Wednesday, November 30, 2005

After almost 3 years, a "plan" for Iraq

This just in from the White House PR department - People want to see "a plan." So in about 20 minutes, Bush will make a speech at the Naval Academy to announce the "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" If Bush ever wanted to impress Americans, he's speak on a college campus ... one that doesn't have to salute him. Go back to Yale or Harvard, George. Get them to applaud. To save yourself some time, I recommend printing off Bush's stump speeches that he's delivered to crowds he can imprision for talking back (military), throw them into your blender, hit "liquify" and this stuff will spit out the other end.
The short version -- after next month's elections, Rumsfeld will declare that all of America's hard work and sacrifice have paid off and General Casey's plan for drawing down troops will begin in earnest in January. Half the troops will be home by the August congressional recess next summer -- fall election time.
Rummy is a flake, okay? He said yesterday that he "thought about it over the weekend" and decided that the term "insurgent" gave those who were blowing themselves up too much legitimacy, so he's going to stop using it. Have you noticed that Bush has already switched to calling them terrorists instead? He must have been sitting in Rummy's lap (where he's been for 5 years) when the revelation came to him.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

We have met the enemy ... in the mirror

The evil do-ers who use chemical weapons in the Middle East are ... who? Take a look at Shake and Bake - New York Times and decide for yourself. How many ways does this administration plan to use to humiliate Americans by abusing others in our name?

Monday, November 21, 2005

"U.S. Officials say ..."

Which way it it? This morning CNN reports that U.S. Officials said they "just missed" al-Zarqawi, but on their web site they say that reports the bad, bad guy was killed last weekend are "highly unlikely according to U.S. Officials." Now CNN debunks itself simultaneously?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Elephant Droppings

OhmyGod, it's shocking -- shocking! The Bush Administration forced its Medicare actuary to keep his yap shut about the actual expected cost ($500-$600 Billion, not the $400 billion as advertised) of the new drug benefit. From the New York Times story today: "Perhaps the most striking example of the administration's bypassing the bureaucracy to accomplish a political goal occurred in late 2003 when the Medicare actuary, Richard S. Foster, was told by his politically appointed boss that he would be fired if he gave Congress his best estimate of the cost of the administration's prescription-drug plan. If he had told the truth - that his projections showed the bill would cost $500 billion to $600 billion over 10 years, not $400 billion, as the administration was saying publicly - the bill surely would not have passed in the House, Republicans and Democrats agree."

Too bad Foster did what he was told.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Show, tell and get fired

In the 10 commandments there's something about not bearing false witness. This is not just about not lying, it's about not falsely accusing someone. So check this out -- one kid (elementary age) accuses another of stealing $5.00. The principal takes the accused kid from room to room and holds her up to the classes as "a liar and a thief."

But then, oops, sorry, the accuser recants her story. After a three-day paid suspension (isn't that "vacation"?) the principal is forced to resign. I'm guessing she goes straight to Dick Cheney's office to apply for a job.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Go Chuck, Go

Senator Chuck Hagel, (R-Nebraska) has poked back at the Bush administration for its BS tactics of accusing any critic of giving comfort to the terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere. What a breath of fresh air this is from one of the last real moderate Republicans on the planet. Between this and the John McCain piece in this week's Newsweek, it's no wonder Bush left the continent. Does he have to come back?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Offensive Iraq

"I demand on behalf of the America people that we understand why these investigations aren't being conducted," Democratic leader Harry Reid said.

With this, Reid invoked Rule 21 and closed the Senate session to discuss this matter of national security (how the administration ginned up the intelligence to support the war). Crybaby (Majority Leader) Bill Frist ran out the door into the arms of CNN to complain. About the outrageous accusation? No. That democrats have lost their minds? No.

That he was insulted -that tradition and procedure were not followed in notifying him.

You know what? Tough shit. War is hell, Frist. Answer the f*cking question -- why isn't the Senate investigating the manipulation of intelligence that "justified" this war? Why aren't they investigating a breach of national security represented by the deliberate leak of a CIA officer's name?

The answer thus far appears to be that Republicans' loyalty, which is supposed to be to the Constitution and the greater good of the country, is instead to the person sitting in the Oval Office and behind the curtain at the Naval Observatory.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Oh, shocking -- another white male justice

It's no damn surprise to me ... just proof in the pudding. C'mon - George is a simple guy with a simple plan.

He doesn't give a sh*t about a Supreme Court that represents all Americans. He certainly doesn't think of the seat he's filling as belonging to a moderate justice, but that's his right. He wants a court that represents his America -- corporate, white and male. Unfortunately, these are the spoils of the election of 2004and the very thing that should have driven many more democrats to the polls.

So he nominates Miers and no one can dare to suggest that maybe he did so knowing that she'd never get to the hearings. Knowing that she'd be blasted for being unqualified and knowing that she would back out when she was hammered in the press. She was a lamb sent to slaughter.

No matter, he always intended to send up a reactionary conservative and a white male. By shoving Harriet in front of a train, he can say he tried. Baloney.

So all that crap he floated about the importance of diversity? Forget it. He sure will -- quicker than Scooter Libby will lose all recollection of when he first heard about ... what was her name?

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Justice Poetic

There once was a bonehead named "Scooter"
Whose fortunes landed right in the pooter
He lied, cheated, stole
Then dug quite a hole
As his nose grew longer, dropping cooters

Then came the good guys, like Fitz
He asked all the questions, took no shits
He charged Scooter - bam
Five big counts, quite a jam

The defense we are told
Is planned to be bold
Because Libby was busy
He'll claim t'was a tizzy
He'd forgotten the facts - oh, that's old.

And it doesn't rhyme with anything, but crap like this you wouldn't accept from you 8-year-old.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Getting Mier'd Down

Pathetic. Read Harriet's why-I-can't-take-that-great-job-offer letter to Bush.
What a visionary. She's suddenly realized that she'd have to either hand over records or testify to her views on issues that have come up while she was White House Counsel? Oh, no ... she must preserve executive privilege? For the sake of "this great Nation" ... what, the magazine? Why is that capitalized? Why is " ... your Administration" capitalized?

You know, I think the English language can be difficult to navigate, but not as tough as the U.S. Constitution. If the woman doesn't know how to follow the rules of English grammar, I feel pretty sure that looking up all those big words would have been too much for her. Put simply, this job was waaaaay over her head and this withdrawl, for whatever reason, is simple, obvious proof that Bush made a brazenly incompetent choice.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

More Savage Inequalities

Jonathan Kozol, author of "Savage Inequalities," has another book out, revealing the continuation of obscene inqualities in America's Schools. Read about it on or at the publisher's site.

If you still think it's not about race ... uh ... you're blind.

Sure, blame Maureen

Interesting to me is that this morning radio talk show host Don Imus asked NY Times Columnist Maureen Dowd about this column (see below) which he aptly described as "dropping a safe" on Judy Miller. Dowd's response: "If I'm going to hold accountable institutions I care about, then I have to be willing to do the same for an institution like The Times, which I love."

Imus (pig that he is) said that the "attack" on Miller "seems personal." Does this sound familiar? What's next? "You-should-have-called-me-before-you-ran-this" ?

Miller, according the Wall Street Journal, is on the way to the parking lot.

Anyway ... Dowd's column is now available on the Times' website only to readers who subscribe to their "Tmes Select" product, so I'm pasting it in here. They can sue me (and a hundred other bloggers). Dowd, for proving her integrity, has been moved to Saturday after 10 years on the Times' Sunday edit page. Lame. Cheap. Pathetic. Maybe we should throw our Sunday papers back at the newsstand or something.

If you EVER thought about writing to a newspaper to complain about the bad treatment of a columnist who was holding her management to an appropriate standard of professional conduct, now is the time. Send a letter to the editor by e-mailing or faxing (212)556-3622.

But first, make sure you read this column, which ends with a helluva punch:

Woman of Mass Destruction
By Maureen Dowd
The New York Times
Saturday 22 October 2005

