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January 30, 2009


Ooops, sorry, Eric.

But the plumage doesn't matter if it's been nailed to its perch.

Does anyone else find it mildly irritating that Obama would choose now to come down the mountain on corporate executive excesses while just having finagled a way to hand them several billion dollars?

I know I did. If he were serious, he might--oh, I don't know--not give it to them?

Yah, but von's thread title is sooooo much cooler....

I'd just like the highlight something I think is stunning that I posted in another thread, which is this chart based on this IRS report (pdf) showing the average Adjusted Gross Income and effective tax rate of the top 400 individual tax returns in ~5 year intervals from 1992-2006. The effective tax rate for the top 400 in 2006 was 17.2%! Indeed, if you look at the IRS report, 31 of the top 400 had an effective tax rate of 10% or less! Boo-ya!

I note this because presenting who earns what and pays how much in taxes by dividing earners into quintiles, or 5% slices, or even 1% slices, really doesn't tell the whole picture of exactly who benefits from placing the capital gains and dividend tax rates at 15%, and how much. It really needs to be broken down into the top 1, 0.1, .01, .001, and .0001%.

Further, note that there were ~138 million returns filed in 2006, 400 returns is ~.0003% of 138 million. The IRS pdf reports that the top 400 returns earned 1.31% of AGI. Thus, ~.0003% of US taxpayers earned 1.31% of AGI, or 4,500 times their share of the population (which is not quite right because the "individual" returns likely include married filing jointly and their dependents).

I think this is pretty well in ROFL territory:

[...] Rove said in an interview that despite his error on the past office space of the political team, he now sees Obama’s political operation ramping up from the Bush years when — despite allegations that the White House coordinated grants and cabinet visits with congressional campaigns — he said politics was rarely on his mind.
In the good news keeps on coming department:
On yet another morning of grim economic news, President Obama sought to further distance himself from his predecessor on Friday as he announced steps that he said would strengthen organized labor and improve the lot of middle-class Americans.

At a White House ceremony, the president signed three executive orders that he said would “reverse many of the policies towards organized labor that we’ve seen these last eight years, policies with which I’ve sharply disagreed.”

Soon afterward, Vice President Biden drew applause when he flung another dart at former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney (on Mr. Cheney’s 68th birthday) as he told labor officials in the audience, “Welcome back to the White House.”


The orders he signed, which union officials say will undo Bush administration policies that tilted toward employers, would require federal contractors to offer jobs to current workers when contracts change, and would make it more difficult for federal contractors to discourage union activities.

In addition, Mr. Biden said the first meeting of the previously announced task force “to bring together those Cabinet members who have the greatest impact on the well-being of the middle class” would be Feb. 27 in Philadelphia. The task force will look at issues as diverse as health care and college opportunities, Mr. Biden said, and will focus on “restoring the balance in the workplace.”

The task force will be led by Jared Bernstein, a prominent liberal economist who has been writing a study on the impact of Mr. Obama’s stimulus plan. The focus of the first meeting will be “green jobs, those jobs that pay well, can’t be outsourced and will help us move toward a cleaner, more self-sufficient energy future,” Mr. Biden said.

Future monthly meetings will be held across the country to discuss the mundane but essential concerns of working people like child care, workplace safety and retirement security, the vice president said. The administration has set up a Web site, AStrongMiddleClass.gov, that Mr. Biden said would tell people what their government was doing and invite them to share their thoughts.


“I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem,” Mr. Obama said. “To me, it’s part of the solution.”


And I'd like to re-emphasize the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act for women being the first bill signed by President Obama.

And in other than politics, who wouldn't want to read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?

The Tony Montana Talking Action Figure.

I hope it comes with a little pile of coke. For authenticity.

Geez, I wrote a whole 'nother comment earlier, with four links, and it seems to have not posted.

I don't even remember everything I wrote in my disappeared comment.

Paraphrasing: I thought this was in ROFL territory:

[...] Rove said in an interview that despite his error on the past office space of the political team, he now sees Obama’s political operation ramping up from the Bush years when — despite allegations that the White House coordinated grants and cabinet visits with congressional campaigns — he said politics was rarely on his mind.
I re-emphasized the goodness of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act being the first bill President Obama signed.

I suggested many people would enjoy Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

And I quoted a whole bunch of a political news article I thought was important, and which article it was I now totally can't remember for the moment.

Gary: I don't know if you are a fan of the late John Updike -- and even if you aren't -- you might enjoy some of the tributes by various authors at The New Yorker's website, a wonderful site, by the way.

The comment section is very touching as well.

A sampling, from Mozart4:

"I approached John Updike in 1981 after he read part of 'Bech: A Book' at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa. I had the gall to carry nine of his books for his signature, but was too nervous to present them myself, so I gave three to my wife Patty and three to her girlfriend. Together we advanced in the long line. He asked the girlfriend, 'To whom should I dedicate these books?' She replied, 'To Jack De Bellis.' With a somewhat puzzled smiled, he signed and my wife Patty advanced and heard the same query. 'Sign them, please, to Jack De Bellis,' she said, glancing at me. Then it was my turn and I got a straight stare and the question, 'May I ask you something?' Thinking I was about to get a Dutch-uncle dressing-down, I stammered, 'Anything.' He looked severe and said, 'How did you get two such cute girls to carry your books?' Then he started to sign 'A Month of Sundays' and stopped when he saw the treacherous '.50' written in pencil on the flyleaf, betraying the book’s origin as a garage-sale item. 'So you only paid .50 for my book?' he asked in mock-offense. As I sputtered Patty intervened brilliantly, 'Oh, no. that’s to signify that he read your book fifty times!' 'Oh, sure,' he retorted, and drew a circle around the numbers. Then he drew a line as he wrote 'What a bargain!' and then, words I’ll always treasure, 'For Jack De Bellis, that skin-flint!' One of the most memorable moments of my life."

