Friday, May 01, 2009

Sotomayor for Supreme Court!

You saw it here first!
Back in 2005, I recommended on my blog that President Bush tap Federal Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor for a vacancy on the Supreme Court.
Sotomayor is considered to be a moderate and was first appointed to the bench by Bush’s father. And it would have given him the distinction of appointing the first Hispanic to the Supreme Court.
To his great detriment, Bush did not heed my advice and instead chose yet another far-right wing Antonin Scalia clone for the court vacancy. He did this to try and please the extremist, looney-tune, right-wing whacko-base of his party, which today accounts for 99.999999 percent of the GOP. And what did that ultimately get him? Nada. Today he is still spat on by the wingnuts and dismissed as a “liberal” because they can never accept the reality that their nutjob political ideas, which Bush faithfully executed, DON’T WORK!
But anyhow, it now appears that President Obama will have the opportunity to pick up where Bush missed the boat and nominate Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. She is currently being touted as a front-runner for the nomination.
In case you missed it, the sudden talk of Supreme Court nominations was prompted by Justice David Souter’s surprise announcement that he will step down after the current court term. Even though Souter was appointed by Bush the Elder, he is considered to be part of the moderate-liberal wing of the court today. Replacing him with Sotomayor would change the ethnic and gender makeup of the court more than it would shift the court ideologically. But that won’t matter to the nutjobs on the far-right who will gear up for a huge wild-eyed hissy fit as soon as Obama makes his pick known.
That is why it is a good thing that the Democrats will likely have their 60-vote majority in the Senate by the time this nomination comes up for consideration. There is no point in trying to make bi-partisan concessions with an extremist minority party that has no interest in governing the country. Obama should just concentrate on picking the best qualified people and then moving forward with the other important business that he has to deal with (i.e. continuing to work on fixing the huge mess that the Republicans left him with.)
There is a good chance that Souter won’t be the only court appointment Obama will get to make. Justice John Paul Stevens is almost 90 years old and Ruth Bader Ginsburg has some major health issues she is dealing with. But even if Obama gets to replace all three of them it still would not shift the court from its current right-wing bent because all of them are from the moderate-liberal side. But hopefully Obama will take the opportunity to pick at least one justice who can serve as the intellectual leader of the court on the left, much the way that Thurgood Marshall and William Brennan used to do and the way that Antonin Scalia currently does for the rightwing majority on the court.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Brushes with fame

As a journalist I have had many opportunities to meet and interview famous people over the years. Combined with the random encounters I’ve had with famous people outside of my work experience it makes for an interesting list. 

 Autographs sought and found: 
Lyndon Johnson - Found autographed copy of his biography “Vantage Point” at a Library book sale in Connecticut. 
George McGovern - Had him autograph my program after listening to him speak at Texas A&M when he was running for president in 1984. 
Al Gore - Saw him at an airport campaign rally in College Station in 1988 and had him sign a slip of paper. 
Molly Ivins - I have two of her books autographed - one by mail and one in person.
Barney Frank - Found an autographed copy of his book at a used book store.  
Burt Ward (Robin) - Parents took me to see him during a promotional gig at a car dealership in Indiana in the early 1970s. He autographed a promotional photo for me. Bob (Cowboy Bob) Glaze - Parents took me to see him at some event in Indiana in the early 1970s. Got a signed promotional photo of him on his horse. 
Luis Tiant - Former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox signed autographs at Missions baseball game in San Antonio last year. 
E. Gary Gygax - Had him autograph my program while attending Gen Con, a gaming convention in Madison, Wisconsin in 1983. 
Al Warden - NASA astronaut my dad took me to see at Grissom AFB in Indiana. Dave Scott - NASA astronaut (Same as above.) 
Eddie Albert - Actor signed autographs to promote dedication of Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg, Texas. 
Cliff Robertson - Same as above. 
Dolph Briscoe - Former governor of Texas. Had him autograph a book after I interviewed him. 
Robert Earle Keen - Purchased a CD that he had signed. 
Tish Hinojosa - Had her sign a CD at the Kerrville Folk Festival in 1993. 
Dalhart Windberg - Had him sign a print of one of his paintings I purchased at the Kerrville State Arts and Crafts Festival in 1994. 
Alabama band members - Had all the band members sign a publicity photo after a concert in San Marcos in 1982. 
Joe Diffie - Bought an autographed copy of his CD after watching him perform at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. 
Max Lucado - Autographed a book for me after an interview. 
Sister Helen Prejean - Bought her book "Dead Man Walking" and had her sign it at a book show. 
Nelson Wolf - Former Mayor of San Antonio and Bexar County Judge signed a copy of his book. 