I've always liked Judy Miller. I have often wondered what Waugh or Thackeray would have made of the Fourth Estate's Becky Sharp.
The traits she has that drive many reporters at The Times crazy - her tropism toward powerful men, her frantic intensity and her peculiar mixture of hard work and hauteur - never bothered me. I enjoy operatic types.
Once when I was covering the first Bush White House, I was in The Times' seat in the crowded White House press room, listening to an administration official's background briefing. Judy had moved on from her tempestuous tenure as a Washington editor to be a reporter based in New York, but she showed up at this national security affairs briefing.
At first she leaned against the wall near where I was sitting, but I noticed that she seemed agitated about something. Midway through the briefing, she came over and whispered to me, "I think I should be sitting in the Times seat."
It was such an outrageous move, I could only laugh. I got up and stood in the back of the room, while Judy claimed what she felt was her rightful power perch.
She never knew when to quit. That was her talent and her flaw. Sorely in need of a tight editorial leash, she was kept on no leash at all, and that has hurt this paper and its trust with readers. She more than earned her sobriquet "Miss Run Amok."
Judy's stories about WMD fit too perfectly with the White House's case for war. She was close to Ahmad Chalabi, the con man who was conning the neocons to knock out Saddam so he could get his hands on Iraq, and I worried that she was playing a leading role in the dangerous echo chamber that former Senator Bob Graham dubbed "incestuous amplification." Using Iraqi defectors and exiles, Mr. Chalabi planted bogus stories with Judy and other credulous journalists.
Even last April, when I wrote a column critical of Mr. Chalabi, she fired off e-mail to me defending him.
When Bill Keller became executive editor in the summer of 2003, he barred Judy from covering Iraq and W.M.D issues. But he admitted in The Times' Sunday story about Judy's role in the Plame leak case that she had kept "drifting" back. Why did nobody stop this drift?
Judy admitted in the story that she "got it totally wrong" about WMD "If your sources are wrong," she said, "you are wrong." But investigative reporting is not stenography.
The Times' story and Judy's own first-person account had the unfortunate effect of raising more questions. As Bill said in an e-mail note to the staff on Friday, Judy seemed to have "misled" the Washington bureau chief, Phil Taubman, about the extent of her involvement in the Valerie Plame leak case.
She casually revealed that she had agreed to identify her source, Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney's chief of staff, as a "former Hill staffer" because he had once worked on Capitol Hill. The implication was that this bit of deception was a common practice for reporters. It isn't.
She said that she had wanted to write about the Wilson-Plame matter, but that her editor would not allow it. But Managing Editor Jill Abramson, then the Washington bureau chief, denied this, saying that Judy had never broached the subject with her.
It also doesn't seem credible that Judy wouldn't remember a Marvel comics name like "Valerie Flame." Nor does it seem credible that she doesn't know how the name got into her notebook and that, as she wrote, she "did not believe the name came from Mr. Libby."
An Associated Press story yesterday reported that Judy had coughed up the details of an earlier meeting with Mr. Libby only after prosecutors confronted her with a visitor log showing that she had met with him on June 23, 2003. This cagey confusion is what makes people wonder whether her stint in the Alexandria jail was in part a career rehabilitation project.
Judy is refusing to answer a lot of questions put to her by Times reporters, or show the notes that she shared with the grand jury. I admire Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and Bill Keller for aggressively backing reporters in the cross hairs of a prosecutor. But before turning Judy's case into a First Amendment battle, they should have nailed her to a chair and extracted the entire story of her escapade.
Judy told The Times that she plans to write a book and intends to return to the newsroom, hoping to cover "the same thing I've always covered - threats to our country." If that were to happen, the institution most in danger would be the newspaper in your hands.

Friday, October 14, 2005

When Faith Runs Policy - Wag The Dogma

If I hear one more time (and I will) that Harriet Miers' faith is the reason (wink, wink) that conservatives should "relax and support her," I believe I will throw up. (Get the bucket, here it comes)

Remember "relax and enjoy it" ... the good-ole-boys anti-rape strategy. Throwing up works better for that violation, too.

Being a good lawyer is not a qualification for serving on the high court. Neither is having ovaries. But in his most egregious effort to prove that he can do whatever he likes, George Bush has put his "work wife" up to replace a genuinely qualified and tempered voice on the court, Sandra Day O'Connor -- a judge with whom I have disagreed plenty (Bush v. Gore, 2000) but I respect her and consider her to be a fair judge who is devoted to only one thing professionally -- the Constitution.

But Miers is devoted to Bush - a man she considers to be brilliant. Exactly how much evidence of bad judgment do we need?!

I was always kind of fond of this idea of separating Church and State. Bush's galling "defense" of Miers (citing her faith as the key to his defense) is utterly repugnant. No one can attest to another faith -- that's not just ridiculous, it's completely insulting to Miers and to people of actual faith, which usually involves characteristics of humility and reverence for its deeply personal quality.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Herald-Sun's "More Local News" ="No News"

As is so often true, The Independent's Fiona Morgan has nailed it in this week's "Triangles" section. Don't miss her blast of the Herald-Sun's sorry excuse for coverage of the Durham's Most Wanted (city council/mayor) races. Reporter Ray Gronberg's eventual story was little more than a middle school book report on the News & Observer's right-on coverage of Vincent Brown, then-candidate for mayor and convicted felon.

I won't replay Fiona's story, except to comment that Herald-Sun Editor Bob Ashley makes some disturbing comments for the story (hey, glad he talked to her ... an improvement over the stonewall strategy). He says, for example that they didn't want to just reiterate the N&O's coverage and were looking for a new angle on the story. For five days?! Is he on FEMA time?

Second (and more alarming IF it's true) he said that they routinely do criminal background checks on candidates and that theirs turned up nothing on Brown. Multiple convictions and 100 charges, but they turned up nothing? Maybe the Ouija board isn't the best method, Bob.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Durham's distinguished candidates

Oh, Lord. It's not bad enough that half the candidates for city council in Durham have been convicted of one thing or another, then comes this factor ... holy crap, this one's a real head case.

To wit, Carolina James-Rivera, candidate for Ward #2 (wait, is that the psych ward)? Here are some snippets from her interview/questionairre with the Herald-$un. These are only highlights ... if you really want to enjoy yourself, make some popcorn and read the whole thing.

"To disrespect a USA Military Mans' wife, children and home in front of the world is the lowest of a war crime one can comment."

"It's been over two year since the release of my brain wash daughter that was hardored from home and school with and sexual, physical and mental abuser. My parent rights was stolen as her youth years."

"It took a flood to prove to me that African American are not equal to any human or animal. As well to be reinstated to vote in 2007 clearify the abuse my family experience in front of the whole city of Durham the past eight years."

Within her answer to the question What would be your top priorities in office?:
"to Qestion City Manager and City Mayor of Health Care provider drugging me to cover up scandal."

To the question Why are you qualified to hold this office?
"1) Durham North, Carolina Michael Peterson scandal rebellion, revange, hate crime, copy cat murder case scandal movie."

Monday, October 03, 2005

Follow the bread

We all remember that famous story about Willy Sutton, the 1930s bankrobber, who was asked why he robbed banks. "That's where the money is," he said.

So, if you're in it for the bread, you have to appreciate the giggle in this story of a Chapel Hill restaurant getting ripped off recently. I wonder if the robbers made out with any dough.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Never Trust a Grown Man Named "Scooter"

At last, the NY Times reporter-who-didn't, Judith Miller, is free. She was finally released from her confidentiality agreement with VP Cheney's Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby and testified today on the whys and wherefores of his and Carl Rove's leakage of Valerie Plame Wilson's identity.

Soon, we hope, the right guys will be off to prison or at least off the government's payroll. One of those two buggers should be indicted by Halloween. Trick or Treat.

As for Miller, God bless her, she didn't even write the damn story that outed Plame's CIA operative status. That was Bob Novak, a washed up hack of a columnist who is now suspended from CNN for cursing and walking off the set during a live broadcast. (Suddenly, James Carville was able to offen him -- amazing) Miller, in fact, wrote no story related to the matter. Eventually she will, I'm sure, and that should be a real page-turner.

Watching Those Lemmings in Texas

Last week I watched the long, long lines of SUVs sitting on the highways outside Houston, sitting ... waiting ... running out of gas. Looking at the helicopter shots of miles of stopped traffic, I had to laugh -- I mean, really, I just couldn't help it.

See, here were all these people trying to evacuate to avoid injury in a hurricane. They were doing the right thing. Unfortunately, they left some of their common sense back at home, locked up tight. Here you are on the interstate in the midst of many miles of stopped traffic. Coming the opposite direction are three lanes of open pavement with a car here and their occasionally.

And you sit there? In your kick-ass $50,000 this-thing-can-climb-Everest SUV? No, I don't think so.

I think you drive over (or IN) the grassy meridian and you carefully proceed up the breakdown lane in the opposite direction. In 30 seconds, 5,000 people are behind you. It's an emergency for crying out loud. Hey, if a cop stops you, take the ticket. Happily PAY the ticket. But sit there like a sack of dirt, run out of gas and tell reporters (as many did) that you'll now wait for the government to come and gas you up?

These are the self-reliant Texans we've heard so much about? The lone star state? Unimpressive.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

More old taxes

Regretably, Catherine DeVine's denial of owing old taxes (2000 and 2001) to Orange County are false. She does owe them, according to Jo Roberson, Director or Orange County's Revenue Department. When I corresponded directly with Catherine, she said she was suprised that I "would rely on such an unreliable source" (the County's online records). "Those taxes are paid," she declared.

Well, they're not paid. According to Roberson, there is a payment plan now in place to resolve the debt (with interest) but the fact is that this alderman candidate owes the county money that was due five years ago.

So, there are two problems here. First is a candidate for public office with years-old unpaid taxes who hopes to be spending the people's money. That part is up the the people of Carrboro to resolve for themselves.

The second, however, is her response to the information itself ... declaring, falsely, that the taxes were paid and impugning the tax office's recordkeeping to boot. I have some experience with the Orange County tax office, both as a taxpayer and as a reporter. I have always found their staff to be helpful, knowledgeable completely professional. Our Revenue Department is rated as among the best in this state. I don't appreciate Catherine's describing the office or its online records as "such an unreliable source."

It seems to me that beyond the money, Catherine DeVine owes the people of Carrboro and the county taxpayers an explanation.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

A Texas-sized blast from mutha nature

Just for the record, when Rita knocks the states of Texas AND Louisiana for a loop, certainly doubling the hurricane damages bill for the federal government, I'll betcha that our fearless leader, George II will stare straight into the camera and say (again) that we still don't need any form of taxpayer sacrifice to cover the cost. I'm not talking about jacking up tax rates for average folks, but criminy, we need to let those cuts for the very, very rich sunset as they were enacted to do.

