Friday, January 30, 2009

Afternoon Interlude

Look at some pretty pictures, think about some inspiring things...

Maria Kalman on the Inauguration from her NYT blog And the Pursuit of Happiness.

(via my friend RC's g-chat status)

Read This Now - Health Care; A Reason and A Path

Paul Krugman on why now is the time to move on universal health care.

One more thing. There’s a populist rage building in this country, as Americans see bankers getting huge bailouts while ordinary citizens suffer.

I agree with administration officials who argue that these financial bailouts are necessary (though I have problems with the specifics). But I also agree with Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, who argues that — as a matter of political necessity as well as social justice — aid to bankers has to be linked to a strengthening of the social safety net, so that Americans can see that the government is ready to help everyone, not just the rich and powerful.

The bottom line, then, is that this is no time to let campaign promises of guaranteed health care be quietly forgotten. It is, instead, a time to put the push for universal care front and center. Health care now.
Atul Gawande on how we might actually get there.

For the past year, I haven’t had a single Massachusetts patient who has had to ask how much the necessary tests will cost; not one who has told me he needed to put off his cancer operation until he found a job that provided insurance coverage. And that’s a remarkable change: a glimpse of American health care without the routine cruelty.

It will be no utopia. People will still face co-payments and premiums. There may still be agonizing disputes over coverage for non-standard treatments. Whatever the system’s contours, we will still find it exasperating, even disappointing. We’re not going to get perfection. But we can have transformation—which is to say, a health-care system that works. And there are ways to get there that start from where we are.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bring Out The Clowns

Well that circus is over.

The Illinois Senate has unanimously convicted, now former, Governor Blagojevich in impeachment proceedings, as well as barred him from holding elected office in Illinois again.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


So President Obama continued to change the pace and scene, and well, pretty much everything in and about the Nation's capital, today when he gave his first sit down interview since being sworn in to Al Arabiya.

I think it's a good message sending move to the rest of the world, and the muslim world in particular that things are different in America and that we want to reengage with the world.

Obama is uniquely positioned to move America back on to the world stage and to reclaim the country's standing internationally. He is after all by far our most international President...

This song has been around for a while, but it's been stuck in my head for days now (you'll find many more versions on youtube)

(via The Saipan Blog)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bring It

From the WSJ:

Challenged by one Republican senator over the contents of the package, the new president, according to participants, replied: “I won.”

The statement was prompted by Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona , who challenged the president and the Democratic leaders over the balance between the package’s spending and tax cuts, bringing up the traditional Republican notion that a tax credit for people who do not earn enough to pay income taxes is not a tax cut but a government check.

Obama noted that such workers pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, property taxes and sales taxes. The issue was widely debated during the presidential campaign, when Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee, challenged Obama’s tax plan as “welfare.”

With those two words — “I won” — the Democratic president let the Republicans know that debate has been put to rest Nov. 4 .

Yes. He (We). Did.

Seriously though, this is what I'm talking about. I'd love for there to be more of this, for the White House position towards the GOP in Congress and the Senate to be either get on board or get left out in the cold.

(via WR)

Welcoming The New Administration

Do you think maybe the career service folks are happy that there's a new sheriff in town?

This is video from Hilary Clinton arriving at State...

TPM also heard this from a reader at Interior...

Just wanted to let you guys know that there was an all-hands meeting with the new Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, at 11am today.

The bullet points are:

- Ethical misconduct and criminal acts by Bush political appoints spoiled image of department.
- We want to be held to the highest standards of ethics and accountability.
- We will respect the scientific process
- There is the possibility that we will form a basketball team and take on the White House. Though Sec. Salazar noted that he has to be careful, as he "serves at the pleasure of the president."

Secretary Salazar was extremely well received, with a fairly open Q&A session following his speech. My first impression of him is that he seems to be a highly qualified, and a genuinely nice guy to boot. He also seems to have brought with a group of extremely qualified people. I'll wait and see, as always. It was a really heartening meeting though; everyone seems very excited. It feels like a return to rational governance.

It would be nice if there was a little MSM coverage on this and video of other Secretaries arriving for work. Guess we'll just have to take what we can get for now.


They're also pleased over at the Department of Education, where Arne is in the house.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Speaking Of Killing It...

