Sunday, December 18, 2005

Citizen Kane: Sixty Four Years Later

Recently I watched Citizen Kane, the 1941 landmark movie that was written and directed by the late Orson Welles. He also brilliantly plays the leading role in this timeless classic.

This is not the first time I watched this picture, but its the first time I was able to watch it by choice. Huh? Let me explain. I was forced twice to watch this movie over the years. The first was back in high school, and the second as part of a college class. Let me tell you something straight away. Setting aside the fact that as a teenager and young adult I had an attention span that lasted as long as it took to type this sentence, being forced to watch anything gives you a different perspective then if you choose to watch.

Watching it now by choice and without the shortcomings of youth it was a whole different experience. When I think of the word "Rosebud", it suggests many things to me on an emotional and intellectual level. The search one goes through in life for meaning, the longing for simpler times, the dwelling on an event or events that were forever life altering. This man of power and wealth and influence was thinking of something so simple on his deathbed, that it staggers the mind. That sled represented the cross-roads of his life, and when you finally know what "Rosebud" means, it brings the whole first scene into sharp focus.

What would have happened to his life had he come back from playing with his sled and there was nobody to take him away? What would have become of him? I think we all face these events in life where things come into sharp focus. What would have happened if I had called her? Or if I had not fallen? Questions such as these we all face, and that's why this movie is brilliant.

It makes the timeless point about money not buying happiness. About the longing for simpler times in our lives, and about the choices me make for good or ill. Certain movies have that timeless quality about them because they don't speak only to the era they were made in, but speak more about us as human beings. Era's change, decades go by, technology changes the lives of society but humans will always be humans.

We live in an era where filmmakers believe in the theory of the lowest common denominator. Lets take generic people in to see generic films that concentrate on the eyes more than the mind. If they would only realize that the "eyecandy" is secondary to story then we would have more wonderful films. Citizen Kane succeeds and is timeless because it stimulates the brain, and makes you ask questions about your own life.

Shame we hardly ever get that from the films of today.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Manufactured Controversy: The War on Christmas

Sometimes you read, hear or watch something in the media that makes you shake your head and wonder what planet these people live on. Tune in to just about any conservative radio show, Fox News or any number of other conservative websites and you can find out there is some kind of "war on Christmas".

Funny, those are the only places this "war" exists. Everybody I know and the things around town you see smacks of the holiday season. The stores, the advertising, and all that goes with it. Do people really give a second thought when they read an ad worded "happy holidays" or "merry X-mas"? I think its fair to say that the overwhelming majority of people do not ever give it a second thought. Watch or listen to people like Bill O'reilly and you would think there is some kind of leftist plot to kill Christmas. Sounds tailor made for a new animated Christmas special. We can name it "O'reilly Saves Christmas"

So what's really going on here? The answer is quite obvious. The Republican party is mired in scandal after scandal, the war in Iraq is going very badly, the budget deficit is growing ever larger and cuts are being made in student loan programs to fund tax cuts for the wealthiest 1%. Our health care system is broken, and the people in power have no answer to the rising cost of health care, nor for the 47+ million people who can not afford coverage of any kind. The south is still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the news from the gulf region is not encouraging.

With an election coming up for Congress and Republican control in jeopardy the conservatives are trying to divert attention from the important issues that our country faces. So this month its the "war on Christmas". Fox News gives more attention to this phony war then any of the meat and potatoes issues I mentioned above. Next month it will be another manufactured war I am sure, like Intelligent Design or Gay marriage. To keep the folks on the right angry and voting the conservative talkies have no choice but to keep hitting their listeners over the head with this stuff. If you give them any time to think they may realize how bad things are and abandon the Republican party.

Will this strategy work for them? Only time will tell....

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Sweeping Away the Filth

Sweep, Sweep, Sweep....

Anybody else out there who feels like its time for the proverbial broom to sweep away the greedy folks who sit in the "lofty" halls of Congress these days? Certainly there have been periods in history where there has been tremendous graft. The major difference is that most of us never knew about it.

We live in an era of the 24/7 news cycle and tremendous technology in the service of the people trying to dig up the dirt. Combine that with the greed that currently prevails in Washington, and you have a perfect storm of corruption.

To add to the list of indictments, investigations and other ethically challenged behavior going on, now we have "Duke". This guy, a congressman from CA, has been on the take for years...Yes thats years....Like just about all the other investigations going on right now its connected to Lobbying. What a great and noble profession that has become. No longer around to try to get lawmakers to enact legislation important to their clients, today its mostly about lining their own pockets. Bribery, financial scams, nothing is beyond what these people will try. The fact that a large majority of Lobbyists are lawyers, sickens me. One more black stain on a profession that already has enough problems.

