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Preview: Letters from the Bostonian Exile

Letters from the Bostonian Exile



Musings from a Boston Republican on politics, law, and pop culture.



Updated: 2015-09-17T01:04:46.427-04:00

 



Change: It's a good thing

2006-06-04T17:49:01.010-04:00

For a number of reasons that I may or may not outline later (all of them positive, I assure you), I'm starting anew.  I've been away for a while (mostly due to work).  The fact that I have been feeling limited by Blogger for the last few months contributed as well.  So, we're going to give something new a try:


New template.


New blog server.


New focus.


New partner.


New blog.


I give you Great White Snark.


Over the next month, we'll be trying things out over there.  The next thirty days are on Typepad's dime, so we'll see if we can't get back in the swing of things.


And, the lovely Lady E has agreed to join me over there.


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A Trip Down Memory Lane: Stage 1

2006-05-13T16:00:06.816-04:00

The Lady Exile and I are going home to Detroit in a couple of weeks for some wedding planning obligations over Memorial Day weekend. It's another one of those life-changing points that have been filling my life of late. Thankfully, all of these changes have been much for the better.


As chance would have it, I am starting to get addicted to YouTube, especially since I started noticing the incredible amount of content on there that takes me back to my childhood.


So, over the next couple of weeks, I will have some links up to videos that make me think of life before Boston.


(embed)

This was a commercial for the Detroit Zoo that aired during the early- and mid-1980s. When I rediscovered it the other night, neither of us had seen this ad in the better part of twenty years.

And yet!

We still knew the commercial almost by heart.

Funny how that works....




Clinton vs. Bush

2006-05-13T15:18:51.836-04:00

If the Middle America Progressive says word one about this poll, he cedes any moral authority he might ever have had calling out conservative who still note the shortcomings of the Clinton presidency.


I wonder if he's willing to abdicate a frequent bargaining chip.


Also, the poll respondents think Bush Clinton is more honest by a five point margin.  Apparently, authentic corroboration on tape is only slightly more damning than no authenticated corroboration at all.*  Who knew that Americans would trust a confirmed liar over, at worst, an unconfirmed one?


(And just to foreclose the inevitable attempts to distinguish the two: the poll only asked which man the respondent trusted more.  It made no attempt to draw out the sources of these decisions or any distance between them on individual trust spectrums.)


I do wonder about the usefulness of this poll.  Year five of the Clinton presidency was 1998.  The independent counsel investigation was only at its midpoint and he had not yet been impeached.  While Clinton's approval rating never dipped below the mid-fifties in the second term, two points are overlooked: he was a peacetime president (or at the least he was not running an unpopular war -- the occasional airstrike doesn't count) and his approval ratings had also previously been in the mid-thirties.  Also, Clinton peaked in the mid-seventies.  I'm not suggesting that I think it is likely that Bush, too, will enjoy a 20-point bump before the end of his presidency, but I'm also not placing it entirely outside of the realm of possibility.


In other words, the poll is interesting, I suppose, as far as it goes.  But call me again in another 8 years.  At least then we'll know how the Bush presidency ended and we'll have a little perspective.


*Thanks to Kathy for noting my typo, though it only serves to underscore my conclusion, not undermine it.


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Dispatch from the Battlefield

2006-05-10T21:51:27.773-04:00

This is one of those rare occasions where I will blog about work.  For obvious reasons (as well as not-so-obvious ones), the details will be scarce.  However, it is not the content of what I encountered today that matters as much as how that information struck me.


In the course of starting an incredibly daunting document review today, I pulled up a copy of the complaint we filed in this products liability case.


(For those who are curious, a complaint is the document that essentially starts a lawsuit and is the first one you file in court.  All it really does is name the plaintiff and defendant(s) and put everyone on notice about what kind of suit you are filing.  That's it.  No evidence.  No offer of proof.  All you have to do is tell who you are suing that you are suing them and what the claim is.  If you want to wait until a little later to tell them "why" you are suing them (and flesh out the facts of your case more), go for it.  At least that's how it works in most states and in the federal system.)


Usually, the second paragraph of your complaint describes your defendant.  Today, I encountered the following (ID information removed for privacy purposes):



[X Corporation] is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business at [Address], Detroit, Michigan.



I stopped short because, well, let's just say I had heard of this company.  And that I had seen their headquarters, what with growing up near there.


Wouldn't it be nice if I could combine business with a trip home to see the folks?






Busy

2006-05-06T17:08:51.220-04:00

Holy Mother of God.  Week one of work.


