It's the end of the world as we know it...

Politics, philosophy, the law, current events, left leaning debates, religion, baseball, football, pop culture, growing up Greek, random events in my life...whatever hits my mind at the time.


Congratulations Peter

Congratulations to Peter for passing the bar exam! Another lawyer in the world - just what we need. ;-) Yay!

Does The Supreme Court Think That Bush Is A Bad President?

Some of my friends know how I feel about Bush v. Gore. Not the decision necessarily itself (my feeling for that are separate) but in the ruling. In my opinion, 9 Justices ruled on the basis of intuition and how they wanted the election to turn out, NOT based on their respective views of the law. This indictment is not limited to the conservative justices, but to the liberal justices as well. All 9 of them went against their respective theories of the Constitution, and I lost a little bit of respect for the Court that day. The one institution that was supposed to be removed from partisan politics illustrated in that one moment that actually, they aren't, with all the subtlety as if they had spray painted their bodies to support their team at a sports events. In other words, the majority, those proponents of states' rights, completely abandoned that process in going with strong federalism and the minority, strong proponents of federal courts making law, rejected that integrity in favor of having the Florida STATE court decide. Natural inclinations be damned. Fact: Had the liberal Warren Court interpreted the Equal Protection Clause in such a manner, the conservatives would have gone nuts. But I digress, and that is not the point of this post.

After Bush was elected President, many (including me) feared that Bush would be appointed Supreme Court Justices right and left. (And let's be clear on this: there are ALREADY 7 members of the Court appointed by Republicans. The Court does NOT reflect society. 70% of Americans are NOT conservative.) But their ages suggests that they would be retiring soon. If you look at the ages of the current Justices:
Rehnquist is 80 (Pretty freaking conservative)
Stevens is 84
O'Conner is 74 (Conservative but will occasionally have moments of lucidity despite herself)
Scalia is 68 (frighteningly conservative in a Brothers Grimm kind of way)
Kennedy is 68 (Conservative but will occasionally have moments of lucidity despite himself)
Souter is 65
Thomas is (frighteningly conservative in a Brothers Grimm kind of way)
Ginsberg is 71
Bryer is 66

Many of these Justices are extremely ill-health. Now, perhaps it makes sense that someone like Ginsberg to hold on if at all possible on the hope that the Democrats could put together a competent campaign and retake the White House in '04 (idealism is so cute!) but the fact that none of the conservative justices have made noise to retire is telling. I really think that it suggests something that the older, conservative Justices have not retired. (Obviously, not Scalia or Thomas, who are both extremely young.)

If the Supreme Court approved of the job that Bush was doing, and they supported the Judges they have seen him appoint to the federal bench, they would want to retire while a conservative still controlled the White House so that someone of like-minded persuasion would replace them. Yet no one has even whispered of such a move.

Kinda makes you wonder if the Supreme Court would rule the same way again...

Reasons to Wear Go Go Boots

Ok, I have to say that I would love to see a macho, manly professional baseball player in high white go go boots and a cheerleaders uniform. (The just hazing of the just-called-up AAA rookies - similar to a fraternity I guess.) Basically, someone shot at the Cleveland Indians bus after the game in Kansas City. The bullet went through one guy, and hit the pitcher.

What makes this story so absolutely perfect (since he wasn't seriously injured, I mean) is that the COPS saw the "cheerleader" when they had to take him to the hospital after he was shot. (Like I said, the shot part isn't funny, but he is ok, and the fact that the go go boots actually SAVED him from fruther injury is great.) His "choice" of attire otherwise wouldn't make the news and my life would be just a little darker.


Sunsets and Daddies

The sunset is rather beautiful tonight. Of course, I'm in my office, but my office has a view of Lake Erie (and Cleveland Browns Stadium). The sun is red/orange and it's dipping into Lake Erie right now. The sky closest to the water is red with bright orange flames through the clouds, which are the color of the water. It's stunning, and I wish you all could see it.

One of my favorite commericals remains a Lifesavers commerical from my childhood. It is, a father and a little girl are watching the sun set. The father is whispering to his daughter, "Going....Going....Gone." The little girl whirls back around and says to her father, "Do it again, Daddy." That chokes me up. She really thought that her father could walk on water and commend the sun to rise and set once again. Daddies, of course, can do anything.