2006 mid-terms can not come fast enough. We need a broom to get rid of the current crop of corrupt politicians. We then need to reign in these greedy lobbyists so the next crop has less to worry about.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Miers...The Ultimate Stealth Nominee?

Harriet E. Miers

Is that a name that should strike fear into the hearts of partisans? Could be, but which side? After more than 4 years of speculation and millions of dollars raised by special interests to fight over who would replace O'Conner, this is what we get. Its the ultimate anti-climax in more ways then can be listed in the time I have to write this.

So far the opposition researchers are hard at work on both ends of the spectrum trying to dig up some dirt, or some headlines, and anything that can help with fundraising. So far they seem to have come up with very little. I have read she is strongly pro life and strongly pro gay rights. Huh???

What in the world would motivate Bush to make a pick like this? At first glance its shocking but if you sit back and dwell on it for even a little it makes sense. This President runs a very very insular administration. Loyalty is rewarded and the inner circle is small. Cronyism has always been part of the culture of White House politics since the days of old but this administration seems to take it to new heights. Even after the failure of FEMA put the spotlight on it they came right back with another Crony appointment to run Customs. So this should come as no surprise I guess. This president is rewarding his friend with a lifetime appointment and considering who she is replacing its the most important appointment Bush will ever make.

Now having said all that its not like he picked some nobody off of the street either. This is an impressive woman to be sure. First female head of a major law firm in Texas, first female head of the Texas Bar. For any lawyer those are major accomplishments, but in Texas? Doubly so as Texas has not always stood out as the bastion of women's rights. She would also enter the court as the only non judge. As far as I am concerned that's exactly what the court needs, a real lawyer-not some judge who tailors their opinions to look good in the law school texts. We have enough of that already to be sure.

So I guess we will have to wait for the current Supreme Court Term to end before we start to get a feel for this new Court. Don't think you will learn much from the hearings, as they seem to be more about the Senators stroking their tremendous egos and less about the nominee.

O and to the Piels Light poster. This blog is not for those types of comments-One of these days I will set up a more suitable blog for that. When I do we can debate whether Eric is still in the gastank or the time sombody ate 160 piece bucket of chicken. This one is strictly politics, and so to keep it clean comments are disabled. This blog gets posted in enough of the "important" places where the points are debated endlessly in any event. You can even read it sometimes in various publications. It reads a little different when the editors get hold of it but you can't get all you want in life.

Chow

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Real State Of The Union


After reading an online poll about whether people support capitalism or not in this country it lead me to do some delving into the real State of The Union, circa 2005. When reading the poll I was surprised that the no votes were quite high. That at least means that the wool is not being pulled over everybody eyes. First off has there ever been a time in this country's history where capitalism was fair? The answer to that is no, but there were times when we were heading in the right direction.

There are three periods in our history where real attempts were made to change things. The first was Teddy Roosevelt. His interest in busting the trusts and especially going after Standard Oil set the standard for trying to break up companies that get too powerful for their own good. Since then the results have been quite mixed, but it was a good start. The New Deal was the next great movement. So many of what we take for granted today was formulated in that period. Things like Social Security, FDIC protections, Banking Reform. It was the beginning of the modern welfare state. The 1960s Great Society was the last great attempt to move our capitalism toward a more European model, but it utterly failed. In no small part due to Lyndon Johnson's problems with the Vietnam War. The rich and powerful, using their friends in the media then began an attack on the welfare state. They managed to make even the word "welfare" a dirty word.

Since 1968 There has been a steady erosion of everything that was gained since Teddy Roosevelt decided to start shaking things up. Now in 2005 I feel we have a lot more in common with 1880 or 1895 rather then 1968. The new deal and great society is being wiped off the map one program at a time.

The labor movement was the first casualty. Today only 10% of workers are even in a union of some kind and their power in Washington is on the wane. They can not even protect their members these days from all the rules that allow companies to file for bankruptcy and screw the workers wholesale. Wall Mart workers are being forced to work off the clock, paid a very low wage, and generally are treated poorly. Who in labor is there to represent them? For the people who want to try the deck is stacked against them. They would not have gotten away with this even 30 years ago, but today it’s accepted as the cost of doing business.