Charlie Rose had a terrific roundtable last night, including Updike's lifelong editor at Knopf, a tiny, stately, gray-haired lady who brought a wonderful perspective to the table.

Gary: For some reason, the Stiumulus 3 thread is closed -- not allowing further comments.

In regard to my desire for stimulus money for animal shelters and zoos, I understand your point about drawing the line about charities and such.

However, the National Endowment for the Arts is getting a good stimulus chunk.

So, where do you draw the line?

wonkie: I have been saving this all day for you, waiting for an open thread.

Talk about a good foster.

Abandoned Soviet polar nuclear light houses, and anonymous hugging!

"Gary: For some reason, the Stiumulus 3 thread is closed -- not allowing further comments."

Yes, that would be because Von can't manage to cope with it being pointed out that his links don't support his claims, no matter how many times he repeats himself. It's quite remarkable that Von couldn't stand the notion of other people pointing out where he got it wrong, and had to resort to closing the thread. Read the thread and judge for yourself, if you feel like it.

"So, where do you draw the line?"

I don't, I'm not an economist, and I don't know what's in the bill, let alone the pros and cons of it all. I'll let you know if I run across something specifically about that.

"I don't know if you are a fan of the late John Updike"

I've enjoyed some of his stuff, but wouldn't really say either that I've been a fan, or read a particularly wide enough selection of his work to have a strong opinion about it.

"The New Yorker's website, a wonderful site"

It often has good stuff, though a lot of the best stuff tends to be behind the paywall, and I'm too cheap/poor to pay for that, alas.

"A sampling, from Mozart4"

A nice little story, though also really in the "famous writers are normal and slightly witty people, too" category. (Meaning, it's cute and sweet, but not actually shockingly remarkable. But thanks for pointing it out!)

Just as a simple point, although I have disagreed with just about everything he has said, I am glad to see von posting.

From the mouth of a 10-year-old:

We're driving back home a little while ago after I pick the boy up from some play time -- which is often centered around the computer these days -- with his best buddy from school and Don McLean pops up on the oldies station I listen to almost exclusively. "American Pie" is just starting, McLean's masterpiece. I start singing along. The boy listens but seems puzzled.

"This song is kind of a strange song," he says. "It's just a mish-mash of words."

I try to provide some context that a 10-year-old might understand.

He says, "Oh."

I wonder what the boy will think in another 10 or 20 years about The Day The Music Died and, to me, what is one of the coolest songs ever.

Gary: It had not crossed my rather simple mind that a front-pager could close a thread. And if von did indeed do that, which seems to be the case, then that strikes me as rather bush.

Bedtime, you're free to follow the argument and the links. The thread had petered out to a flamewar between Gary and me. Bush league or not, there's no point in continuing a screaming match when everything has already been screamed (several times). There's only so many times that I can write: "Gary, you're a lying liar, see here" and Gary can respond "No, von, you're the lying liar, see here" before the exchange stops being informative.


That's adorable!

Since you brought up the subject of dogs:

There has been a huge puppy mill bust up near Everett, Washington. I total of sixhundred small dogs plus a few other animals were rescued from horrible condidtions. Most of the dogs are pregnant and the Everett shelter is expecting to have about two thousand dogs on their hands by the end of next month.

The dogs are suffering from urine burns,rashes from matted, dirty fur and flea infestations, bad teeth, muscle weakness due to excessive confinement..all the typical puppy mill health problems.

Needless to say the Everett shelter is overwhelmed and can use all the financial help they can get. Here is an address for donations:Everett Animal Shelter Animal Rescue Foundation
2732 36th Street
Everett, WA 98201

Komo News problem solvers has an online donation but I couldn't get the link to work here.

I'm trying to talk Paul into letting us foster some small dogs. Most of the dogs will not be released for adoption until the court cases are settled and that could be months. They have so many dogs taht the over flow is being housed at the Skagit County Fairgrounds.

Puppymills really need to be outlawed completely.

von: Thanks.

Now that you have spelled it out as you did, I understand why you closed the thread -- and, at the risk of irritating Gary, I don't have a problem with you playing Editor now that you put it the way you did.

"Puppymills really need to be outlawed completely."

Most, most definitely.

BTW, now that Michael Vick has been back in the news, I have had a reaction that has totally caught me off-guard.

First, let's make clear I hate what the man did -- to say his were acts of cruelty to animals makes the word "cruelty" seem tame. (I can't recount the number of arguments I got into at work with the lugheads who reasoned "they were just dogs.")

And yet . . .

While I don't think he will ever make it back to the NFL -- although I would not be shocked if he did -- I now think he deserves the chance to make it back (and I never imagined myself thinking that).

But, first, if he did his time, he did his time, and I believe in second chances -- even for someone I might despise.

