bush's monument.

We Don't Need No Stinking Facts

The ability of some people to be outraged over nothing always amazes me. I really don't care how much the inauguration costs, but some people not only care, they manage to get their collective panties in a huge bunch about it. Oddly enough, Eric Boehlert from Media Matters has an excellent piece that shows the way the number - not $150,000,000 but $160,000,000 - came to be. I could be grossly unfair and say that, yet again, some conservatives in the media managed to fund something in their lower colon, pull it out, and write about it. In fact, however, Boehlert points out that the figure, which is roughly four times the figure for the second Bush inaugural festivities, includes something never included before - the cost of security.

That cost is not included when people note the second Bush inaugural cost $42,000,000. In fact, Boehlert is quite clear that the costs of the two events, without adding in the security costs, are virtually identical, $45,000,000 for Obama versus the aforementioned $42,000,000 for Bush in 2005.

I do hope that those who have been hyperventilating about this issue might be able to save money on high blood pressure medication now.

Virtual Tin Cup

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