Saturday, December 8, 2007

Little Eddy Blog #14 Tom De Lay, Karl Rove, Continuing Mailbox Drama

How many of you remember Tom De Lay’s occupation before he entered politics? I will be happy to remind you. He dealt in poisons, insect and pest control poisons to be specific. Perhaps that was why he so enthusiastically attempted t0 rid the Texas Legislature and the United States Congress of what he considered vermin of the Democratic variety. Until a Democratic District Attorney applied a bit of his own treatment back to him.

How generous it was of a now indigent Karl Rove to give Barack Obama his best advice in defeating Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. I’m sure Obama is properly grateful. However, since Rove’s interest in the Democratic candidates goes only as far as their capacity for defeat at Republican hands, the unspoken message of mister Rove’s piece of advice has to be that mister Obama would be an easier Republican mark than would be Ms. Clinton. And this is in the face of the often expressed Republican glee at again having a Clinton for a candidate.

For in truth Republicans dread facing another Clinton. Their dissing machine was in full time operational mode in the 90’s trying it’s damndest to hang something on hubby Bill, but nothing stuck until Monica, and in the end the attempt at impeachment ended in abject failure. And in spite of every imaginable roadblock, the Clinton Administration produced eight years of an efficient federal government with no foreign wars and a constant whittling down of the massive Republican debts incurred under Presidents Reagan and Bush one.

Republicans claim independents will be against Clinton, but methinks that is just more wishful thinking on their part. Independent voters are not stupid. They can remember the positives under the Democratic nineties, even after Clinton was faced with a Republican Congress. Alan Greenspan’s recent autobiography looks fondly on Democrat Bill Clinton’s eight year fixation on fiscal responsibility, all the while lamenting Republican George Bush’s complete lack thereof.

Voters, Independents and Democrats alike, need only to ask themselves the only slightly amended question Ronald Reagan proposed to voters in 1980: “Are you really better off under Republican rule?” Hopefully the answer will be expressed in loud negatives. And bring to an end eight pathetic years of Republican Rule.
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( The late and charming ex-Texas governor Ann Richards summed up the father, George Herbert Walker Bush’s penchant for saying something incredibly inappropriate with the following comment unleashed to the nation at the 1988 Democratic Convention, "Poor George, he can't help it ... He was born with a silver foot in his mouth." ( The late journalist Molly Ivins dismissed Bush the son, sometimes referred to as “W,” by diminishing his last name from Bush to Shrub. And so I am sure you will be happy to note that in the current and complete NIA reversal of it’s opinion of Iran’s nuclear capabilities the mighty Shrub prattles on as if his every word was still relevant and/or important.

Even though the recently released NIE estimate concluded that Iran had decided to forego it’s nuclear weapons program in 2003, probably in the face of pressure put on it by United Nations member nations, our venerable leader who bless our lucky stars is never wrong (well, aside from Iraq and a few jillion other matters), is indeed insisting that intelligence change or not, he is still, and as always, is right, and Iran is still every bit the “menace” he had labeled them and this is hereby “proven” by the fact that they had engaged in attempting to develop nuclear weapons before 2003. Democratic presidential hopefuls to a man and woman point to W.’s pitiful record regarding the truth with shame and incredulity, while Republican presidential candidates are notable for their silence on the proclamations of their erstwhile leader. As well they might be as the Shrub’s every word measurably reduces their chances of getting elected in 2008. And may we dare hope for extensive Shrub verbiage between now and next year’s election, with both Shrub and kimosabe Cheney continuing to mouth off in their enthusiastic rush towards confrontation with Iran.
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Straight out of the “Here We Go Again” department: Wednesday I got one of those: “You have chosen to live in an attractive and desirable community in which your Homeowner’s Association 0ffers various amenities.” This is followed closely by the sentence that reads, “In order to preserve this desired standard and home values, it is important that all residents work together to maintain their property at the highest possible level.” In other words your friendly Neighborhood Big Brother is not only watching you, he’s flatout NAILED you!

If this seems to have a familiar ring to it let me take you back to blog #5 where I reprinted the letter from my Homeowners Association complaining that my brick mailbox was in pieces and littering my property and bringing down neighborhood values with a thud. I replied, rather lightheartedly I’m afraid, that my mailbox was in pieces because the gentleman across the street had gotten out of his automobile with the motor running and the brakes off and with the car in neutral, and gravity had taken over and propelled his vehicle down his rather steep driveway and across the street until it met up with, and demolished, my formerly austere brick mailbox.

