Friday Night Open Thread

Aspen will lose its long-time, much beloved Sheriff, Bob Braudis, at the end of this year. Braudis, who fell ill in Europe earlier this year and was hospitalized for quite a while, announced today he will retire and not run for re-election. His failed challenger in the last election, who couldn't be more different than Braudis, says he'll run again. I hope another candidate steps up.

The New York Times has an article on the political test facing Obama in replacing Justice Stevens. Who's heading up the replacement team? Not such good news -- Here's Rahm again:

The White House already has a Supreme Court nomination team in place, with the selection process run by the new White House counsel, Robert F. Bauer, and overseen by Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff. Once a nominee is picked, Mr. Bauer’s wife, Anita Dunn, who is Mr. Obama’s former communications director, will coordinate with advocacy groups. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee during some of its most contentious confirmation fights, is also likely to play a crucial role.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    Gallup: Dem Party Approval at record low (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by BackFromOhio on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 10:02:10 PM EST
    realclearpolitics links us to a poll showing Democratic Party approval has dropped to 41% - the party's lowest approval rate in 18 years.  The Gallup story linked there gives the details, and discusses how significant the low approval is for the upcoming midterm elections.  

    Rahm Emanuel seems to be the political (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Anne on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 11:46:00 PM EST
    version of that person who shows up just when you are getting a good time underway, and manages to (1) throw a damper on the whole party, and (2) tick people off in ways that end up pitting them against each other to the point where they don't even want to spend time with each other, even if he's not around.

    Is there anything Rahm has been involved in over the last year that turned out well for the left-leaning sector of the party?  I can't think of anything.

    Don't imagine this will be the exception.

    I'm expecting a center-right nominee out of the box, who gets jettisoned for someone even farther to the right.

    At some point, the barometer needs to stop being "who the GOP will accept" and start being "who the Democrats actually want," and the strategy needs to stop being "see how hard we are trying to please the GOP and be bipartisan," and start being "elections have consequences and this is how we're going to put the country on a better path."

    Not hopeful this will be happening anytime soon.

    I gave Pres. kudos for nominating (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by oculus on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 12:27:53 AM EST
    Dawn Johnsen.  And for nuclear pact.

    There are street lights on the corner where I live (none / 0) (#2)
    by NealB on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 10:20:01 PM EST
    Where I own my house. They glare on my property all night long. They disturb my peace. They do nothing for others passing through where I live.

    They cost money. They waste energy. Every night. Every day of the year.

    Next door to where I live there are street lights that glare on properties all night long. Maybe they don't notice, but still they do nothing for others passing by their houses.

    A block from where I live there are street lights that glare on those properties all night long.

    While I'm paying for those street lights, two or three positions in our local school system are being cut this year. One or two were cut last year.

    So, though we're losing teachers at our local schools, we've got lots of street lights about which the best can be said is no one notices. The energy companies make out nicely, but teachers get fired.

    I say remove the street lights and keep the teachers.

    Way, way too many lights. Way, way too few teachers. No wonder there's so much crime.

    Light pollution (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 11:04:12 PM EST
    I totally sympathize.  The intrusive glare of those street lights is one of the things I was most glad to leave behind when I moved to the country.  It's pretty ridiculous when you need room-darkening shades in order to sleep at night.

    The really aggravating thing is that there are now street lighting systems that actually point down (amazing! revolutionary!) on the street where they're needed, produce a softer, less glaring kind of light, and are much cheaper to power.

    Problem being it costs a boatload of money to replace all the old ones with the new-fangled, better ones, so it's not real high on the priority list, especially in brutally tight economic times.  You'd have to fire a lot of teachers to afford to put in a whole new system.

    When the economic situation improves a bit, start a movement.  Most people hate those lights, and there may well be federal energy conservation grants available to municipalities to help with the cost at that point.


    I think noise pollution is worse (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by observed on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 07:40:09 AM EST
    for the health...totally subjective opinion.
    And putting on earphones and playing music? Just like perfuming over a bad smell.

    For years and years I would (none / 0) (#19)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 08:14:48 AM EST
    have agreed with you. Then I bought a good pair of Bose and an MP player and discovered what I had been missing.