But George II will want to "stay the course" and keep his rich white boy welfare program in place. Lord, how I wish our system would allow a recall election.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Taxing Questions

It must be too dry a topic, but when people run for office, someone should look up and see whether or not they've paid their taxes. After all, if elected they're going to be spending money that comes from those of us who do get the job done.

The first race I'm looking at this year is that of Carrboro's Board of Aldermen and, unfortunately, I've found one of the candidates, Catherine DeVine, in serious delinquency. She owes Orange County $239.31 for her 2000 taxes and interest on her 1994 Mazda and $216.29 in 2001 taxes and interest on the same vehicle, whose registration is now blocked. That means she can't sell the car without satisfying the tax bill.

I checked out the other candidates and found either no records (Haven-O'Donnell, Ryan) or bills paid in full (Herrera, Gist).

Pointing this out gives me no pleasure. I happen to like Catherine DeVine. We'll hope she clears this up in short order.

Friday, September 02, 2005

A word about "Naysaying"

It has already begun, of course. If you're criticizing the Bush Administration, then you're just throwing rocks and this "won't help the victims in New Orleans."

Bullshit. Scream, yell, curse and if at all possible, do it in front of a TV camera. That is probably the ONLY thing that has or will save the 25,000 at the New Orleans Convention Center. Speak out. Be loud.

Don't think that's necessary? Well, if you were too poor or too sick (or both) to evacuate New Orleans and now you're stuck there, it's pretty much your fault, according to FEMA head Michael Brown, who says that relief efforts are going very well.


New Orleans meltdown

Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff has a favorite talking point in his litany of excuses for the New Orleans disaster. "We've had two disasters," he says. He goes on to cite that advent of the hurricane, followed by the flooding.

That's what he has to excuse himself from leaving 25,000 people at the New Orleans convention center for five days without food & water - gee, how was he supposed to know that a hurricane striking a below sea level city would be followed by floods? What is he, a genius?

The relief effort is going just great, he goes on to say. Everyone is doing an outstanding job. He should list a third disaster - his hiring. This particular natural disaster - a Cat 4 or 5 hurricane striking New Orleans - is among the most planned-for in emergency preparedness. It is a classic scenario, easily anticipated. Chertoff says, however, that you can't fly helicopters and drive trucks in a hurricane. Wow, that's lame. The storm didn't hit the whole country. So ... they couldn't figure out an approach from the west? Is this a cartoon government or what?

Like that terrible September day four years ago, we are reminded now of the media's power. Were it not for cameras reaching the conventions center to show us bathroom sinks filled and overflowing with human waste, dead bodies in lawn chairs and lying on the ground and children too tired to cry anymore, we would not know this story first hand.We would be left with smartly dressed liars in comfortable Washington offices declaring that everything is going great.

The people actually doing the relief work are, obviously, working their tails off and performing heroically, but no one ever doubted that. On this Friday morning, there is no public official on the site of that convention center, where there is a desperate and dying population of a small town.

President Bush will "survey the damage" from his helicopter, setting foot only at the New Orleans airport to make a speech. Isn't that just what the suffering and dying need? Speeches about what a great job Chertoff is doing. He'll also be on the ground in Mississippi and Alabama where it's safer.

Before departing D.C. this morning, Bush said that relief efforts were not adequate. Do you suppose that he'd be doing that without the media's work here? And what does this tell us about how things really are going on his other little project in Iraq?

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Vaca for George II

The White House today had the unmitigated gall to announce that the President was "cutting his vacation short" to return to Washington to spearhead the Hurricane relief effort.

Excuse me? Why the hell wasn't he flying back to D.C. on Sunday when it became obvious that the gulf coast was going to see devastating damage? Why did he wait until over 20,000 people were on day three in the Superdome to declare that the homeland security department (with its vast resources and authority) would be the lead agency in the aftermath? Did he have to see the bodies floating through the streets of the "big easy" to realize that an American city will soon be compared with Calcutta?

It has been made me puke all weekend prior to the arrival of the deadly Katrina to see that Bush would go out on his regular speaking engagements and take a minute or two from the podium to give advice on "taking cover" and "protecting your families." Evacuation instructions and preparedness advice ... that's work for Governors. Bush is so desperate the change the subject away from Iraq, he'll even ride in on the tide of a Category 4 hurricane to do it.

And what will the help be that comes from George II? I guess we won't be listening to all that wonderful conservative drivel about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, will we? No testimonials rugged individualism, no siree ... this is going to be the time to pull out the big government big red pen and write some checks. These are the times when even Republicans are thrilled with the massive power and reach of the federal government. One hopes that the Dems can take some notes and try to remember these times when rhetoric of tax cutting turns up again and the question comes to "What has the federal government done for you lately?" I hope it will save my fellow citizens from starvation and dehydration and prevent the economy from crashing into an energy crisis-provoked recession.

It's a lot to hope for.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A friend in Kneed

Oy. The month of July, now mercifully over, did not treat me well.

A minor knee injury became a worse injury, then was revealed to be more a chronic problem (cartilage loss on the back of the patella ... all loose in the joint resulting in pain, locking, etc). Finally virtually unable to walk on it, I had a scope procedure last week whose results are yet unclear. And during my recovery (plenty of time to surf and learn) I'm finding that this is at best a short term solution.

So, oh crap, perhaps another re-alignment or other open joint surgery to fix the underlying problem. I went through all of this in '76 and '78 and thought that was the end of it ... endured in my youth. Next week, my son has the second of his two re-alignments this year. It's a LONG, painful recovery. I'm still astonished at how exhausting this minor procedure has been.

Well, I'll have to make more use of the old laptop and return to the blogosphere. And being stranded with daytime TV ... oy! So now that Bush is in Crawford we can all settle in for a midsummernight's dream, right?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Associate Justice Clinton?

So there I was wrapping up my time at the beach and the news of Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement comes along -- something to restore the blood bressure to normal working levels.

Anyone who was watching all the filibluster recently had to know it wasn't really about these two women who sat quietly beside their president as he complained about their nominations being held up in the Senate. No, this was about O'Connor. Yeah, yeah, all the blabber was about Rehnquist retiring, but he'd be replaced with a similar conservative ... no real movement.

It would be O'Connor's departure that Bush might need the so-called nuclear option for and indeed the time is here. Just one problem --- his approval ratings are in Nixon territory. If the Senate tips toward the left next year and Bush loses that control, wow ... watch out. There will be hearings on Gitmo, on Haliburton and on everything that's has simmered for the last 5 years.

And that's why, in my sun-soaked moment of screen writing I thought how can Bush save himself? There's only one answer: Nominate Hillary Rodham Clinton to replace O'Connor. When you're done laughing, think about the problems this would solve for Bush ...
  1. NY Governor George Pataki would replace Senator Clinton with a Republican -- Rudy? Are you ready?
  2. There could be no clearer "gesture" of reconciliation ... reaching across the aisle toward democrats.
  3. As a member of the court, Clinton would obviously be out of the '08 presidential race.
  4. More importantly, she would not be raising money for the democrats, which is why such a move would make the Democrats more weak in the knees than Republicans. She'd be out the radical right's hair (on the political side) virtually forever. Holding control on the Senate in '08 would be a lot more secure with Hillary out of the picture.

She might just say no, which would make the gesture argument even more perfect, but she'd have to be careful in doing it. When your president calls, you answer.

Monday, June 13, 2005

"Not Guilty"

So young Mr. Pan goes home to Neverland (I can call him young ... his birthday's about two weeks after mine) and can claim to be innocent. Fine. But the jury wept, asked for privacy and wouldn't look at Michael Jackson today. To me, that screams "not guilty" --- not "innocent."

Wouldn't it be nice to think that now he'll keep his hands of the young boys who seem to flow toward him somehow. Unlikely.

I'm glad the jury had the integrity to hold the prosecution to its burden, even though they apparently failed to meet it. Certainly the public is warned. He'd have died in prison within a year anyway.


Friday, June 10, 2005

Why isn't this woman under arrest?

Say what you want about Michael Jackson's perverse proclivities, the fact is he would have a much harder time if it weren't for the many people who have been so helpful to feeding his various diseases (drug/alcohol dependencies, too).

Case in point: this private flight attendent who explains that when MJ began to explain that he like his wine to be served in a Diet Coke can, she interrupted him ... "Say no more," she said. "I know all about it."

And I suppose that when he served some of that to a kid, which he could then do in plain view, she would claim to know nothing about it? Why in the world is she not under arrest for facilitating this delivery of alcohol to a minor?

Like Elvis, no one can cay no to Michael. All of these twisted parasites will stop at the prison gate in their service to their master, however. How dispicably pathetic.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Where's Michael?

Watching the "Verdict Watch" coverage of the California freak show (the Michael Jackson Trial) and now the twist comes. Michael's father, Joe Jackson, appears at the courthouse demanding, "Where is my son?"

While everyone on Court Tv is asking why they're so bizarre, I'm asking, why can't you see that he's skipped? Joe Jackson certainly knows damn well that Michael is supposed to be at Neverland awaiting the verdict, but I wonder why they're not asking ... when's the last time MJ was actually seen by anyone? Last Friday when it went to the jury?

There are reports (by Jackson's spokespersons) that he was seen at an ER for back pain, but no pictures of him going to a hospital. He could have left California on Friday.