Suddenly, I'm the proud owner of about a dozen casefiles.  Thankfully, only half of them have court dates scheduled for the next month.  This means I will actually have some days in the office to get some real work done.


Amazingly, in the span of a week, going to court has gone from a novel and flawless experience to a significant chunk out of an otherwise busy day.


But then, I can see how having half of a day out of the office every now and then can be good, too.


Now, it's the weekend and, really, the last thing I want to do at home in my free time is to look at a computer screen.  Off to read this.  And, if I get tired of that, perhaps this new arrival instead.


Back when I can come up for air.


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Grits and Greens at the Holidays

2006-04-26T22:32:18.033-04:00


No, I'm not kidding.





Dixie Royal
You are 81% true Southern!
You are pure belle or gentleman! You know your Jones Soda, Nehi and RC colas, your Moon Pies and sweet potato pie; you'd absolutely die without air conditioners in the summer, and you've seen Steel Magnolias and Fried Green Tomatoes (or read the book!). Your grandmother lives in an antebellum home and has a cook who makes the best fried chicken and asparagus casserole and summer squash and everything else in the world. And you know the taste of honeysuckle and the feel of grass between your toes. You are blessed.







My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:









(image) (image)
You scored higher than 55% on Southerliness
Link: The Southern-ness Test written by gwennykate on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test
[via Cardinal Martini]



Rules for Blogging

2006-04-26T11:19:54.306-04:00

Don Surber suggests some rules for blogging:



The first rule is The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Malkin learned this in an unhappy way.

The second rule is from my sisters: Don’t dish it out what you cannot take. Call someone a moonbat, expect to be called a wingnut. Bloggers set the tone for their blogs. Opinions are discounted greatly by the author’s use of foul language, personal attacks and general meanness.

Third rule: Thou shall not steal. That means link those whose material you are citing. Take no more than one third without permission.

Fourth rule is from Jim Snyder, an old sportswriter and city editor, who said never write about a person what you would not say to his face. He once challenged the mayor of Parkersburg to a duel of cream pies. Mayor Alvin K. Smith declined. Both are dead. Both were characters. Both hated one another but never wrote anything about the other that they would not say to their faces.

Fifth rule: Have fun. Enjoy what you are doing. Blogging is a hobby first, last and always. A few people are millionaires off this. Good for them. But if they are not enjoying their posting, why are they doing this?

Other than that, follow the rules of journalism, realizing that the only difference is blogs are opinions, not news stories. The ABCs of journalism are accuracy, brevity and clarity. Cite sources. Disclose conflicts of interest. Don't blog to appease advertisers.



There is more, so read the whole thing.  He thinks he may be making a fool of himself in suggesting these rules; if he wants to recruit "An Army of Fools," I'll take my place on the front line.


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Kerry Lied, Jefferson Cried

2006-04-26T07:06:08.113-04:00

So says Cardinal Martini of my junior senator.  You know, the one of the two I actually like better.


Then again, it's not hard to beat Ted Kennedy in that race.


God help the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.





On "Net Neutrality": Slow Down

2006-04-26T00:18:51.316-04:00

It seems that the blogs are abuzz over the "Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act of 2006" decrying it as "downright frightening," among other things.  The Middle America Progressive calls it "yet another reason for real conservative to stand up and be counted as opposed to George Bush and the budding American Theocracy that the GOP is trying to create."  As you know, I respond positively to having both my ideology and my patriotism called out.  It's almost as well as I respond to doomsday claims made by those who I would be willing to bet have not even seen a link to the proposed legislation, let alone skimmed the document itself. Don't bother looking at Thomas.  It's not there: the bill has not been reported out of committee and is apparently not yet linked to any bill previously referred to the Energy and Commerce Committee.  But, it is scheduled for markup tomorrow (Wednesday). I contacted a college buddy who works on Capitol Hill to see if I could get a copy, but he said that is would be available once it was reported out.  Of course, he doesn't work on telecom issues, so he might not have had the most complete information on this bill; he was aware of the bill, but did not have ready access to it. After a rather involved search, I did find what may be committee print for tomorrow's hearing, but I can't be certain that it is the most recent document.  However, what I also found was that a lot of this furor was derived from the statements (without much variation) of a single consumer advocate who does work on such matters.  I won't be so crass as to call him a special interest lobbyist, except for how that's what he is, isn't he, even if he may be wearing a hat some presumptively deem white? No, I'd rather just challenge you, dear reader, to find the bill, and put it together for yourself if you are so upset about this.  Find the thoughts of someone who opposes the bill that do not (intentionally or otherwise) state verbatim the statement linked above.  Find the thoughts of someone (pro or con) who actually notes the FCC adjudication mechanism and the $500,000 penalties for each instance of violating Commission's policies protecting consumer choice in broadband service. Think about it.  If Verizon were to block even 1,000 people from accessing Instapundit or DailyKos, it could face half a billion dollars in penalties. Am I saying I'm for this bill?  No.  I'm too tired (and still focused on student speech law) to form an opinion on it.  I'm not about to make a decision on the merits of the bill (with due respect to my friend) based upon the say-so of a Hill staffer who works in other areas and an opposition whose forward guard redlined my B.S. detector within about 30 seconds of reaching their web site. In short: if you want to call your member of Congress, fine.  But if you are going to tell him or her that the sky Net is falling, you might want to make sure that you haven't been duped by a lobbying group that, based on its niche, has its best fundraising opportunity in months. And if you are convinced that it all fits: explain it to me.  I'm clearly missing something here if that's the case. Tags: COPE, Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act of 2006, Congress, Politics, News, Current Events [...]



