Tuesday Open Thread

I won't be blogging until Christmas Day or after, but I did want to note:

  • Congrats to Joe Tacopina who got an acquittal for actor Lillo Brancato on second degree murder and burglary charges (Background here.) Brancato won't go free immediately, he was convicted of attempted burglary and faces a 3 to 15 year sentence on the count. But he's been in jail awaiting trial for 3 years, so he'll get credit for that against any sentence imposed. More news on the verdicts here and here.

And wires, wires, everywhere.

I'll be back in a few days, BTD and TChris will be posting as their schedules permit. This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    have a safe (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by cpinva on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 11:49:26 AM EST
    and merry christmas jeralyn.

    Caroline Kennedy would be Bloomberg's Senator. (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Iphie on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:09:00 PM EST
    Or so says Shelly Silver. Ouch. That's not gonna help her odds -- not at all.

    Shelly Silver is the Speaker of the Assembly -- one of the most powerful and influential Democrats in the state. He's one of the "three men in a room"* who have final say on any statewide legislation. He's been in his position far longer than the other two and is much more experienced maneuvering the levers of power.

    Governor Paterson needs Shelly Silver much, much more than he needs Bloomberg at this point -- and any pressure Teddy Kennedy might be able to exert pales in comparison to Silver's interests.  

    Which is all to say that Governor Paterson is going to pay a disproportionate amount of attention to his perspective, especially now that he's made his perspective public.

    This is not a done deal. Paterson still has almost a month.

    *The Speaker, the Governor and the Senate Majority Leader -- nothing gets passed in NY state unless these three men agree.

    Merry Christmas to all! (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:22:05 PM EST
    And a happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, etc!

    The 6' of new snow in the Sierra Nevadas is calling my name...

    Sounds like fun, but when your're out there (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by scribe on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:35:12 PM EST
    do be careful about flying sleighs.  If you see one like in this image, find cover immediately.  It looks like whats-her-name is taking time off putative grandma patrol and devoting it to letting The Big Guy take potshots from the sleigh.

    Speaking of sleighs, this time of year reminds me of a case a number of years ago.  An old bachelor farmer (or, former farmer - sprawl and development had kinda put the kibosh on farming) had passed without immediate family and his executor was incapacitated, so I got sent in to inventory the place and make sure the property was OK.  This involved going in and out of all the outbuildings and such.

    In one, the big barn, there were farm veterinary tools for horses/mules and cows, some of which looked like they hadn't been moved since the 40s or 50s.  There was a nice rope swing set up above the big hayloft, too.  As I made my way through all the impedimentia in warren of spaces (it was a badly laid-out barn, IMHO), I came into one of the bigger spaces.  

    Parked there was a one-horse open sleigh.  The genuine article.  Leather harness, tack and bells hanging on the wall.

    And that, together with my appraisal of its condition (ready for use, save that mice had torn into the upholstery and taken the excelsior for their bedding and nests, could use a coat of paint), was the final item on my inventory.  

    Too bad there were neither horses nor snow.  But, hey - that might have been a good thing - I've never driven one.


    Knowing America... (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:43:47 PM EST
    as soon as we the people will let them get away with it.

    Bailing your son/daughter/mother/father/friend outta jail after a bust is one thing, hearing them called "terrorists" is quite another.

    It's ok for Afghan peasants, but for Joe Dime Bag?

    happy holidays (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by jharp on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:26:58 PM EST
    And a happy holiday to you. And peace and good health to you and your loved ones.

    Shoes Dropping (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by SOS on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 01:52:16 PM EST
    A French investment fund manager badly hit by the multi-billion-dollar Madoff scandal committed suicide in his New York office on Tuesday.

    Thierry de la Villehuchet, 65, was the co-founder of Access International, a company that raised funds on the European markets to plough into Bernard Madoff's fraud-hit investment scheme.

    "access" international? (none / 0) (#15)
    by Fabian on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 02:48:05 PM EST
    I'm sad he took his own life, but there's something highly ironic about the company name.

