Reading Around on January 10th through January 17th

A few interesting links collected January 10th through January 17th:

  • New York Times Ready to Charge Online Readers — Daily Intel – The argument for remaining free was based on the belief that is growing into an English-language global newspaper of record, with a vast audience — 20 million unique readers — that, Nisenholtz and others believed, would prove lucrative as web advertising matured. (The homepage, for example, has sold out on numerous occasions in the past year.) As other papers failed to survive the massive migration to the web, the Times would be the last man standing and emerge with even more readers. Going paid would capture more circulation revenue, but risk losing significant traffic and with it ad dollars.
  • The Climate Killers : Rolling Stone – The Climate Killers Meet the 17 polluters and deniers who are derailing efforts to curb global warming: Warren Buffett
    Rupert Murdoch
    Jack Gerard, President, American Petroleum
    Rex Tillerson, CEO, ExxonMobil
    Sen. Mary Landrieu, Democrat, Louisiana
    Marc Morano, Founder, Climate Depot
    Sen. James Inhofe, Republican, Oklahoma
    David Ratcliffe, CEO, Southern Company
    Dick Gephardt, CEO, Gephardt Group
    George Will, Commentator, ABC
    Tom Donohue, President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
    Don Blankenship, CEO, Massey Energy
    Hack Scientist, Fred Singer, Retired physicist, University of Virginia
    Sen. John McCain, Republican, Arizona
    Rep. Joe Barton, Republican, Texas
    Charles and David Koch, CEO and Executive Vice President, Koch Industries
  • Everything That Ever Happens Is Good News For The Republicans, Corporate Media Insists – In the Senate, two Democrats will retire but six Republicans will join them. In the House, GOP retirements outpace Democrats 14 to 10.

Reading Around on November 18th through November 19th

A few interesting links collected November 18th through November 19th:

  • North Branch Railroad Bridge Chicago and North Western Railroad Northwestern Historic Bascule Bridge – Sitting south of the Kinzie Street Bridge, this railroad bridge is always in the up position and is no longer used by trains. …On aesthetic terms, this strange movable bridge is one of only a few bascule bridges in Chicago where the counterweight is above the ground. Like the Lakeshore Drive Bridge, this bascule set records when it was built. At the time of its completion, it was the heaviest as well as the longest bascule leaf in the world! The bridge was built in 1907, with its design being provided by Joseph Strauss, who was an important person who worked to develop the bascule bridge designs, and would often be angry at Chicago since he felt the designs the city was using were to close to his patented designs. The steel superstructure was fabricated by the Toledo-Massillon Bridge Company of Toledo, Ohio. This rail-line was owned by the Chicago and North Western Railway until Union Pacific bought them out in 1995
  • Senators’ Statements — National Geographic Magazine – “To help kick off Geography Awareness Week, National Geographic invited all 100 U.S. Senators to draw a map of their home state from memory and to label at least three important places. Here’s the gallery of maps from the brave Senators who took the challenge. The maps reveal home-state pride, personal history, and even some geographic humor.” Some Senators link everything to their own history, some link to the history of the state itself.
  • Foodie Rant – Properly Sauced? Try Properly Ripped Off. – Chicagoist – Sometimes, one expects to be overcharged. If you’re having a drink at the Signature Room, you’re renting space at the top of the world. If you order a martini at Charlie Trotters, you probably don’t care about the price. On the other hand, when I walk into an average 2-star restaurant and get charged $14 for a martini, I want to go beat the bartender over the head with a bottle. If the martini is bad, as it often is, the situation deteriorates. A decent $14 cocktail is a mild insult; a bad $14 cocktail is a slap in the face.
  • This American Life-307: In the Shadow of the City – Act Three. Yes, In My Backyard.

    The story of the government cracking down on smokestack emissions at a city factory … even though the residents LIKE the emissions. We hear from Jorge Just, who explains the one, magical, special secret about Chicago no one outside Chicago ever believes is true, from Brian Urbaszewski, Director of Environmental Health Programs for the American Lung Association in Chicago; and from Julie Armitage, Manager of Compliance and Enforcement for the Bureau of Air at the Illinois State EPA. (9 minutes)

  • Ebook statistics | swanksalot | LibraryThing – ebooks available – much more than anticipated, many of them free, public domain books. If you are a Library Thing member, this link will link to your books

Cellphone Gripes Worthy of Congress’s Time

David Pogue has a long list of issues that could be discussed at the Senate Commerce Committee hearings about cellphone exclusivity contracts. Questions such as: why is text messaging charged at such a higher rate than email messaging? and my pet peeve: why is there that annoying 15 second automated voice before you can leave or listen to a voicemail? So irritating.