George W. Bush - Multiple interviews before and after he became governor, but not after he became president. 
Rick Perry - While running for Lt. Gov. and again after he became governor. 
John Sharp - While running for Lt. Gov. 
Phil Gramm - Came to Lubbock to promote something at Texas Tech shortly before launching his presidential campaign. 
Victor Morales - The guy with the white pickup truck came to Lubbock during his Quixotic bid for the U.S. Senate. 
John Cornyn - When he was a moderate Republican running for attorney general, before he became a crazy wingnut senator. 
Kay Bailey Hutchison - At some event in Lubbock. 
Laura Bush - Promoting reading or something in Lubbock. 
George Stephanopolous - On a speaking tour in Lubbock. 
James Carville - Same as above. 
Ken Starr - Gave the commencement address for the Law School at Texas Tech and then ducked out the back and breezed past me with a smile and a nod while ignoring my questions. 
Gary Mauro - While running for governor. 
Susan Combs - While running for Ag Commissioner. 
David Dewhurst - While running for Land Commissioner. 
Barney Frank - Interviewed him on the phone about the Superfund toxic waste cleanup issue when I was in Connecticut. 
Bob Bullock - Interviewed him on the phone when I was in Kerrville. 
Chris Dodd - Spoke with him at a pubicity event at the submarine base in Groton, Connecticut. 
Lowell Weicker - Talked with him after a speaking engagement in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. 
Clayton Williams - Interviewed him on the phone after he was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame. 
Dolph Briscoe - Interviewed him for a feature story at his bank office in Uvalde. Max Lucado - Wrote a feature story on him in 2006. 
Rick Riordan - Wrote a feature story on him in 2007. 
Other Congress critters I’ve interviewed at one time or another: Ciro Rodriguez; Lamar Smith; Charlie Gonzalez; Larry Combest; Mac Thornberry; Henry Bonilla; Charles Stenholm; Sam Gejdenson; Rosa DeLauro 

 Met at social event: 
Ann Richards - Saw her at political mixer at A&M during her first gubernatorial campaign. 
Carol Channing - Was campaigning for Ann Richards at same event as above. Victor Navasky - Publisher of Nation Magazine held a mixer in New York during the 1992 Democratic National Convention. My wife and I rode the train in from Connecticut and attended. Saw Ralph Nader and Molly Ivins there. 

 Chance encounter: 
Jackie Sherrill - Texas A&M football coach. I rode an elevator with him at Rudder Tower - just the two of us - about 1985 or so. Didn’t say a word. 
Drew Gooden - Basketball player currently with the Spurs. Rode an elevator with him at a hotel downtown when he was still with the Cavaliers. 
David Robinson - Walked into Wal-Mart at I-10 and DeZavala one time and saw this really tall guy who turned out to be David Robinson. 
Greg Oden - Walked into McDonalds at I-10 and Wurzbach during the Final Four Playoffs and stood in line behind this really tall guy who turned out to be (I figured out the next day) Greg Oden, who would go on to be the No. 1 NBA draft pick that year. 