    Tis the season to (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by SOS on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 02:30:46 PM EST
    be Jolly!

    Uhhhh not sure about that anymore.

    Anyone else get urges to just yank every last cent out of their portfolios and stick it under that mattress?

    Its been under the mattress.... (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 02:57:33 PM EST
    the whole time...safe and secure.  Not bearing any interest, but not helping to make some crooked banker rich either:)  

    I must be one lucky sob...all I've noticed during this economic apocolypse is its costing half of what it cost last year to heat my house.


    Caroline Kennedy's finances (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by BrassTacks on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 10:25:02 PM EST
    She wants to be a politician but won't release any financial records.  What's she thinking?  There's no such thing as a ''private person''  in politics.  Surely she is aware of that fact. Or does she get special political rules because of her last name and her support of Obama?

    There are no (none / 0) (#28)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 11:02:44 PM EST
    financial rules for someone that "wants to be" in the senate, they only have to be made public for those that are "in" the Senate. If there is to be an outcry for this knowledge it will have to come from New Yorkers, and thus far NY Dems favor her overwhelmingly.

    "Overwhelmingly"? Did you see (none / 0) (#29)
    by tigercourse on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 11:08:10 PM EST
    the Q poll? About one third is not overwhelming.

    a 14% lead (none / 0) (#31)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 11:39:29 PM EST
    among Dems is pretty overwhelming. 41% to 27% among registered Democrats to replace a Dem Senator by a Dem Governor in a Blue State is almost a cakewalk.

    It's not a 14% lead (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Steve M on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 07:26:41 AM EST
    unless you treat it as a two-person race, which it simply isn't.  I'm frankly getting tired of all the spin on this.

    Here's your problem (none / 0) (#48)
    by CoralGables on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 09:55:32 AM EST
    Kirsten Gillibrand and "Someone Else" were also among the options in the poll. Among Dems "Someone Else" finished a distant third and Gillibrand only received 3%.

    Spin is when you fudge new figures off of the current data. Perhaps by me saying these numbers extrapolated would give Kennedy a 60% - 40% lead in a head to head with Coumo in a two person race with no undecideds.

    But just using the data available and based on current polling, if there was an election held today, it's apparent NY Dems prefer Kennedy while NY Republicans prefer anyone but Kennedy.

    And you are right, it isn't a two person race, it's a one person decision.


    Just when I was starting... (5.00 / 2) (#47)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 08:58:26 AM EST
    to feel a little Christmas spirit with all the snow, I had to run out for a last minute gift last night and all spirit was lost.

    Understaffed stores jam packed with rude, inconsiderate people...buying sh*t they can't afford for people that don't need the sh*t they are buying...nearly all of it made overseas while the over-worked retail clerks make d*ck for their seriously stressful hard work...These thoughts in my head combined with the stench coming from Bath and Body Works nearly made me vomit.

    I desperately need to see the smiling faces of my little nieces tomorrow as they open their presents...then, hopefully, the true spirit of Christmas will return to me.  But right now, Christmas feels like a big fat scam.

    End of rant, sorry for being a killjoy.

    Merry Christmas, TL! (none / 0) (#2)
    by scribe on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:03:09 PM EST
    And happy trails, too!

    We'll hold down the fort (none / 0) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:08:05 PM EST
    Good thoughts to you J.

    Hell yeah.... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:20:11 PM EST
    Merry Christmas to all who will be signing off for the holidays.

    Two accused cop murderers acquited inside of a week in NY...that has to be a record.  That cat Lynch who heads the PBA...his head is about to explode. Sympathy for the families, but none for Lynch...he's the first to stand up clapping when murdering cops get off.

    No one's said a darn thing (none / 0) (#8)
    by scribe on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:25:20 PM EST
    about Bloomberg's jury tampering-quality remarks in the Plaxico Burress case (he singlehandedly started a media war on Burress over the gun issue), nor about how NYPD Capo-di-tutti-capi Ray Kelly has been having his head explode over the alleged cop killers getting acquittals.