Pete Seeger was for me the highlight of the We Are One Concert.

In a flannel shirt and stocking cap, the 89 year-old led the way through the original, radical, version of This Land Is Your Land...

Apparently the way to get around HBO claiming copyrights on footage is to upload international feeds.

(via David Rees)

Does A New Day Deserve A New National Anthem?

I finally heard Aretha singing My Country, 'Tis Of Thee this morning and man did she nail it.

If there was ever an argument for changing the National Anthem this may as well be it...

Then again Ray makes me want to have it be America The Beautiful...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Welcome To A New Day

Barack Obama is now our President.

The White House website is looking good, can't wait to explore it more fully.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Read This Now - The End Of An Error

Dan Froomkin has been chronicling Bush's end days and it's worth a look, although I won't blame you if you just want to get psyched for tomorrow.

On the final press conference...

In his last scheduled press conference, President Bush started off this morning with some kind words for the press corps. "I'm interested in answering some of your questions, but mostly I'm interested in saying thank you for the job," he said.

He then proceeded to demonstrate as clearly as ever that he doesn't read what they write -- or, at least, he doesn't let it change his perceptions of reality.

On the farewell address...

In a fitting end for a presidency that has often operated in its own reality, Bush was greeted warmly by his audience -- a hand-picked selection of hangers-on and human props -- even as public-opinion polls show that the nation is way past ready to move on.

On the legacy...

President Bush famously asserts that history's verdict on his presidency won't come until he's long dead. But far from waiting until his corpse is cold, the verdict is largely in before he's even left the building.

Some things just aren't gonna change, no matter how much time passes. Here is Bush's legacy, in part:

He took the nation to a war of choice under false pretenses -- and left troops in harm's way on two fields of battle. He embraced torture as an interrogation tactic and turned the world's champion of human dignity into an outlaw nation and international pariah. He watched with detachment as a major American city went under water. He was ostensibly at the helm as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression took hold. He went from being the most popular to the most disappointing president, having squandered a unique opportunity to unite the country and even the world behind a shared agenda after Sept. 11. He set a new precedent for avoiding the general public in favor of screened audiences and seemed to occupy an alternate reality. He took his own political party from seeming permanent majority status to where it is today. And he deliberately politicized the federal government, circumvented the traditional policymaking process, ignored expert advice and suppressed dissent, leaving behind a broken government.

Here's to a new day.

Because HBO Cut It Out

Here is the invocation offered to open the We Are One concert from the Lincoln Memorial yesterday by Gene Robinson.

I am decidedly not religious, but this is my kind of praying nonetheless...

Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.


Fun concert though, it looked and sounded great in HD at home and friends who were down on the mall said it was cold but lots of fun.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pelosi Was A Fan of Mulder & Scully

I may not be a big fan of Nancy Pelosi (I can't think of a bigger disappointment during my politically aware life than Pelosi and Reid's leadership in Congress) but we both apparently liked the X-Files.

Specifically, Pelosi argued, "Past is prologue. We learn from it." Asked about the different approaches voiced by Obama and House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.), the Speaker added, "I don't think Mr. Obama and Mr. Conyers are that far apart. I want to see the truth come forward."
(from Political Animal)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Truth Is Out There

You just have to be willing to look for it.

When asked last week President elect Obama (less than 72 hours to go!) made it fairly clear that he doesn't intend to do any digging into the transgressions of the Bush administration. Saying that he would rather "look forwards as opposed to backwards."

Now I understand all of the arguments about moving on and avoiding the partisanship that might be deepened by such an investigation but I'm with Tom Ricks and Paul Krugman who both responded with strong calls for the importance of the truth and of consequences for bad actors to the stability and future of our nation.

Krugman gets much more detailed but the gist of it is...

I’m sorry, but if we don’t have an inquest into what happened during the Bush years — and nearly everyone has taken Mr. Obama’s remarks to mean that we won’t — this means that those who hold power are indeed above the law because they don’t face any consequences if they abuse their power...

Why, then, shouldn’t we have an official inquiry into abuses during the Bush years?

One answer you hear is that pursuing the truth would be divisive, that it would exacerbate partisanship. But if partisanship is so terrible, shouldn’t there be some penalty for the Bush administration’s politicization of every aspect of government?

