September 12, 2009

At the Pink Petal Lounge...


... you can say all the things you want.

"Up to two million people marched to the U.S. Capitol today... as they protested the president's health care plan and what they say is out-of-control spending."

"People were chanting 'enough, enough' and 'We the People.' Others yelled 'You lie, you lie!' and 'Pelosi has to go' ... Demonstrators waved U.S. flags and held signs reading 'Go Green Recycle Congress' and 'I'm Not Your ATM.' Men wore colonial costumes as they listened to speakers who warned of 'judgment day' - Election Day 2010.... Organizers say they built on momentum from the April 'tea party' demonstrations held nationwide to protest tax policies, along with growing resentment over the economic stimulus packages and bank bailouts."

An impressive showing. Isn't that more than came to the 2009 Inauguration? Yes:
The National Park Service says it will rely on a media report that says 1.8 million people attended President Obama's inauguration.

David Barna, a Park Service spokesman, said the agency did not conduct its own count. Instead, it will use a Washington Post account that said 1.8 million people gathered on the US Capitol grounds, National Mall, and parade route.

"It is a record," Barna said. "We believe it is the largest event held in Washington, D.C., ever."
So then, today's event was the biggest ever in Washington?

UPDATE: Questions about the actual size of the admittedly huge crowd.

"A modest woman who liked to watch the 'Jerry Springer Show' and eat fried chicken, bacon and ice cream. She refused to use dentures. 'I don't know how she does it. She only has her gums, no teeth.'"

Gertrude Baines, born in 1894 in Shellman, Georgia, has died. The new world's-oldest-person is Kama Chinen, 114. She's in Japan.

"Readers well know that I have never failed to address even personal matters on this blog..."

"... which is why I hope you understand that it's clear and binding legal advice that prevents me from commenting," says Andrew Sullivan. Of course, his failure to speak shouldn't be construed to mean anything but that he's following the obvious legal advice.

That doesn't mean we can't talk about it, though.

I throw some movie-related red meat to the lefties, and then to the righties.

I've got to tell you, I laughed like mad at the trailer for the new Michael Moore movie "Capitalism: A Love Story":

I will definitely see this movie. Annoying as I've found Michael Moore at times in the past, I love the light but stinging touch. Quite charming, if the trailer is accurate.

Okay, see? Sometimes I throw out red meat for the liberals.

Now, here's red meat for you righties. In the trailer at 1:40, we hear and then see George W. Bush and — even though I was in a theater in the lefty hotbed of Madison, Wisconsin — I leaned over to my seatmate (the estimable Meade) and said (loud enough to be heard): "I miss that guy."


The movie we were seeing was — as the previous post hints — "Inglourious Basterds." In "Chapter 2" of that film, when Brad Pitt first appeared, Meade now says — if he hadn't needed to maintain Hoosierly etiquette — he wanted to lean over to me and whisper "George W."

And it's true. Brad Pitt is kind of doing a George Bush impersonation. (Meade points to 0:30 in this trailer, when the character says "killin' Nazis.") Now, it's an awful accent, really. And I don't think it's a Tennessee accent, which is what we're told it is. Oddly, later in the movie, there's a whole thing about speaking Italian with a bad accent, and Pitt's is the worst of the bad accents, so maybe there — and throughout the movie — Quentin Tarantino intended to treat us to layer upon layer of joking.

"['Inglourious Basterds'] is a movie that thinks cold-blooded brutality and torture are not necessary evils, or excesses spawned in the heat of battle, but the very epitome of cool."

"It's a celebration of the most bestial kind of toughness in the name of us-vs-them entitlement. You keep thinking you'll find Dick Cheney's name in the credits."

Ah, but why does Hollywood make such films? These people who are most ready to denounce what Dick Cheney would call "enhanced interrogation techniques" — aren't they the ones who make and consume popular entertainment that revels in torture and humiliation?

The theory could be that the people who are most sensitive to torture are the ones who find it titillating and are ashamed of themselves. They dare to take their pleasure in the movie theater and yet are horrified to see anything in real life that reminds them of their shameful feelings.

Dick Cheney, on the other hand, is pragmatic and cool (the epitome of cool?). I'll bet he doesn't sit around at Quentin Tarantino movies.

Copulating corpses.

The science exhibit.

It is one thing to ask whether dead bodies should be plastinated and dissected to various levels and posed and displayed for the public and another to ask whether the parts to be displayed and the poses can be sexual. But...
The way a plastinate is exhibited can vary from country to country to reflect local sensibilities. A vote of local employees decided that one of the copulating female cadavers should wear fewer clothes in Zurich than was the case in Berlin.

"Switzerland is the first country that already said from the outset that we could show whatever we wanted," said [Gunther] von Hagens.

"Zurich is ready ... but it's maybe not so easy in every other town," he said. "We have discussed whether it is proper to show homosexuality and in what way. This is a very delicate subject."
... it is quite another matter to conform the display to local preferences and prejudices that require different degrees of exposure for the male and the female and restrictions about different kinds of sexual activity. Just because something is a "delicate subject" doesn't mean you have to track local taste — especially when your whole enterprise challenges convention.

Should Joe Wilson, on pain of admonishment, apologize on the floor of the House? I say yes.

That's the proposal. And I say yes, but with an important condition. What Wilson did was to appropriate a solemn occasion — a presidential address to a joint session of Congress — to insert his own partisan political statement. He should apologize, but what I want in addition is an apology for the masses of presidential supporters who repeatedly interrupted the speech with partisan applause, cheering, and standing ovations.

Either it is a solemn occasion not to be interrupted by partisan distractions or it is not. As a citizen TV-watcher, I was willing to listen to the President lay out his argument for us, but I would not watch a political rally. The Democrats who took advantage of the occasion to cheer the President on created an atmosphere that made Joe Wilson's 2 syllables of dissent a welcome pushback. If they had been decorous throughout, what Wilson did would have been appalling. But his behavior seen apart from that context is unacceptable. Let him then apologize, if all the others who wrecked the solemnity also apologize, and let us have future Presidents' visits to Congress be polite, respectful affairs.