This leads me to another thought. It occurs to me that I am a disappointment to my father. Not that he doesn't love me, because I know that he does. It's just, when he envisioned his oldest child at age 28, I know that he thought that she would be more like him. He gets frustrated that I don't care about public opinion and designer labels (HOW many times have I heard: "Stephanie, you can tell a designer shirt from a cheap shirt from a mile away, and you shouldn't be wearing junk") and my politics differ incredibly from his (he's called me a communist before) or any of that stuff. Not that my father is materialistic, by the way, he's just more practical in the things that people care about. And I'm definitely not practical. Sometimes, when I'm talking to him, he'll just stop listening. And I can sense him doing it, the same way you can sense when it's about to storm, but how does one respond? So I'll pretend that I don't notice and continue talking, and when I have to tell him a story or a friend's name for the nine hundredth time, I just pretend that it doesn't bother me. However, my father can still walk on water...long as it's frozen.

The Fair Weathered Sports Fan

I adore sports. Big shocker here. Especially baseball and football. Or football and baseball, depending. For about four weekends, basefoot ball. I've never understood or gotten into hockey. Once upon a time, I liked basketball. I probably will again some day (I still like college basketball so it's the team, not the sport, which may come close to breaking Rule #4). But since there is no way that I could be as articute as she can, I'll just copy the Rules for The Fair Weather Fan. Also known as, things to say to NY Yankees "fans" (who, if they lived in NYC, adored the Mets in the 80s and if they lived anywhere else, violate Rule #1.)

If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a fair-weather sports fan. The way I see it, all sports fans should adhere to a few basic loyalty rules.

Rule 1. Location, location, location. You grow up rooting for the teams in your local region that play the sports you like. So you either love your home team, or you don't watch that sport at all -- there's no in-between. And you're loyal: you don't abandon the team when they stink [but you are allowed to complain about them], nor do you suddenly develop interest in them when they have a remarkable season.

Rule 2. No two-fers. If your home region has two teams playing the same sport, you can be a fan of only one. So for all you Los Angelinos, it's either the Clippers or the Lakers, but not both. Tough choice, either the perennial losers or the perennial Hollywood favorites. I’m not sure which is worse.

Rule 3. Home team exclusivity. No rooting for teams that aren't a home team, even if your region doesn't have a team in that sport. Who said life was fair? [Although I encourage you to root against non-home teams in any sport. My favorite spectator sport: watching Duke lose in the NCAA tournament.]

Rule 4. No add-ons. You don't suddenly start watching a new sport just because the home team made the playoffs. If you weren't interested in jai alai before, you don't start watching games now.

Rule 5. Loyalty has a price. No matter how big the potential winnings, you never, ever bet against your home team. If you're compelled to join the company pool, it's your duty to take a loss for the home team.

Rule 6. Nomadic obligation. If you're over the age of 15 and you move away from your home region, you stay loyal to your original team. You don't adopt your new region's team just because they're conveniently located. You can watch them play -- heck, you can even take your kids to the games. You just can't care whether they win or lose. And yes, coupled with Rule 1, this rule means that you and your kids will root for different teams. Get over it. You won't listen to the same music either.

Rule 7. No bandwagon hopping. Never start rooting for this season's hot team, no matter how cute the quarterback or how great the superstar. Remember all those alleged Chicago Bulls fans? Where are they now, cheering for the Washington Wizards? Don't think so.

You can go here for the rest. Worth the read.

See Through Skirts

So I got an email about the latest "fad" in Japan, that being see-through skirts that were actually patterns to look like see through skirts. From the email: The Rage for Spring! What you see below are not see-thru skirts. They are actually prints on the skirts to make it look as if the panties are visible and these are the current rage in Japan. They'll be the rage here in the USA soon.
Some pictures were attached.

Now, I'm a suspicious person by nature and I did a little Google research, and discovered that this "urban legend" was, in fact, false, from February 2003. (Web site includes MORE pictures even). That seems about right - stories make their way to Stephanie about 20 months after they hit everyone else...


Stephanie's Shock Of The Day

The partner just called my arbitration brief, "Snappy, compelling, and to the point."

Wow. This was, in my opinion, the single worst thing I've ever turned in. Ever. It was written in pure desperation late one evening, three days past the draft date, by slitting my wrists with a plastic knife and letting the words drip onto the paper, bore out of my horrendous writers block that I've had. I was literally ashamed to hand it in, but it was so late that I had to do something, and quitting to join the circuit, while appealing, obviously wouldn't work due to my innate and irrational fear of clowns. I'm just stunned right now. I've been trying to hide from him b/c I thought for sure he was going to come in and fire me and it's too close to my birthday to be fired.