Cell phone-iphile

The carriers can’t possibly argue that transmitting text-message data costs them that much money. One blogger ( calculated that the data in a text message costs you about 61 million times as much as the same message sent by e-mail.

15-SECOND INSTRUCTIONS This one makes me crazy. When I call to leave you a voicemail message, the first thing I hear, before I’m allowed to hear the beep, is 15 seconds of instructions. “To page this person, press 5.” Page this person!? Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize this was 1980! “When you have finished recording, you may hang up.” Oh, really!? So glad you mentioned that! I would have stayed on the line forever!

And then when I call in for messages, I’m held up for 15 more seconds. “To listen to your messages, press 1.” Why else would I be calling!?

(Yes, there are key-presses that can bypass the instructions. But they’re different for each carrier. When you call someone, you’re supposed to know which carrier that person uses and which key to press? Sure.)

Is this really so evil? Is 15 seconds here and there that big a deal? Well, Verizon has 70 million customers. If each customer leaves one message and checks voicemail once a day, Verizon rakes in — are you sitting down? — $850 million a year. That’s right: $850 million, just from making us sit through those 15-second airtime-eating instructions.

And that’s just Verizon. Where’s the outrage, people?

[Click to continue reading David Pogue – Cellphone Gripes Worthy of Congress’s Time –]

There are other topics too, like the subsidy game (once your contract is over, you don’t get a reduction in your monthly bill, even though your bill helped lower the cost of your phone for 24 months or whatever). Of course, the telecom corporations are huge donors to Congress, so the odds of meaningful consumer-friendly legislation emerging from the Senate Commerce Committee is slim to none.

3 Days of the Sotomayor

Gail Collins (humorously) summarizes the Judge Sotomayor confirmation hearings, including this exchange between Judge Sotomayor and David Brooks right-thigh man, Senator Lindsey Graham of North Carolina1


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Judge, before I read a string of anonymous comments about your temperament problem, I’d like to make you repeat that wise Latina remark again just for the heck of it.

JUDGE SOTOMAYOR: Thank you, Senator, for the opportunity to revisit that matter. I appreciate that the man who once said he’d drown himself if North Carolina went for Obama has a special contribution to make when it comes to the importance of thinking before you speak.

[Click to continue reading Gail Collins – 3 Days of the Sotomayor –]


  1. well, probably, since David Brooks will never confirm nor deny, we might never know who took liberties with David Brooks’ inner thigh []

Joe Lieberman is no Progressive

Lieberman has stopped being a Progressive long ago, if he ever was.

“I’m a Democrat with a 35-year record of fighting for progressive causes, for the middle class, for civil rights, for women’s rights, for human rights and a lot more. I voted with my Senate Democratic colleagues 90 percent of the time.” — Joe Lieberman, 7/6/06

“I want Democrats to be back in the majority in Washington and elect a Democratic president in 2008.” — Joe Lieberman, 7/7/06

While Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has fought for progressive policies in the past — such as protecting the environment and expanding civil rights — his recent record demonstrates that he’s a progressive no more. As this report documents, Lieberman has embraced the right wing on far more than foreign policy. In fact, he has betrayed progressive principles on a variety of domestic issues. As he has lurched to the right, Lieberman has actively worked to undermine the progressive agenda

[From Think Progress » Joe Lieberman: The Progressive Who Lost His Way ]

Click the link to see a long list of Lieberman siding with the Republicans.

Jane Hamsher has more reasons why Lieberman should be removed forcibly from the Democratic caucus1

Where to begin? Well, let’s start in 2000, when Senator Joseph Lieberman, the Democratic candidate for vice president—in response to pressure from the Bush campaign and without checking with his own—conceded hundreds of fraudulent overseas ballots supposedly from military voters that cost Al Gore the election, the notorious “Thanksgiving Stuffing.”