Alternatively, we’re told that we don’t have to dwell on past abuses, because we won’t repeat them. But no important figure in the Bush administration, or among that administration’s political allies, has expressed remorse for breaking the law. What makes anyone think that they or their political heirs won’t do it all over again, given the chance?
And he finished with this kicker...

Meanwhile, about Mr. Obama: while it’s probably in his short-term political interests to forgive and forget, next week he’s going to swear to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” That’s not a conditional oath to be honored only when it’s convenient.

And to protect and defend the Constitution, a president must do more than obey the Constitution himself; he must hold those who violate the Constitution accountable. So Mr. Obama should reconsider his apparent decision to let the previous administration get away with crime. Consequences aside, that’s not a decision he has the right to make.
Ricks comments along the same lines saying that a failure to investigate would have two big problems...
First, it will look like the rest of the world like a cover-up. Second, I think we need to know what we've done, if only to avoid repeating some mistakes.
Ricks suggests a truth an reconciliation type tribunal which is a pretty good idea and one that I think may have been floated by some members of Congress (haven't googled that yet, update may follow).

The bottom line for me is that I'm heartened by the return of the rule of law but that won't mean much if we just sweep the past eight years under the rug.

Hudson River Runway

In case you haven't had your fill yet of watching video of the ditching in the Hudson River and the subsequent rescue of the passengers and crew here is a Coast Guard security camera that actually captured the plane landing in the river.

The plane comes in as a splash on the left hand side of the frame at about 2:02, as the camera zooms in moments later you can see that people are already getting out of the plane.

(video from Live Leak via TPM)

There was a nice bit of commentary this morning on NPR naming the rest of the flight crew and attendants and reminding everyone that a big part of the reason they're there is to keep us safe, handing out peanuts is sort of ancillary to the real job.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Welcome to DC (unless you're a prostitute)

Yep you read that right. Jason Gregg sent that photo into DCist this afternoon so no hooking from 4th-5th and Eye to L NW.

That website listed on the sign doesn't go anywhere these days but DCist found this great DC Police page on PFS's.

Preach It

Al Sharpton is a lot of things, quiet is never one of them, outspoken always is. Sometimes he is spouting nonsense (ok, quite a bit of the time) but occasionally he hits the nail right on the head.

It's times like these that make me appreciate Sharpton, and last Sunday in Atlanta while delivering the keynote for the Human Rights Ecumenical Service to help kick off the new Alliance of Affirming Faith Based Organizations the Reverend brought his A game...

I am tired of seeing ministers who will preach homophobia by day, and then after they're preaching, when the lights are off they go cruising for trade...We know you're not preaching the Bible, because if you were preaching the Bible we would have heard from you. We would have heard from you when people were starving in California--when they deregulated the economy and crashed Wall Street you had nothing to say. When Madoff made off with the money, you had nothing to say. When Bush took us to war chasing weapons of mass destruction that weren't there you had nothing to say...

But all of a sudden, when Proposition 8 came out, you had so much to say, but since you stepped in the rain, we gonna step in the rain with you...

It amazes me when I looked at California and saw churches that had nothing to say about police brutality, nothing to say when a young black boy was shot while he was wearing police handcuffs, nothing to say when they overturned affirmative action, nothing to say when people were being [relegated] into poverty, yet they were organizing and mobilizing to stop consenting adults from choosing their life partners.

There is something immoral and sick about using all of that power to not end brutality and poverty, but to break into people's bedrooms and claim that God sent you.

Ezra Klein pointed out Sharpton's statements and offered a very interesting economics based insight...
...But people are less comfortable digging through the implications of a market-driven religion. They're not hidden, however. Preachers obsess over homosexuality for the same reason that newscasters talk about polls rather than policies: It gets ratings. It arouses passions. It ensures relevance. It's not about religion, or justice. You can't read the Bible and honestly decide its primary political imperative is to block gay marriage. But that was, of course, the first time Warren ever entered domestic politics. This stuff is not about the judgment of the divine but the demands of the market...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Farewell to a Caricature

So I finally got around to watching some of Bush's final press conference, and just wow...