Come on ... he's skipped the country, right?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

San Francisco dispatch

Weather's perfect. Food's outrageously good. What all this I hear about fog? What fog?

Dinner last night at John's Grill with hubby's biz associates was unexpectedly way-gone fun. We met up with Mr. & Mrs. Actuary (We are Mr. & Mrs. Underwriter) and talked about cars, kids, movies, Internet and wine.

Bring more wine.

Waiter, we're out of wine.

Apparently our hitting it off was conspicuous to the rest of the dinner's group. I worry that we weren't engaged with everyone else (all really nice folks, too). But then again, the sound level in these situations is often so much that you'd only be looking at moving lips and smiling faces. You nod, you think you agree. You may have just laughed at an unfunny joke about your boss -- you don't really know.

When are there going to be restaurants that offer "quiet zones" for those of us with mild hearing loss?

Fun to go to a city far from home and meet people who feel so familiar. Do you have tales like that?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Too good -- bravo, N & O

Check out the interactive game on the News & Observer's site -- "Governor Easley's Wide Ride." It's the most fun when you crash the car. Make sure your speakers are on.

Monday, May 16, 2005

It's a twister (it's the news)

Thankfully, the news landscape has been free of the wild speculation about the release of the results of the Shiavo autopsy. The medical examiner handling the case says it will be a few more weeks before he releases his report -- sure to be a bestseller.

We have a runaway bride to obsess over, a runaway plane trickling into restricted Washington D.C. airspace and then there's Dave Chappelle, the comic whose standup success caused him to freak out, stand up and run away to South Africa. Time magazine was so skeptical of Chappelle's disappearing act, they sent a crew to take pictures of him on the continent. He had to get away (from his $50 million contract) because , he says, he was worried when he saw a white member of his crew laughing. Maybe his comedy was "making the wrong people laugh," he said.

Maybe it's making the wrong guy rich.

Meanwhile, in case it matters, there's Iraq. My son's girlfriend called this evening. She had a question -- how to do a search online to find our whether or not her high school friend Joel, now a 2nd Lt. in the 11th Infantry, has been injured or killed. He's not answering her emails, she said, and his unit has been his be a car bomb once already. They sent him back in for more.

We talked about that -- about where to look. We found an informative site, a disturbing one. The domain says it all -- It compiles the data released daily by the government into a searchable database.

It's not a government site, it is a private site. A quiet patriotic act.

As for Joel, he's not listed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The future of open source media

Take a look at this eight minute flash presentation - a fascinating "review" of future events in media consolidation via open source journalism. It gets beyond the view of blogging's new-gadget status and starts to get to the profit and global benefit vision. Some ideas (fully automated editing and gatekeeping) are pretty out there, but so was the notion of unlimited online storage and pushbutton free publishing tools just over a decade ago when I was graduating from the J-school at UNC-CH.

In '94, the debate was whether or not online newspapers might wipe out print and the prevailing thought (correct) was that they would not. That didn't (and doesn't) stop some papers from digging in and resisting (Herald-Sun). Even now, only a handful of papers like the News & Observer and the Greensboro News & Record have had the vision to embrace blogging as a means to connect better with readers -- a means to expand the paper's value, not cry about the potential "threat" that blogging might present.

When I see some of these traditionally syndicated editorialists waving their arms and whining that bloggers "aren't even trained as journalists!" I have to laugh at their fear of competition. If these pajama clad writers are such nitwits, why would you even acknowledge they're on the landscape?

Because they can see that lines are blurring and that it will be the marketplace of ideas and not the easy division of have and have-not that will drive who gets read and who gets ignored. That won't bode well for the lazy, the rich and those who have held power so long that they've forgotten they weren't born with it. I haven't yet seen a woman or a minority writer complaining about open source journalism. Coincidence? I think not.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Had your fill, buster? Birth control is next

This week shapes up to be quite a showdown on the Hill as Republicans make the grab for the juduciary. Make no mistake, this is all about laying the foundation for the next Supreme appointment, which will very likely be forthcoming before 2008. The neocons wants an anti-abortion zealot in that slot. The ultimate goal is not just to reverse Roe v. Wade, it is to reverse Griswold v. Connnecticut --- to eliminate women's right to birth control.

Don't believe it? Show me a single instance where a so-called "right-to-life" advocate has said that couples should avoid unwanted pregnancy through the practice of birth control. I'm leaving out unmarried people -- there's no way they'd advocate anything but the pure Christian life for them (no sex whatsoever). No, no ... let's be realistic -- I'm talking young married couple who waited until their honeymoon to consummate their relationship. Can she go on the pill? Can they use a condom to avoid an unwanted pregnancy?

Hell, no.

"I don't think Christians should use birth control. You consummate your marriage as often as you like -- and if you have babies, you have babies." Randall Terry, Operation Rescue

Think it's just the flakes?
Contraception is wrong because it’s a deliberate violation of the design God built into the human race, often referred to as "natural law." The natural law purpose of sex is procreation. The pleasure that sexual intercourse provides is an additional blessing from God, intended to offer the possibility of new life while strengthening the bond of intimacy, respect, and love between husband and wife. The loving environment this bond creates is the perfect setting for nurturing children. But sexual pleasure within marriage becomes unnatural, and even harmful to the spouses, when it is used in a way that deliberately excludes the basic purpose of sex, which is procreation. God’s gift of the sex act, along with its pleasure and intimacy, must not be abused by deliberately frustrating its natural end—procreation.

Funny, I always thought of orgasm as the "natural end" of marriage's most intimate act and it certainly is bad to frustrate that. Maybe it's all a big misunderstanding.

Friday, May 06, 2005

The N&O blogs on

The News & Observer has joined the blogosphere, launching its own blogs earlier this week. Way Cool, Most Excellent. More proof yet that the Paxton-$un is marching into the future while looking backward (they're in the newspaper business and cannot compete with a 24/7 TV-world news cycle according to to Editor Bob Ashley).

Yah, whatever.

The N&O seems to "get" that future of opinion leadership (look it up, Bob ... that's part of the newspaper business) is developing in blogging. Becoming more interactive with readers and moving away from talking down to them is where the future lies.

And boy, oh boy, Durham could really use some interactive opinion leadership right now. The freakin' school district is in a near-nuclear state of meltdown. Meetings that devolve into shouting matches and arrests because the school board has totally lost control of itself. We're left to imagine what a good forum for discussion of issues might provide --- the Herald-Sun is asleep at the switch. No money in sticking their necks out, so they'll hang on the sidelines, watch and cover the train wreck and sell as much popcorn as they can.

Wouldn't it be awesome if they'd do some in-depth coverage of the issues these school critics are bringing about? Wouldn't it be amazing if they, along with Channel 11, sponsored a town hall meeting with ground rules so that the community had outlets for discussion other than blwoing up school board meetings?


Monday, May 02, 2005

And thanks for all the fish

Oh, how we've missed Arthur Dent at my house. Run, don't walk, to go see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's a large popcorn-and-Rainettes worthy romp with great special effects that are fun but don't overwhelm the story. (Rare find)

We were surprised to see a thin crowd on Saturday night (@ Timberlyne) but the movie is playing on so many screens, maybe they've managed to saturate the market. More space for us to go back and ride through once more.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Runaway Story

Jennifer Wilbanks, the story goes, needed some time to herself. What she got was, well, the opposite.

Rather than confront her issues with a wedding larger than Charles & Camilla's, rather than embarass herslef and or Mommy & Daddy, she instead took what she thought was an easy way out and hopped a Greyhound for Vegas (of all places). Okay, the woman has issues.

But what gets lost, it seems to me, is this: what excuse do the Deluth cops have? They come out on Wednesday or Thursday with this big pronoucement -- this is now a criminal investigation. Why? What evidence could they possibly have had? With all the focus on this distraught young woman's perpetrating a hoax, how much attention is paid to the cops not holding the line on this simple, apparently self-evident fact -- there was no crime. This wasn't a child who disappeared, it was a woman who went jogging -- an experienced runner. No amber alert, no faked ransom note, no apparent attempt to totally disappear, just an ordinary person who freaked.

Theory on dumb assumption: Rich white people don't run away, so something must have happened. Had Wilbanks been black and lower middle class, there would be no dragnet, her family would have been told that this was a missing person and nothing more.

Wilbanks bought her bus ticket in advance -- she must have. To create the illusion, she left her wallet and credit cards at home ... along with her photo ID, so no flying. The cops can say that's evidence of a crime, I say it's evidence of stupidity. Further proof -- she ended her silence ona Friday night/Saturday morning, leading to wall-to-wall CNN coverage all day Saturday -- an utterly inexcusable treatment of a case of this nature.

Friday, April 29, 2005

White House reporters asking tough questions?!?!

I was thrilled to see a couple of reporters actually do their freakin' jobs and push back a little when their questions weren't answered. "But Mr. President, I was asking about religion in our political debate, not in society in general."

For those who watch these things closely, Bush's accepting and answering the handful of followups represents a serious change. Right after the election, he playfully but firmly gave the back of his hand to reporters trying to follow up on blustery answers. "I told you ... no followups" he'd say, shaking his finger, looking like Clinton denying relations with "that woman."