Second, I've come to the realization that every time Vick is in the news -- and especially so if he made it back to the "big time" -- his story, which has become the dogs' story, a story of death, mistreatment, but also survival, would be told and retold. The ugliness and inhumanity of dog fighting would never leave the news, if you will, and that can only do more harm than good.

"Gary can respond "No, von, you're the lying liar, see here""

Of course, I never said any such thing, and I never flamed you. As anyone can read and see.

"Now that you have spelled it out as you did, I understand why you closed the thread -- and, at the risk of irritating Gary, I don't have a problem with you playing Editor now that you put it the way you did."

I suggest reading the thread for yourself. See what you think after that.

Micheal Vick didn't mean to help pit ulls, but he did.

The story of how his dogs survived, the majority to become good family pets and a few t become service dogs, has helped turn the momentum of the anti-pitbull media narrative. Sports Illustrated, for example, recently published and indelth story about the survivor dogs and inclued an apology for their magazine's role in the creation of the myth of the evil pit bull.

Because of the Vick pit bulls, many shelters and rescues have changed their policies and no longer automatically destroy rescued pits or other dogs abuxed by fighers.

When Blackie passes away I am not going to rush out and get another dog. Instaed I'm going to sign up to foser dogs for the local shelter and I will specialize in pit bulls. They need us more than the other breeds. Besides I like pits. They can be as cuddly as pugs, without all the health problems.

Gary, I was (of course) paraphrasing and parodying us both. I never called you a lying liar neither. Let's move on.

"Let's move on."

Let's try not abusing our power by shutting down conversations when they aren't going our way.

I didn't flame you in any way. Period.

Your decision to abuse your power, rather than withstand criticism or discussion speaks for itself.

Shame on you.

And you don't get people to move on by abusing your power over them, and then demanding they "move on."

Shame on you.

I can only speak as one member of the Hivemind, but I would appreciate paraphrases that neither put insults in other people's mouths nor included insults of their own. Posting rules apply to front-pagers as well.

To be clear: von, Gary did not call you a liar, either explicitly or by implication. You, however, just did, and did so before by implication. I think that is wrong.

The puppy story .... so cute ... make the cute stop! It burns, it burns!

"I suggest reading the thread for yourself."

Well, of course, I already have -- which is why I was responding to a comment you had made about a comment I had made.

And to von's point, I kept with the thread, or tried to, even though it was getting strenuous to do so. (And I did take von's comment above as "parodying," fwiw.)


"Micheal Vick didn't mean to help pit bulls, but he did."

Which is why I almost think I'd like to see the guy make it back to the NFL where his presence would continue to "help" the dogs. (He'd make it back, of course, with Eric's Raiders -- who'd else be so daring to take him?)

P.S. The SI edition you mention, Wonkie, is still on my nightstand. I can't bring myself to throw it away . . . I also think Vick could use the love of, say, a Pug (since Wonkie mentioned that breed) to understand the unconditional surrender of a man's best friend) -- without such I am not sure his journey can be complete.

For the record, I didn't mean to stir up any sh!t.

Did I mention my son called Don McLean's "American Pie" a "mish-mash of words"?

My last comment seems to have gotten eaten, so here it is (roughly) again:

I didn't think I was calling Gary a liar any more than I was calling myself a liar. I thought my parody (including self-parody) at 9:54, above, was clear. I don't know why you're interjecting yourself in this thread in this way, Hilzoy, but I'll deal with it off-line and not here. I won't comment again on this thread.

Speaking of which, where does a 10-year-old who can't spell worth a sh!t learn the word "mish-mash"?

I think this is not the first time that von has shut down a comments thread because someone was pointing out something that he got wrong; and I also think he is the only front-pager ever to do so. (Other comment threads may have been closed, but not in the I'm-taking-my-ball-and-going-home kind of way that was done here.)

Can we get a ruling on that from the site owners collectively? Because it seems kind of BS.

OK, I'll violate my own rule (viz., I won't comment again on this thread) to say: comments are reopened on the thread in question. I thought that everything that could have been said regarding the tangentially-relevant Andrew Sullivan post I linked had been said, but, if there's more to say, please say it in the appropriate place, which is here: http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2009/01/a-stimulus-for-tomorrow-response.html.

Flame on, baby! I'll bring the brats.

Maybe russell -- or cleek -- or whoever could engage me in a little Don McLean discussion.

Or maybe not.

Gotta hit the sack.

I hope my new/old sleeping pill -- Restoril -- works. Had to give up Lunesta; it was keeping me awake.

"I don't know why you're interjecting yourself in this thread in this way, Hilzoy,"

Yes, it certainly is a mystery why anyone would disagree with you, Von, or criticize anything you do, or ever tell you you're wrong. Why would anyone ever do that? It's just inexplicable.

Don't know yet whether I have anything else to add to the thread in question, but I appreciate von's decision to reopen the comments on it.

Gary: now might be a good time to allow things to gently subside. ;)

Hey, OCSteve! Why Limbaugh is the new Bush.

A survey from November 4-5th of likely voters: Limbaugh's favorable rating: 23%, lower than George W. Bush's 31%.

So, sure, Democrats should avoid pissing off Limbaugh and tying the Republican leadership to this loser, why, again? Beause he's got the usual crazed 22%ers?