    Agreed entirely (none / 0) (#32)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 11:23:54 AM EST
    I used to live on a feeder road to a major highway, and right underneath the approach flight path to a major airport.  I enjoy the quiet here so much, I get annoyed when the refrigerator motor comes on...

    Pellet Gun (none / 0) (#4)
    by CoralGables on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 10:51:23 PM EST
    or in keeping with the school theme, slingshot.

    On a lighter note... (none / 0) (#7)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 11:11:52 PM EST
    My house here in the country does have a motion-activated floodlight so I can find the path to the door from where I park my car on the rare occasions I come home after dark.

    Every once in a while, it goes on suddenly because some critter wandering into the space tripps it on, but I've never once, not once, been able to get to a window fast enough to see what it was.  Absolutely maddening.

    I'd dearly love to set eyes on a coyote once, which we have here in abundance.  I used to see them from time to time when I lived in the suburbs, but out here never.  I hear them howling at dusk often enough, or yipping and barking on their way down the ridge in the middle of the night on a hunting party (hair-raising sound!), and I do find their tracks in the snow quite close to the house on winter mornings sometimes, but I've never seen them.


    just imagine (5.00 / 3) (#18)
    by Jen M on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 08:03:51 AM EST
    all the critters gathered just beyond the light's range, tittering and planning who will go trip it next

    Hah! (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 11:26:28 AM EST
    I've always suspected that's exactly what they're doing!

    I do see the rabbits literally gathering just in front of the trees on the edge of my property in late afternoon after I bring the cats in, waiting to be sure the coast is clear, then hippity-hopping right for the garden.


    They have those (none / 0) (#34)
    by jondee on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 11:42:51 AM EST
    motion sensitive cameras that wildlife biologists have used to take some amazing nighttime photos of some super endangered species..It would be great if those at some point became available - if they aren't now - at a reasonable price for the public to use.

    Yuk (none / 0) (#3)
    by squeaky on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 10:48:49 PM EST
    Biden and Rahm... had not thought of the two of them together ever. Double yuk...

    Worked out fine (none / 0) (#5)
    by CoralGables on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 10:52:32 PM EST
    last time.

    I'm willing to bet (none / 0) (#8)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 11:15:29 PM EST
    the Republicans make a heeuuuge stink and end up blocking whoever Obama's first nominee is, just to make a point.  If he has any brains at all, which is debatable, he'll have two people fully vetted so a second one is ready to go right away when the Bad Guys crush the first.

    If he nominates somebody surprisingly liberal the first time, it's a calculated sacrificial lamb.

    There's a short time clock here (none / 0) (#12)
    by jbindc on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 05:11:13 AM EST
    Nothing will take place until after the end of the Supreme Court term in June, and it's an election year, so the critters will want to be campaigning in their August recess.  They won't hold out until fall to start because the SC term starts October 4th.  This is going to be a tight calendar, with July really the only time to have hearings. It's feasible they could do it in September, but I don't think any of them would like that.

    Just finished work and... (none / 0) (#9)
    by ZtoA on Fri Apr 09, 2010 at 11:32:40 PM EST
    tuned into the movie "The American President". I am thinking Squeaky is Anette Bening - seems very very similar.  :)

    Catholic priests (none / 0) (#13)
    by jbindc on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 05:13:35 AM EST
    Commit no more sexual abuse against children than the rest of the population.

    So far all the theories that "they can't get married" or "celibacy" giving reasons to why it seems so prevalent- the data says bunk!

    The Catholic sex-abuse stories emerging every day suggest that Catholics have a much bigger problem with child molestation than other denominations and the general population. Many point to peculiarities of the Catholic Church (its celibacy rules for priests, its insular hierarchy, its exclusion of women) to infer that there's something particularly pernicious about Catholic clerics that predisposes them to these horrific acts. It's no wonder that, back in 2002--when the last Catholic sex-abuse scandal was making headlines--a Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll found that 64 percent of those queried thought Catholic priests "frequently'' abused children.