The man really is a caricature, it's just sad.

Watch some high (or low depending on how you think about it) lights thanks to the folks at Slate.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Waste Away

Need to kill that last half hour until quittin' time?

Visit pretty loaded, and watch the flash loaders float by, you'll be lucky if you ever get up from your desk...

(of course it's via kottke)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Follow The Money...

Maybe the Wire didn't actually end.

Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon was indicted on 12 counts including felony theft, fraud, perjury, and misconduct in office last Friday (Jan. 9).

Well Shiiiiiiiiiiiiit!

Guess maybe we should have seen it coming?

(I can't find the clip with Freamon telling Syndor they just need to follow the money, arrgh!)

Progressive Religious Leaders Fill New Inaugural Spots

If you were angry about Rick Warren delivering the invocation at President elect Obama's inauguration and you let the transition team know, your voice did some good.

Despite protestations to the contrary, the announcement that Gene Robinson (the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop) will give an invocation at the pre-inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial on January 19 with Obama in attendance is pretty clearly a reaction to the concern and distress voiced over Warren.

Apparently the woman who will deliver the sermon at the national prayer service the following day, Sharon Watkins, has a good progressive record and will be the first woman to give said sermon (she is already the first woman chosen to head a national Protestant denomination).

So feel good about having spoken up, Warren may not be gone (rescinding the invitation would have created a much bigger fiasco then trying to just ignore it) but things did change.

No Respite

Senator George Voinovich of Ohio became the fourth Republican to announce that he will not seek re-election in 2010.

Previously announcing their retirement were Kit Bond (MO), Mel Martinez (FL), and Sam Brownback (KS).

Are Republicans continuing to see the writing on the wall?

Read This Now - Krugman Bites

Paul Krugman responded to President elect Obama's request to show him good ideas for a stimulus package in today's NY Times column.

The bottom line seems to be what Krugman has been saying for a while now, make it bigger with less tax cuts and a longer more ambitious horizon.

Krugman has been providing more on his blog today, you probably should just cut out the middle man and put him in your RSS feed at this point.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Size Does Matter

As info continues to trickle out and be pieced together about the forthcoming stimulus bill and plan some notable economists and other commenters are worried that the plan offered by the Obama administration simply won't be big enough.

Folks are also concerned with the amount of the plan devoted to tax cuts which could make up nearly half of the stimulus package.

Obama did say the other day that the plan was a work in progress and that they would be listening to critics and suggestions etc.

Hopefully we'll end up with a stimulus that does work.

Concerns come from, among others:

Paul Krugman, who says:

But Mr. Obama’s prescription doesn’t live up to his diagnosis. The economic plan he’s offering isn’t as strong as his language about the economic threat. In fact, it falls well short of what’s needed.
(see also a string of recent blog posts)

John Judis (via TPM):
There's much to like in Obama's plan. But there are two important ways he may have to go further. Most economists agree that what finally pulled the U.S. out of the Great Depression was military spending for World War II. Some liberals argue that if the Roosevelt administration had not abandoned a Keynesian stimulus strategy in 1937-38, the U.S. might have gotten out of the depression without a war. But in 1936, unemployment was still at 16.9 percent; by 1942, after two years of war spending, it was 4.7 percent, strongly indicating that it was war spending that did it. I am not suggesting that the United States start a world war in order to solve the world's economic problem. But I am suggesting a strategy that could be called the fiscal equivalent of war.
Andrew Leonard, offers a bit of political prospective and urges patience:

It's a good thing that the likes of Krugman and Stiglitz and Judis are pushing Obama to be more ambitious. Constant pressure should be applied. But expecting Obama to achieve all things at once, or accusing him, as Judis did, of "underestimating the problem he and the country faces" because he's not incorporating an utterly unrealistic transformational agenda in his first act of governance is unfair. Getting the country out of the mess it is in right now, and getting traction on some of the truly immense problems that the U.S. and the world face, will not be achieved this year, or even, as Obama has acknowledged, in "many years." With his eye to the long term, Obama apparently has decided not to engage in all-out political warfare in his first skirmish. We won't know if he's being too cautious, or laying the groundwork for a string of successes that build on each other, for quite some time to come. But I, for one, am not yet ready to be disappointed. I'll wait to Jan. 21 before I abandon ship.