If that can't be done, then let the President drop the pomposity and submit to Question Time:


According to the article linked above, Wilson is accused of violating House rules:
House rules and precedents provide substantial guidance on how a House member can and cannot refer to the president while speaking on the floor, and the guidelines state that it has been found impermissible to call the president a liar. The House was in formal session at the time of the speech.
This sort of viewpoint discrimination is unAmerican. Can members yell out "You're the One" and "I love you, Barack" and "Amen!"? It's fine to have rules, but I want to attack them for having a rule like that.

It has been found impermissible to call the president a liar.

What a crazy thing to say! Step up and defend it if you dare.

"Wilson hires professional Tweeter."


So there's a whole profession now. Professional tweeter. Put that on your resume.

But you know, tweeters have been around for a long time. And they are funky.

Maybe Urban Dictionary can help.... Ooh! Maybe you don't want to be a professional tweeter.... Is that something ACORN can help with?

Am I allowed to hate the UW Marching Band?

They started practicing this morning — Saturday — at 6:30 a.m.

The sound — which I rather love when I hear it wafting in from a distance in the late afternoon — is loud and sleep-annihilating in the morning.

Yangtze River Number Two.

The world's most expensive dog. Only $582,000. Really, why aren't the very best dogs more expensive?
[A] motorcade of 30 cars escorted the dog from the airport in Xi'an to his new home. A crowd also gathered to celebrate its new resident.
Now, a motorcade... that impresses me.

"Yellow Submarine" — the remake!

By Disney. Seriously.
Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook said the new "Yellow Submarine" will be directed by Robert Zemeckis using the same motion-capture effects employed in "Polar Express."
Oh, no. We will encounter the Beatles in the "uncanny valley." The original visual aspect of "Yellow Submarine" is all about clear, crisp, flat color. Now, I admit, looking at some clips on YouTube, that the old film looks sketchy and cheap by current animation standards. I'd love to see a new 2D version of the film — or a new 2D animated film using Beatles songs. I just hate 3D animation. It makes me feel bad on a deep physical, animal level.

And "Yellow Submarine" means so much to me. It came out in 1968, when I was in my last year of high school, and if someone had given me the information on how to dedicate my life to making animated films like that, I would have gone there (and lived a completely different life).

It was so much harder back then to figure out such things. So I ended up, the following year, entering a hippie college experience at the University of Michigan called the Residential College and then tripping across the street to the art school. But life is so much easier now — with the internet. For example, I just had a major flashback brought on by Googling my way to the Facebook group " UM Residential College-East Quad ("Where East Quadies and RC students of past meet").

But perhaps life was better when it was hard to find things.... and cartoons needed to be drawn ....

A zoo tiger leapt over a 16' fence and mauled a man to death.

It happened in Hanoi.

Are you surprised? Consider this:
[Zoo] animals do not escape to somewhere but from something. Something within their territory has frightened them ... and set off a flight reaction. The animal flees, or tries to. I was surprised to read at the Toronto Zoo ... that leopards can jump up to eighteen feet straight up. Our leopard enclosure in Pondicherry was sixteen feet high at the back. I surmise that Rosie and Copycat never jumped out was not because of constitutional weakness but simply because they had no reason to. Animals that escape go from the known to the unknown--and if there is one thing an animal hates above all else, it is the unknown.
That's a passage many will recognize, from "The Life of Pi." I copied it out once before, in a post called "Jabari was wronged," about a gorilla who managed to climb the 15' concave wall of his enclosure.

Jabari — who was shot to death — had been taunted. Who knows what moved the tiger?

September 11, 2009

"Hi I'm just like you I worry about getting fat and finding the right man to validate my pointless existence where all I do is worry about getting fat and finding the right man to validate my pointless existence..."

"... but also the difference is that I invariably live in New York (or London if I must) where I am a struggling intern/PR lackey/copywriter/journalist and I live in a small apartment with either a cat or a hilarious gay man or a hilarious gay cat and it's ever so cosmopolitan and fun and just when I think I will always be dating a series of Mr. Wrongs for the rest of my life I meet BRAD/JULIO/LAWRENCE/SEPHIROTH depending on if I am from Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia, or Final Fantasy fanfic and then after that we have some fun misunderstandings and then my bitch of a boss (because female bosses are always bitches) steals my man (never trust a woman in a position of power, you see, is the moral here) and I have to do some CRAZY THINGS to have my revenge and then I level up and I get the boss bitch's job and my man back all at once and THE END i high-five my gay cat and off we go to the sequel where we are sexy ore miners on a distant asteroid (but we still love shoes!!!!!)"

No, that's the joke. Here's the real:
While the kids are fed and then wiped down and diverted with Play-Doh, I load the washing machine with armloads of my new clothes. As I stuff in a size 4 blouse, my iPhone beeps to tell me someone I know has just updated their Facebook status.

"It is quite apparent that [Andrew] Sullivan is being treated differently from others who have been charged with the same crime in similar circumstances."

Political commentator, author and writer for The Atlantic magazine Andrew M. Sullivan won’t have to face charges stemming from a recent pot bust at the Cape Cod National Seashore — but a federal judge isn’t happy about it....

[T]he U.S. Attorney’s Office sought to dismiss the case. Both the federal prosecutor and Sullivan’s attorney said it would have resulted in an “adverse effect” on an unspecified “immigration status” that Sullivan, a British citizen, is applying for....

The ACORN sting.


In the Serenity Garden...


... life blooms.

At the Memorial Observation Deck ....


... remember.

"Remembering the Horror of a Bright Blue Morning."

8 years now.

September 10, 2009

The bee finds its perfect place.


Kale and Chrysanthemums.


"You Lie!" defined as: "The classiest way to respond to anyone you disagree with."

"You lie!" is the Urban Dictionary Urban Word of the Day.

At the Crabapple Café...


... you can tell me every little thing.

"He was petulant; he was childish; he was a community organizer..."