Now if only I could somehow get this discovery done, my life would be almost not stressful drowning feeling awful for two whole weeks...Hmm...maybe I should go back to the circus idea??

Living With Grace

I love Launch. (And REM’s Leaving New York is already on Launch, yay!) So anyway, I’m listening to my videos today (Wow, I stopped listening to REM for a few hours!), and they'll throw in some new songs every now and again. Not necessarily in your preferences area, which generally just gets me irritated as they play Britney Spears, Ashlee Simpson, Raven Symone, Jojo, Usher, and Hilary Duff (does every Disney actress think that they can sing? Does Mickey give him something?? I don't get it.) - none of whom I need to hear to compete my life ever, and I have to manually skip the song. But this song thay played today - both the music and the words - were simply beautiful from the beginning. Transcribed (as best as I can just listening to it):

I tell the world I’m doing thirty-five
Only you know the truth
I tell them all I’m happy
But only you have the proof
I tell myself I’ll fall in love
And not just fall on my face
But 'til then I’m living with hope
And I’m living with grace
I tell the world I’m 6'1"
And all you do is smile
I tell them all I’m playing the field
But you know that’s not my style
I tell myself I’ll find my way
Moving at my own pace
But till them I’m living with pride
And I’m living with grace
Living with grace is never easy
But that’s now what life’s about
And no matter when
Tomorrow sees me
I’d rather live with grace than live without
I know the soon you’ll find someone
And vanish without a trace
But although I living alone
I’ll be living with grace
Yes not matter how I feel
In my heart I’ll be there
With grace

It wasn’t until I went to actually SEE the video that I realized (1) it was Eric McCormack (and who knew he could sing anyway?); and (2) that the entire video was Will and Grace, so the "grace" in the song was a person, not a thing. (I'm not a huge Will and Grace fan.) Despite that, I really like the song and must recommend it. It's supposed to be "with Barry Manilow" but I swear I never saw him or even heard him. It was just the crooner style. Wistful song. (I do believe that I like wistful.) Oh, I've also learned that Ryan Cabrera's hair adds several inches to his height. These are the things that might be on Jeopardy one day (Oh, Ken Jennings, when will you return. First, you deserved me for two weeks. Then Michael Stipe cancelled my concert. Why have I been forsaken?) (I pose this question, then almost worry that the mean psycho will think this is a serious question and respond.

Another reasons to watch The Daily Show (as if you needed another reason)

Now, a study with an official sounding name (National Anneberg Election Survey) at a well-respected college university with a bad football team (University of Pennsylvania) has come up with additional reasons to watch John Stewart's The Daily Show: You will know the issues of the presidential election.

PHILADELPHIA -- Viewers of late-night comedy programs, especially The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on the cable channel Comedy Central, are more likely to know the issue positions and backgrounds of presidential candidates than people who do not watch late-night comedy, the University of Pennsylvania’s National Annenberg Election Survey shows.

Polling conducted between July 15 and Sept. 19 among 19,013 adults showed that on a six-item political knowledge test people who did not watch any late-night comedy programs in the past week answered 2.62 items correctly, while viewers of Late Night with David Letterman on CBS answered 2.91, viewers of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno answered 2.95, and viewers of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart answered 3.59 items correctly. That meant there was a difference of 16 percentage points between Daily Show viewers and people who did not watch any late-night programming.

The campaign knowledge test covered such topics as which candidate favors allowing workers to invest some of their Social Security contributions in the stock market, the income range at which John Kerry would eliminate the Bush tax cut, and which candidate is a former prosecutor.

“In recent years, traditional journalists have been voicing increasing concern that if young people are receiving political information from late-night comedy shows like The Daily Show, they may not be adequately informed on the issues of the day,” said Dannagal Goldthwaite Young, a senior analyst at the Annenberg Public Policy Center who conducted the research. ”This data suggests that these fears may be unsubstantiated. We find no differences in campaign knowledge between young people who watch Leno and Letterman – programs with a lot of political humor in their opening monologues -- and those who do not watch late night. But when looking at young people who watch The Daily Show, we find they score higher on campaign knowledge than young people who do not watch the show, even when education, following politics, party identification, gender, viewing network news, reading the newspaper, watching cable news and getting campaign information on-line are taken into account.”