Next is the gap between the top of the income ladder and the bottom. I was reading in the NY Times a while back that Manhattan now had the world’s largest gap between the top and the bottom, moving ahead of the poorest nations and even a leper colony. That’s a total disgrace and makes me ashamed to be a New Yorker. In this category we are so much like the late 19th century it’s not even funny. Look at all the rules that have come about just in this year alone. Bankruptcy filings are harder for individuals starting next month, Property rights took a huge hit with the Supreme Court ruling on eminent domain. Now if the rich developer wants your property, he can get it a lot easier and then build his big hotel. The protections of the Rich and what is important to them is becoming a huge wave sweeping over the entire legal and economic system.

The past 20 years has seen a revolution in this country in medical care but how much do the people at the bottom really benefit? Tens of millions of people with no coverage, and millions more with limited coverage. Seniors having to sacrifice other things just to get medications? It’s a total disgrace. Watch TV for any amount of time and get deluged by advertisements from drug companies pushing the "latest pill". The Drug companies get outrageous deals on Patents which limit the use of generics. Prilosec worked fine for acid reflex, but as the patent ran out what did they do? Make Nexium so they can get another patent for essentially the same drug and rack up more billions. It’s disgusting. Have assets? Then you can go into a nice and expensive private nursing home when you get elderly, while the folks at the bottom are lucky to get into a state home where we all have heard of the horror tales. Even at the very end of our lives the divide between rich and poor is evident and becoming worse year after year.

Our justice system is totally and 100% broken. If you are rich it’s far easier to get away with murder-and that’s in the literal sense. O.J. Simpson is the tip of the iceberg but it’s a wonderful example. You can buy your way out of trouble in criminal court, and in civil court the costs of litigation means the little guy gets stomped on, or forced into settlements that run contrary to their interests. I have seen that one up close and personal as an Attorney and it sickens me.

Then there is the Greed Factor. The media and Madison ave have convinced the people of this country that you are defined by how much you have relative to your neighbors. Promoting this attitude makes it far easier for the Rich to get away with the stuff I have been mentioning above. Everybody is supposed to get as much as they can in the short time they spend alive. Even the idea of giving something back when you pass on to the country that gave the rich so much opportunity is on the verge of being eliminated. The estate tax elimination will further promote the greed and hoarding of the almighty dollar.

Then we have the main obstacle to any meaningful change. The rich have access to just about the entire political system. Big corporate money flows into campaigns at a shocking rate. People are assumed to be "corruption free" if they are wealthy and do not have to take the dirty money when they run for office. Does anybody else see how moronic that seems? The filthy rich guy is going to win and then turn the other cheek? Sure tell me another one. The public is so deluded to allow all this to happen. What do you think the bigwigs are getting for all that money? Well for one thing, everything I have mentioned above and other wonderful things like Enron’s, and the moving from high level gov jobs to high paying lobbying work. As long as so much money is allowed to flow freely into the system of gov, we will never get any changes at all.

Monday, September 05, 2005

America's Dirty Little Secret Is Out For All To See Now

I was talking to a friend in India today. People there are shocked by what they are seeing on TV. The media in this country, the entertainment industry, madison ave.....all of them. They promote the idea that everybody here is doing just great. People never have to face some of the awful truths that they would have to face in a country like India for example. Then disasters like this strike and the truth is laid bare for all to see.

We never see the poor in this country except when there is a disaster, and even then its more like media rubber-necking at the scene of a bad accident. Now everybody can see the poor, how they live, and what happens to them when something goes wrong. I think it has been a rude awakening to many people all over the world about the true situation in this country and the exposing of the simple truth.

That we are not special, we are not all swimming in oceans of gold and we are a super-power in name only. People have been saying over and over "this should not happen here" well why not? We treat the poor like dirt, make them live like animals all while telling them to take advantage of what society has to offer. I can only hope that this tragedy opens the eyes of the public to what really goes on around here.

There is a great article about the media response to this crisis in general at the BBC. Maybe times will change and we will get back the independent and aggressive media we really need in this country? Only time will tell

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4214516.stm

Sunday, August 28, 2005

To The People of New Orleans

I hope and pray you will make it through this terrible night. As this "perfect storm" heads toward you I can not help but remember all the great times I have had in your wonderful city over the years. Once, on a road trip to Texas, we took a little detour to your city just so I can show my two friends the city. We did not know untill we drove into the city that it was Mardi Gras. What followed was a wonderful experience that I will take with me for all time.

I wish you all the luck in the world to get through this!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Winning the Islamic Battle of Hearts and Minds...Why We Lose

This battle is the most important one in my opinion, and its more important then the Iraq conflict or the war against Bin Laden and his allies. This is a battle that I feel we are losing, and losing big.