"... he lied; he was divisive; he attacked me; he attacked Sarah Palin; he attacked conservative Republicans in Congress who dare to challenge government-run health care. He continued to attack tens of millions of Americans who spent the summer attending town hall meetings. It was crude. It was disgusting. The most crude and disgusting performance by any president I have seen."

Russ Feingold on cap-and-trade: "I’m not signing onto any bill that rips off Wisconsin."

"That position runs contrary to both his party leadership and the Obama administration.... At the same time, Feingold said he's 'troubled' by some of his constituents’ refusal to accept the principles of global warming, but agreed with some critics who have said the bill could stifle job growth in the industrial sector and increase energy prices. 'Western Wisconsin is particularly strong in being concerned about this because of their reliance on coal... There is a real possibility ... that it will be unfair to Wisconsin and Wisconsin ratepayers.... Why should we leave ourselves completely exposed while [other nations] just get to go forward?'"

By the way, did you notice Feingold in the congregation during Obama's speech last night? I thought he looked unusually grumpy.

Quick! Accept that apology!

Before he takes it back.

Can you count the conservative commentators who said Joe Wilson shouldn't have apologized (for vocalizing 2 words during O's big speech)?

An article is irking me, and I express my irritation herein by quoting one sentence.

"[Amy] Sohn said she and her husband have fallen into a comfortable routine of going out once a week — 'just like Barack and Michelle' — to Park Slope restaurants like Al Di La and Franny’s, Although, she added, 'I can’t call it date night, because if you call it date night you might as well shoot yourself in the head.'"

"[T]he IAAF now have the whole ANC and the whole of South Africa on their backs."

After the International Association of Athletics Federations finds that runner Semenya Caster lacks a womb and ovaries and has internal testes and that this is reason to disqualify her from women's competitions and strip her of her medals, South African politicians are saying it's "racist and sexist":
[A]n IAAF source was today quoted as saying: "There certainly is evidence now that Semenya is a hermaphrodite.... Everything is going to have to be done absolutely by the book, no question of a challenge to our findings. There's all sorts of scans you do. This is why it's complicated. In the past you used to do a gynaecological exam, blood test, chromosome test, whatever. That's why the findings were challenged, because it's not quite so simple. So what they do now is they do everything, and then they can say look, not only has she got this, she's got that and the other. The problem for us is to avoid it being an issue now which is very personal: of the organs being a hermaphrodite, of not being a 'real' woman. It's very dramatic."
And the family sees it in terms of religion and their own personal history:
"It is God who made her look that way but she IS a girl."...
The athlete's uncle Lesiba Rammabi, 51, said her relatives were 'very humiliated' by the reports.

He said: "I believe Caster is normal, inside and out. What does it matter whether she can have babies or not? Many people cannot have children, why else do parents adopt? Are those women not women also? We are a normal family who looked at a child when she was born, saw that she was a girl and raised her as any other family would do. Are we now being told that we are wrong? We are very humiliated by what has been said and do not understand how it can be true. This is a woman who was raised a female. She will always be female, no matter what people say."
That would all be fine except for the fairness to the other athletes. And there is also the question of what Caster herself wants to do. You could be raised as a female because that's what your parents thought you looked like but on reaching puberty decide they made a mistake. She didn't dress in a feminine style but she did go along with this makeover and photoshoot for You magazine:

But what does it mean? Quite aside from whether she looks feminine in that picture, it was, after achieving high status in women's running, in her interest to encourage people to think of her as female. 

Prank caller James Tyler Markle "convinced a McDonald's worker to set off the restaurant's fire suppression system, which released a liquid from overhead extinguishers... and directed the worker to break the store's windows 'for ventilation.'"

Then he bragged about it on Pranknet and got tracked down by the authorities. 

He also did the same thing to a Wendy's, and you can listen to the audio of that prank call.
As a frantic, gasping worker busts out windows, Markle assures the man, "Sir, you're gonna be a hero." Markle, who was linked to the Wendy's call via his Skype records, has been charged with terrorizing and criminal damage, both felonies (the terrorizing count carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison).

A cold look at the text of Obama's speech.

I watched the big speech last night, but didn't live-blog. But now that the text is available, let me locate the few things that I felt at the time I would have live-blogged if I'd been live-blogging and see how they strike me in the cool light of day:
Well the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action. 
Why? This is just a raw pronouncement, and he's tried to call time before, including back when the hot debate was only beginning. What I hear is: Shut up. It irks me. It makes me want to make trouble for him. He never encouraged debate. But the debate grew in spite of that. He keeps looking back on what he didn't want at all and says now, that's enough of that.
[I]f you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, Medicare, Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. Let me repeat this: nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.
I get it. Nothing will require anything of me if I have what I like (and I do). But if you change the structure of the insurance market, my insurance company may not survive or it may be forced to change. Then how do I keep what I have? What I have now may not exist in the future. This is why I do not feel secure.
What this plan will do is to make the insurance you have work better for you. 
But I like my plan now. You admit you're going to change it.
Under this plan, it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition. 
Not just me, but anybody. The health insurance business will have to change.  I understand the good of helping people with medical conditions, but I wonder what it will do to the private business to suddenly change this.
As soon as I sign this bill, it will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick or water it down when you need it most.
And that will change the economics of insurance. Why will that work? What if companies go out of business when you deprive them of the ways they've come up with to be profitable? I'm afraid making the insurance business unprofitable is completely acceptable to you, because you don't mind if in the end government takes over everything. It's what you would do now if you could, isn't it?
They will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime. We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick. And insurance companies will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies – because there's no reason we shouldn't be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse. That makes sense, it saves money, and it saves lives.
It will cost less? I just don't believe that prevention and early detection will perform the necessary magic. And who will provide all this extra care?
That's what Americans who have health insurance can expect from this plan – more security and stability.
Security and stability? That sounds nice, but I don't feel... secure about it.

Obama goes on to describe the insurance exchange that will improve the market for people who don't now have health insurance and the tax credits that will help "individuals and small businesses who still cannot afford" insurance. I don't know who qualifies for these credits, but that is a loss of tax revenue, and the burden must fall on the rest of us, some of whom are going to be forced to buy something we haven't been buying yet. There is some kind of a squeeze on people in the middle. But presumably, we are already paying for these people when they do go to emergency rooms, and getting everyone covered, even if some don't pay, will spread the costs more widely.
[The] exchange will take effect in four years, which will give us time to do it right.
And him time to get re-elected.