The Annenberg survey found that people who watch The Daily Show are more interested in the presidential campaign, more educated, younger, and more liberal than the average American or than Leno or Letterman viewers. “However, these factors do not explain the difference in levels of campaign knowledge between people who watch The Daily Show and people who do not,” Young pointed out. “In fact, Daily Show viewers have higher campaign knowledge than national news viewers and newspaper readers -- even when education, party identification, following politics, watching cable news, receiving campaign information online, age, and gender are taken into consideration.”

During the mid-July to mid-September time survey period, Daily Show host Jon Stewart interviewed such political figures as Sen. John Kerry, Sen. John McCain, former President Bill Clinton, Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, and White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett. In addition to the interviews, The Daily Show’s programs dealt with political news and issues of the day, from “Mess O’Potamia” (ongoing coverage of the Iraq War), to the controversial anti-Kerry swift boat advertisements, to the value of “objectivity” in news reporting.

Young people who watched The Daily Show scored 48% correct on the campaign knowledge test while young people who did not watch any late-night comedy scored 39% correct. Meanwhile, young people who watched four of more days of network news scored 40% correct, equally frequent cable news viewers 48% correct and newspaper readers 46% correct.

The interviewing period used in these analyses included The Daily Show’s coverage of both party conventions. On six of the eight nights of the conventions, Nielsen ratings indicate, The Daily Show drew more 18-34 year olds (during its 11:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. time slot) than the cable news channels such as Fox, MSNBC, CNBC and CNN. The Annenberg data indicate that of those people who watched late-night comedy programming at least once in the previous week, 37% report watching Leno most often, 34% report Letterman, and 15% report The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. When looking just at people ages 18 to 29, the survey found 30% report watching Leno most often, 25% Letterman, and 22% Stewart.

A content analysis of late-night comedy content conducted on Leno, Letterman, and Stewart monologues and headlines from July 15 through Sept. 16 indicates that 33% of jokes made by Stewart during the show’s “headlines” mentioned at least one policy issue, compared to 24% of Leno’s monologue jokes and 21% of Letterman’s. Other topics covered in late-night monologues included candidates' personalities, their chances of winning as well as events and blunders that occurred on the campaign trail.

Of the 83 political jokes made by Stewart, only 9 specifically targeted Bush. That was 11% of his political jokes. The same number targeted Kerry.

“The Daily Show segments are less likely than a Leno or Letterman joke to use a quick punch-line to make fun of a candidate,” said Young. “Instead, Stewart’s lengthier segments employ irony to explore policy issues, news events, and even the media’s coverage of the campaign.”

Leno and Letterman’s monologue jokes were more likely than The Daily Show to take aim specifically at Bush or Kerry. Of Leno’s 315 political jokes, 97 (31%) targeted Bush and 76 (24%) targeted Kerry. Of Letterman’s 136 political jokes, 20 (15%) targeted Bush and 21 (15%) targeted Kerry.

Of Leno’s 97 Bush jokes, 38% focused on the idea that he lacked intelligence. About 10% of Leno’s jokes about Bush fell into each of the following categories: he is not technically president (lost in 2000), he shirked responsibility with the National Guard, and he is responsible for the poor state of the economy. Letterman’s 20 Bush jokes followed a similar pattern with 45% focusing on Bush’s intelligence and 10% falling into each of the following categories: he is not technically president (lost in 2000), the charge that he shirked his duties with the Texas Air National Guard, and his alleged dishonesty.

Leno and Letterman’s jokes about Kerry fell into various categories. While Letterman’s jokes were more likely to portray Kerry as losing the election (24% of Letterman’s 21 Kerry jokes), Leno was more likely to mock Kerry’s wealth and rich wife (20% of Leno’s 76 Kerry jokes). Letterman was also likely to tell jokes about Kerry in relation to his service in Vietnam (19%), his physical appearance (14%), and his alleged flip-flopping on the issues (10%). Leno’s jokes about Kerry also focused on his alleged flip flopping (18%), his losing the election (12%) and his service in Vietnam (11%).

The National Annenberg Election Survey, the largest academic election poll, is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. The survey has been tracking the presidential campaign since Oct. 7, 2003, and interviewing will continue until after Election Day.