    Yet experts say there's simply no data to support the claim at all. No formal comparative study has ever broken down child sexual abuse by denomination, and only the Catholic Church has released detailed data about its own. But based on the surveys and studies conducted by different denominations over the past 30 years, experts who study child abuse say they see little reason to conclude that sexual abuse is mostly a Catholic issue. "We don't see the Catholic Church as a hotbed of this or a place that has a bigger problem than anyone else," said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. "I can tell you without hesitation that we have seen cases in many religious settings, from traveling evangelists to mainstream ministers to rabbis and others."

    The Roman Catholic church is more (none / 0) (#14)
    by observed on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 07:38:36 AM EST
    centralized than almost any other religious organization, which means the responsibility for not removing abusive priests can be directly put with church leaders at the highest levels.
    This may be why people get so mad, as compared to other scandals.. but then, I don't remember reading about the rabbi who molested 100 boys, etc. Wonder why?

    Ratzinger made a similar remark a few years ago, saying that people were getting all bent out of shape for no reason, because the statistical proportion of pedophiles in the RCC was "normal".
    Talk about a tin ear!


    Well (none / 0) (#16)
    by jbindc on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 07:55:52 AM EST
    There are almost a billion Catholics worldwide, so my guess is, the numbers are going to be larger than other religions.  Of course, with those other religions who don't have the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, maybe we don't really know what is (and has) gone on.

    The only rabbi I can think of off the top of my head is the one who was busted by Chris Hanson on "To Catch A Predator" who was trolling on the computer for an underage kid.


    Right. "Rabbi" is a silly example since (none / 0) (#17)
    by observed on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 08:00:59 AM EST
    the number of Jews is 1% or less of the number of Catholics.

    Although (none / 0) (#20)
    by jbindc on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 08:33:00 AM EST
    If you google "rabbi and sexual abuse" there's a pretty long list and there are even links with compliations.

    Gosh, I wonder about the world's third (none / 0) (#21)
    by observed on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 08:39:49 AM EST
    Abrahamic religion. No pedophilia problems there,right?

    Maybe the problem is religion (none / 0) (#24)
    by observed on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 09:49:37 AM EST

    Celibacy (none / 0) (#26)
    by jondee on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 10:36:51 AM EST
    Forget about sexual abuse for the moment, would anyone care to venture a guess as to the actual     % of celibate priests and nuns over the years that have been truly celibate?

    The thinking behind enforced celibacy is, imo, just a manifestation of larger, more generalized, fear-based hysteria connected to sex, relationship, nature and the universe at large, that borders on sacrilegious in it's psuedo "respect" for the wisdom of creation.

    "I think I could turn and live with the animals, they are so placid and self contained.."

    Maybe the problem started when Plato kicked the poets out of the Republic. After that it was only a relatively short jump from Plato to Augustine and then the whole farrago of nonsense and neurosis kicked into high gear.


    the point of this comment thread is that (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by observed on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 10:40:19 AM EST
    celibacy rules are completely irrelevant.

    They're not irrelevant (none / 0) (#29)
    by jondee on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 10:46:37 AM EST
    as long as they continue to screw people up more than they were before..

    Irrelevant to whether people are (none / 0) (#31)
    by observed on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 11:22:05 AM EST
    pedophiles. Actually this makes sense to me, because it's well known that many married men are pedophiles.

    Well (none / 0) (#35)
    by jondee on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 11:51:06 AM EST
    where does pedophilia come from? Is it just an innate predisposition some people have, completely     unrelated to any cultural influence?

    Personally, I dont believe in such a thing as an unmitigated predisposition. It's one of those explanations that explains nothing.


    I might add (none / 0) (#37)
    by jondee on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 12:00:47 PM EST
    that just because a person is married, dosnt mean that they're not severely repressed or been severly traumatized at some point.

    Im saying that this half-baked dogma regarding celibacy and the generalized cluelessness, fear and hysteria around all-things-sexual are connected..not necessarily that one thing, ie, celibacy "causes" the other..