The day will come when we will be out of Iraq but what happens then? I have had a continuing dialog with some Islamic friends in the gulf states of Oman and U.A.E. and it has become clear that going forward we are going to have an almost impossible task of convincing these people that we are not the enemy if we do not change the way we speak to them.

First off they have told me to not confuse the issue of democracy with friendship. Sure they want more freedom overall but they do not these days want to use those freedoms to get closer to the West. They do not trust our motives one bit and see the spread of our culture as a cancer. Any money donated to homegrown causes in those states that comes from western sources comes under attack right away. If we are going to promote democracy abroad (we should) we should not be promoting the western concept of a secular democracy. I am not saying that they will never get to what we define as democracy but this process has to be a natural evolution and not forced or pressured upon them by the West.

Next its clear that the culture gap is significant. We do not even know how to talk to these people in a language they understand. We have done a terrible job explaining the "war on terror" and how its not a war on Islam. The majority of the populations of the Arab countries think in those terms. They do not trust the exremists because they know the extemists want to impose their views upon them, but they also do not trust us and this makes it very hard to aid them.

All the people I have spoken to from that region are not terribly surprised over Sept 11. The reaction is always "Its too bad, BUT....." The BUT includes all the complaints they have against the West going back decades. The exploitation of their resources, the support for Israel that never waivers, the support for corrupt dictatorships, and the spread of a western culture that they view as oppressive.

If our political leaders do not learn the history of the region, gain an understanding of Islam, and an understanding of the culture of these people how can they expect to talk to them? It seems all the actions we take these days only HELPS to spread the extremist message and thats sad.

This has been a subject that has bothered me since 9/11 and watching our media you get the idea that everything is black and white, when in fact there are large shades of grey. The questions I never seem to see asked in our media: "Does the Islamic world have legitimate gripes against the west?" and "Is whats happening today partly a result of the legacy of our policies toward the Islamic world going back decades?" An ever bigger Taboo question is how our friendship with Israel possibly hurts us in the Islamic World. For a variety of reasons any action Israel takes against the Palestinians, the Islamic world sees us as complicit in those actions. These questions and more seem to be Taboo and until we really start asking them we are going to get nowhere.

The Bush administration is the worst possible type of leadership for these times. Everything is black and white, western cowboy style. No room for discussion, no room for compromise, no room for admitting mistakes and no room for anything but victory, military style. Until they stop looking at this as a military problem and not a political and cultural problem we are not going to get anywhere!All this has troubled me for a long while and what triggered this is that I learned from a friend in Oman yesterday that Fox News wants to open there to spread their "message" and I saw that as bad news as its not the "message" we need to be spreading....

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Sadness for Robert Novak

Sounds strange huh? A left leaning blogger expressing sadness for a conservative icon? Well yes and let me explain

Before I went to law school I met Novak in New York City where I was attending a conference on the law and politics. At the time I did not really know if I would go to law school. Novak was on the panel and afterwards he spoke to a few of us about Iran-Contra. After the others left it was just us and we proceeded to go to a bar not far from his Hotel and have a drink. Well we wound up having several and he explained to me the ins and outs of journalism and politics. I sat there wide eyed the whole time listening to this fountain of knowledge talk to me about elections he covered dating back to the Truman years.

He told me to Go to law school and to make a difference no matter what my politics left or right. He told me its not being on the left or the right that's important, those are just silly labels. Being involved is what counts, getting involved and staying involved matters most.

His words stayed with me long after we parted ways and on my law school graduation years later he sent me a nice gift with some kind words.

Novak is a genuine person and I hate more then anything to see such a long and storied career tarnished by one long, hot summer. It pains me to think he may be remembered for walking off the set and for the scandal that caused him to lose his cool.

I just hope that his image does not suffer too much this affair and I wish him well

Friday, July 22, 2005

Iraq Debacle...We Broke It We Own It

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell warned President Bush before we invaded Iraq that if we break it we "own it".

What bothers me is the notion put forth by some fringe democrats that we should just pack our bags and leave Iraq to its fate. They advance this notion with parts anger and glee. Anger at Bush for the war, anger at the administration for its policies and glee at the obvious quagmire that Bush has gotten us into.

Leaving Iraq to its fate would surely be a defeat for Bush and probably would hurt Republican election chances going forward but is it ethical to propose such a step? With the country in a state of Chaos, with the bombings on the rise, with a deadly insurgency boiling over. What would happen to the Iraqi citizens if we just abandoned them? Civil war would surely follow and mass death that makes what is going on now look tame by comparison.