I haven't read the thread in question and have no plans to. Von, thank you for doing the right thing in re-opening the comments (though you undermined that with the un-classy pre-characerization of further comments as flames).

On the general issue of thread-closing, I'd like to advocate that it not happen except in dire or exceptional cases (e.g., Andrew's memorial hread, or where there's an unusually difficult-to-handle incursion of trolls).

If a front-pager tires of a one-on-one go-round, the appropriate acion is simply to abandon the field, ideally with a civil statement of his or her intent to do so: "I'm going to leave it here." There is no right to the last word.

Apologies for the typos; the t and y are not working on his keyboard, and I see I haven't caught them all with the on-screen kb fix.

btfb, I hope you slept well.

OK, I'll bite. For a Don McLean song that is a mish-mash of words, how about Magdalene Lane?

You mean Don McLean had songs other than "American Pie"?

Some of us used to buy albums (you know, those funny big black things).

This is all back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and before they invented color, of course. *sigh* kids today.

As I recall, my younger brother got "American Pie" as a single (though now I'm wondering, since he would have been only 6 years old when it came out). No idea what was on the flip side -- probably more "American Pie", considering how long it is.

You mean Don McLean had songs other than "American Pie"?

You don't remember "Vincent" (sometimes known as "The Starry Night Song", or words to that effect)?

ral: I slept good -- sort of. I made the mistake of not taking it until 1:30 or so, knowing I the alarm was set for 8 a.m. and I woke up groggy. But that's a good sign -- Lunesta had been having a reverse-like effect.


"You mean Don McLean had songs other than American Pie?"

KC: You took the words right out of my mouth. (If DM had only written one song his whole life -- and it was American Pie -- he'd still be a legend in my book.)

"You mean Don McLean had songs other than American Pie?"

KC: You took the words right out of my mouth.

No, that one is by Meat Loaf. :)

btfb, I'm glad to see (read) it. *eek* I noticed you posted over at the Suicide in the Armay thread, took a peek, and yikes! I'm glad you're here.

I continue to be in awe of all the life experience around here (particularly hilzoy's).

The last time I heard a DOn McLean song I was involved (with a bunch of other teems ) in one of those classic early seventies teen expereinces. We were stoned and driving through a car wash.

I've never really been a McLean cultist although I am open to persuasion.

I am now into what a friend of mine calls "middle aged female angst" music--Lucinda Williams and late Emmylou Harris.


ral: Thanks. But to be clear, I mentioned in the other thread that I have never been suicidal. My affliction began with a trippy, terrifying nervous breakdown in 1991. I can only imagine the depths of despair one must feel to contemplate or commit suicide.

"I can only imagine the depths of despair one must feel to contemplate or commit suicide."

Between seven months ago and around two and a half months ago, I thought about it a lot. I've thought about it a fair amount some other times in the past. Never made any attempts. (There is no try: there is only do.)

Not feeling so bad currently.

It takes feeling that one is completely trapped in a situation, with no other way out, doomed just to be stuck and repeating the same useless acts, while all the time the pain seems unbearable if it just goes on and on, and it seems that it will, and you have no alternative way to change anything, and maybe worse, you feel you're hurting other people, and doomed to just go on hurting them.

It also helps to have effed up biochemistry in your head, so you're constantly uncontrollably crying, and feeling uncontrollable despair and pain and misery, and are completely anhedonic, and dysfunctional, regardless of external circumstances.

And so on.

This is different than the suicide-"attempt"-to-get-attention/help, though the feelings can overlap, I expect.

hilzoy: I am not sure this is your field in particular, but as an ethics professor, I would be interested in your thoughts on the woman who just had octuplets -- and already had six kids!

btfb: for n-tuplets, the greater the value of n, the riskier it is for each of the kids, and my sense is that by the time n=8, it's very, very, very risky. There are ways of making sure you don't conceive octuplets (or anything close to that) (assuming this was not natural conception). Don't implant eight eggs at once, for starters.

Which is to say: the mother and the doctor had to decide to take this chance. I have a very, very hard time imagining how both are not at fault for needlessly risking the lives of the infants.

Sudden thoughts: Is the Super Bowl tomorrow? . . . Is Larry King alive? Or is that a mannequin they prop up every night? . . . Is it possible to have a Depression in color? Black-and-white seems more appropriate . . . Never tell your wife you didn't like something she cooked if she asks how you liked it . . . Why does winter have to last so damn long? . . . Give me more fall or spring, both seasons being far too short . . . Why do pictures of dogs always make me smile? Especially Golden Retrievers. Or mutts . . . Years ago, I used to always make a point to see all of the movies nominated for Best Picture. Haven't seen one this year, and don't really care -- although, I will see both Kate Winslet movies the minute they hit pay cable (3.99 or 4.99 ain't bad, compared to today's theatre prices) . . . How is that my wife forgets so many things I tell her but remembered the other day that Ms. Winslet is my favorite actress -- and I told her that years ago? Boy, do I love my wife; and Kate Winslet . . . How is it that my favorite Louis Armstrong tape (1992 F150s weren't CD-equipped) always cheers me up, Satch? . . . Louis Armstrong, Johnny Carson, Winston Churchill -- they'd be the three dead guys I'd like to have an afterlife meal with. If Satchmo is sick, I'd go with Frank Sinatra; Lincoln could fill in for Churchill, which I'm sure he'd be happy to hear; but the dinner is postponed if Johnny can't make it. Who would be your three guys -- er, people?

btfb, have you run across DogBlog yet? Some guy just wanders around San Francisco, taking pictures of dogs and posting them with commentary. It's a mixed bag, but the pictures are usually pretty good and the commentary is sometimes hilarious.