    Or maybe societal (none / 0) (#39)
    by christinep on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 01:56:56 PM EST
    I tend to think that the Catholic Church draws the most attention, in part, because of its size and perceived power. That is, some may see the institution as an easy target for a number of reasons...not the least of which relate to old animosities, issues with religious institutions, etc. I do not in any way condone the practice in the past of transferring priests in order to avoid responsibility and/or shield abusive behavior; and, that practice--thankfully--has stopped. But as one raised Catholic and interested in both American and Church History, I'm also mindful of the antipathy against Catholics (and Jews) evidenced well into the 20th Century. My point: It is good that the media earlier unearthed and shone light upon the previous abhorrent practices by certain Church officials. Since then, a number of steps toward recompense and rehabilitation have been offered and directed from the highest level. So...what is the next step? How do we move forward? And, as a country how do we move forward in this area where almost monthly allegations of abuse surface about other important societal institutions--e.g., elementary and secondary schools, youngsters' sports organizations, the Boy Scouts.... Whether spiritual or secular institutions/organizations, they have tremendous value for society. Knowing what we know now, how can we best reform and rehabilitate in a way that deals directly, expeditiously with offenders but "doesn't burn down the barn to kill the rat?" One thing I know: We need an honest approach devoid of obvious biases in order to grow.

    Sounds to me like (none / 0) (#25)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 09:56:21 AM EST
    they all need to clean up their houses. However, it certainly doesn't diminish the bad behavior of the Catholic Church in protecting pedophiles.  Since the Catholic Church execs are the ones getting the bad press, maybe they should take the high road, and set an example for the others.

    I certainly don't cut the Catholic Church any slack because of this.  It only means that none of the churches should be cut any slack.


    Since the two legacy parties prop each other up... (none / 0) (#22)
    by lambert on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 09:22:42 AM EST
    ... to destroy one is to destroy the other.

    So, if the Ds go first, so be it. We'll just have to grit our teeth and then deal with the Rs.

    Poland (none / 0) (#23)
    by CoralGables on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 09:38:23 AM EST
    suffers a major blow today as Lech Kaczynski, and many of the country's top political and military leaders die in a plane crash.

    Truly a sad day for Poles everywhere. (none / 0) (#27)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 10:39:22 AM EST
    A sadness compounded by the nature of the event they were traveling to.

    Polish-Russian relations had been improving of late after being poisoned for decades over the Katyn massacre of some 22,000 Polish officers.

    Russia never has formally apologized for the murders but Putin's decision to attend a memorial ceremony earlier this week in the forest near Katyn was seen as a gesture of goodwill toward reconciliation. Kaczynski wasn't invited to that event. Putin, as prime minister, had invited his Polish counterpart, Tusk...

    ..."This is unbelievable -- this tragic, cursed Katyn," Kaczynski's predecessor, Aleksander Kwasniewski, said on TVN24 television.

    It is "a cursed place, horrible symbolism," he said. "It's hard to believe. You get chills down your spine."

    Thanks for the link -- as (none / 0) (#30)
    by Cream City on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 10:55:44 AM EST
    it amplifies the info to explain that about 8,000 of the victims were regular military, but that more were POWs and others, as the aim of the Russians was to eviscerate a far wider swath of Polish society: landowners, factory owners, lawyers, priests, officials, university professors, and  much of the Polish intelligentsia, especially Jewish, Ukrainian, Georgian, and Belarusian intelligentsia with Polish citizenship.

    And many Boy Scouts, too.  That's not explicated at the link, but there clearly is so much to this sad story -- and now sadder again with this loss.  You are correct that this is sad for Poles everywhere, as already there is mourning in my very Polish American city.


    Here is the rough copy... (none / 0) (#36)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 11:57:39 AM EST
    ...from the Warsaw English language paper.  

    New Poland Express


    Top stopy in Chicago, too (none / 0) (#38)
    by Cream City on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 12:10:26 PM EST
    as well as in my city.  And the ChiTrib reports that at least one Polish American was aboard and is among the dead -- a noted Chicago artist, whose father was among those massacred at Katyn.

    Poland and Katyn (none / 0) (#40)
    by christinep on Sat Apr 10, 2010 at 02:09:09 PM EST
    My cousin and I spent some time in Poland in May 2008. We wanted to travel the land of our maternal grandparents. Poland has so many joys and sorrows. At a couple of guided stops, we were told of the Katyn massacre, watching the somber narrator explain what the Poles have felt about this (and memorialized in sculpture and other artistic expression)and seeing clenched jaws about the still-not-closed horrific chapter. Poland's pain today is magnified. Yet more sorrow.