Thanks to bloggers, WH reporters (including the gay hooker) have been taking it in the shorts (ohhh, sorry) over their impotence in pressing this president. Lap dogs they're called -- deservedly so. They should be junkyard dogs -- hungry and ankle-biting. Can it be that some of the attributes of actual jounalism may see a revival? The answer is -- sure, if viewers want it.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Smoking out DeLay

In the hypocrite-of-the-week report, check out this one on Tom DeLay ... sucking on a Cuban double corona for the cameras. The photo appears in this weeks' Time Magazine.

Uh, yah, that would be DeLay ... an outspoken advocate for keeping those sanctions in place and preventing trade with Cuba ... wanting, he said, to keep money out of the bloodthirsty hands of Fidel Castro.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Those who kneel also serve

The White House male hooker saga continues as it is revealed that gay prostitute "Jeff Gannon" was frequently signed into the White House on a day pass, but never signed out. Where are these sanctimonious Republicans on the issue of this guy getting into and moving around the West Wing without supervision or tracking?

On a Day Pass? (Maybe this is the real security application.)

That's the lowest (oohhh) form of security clearance for the White House press operation. Of course, it's more security clearance than New York Times Columnist (and Bush critic) Maureen Dowd can get. Bushie won't let her in, the scaredy cat that he is. She can wave her Pulizter all she wants, she has to watch briefings on TV ... as Scott McClellan throws the floor to the hooker. Go a-head, Jeff.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The price of nice

A new study shows that the ability to manipulate others to benefit yourself is your ticket to financial and professional success. So, nice guys really do finish last. This, the study says, explains women's poorer wages and slimmer chances at tops jobs. They tolerate being told "no" more easily than men (that's a whole different conversation).

This would explain the success of tender souls like Donald Trump and John Bolton, the Bush administration's nominee for U.N. Ambassador. Apparently Mr. "T" wasn't available, so Bush chose someone a little tougher.

And needless to say, the rise of Martha Stuart could be described as a mystery solved, but Martha -- to her credit -- always said that a man with the same personality attributes would simply be considered ambitious. Absolutely true.

And I still don't like Stuart, but that's a personal thing. I buy her products because they tend to be well-made. That's why her company survived her felony conviction -- not the quality of her personality -- the quality of her products.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Congrats Tar Heels

Oy. Someday when I have way too much time on my hands, I'll explain it all, but a trip to the ER on Championship night meant that hubby, teenage son and I missed the whole freakin' game.

Well, ALMOST all of it. We heard much of the second half on the radio on the way home (medical issue all okay) and the last 15 seconds on TV. Better to get the last 15 than only the first. I must say I was thinking while listening in the car that I wonder how many national title games Woody Durham has left in him. He's so great at his job of play-by-play ... a dying art in broadcasting. Hearing the game through his voice made missing the live TV event bearable.

Great job, Heels!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Finally back to the Final Four

Put simply, wahoo ... Go Heels! The drought is over, the Heels are back.

Last week, I was at the NC Specialty Hospital as my son had knee surgery. Within spitting distance of Duke's East Campus, I wore my Carolina longsleeve T-Shirt ... it says simply "Carolina." I took some flack from the many Dookies on staff there, but now that we're playing and they're home, success is the best revenge.

So go get 'em Roy and no matter the outcome, it's been a great ride all year long.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The Right to Die Without CNN

Maybe the right wing has finally sailed off the edge.

You hear all the time that you really can't understand this or that until you've been through it, yet a stunning number of right wing self-proclamed "Christians" have declared that they know better than Michael Schiavo what should happen to his wife, Terri.

Remember ... these are the same people who want to protect the sanctity of marriage from gay people.

First, the case is driven heavily by (big shock) money. Read more here.

If you've never had the experience of having to execute the wishes of a loved one and withdraw treatment, food and water, then I envy you. It is an agonizing task even when the path is absolutely clear.

In our case, it was my father-in-law, who had made his views very, very clear. As with most of us, he said (and conveyed to us in legal documents) that if he were stricken with, for example, a massive stroke or strokes and had no hope of recovery or regaining awareness that he was alive, that we should discontinue treatment (he was diabetic) and all life-sustaining support. That means giving the order for no more food or water.

That's what happened (two strokes, one on each side of his brain) and that's what we did -- executed his wishes. What we might have wanted was irrelevant. My husband made a solemn oath to his father. He kept his word. It took a week for him to die. It felt like a month.

But we did all this as ordinary people do -- without CNN and FOX news running his deformed image as art for B-roll video. We did it with some discussion and discomfort among family members, but we explained how the process works, we explained that these were his wishes and not open for negotiation. Above all else, we explained that he was not only not suffering, he was not aware that he was alive. We had no right to hold his body, if not to say his very soul, hostage for our own comfort.

So, to the freaks who claim to be attempting to "save" Terri Schiavo ... shame on you. If you do this on a religious basis, you should account for yourselves to a God whom you claim to trust, but whose will you would stubbornly thwart through machines and artificial existance.

This case is one of flexing political might and everyone knows it. for a matinee, Bush flies back to Washington to sign emergency legislation. Don't they have a fax machine in Crawford? Is it not a law if it's signed out of the district?

This follows the main event -- Congress passing a piece of legislation under orders from Randall Terry (head of "Operation Rescue") that those who did not vote for the bill would pay dearly at election time. He and his supporters didn't work so hard for the last 15 years to control both houses to watch it all go down the drain now, he said.

That's pretty overt.

Thankfully, the courts have been remarkably swift, responsive and consistent. They have backed this man whose commitment is remarkable. Let's hope a peaceful end is not far away for this poor woman and that her blood relatives can figure out how to let this go.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Embracing gay marriage

My dearest and I took our vows in the living room of a Justice of the Peace at 8:00 p.m. on a rainy Wednesday night, after working all that day. Our only witnesses were the JP's two dogs. His wife respectfully excused herself to the next room.

Our marriage, licensed by the state of Connecticut, has never been validated by either of our churches.

We have, however, a remarkably rich spiritual life. We take good care of each other and our children. We cared for his parents until each of them died. After 27 years of marriage and 28 years together, we still stay up late talking to each other, whispering our hopes and fears across our pillows.

It is too much to hope for that every couple could enjoy such comfort and happiness. It is too little to demand that every human being have the chance to pursue it. Perhaps this is why our country's founders put that "pursuit of happiness" clause in the earliest documents of our creation. It is not the espoused "values" of any church that matter here, it is the public policy of a civilized society.

After all, churches don't license and regulate marriage -- the state does that ... and that's all the state should do. My marriage doesn't need "protection" from gay couples any more than I need "protection" from people with blue eyes or red hair.

Why I do need protection from is the intrusion of the state and corporations, whether under the disguise of the Patiot Act or the everyday indignity of the store clerk asking my zip code before selling me a pack of gum for 50 cents.

Of course, that's a whole different rant ...

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Chris Paul's cheap shot

Ho hum ... wallop in the jewels -- that's how Chris Paul dropped Julius Hodge to the floor of the RBC Center in the NC State Wake Forest game that ended the regular season. Regretably, Paul was not yanked out of the game immediately, as apparently none of the zebras spotted the offense. Instead, he continued to play (not even getting a technical foul) and was on hand to inbound the ball with 4.2 seconds left, have the ball passed right back to him, raced up the floor and tossed in the game-winning swish at the buzzer.

But he should have been in the locker room, waiting for his teammates. A day late and a dollar short, his coach suspended him for this "inapproriate behavior" and Paul has apologized.

"I would like to apologize to Julius Hodge, the NC State team, Wake Forest fans and my teammates for an incident that I truly regret. Sunday night was emotional for me for many reasons and I let my emotions get the best of me. However, that is no excuse for my actions and I fully accept and agree with my suspension."

Oh, right ... emotions. The driving force for all bad male behavior. I hope they get bounced in the first round of the ACC tournament. Go Heels.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Desperate Times

Oh, my goodness.

In today's Chapel Hill Herald is among the most bizarre house ads I've ever seen. It features the submission deadlines for display advertising. Oh, the stink of having nothing to say.

It's not like they ever ran ANY house ads to support columnists ... oh, no. Not since Mike Peterson and his successor, Gaspo. They've run some stuff for John McCann, but lately, you wouldn't even know that there was any local voice in the paper at all. Local-shmokal. We should have noticed that Paxton Media has AX right there in plain sight.

C'mon ... the writing's on the wall. They're going to dump the Chapel Hill edition and focus on making the Durham paper profitable as some kind of a niche publication. Even the Independent thinks that recent layoffs of pressmen means they may kill the CHH. Meanwhile, the N&O will open its new Orange County bureau headed up by Mark Schultz, formerly the Editor of the CHH. It's back to the future. Hope this one has a happy ending ... somehow.

Friday, February 25, 2005

What is it with Republicans and secret tapes?

There's always a tape, isn't there?

Here's a tip for our red state friends ... stay off the phone with your pals. Doug Wead, a former aide to George I, has about 9 hours of recordings of him shooting the bull with George II while he was running for president, some of it embarassing, most not.

Now he says he should give the tapes to Bush. What a pal. I don't think he'll be giving the proceeds of his book to him though.

Bush apparently admits to past drug use (yawn). Sometimes I really miss Clinton.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

The Social Security Scam

Dubyah has his (our) American Express card out again. This time he wants to "fix" the Social Security System.