    And, that's unfortunate.  The silence that is.  Ray Kelly's head exploding from excessive internal pressure?  Not my problem.  Bubby should get some anger management counseling.


    Noble Greed (none / 0) (#9)
    by squeaky on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 12:30:20 PM EST
    The farmer, who later testified in Washington under the pseudonym Jaweed, told jurors he decided to help because he was tired of the violence. "I didn't want our country to be destroyed and our foreign friends to be harassed or bothered," he said.

    How noble. I am sure that this is an irrelevant footnote to his patriotism:

    For his help, Jaweed received $8,000 from the DEA. But he and his family will never be able to return to their old lives and village. Early this year, prosecutors said, the family compound was hit by grenades and machine-gun fire.

    One of the issues is that the US is trying to make a case to its allies that it is legal treat the farmers and their families as terrorists. Don't ask don't tell, just shoot all suspected collaborators. Sticky business for countries that operate on rule of law and silly things like the Geneva Convention.

    A drive by the NATO alliance to disrupt Afghanistan's drug trade has been hobbled by new objections from member nations that say their laws do not permit soldiers to carry out such operations, according to senior commanders here.

    The objections are being raised despite an agreement two months ago that the alliance's campaign in Afghanistan would be broadened to include attacks on narcotics facilities, traffickers, middlemen and drug lords whose profits help to finance insurgent groups.


    During a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Budapest in October, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and General Craddock successfully lobbied the alliance to give troops operating in Afghanistan official permission to mount attacks on narcotics "facilities and facilitators supporting the insurgency."

    During a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Budapest in October, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and General Craddock successfully lobbied the alliance to give troops operating in Afghanistan official permission to mount attacks on narcotics "facilities and facilitators supporting the insurgency."

    But a number of NATO members have in broad terms described their reluctance publicly, including Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain. Their leaders have cited domestic policies that make counternarcotics a law enforcement matter -- not a job for their militaries -- and expressed concern that domestic lawsuits could be filed if their soldiers carried out attacks to kill noncombatants, even if the victims were involved in the drug industry in Afghanistan.


    Those "caveats" have been a source of enormous frustration to American commanders.


    Caveats sound a lot like the term enhanced interrogation.

    Bush grants 19 pardons, commutes one prison term (none / 0) (#17)
    by Saul on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 03:33:50 PM EST
    according to this LINK

    I waiting for the big ones, like Cheney, Gonzalez, Libby, Rowe, etc etc.

    One of the pardons (none / 0) (#27)
    by Amiss on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 11:01:17 PM EST
    went to a local area guy that had something to do with satellite dishes and stealing the signals."-Richard Harold Miller of Tallahassee, Fla. Conspiracy to defraud the United States.

    weird charge


    NY Senate Q Poll (none / 0) (#18)
    by CoralGables on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 03:55:52 PM EST
    Democrats prefer Kennedy 41% to 27%
    Republicans prefer Cuomo 33% to 20%

    And independents.... (none / 0) (#45)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 08:01:38 AM EST
    prefer Fran Drescher 98% to 2%....just kidding:)

    Gay figures aren't dealing with the Warren (none / 0) (#19)
    by tigercourse on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 04:38:34 PM EST
    issue correctly. Baldwin should probably not agreed to be Obama's token gay. Etheridge should really not have come out and supported Obama on this. She's throwing away her chance to get favorable legislation in the future.

    A Prayer For Warren (none / 0) (#20)
    by lentinel on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 04:53:39 PM EST
    Friends. Brethren and Sistren.
    Whether Gayeth be-est thou,
    Whether Ye Don Gay Apparel or Nay,
    Be Ye Glad theron.

    For the Lordeth Ith Hither and Fither.
    Yon and Yor be He.

    Leteth the Multitudes Rallyeth and Curse What they Know Not of.
    For Verily I shall Repose upon the Branches of the Heathens, blessed be They.