"Haven't seen one this year, and don't really care"

Milk is very very good; I highly recommend it.

"although, I will see both Kate Winslet movies the minute they hit pay cable (3.99 or 4.99 ain't bad, compared to today's theatre prices)"

Netflix is a vastly better deal.

hilzoy: This morning on CNN -- they use him a lot for such things -- I saw a bioethicist from Penn (can't remember his name; salt-and-pepper hair, looks professorial with his tweed jacket) who said pretty much what you did.

Penn is a pretty cool campus to walk; just walking it makes you feel smarter. What a great school: I've donated a few times in more prosperous days to their New Bolton Clinic and, as consequence, I got on their mailing list and they send me a newsletter which details various work and veterinary breakthroughs. (My wife already has Danny going nearby to the University of Delaware in seven or eight years, but I would be a very proud papa if he could pull of an Ivy.)

But the reason I have a special soft in my heart for the Quakers is their trauma center saved my middle brother's life. He was working at the Philadelphia Navy Yard at the time and was in a car accident where the prognosis was very, very grim. Frank came out of a coma after three weeks -- Mothers Day 1999 (my Mom was just beside herself!) -- and has short-term memory loss (he suffered a very bad brain injury) but is otherwise healthy as an ox, except, sadly, his vision, which he lost peripherally. But their hospitals are just awesome.

You could do the 1 at-a-time (Unlimited) for $8.99 Netflix plan, and get as many movies as you could turn around in a month, which would probably be ten, for what you'd spend on paying for two pay-per-view movies. Or 2 at-a-time (Unlimited) for $13.99.

"If Satchmo is sick, I'd go with Frank Sinatra"

Frank would probably punch you in the face.

Jim: Cool. Thanks.

You might want to give this site a chance: out-and-about-with-your-dog.com -- thanks again.

Don McLean --"By the Waters of Babylon." Incredibly, heart-breakingly beautiful. And yes, "American Pie."

Jim: "Starry, Starry Night" -- how quickly they forget! I love that song: McLean's sings it so sweetly, so softly. (I can't remember the last time I heard in on my Oldies 98.1 based out of Philadelphia: home of Harvey Holiday, who tells you at the beginning of his show he's "feeling good, like a rockin'-jock should." I can't help it -- I like those American Graffiti-esque deejays; and what a great movie that was.)


"We were stoned and driving through a car wash."

wonkie: You devil, you!


"I am now into what a friend of mine calls 'middle aged female angst' music--Lucinda Williams and late Emmylou Harris."

I haven't hit a middle-aged angst period yet, not that I'm aware of, but at 46, I still have time. Haven't had a middle-age crisis yet either: Selling cars these past five years, it's funny how the cliche about the guy my age who often buys the red Corvette during some sort of middle-age crisis is true; well, funny and sad.

Who does and doesn't have Obama's new email address.

Interesting who is in and out, though clearly a lot of the difference is generational.

Anthony Lake served as one of Barack Obama’s principal counselors on foreign affairs during the campaign and exchanged e-mail messages with him regularly. But now that Mr. Obama is president, Mr. Lake no longer has his e-mail address.

“No,” he said when asked if he had it. “Did. Don’t.”

Neither does Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, nor Steny H. Hoyer, the majority leader, but they do not use e-mail much anyway. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, is a BlackBerry fiend, but he does not have Mr. Obama’s address. Nor do many members of the cabinet, including Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has it, along with his own new super-secret BlackBerry and e-mail address. So do Mr. Obama’s chief of staff, his top advisers and some of his oldest friends from Chicago.

Senator Richard J. Durbin, a fellow Illinois Democrat, probably has it but refuses to say. “We’re not going to discuss it,” said a spokesman, Joe Shoemaker. Asked why, he said, “That’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?”

It is now the ultimate status symbol in a town obsessed by status.


"Frank would probably punch you in the face."

Good one.

And you're right.

I'm wondering, by the way, if Obama will give his email address to the head of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Thanks for the dogblog link! I marked it (but not by peeing on it!) as a favorite, but I find it very frustrating that comments are not allowed. I wanted to comment on all of the pictures!

For whatever they may be worth, my thoughts on McLean, from a couple of years ago.

btfb, thanks for the out-and-about link; that looks like a very interesting site.

I lost both of my dogs last summer, one to old age and one to cancer. They had good long lives - I'd had them for fifteen and fourteen years respectively - but it's never easy letting go. I'll be starting over, hopefully with a couple of puppies, in a month or so. In the meantime, well, pretty pictures....

Okay, that's it: I'm changing my plans to vacation in Chechnya. These people aren't very nice at all.

The wife and I just finished watching last year's Oscar-time sensation, Juno, on HBO. I am glad I was patient and stuck with the first 15 minutes or so. Very good. At first, the Juno character struck me as too pretentious and quirky to be real, then she totally won me over with real-life charm and innocence. I can see why this Ellen Page was nominated for Best Actress. Also, I think the Academy overlooked the supporting players -- Justin Bateman, J.K Simmons, Jennifer Garner and Allison Janey, although she may have been nominated. The soundtrack was excellent.