Digging an even deeper hole of debt so as to create personal investment accounts for younger workers, Bush is claiming to stablize a system that is "going bankrupt." It's not so much what he says about it, but rather what he doesn't say that I find most persuasive. Things like "Standing to my left is the Executive Director of the Society of Actuaries and to my right is the President of the American Academy of Actuaries and they both stand behind this proposal."

Or ... "Here is a letter from ..."
or "According to ..."

Nope ... nothing. Why? Because despite the Texas two-step that allows Bush to stand at his podium, banging his fist and taunting "Just look at the math!" the simple and elegant truth is, the actuaries who advise the administration have told him that they system needs only minor adjustment to remain solvent. The "problem" that Bush is so anxious to fix threatens only to reduce benefits -- bankruptcy is simply not in the picture.

It's so simple, YOU can do it. Just go the American Academy of Actuaries' web site and play "The Social Security Game." I don't want to ruin the game for you, but if you raise the retirement age to 70 (more than reasonable from someone who can expect to live to 80) and introduce means testing so that those whose retirement income is over $50,000 will receive a reduced benefit, you'll have fixed it. Period.

The argument against later retirement almost always falls completely onto the issue of fairness for workers whose jobs are physically demanding. Somehow having a 64 and a half year-old woman stocking shelves is okay, but if she's 69, we're horrified. Jack Nicholson and Jane Fonda will be 68 this year. Should we pull out the wheelchair now? How about Goldie Hawn? She'll be 60. Not only should they keep working, they should not receive the same social security benefit as someone who made $20,000 in the most prosperous year of his or her life.

For those retiring in in 2042, my response is two-fold. First, when you're that age and have been doing physical work (including waiting tables) your body is probably in better shape than that of your counterpart who's sitting at a computer. He's the one more likely to get sicker and die sooner.

If I had known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself.
Lesson for young workers: You will and you should.

If the federal government really wants to to those young workers and their young kids a living-longer-living-better favor that will pay off in 2042, they should put the freakin' money back into physical education and nutritious school lunches.

In 40 years, the trends in our economy toward service over physically produced products will have advanced even further. We not only don't know anything about what we will look like in terms of our health, we have NO idea what our grandchildren will be doing for a living or what we will be retiring FROM. When I left high school (less than 30 years ago) there was no teacher or guidance counselor who could have told me that my livelihood would come from providing communications consulting and services via the Internet, that my largest clients would be thousands of miles away and that this would be practical because I could talk to them every day on the phone for an unlimited time without spending any more on my phone bill.

If the president were a little more on the ball about America's working and online life, he would have a healthier respect for how unknowable these questions are. Heck, when he first ran for president in 2000, nobody knew what the heck a BLOG was ... yet in 2004 blogs played a significant role in the election.

Finally, we should realize that our view of work and its meaning is changing. For many, the continuation of meaningful work means the continuation of a high quality of life. What's the hurry to end that?

Monday, February 14, 2005

You're blogged

The Sarcastic Journalist was indeed fired a year ago, so it's the old guard at the Herald-Spun with whom I agreed.

It is a curiosity that some seem to think that the lines of code that produced the blogging product have somehow staked out new first amendment ground or are the basis for declaring some form of special worker's rights. That's silly. It's publishing, that's all. The "great unwashed" have always been able to publish and experience immediate regret. Remember Jerry Maguire's "Mission Statement"?

What's different now is the cost (none) and the push-the-button-and-the-whole-world-can-see-it aspect --- literally. It's the distribution. That's what makes it so powerful and will quickly re-establish the role of journalism as well. Without some form of filtering, gatekeeping or sorting, all the blogs will quickly become of fog of chatter. Raw data only becomes information in the hands of a capable programmer. At least all those photocopies cost Jerry some money, plus all the effort to hand them all out. For many, that would mean that they'd have to really believe in something to part with the cash, time and effort. What would Jerry have done with a blog?!

So perhaps the question on the minds of publishers is whether or not blogging can "show them the money?"

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Blocking bloggers

Herald-Sun staff is canned for bashing management on her blog. No news there. No employer should be expected to tolerate their own staff disparaging them publicly. That's right ... on this one, I agree with the Kentucky greedmongers.

I read that at the recent Triangle Blogging Conference one attendee advised bloggers to "write as though no one was looking." I don't get it ... does he want someone to get sued?

As much as we hate the struggle with editors in the conventional writing environment, they protect the writer and the publication from libelous actions and repercussions.

Do bloggers think they cannot get sued for libel because they omit their true identity from the blog?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Fake News

No, I don't mean The Daily Show, Comedy Central's excellent spoof that unsparingly bashes the media as much or more than it does politicians. The fake news I'm talking about is brought to you by the Bush Administration, now caught in FIVE episodes of egregious propaganda dissemination. This case in point is the departure of phony journalist "Jeff Gannon" (not his real name - clue #1) who was tossing softballs to the president recently and to Press Secretary Scott McClellan routinely.

Previous cases include release fake B-roll video of fictional "news" segments (that made air in several particularly lazy markets) and the purchase, lock, stock & barrel of three columnists. Bush was "shocked" to learn about the purchase of Armstrong Williams, but that dismay rings more and more hollow as the additional incidents are tallied.

"Jeff Gannon" says that he's resigned his position as White House reporter for "Talon News" because of his concern for his family. Yah. Okay.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

SROs should be county/state budget item

This morning's Chapel Hill (Paxton-$un) Herald editorial position is that School Resource Officers should be paid for by the schools (as opposed to the county or the state) because "the work they do is determined by the schools and is for the schools."


They work within the chain of command in their respective law enforcement units. The fact that they coordinate their protective services with the population they are working with is no different than a beat cop working with the Chapel Hill Herald on Mallette Street. If the staff has heard about possible vandalism directed at the Herald, they work with the police to drive by a little more often, they tell them about special activities on the weekends -- they work together to prevent crime.

These cops aren't security guards. They're cops. They protect a specialized population, so they have special training, but they are cops, period. Funding the police is the entire community's responsibility and the Town of Chapel Hill in particular should hang its head in shame for running away from this important need for the safety of students AND STAFF in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School district.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Courage - the real deal

The Iraqi people lined up outside, targets to assassins to exercise their franchise today. They have more courage in their ink-stained index fingers than Dubyah has in his whole body.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Paxton-$un blows it again - local "news"

On today's front page (above the fold) of the Paxton-$un, we have a picture of ... undeveloped land. Gripping.

On the other side of the Triangle, the N&O offeres actual news. There's potential for an ice storm this weekend, for example. The Paxton-$un only offers "Chilly" in its front page glimpse into the forecast.

The family of Deborah Key has asked that she be ruled legally dead. That's an Orange County story, but with all due deference to the Chapel Hill Herald's beat, I don't feel too confident that the newly-released Andrew Dalzell is going to keep his aggressive tendencies within Orange County lines. It's a regional story. Still, if you were in Durham trusting and relying on the Paxton-$un, you would scarcely even know the guy was bounced out of jail on reduced bond, much less what's happening next in the story. If you were counting on their website to have the latest ... well, just forget it.

Speaking of being ruled dead, it seems to me there's a lot of interest in the small matter of a guy mistakenly being pronounced dead in Franklin County. The state's chief medical examiner, Dr. John Butts, is based at ... uh... UNC. Might he have some insights into what might have happened, how often such a mistake might occur, how it can be prevented ... stuff like that? Even the Paxton-$un can figure out that readers what to know how this works.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Paxton-$un, committed to ... ???

When half the front page of the Herald-Sun was devoted to a wire photo of the late, great, but not-at-all-local Johnny Carson, I knew there was not a whole lot of commitment to local news at the Paxton-$un.

And it's clear that, despite assurances of commitment to our local needs, the paper doesn't give a sh*t about their website being a valuable took for local residents. To wit: When Andrew Dalzell, whose confession to the murder of Carrboro's Deborah Key was ruled inadmissable, was sprung from jail yesterday the Herald-Sun did not update its website. The N&O did so immediately, but the Herald-Sun did nothing on its website -- NOTHING.

Apparently, the need to keep the LOCAL public informed when an accused killer hits the LOCAL street is not in the Paxton-Sun's universe of "top stories."

Tick, tick, tick ... the countdown to the end of the Herald-Sun is under way. That story probably didn't make the website right away because the paper's management deludes itself still into thinking that holding it until it's in print will encourage (print) sales.

$tupid. $tupid. $tupid.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

There's no business like snow business

It's been almost too much to watch Greg Fishel apologizing all over the place (including CNN) for missing the forecast last week. Not quite all of us hang on Greg's every word. Some of us actually look out the window, apply what's left of our common sense and (gasp) make our own judgments.

In early February of 1978, two weeks after I was married, I was caught in a Connecticut blizzard that struck at 10:00 a.m. on a weekday. We all knew it was coming, just as the storm that has pummeled New England this weekend was well-predicted.

But we were all at work anyway.

I left my office at 3:00. That's when my stupid employer, The Hartford Insurance Group, released us, after several hours of white-out conditions. The state was already in an emergency condition. To drive about a mile and a quarter to my new husband's place of work (the Travelers Insurance Company) took me over three hours.

No cell phone. No way to let him know I was okay or on the way. Just three-plus harrowing hours, crawling through downtown Hartford like a tiny frozen snail. Thankfully, I had a full tank of gas and a brand new battery in our Honda Civic.