Some of those folks arguing for us to leave have some noble reasons. (Politics or revenge are not among those reasons) Some want us to leave because of the terrible toll on our young people fighting there or take the view that if we leave the killings will lessen. While we are suffering a terrible toll in the lives of our young people, we as a country took this action knowing full well that this might happen. In the leadup to invasion I was arguing that invasion could cause civil war, and a terrorist buildup in the region. I take no pleasure in being right but that's not a good reason to abandon these people now.

Fact is we OWE it to the Iraqi people to leave them in better condition then when we found them. We have to train the Iraqi security forces to be able to keep their own house in order, no matter how long it takes. That's the minimal standards of decency that we owe to them. Do you think the average Iraqi would understand that some Democrats want to cut and run just because they are against Bush? Its not logical or ethical and its a sore bone of contention I have with some of my fellow Democrats.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Battlestar Galactica..Could it be the most "real" show on T.V,?

What a strange premise huh? That Battlestar Galactica could be more real then a non science fiction show.

Galactica, which beams into our living rooms each Friday at 10pm has got to be the surprise hit of the past few years. Lets face it the original show had some good episodes and had some of the highest ratings for any television show in history (65 million viewers tuned in for some episodes) but it was never taken seriously. The original show never delved too deeply into the human condition and with only one real season it never had the time.

The writing on this new version of the show is dead on in this post 9/11 world. A surprise attack by religious zealots, freedom in the face of extreme adversity, opportunism, greed, lust....Its all there. Unlike Star Trek, which takes the view that if we ever got to such an advanced state of technology our species would evolve along with it, Galactica makes no such assumptions. Basically if you took 50,000 of us and put us into space you would have what they are showing us each week. That notion is totally refreshing and it looks far more like what you would expect the future to look like for humanity. All the human emotions, all our weaknesses, all our failings. They are all there for you to see and it makes you really want to root for them.

The notion that we would create an artificial species who would want to look like us and be closer to God then we are is a remarkable notion. Then to make them want to exterminate us for rejecting God is even more remarkable. Ron Moore has taken Galactica right out of the headlines and wrapped it up in Sci Fi clothing. Suicide bombings, the patriot act, the battle between civilian vs military authority, religious fundamentalism and more. Its all there and what makes it great is that the show does not preach, it justs presents what's going on and leaves you to decide what it all means in the larger scheme.

Look at all the junk on TV these days. Does anybody really think shows like the OC or desperate housewives, or most of the rest of the dramas on TV these days have any resemblance to the way things really are? Sure its more real in that it takes place on Earth but are those characters real? I certainly do not think so. You have to go to HBO or the wonderful show "24" to find the same kind of reality that Galactica serves up each week.

The show is current, meaningful, compelling and fun to watch. I know I can not wait for Fridays nights. To hell with TiVo I want to see it first run :)

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Follies of Fox "News" or How I learned to Love the Bomb

As I was just channel surfing today I stopped by that... "Fair and Balanced" channel they call Fox News.

It never ceases to amaze me how this network gets away with being talking point central for the Bush administration and the Republican party in general. Its so obvious and blatant that its laughable given the lofty slogan "fair and balanced"

Today while the rest of the media is trying to get to the bottom of leakgate and trying to find out what role the administration had in the leak all you have to do to find out what the republican party is thinking on the issue is to watch Fox "news" for 5 minutes.

In the brief moments I have watched them over the last few days they focus very little on the issue that the grand jury is looking at, which is did a government official leak the name of a covert CIA operative to the media. They have spent a lot of time though bashing Joseph Wilson though. A few minutes of Fox "news" and you would think the guy is the biggest lowlife around. So its clear the politics of personal destruction is alive and well in Washington. The message has always been to not get in the way of this administration or they will roll you over. This time around a grand jury and a special prosecutor is what's keeping that strategy from being effective.

You can also learn from watching Fox that the Democratic party was behind the whole thing, or that the CIA operative leaked her own name, or that it was reporters who did all the leaking. I was laughing out loud listening to this venom being thrown around with obvious glee by the credible "journalists" who work for Fox.

After that report the Fox "journalist" asked a Dem Senator in the next piece if it was easier for Bush to nominate a woman for the Supreme Court because it would be harder for Democrats to demonize a woman. With that wonderful unbiased question I switched back to a real news network to actually learn about what was happening in the world today.....