I feel better already! And all this time, I just thought I liked bad snarky jokes. Turns out that I wanted to enrich my knowledge in important current events, such as Indecision 2004.


A Tribute To Omar

Believe it or not, there are 24 other players on the Cleveland Indians who AREN'T named Jody Gerut. And while we all know of my obsession with Joseph Diego

I actually DO like several other players on the Indians (though we know Brussard is not one of them). And this is my tribute to one of them: Omar Vizquel.

In the history of short stops, there has NEVER been one with a better glove than Omar. This is not an opinion of an Indians fan, or an Omar fan, it's a straight out statistical fact. In my opinion (and this IS opinion) with his range, skill, and flash, he is the greatest gloveman of his generation. Barehanded grabs b/c the leather would show the progression and make it less likely to get the runner out. (And for those lucky enough to see him and Robby Alomar in his prime turn the double play, there are no words for the two of them together...)

Cleveland is the home to the movie Major League. But more than that, Omar is the last throwback to the days of 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, (even 2000 when all we needed was Seattle to lose!) and 2001. Back when the Browns were gone (damn you Art Modell!) and the Cavs sucked (wait, was that past tense I used?) A throwback to the days of Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome (who, yes, all walked away and broke our hearts.) The last link to Cleveland's rebirth of baseball after years below mediocrity. The link that started the consecutive sell out record that still stands. (Insert any "Cleveland is so desperate for a winner" joke here.) For 11 years, Omar has been a staple in Cleveland. He has won 9 Gold Gloves. (Last year he was injured. The year prior it was somehow given to A-Rod, who is nowhere near the defensive player that Omar is but was gyped out of the MVPO that year playing for Texas. This year, a weak April (after not playing all last season) may cost Omar his 10th gold glove this year - despite how well he has played since.

I can't explain to those of you who only see Omar maybe 10 games a year how good this guy really is. How amazing the plays he makes look routine are. And he doesn't have the power of the recent shortstops, so sometimes he's overlooked. This guy can flat out field. The best ever. And he's got range better than anyone I've ever seen, so he covers so much ground - even at 37 - and makes plays that few other could even get to. You can't teach that. You can't even see that on the fielding percentage. Not only does he make fewer errors, but balls that would be hits anywhere else are outs here in Cleveland, and have been for over a decade. (And his hitting this year has been great as well. At age 37, he's batting .29o with 79 runs, seven homers, 58 RBI and 17 stolen bases.)

Anyway, I went to Sunday's game. Cleveland's last home game. Probably Omar's last game at Jacobs Field as an Indians. I had great seats - I was 5th row behind the on deck circle. When Omar came up to bat in the first and third innings, the crowd was on its feet cheering for him. Even after he got out both times, the crowd continued its standing ovation. We weren't clapping for that at bat. We were clapping for 11 years, for 1700 games (other than injuries and days off), for seven thousand at bats. For being part of our run in the 90s. For being personable. For answering every reporters questions on his 4th game as a Cleveland Indian when he made 3 errors that game (the only time it ever happened in his career) and people were wondering how this hell this random new guy had won the gold glove the year before. This was for being one of the last classy athletes remaining in sports. This was for Omar for being Omar. When he came up in the 6th, the crown was again on its feet cheering. (He got a hit that time, and it was just as loud as it was earlier this season when he got hit number 2000.) This was Omar's day. 22,000 fans were there not because it was a nice Sunday afternoon, not because there wasn't anything else to do, and not because the game mattered at all to the standings. The 22,000 fans were there to say goodbye. And they were emotional.

But they weren't the only ones. In the 8th inning, Omar was up again, and everyone in the stadium realized it would be Omar's last at bat of the season, and likely, of his career as an Indian. The fans knew it. Omar knew it. Everyone was on their feet. Signs are out. There is mad cheering. Omar raises his hand in acknowledgement. I'd like to think that it was in appreciation as well. People would not stop. Omar steps into the batters box and tries to get ready, but the crowd just will not stop cheering. Will not dull to a deafening roar at least. So Omar steps out and looks at the crowd a second time.

You know that forced stiff smile you have when you are desperately trying not to cry? 5 rows back, I could see, that was the smile on Omar's face. And that was the feeling in everyone's hearts watching him acknowledge the crown one final time. He got out, and still Omar got a standing ovation. (I heard him on the radio after the game saying that was the toughest at bat of his career. It was tough to be a part if it, knowing what it was.)