When I got to the Travelers, the streets were barron. They'd let out hours before we did. My new husband was beside himself with worry, having no idea the shortcuts through parks, across meridians and over sidewalks I'd taken to get there. Under normal circumstances, I'd have gotten a dozen tickets.

The problem was the snow, yes, but mainly the number of people who just threw their hands in the air, got out of their cars and walked away, frustrated that as a foot of snow had already fallen, they just weren't getting anywhere. Thousands of people were stuck-- for the rest of the week -- at their place of work because of how long it took to clear the streets.

So when this freak storm hit last week and children were stranded at school because their busses couldn't bring them home, I had to chuckle a little and wonder even more -- why Wake county was so uniquely screwed up that they couldn't manage themselves better.

It must all be on the overburdened shoulders of Greg Fishel, or so the News & Observer (oh, yeah ... a media partner of WRAL) would have you believe.

Oh, brother.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Powell quits FCC, titter runs through crowd

The Super Bowl should be super once again as it will be the first major live television even in the post-Michael Powell era at the FCC. When Janet Jackson's quarter-second of flashy nippage knocked Powell off the couch in his family room and reaching for his TiVo, America lurched into it's highest form of entertainment - a self-absorbed culture war.

Be sure to send him a farewell e-mail at

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Inauguration Day

Twelve years ago, I stood in the cold and the mud and listened to a new president describing how the baby boomers would "force the spring." At the time, Americans were anxious about deepening debt (now referred to as "the good old days") and unemployment at the same time we needed to invest in the infrastructure of education.

If you've never been to an inauguration, I recommend that you do it when you're young enough to withstand the physical challenge and old enough to take in the historical meaning. When we transfer power from one president to another and (especially) one party to another, it's a compelling event. This year is more ho-hum in that regard.

For a moment, I will stop joking by calling today "Black Thursday" and wish our president the best. I wish we could be more alike than we are divided, but perhaps Bush II, part 2 will look toward the history books and lurch toward the political center. Read Bush's speech - it's a decent call to action. See also MSNBC's citizen journalism page for some accounts of the event.

Let's hope ... at least until we know better.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

There's no crying in journalism

Cross-posted (and updated) from

I have received my actual letter of termination from the Herald-Sun. It's unremarkable except for the minor point of, uh, a couple of facts. Suffice to say, I find the notice as credible as the reasons given earlier.

For the last six years I have enjoyed an enlightening ongoing chat with the readers in this community, one which I hope will now simply shift (typing joke) into a new venue. I have shared my experiences and insights on everything from schools to suicide, from politics to puppies. I have worked this writing muscle of mine every week for about 300 weeks. I am profoundly grateful to The Chapel Hill Herald for its role as my personal trainer. I especially appreciate the good faith and humor of Catherine Wright while she was editor there and I was covering Carrboro and writing my column as well. She is a terrific editor, a total professional and a good friend.

I deeply appreciate the emails of condolence, support and outrage recently and over the years. I also want to express my own heartfelt gratitude for those who have disagreed with me and taken the time to thoughtfully say so.

We don't pay enough attention to the profound value of respectful dissent and responsible discussion of public policy disagreement. It is indeed most alarming to me that the Herald-Sun cannot manage to tolerate my independently fussing at them. The newspaper business is no place for the thin-skinned.

And so, onto the blogging scene and new horizons. Looking forward to the Feb. 12th conference at the J-school. May the force be with you.

Monday, January 17, 2005

The story gets better

Facts in a news story are not like wine. They shouldn't get better and change flavor as time passes. They shouldn't be affected by heat.

When my editor called on Sunday to tell me I was terminated, I asked him for a reason. He said that the newspaper's reason for terminating me was the I had published some of my columns on my blog -- this blog. This is bogus for the reasons I've outlined below ... estoppel by silence.

Today's News and Observer says this on the "how come?" question:
"Just before she left to return her own paper, Bolduc said, she received a call from her editor saying her column was canceled. Ashley said Sunday that ending the column was part of the company's strategy to save money, but Bolduc thinks she was punished for her criticism."

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Donald Trump is on line 2

The call came this Sunday morning. I'm fired.

The reason, he said, was because I had published my columns on my blog, a violation of my contract which sells electronic rights to the newspaper. They'd better be firing other columnists who have done the same thing.

So, I hung up the phone then got into the truck with hubby and met WTVD at the Herald-Sun driveway, as we'd previously arranged. I told them the next news development (my termination) prompting snickers.

I wonder if these guys know anything about the news business. Anthony Wilson (WTVD) said that when he talked to Bob Ashley last week, his only comment about my protest was "That's her right."

(And by the way, it's completely their right to terminate my contract because they feel like it ... it's telling that they're so foolish as to attempt to hide behind this premise, however)

As we stood by, a Herald-Sun employee in a panel truck came out to the driveway and picked up the half-dozen or so papers that were there, grumbling all the while. (Channel 11 got video of all this) He said there had been about 17 so far.

A car left the employee parking lot and its driver dropped a paper off (all on camera).

After my roadside interview, a car approached, slowed down, and the passenger tossed six or seven papers out, then the passenger thrust her fist into the air (on camera).

So, I'm in the market for a new print space, but in the meantime ... watch this space for new developments.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

A Good Confession, Unused

From The Chapel Hill Herald:
Good police work takes brains, takes risks and often takes a lot of time. All of these elements drove the case of what happened to Deborah Key.

Recently, I told Carrboro Police Chief Carolyn Hutchison that I thought the use of a fake documents that resulted in a murder confession from accused killer Andrew Dalzell was a great piece of police work. The relief and grief felt by the family of Deborah Key is something most of us can only imagine.

On Monday, Superior Court Judge Wade Barber ruled that the ruse used by the Carrboro cops was a violation of Dalzell’s rights. The lack of a Miranda warning means that the confession is inadmissible, Barber decided, because it was induced by “hope or fear.” Orange-Chatham District Attorney Carl Fox will determine what this means for the case against Dalzell, who (thankfully) remains in custody.

In a time when high speed chases are so often in the news as police run down someone who has committed a more minor crime – like stealing a car – it was refreshing to see that Carrboro was a place where police work was a bit more intellectual in its nature.

It’s regrettable that the confession is tossed, but awfully encouraging and important that the mystery of what happened to Deborah Key is now resolved. Dalzell’s legal dance might make it impossible to get that confession into evidence against him, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a trial and it doesn’t mean he won’t be convicted of Key’s murder – the murder he confessed to in the back of that police cruiser.

Murder, after all, is seldom a clean or well-planned business. People who kill other people to solve problems are not what you’d call “long-term thinkers.”

There is likely more evidence to be discovered that will tend to bring the truth to light. The detectives involved have an awfully good idea of what happened now. Presumably that makes the search for proof much easier.

While I don’t especially relish the idea of the police arresting me for one thing while trying to get me to confess to another, I know that if I’m under arrest, I’m in trouble. When you’re in trouble, it’s hard to avoid the temptation to talk your way out of it.

Suspects certainly are entitled to the Miranda warning, but I imagine that it seldom brings the epiphany of self-protection that the law seems to expect. If hearing that you-have-the-right-to-remain-silent caution really caused most people to suddenly clam up, then why did Dalzell sit down and write out his admission after signing an acknowledgement that he had received the warning?

Why didn’t he simply stare blankly ahead, say “oh, well, that’s different” and refuse to write or sign any confession at all? Why not insist on seeing a lawyer and refusing to answer questions?
The answer is the same as the explanation for his admission during his ride home. It’s the human mind, guilt and the need to unburden a soul. Yes, I think he probably is a troubled man who did a terrible thing several years ago, but who among us knows anything about the ordeal of living with that?

I expect that Dalzell was actually so relieved to have his chase end and genuinely concerned for his own family that he spilled the beans just to alleviate the intense pressure he must have felt.
Please don’t be confused by my speculation about Dalzell’s burden. If he did this murder, then he should bunk in with Mike Peterson and never be heard from again.

Occasionally one of my children has been in an emotional state due to a situation that seemed overwhelming at the time. Where I would normally back off and let him collect himself, I have sometimes “moved in” during these situations. Sometimes when you’re very upset and afraid, you can really get to the bottom things, just to relieve the pressure.

But of course, that’s an action of a caring Mom who is sitting on the edge of your bed, trying to help you through your adolescence. I can scarcely think of a greater position of trust than between a vulnerable child and his mother.

Between an accused killer and the police, however, there is no trust and there shouldn’t really be any expectation of it, should there? I mean, once I’m in the back of a cruiser with my handcuffs on, should I really be thinking that the officer in the front seat is looking to protect my freedom?

I offer again my admiration for the Carrboro police and their creative work in solving the mystery of what happened to Deborah Key. Perhaps in the future there will be more and better resources for them and their colleagues elsewhere to guide them on the use of such strategies without fear of legal reversal.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

The Herald-Sun, former community newspaper

Let's start with a quote from my editor, Neil Offen:
"You are always, of course, free to post for yourself, in your name, on any subject of interest."

I sure hope that's true. I've tossed and turned over whether or not to remain quiet about the Herald-Sun's new management. I've decided that if I don't have the anatomy to say what I think on my own blog, then I'm wasting the time of anyone reading my column in the Chapel Hill Herald. Further, if Paxton fires me for what I say here, it says more about them than it does me.