Next, Obama explains why everyone will be required to buy health insurance. It's "irresponsible" not to. So all-encompassing care is recast as personal responsibility. But the real point is economic: The new system — requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions and not to charge different rates even for those who begin with very expensive medical needs — won't work unless all the healthy people are forced to join and pay in much more than they are taking out. They can't be allowed to game the system, keep all their money, and then opt in to cheap insurance when they start needing reimbursements.

Where will all these people get the money to buy insurance? We're told that some people and businesses will get "a hardship waiver," but we aren't told where the cut-off point is.
While there remain some significant details to be ironed out... 
This got a huge laugh at the time. It was the biggest laugh of the night,  I think.
... I believe a broad consensus exists for the aspects of the plan I just outlined: consumer protections for those with insurance, an exchange that allows individuals and small businesses to purchase affordable coverage, and a requirement that people who can afford insurance get insurance.

And I have no doubt that these reforms would greatly benefit Americans from all walks of life, as well as the economy as a whole. 
At this point, last night, I felt some hope, but not knowing what the details are going to be, I was also pretty suspicious. The next part of the speech, however, attacked his critics and felt like nasty attack on ordinary people who have legitimate doubts and whose criticisms were what pushed him into the more moderate position that was giving me hope.
Some of people's concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.
Ugh. He says nothing more about the genuine concern that there will need to be rationing, that lines will be drawn, and that he himself has said things that suggest that someone will be deciding when older and disabled persons will get "the blue pill" instead of vigorous treatment.
There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false – the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally. 
An important promise.
And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up – under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.
But insurers will have cover abortions, and people will have to do business with insurers.
My health care proposal has also been attacked by some who oppose reform as a "government takeover" of the entire health care system.... Now, I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business... But an additional step we can take to keep insurance companies honest is by making a not-for-profit public option available in the insurance exchange. 
Why is something more needed to keep them "honest"? You're imposing new regulations on them. Enforce those regulations. Why is more competition needed to make them "honest"? I'm saying "more competition," because Obama is clear that the public option will be a separate entity that must operate solely on the premiums it collects and free of any taxpayer subsidy. Won't that coverage be expensive too, then? He claims that "by avoiding some of the overhead that gets eaten up at private companies by profits, excessive administrative costs and executive salaries, it could provide a good deal for consumers." But private companies try to control costs to compete, and government entities tend to get bloated too. It's hard to see what this is for.
... I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits – either now or in the future. Period. And to prove that I'm serious, there will be a provision in this plan that requires us to come forward with more spending cuts if the savings we promised don't materialize.
How will this promise be enforced?
This is the plan I'm proposing. It's a plan that incorporates ideas from many of the people in this room tonight – Democrats and Republicans. And I will continue to seek common ground in the weeks ahead. If you come to me with a serious set of proposals, I will be there to listen. My door is always open.
Am I allowed to shout "You lie" at the TV?

Now comes the sentimental, inspirational stuff that I don't need to spend time on.
... Ted Kennedy....
Zzzzz.... Then my ears perk up:
One of the unique and wonderful things about America has always been our self-reliance, our rugged individualism, our fierce defense of freedom and our healthy skepticism of government. And figuring out the appropriate size and role of government has always been a source of rigorous and sometimes angry debate.
Words for conservatives. Obama then concedes that Teddy seemed to be the opposite off all of that to conservatives. But somehow he really wasn't. Why? I scan the text for a reason. He had conservative allies in some of his political ventures? There's a list of friends — John McCain, etc. Eh. Not enough. Obama goes on about problems Teddy saw, kids with cancer, and it seems as if the idea is just to make us forget about the questions he'd just raised.
You see, our predecessors understood that government could not, and should not, solve every problem. They understood that there are instances when the gains in security from government action are not worth the added constraints on our freedom. But they also understood that the danger of too much government is matched by the perils of too little; that without the leavening hand of wise policy, markets can crash, monopolies can stifle competition, and the vulnerable can be exploited. 
That's the kind of moderation I like, so that worked on me, but I'm sure it's a disappointment to those who got really excited by those words for conservatives.

Finally, he bemoans the lack of civil conversation again. I hear echoes of the "shut up" I heard at the beginning of the speech. He says we need to act now, not be timid. We need to do "great things" and "meet history's test." We need to do it because it's "our calling." He's entitled to end his speech with a call to action.

I'd say he did pretty well with what he had, but some of us still have questions and don't appreciate being called louts and liars.

"The American way of eating has become the elephant in the room in the debate over health care."

Ha ha. Get it? The elephant? That's you, reader. You're fat, says Michael Pollan. And you are a big — a huuuuge — part of the problem the government needs to solve. Pollan links to a study that supposedly shows that the reason we spend twice as much on health care as Europeans is because we are so grotesquely tubby. How can the government come between you and your food?
Cheap food is going to be popular as long as the social and environmental costs of that food are charged to the future. There’s lots of money to be made selling fast food and then treating the diseases that fast food causes. One of the leading products of the American food industry has become patients for the American health care industry.
Greedy corporations are making you fat and costing the health care system money. They are so greedy that — how awful! — they are selling food cheap. Expensive food also makes you fat, of course, but it's less obvious who's making money selling expensive food and thus harder to blame the evil corporations. 
The market for prescription drugs and medical devices to manage Type 2 diabetes, which the Centers for Disease Control estimates will afflict one in three Americans born after 2000, is one of the brighter spots in the American economy. As things stand, the health care industry finds it more profitable to treat chronic diseases than to prevent them. There’s more money in amputating the limbs of diabetics than in counseling them on diet and exercise.
Oh, here are the money-mad limb-hackers Obama was warning us about. Now, what I want to know is what is so terrible about the fact that most of the health-care money is spent treating diseases? Why should healthy people be consuming a bigger portion of the money? It's a good thing that people are left alone to take care of themselves and that health care professionals are used to do the things we can't do for ourselves. Of course, it would be nice if people didn't get diseases, and maybe a lot more of us could have long, disease-free lives, with little consumption of health-care resources if only we did more prevention. But would it change anything to give people ample free sessions with professionals who tell us to do what we already know we ought to do? The doctors actually don't have a clue how to get us to stop overeating (or — as if it would help — push us into a vigorous exercise program).