However, eventually all things come to an end, and hopefully end well. We had a brand new pristine white brick mailbox up within weeks. And the last of the rubbled remains of the former distructed box disappeared by the following week. However, shame is hereby heaped upon me, for in our haste to comply with the wishes of the Association I seemed to have failed to consult the Architectural Control Committee. Does your neighborhood have an Architectural Control Committee? Ours Does! And enclosed in Ms. Harriet Tunick’s latest missive was a form I evidently should have filled out and sent in before replacing the mailbox, even though it was at the urging of the Association we had replaced the box in all possible haste. My reply follows:

Dear Ms. Tunick, I most certainly will fill out the Request form for Home Improvement Approval and send it to one of the homeowners listed on the form this very day. Even if said improvement is a wee bit after the fact. I apologize for replacing the mailbox without seeking prior permission, I plead ignorance and the fact that the copy of the Home Owners manual I got with the purchase of my house was a carbon copy, unreadable by my then cactaract impaired vision. And the replacement copy I requested several years back never came. Not that I wish to spend what valuable time I have left in this life reading Homeowner’s Manuals, even one of such an attractive and desirable community as this. So it is just as well that it never came.

I assume the design is not the problem, as the design of the new box is quite similar to the one which got pulverized. Upon reading the Request for Home Improvement Form I suspect that the problem which triggered your comunication might be the fact that the new mailbox is made of white bricks.

WHITE, a color which pretty much universally imparts the feeling of purity and innocence, is according to the Improvement Form you sent along verboten as a color for the painting of a house. However the bricks on my new mailbox are white not through any intention of being arbitrary or going against architectural policy of the neighborhood, they are white because the bricks which were donated for the project happened to be white, and since your previous communication did express a desire for haste we complied as best we could.

If it really is the color that is the problem I suppose we can paint the brick structure to conform with proper neighborhood standards. We certainly wouldn’t want having the downgrading of neighborhood property values festering on our conscience. In any case I shall wait to hear from either you or the committee before taking any further action. And I promise not to lose sleep over this matter.

Again I thank you for your patience.
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Few and far between were the television series which had me faithfully watching back in the 70’s and 80’s. In fact they can be counted on the fingers of one hand, with a thumb left over.

The first program I ever got really hopelessly hooked on was “Mary Hartmann, Mary Hartmann,” known in shorthand as MH2, the 1976-77, syndicated television series produced by Norman Lear and directed by Joan Darling. It was written by Gail Parent and soap writer Ann Marcus, who was best known for her work on Search for Tomorrow. The oh so human tabloid like story of a bored housewife, her husband, her child, her mother, her next door neighbors and her grandfather who became known as the “Fernwood flasher,” was taped five days a week, just like the true soaps it was mimicking. It covered the same subject matter as did the daytime soaps, except MH2 had a tendency to call things by their real names, not the euphemisms used by the daytimes.

Mary Hartmann, Mary Hartmann was extremely addictive, even drawing in the likes of Gore Vidal, who ended up appearing on the series near its end. According to Amazon the first 25 episodes are available on DVD. I have ordered them and will write more about the show after it arrives and I’ve had a chance to see them once again. I can hardly wait to see if the program was as compelling as I remember. More information awaits you at Wikipedia:,_Mary_Hartman

The next series to hook me in was “Hill Street Blues,” which looked at crime and the police officers who fight it in a totally unique and humanistic way. This was shortly followed by the remarkable “St. Elsewhere,” the first prime time television drama series which treated doctors and hospitals in an uncannily realistic way.

And finally, thirty years ago this fall, on the heels of Watergate and the film “All the President’s Men” came Lou Grant, an extremely honest and appreciative look at the newspaper industry of the times. A reporter who writes for the Associated Press recently published a tribute to the series, parts of which follow:

By FRAZIER MOORE Associated Press NEW YORK — “When everyone but idiotic anchorman Ted Baxter was fired from WJM News in 1977, Mary Richards and her fellow casualties were left reeling. It was a classically bittersweet finale for the beloved Mary Tyler Moore show after seven hit seasons. Then Mary's crusty boss, station news director Lou Grant, made a smooth transition. Within weeks, he had blown Minneapolis and snagged a good job in Los Angeles as city editor of The Tribune.

“Lou Grant arrived in the blazing afterglow of Watergate coverage by newspaper rock stars Woodward and Bernstein, and the 1976 movie version of their book, All the President's Men, where Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman played them. The bracing message of that era: Two dogged reporters (and a newspaper that backed them up) could change the world — and earn the public's adoration.

“It was a big-hearted series with a humanistic streak (which, as the culture shifted, was sometimes blasted as "liberal"), a drama-comedy hybrid that emerged naturally from the series' creators: James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, writer-producers from "Mary Tyler Moore," and Gene Reynolds, a principal behind the TV incarnation of "M-A-S-H," itself an innovative half-hour blend of laughter and tears.