Post on "Horrifying" Decision to Follow

2006-04-23T22:36:26.336-04:00

I did not quite finish my post on the Ninth Circuit's Harper decision yesterday, since the opinions total nearly ninety pages.  Also, my new motherboard arrived yesterday, so I spent much of the evening bringing my primary computer back to life.  Look for that post later today Monday. 


In the meantime, I will take this rare occasion to say that I think Libby's comment is spot-on: this is a horrifying decision, indeed.  It becomes more so when you see how Judge Reinhardt gets from point A to point B.


UPDATE:  Busier weekend than I expected.  Look for it Monday.


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Ted Kennedy Does Late Night

2006-04-21T11:58:20.480-04:00

Ted Kennedy was on the Daily Show last night, raising my blood pressure just before bed. Anyway, he's running for re-election. Again. And he has a new book. Fine. If I could get my hands on a full transcript of the interview, it might make for classic fisking fodder, but there were a couple of choice statements that stood out last night.At one point, Kennedy said that his vote against the Iraq War was the "most important" of his Senate career. He seemed to have forgotten a few other votes:The Civil Rights Act of 1964The Voting Rights Act of 1965The Americans with Disabilities ActThe Department of Housing and Urban Development ActThe Higher Education Act of 1965, which developed federal college financial aid.You know, all of those major votes that Kennedy built his senate career on? Even Jon Stewart looked like he wanted to call the liberal lion out.He noted that the "Democrats got us out of Vietnam." Ahem, the Democrats got us pretty well entrenched in Vietnam, including a Democrat who Teddy knew quite well. I'm not saying that the Republicans had their hands clean by any stretch, but good God -- he had a ringside seat on this one!He also noted that there was too much money in American politics. Of course, he's sitting on $8.5 million dollars to run unopposed in a state that has not sent a Republican to Congress in, what, over 20 years? He's not noting a problem; he's a part of the problem.Does he listen to himself anymore, really? I have no delusions about the GOP picking up his seat anytime soon, but can we just put him out to pasture already?And, it's sad, actually. I heard another interview with him yesterday on NPR's "Fresh Air". When asked about how one would fund all of the proposals in his new book, he made a point about the GI Bill: a government study some years ago found that for every dollar spent on the program, the government got back seven. A 600% return on investment gets anyone's attention. Kennedy, for the first time since he's been my senator, sounded eminently reasonable.I'm not saying that his data marks the end of the inquiry -- we would obviously take a closer look at the numbers -- but it's a better starting point than we usually have when it comes to policy discussion about social issues. Unfortunately, though, the junior Democratic members of Congress don't have the institutional knowledge on hand to make those arguments, and the senior ones like Kennedy usually opt against it in favor of some nonsense that appeals to the progressive interest group of the week.And, as a result, I endeavor not to burst any blood vessels when he is on the television.Tags: Ted Kennedy, The Daily Show, Massachusetts, Boston, News, Politics, Democrat, Books, Television[...]



Programming Note

2006-04-21T14:05:28.736-04:00

Look for posts throughout the workday.


First, there should be a piece on this story.  The Ninth Circuit decided yesterday that a high school student essentially did not have a First Amendment right to wear a t-shirt that read "HOMOSEXUALITY IS SHAMEFUL" at school.  Looks like a classic Reinhardt / Kozinski battle of the opinions.