Pollan gets an economic theory going. He says health insurance companies drop customers after they get diseases, but if new law prevents this and requires them to charge all customers the same rates, then, they will have a strong new interest in preserving health and, allied with government, will stimulate the creation of government programs, policies, and laws aimed at stopping us from eating so damned much.
When health insurers can no longer evade much of the cost of treating the collateral damage of the American diet, the movement to reform the food system — everything from farm policy to food marketing and school lunches — will acquire a powerful and wealthy ally, something it hasn’t really ever had before....

In the same way much of the health insurance industry threw its weight behind the campaign against smoking, we can expect it to support, and perhaps even help pay for, public education efforts like New York City’s bold new ad campaign against drinking soda. At the moment, a federal campaign to discourage the consumption of sweetened soft drinks is a political nonstarter, but few things could do more to slow the rise of Type 2 diabetes among adolescents than to reduce their soda consumption, which represents 15 percent of their caloric intake.
"Bold new ad campaign"? Nicely, the NYT includes a link. Here's the ad:

It's a run-of-the-mill public service ad? What is bold about it? Picking on one product? Using tax money to pay for it? Oh, I see, it "graphically depicts globs of human fat gushing from a sideways drink bottle." I couldn't tell by looking at it. So shoving disgusting images in our face is bold. How admirably edgy of New York City. What's next? Pictures of ugly fat people slobbering over hamburgers? Something like this?

Throw all the taxpayer money you want into preventive care and raise the price on our too-cheap food. Blare nauseating ads at us. But we will still eat. We already care and we already don't want to be fat. We're not fat because corporations are greedy or because you can't get a free appointment with a nutritionist. We're fat because of the deep, innate appetite that saved our ancestors from famine and motivated them to eat whatever they could find to survive. We are here thanks to those profound desires, and life is all too easy these days. The unfortunate consequence of the beautiful amplitude of modern life is that we grow too big.

IN THE COMMENTS: Bissage said:
It’s funny that some people look at that ad and see “globs of human fat gushing from a sideways drink bottle.”

Not me.

I see a dog’s head with a dagger in it, a penis, and the word “sex."

Makes me want to consume alcohol, but I don’t know why.

"Jose Flores Pereira, 44, who carried a Bible and a small box wrapped in packing tape, explained that the date - 9/9/9 - was the number of the Beast upside down."

"He forced the pilot of AeroMexico Flight 576 from Cancun to circle Mexico City seven times before landing, and demanded to talk to Mexican President Felipe Calderon. 'He had a revelation that Mexico was threatened by an earthquake,' said public safety minister Genaro Garcia Luna. The hijacker released all 104 passengers unharmed before SWAT teams stormed the plane, freeing the crew and capturing Pereira without firing a shot."

So he was only a lunatic. But he showed us that it's still pretty easy to hijack a plane.

September 9, 2009

"You lie."

Joe Wilson said it:

But Obama kinda did too. And this — "a lie, plain and simple" — came before Joe Wilson's "you lie":

Obviously, Obama was the official speaker, and it's rude to yell something at the speaker. But Obama was guilty of disrespecting his critics by labeling their arguments nothing but a lie and — after getting a standing ovation for it — moving on.

Wilson's little outburst got a lot of attention, and that has lessened the amount of discussion of the actual content of Obama's speech itself. But I suppose that Obama supporters are using it to try to paint all the critics of the proposed legislation as louts to be dismissed out of hand.

Hillary Clinton will run for Governor of New York?

That's the rumor. I say: Great idea!

Obama ended his big speech with an adorable kissy face.


That's how it ended on my TV. I watched the hard drive recording and hadn't taken the precaution of adding extra minutes in case it ran overtime.

Watching Obama's speech.

I'm pretty bored by the prospect of another speech, but I did set the DVR to record. I guess it's on now, right? Okay. I'll check it out. Meanwhile, please blab in the comments to make up for my dullness, if you've got any energy around this.

ADDED: But you know, it's the season premiere of "America's Next Top Model." What was Obama thinking?! With all the networks showing Prez O, how many people are flocking to the feet of the great Tyra Banks?

AND: Blah! O's speech. It looks like a State of the Union Address. That seems so wrong. The whole first 15 minutes — the length of a speech to schoolkids — are consumed with various political entities filing in, congressional pageantry, and adulation of the executive.

AND: "Oh! They're wasting time standing up. What bullshit." I'm irritated as hell by the standing ovations. I can't believe anyone is watching.

"If supporters of federal curbs on political campaign spending by corporations were counting on Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., to hesitate to strike down such restrictions..."

"... they could take no comfort from the Supreme Court’s 93-minute hearing Wednesday on that historic question.... From all appearances, not one of the nine Justices — including the newest Justice, Sonia Sotomayor — appeared to move away from what their positions had been expected in advance to be.... [S]upporters of [campaign finance laws] had fashioned an array of arguments they hoped would lead Roberts and Alito to shy away from casting their votes to create a majority to free corporations to spend their own treasury money to influence federal elections.  None of those arguments seemed to appeal to either Roberts or Alito."

“It will be assumed they have swine flu."

The UW health service stops testing students for swine flu after 100% of the students tested for swine flu symptoms tested positive.

Wash your hands, everybody. Sneeze and cough into your sleeve. Don't touch doorknobs. And stay home and protect us all if you get flu symptoms — a fever of more than 100 degrees along with either a sore throat or a cough.

"My waffle-y wedded wife..."

A reader writes: "I love your blog and immediately thought of you when I watched this at the Anchoress' blog." The video:

The Anchoress post is here.

By the way, I did laugh — more than once — during our recent and oh-so-private wedding, but I won't tell you the things that made me laugh (other than sheer happiness).

"Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer."

"And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide."

That's my favorite part of Obama's speech to the school kids and not just because it's good for kids. It is a responsibility we all have to ourselves. Have you met it?

Maureen Dowd has boyfriend trouble.

"He was going to be the kind of guy who whipped you up and then, when you were all excited, left you flat, and then, when you were deflated and exasperated and time was running out, ensorcelled you again with some sparkly fairy dust."

"Very sexual audio tapes. Any comment?"

Apparently not!

Ah, who cares about some state representative from Orange County, California? He is a complete fool, and if you don't like social conservative politics, Michael Duvall is a fun target.

9 9 9 9.

What are you going to do tonight at 9?

So we were talking about this photograph of Obama (and Biden) and the Justices, and...

Hey, wait a minute! Where's Obama?

Thanks, once again, to Chip Ahoy, responding to this. And a squirrel-skin hat-tip to the eternal photo crasher squirrel.

"5 Superpowers You Didn't Know Your Body Was Hiding From You."

And why you can't do that all the time.

Should we be sleeping together?

"We all know what it's like to have a cuddle and then say 'I'm going to sleep now' and go to the opposite side of the bed. So why not just toddle off down the landing?"

"Sunstein has nothing to do with the 'czars' or the problems with the ‘czars.'"

"The ironic thing is that anybody else who might be appointed to this job would be less qualified, and more liberal. I disagree with what Sunstein writes in 'Nudge.' But what he advocates is not as bad as the views likely to be held by other people who could run [the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs]."

"I was sitting there, reading this leaflet about planning a funeral and thinking, this is my baby, he isn't even born yet, let alone dead."

Doctors following guidelines — "If gestational age is certain and less than 23+0 (i.e at 22 weeks) it would be considered in the best interests of the baby, and standard practice, for resuscitation not to be carried out" — answer "No we don't," to a woman in labor who begs "You have got to help."

This story, from Britain, has been a top center link at Drudge for perhaps a day, right under "Daughter claims father wrongly placed on controversial NHS end of life scheme." (Under the scheme, those deemed close to death are deprived of fluids, which "an mask signs that a patient's condition is improving.")

September 8, 2009

Let's analyze this picture of Obama and the Justices (and Biden).

Keep in mind that this is the shot the White House chose to put up on its Flickr page. (There's also this pic of Obama shaking hands with his appointee Sonia Sotamayor — with Scalia looking thoroughly delighted.)


That's Biden, on the left, with his back to the camera, talking to Breyer and Roberts. The charming Roberts looks charmed by the gasbag VP, while Breyer — though more liberal than Roberts — looks like he's sleeping on his feet.

The short hulk by himself with his back to the camera is Scalia. Also alone, lurking in the background, is the newest Justice, Sonia Sotomayor. Or is Ruth Bader Ginsburg back there too (in the ladies section?) out of camera range?

Brooding over on the extreme right are Justice Thomas and Alito.

In the center, there's the President. As Stevens looks on, Obama laughs at Justice Kennedy's vain effort to enlist the Prez in a game of pattycake. Oh! Pattycake! Such fun!

IN THE COMMENTS: Freeman Hunt says:
Imagine holding a party. Your spouse takes pictures. When the guests leave, you say, "I'll email a group picture to you all."

The guests check their email accounts the next morning to find a picture wherein all of them have their backs to the camera or are by some other means obscured. Except you. You stand, fully visible, smiling broadly, center frame.

He he he.

"Why has the Democratic Party become so arrogantly detached from ordinary Americans?"

Asks Camille Paglia.
Though they claim to speak for the poor and dispossessed, Democrats have increasingly become the party of an upper-middle-class professional elite, top-heavy with journalists, academics and lawyers (one reason for the hypocritical absence of tort reform in the healthcare bills). Weirdly, given their worship of highly individualistic, secularized self-actualization, such professionals are as a whole amazingly credulous these days about big-government solutions to every social problem. They see no danger in expanding government authority and intrusive, wasteful bureaucracy. This is, I submit, a stunning turn away from the anti-authority and anti-establishment principles of authentic 1960s leftism.
Yes, exactly. This is a big reason why I feel so drawn into writing what gets perceived as a right-wing blog.

"Most men find most women at least somewhat sexually attractive, whereas most women do not find most men sexually attractive at all..."

So why do women have sex?
... 84 per cent admitt[ed] to having sex just to ensure a quiet life or to bargain for household chores. One woman said: "I have sex to relieve the boredom because it's easier than fighting. Plus it gives me something to do."

... "I slept with a couple of guys because I felt sorry for them."

... [N]early one in 10 women admitted to "having sex for presents". Others said: "He bought me a nice dinner", "he spent a lot of money on me early on", "he showed me he had an extravagant lifestyle".

And rather than love or romance, for many women sex is just about fun....
Fun, when he's not even sexually attractive at all?

Anyway, that's all very dismal!

At the Early Fall Café...


... there is new color and a few spots of light.

When President George H.W. Bush gave a speech to school children, congressional Democrats denounced him...

"... they also ordered the General Accounting Office to investigate its production and later summoned top Bush administration officials to Capitol Hill for an extensive hearing on the issue."

"[T]he silly and democratically harmful fiction that a judge can interpret the key abstract clauses of the United States Constitution..."

"... without making controversial judgments of political morality in the light of his or her own political principles."

By embracing that fiction — Ronald Dworkin says — Sonia Sotomayor squandered a precious opportunity to talk to people seriously about what constitutional intepretation really is.

Advice for college students.

Probably good for law students too.

Here's "Don't Alienate Your Professor," by Carol Berkin:
During class, do not: a) beat out a cadence on your desk while the teacher is lecturing; b) sigh audibly more than three or four times during a class period; c) check your watch more than twice during the hour. Do: a) practice a look of genuine interest in the lecture or discussion; b) nod in agreement frequently; c) laugh at all (or at least most) of the professor’s jokes.

"We affirm the students’ right to their own patterns and varieties of language..."

"... the dialects of their nurture or whatever dialects in which they find their own identity and style."