You could do the 1 at-a-time (Unlimited) for $8.99 Netflix plan, and get as many movies as you could turn around in a month, which would probably be ten, for what you'd spend on paying for two pay-per-view movies.

We have that plan. I've seen "All the King's Men" in whole or in part four or five times as my wife has fallen asleep. It's been in our house for at least 5 weeks. She finally watched the last 45 minutes or so tonight on our portable DVD player while the kids watched Dora or some such supposedly educational thing. It's probably our worst use of the plan so far, but not by much. I don't write this to dispute Gary's claim, but to illustrate how having 3 very young kids can make the simplest things complicated. It's all rather amusing to me, so I'm not complaining. Better to feel your life is a sitcom than a tragedy.

BTFB - I assume you're also an Eagles fan. Is that why the Super Bowl seems like a footnote?

"Justin Bateman"


I thought Juno was fantastic, and Ellen Page has been either amazing or very good in everything I've seen her in.

Which is to say, she wasn't given a ton to do in X-Men 3, which was a problematic movie, but she was good nonetheless. She's also very good in Smart People, a film that's not nearly as good as Juno, but is good nonetheless, and she's extraordinary in Hard Candy, which, warning, is not the easiest of movies to watch, or for everybody, and definitely isn't a family movie.

BTFB - I assume you're also an Eagles fan. Is that why the Super Bowl seems like a footnote?

Not so much that as I just find the matchup rather drab. Nevertheless, I will be rooting for Arizona in the hope of seeing a good game and a historic upset. Plus, one of my co-workers is a rather obnoxious Steelers-Yankees-Celtics fan (i.e. a guy who grew up in the Seventies as a frontrunner).


Oh, yes: Jason Bateman, who seems to be so good and low-key in everything he is in that he probably isn't "actorly" enough for the award shows. Jennifer Garner, aside from being a tall drink of water, seems to be coming on as an actress -- although she was consistently good in the action show "Alias." Must admit my first exposure to young Ms. Page.


Jim: Sorry for the losses of your two dogs, which roughly coincides with the deaths of two of mine, CoCo and Bowser, who were much younger and died under rather difficult circumstances that I have discussed in previous threads: well, CoCo, not Bowser, but it's too hard for me to go there right now. They leave behind Hamilton, our 13-year-old Beagle, the first purebred I have ever had. Found him at age 9 and sometimes think he will live forever but there are other times he definitely shows his age. I don't know if this is unique to Hamilton or a Beagle trait but he is one damn stubborn and independent dog -- and just loves my son. (I'd like to think he was named after Alexander Hamilton, but after tracking down the owners -- who basically wanted no parts of him -- all I got was he was named after "some football player.") Good to see another dog lover among the Kitty crowd -- I always fear my dog musings may bore folks to death.

P.S. Jim: I enjoyed your DM essay.

Plus, one of my co-workers is a rather obnoxious Steelers-Yankees-Celtics fan (i.e. a guy who grew up in the Seventies as a frontrunner).

No doubt. What a combination. I think the Super Bowl will be an excellent game, and not a drab match-up at all. Either way, we should try to hook up for a Phillies game in the Spring.

Hye I'm reading to chat about dogs any time!

Just to prove it here's a story from my dog rescue shelter.

Five years ago two puppy sibs, mastif/ newfie mixes named Hemi and Otis, were adopted by a family.

This fall the lady of the family brought them back. Divorce, she said. She was moving to an apartment and couldn't keep them.

The two dogs proceeded to raise every kind of hell at the kennel: they intimidated other dogs, they barked at everyone, jumped the seven foot fence. The kennel paid to make the fance higher, even paid to get an electric wire put around the top but the two dogs would nnot stay the play field.

They were miserable and making everyone else miserable.

Then last week a teenage boy appeared at the door of the offoce sobbing hysterically. it took awhile to calm him down enough to talk but when he could speak this is what he said: Hemi and Oits were his dogs. He thought they were dead.

Turns out the story the lady gave was not strictly the truth. There was a divorce. She had a big fight with her truck driver husband. Hhe left to drive his truck and she brought the two dogs to our shelter the next day.

But she told her son and the husband that she took them to the kill shelter and that they were dead.

When the husband came back from his run, he took the boy and they moved out. After awhile he acquired a girlfriend and she started talking about how they should get a dog.

So they went on line to check out the dogs at our shelter.

And found Hemi and Ois there, alive, up for adoption.

The man said that they'd come get Hemi and Otis on Saturday but the boy couldn't wait; he skipped school and walked all the way (miles!) out of town to our kennel to see his dogs.

Hemi annd Otis are back home now with the boy who loves them so much.

That's an amzing story, isn't it?

Yes, indeed, wonkie. Truly a "shaggy-dog story" (I think that's the expression).