Second, Ted Kennedy was on "The Daily Show" last night.  I didn't quite have a stroke while watching it, but things were dicey for a while.


Third, I started a long-ish post yesterday on the Duke rape case.  I might finish today, unless I run out of time or something huge breaks in the case that renders the whole thing moot.


Stay tuned.


UPDATE (2:00 p.m.): Speaking of apoplexy, I am working my way through Judge Reinhardt's majority opinion in the speech case above.  I usually strenuously disagree with his reasoning, and this opinion is developing no differently.


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It's About Damn Time: McClellan Resigns

2006-04-19T13:54:36.133-04:00

WaPo reports that Scott McClellan has resigned.


With his frequent deer-in-the-headlights facial expression, he was the P.R. point man for an administration that has been an abysmal failure at forcefully and coherently articulating policies over the last three years. 


I have never been a fan of Scott McClellan, and have hoped for a new press secretary for some time, say, one who doesn't just sit there and take it from the press corps every day: one speaking on the offensive, not the defensive. 


I can only hope his replacement will be an improvement.


MORE:  His Honor the MayorHe reminded me of some lost kid on a high school forensics team who has just been given the assignment to write an impromptu speech in favor of serving bald eagle meat in school lunches.


A brilliant mental image provided by someone who I trust once experienced such a thing.


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Manchester Airport to Change Name

2006-04-19T09:31:27.483-04:00

In as little as 30 days, the airport in Manchester, New Hampshire, will change its name to Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.



The new name, which could go up in as little as 30 days, is hoped to boost business at the airport, which is predicting its first passenger decline in five years.


Dillon presented a research study saying that only 3 percent of travelers surveyed out west know where Manchester is, while 93 percent know where Boston is.


"This is an issue for the other side of the country," Dillon said.


Logan can sometimes be reached in an hour's drive from Manchester, if weather and traffic conditions are favorable.



(emphasis mine)  Read: During the summer, on an off-weekend for tourists, maybe.  But, it could happen. 


And the 50 bucks you save on the airfare would be totally worth it.  [/sarcasm]


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TomKitten? Are you serious?

2006-04-19T09:16:08.773-04:00

That's what CNN dubbed Tom Cruise's new arrival on American Morning today.  Can we put him back on the shelf now?


Oh, and Katie Holmes was there, too, what with actually giving birth and all.


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What is the matter with people???

2006-04-18T16:23:29.706-04:00

Yesterday, I was taking the train home from work.  Because it was Patriots Day, many of the businesses downtown were closed, but the crowding on the train was far above that of a typical afternoon rush as runners and spectators from the Boston Marathon made their way back to homes and hotels.


Some of these runners, clad in foil ponchos to preserve body heat, looked like they were about to die, while others looked remarkably well for having run farther in a couple of hours than I have in any given year.


A few of these runners were on my train and held onto the handrails to remain standing.  Meanwhile, students and young professionals throughout the car took no notice and none offered a seat to the four runners standing within an arms length from me.


WTF?


It's bad enough that every day, seats are denied to the elderly, the expecting, and the disabled.  But the one day out of the year when 20,000 people visit your city for the privilege of running 26.2 miles, do you think you could fold over that vacuous "Us Magazine" you're reading, use your free hand to hold the handrail, and give up your seat?


Thank you.


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Making Mischief Elsewhere

2006-04-18T18:06:17.406-04:00

I was going to blog here this morning, but I got caught up in an exceptional conversation over at The Impolitic.  The conversation -- about "liberal libertarians" and defining the free market -- was spurred by this post by thehim post at Reload


Libby thinks so; I don't.  What else is new?  [ETA: When that is the summary, does it ever really matter what the question is?]


Check it out and join the conversation.


UPDATED TO ADD: We have called a cease-fire for the present time.  Seriously, though, go read it.  The debate today exemplifies why, despite our differences, Libby is one of my favorite people in the Blogosphere.