Joe Stiglitz is worried about the appreciation of the underlying problems and the Fed's meandering thus far.

Some Senate Democrats met with Larry Summers and say the current plan looks a bit trickle downish.

As I mentioned above Obama has said that his team will be receptive to all concerns and that they want to hear if anyone has good ideas. Which is all well and good but as Ezra Klein pointed out what exactly does that mean and when will the incoming administration show us?

(HuffPo has the text of Obama's recent Econ speech and EK has video of the press conference where Obama answered questions about the criticism of the plan)

This post ended up being a bit link heavy and content light, my apologies. The bottom line is I'm worried that in an effort to get the stimulus package to pass with bipartisan support Obama is making it too small and relying too heavily on tax cuts. If it doesn't work, or even if just doesn't instantly make things better (which is pretty much garunteed, we're talking about allievating the recession here not insantly making everything tip top again) the Republicans are going to blame Obama regardless of whether he got some of them to vote for the package in the first place. Weaking the stimulus looks like it will fail on both fronts to me.

We'll see what happens...

Here is another NYT piece on the stimulus.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Mitch McConnell Can't Handle The Truth

Sometimes the truth hurts Mitch, but lying about it won't make it any better.

Listening to NPR this morning I heard Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell repeat the latest Republican Senatorial talking point, that Republican Senators 'represent half the population', never mind the fact that it simply isn't true.

McConnell made the same claim earlier in the week on ABC and James Surowiecki was all over it.
His back of the envelope calculations indicate that Republican Senators actually represent about 37% of the population.

Like Surowiecki said, claiming to represent just over one third of the population just doesn't have the same ring to it, although it would have the ring of truth.

For the hell of it let'd do some math...

So we take all the States and their Senators and their population...
(assuming that Obama is eventually replaced with a Democrat and that Franken remains the winner in MN)
And then we say that each Senator represents one half of the State's population...