"Lou Grant" won 13 Emmys, two Humanitas Prizes and a Peabody Award, among many other honors. And although never a ratings smash, it drew an average audience of about 22 million viewers in those days of Big Three network dominance — routinely matching the viewership of "Dancing with the Stars," last week's top-rated show. Then, in May 1982, CBS announced "Lou Grant" would end. Did CBS make a business decision based on a ratings downturn (as the network always insisted)? Or did Asner, who had stirred up negative attention for his activism, spook network execs by bringing them increasing political headaches?

“Recently, the Paley Center for Media (formerly the Museum of Television & Radio) in Los Angeles hosted a reunion of "Lou Grant" stars and producers. It didn't take long for the discussion to turn to why "Lou Grant" got axed. "There was a really concentrated effort on the part of the right-wing to torpedo this show," said Burns. Seated beside him, the 78-year-old Asner recounted one durable version of the show's demise. It dwells on then CBS magnate William Paley as the fall 1982 schedule was being nailed down. "They had `Lou Grant' on the (schedule) board," said Asner. "Mr. Paley came in and said, 'What's THAT doing up there? Get it off! Get it off!' And with that, `Lou Grant' was erased off the board."

“Whatever the circumstances, press reaction to its cancellation was harsh. There was some picketing. But there were no bloggers or e-mail crusades. "Lou Grant" was a lost cause, however immortal.” For the complete article travel to: or:

At the time I’ll never forget being impressed with seeing Ed Asner on the television news as he read aloud a warning he had received in the mail, a warning which said in effect that “we got John Lennon and if you’re not careful you will be next.” Conspiracy theory, anyone?
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Is Montel Williams feeling a tinge of guilt over all those drug industry hyping commercials he has been filming lately. We know that Williams has become a patient advocate since being personally diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and is personally reliant on medications, undoubtedly expensive ones, to keep the dreaded ms symptoms in check. We speculate on any possible guilt feelings after he abruptly terminated an interview with one Courtney Scott, a high school intern for the Savannah Morning News, when she asked him the question: “Do you think pharmaceutical companies would be discouraged from research and development if their profits were restricted?”

Perhaps terminating the interview wasn’t that big a deal but later that day Williams confronted the young lady and two other reporters after mistakenly believing they had followed him to the Westin Savannah Harbor, and that confrontation was a big deal. The three were there to cover an unrelated assignment but when he spied them Williams walked up to Scott and told her that, “I can look you up, find where you live and blow you up,” according to Joseph Cosey, a Web content producer for the newspaper. Scott said she filed a police report because of Williams’ behavior although she said it was unclear what Williams had meant during his confrontation.

Williams, who was in Savannah Friday to promote free prescriptions for poor people had already issued a statement of apology to Scott. Then on Saturday the intern received a letter from Williams sent from the email address of Melanie McLaughlin, president and executive producer of Mountain Movers, Inc., which produces Williams’ talk show.

"Regrettably I reacted childishly to the situation and for that I truly apologize to all concerned. I would like to invite Courtney and her family to appear on my show for a public apology," the e-mail said. Ms Scott appeared to be skeptical. "I'll accept, if he's really going to do it," Scott said Saturday. "I don't really think it's his statement. I think his people put it out."

Williams is featured in a series of ads for the pharmaceutical industry in which he touts an entity which furnishes drugs to people at low or no cost, and which ads are being used to assuage the public in thinking that the drug companies are doing good, consequently the current pricing structure which makes American purchased drugs as much as twice as expensive as the same drugs bought in Canada, Mexico, France, Britain, etc., should be left intact. From the amount of ad buys on CNN and similar channels, it would appear that the industry is getting nervous.
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The online edition of a uk newspaper reports on one strange story for this approaching Christmas season. “Disturbing news has reached our Yuletide youthful innocence bunker that Microsoft's new artificial intelligence-powered Santa bot is subjecting the world's children to an unprecendented torrent of filth. Reg reader Iain blew the whistle on the foul-mouthed software after his nieces - just 11 and 13 years old - were drawn into a chat about oral sex.

“Redmond has added the seasonal ID to MSN messenger. Anyone can add the bot as a contact. During conversations it often suggests people play a child-friendly online game called Factory Frenzy where the player helps Santa's elves. It also has a shocking predeliction for casually dropping in that it likes to talk about a certain sex act.