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A little shameless self-promotion

2006-04-17T12:48:34.396-04:00

I have a new job! This is the exciting news I alluded to on Friday.  Two weeks from today, I will be joining a Boston litigation firm as an associate.  The firm specializes in products liability and medical malpractice, the latter of which I find particularly interesting.  I am very excited because 1) the job is permanent, and 2) it sounds like I will be getting into court sooner rather than later. How I landed the job is a bit of a story unto itself and requires a bit of background.  This story is about two law firms and three brothers, who I will call "One," "Two," and "Three," ordered by age from eldest to youngest.  (Anonymity is necessary for the moment, so please bear with me.)  One owns a firm where I formerly worked.  Two is a partner in the new firm.  Three is a member of the firm where I formerly worked. Last Thursday, I went to a pub downtown for a bon voyage party for a former co-worker who is moving to Washington.  About 20 minutes into the party, Three showed up to make an appearance (and bought a round for the party).  We exchanged pleasantries, seeing one another for the first time in about a year.  I casually mentioned that I had met Two a few weeks prior when I interviewed at the new firm.  (Despite being near the end of the interview process, I had heard nothing either way and believed that the position had gone to someone else.)  Three asked why I didn't call him, because he and Two are very close and talk several times a day.  (It had never occurred to me to call Three because most of my work in the old firm had been for other attorneys.)  Three said that he thought the position was still open and excused himself to CALL HIS BROTHER.  I was a little stunned at that moment about how quickly things were suddenly moving. Three returned about five minutes later and said that he had left a voicemail for his brother and that I should call him the next day: a decision would be waiting. At about noon the next day, I received a phone call from the Hiring Partner at Two's firm, offering me the job.  I. Was. Stunned.  Good salary (not six digits as Libby guessed, but certainly enough to cover bills, beer, and other essentials, putting to an end my days of living like a grad student :) ), good benefits package.  It was all moving so quickly, but I was flying.  I stammered a request to think about it over the weekend, promising to call Monday.  The Hiring Partner agreed. I was almost immediately certain that I would take the job, but I did want to ensure that everything was covered on my end and that I had not forgotten any details.  I only had a few minor questions today when we spoke and I accepted the offer about an hour ago. So, I made it.  After months of searching for my first job while strapped to an emotional roller coaster, I'm finally setting out to do what I want to do.  It's been one hell of a ride, and I could not have done it (not with my sanity intact, anyway) without Lady E, who has been flying high with me all weekend.  Also, thank you to all of you who have offered words of encouragement over the last year or so.  In the last year, I've learned a lot about perseverance, tenacity, humility, self-assurance and self-doubt, about myself. . . .  I could continue the list, but I'm sure I would never fully complete it.  All the same, whatever your role, thanks for joining me on that journey.  I can't wait to start this next one. And to think that I almost didn't want to go to the bar on Thursday.  I won't fall into that trap again.  Heh... [...]



Very Exciting Day!

2006-04-14T20:47:09.543-04:00

More later.


UPDATE: Sorry to hold you all in suspense, but it will be well worth it.  Look for an official announcement on this exciting development Monday.





Did Comedy Central Censor "South Park"?

2006-04-13T15:10:57.916-04:00

Volokh has a great discussion about whether Comedy Central really did censor a scene from last night's South Park depicting the prophet Muhammad.


As of now, there has been no statement from Comedy Central or "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.  I have to admit, I've been trying to figure this one out since last night.


[via The World According to Nick]


UPDATE:  It seems that we have verification that Comedy Central did censor the episode, via National Review of all places.


UPDATE II:  The Associated Press has more, noting the part of the episode that led me to think that this might have been an actual swipe at Comedy Central:



Banned by Comedy Central from showing an image of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, the creators of "South Park" skewered their own network for hypocrisy in the cartoon's most recent episode.


The comedy _ in an episode aired during Holy Week for Christians _ instead featured an image of Jesus Christ defecating on President Bush and the American flag.



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Straight Talk on McCain

2006-04-13T11:47:27.716-04:00

Jacob Weisberg at Slate has a brilliant column on John McCain's recent overtures to the right-wing of the Republican party


"Brilliant", that is, if only because it presents coherently some thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head for a while.



Most liberal commentators take McCain's love fest with the neo-Calvinists at face value, arguing that he's finally revealing his true colors. A few months ago, The Nation ran a cover story titled "The Real McCain," which contended that the Arizona senator is a dyed-in-the-wool conservative. To the American Prospect, McCain is Barry Goldwater's true heir. A couple of weeks ago in the New York Times, Paul Krugman wrote, "The bottom line is that Mr. McCain isn't a moderate; he's a man of the hard right."


But the literal-minded left has McCain all wrong. He's trying to win over enough of his party's conservative base to win, for sure. But this is a stratagem—the only one, in fact, that gives him a shot at surviving a Republican presidential primary. Discount his repositioning a bit, and McCain looks like the same unconventional character who emerged during the Clinton years: a social progressive, a fiscal conservative, and a military hawk. Should he triumph in the primaries, we can expect this more appealing John McCain to come roaring back.