State - Senators - Population - Population Represented by Republicans

Alabama - 2 Republican - 4,661,900 - 4,661,900

Alaska - 1 R 1 D - 686,293 - 343,146.5

Arizona - 2 R - 6,500,180 - 6,500,180

Arkansas - 2 D - 2,855,390 - 0

California - 2 D - 36,756,666 - 0

Colorado - 2 D - 4,939,456 - 0

Connecticut - 1 D 1 ID - 3,501,252 - 1,750,626

Delaware - 2 D - 873,092 - 0

Florida - 1 R 1 D - 18,328,340 - 9,164,170

Georgia - 2 R - 9,685,744 - 9,685,744

Hawaii - 2 D - 1,288,198 - 0

Idaho - 2 R - 1,523,816 - 1,523,816

Illinois - 2 D - 12,901,563 - 0

Indiana - 1 D 1 R - 6,376,792 - 3,188,396

Iowa - 1 D 1 R - 3,002,555 - 1,501,277.5

Kansas - 2 R - 2,802,134 - 2,802,134

Kentucky - 2 R - 4,269,245 - 4,269,245

Louisiana - 1 R 1 D - 4,410,796 - 2,205,398

Maine - 2 R - 1,316,456 - 1,316,456

Maryland - 2 D - 5,633,597 - 0

Massachusetts - 2 D - 6,497,967 - 0

Michigan - 2 D - 10,003,422 - 0

Minnesota - 2 D - 5,220,393 - 0

Mississippi - 2 R - 2,938,618 - 2,938,618

Missouri - 1 R 1 D - 5,911,605 - 2,955,802.5

Montana - 2 D - 967,440 - 0

Nebraska - 1 R 1 D - 1,783,432 - 891,716

Nevada - 1 R 1 D - 2,600,167 - 1,300,083.5

New Hampshire - 1 R 1 D - 1,315,809 - 657,904.5

New Jersey - 2 D - 8,682,661 - 0

New Mexico - 2 D - 1,984,356 - 0

New York - 2 D - 19,490,297 - 0

North Carolina - 1 R 1 D - 9,222,414 - 4,611,207

North Dakota - 2 D - 641,481 - 0

Ohio - 1 R 1 D - 11,485,910 - 5,742,955

Oklahoma - 2 R - 3,642,361 - 3,642,361

Oregon - 2 D - 3,790,060 - 0

Pennsylvania - 1 R 1 D - 12,448,279 - 6,224,139.5

Rhode Island - 2 D - 1,050,788 - 0

South Carolina - 2 R - 4,479,800 - 4,479,800

South Dakota - 1 R 1 D - 804,194 - 402,097

Tennessee - 2 R - 6,214,888 - 6,214,888

Texas - 2 R - 24,326,974 - 24,326,974

Utah - 2 R - 2,736,424 - 2,736,424

Vermont - 1 D 1 I - 621,270 - 0

Virginia - 2 D - 7,769,089 - 0

Washington - 2 D - 6,549,224 - 0

West Virginia - 2 D - 1,814,468 - 0

Wisconsin - 2 D - 5,627,967 - 0

Wyoming - 2 R 532,668 - 532,668

50 States - 100 Senators

Total Population: 304,059,724

Population Represented by Republicans: 116,570,127

So 116,570,127 / 304,059,724 = .38337 or 38%

So that scratch math was pretty spot on.

Maybe someone can give Mitch some math pointers...

(Wikipedia had the best Senator list and the Census Bureau provided the population numbers)

(ed. note: that's as pretty as it's gonna get kids, I have a headache from making it look that good and that's pretty bad. Anyone know how to put a table into blogger?)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Chair Recognizes...

So I'm taking Principles of Microeconomics in an effort to better myself (really I'll need it for the grad school program I'm hoping to get in to) and damn if I don't feel like Stringer Bell.

I know the sign on the door and the movie label say macro but they are mistaken, you could look it up.

I'm loving me some elasticity.

After all I do have the floor...

A Bit More on the Good Doctor

So a bit of a kerfuffle has arisen online over the Gupta / Moore run-in about Sicko (Moore's health care film, which I never got around to seeing).

The bottom line seems to be that Gupta and CNN came off pretty badly and as Paul Krugman points out it would seem to be bad for accountability etc to appoint Gupta to Surgeon General. While this is true, Ezra Klein has a great breakdown of the Gupta / Moore spat and wraps up by agreeing with Krugman but also pointing out that that only means Gupta is probably even better at supporting health care reform...

Krugman says that the problem with Gupta's performance was that it was another example of elites engaging in "Village" behavior. He's right about that. But at the end of the day, if the villagers support Obama's heath reform plan, it has a far better shot than if they don't. That's why Gupta's hire is good for health reform, even if it's not good for pundit accountability.
Klein was also on Olbermann's show last night and he made a great point that in terms of public education there is no one better qualified than Gupta and further that his selection as Surgeon General is likely another sign of a very strong commitment to health care reform. The Obama administration will have a former Senate Leader (Tom Daschle) to get things through Congress and the nation's most recognizable Doctor to explain things to and lobby the public.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Keep 'Em Guessing

In a scene from CNN's "Planet in Peril," Dr. Sanjay Gupta stands in a body of water in Africa.
via WaPo

Fresh on the heels of the Panetta for CIA announcement / leak (which caught not a few folks off guard) word on the internets today is that Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN fame will be the pick for Surgeon General (if he can stand to take the pay cut that is).

Gupta actually sounds like a decent pick when you learn a bit more about him (accomplished neurosurgeon and White House fellow with experience in speeches and policy for Hillary Clinton).

And a high profile surgeon general could be a boon for medical research and health care as well.

(did you notice wikipedia is already on it? via WR)

Read This Now - Changing of the Guard

I was thinking about doing an overview of Obama's recent nominations to critical Justice and National Security positions especially as to the rule of law and the restoration of the Constitution, but Dan Froomkin beat me to it.

It has been like a national nightmare: We are attacked by terrorists and our leaders respond not with courage and a call to our higher natures, but by spreading fear -- and turning us into a regime of torturers. Rather than celebrate our Constitution and its enduring values, they use the levers of government to subvert it.

Now the nightmare appears to be almost over.

By choosing two vocal opponents of torture for two key positions -- Dawn Johnsen to head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel and Leon Panetta to head the Central Intelligence Agency -- President-elect Barack Obama has indicated that he intends to make the cleanest possible break from Bush administration precedents, end torture and return to traditional interpretations of the Constitution.