    And When the Evil One Slandereth upon Ye in thy Wickedness and Blovation, I say, Curseth Not. Neither Throweth Up upon thine Adversary. Rather, Crush the Roses beneath Thy feet with Oil. Place in a Pan of Sauceth And Simmerith with All Thy Might.
    Serves 4.

    Waren: Keynote Speaker Annual MLK Commemoration (none / 0) (#23)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 06:11:07 PM EST
    Just when we thought it couldn't get any worse, ThinkProgress reports that Rick Warren lands this plum gig:
    Rev. Rick Warren, who is President-elect's controversial pick to give the invocation at his inauguration on Jan. 20, will be the keynote speaker at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Commemorative Service [on Jan. 19]...Before she passed away, King's wife, Coretta Scott King, declared that gay marriage was a civil rights issue and denounced a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban it.

    There are some internal conflicts within the King family on the issue of legalizing "gay marriage". Evidenty, King's daughter actively opposes her late mother's progressive views:

    In 2004...King's daughter, Bernice King, marched against same-sex unions in Atlanta along with Bishop Eddie Long.

    Any thoughts on Warren's featured role at both Obama's Inauguration and the MLK Commemoration?


    why is this a surprise? (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by BrassTacks on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 10:29:25 PM EST
    Polls show over 75% of Blacks are opposed to gay marriage.  Gays are so frowned on in the Black community that there is the whole 'down low' thing.  Gay men are on the DL in the Black community.   Obama is a part of that community.  

    I have read (none / 0) (#24)
    by lentinel on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 06:42:56 PM EST
    that exit polls regarding Prop 8 showed that a majority of Black people were for it.

    Martin Luther King, like Malcolm X, has been reduced to a caricature. Martin has been summed up as being the one who had a dream. Passive. The White Man is OK with people who dream - or hope. Malcolm has been summed up as someone who hated Whitey, went to Mecca, and changed his mind. The White Man is OK with that too.

    Both were revolutionaries each in their own way.
    Both were great Americans - but the people controlling how we think do not want us to think about revolution. Just vote for the least worst of what we offer you.

    I digress - but what Martin Luther King believed and expressed is no longer of importance to anybody. The same with Malcolm.
    The same with Jesus. But in the case of Martin and Jesus, there are institutions that purport to represent them that go along their respective reactionary ways.


    That nasty coal spill is right on the river (none / 0) (#30)
    by Teresa on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 11:35:51 PM EST
    that I passed over on my way to work. It's so pretty there and now it's just ruined. How do they clean up something like that?

    In case it isn't on the national news, (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Teresa on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 11:41:52 PM EST
    it should be. I've been busy and haven't had the TV on. Here's a video.

    Something Like This, Perhaps? (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by squeaky on Tue Dec 23, 2008 at 11:52:15 PM EST
    The 51 dams, including 42 in Fanshi and nine in Fuping, were built to slow down water flow, so as to win time for treating polluted water. Cleanup workers also dug holes in the ground near the river and diverted spill into them.

    Cotton batting, sponge and straw were trucked in to absorb the coal tar in the Dasha River. Activated carbon were also put into the river to absorb the huge amounts of pollutants, said local government sources from Fanshi and Fuping counties.re residents downstream to have access to safe drinking water.

    Sounds like a mess.


    It's a huge mess squeaky. I live on the (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by Teresa on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 12:01:16 AM EST
    north side of the river. The local news says it is now getting into the TN River where the drinking water for Chattanooga and Alabama comes from.

    I'm ashamed to admit my ignorance of the environment but I've read that it makes the Exxon Valdez spill look small. That spill was around 11 million gallons of oil and this is over 500 million gallons of coal sludge.

    Is oil that much of a bigger deal than coal environmentally? Will this pretty area ever be the same? I used to take my lunch everyday to a beautiful park at that lake.


    I'm so sorry Teresa, (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 01:48:35 AM EST
    for you and for the environment you live it. I could cry. It's so, so sad.

    My gawd, is it FEMA's responsibility to clean this up?


    Oy (none / 0) (#35)
    by squeaky on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 12:04:50 AM EST
    It sounds horrible. Does it smell bad too?