One of my buddies at work -- one of the world's most immature 47-year-olds, and a classic whiner but somehow, we are friends -- got it in his head on Monday that he was going to get a Doberman to be a buddy for his Rotteweiler, Zeus. All of this seemed to come out of nowhere, but it was a wonderful switch since Dave usually can talk about nothing but his Harley and his exploits with the opposite sex. But Dave being Dave really disappointed me (as usual). We are both off on the same day, Wednesday, and on Thursday I couldn't wait to find out how his new Doberman was: He had already picked out a name, Levi, which he must have asked me about a hundred times if it were a good name and, yes, I told him a hundred times it was. But Levi did not come home with Dave, who was OK that he had been under-nourished -- from the pictures on the shelter's website, he was a handsome dog, and I convinced him that Levi would love him even more after a few good meals. But apparently Levi had been one of those dogs that is used as batting-practice, if you will, for dog-fighting, and Dave could not get over the scars on his face, which made me beside myself Thursday morning. I told Dave those scars just give Levi more character and such, but Dave is Dave and, just as he needs a shiny Harley, I guess he needs a shiny Doberman. (BTW, he is a very good Dad to Zeus, who is a very handsome boy.)


hairshirt: The Phillies game sounds like a good idea, although I don't take in my first game until June usually. Call me a wimp but I hate watching baseball in anything that resembles cold weather. (P.S. I'd be embarrassed to tell someone "my teams" were the Yankees-Steelers-Celtics.)

I think that a shaggy dog story is a lie.

Bait dog.

I didn't know that [people did that to dobies.

I hate that my-dog-has-to-be-perfect attitude.

My dog is a one eyed, one eared mutt with big feet and an oversized tail and a head that keeps etting smaller and smaller in relation to his tummy. But he is my mutt and i love him.

Gary: So, sure, Democrats should avoid pissing off Limbaugh and tying the Republican leadership to this loser, why, again? Beause he's got the usual crazed 22%ers?

I never said avoid pissing him off. But going out of your way to antagonize a man with a pulpit that big doesn’t make sense to me…

Hey, OSCteve, Ithink your comment got on the wrong thread.

I do appreciate the way you say stuff that no one else agrees with and manage to either not get mad or not show it when a gazillion commenters tell hou that you are wrong.

Of which I am one. Limbaugfh is a bully and the only way to deal with a bully is to stand up to him. He is going to be antagonistic no matter waht. Antagonism is what he does. Obama looks strong for not being a fraid to piss him off.

It's like Samuel Johnson and I were separated at birth.

Did I warn people to look out for zombies on their morning commute?

"I think that a shaggy dog story is a lie."

I've always wondered about that expression, which means I used it wrong upthread. Sorry.

"I hate that my-dog-has-to-be-perfect attitude."

Being a lover of mutts myself, I am with you 104 percent, to use a Juno caculation: Watching Animal Planet as much as I do, three-legged dogs are the coolest!

"Bait dog."

That term -- that whole business -- disgusts and disturbs me, and those words aren't strong enough. (And while I stand by my comments up thread, the absolute horror he staged makes me wish Michael Vick, another famous tax cheat, did more time in jail.)

"I do appreciate the way you say stuff that no one else agrees with and manage to either not get mad or not show it when a gazillion commenters tell hou that you are wrong."

Very much agree: OCSteve seems like a cool guy to share some of those famous Boardwalk Fries and a Coke with in Ocean City.


My favorite line from Juno, near the end, having a spat in the high school hallway and Juno looking very, very pregnant:

Boyfriend: "I still have your underwear."

Juno: "I still have your virginity."

"I think that a shaggy dog story is a lie."

Well, no, that's completely wrong, I'm afraid.

A "shaggy dog story" is one that rambles around and has no point. See here.

"But going out of your way to antagonize a man with a pulpit that big doesn’t make sense to me…"

You don't get that the number of people who listen to him are on a distinct minority, that Limbaugh makes endless false statements, and that tieing politicians to him will hurt them with far more people than it will help them. Tieing politicians who are highly unpopular overall is a winning tactic.

That you know a lot of the minority 22%ers doesn't change this. Limbaugh is unpopular with 78% of the country.)

Tieing yourself to the 78% is a good idea.

If you were asked about anything else, if was a good idea to be tied to something with 78% popularity, wouldn't you agree that that was a good idea?

"Hey, OSCteve, Ithink your comment got on the wrong thread."

I don't see why, since it's a response to my comment on this thread at January 31, 2009 at 02:03 AM.

"Juno: 'I still have your virginity.'"

Oh, Phuket, Thailand!

"Oh, I thought I would get some drinks. What would anyone like? I have Pellegrino, or Vitamin Water or Orange Juice or..."

"I'll have a Maker's Mark, please. Up."

Actual good advice: "In my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person will still think the sun shines out your ass. That's the kind of person that's worth sticking with."

What a wonderful country! What a wonderful state!

Nadya Suleman, 33, single, unemployed, self-described 'professional student' who lives on education grants in a house purchased by her parents, births eight babies, adding to the six she already has.

Who is paying for all this? I assume it is the California and federal taxpayers. Although i'll bet Kaiser Permanente has subsidized much of it. In a rational world the state would not have enable this with their free lunches.

wonkie: that's a wonderful story. And yes, it's awful what people do in the name of dogfighting. When I lived in California, a good friend of mine lived in a neighborhood in which they did a fair amount of illegal pit bull fighting, and every so often, in the nearby national forest, you'd come across one of the ones who had lost. You could tell by the wounds on the neck. The times we found them, we managed to arrange homes -- I couldn't take one because of my cats. But I hated it that people would do that to dogs.