Let’s skip lightly over Lieberman’s part in the culture wars, his sanctimonious rebuke of President Clinton on the floor of the Senate at the start of the impeachment charade, and his critical role as part of the so-called “Gang of 14” breaking Democratic resistance to putting Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court. Let’s jump straight to Lieberman’s December 6, 2005 speech where he rebuked his party:

It is time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be Commander-in-Chief for three more critical years, and that in matters of war we undermine Presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.

While Lieberman was quick to denounce Clinton for a private matter he leaped to the defense of Bush as even Republicans realized his strategy in the Iraq War was disastrous. Criticize George W. Bush and his conduct of the war and you’re a traitor.

Lieberman subsequently told the New Haven Register that he opposed legislation that would have required all publicly funded hospitals to provide Plan B contraception to rape victims, saying “it shouldn’t take more than a short ride to get to another hospital” (for which he earned himself the sobriquet “Short Ride.”)

[From Firedoglake » The Case Against Lieberman ]

Joe needs to go

Ms. Hamsher continues:

But it was with the 2008 presidential election that his bitterness became his rocket fuel. Lieberman was unbound. In addition to acting as McCain’s sidekick and protector, he stumped for Republican senator, campaigning for Susan Collins of Maine and Norm Coleman of Minnesota against their Democratic opponents.

Lieberman promised Reid privately that he would not attack Obama directly and personally. But when prevailed upon by the McCain operatives, Lieberman could not help himself. He played the paragon of decency even as he gleefully accepted the role of snarling attack dog:

He said that “Obama has not always put country first.”

He thought it was a “good question” to inquire whether Obama is a Marxist.

He misleadingly accused Obama of having “voted to cut off funding for our troops.”

He repeated the claim that “Hamas endorsed Obama” and said it “suggests the difference between these two candidates.”

He sent out an email for McCain, referring to the “Democrat” Party, the derogatory term of art preferred by the most partisan Republicans.

Lieberman went on to deride Obama in a speech before the Republican National Convention (after promising Reid he would not do so), saying he was an “an eloquent young man” who lacked the experience to be President. Reid’s office said that Lieberman’s seniority within the Democratic caucus, and his Chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee might be in jeopardy. Obama’s press secretary Robert Gibbs went on CNN to declare that Lieberman engaged in “flat out lies.” But Lieberman would not let up against Obama.

  1. including a link to a petition calling for the same []

Lieberman Needs to Be Kicked to the Curb

Joe Lieberman (Loser – Connecticut) suddenly realized words matter.

Sen. Joe Lieberman pleaded with Democratic bosses Thursday to keep his job as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee after stumping ceaselessly for GOPer John McCain.
It may be too late for Lieberman (I-Conn.), a former Democrat, whose non-stop campaigning for McCain angered President-elect Barack Obama, insiders confirmed to the Daily News.
“You don’t run around the country campaigning for McCain and saying you’re afraid the Democrats will get a 60-seat [filibuster-proof] majority, and then beg to keep your chairmanship,” said a senior Democratic source.

[From Joe Lieberman begs to keep chair of Homeland Security Committee]

Harry Reid is not impressed either:

Reid offered Lieberman a chance to stay in the Democratic caucus, keep his seniority, and become the chairman of some other committee. Lieberman thinks that’s “unacceptable” and reportedly “begged” to stay on as chairman of Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Bayh thinks this is about “revenge or retribution.” It’s not. For that matter, it’s only partly about holding Lieberman accountable for his betrayals. This is actually about a specific power Lieberman is intent on keeping for a specific reason.

This seems to be routinely overlooked, but take a moment to consider what the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs actually does: it’s the committee principally responsible for oversight of the executive branch. It’s an accountability committee, charged with investigating the conduct of the White House and the president’s administration.

As chairman of this committee for the last two years, Lieberman decided not to pursue any accusations of wrongdoing against the Bush administration. Lieberman’s House counterpart — Rep. Henry Waxman’s Oversight Committee — was a vigilant watchdog, holding hearings, issuing subpoenas, and launching multiple investigations. Lieberman preferred to let his committee do no real work at all. It was arguably the most pathetic display of this Congress.

And yet, now Lieberman acts as if keeping this chairmanship is the single most important part of his public life. Why would he be so desperate to keep the gavel of a committee he hasn’t used? I’ll let you in on a secret: he wants to start using the power of this committee against Obama.