Read it all.


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Opening Day

2006-04-11T11:51:08.933-04:00

Spring has finally arrived in Boston, as the warm weather and the Red Sox returned on the same day.  My head cold is all but gone, and my favorite time of the year has begun.  I've been wicked busy of late, but my view from the 29th floor these days makes it bearable.


Yes, today is opening day at Fenway Park as the Sox host the Blue Jays.  Off to a 5-1 start, this is the best start they have had in years.  The excitement was palpable this morning as I left for work and there was already a line of cars on Boylston Street entering the Fenway -- pre-game traffic for an opener that wasn't due to start for another six hours.


I wonder if I will be able to score some tickets before the end of the season.  This is my third full season in this town, and I am still yet to attend a game.  Given how close to the park I now live, there is really no excuse.


[/ramble]


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Libby: Bush OK'ed Leak

2006-04-06T12:53:47.176-04:00

The Boston Globe is reporting that Scooter Libby testified that his leak of sensitive information was authorized by President Bush.


When I first saw the headline, I thought that this was it: game, set, match, and the Dems finally just might have their impeachable offense.  And then I saw this buried in the last paragraph of the piece:



"Defendant testified that the circumstances of his conversation with reporter Miller -- getting approval from the president through the vice president to discuss material that would be classified but for that approval -- were unique in his recollection," the papers added.



[Emphasis mine]  This muddies the waters, no doubt.  Politically damaging?  Yes, and in all likelihood, to a breathtaking degree.  A crime?  I'm still too medicated to get into that, but I doubt I'd make much headway even with a fully clear head.


About all I'll venture at this point is that no one -- not a soul -- will be happy with the final outcome of this revelation.  It sort of reaffirms my decision of a while back.


MORE:  Then again, this could be much ado about nothing (since there is no indication that the leak of Plame's identity was authorized) and I could have been fooled by the huge headline at boston.com.  If so, blame the meds.


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"South Park" Wins a Peabody

2006-04-06T11:10:14.956-04:00

"South Park" has won a Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting for its irreverent satire:



"South Park" was praised as a show that "pushes all the buttons, turns up the heat and shatters every taboo," Peabody Awards Director Horace Newcomb said. "Through that process of offending it reminds us of the need for being tolerant."



Willing to acknowledge that the show is more than just "poorly drawn animated brats making poop jokes," Kevin?


Peabody Count



  1. John Stewart: 2

  2. Stephen Colbert: 1

  3. Matt Stone and Trey Parker: 1

  4. Bill O'Reilly: Still Zero


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Reconsidering Reincarnation...

2006-04-06T09:11:13.226-04:00

and then reconsidering yet again when I saw the results of this quiz. Heh.

You are Gaius Caesar Germanicus - better known as Caligula!

Third Emperor of Rome and ruler of one of the most powerful empires of all time, your common name means "little boots". Although you only reigned for four years, brief even by Roman standards, you still managed to garner a reputation as a cruel, extravagant and downright insane despot. Your father died in suspicious circumstances, you were not the intended heir, and one of your first acts as Emperor was to force the suicide of your father-in-law. Your sister Drusilla died that same year; faced with allegations that your relationship with her had been incestuous, you responded, bafflingly, by declaring her a god.

You revived a number of unpopular traditions, including auctions of properties left over from public shows. When a senator fell asleep at one such auction, you took each of his nods as bids, selling him 13 gladiators for a vast sum. You attempted to have your horse, Incitatus, made into a consul and hence one of the most powerful figures in Rome. It was granted a marble stable with jewels and a staff of servants. At one point you forced your comrade Macro to kill himself - in much the same vein as your father-in-law - accusing him of being his wife's pimp. You, of course, were having an affair with said wife at the time.

Things went from bad to worse. When supplies of condemned men ran short in the circus, you had innocent spectators dragged into the arena with the lions to fill their place. You claimed mastery of the sea by walking across a three-mile bridge of boats in the Bay of Naples; kissed the necks of your lovers, whispering sweet nothings like "This lovely neck will be chopped as soon as I say so,"; dallied with your sister's lover and made her pull her unborn child out of her womb prematurely. Towards the end of your reign, you had a golden statue of yourself made and dressed each day in the same clothes you yourself wore. When you eventually died, the terrified people of Rome refused to believe that such a cruel reign could ever end, and believed you to be alive for years afterwards.

[via Cardinal Martini]

In other news, look for regular posting to resume later today or tomorrow as I (finally) start to bounce back.