The goods follow...

A nightmare indeed.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Train Wreck

I feel a little bad piling on, but sheesh...

I guess given the circumstances we shouldn't be surprised that the individual who would agree to be appointed by Blagojevich would pretty much be living in a fantasy land.

Considering the continuing brouhaha over the end of the Minnesota recount (Al Franken has been certified as the winner), Tuesday could be a very interesting day on Capitol Hill.

(from TPM via PA)

America Thru Her Streets

Or all streets as it's creator Ben Fry calls this map like image.

Believe it or not only named streets were laid down (no other features or boundaries were drawn) to create what you see here...

(via, who else, Kottke)

And Some People Have Blogs

Stanley Fish had a bad trip with the AT&T folks last month, and then he wrote all about it.

Seems that among the standard issues, chief among them the system lacking any iota of common sense and the difficulty in getting to talk to the correct person, Professor Fish tried to help AT&T with their grammar, which is terrible and apparently institutionalized.

Which reminds me of the episode of This American Life that documented one of the crew members' battle with Verizon over a phone bill that included Verizon claiming that they didn't have individual numbers at their desks among other malarkey. In the end they got everything straightened out but it left you wondering what you could do if you didn't work for a nationally syndicated radio show.

I wonder if the rise of blogging and the internets generally have had or will have any effect on customer service?

Comcast Must Die seems to have been pretty effective at least.

(despite my best efforts I was unable to locate the episode of This American Life in question. While google searches turned up other online references to said episode searching the TAL site for verizon and for 'phone bill' returned no hits. If you want to subscribe to the podcast the site is useful, if you want to look through the archives, well they don't really have them organized at all.)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Weekend Update - Richardson Out as Commerce Secretary

MSNBC has the details. Apparently Richardson's administration is being investigated by a federal grand jury in New Mexico* as to the awarding of a $1 billion New Mexico state contract to a California company that had made political contributions to Richardson.

At first glance this seems like the kind of thing that the vetting process is supposed to cover. Not surprisingly the transition team (involving so many more people from so many camps) appears to not be operating at the same level as Obama's campaign.

(via TPM)

* an earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the grand jury was based in California.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Read This Now - Year in Review

From among the swamp that is year in review columns I'd like to recommend Salon's series particularly Joan Walsh on politics and Andrew Leonard on the economy.

Also check out Google's zeitgeist for 2008, it's pretty interesting although it could (and certainly should) be more interactive, I want to be able to explore more it seems to dead end to me.

Welcome to 2009

I'm sure that you have all been wished a happy new year more times than you can possibly stand already so I won't bother.

This is pretty much a housekeeping note, it was nice to be able to keep this blog regularly updated during the stretch run of 2008 and we certainly hope to keep that level of posting up in 2009.

I'd like to remind everyone out there in RSS land and those of you who just don't pay attention to the sidebar that Coppola Comments Too is filled with fun non-politically tinged stuff, mostly of the you've gotta see this variety. The back page (as I like to call it) is updated about 10 times a month so please check it out, especially if you find yourself looking for the lighter side of life.

I've just dropped from the filing system links for items I didn't get around to writing over the past couple of months. Here's one that I had to throw your way though, a tailor in Columbia now offers bullet-proof hunting jackets (they look like regular field coats) in the wake of Cheney blasting away at his 'friend' a while back the jackets have become quite popular apparently. And the UK Gaurdian (being British and therfore a bit daft) sent a reporter to try one on and then get shot (sorry you have to follow the link for the video).

and just for the hell of it...

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Zbigniew Brzezinski put Joe Scarborough in his place last week...

(Ezra Klein has the interview up in its entirety)

take it away Fez!

Job Security

image from

Apparently he also likes to eat sushi with both hands

I ate a lot of tuna and other fish while I was on Saipan (it probably averaged out to about once a day for a month) and I actually did get just paranoid enough to look up the symptoms of mercury poisoning. I never felt bad though and all the fish tasted great.

Jermey Piven wasn't so lucky. Last month he had to leave the Broadway show he was in to, as director David Mamet put it, pursue a new career as a thermometer.

It is cold and flu season after all...