About that last: I should say that my friend did much more than I did, in the 'arranging homes for abandoned pit bulls' department.

From the Guardian

Her family has revealed that she may have serious mental-health problems and be addicted to having children.

In a thread that has touched on the difficulties of mental health problems, d^dave uses someone who possibly has such problems to make his political points. Classy.

I didn't read the whole thread. I merely posted a new item.

But, mental illness or not, her 'addiction' is being facilitated by the govt. Are you suggesting that one cannot talk about the effects if a mentally ill person is involved?

"But, mental illness or not, her 'addiction' is being facilitated by the govt."

I have no idea if it is or isn't, unlike you, who apparently has more information from sources you don't cite, but what this looks like is that you have no idea of what the facts are, or what government program she is or isn't on, but don't want to wait for mere further information because you're so sure that -- somehow or other -- government must be at fault or doing something wrong.

Conclusion first, facts later. It's not a persuasive approach to those interested in doing things the other way around.

Here's some equal reasoning:

In fact, Suleman still lives with her parents.


"Maybe she wouldn't have had so many kids then, but she is a grown woman," Angela said. "I feel responsible and I didn't want to throw her out."

So, obviously, her family is faciliting her problems! Families are evil and should be done away with! Mothers are bad!
[...] Few reputable doctors can understand how a healthy mother-of-six could have been allowed to have fertility treatment that resulted in octuplets without serious questions arising about the mother's mental health, her capacity to raise such a large family or the huge medical dangers involved in giving birth to so many babies at once.
Private doctors are to blame! We should nationalize all doctors to prevent such abuse by them!
[...] It was later revealed that Edward was considering going back to his native Iraq - where he has worked as a contractor - in order to raise some cash for the family.
The Iraq war is to blame! George W. Bush is to blame!

It's your logic. And better supported than your claim, because there's nothing whatever about government in your cited story.

But you have your conclusions: no prejudice involved.

I didn't read the whole thread.

That speaks volumes.

The article quotes her as saying she is living on education grants. (ding. government provided). The article says her parents lost their home and had to move in with her. (ding. sounds like their not able to do much supporting). Yes, sure, I've formed a conclusion. Why are you disposed to deny the obvious?

Which volumes exactly?

Volumes A-Z.

"Why are you disposed to deny the obvious?"

Why don't you spell out what's obvious, and what conclusions you draw that are worth informing us of, for the slow among us, such as myself?

The article quotes her as saying she is living on education grants. (ding. government provided).

This, of course, doesn't say what you think it says.

Which makes your "obvious" a possible leap from false premises.

"Volumes A-Z."

Insomnia has its benefits: Otherwise, I would not have just had a good laugh.

Final thoughts and second thoughts on Super Bowl Weekend before I give sleep chance: A close game, after all -- very close; you were right hairshirthedontist . . . It would be very, very scary if they cloned Larry Fitzgerald -- or James Harrison . . . I never thought I'd say this, but Big Ben is fast becoming this generation's John Elway, my favorite quarterback of all time . . . Anyone else notice they did not give a mic to Joe Namath? Smart move . . . Joe still has that Broadway swagger, though, even on this rickety legs . . . Dan Rooney, class act. I was visiting Pittsburgh the day Art Rooney died -- you'd have thought the Pope had passed . . . Kind of obvious, but: Two great head coaches in this game who will be around for a long, long time . . . I love that Pittsburgh defensive coordinator and can't believe he is 70ish; I'll have what he's drinking . . . Danica Patrick. I just might become a NASCAR fan . . . Frito Lay really knows how to make a great Super Bowl ad . . . Smart of the Detroit 3 to pass on the temptation to run a Supe ad, if there was any . . . Speaking of Detroit, someone please tell me how Matt Millen resurfaced so quickly as a studio commentator; for some reason, the guy annoys me . . . Dan Patrick, perfect voice and demeanor for a sports anchor; seems like a genuinely good guy, too . . . Arizona might have won this game if it had a running game; then again, nobody runs on the latest version of the Steel Curtain . . . From the look of the logos and such, the NFL was tempted to start calling it the FedEx Super Bowl . . . How many moms watching were thinking that Polumolu kid needs a haircut? FWIW, I like his look; it kind of fits him . . . Old-man Rooney giving a shout out to President Obama: pretty cool . . . Future Hall of Famers in this game: Hines Ward, Polumolu, Harrison, Fitzgerald, Kurt Warner . . . And how in the hell did Cris Carter NOT make it to the Hall on the first ballot?

Gary: I got another strong recommendation from a friend Sunday on Ellen Page's "Hard Candy," although it did not come with your "warning," which I appreciate you passing along.

btfb, Since you asked for thoughts on the SB, I'll give you mine.

There were a few excellent ads, some of the best from the job search companies, and some really lousy ads, such as Pepsi.

The game was great, just like last year. I am trying to remember when there were two SB's that good back to back.

Big Ben showed the advantage of being BIG, Warner showed the advantage of being experienced, Fitzgerald showed the advantage of being tall and quick.

I still believe that Holmes did not get both feet down on the last TD. However, replay has to show incontrvertible evidence to overrule a call on the fireld. I think if the ref had called him out of bounds, the replay would have ruled the call correct.

But that may just be sour grapes because I was rooting for the Cards. No money on it, although if I had taken the spread I would have turned out okay.

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