 Saw live performance: 
Patrick Stewart - Saw him perform with the Royal Shakespeare Company at Texas A&M before he was tapped for the role of Capt. Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation. 
Alabama - At Southwest Texas State University in 1982 
Cheap Trick - Opening act for Night Ranger at Texas A&M in 1983. 
Night Ranger - See above. 
Trans Siberian Orchestra - A Christmas concert in San Antonio 2002. 
Blue Man Group - Saw them perform in New York in 2001 or 2002. 
Peter Yarrow - Of Peter, Paul and Mary, at the Kerrville Folk Festival. 
Itschak Perlman - Performed at Texas A&M as part of OPAS concert series. 
Dixie Chicks (pre-Natalie Maines) - In Kerrville at YO Ranch Social Club. 
Tanya Tucker - Same as above. 
Robert Earle Keen - Performed several times at July 4th Missions baseball games. Ani DiFranco - At Kerrville Folk Festival 
I saw all these folks over a number of years at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo: Barry Manilow; Joe Diffie; Asleep at the Wheel; LeAnn Rimes; Michael Martin Murphy; Kenny Rogers 
The Fifth Dimension - Performed at outside park in Houston. 
Lyle Lovett - Saw him perform in San Antonio. 
Weird Al Yankovic - Saw him perform in San Antonio. 

 Watched live speaking event: 
George H.W. Bush - He was the commencement speaker for my graduation from Texas A&M in 1989. Also saw him speak during the dedication for the Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredericksburg. 
Bill Clinton - Saw him give a speech to the Middletown Chamber of Commerce in Connecticut when he was running for president in 1992. 
Hillary Clinton - Saw her give a speech at Yale University when she was campaigning for her husband in 1992. 
Al Gore - Saw him give a speech at a college in Middletown, Connecticut during the 1992 campaign. 
John Kenneth Galbraith and William F. Buckley Jr. - Watched a debate they had as part of a lecture tour at Texas A&M. 
Rob Bell - Saw him in San Antonio during one of his lecture tours. 

 Saw them at live sporting events: 
Johnny Bench - Saw him hit a home run at the Astrodome when the Reds played the Astros in 1978. 
Billy Williams - Saw him hit a home run at Wrigley Field when the Cubs played the Astros in 1973. 
Bo Jackson - Saw him play in the Cotton Bowl against the Texas Aggies after he won the Heisman Trophy. The Aggies stopped him on a 4th and goal situation and won the game. Whoop!! 
Chuck Knoblauch - Watched him play baseball at Texas A&M before going to the majors where he was Rookie of the Year. 
Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, etc. - Saw them at numerous Spurs basketball games.

Network TV executives hate me

TV Guide gives a rundown on the status of TV shows for next Fall.

First, of the shows that have already been canceled, I regularly watched:
Boston Legal
Life on Mars
My Own Worst Enemy

Of the shows that have a “poor” chance of returning, I am regularly watching:
The Unusuals

The only show with a “good” chance of returning that I watch is:

And the only show that has been officially renewed that I watch is:

Network TV sucks.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

60 votes afterall

I certainly wasn’t expecting Sen. Arlen “Magic Bullet Theory” Specter to switch parties today, but it was most certainly a welcome development for Democrats. Especially after the more obvious candidates for party switching over the years have resisted - from James Jeffords of Vermont who became an Independent rather than associating with us Dems, to Lincoln Chafee who ended up losing his Senate seat in Rhode Island because he stubbornly refused to switch parties.
But rather than following Chafee into the abyss, Specter decided to take the plunge in a bid to salvage his political career. And the odds are good now that it will work. And now Democrats are on the verge of a 60-vote filibuster-busting majority in the Senate as soon as Al Franken takes his rightful place as the next senator from Minnesota.
So Republicans are really hurting, especially in light of their loss in the New York District 20 race last week - A one-time Republican stronghold that stayed in Democratic hands despite their best efforts.
But believe me when I say that “I feel their pain.” Yes, I can actually feel just the slightest twinge of sympathy for my misguided Republican brothers and sisters on this one. That’s because I can still remember how I felt in 1994-95 as one conservative Democrat after another took turns jumping ship and stabbing the party in the back.
Remember Sen. Richard Shelby? Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell? Or how about all those turncoat Congressmen shortly after the start of the Gingrich Revolution — Billy Tauzin, Nathan Deal, Mike Parker, Jimmy Hayes, Greg Laughlin...
Yeah, it’s no fun when the shoe is on the other foot. Pretty soon there may be others like Olympia Snowe following Specter’s lead. But there shouldn’t be too many if for no other reason than the party has already shrunk down so small that there just aren’t that many people left who could conceivably make the switch. The moderate wing of the Republican Party can already hold its caucus meetings in a phone booth.