    I don't know about the smell. I'm just (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by Teresa on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 12:07:58 AM EST
    following it on the news. I live about 25 miles from there but I had to pass it to go to work (at my job that ended last week).

    TVA seems to have a very big mess on its hands. Maybe their 20% rate increase they had on Oct 1 will be put to good use.


    I haven't read much about it (5.00 / 2) (#40)
    by andgarden on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 01:16:26 AM EST
    but the TVA is a good, old fashioned, big government program. They should be able to clean it up.

    I wouldn't be so confident... (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 08:19:46 AM EST
    this ain't FDR's TVA.

    My last experience with a "big government" clean up was downtown Manhattan after 9/11...when the people were told the air was safe, and that turned out to be a bold faced lie.

    The people of Tennessee would be very well served to keep a close eye on the clean-up...the "big government" authorities simply can't be trusted.  Just another corporation if you ask me...posing as a public service.


    Teresa, what source said the Exxon Valdez oil (none / 0) (#43)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 02:19:56 AM EST
    spill was small compared to this coal sludge spill? If it's a reliable source, I imagine they factored in the relative levels of toxicity in additional to the quantity of toxic material.

    I just looked up the number of gallons in (none / 0) (#49)
    by Teresa on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 11:19:28 AM EST
    the Valdez spill on Wiki. Oil must be worse for the environment but since this is in the water, it can't be good.

    Worse Maybe (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by squeaky on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 12:26:57 PM EST
    From this article, it seems that with coal ash you have heavy metals involved.

    Coal ash contains mercury and dangerous heavy metals like lead and arsenic - materials found naturally in coal are concentrated in the ash.

    video here


    Digby Has More (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by squeaky on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 12:36:11 PM EST
    Thank you squeaky. I'm glad someone (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by Teresa on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 01:28:57 PM EST
    is paying attention. I'm not sure I trust TVA to clean it up properly. I grew up on the lake that river runs through and it breaks my heart.

    Your link's spill was 60 tons. I don't know (none / 0) (#36)
    by Teresa on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 12:05:36 AM EST
    how to convert that to compare 500+ million gallons so I don't know how this one compares.

    Not sure how to compare (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by CoralGables on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 12:15:02 AM EST
    This is currently confined to about a square mile where the Valdez damage effected about 1500 miles of coastline. I'm guessing ash is far less damaging than oil only because the national newspapers appear to be ignoring it thus far.

    Can't be a pretty site for the locals though and certainly not for those forced out of their home by the flood waters.


    It doesn't sound like it will be easy to (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Teresa on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 12:22:29 AM EST
    clean up. They are saying to boil your water if you live downstream.

    These are TVA pictures of it. 10-13 are right where I drove past. It has spread into the main river where drinking water comes from and the national news is really messing up not covering this. Maybe because it is a very rural poor area.

    I was guessing that oil spreads much worse than this sludge, but it is spreading at least some. Either way, it's a mess. I never knew that something like that could happen from a coal plant.


    My guess would be that the national (5.00 / 3) (#42)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 01:54:02 AM EST
    news isn't adequately covering this because it is allergic to environmental disasters. I keep remembering all the Democratic Primary Debates being sponsored by the coal industry; and there was such a paucity of questions about the environment.

    Bill Frist (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by squeaky on Wed Dec 24, 2008 at 12:51:29 PM EST
    "Initially, we were worried about the new board when we saw primarily Republican campaign donors who didn't have any experience on utility or land management issues," said Gil Melear-Hough, Tennessee director of renewable programs for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. "But we've been pleasantly surprised by this board."


    Most of those appointed to the TVA board over the past two years by President Bush have been Republican activists and financial supporters of GOP causes.


    Collectively, the eight people appointed or nominated to the TVA board by the Bush White House, and their spouses, gave $592,405 to Republican candidates and organizations since 1994, according to a Chattanooga Times Free Press compilation of campaign records. Four of the board appointees also contributed lesser amounts to Democratic candidates.

    Heck of a job