Lieberman didn’t want to hold Bush accountable, but he seems exceedingly anxious to keep the committee that would go after Obama with a vengeance, effectively becoming a Waxman-like figure — holding hearings, issuing subpoenas, and launching investigations against the Democratic president.

Lieberman doesn’t care about “reconciliation,” he cares about going after a Democratic administration. Why else would he fight diligently to be chairman of one committee instead of another?

[From The Washington Monthly]

Apparently, the vote is going to be extended out to the full caucus, and the Democratic Party better do the right thing, and kick Lieberman out on his droopy-dog keister. The difference between 57 votes and 58 votes is not significant enough to matter.

Wild day, no deal

Damn, I wish there was video footage of this massive temper tantrum, and especially of Still-President Bush “struggling to maintain order”. What, he was yelling at folks? Offering to refill their sippy cups with Jim Beam? Why would anyone, on either side of the aisle, even bother to listen to Bush? He’s so obviously out of his element when the topic isn’t about blowing things up.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) angrily accused the minority of trying to undercut Paulson by crafting a late-breaking alternative proposal—with the tacit support, Frank said, of Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Both McCain and his Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama, would leave the White House without comment, and the meeting was described as among the wildest in memory. A beleaguered President Bush had to struggle to maintain order and reassert himself. And when Democrats left to caucus in the Roosevelt Room, Paulson pursued them, begging that they not “blow up” the legislation.

The former Goldman Sachs CEO even went down on one knee as if genuflecting, to which Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) is said to have joked, “I didn’t know you were Catholic.”

[From Wild day, no deal – David Rogers –]

John McSame wants to make sure the whole charade turns into a partisan snipe-fest for his own reasons, and so he can avoid losing a debate to a better prepared candidate.

(via Whet Moser)

Coburn Hates Trains

Senator Tom (“Global Warming is a lot of crap“) Coburn hates trains in general, hates Amtrak in particular, and especially hates passengers on Amtrak and similar commuter trains. Coburn would be much happier if everyone drove Hummers to and from their jobs instead of taking the communistic commuter rail.

Waiting for You is Lonely

Legislation that would mandate collision-avoidance systems for trains is being blocked by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who objects to a provision that would provide a major funding boost for Amtrak that was bundled together with the safety measures this week.

In a phone interview, Mr. Coburn said that in addition to the specific reservations he has over the increased spending in the rail package, which has an estimated cost of about $14 billion over five years, the $700 billion federal rescue plan makes fiscal discipline in other areas even more imperative.

“We’re on a short financial leash for at least the next couple of quarters,” Mr. Coburn said. “We have to start doing things now … that will make a difference for the future.”

Transportation leaders in Congress reached an agreement Wednesday on a long-pending package of bills related to rail safety and service. Supporters of increased funding for Amtrak’s passenger rail service hoped to overcome Mr. Coburn’s opposition by combining that measure with legislation that would attack railway safety problems highlighted by the Sept. 12 train crash in California that killed 25 people. The safety measures include increasing the number of federal railroad inspectors and limiting the consecutive hours train crews can work.

Mr. Coburn also opposes a provision that would steer $1.5 billion to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, saying passengers and local authorities should fund mass-transit operations in the nation’s capital.

[From Senator Holds Up Bill on Train Safety Device –]

Money for Wall Street, but not a dime for safety measures for ordinary citizens. Lovely man, indeed. Too bad he’s in office until 2010 (unless of course some hinted-at scandals become public)

McCain and his day job

Sometimes known as being a member of The Senate. John McCain is too busy losing a campaign to bother showing up in Washington to vote or otherwise participate in the nations business. And as was pointed out elsewhere on the internet tubes, McCain has collected $51,345 in salary since last voting.

Any way you measure it, McCain’s performance in the Senate during the last year has been abysmal. He has missed 400 votes, far more than any other Senator (including Tim Johnson, who’s recuperating from a brain hemorrhage). In May Ronald Hansen of the Arizona Republic referred to “his chronic absence in the Senate” as if the problem is well known in McCain’s home state. Earlier this month he was the only Senator to skip the vote on the Medicare bill. At the time, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid publicly criticized McCain for his regular absences.