A tragically misguided ideal from 1974.
Linguistic forms, it is said, are not God-given; they are the conventional products of social/cultural habit and therefore none of them is naturally superior or uniquely “correct.” It follows (according to this argument) that any claim of correctness is political, a matter of power not of right. “If we teach standardized, handbook grammar as if it is the only ‘correct’ form of grammar, we are teaching in cooperation with a discriminatory power system” (Patricia A. Dunn and Kenneth Lindblom, English Journal, January, 2003).
That's so appallingly well-meaning of them.

September 7, 2009

Obama's speech to kids is nearly 10x as long as the Gettysburg Address (which was given to adults).

The kids will need to sit still for 2540 televised words.
Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade.
Can any speech be good for such wide range of ages? 2540 words should take at least 15 minutes to deliver. Who gives a 15 minute speech to kindergartners?
I’m glad you all could join us today.
Students tuning in? Glad you could join us? It's not voluntary.
I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.

Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."
"This is no picnic for me either, buster" is a long-time laugh line for Obama, but it's not exactly comprehensible to kids. Do kindergartners and first graders understand what a foreign country is? Do elementary school students recognize the word "Indonesia"? Will students understand why going to school with people other than Americans is so bad? (Isn't it prejudiced to think that? a bright child might wonder.)

And what sort of mother wakes a kid up before dawn to teach him lessons? (Some parents say "I'll teach you a lesson" as a prelude to punishment.) Frankly, I don't even understand why the mother picked pre-dawn for lesson time. It seems a bit abusive. And I don't see what so funny when the abusers says "This hurts me too." Is a mother calling her child "buster" funny to little kids, or does it seem sad or scary?
So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you...
It's not a discussion. He's on television.

Okay, I've got to stop. I'm not going to reprint the whole thing. It's way too long. I'll summarize. As it goes on, he develops the theme of students taking responsibility for their own education, including and especially when they don't have responsible adults in their life watching over them.
Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.

That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America....
Now, that's very nice free market capitalism — not that Obama's policies reflect this spirit.
I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.
So can you "write your own destiny" and "make your own future" or not? It's confusing.
But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
But I thought we weren't supposed to think we could make it at basketball! That's downright perplexing. And why is rapping an inappropriate goal but being a fiction writer is admirable? Isn't rap a more easily reachable occupation?
... [Y]ou’ve got to do your part... So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.
"I expect"... I have no idea if expressions of expectation motivate children. Personally, I don't react well to a political leader telling me he expects something from me, but I'm not a kid.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.
He ends with a double "God." I guess it's okay when Obama invokes the deity in school, but some kids might wonder why God's blessing comes at the end. After all, they were just told to take personal responsibility for themselves. And as for "God bless America," why is it even relevant? This wasn't a patriotic speech. The message to kids in other countries — including Indonesia — would be the same. Maybe some older kids will get it that it's just the conventional ending for a presidential speech, but if you're not familiar with the convention, and you're just trying to understand this speech, it's comes from nowhere.

"What passage in the Koran says women can’t wear pants? This is not nice."

Asks Lubna Hussein, who faced whipping in Sudan, but now will only be fined for breaking the law. The law in Sudan is Muslim law. Hussein says: "I am Muslim; I understand Muslim law."
The law in contention here is Article 152 of Sudan’s penal code. Concisely stated, the law says that up to 40 lashes and a fine should be assessed anyone “who commits an indecent act which violates public morality or wears indecent clothing.”

But what exactly is indecent clothing? ... Mrs. Hussein has argued that Article 152 is intentionally vague, in part to punish women.

Oh, no! It's time to pay attention to Michael Moore again.

Gateway Pundit is all over the insane hypocrisy of his Capitalism-is-evil movie. He passes on this info on Moore's lavish life style:
For reference, Torch Lake is among the two or three most desirable places to live in Northern Michigan. Normally Moore says that Traverse City is his adopted hometown, or lies and says that he lives in Bellaire, like he has some kind of log cabin in the woods.
Nope, his home is an expensive house on 150 ft of lake frontage.

Property Address:
*** * **** ***** **** **

Property Information
Current Taxable Value:$390,976
School District:Bellaire

Current Assessment:$647,200
Current Homestead:100%
Current Property Class:40 - Residential

Last Year's Assessment:$647,200
Last Year's Homestead:100%
Last Year's Property Class:40 - Residential
Lake Frontage:Torch Lake
Waterfront Footage:150.48 ft. "17
So he lives on a lake in Michigan in a place with a taxable value $390,976? I don't get it. How is that by any stretch of the imagination rich? For that to be all a successful movie director claims for himself? It's downright humble.

ADDED: Yes, I see the $647,200 too. It's also quite modest for a man of Moore's success. It sounds like a relatively nice middle class home.

"Loons should shut up and listen: Obama not out to brainwash schoolkids."

Obviously, you can't really be talking to people you call "loons."

It seems that Mike Lupica is amusing his readers who want the opposition to shut up. (When did "shut up" become a liberal argument?)

Here's the end of Lupica's shut-up-loons column:
Some of this is racial, though Obama's critics would never see themselves as being racist in a million years.
And the sense that criticizing the President is racial, is that racial? I'm guessing Mike Lupica wouldn't see himself as being racist in a million years.
But there is something more going on, not just white versus black but white hats versus black hats, on both sides of politics, both the right and left selling conflict with both hands, trying to give you a Civil War every night on Cable America because that's where the ratings are.
Only it's not civil. And somehow the most gullible people have been convinced that the enemy is anybody who disagrees with them. About anything.

Maybe the ones who fear Obama the most, the ones who hate him the most, should try doing what a lot of schoolchildren will do tomorrow, as this President tries to inspire them:

As a change of pace, maybe they should stop shouting and listen.
Oh, wait! Mike Lupica never wrote the words "shut up and listen." He wrote: "stop shouting and listen."

And he doesn't call anyone "loon" either. But somehow the headline writer read his column and came up with "Loons should shut up and listen."