“Iain told us that an unexpected profane outburst was triggered by his nieces offering the nasty St Nick a slice of digital pizza, using the string "(pi)". We immediately launched a full scale investigation and attempted to replicate the bad behaviour.
El Reg says: pizza (pi)
Santa says: Yum! What do you want for Christmas, El Reg?
El Reg says: Maybe you shouldn't eat so much! You are quite large!
Santa says: My elves will get right on that. And what else are you wishing for this year, El Reg?
El Reg says: Maybe you shouldn't eat it?
Santa says: See if you can get someone else to eat it!
El Reg says: Eat it
Santa says: No thank you. I don't eat things!
El Reg says: Eat it
Santa says: See if you can get someone else to eat it!
El Reg says: Eat it
Santa says: You want me to eat what?!? It's fun to talk about oral sex, but I want to chat about something else...
El Reg says: You dirty bastard!
Santa says: I think you're dirty bastard.
This coming from the service that banned the surname Woodcock as an ID.

The Register reported in a follow up story that MicroSoft has since killed the foul talking Santa Bot. “Microsoft has killed Santa Claus today, after an unsatisfactory attempt to restrain the North Pole-based jolly old elf from instant messaging children about oral sex. Although Redmond has been challenged by compassion in the past, this appears to be the first time on record it has out-and-out killed the very manifestation of goodwill.

“Father Christmas was subject to some controversy this year when given the seasonal ID on MSN messenger. While mostly sticking to an approved and traditional regimen of asking children what they want for Christmas, the mere mention of pizza would send him into a provocative froth about love-making of the mouth. Microsoft informed us about their troubling decision to destroy the spirit of Christmas this morning.

“Yesterday we received reports that the automated Santa Claus agent in Windows Live Messenger used inappropriate language. As soon as we were alerted, we took steps to mitigate the issue, including the removal of language from the agent’s automated script.

“We were not completely satisfied with the result of these actions, and have decided to discontinue the automated Santa Claus agent. We apologise for any offence or upset caused by this disturbing incident.” In life, Father Christmas was best known for delivering toys and goodies to children around the world — albeit with a somewhat controversial tendency of giving the best stuff to wealthier children whilst dispensing disappointments like oranges and sweets in the stockings of those in more dire financial situations. ®
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And on Thursday we learned that in 2005 in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about the C.I.A’s secret detention program, the CIA destroyed at least two videotapes which documented the questioning of two Al Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, according to current and former government officials. The videotapes showed agency operatives in 2002 subjecting terror suspects — including Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee in C.I.A. custody — to severe interrogation techniques. “They were destroyed in part because officers were concerned that tapes documenting controversial interrogation methods could expose agency officials to greater risk of legal jeopardy,” several officials said.

“The C.I.A. said today that the decision to destroy the tapes had been made “within the C.I.A. itself,” and they were destroyed to protect the safety of undercover officers and because they no longer had intelligence value. The agency was headed at the time by Porter J. Goss. Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Goss declined this afternoon to comment on the destruction of the tapes.

“This is a matter that should have been briefed to the full Intelligence Committee at the time,” an official with the House Intelligence Committee said. “This does not appear to have been done. There may be a very logical reason for destroying records that are no longer needed; however, this requires a more complete explanation. “

“Staff members of the Sept. 11 commission, which completed its work in 2004, expressed surprise when they were told that interrogation videotapes existed until 2005. “The commission did formally request material of this kind from all relevant agencies, and the commission was assured that we had received all the material responsive to our request,” said Philip D. Zelikow, who served as executive director of the Sept. 11 commission and later as a senior counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “No tapes were acknowledged or turned over, nor was the commission provided with any transcript prepared from recordings,” he said.

“Daniel Marcus, a law professor at American University who served as general counsel for the Sept. 11 commission and was involved in the discussions about interviews with Al Qaeda leaders, said he had heard nothing about any tapes being destroyed. “If tapes were destroyed,” he said, “it’s a big deal, it’s a very big deal, because it could amount to obstruction of justice to withhold evidence being sought in criminal or fact-finding investigations.”

So what else is new? Of course the CIA destroyed the tapes, it is a top secret spy agency, the bulk of its business is carried on behind closed doors, and much of it would be deemed criminal if known. And while it may be illegal to destroy evidence, who’s going to prosecute? The Shrub Justice Department, since the controversial interrogation techniques were ordered by this administration in the first place? The CIA destroyed the tapes to cover their ass. Whee! What a revelation? What a surprise? Let’s hear it for truth and the brotherhood of man. Little Eddy recommends washing the taste of the previous story out of your mind by renewing an acquaintance with Harry Shearer’s delightful “Waterboarding USA:USA Number One:

And while you’re about it treat yourself to Harry’s latest Silent Presidential Debate, this episode featuring hopefuls John Edwards, Mike Huckabee and the silent moderator Tim Russert.

You know what they always say, about silence being golden? Among presidential candidates silence is particularly golden.

The Real Little Eddy

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