Here are some numbers:

63% – How many votes in the Senate McCain has skipped during the 110th Congress (since January 2007).
96 – The number of Senate votes McCain has missed since his last recorded vote on April 8.
111 – The number of days since McCain last attended a committee hearing (of the Senate Armed Services Committee, on April 9).
25% – How many full SASC hearings McCain has attended during the 110th Congress.
89% – How many full SASC hearings McCain has skipped since April 2007 (32 out of the last 36 hearings).
2007 – The last year in which McCain attended any Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee hearings or subcommittee hearings.
The League of Conservation Voters noted in February that McCain has skipped every one of the 15 Senate votes on environmental issues that it deemed critical during this Congress.

McCain has so far abandoned his duties in the Senate that when he traveled to Colombia and Mexico 4 weeks ago to discuss trade and commerce, he felt obliged to treat it as a campaign rather than a congressional trip. Did I mention that he serves on the Senate Commerce Committee?

It’s normal for Senators campaigning for president to spend a lot of time away from the Senate, of course. Barack Obama has been on the road too and missed 20 votes in the Senate since July 9 (many related to a single bill, S. 2731). Yet throughout the campaign Obama generally has not been absent from the Senate for any more than a couple weeks at a time.

Quite extraordinarily, however, McCain has all but checked out of his Senate job for all of 2008 and indeed for most of 2007 as well. This comes at a time when the country is facing both domestic and foreign crises that two of McCain’s committees have needed to act on.

[From Daily Kos: State of the Nation]

McCain is following in the footsteps of George Bush a little too closely, methinks. Noted also, McCain isn’t polling so well in his own state, Arizona. Wonder why?

Feingold, Dodd planning filibuster of wiretap bill

Cops on Bikes

Feingold and Dodd are doing the nations work here, the FISA bill is a travesty. Durbin will probably come on board, he’s reliably rational, and liberal, but Obama might vote “present” only, not willing to stand up for the constitution.

In a last-ditch attempt to fix a surveillance bill critics say would essentially legalize President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program, Sens. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Chris Dodd (D-CT) have promised to filibuster the bill as long as it offers telecommunications companies retroactive immunity.

“This is a deeply flawed bill, which does nothing more than offer retroactive immunity by another name. We strongly urge our colleagues to reject this so-called ‘compromise’ legislation and oppose any efforts to consider this bill in its current form. We will oppose efforts to end debate on this bill as long as it provides retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies that may have participated in the President’s warrantless wiretapping program, and as long as it fails to protect the privacy of law-abiding Americans,” the senators said in a joint statement Tuesday.

“If the Senate does proceed to this legislation, our immediate response will be to offer an amendment that strips the retroactive immunity provision out of the bill. We hope our colleagues will join us in supporting Americans’ civil liberties by opposing retroactive immu

[From The Raw Story » Feingold, Dodd planning filibuster of wiretap bill]

You can read (or watch video) of Dodd’s impassioned remarks at his Senate web site

Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post online adds:

A senior Democratic statesman took to the Senate floor yesterday and delivered a jeremiad against President Bush and his lawlessness the likes of which I’m not sure we’ve ever heard there before.

What set off Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) was the warrantless surveillance bill sent over from the House this week and seemingly assured of passage in the Senate. The bill significantly broadens Bush’s spying powers and essentially guarantees civil-lawsuit immunity for the telecommunications companies that cooperated in earlier surveillance efforts.

But to Dodd, it’s just the latest indignity from a president who has come to expect a corrupted political system to jettison the rule of law on his say-so.

“Retroactive immunity is on the table today; but also at issue is the entire ideology that justifies it, the same ideology that defends torture and executive lawlessness,” Dodd said.

[From Dan Froomkin – One Senator Says ‘Enough’ –]

I can’t believe this stupid bill has gotten as far as it has. Whatever happened to rule of law?

FISA and the House

From the Department of I’ll Believe It When the Ink Is Dry

In continued defiance of the White House, House Democratic leaders are readying a proposal that would reject giving legal protection to the phone companies that helped in the National Security Agency’s program of wiretapping without warrants after the Sept. 11 attacks, Congressional officials said Monday.

Instead of blanket immunity, the tentative proposal would give the federal courts special authorization to hear classified evidence and decide whether the phone companies should be held liable. House Democrats have been working out the details of their proposal in the last few days, officials said, and expect to take it to the House floor for a vote on Thursday.

The Democrats’ proposal would fall far short of what the White House has been seeking.

President Bush has been insisting for months that Congress give retroactive immunity to the phone companies, calling it a vital matter of national security. The Senate gave him what he wanted in a vote last month that also broadened the government’s eavesdropping powers.