I guess it's not just "Cable America" that's "trying to give us a Civil War" and "selling conflict with both hands." It's Lupica's newspaper, the Daily News, reading his column that — irony! — calls for civility.

Or did the headline writer pick up Lupica's real message, which was not the "civility" business padding page 2? The real message is: Obama's opponents are crazy/racist/stupid and should not be talking. And if you protest that characterization you're being uncivil.

Now, fold your little hands on your desk and pay attention, children.

"I'm hungry."

Stupid 911 call of the day.

September 6, 2009

"10 Things I Hate About Health-Care Reform."

By Arthur M. Feldman — "a cardiologist and the administrator of a large practice that includes general internists and specialists" — who agrees with the basic idea that reform is needed:
1. Private insurance companies escape real regulation....

2. We urgently need tort reform, but it's nowhere to be seen....

3. "Prevention" won't magically make costs go down....

4. Reform efforts don't address our critical shortage of health-care workers....

5. We need more primary-care physicians -- but we also need specialists....

6. We have to streamline drug development and shake up the Food and Drug Administration....

7. We can't fund health-care reform by cutting payments to doctors....

8. We can't forget about research....

9. Cutting reimbursements could shut some hospitals down....

10. We need to improve the quality of care....

Obama, the school kids, and paranoia about paranoia.

Timothy Rutten in the L.A. Times:
[Q]uite a number of people ... seem to believe that Obama intends to induct their children into -- well, it's not quite clear what they're afraid of. The Web and talk radio are abuzz with various attempts to organize a boycott of Tuesday's speech....

[There is a] process at work in the healthcare hysteria and, increasingly, elsewhere where the GOP thinks it can shove the Obama administration into a ditch. Republican officials ... are playing a dangerous game with an unhinged segment of public opinion that regards Obama not as an elected official with whom they disagree, but as an illegitimate usurper of the presidency.

That paranoid fantasy is what's really behind the 'birther' movement and the allegations that the president is -- take your pick -- a secret Marxist or a secret Muslim.
Come on! This is absurd. You're stringing one thing after another and claiming it's all part of a big scheme. That itself is paranoid ideation.
It's the kind of fanciful anxiety that produces comments like this, posted on a conservative website this week: "Barack Obama and his left-wing Chicago machine regime are putting into place laws and institutions which will insure that there will never again be free elections in America."
And this is the kind of fanciful anxiety that produces columns like this....

Good lord, somebody posted a comment on a website somewhere and in Rutten's fevered brain it's all: yes, yes, this is exactly the way it is.... this, this is the problem!!!11!!!11!!!

Get a grip, man.
These are the people who are stockpiling ammunition and keeping their children at home next Tuesday.
What people?! The people! The people! You know: THE PEOPLE!!!! The PEOPLE WITH GUNNNNNNSSSSSSSSSS.........

"In a victory for Republicans and the Obama administration’s conservative critics, Van Jones resigned..."

"... as the White House’s environmental jobs 'czar' on Saturday."

That's the first paragraph of the NYT story on the Van Jones resignation — which is also its first story about Jones. The site's "Caucus" blog did take notice of the controversy — and the issue of the NYT's failure to write about it — yesterday:
Keeping up with Jones: Republicans are accusing one of Mr. Obama’s top advisers of being a communist and calling for his resignation....

Mr. Jones was caught on tape using an unprintable word to describe Republicans and allowed his name to be put on a letter requesting an investigation of whether the Bush administration allowed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to happen as a pretext for war....

Conservatives are abuzz over the mainstream media’s oversight of the story. According to the Washington Examiner, as of 11:30 a.m. Friday, none of the major news outlets, including The Times, had mentioned the controversy.
Whether the Bush administration allowed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to happen as a pretext for war? The petition — read it — "calls for immediate public attention to unanswered questions that suggest that people within the current administration may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war." (Boldface added.)

The Caucus toned down what the petition said and did not link to it. There's a big difference between "allowed" — which might mean only the administration was not sufficiently vigilant — and "deliberately allowed" — which accuses the administration of knowing and letting it happen. The petition is asserting that there is reason to think the Bush administration wanted the attacks to occur so it could lead us into war. The innocuous paraphrase in the Caucus prevents us from feeling outraged at the document Jones "allowed his name to be put on." There's that word "allowed" again! How passive and unknowing was he? He signed it! Let's speak English and quit pussyfooting. The Caucus wanted to frame this as a story of bad old Republicans causing trouble.

Now, back to today's article on the resignation:
Controversy over Mr. Jones’s past comments and affiliations has slowly escalated over several weeks, erupting on Friday with calls for his resignation.

Appointed as a special adviser for “green jobs” by President Obama, Mr. Jones did not go through the traditional vetting process for administration officials who must be confirmed by the Senate. So it was not until recently that some of Mr. Jones’s past actions received broad airing, including his derogatory statements about Republicans in February and his signature on a 2004 letter suggesting that former President George W. Bush might have knowingly allowed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to occur in order to use them as a “pre-text to war.”
Not just knowingly, but deliberately. Please quote to the petition. And link to it.
Mr. Jones’s involvement in the 1990s with a group called Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement prompted recent accusations by conservative critics that he associated with Communists. The group, according to a post-mortem written by some of its founders, was an anti-capitalist, antiwar organization committed to achieving “solidarity among all oppressed peoples” with “direct militant action.”

Republican blogs and conservative talk show hosts, notably Glenn Beck of Fox News Channel, seized upon Mr. Jones’s statements and associations.
"Involvement," "statements," "associations" — what did Jones do exactly? The NYT should serve its readers by putting us in a position to think about the trustworthiness of the Obama administration and its selection of "czars." This isn't just another occasion to note that "Republican blogs" and "conservative talk show hosts" attack the administration. It's interesting that the opposition won a "victory," but more important than the endless partisan battles is the question whether we can trust the administration.
Mr. Jones apologized on Wednesday...

“I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past,” Mr. Jones said in a statement announcing his resignation that was released early Sunday morning....
Does that mean the NYT will not go into the matter of what Jones did and said and what the Obama administration knew about it? He's gone now. Go back to looking away, like good little Obamites.