Monday, April 27, 2009

GOP thinks Swine Flu preparation is “Pork”

73 cases of swine flu confirmed; hundreds more feared

Seventy-three cases of swine flu have been confirmed worldwide, the World Health Organization said Monday.
Forty of those cases are in the United States, 26 in Mexico, six in Canada and one in Spain, a WHO representative said.
Later Monday, health officials in Scotland said two cases of swine flu had been confirmed there.
Hundreds more cases are suspected, especially in Mexico, where as many as 103 deaths are thought to have been caused by the virus, the country’s health minister said. More than 2,000 cases have been reported but not confirmed in the country.
Federal officials confirmed 20 new U.S. cases on Monday.

It would be wonderful if our government had been prepared for this type of occurrence. Unfortunately, Republicans stripped funding for Pandemic Preparedness out of the recent stimulus package.
That was $900 million that would come in handy right now in dealing with this swine flu crisis except that “fiscally conservative” Republicans axed it from the bill. They called it, ironically enough, “pork.”
Oh, and if fighting to keep the government ill-prepared for a pandemic crisis such as this one wasn’t enough, we can also thank Republicans for the fact that we still don’t have a Secretary of Health and Human Services in place in the midst of the biggest health care crisis in years because they have beenholding up her confirmation on account of her pro-choice position on abortion.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Spurs reboot

Yeah, I know it ain't over yet. But I'd pretty much decided it was over before it started anyway. The Spurs' playoff chances, that is.
I didn't figure they would make it all the way this year even with a healthy Manu Ginobili. Now with Manu out, it looks like they are going to get bounced out of the playoffs in the first round for the first time since 2000.
But, hey, at least they made it to the playoffs - and won their division to boot. So we should be happy with that and look forward to doing better next year.
Only, what will the Spurs look like next year?
I'm betting we will see a major shakeup of this team almost to the core. The way I see it there are only three indispensible players right now - Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Everyone else is expendable at one level or another.
I'm thinking they will hang onto Roger Mason Jr. and George Hill, and I kind of hope that they will keep Drew Gooden around as well. But everyone else may be cleared out before next year rolls around. Michael Finley and Bruce Bowen may both retire. Kurt Thomas and Fabricio Oberto will be cleared out to make room for some younger and more aggresive rebounders. Ime Udoka and Matt Bonner are too inconsistent and Jacques Vaughn is being pushed out by Hill.
Of course, I don't know if there are contractual obligations that could keep some of these guys around longer. And I don't know the availability of people who could possibly replace them. But I just know that we aren't going to get any further with the same crew in place anymore and something will have to change.
The last game against Dallas should have made that clear. Tony Parker plays his heart out and scores 43 points while Tim Duncan contributes a solid 25 points and yet the Spurs still lose 99 to 90. How did that happen?
If you look at the stats for the Dallas Mavericks you see that only one player on the team scored more points than Tim (and just barely - Josh Howard had 28 points). But because everyone on the team contributed they still won.
How pathetic were the rest of the Spurs? Finley had a weak 7 points after playing 36 minutes. Bowen had 5 points in 31 minutes. Bonner played 22 minutest and scored squat. Udoka was in for 19 minutes at scored 1 point and Mason was in for 17 minutes and scored nada. That's pathetic! There is no excuse for losing a game like that.
The reason the Spurs are struggling right now is because they didn't bring someone in to help Timmy out under the basket the way Timmy came in early in his career to help out David Robinson. But now there is no one around to help him out as he goes into the twilight of his career.
Another problem is whoever the coaching wizard was who found Parker and Ginobili for the Spurs must be gone now, because that person surely would not have let Luis Scola slip away like the Spurs did. Now Scola is helping the Houston Rockets go to the next round of the playoffs rather than helping the Spurs.
Do you think we could trade the latter half of our team to Houston now and get him back? No, I didn't think so.