As I've been reading lately about the thermonuclear cleaning of the Pickett Road barn, I am embarrassed for the Herald-Sun newspaper and its new management. What a colossal misjudgment. It's not just bad form but indeed, bad business judgment to so publicly treat so many people so badly. It's no worse to treat a 50-year employee badly than it is one who's there a short time, yet it seems so much more egregious -- so completely ungrateful. I think of the number of weekends, holidays, snowstorms and various other things in 50 years' time and imagine what someone working for a newspaper that long has to give up to do what Bill Hawkins used to describe as "the work of the Lord." That's how he saw the newspaper business. At least, that's what he said.

It's stunning to see that people who are clever enough to have enough money to buy something so valuable can then piss on their own shoes and nearly overnight, measurably reduce the value of their new purchase. Arrogance, thy name is Paxton.

On the up side, however, it is reassuring to see so many people expressing their disgust with this new regime's unprofessional treatment of the staff dismissed nearly a week ago. My feeling is that the Durham and Orange county communities are yearning for a way to make the point to Paxton that it has behaved abominably and should be foreced to apologize, yet they they don't want to kill the Herald-Sun completely. Even the N&O will tell you, the competition is good for the market and good for readers.

Still, for those who would like to smack Paxton where they live, I offer this modest proposal:
Don't cancel your subscription ... that will only threaten more jobs at a needed community newspaper. Instead, take your January 16th (Sunday) edition (the one with all that expensive advertising in it) and bring it back to the Herald-Sun's main office on Sunday afternoon. Throw it in their driveway (2828 Pickett Road, Durham), still wrapped in plastic -- unopened, unread. You can put a little love note in there if you want. This will tell the Herald-Sun management that their advertisers were ripped off for whatever they paid for that day's ads. There's money involved there, so Paxton should actually care about it.

I'm going to venture a guess that other local media will be monitoring that parking lot during that period, so be sure you've combed your hair and look sharp. You could end up on somebody's front page. And no worries about missing the content of the paper. Just come home and read it online -- just this once.

Of course, Paxton should care about the fact that with this horrifying treatment of the staff, they have rendered their moral authority and voice in the community's opinion leadership decidedly un-trustworthy and completely non-essential.

Next Sunday is the day before we observe Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday. It's an appropriate opportunity to conduct a little protest and mini-boycott if you will, for the benefit of preserving civility and fairness within the walls a major employer in the City of Durham.

And we'll just see if the Herald-Sun really thinks it's just fine for me to express my opinion freely.

Friday, January 07, 2005

What'cha gonna do when the cops come for you?

When Carrboro police arrested Andrew Dalzell, they didn't tell him they were hoping to charge him with the murder of Deborah Leigh Key. They didn't tell him if (and I don't know the facts on this) they had only enough evidence to charge him with stealing from the local hobby store he worked for. They didn't tell him squat.

They brought him back to Orange County and on the way, they duped him into confessing to Key's murder by using a fake warrant for first degree murder and a fake letter from District Attorney Carl Fox. This led him to believe that he was not only going to be charged with first degree murder but the the State of North Carolina would be setting aside a sharp, poisonous needle with his name on it. The ruse worked, he confessed and was subsequently charged with the murder.

When I was a teenager and of age to drive a car, my father (an attorney) told me that if I ever got pulled over, I should do exactly as the police told me to. Resisting arrest is illegal, he said. The safest thing to do is to get yourself to the police station then get on the phone to call for help.

I've told my kids, very simply, that if they are ever, in any way, under any suspicion, they are NOT to talk to the police. Except to identify yourself and explain where your wallet is or your license and registration, you will never help yourself with paragraphs that begin with "Officer, I didn't do it ... I can explain ..."

I had a friend some years ago who arrived at home one evening to find the business card of a local police officer. He called him. The police asked my friend to come in so they could talk. They'd had a report about him and they had a few questions.

He should have said "no thanks," hung up the phone and called his lawyer, but he didn't, because he hadn't done anything wrong. Soon, he was talking not only to the police but to the SBI and remained convinced that he could explain himself to the nice police officers.

He was arrested evenually (after giving the police all the help they needed) and charged with a felony that he did not commit. The charges were thrown out of court and a year later he still lost his job on account of the accusation.

No one in this scenario did anything wrong. The police were investigating and they followed procedure, which includes interviewing a suspect and arresting him when he gives evidence that would seem to support the accusation against him. The district attorney gave his best argument in the probable cause hearing. The judge, citing insufficent credibility of the accuser, threw the case out. The district attorney later assisted in expunging the record. Legally, it disappeared.

Regardless, my friend lost his job and moved away to escape this trainwreck experience. His life was irrevocably changed and injured, yet the one person who could have prevented it was him. Had he folded his arms and remained unhelpful and silent, he would likely have simply gone on with his life, unassaulted by a false accusation.

In the Carrboro case, Dalzell was treated in a manner completely consistent with the rights outlined by the American Bar Association's web site. Police generally read a Miranda warning to people who are about to be questioned in custody, says the ABA. But the important point to realize here is that the cops can hold you without charge for up to 48 hours if they have probable cause to believe you have committed a crime.

Putting Dalzell in a car for a couple of hours with only some fake documents and his own guilty heart to keep him company is not only legal and fair. It is a brilliant, savvy piece of police work that should make Carrboro Police Chief Hutchison the North Carolina Cop of the Year.

I applaud the Carrboro cops for solving a murder using their brains and their understanding of human behavior and nature. It beats a high-speed chase anyday.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Local Media Changes

Some interesting insights in Ruth Sheehan's column in the News & Observer. Those halcyon days of friendly competition between the Herald-Sun and the N&O may quickly seem far away. More's the pity for readers.

For AM radio listeners, there's some glimmer of hope that the new General Manager at WCHL (a former 'CHL reporter) will bring back some more local voice that was silenced recently by a con$ultant. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Got a pickle? Give a pickle

From the 1-5-05 Chapel Hill Herald:

Would you like to have my pickle?
When I was a kid and enjoyed the rare experience of eating at the golden arches, I would enjoy my 17-cent fries and my 25-cent hamburger without assistance except for one thing. I didn’t like dill pickles as a kid and I would take them off my burger the minute I got it.
My mother, however, loves dill pickles, just as I do now. As a child of the depression, she would find it unthinkable to toss my pickles away (or ask for the burger without them) and so our ritual was born. Buy the burger, open the burger and give the pickles to Mom.
This dance continues today as my younger son dislikes dill pickles (for now) and so as he opens his Big Mac, the offer comes from the back seat, “Mom, do you want my pickles?” No calories in a dill pickle. I’ll take it.
It’s a silly thing and a small thing, but it reminds me of our contrary tendencies in being generous. Americans are a peculiar bunch. We can, overnight, give millions of dollars for Tsunami victims on the other side of the world and get up the next morning and fight over a parking space.
We’re competitive about everything. We pledge $35 million in disaster relief, get called stingy (along with other wealthy nations), then up it to $350 million. When someone does a study of the puny things in the U.S. budget that cost $350 million, that number will double.
I’ll see your compassion and raise it ten teardrops. If only it were a poker game. If only ten would be enough.
Growing up, we were all taught about sharing. It’s a good thing to do in general terms, like with a pickle or a blanket.
It’s a bad thing to do sometimes, like with the answers to your algebra quiz or when your computer contacts my computer and says “I love you and I want you to open this file.”
Of course, there’s always the classic example of selfish sharing – that’s right selfish – like when your co-worker arrives at the office with bleary eyes, sore throat and runny nose, sneezes on your desk, your phone and everything you touch, then announces that he just had to come in today because he had some report that just had to go out and he couldn’t ask you to do it for him.
Yeah, right. He couldn’t bear to use up any of his paid time off in order to spare you his cold, that’s all.
There’s also the family example (every family has one) of the emotional blackmailer. This is the person in your family who always seems to step forward to do something that appears helpful, then rubs your nose in it for at least a year, preferably five to ten.
Not that you didn’t say thank you. Not that you didn’t appreciate it, just that she hosted that party and did all the work while you had fun and now you owe her. Forget about ever doing anything that would be enough to repay the gesture. It isn’t possible.
It’s quite a pickle.
Over the holiday break, my son put in some hours sorting and counting mittens and socks and other things donated to Orange Congregations in Mission (OCIM). He did this to earn community service hours for his International Baccalaureate program at Cedar Ridge High School.
What a blessing this experience was for him (and for me). For three days after Christmas, he was wrapped up in something other that what was under the tree and how fast he could spend the cash his pickle-chomping grandmother gave him.
Some of the work is tedious and might not be anyone’s first choice to do for three days straight, but Rob was appreciative that he could pop in and get his hours to meet his requirement – that’s the self-interest part. The other part was that he got some real-world work experience, with supervision and expectations and getting the job done. That has value for him. He helped someone else – someone he’ll never meet, who will never be able to say thank you to him personally or directly.
And that is ultimately what generosity is – that act of giving when thanks are not expected and perhaps not even possible. That’s the best experience in charitable donation available.
When you give up a pickle you didn’t want anyway, it’s not really a generous thing, it’s more a matter of frugality. As a practice, however, it does get you thinking about whether or not someone else can use something you don’t need or want any longer.
So if you got a new sweater for Christmas and are ready to retire an old one, have an old coat you never wear or other household items that are working but not seeing any real use for you, give OCIM a call (at 732-6194) and find out if you can donate the items, which are usually tax deductible.
Give a neighbor a pickle. It’ll make you feel good.