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Disgusting State of the News Media 2005

I remember the good old days in TV news. Once upon a time you could turn on CNN, MSNBC and FoxNews and actually watch them talk about news and politics. Putting aside the notion that Fox news is biased to one side of the political spectrum you could turn them on and hear them talk about the side they are biased for. Not any more though....

Who really believes for one second that the CNN of today would run 24/7 the tearing down of the Berlin Wall? Or Tanks running over protesters in China? Or the fall of the Soviet Union?

The state of the News has become something for serious concern. There was a time when it did not bother me that the major networks like NBC, CBS and ABC were cutting back on news. That's what 24 hour a day cable news was for after all. The idea was to turn on the cable news and get up to speed with the big issues of the day. That is not what's happening these days..

I like to measure things using the NY Times, the Washington Post and to keep the republicans happy the Washington Times. Use these print journalistic resources and compare the stories on paper to what you can watch on TV news. Do you know what you will find? Ten years ago you could take stories that made page one on the NY times and then watch similar broadcast pieces on TV news. No longer though. Today for example the paper may write about the elections in Iran, or civil unrest in different parts of the world or the splitting up of the 9th circuit federal court into 3 pieces. Then turn on Cable news and watch, watch some more, wait for the headlines....Did you see any pieces on the stuff that print journalism deems important? No you did not. What did you see? A story on Tom Cruise perhaps? Maybe a piece about where Michael Jackson will travel to? Or Bill Clinton having another affair? Or how much money Batman made over the weekend at the boxoffice?

There has been much talked and written about the "dumbing down" of our culture. The suits will tell you they report tabloid because that's what people want to see, but they are missing the big picture. Journalism has a responsibility to the people to report issues that matter. People can watch entertainment tonight for news about movies and starts. Our celebrity obsessed culture is taking us to the point where mass killings in Sudan is less important then Tom Cruise getting married. Something is very wrong with that.

On Saturday June 25th 2005 Capital Gang on CNN will beam into households for the last time. In its 17 year run you could always count on it to be a show that's both informative and interesting. What is worrying is that there is no replacements to shows like this. As they leave us they are being replaced by more tabloid reporting.

The state of TV news is a matter of grave concern to this country. When we as a people and the media that serves us would rather know how Michael Jackson is dressed then to learn about the Patriot Act it makes me worry for our future as a country....

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Filibuster Follies

Well its been awhile since my last posting...It now seems more certain then ever that the so called "moral values" voter, whatever that means, is making a power play unlike we have ever seen in recent times. This "Taliban" wing of the republican party has decided that the Judiciary is the last stronghold of those who oppose them, as silly as that sounds to more secular people.

Its being played out this week in our Nations Capital with battles over the Filibuster as well as Stem Cell Research.

It amazes me that in this climate of uncertainty, the Republicans have decided that a few right wing Judges are more important then the looming civil war in Iraq, the health care crisis, social security reform and other pressing issues. This stands as testament to how far the religious right has come in so short a period.

The Republicans have been able to get over 90% of all judicial nominees through, which is good for any president, but that is not enough for them. With the flimsy excuse of not being able to get an up or down vote on these nominees, the far right is trying to make sure that no matter how extreme or partisan the nominee they can ram them through. This is more then just a power play, its also about Majority leader Frist. He has partly tied his 2008 prospects to winning this fight, so he stands out as the big loser in the compromise that followed. The extreme right has also decided that they are the big losers in this, although I do not agree with their assessment at this point. Its too early to say in my opinion what the net effect on them will be. They certainly invested a lot of time and money in this fight, and so if you look at it from how much effort they put in, to what they actually got? Then they would appear to be losers in this.

So who wins in this fight? Well its not clear yet which side won. If the agreement holds then the Senate as an institution stands to be the big winner. The pressure from outside groups though will be intense going forward, especially when the next Supreme Court Justice is nominated. So its far from clear that this group of moderate Senators can hold the center together for long. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts going forward.

The other interesting news this this week is Stem Cell Research. Coming on the heels of the dramatic news of breakthrough in South Korea it makes me wonder if we will be having to fly to other countries in the future to get our cures. As a person with Diabetes, I know that I would go where the cure is, regardless of US law on the subject. Why should I suffer because of what the evangelical believe?

It also looks like President Bush will use his first veto to make sure that this country lags behind in this important field. It makes me very sad to see that....Many things I see these days coming out of Capital make me sad. I just hope that the rest of the country starts to wake up soon.

More to come my friends.....