[Click to read more House Steers Its Own Path on Wiretaps – New York Times]

Poor lil Bushy, Congress is actually questioning his orders.

Really, though, isn’t this how a Democracy is supposed to work? The Senate is somewhat distant from the will of the people, and thus able to wrangle compromises with the interest groups that fund their lavish junkets. The Congress occasionally listens to the opinion of the electorate who vote for them every two years. Bush isn’t supposed to always get his way either, no matter how many times he petulantly stamps his feet and screams, “Nine Eleven! Nine Eleven! Nine Eleven! Nine Eleven! Nine Eleven!”

Telecom Immunity Priorities

Bush’s buddies, the telecom giants, are still worried they might have to answer for their crimes.

From the Senate floor, Ted Kennedy just cut through all the crap:
“The President has said that American lives will be sacrificed if Congress does not change FISA. But he has also said that he will veto any FISA bill that does not grant retro-active immunity. No immunity, no FISA bill. So if we take the President at his word, he’s willing to let Americans die to protect the phone companies.”

[From Daily Kos: Kennedy on Telecom Immunity]



Harry Reid – Italian Hater, or just racist

I’ve been engrossed in Gus Russo’s book about the Chicago mob, The Outfit

The Outfit (Gus Russo)
“The Outfit” (Gus Russo)

Written in journalistic fashion (copious amounts of research, broadly described events, but no flights of purple prose), the book repeatedly sketches how upperworld corruption was an essential part of The Outfit’s business operation. Bold face names like Tom Pendergast and his protege, Harry Truman, guys like Richard Nixon, Joe (and Jack) Kennedy, various Chicago mayors (Daley the elder, Cermak, etc.), movie moguls like Louis B. Mayer and Harry Cohn, and so on all pop up as equal partners in various criminal schemes.

Surprisingly though, was a minor tidbit about Harry Reid while Gaming Commisioner in Nevada (pgs 347-349 in the paperback edition). Apparently, in the late 1950’s, after Nevada had been turned from a sleepy, two-bit cowboy town into a Rat Pack mecca by ambitious gangsters, the Mormon power-brokers decided that Italians were not to be welcomed anymore. Hence, in 1959 the Gaming Control Act which encouraged licensing to ‘savory characters’ only. However, in the first year of the act, licenses were approved for several convicted WASP bookies, gamblers, tax cheats, bribers, and murderers (such as Charles “Babe” Baron, twice arrested for murder). Italians need not apply – even squeaky clean ones like the gourmet chef, Joseph Pignatello.

Soon the Board instituted

the infamous Black Book, which listed “unsavory characters” who not only could never be licensed, but were barred for life from setting foot in a Las Vegas casino. The introductory remarks noted that the list had been devised so that certain individuals “not discredit the gaming industry”. Discredit gambling? This is the same pastime that the board’s Mormon dogma prohibits and labels immoral. All those listed were so included without formal notification, hearing, or appeal. And the reasons for their inclusion could be mere hearsay. Of the initial eleven placed in the Black Book, eight were Italian, and most had been implicated or convicted in the same sorts of crimes as the WASPs who were licensed:bootlegging and bookmaking.

…Over the years, 62 percent of those placed in the Black Book have been Italian, dwarfing the numbers of the runners-up, Anglo-Saxons (15 percent)…“The mere Italian sound of a man’s name generated considerable suspicion.” In a candid moment, board chairman Harry Reid once said, “The reasons for their being singled out are not important as far as we’re concerned.”

Does this even matter? Somehow, to me, it does. Granted, politicians are as frequently racist, ignorant, jerk-offs as the rest of us, but I dream of leaders who have higher standards then the norm. I had halfway allowed myself to respect Harry Reid, especially after recent comments like:

in May of 2005 when he said of George W. Bush, “The man’s father is a wonderful human being. I think this guy is a loser.”

Oh well, throw him back on the heap. I’m done with him.

Perhaps I’m just sympathetic to profiling, having been searched so many times at airports (12 straight times at one point, though that’s better now, I guess I’ve been taken off the list, knock on wood-like object), attacked by drunken frat boys, or whatever. I still cling to my idealism, regardless of how delusional it is. Blame the hillbilly heroin my doctor recently proscribed for back pain….