He took his place at shortstop for the top of the 9th. Since Jacobs Field reopened in 1994, few other than Omar have played that position. Shortstop at Jacobs Field truly is HIS position in every sense of the word. Manager Eric Wedge replaced him with Johnny Peralta (the 22 year old kid who was the AAA International League MVP and is the reason that Omar probably will not be back next year with the Indians) to start the inning. And the crowd was again on its feet. Cheering. Calling. Everything. Omar tipped his hat before disappearing into the dugout for the final time.

And the crowd was not satisfied. We wanted Omar. Fuck the game (which was already out of control at like 5-1 anyway.) We just wanted Omar. The Minnesota batter had to step out of the box and the umpire had to turn to the Indians dugout b/c the crowd was so loud. 22,000 people screaming from their hearts. Hoping maybe the cheers would convince the Indians to resign him maybe? Omar stepped back onto the field. He waved to the fan and then touched his heart before going back into the dugout. The message was clear: I love you all.

Omar's Top Five Golden Moments

And as an aside, I was wearing a Yankees Suck t-shirt. Some mother (who looked at least 5 years younger than me) walked up to me and said that she didn't appreciate my language at a ballpark where children were around, I was was dressed more appropriately for a bar. For the record, I don't think that teen mother hood is a good thing for children to see, nor her shirt ending somewhere around the end of her bra and her low riding jeans. Not that she looked trashy, b/c it wasn't quite as bad as I made it sound, but she'd be more likely to be in a bar than I would dressed in our respective ways.

Stephanie-Media Reports...

Wait, NOW I'm suppose to have SYMPATHY for Lynndie England because she's pregnant?? Are the kidding me?? Her photos from Abu Ghraib represent anything BUT a sympathetic character. And just cause she's pregnant, she's getting special treatment by coming back to the US. Ugh! And her poor child - both parents are (hopefully) going away for a long time. I feel sorry for her future child, but not enough to say that this girl deserves anything less than the full sentence.

If Bin Laden is in Pakistan, why is my cousin currently searching for him in Afghanistan? And why isn't he releasing video or audio tapes lately? Even the 9.11 anniversary wasn't him. That would seem to suggest that he's either dead, captured, hurt or sick and he doesn't want to tip his hand as to that, or is planning something major (b/c I think the chatter dies down right before something.) I wonder whether the rumors that we have Bin Laden are true. I think that certainly a lot of people believe that, and if he is caught in October, it will certainly raise suspicions. This is the cynical Stephanie talking right now...

And yes, if beans suggest the winner of the 2004 presidential election, its a close race but it appears that Bush will win. Wow, I wonder what the aroma in that room will be like... Hey....aren't there already Bush baked beans? Fraud, fraud!!

I was once pulled over for going 100 mph (I was 16...and scared to death) but never 205. I stand in awe. "...Certainly anyone who flouts the law to that extent is seen by some as a latter-day Robin Hood, flying in the face of authority and doing stuff we all want to do but common..." Hmm...Robin Hood stole from the rich to give to the poor. This guy was just speeding. I never consider myself a Robin Hood when I speed. I just consider myself in a hurry. See how little I know.

Wow, I find Conan so incredibly unfunny that I can't imagine this. I can list 1001 people who deserve the host the Tonight Show more than Conan. Ick.

And this may sound weird but do all these hurricanes mean that the world is ending? It's been a wild hurricane season. Reasons not to live in Florida shirts...

Maybe I Should Auction Myself Off On EBay??

Yay! For those who remember this story about the guy who wanted to be adopted, I'm happy to report that he has been.

Lonely Italian Pensioner Gets Adopted
By Antonio Denti

SAN POLO DEI CAVALIERI, Italy (Reuters) - A lonely pensioner who turned to Italy's classified pages to find someone willing to "adopt" him as a grandfather is finally heading to his new home and family in northern Italy this weekend.

Giorgio Angelozzi, 80, has lived alone outside Rome with seven cats since his wife died in 1992, but he took the unprecedented step of putting himself up for adoption last month via the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
Not satisfied with just running the advertisement, Italy's main daily ran a front-page story about Angelozzi's plight.

Inundated with offers from families across Italy and as far away as New Zealand, Brazil and the United States, the retired schoolteacher has decided to go to live with Elio and Marlena Riva and their two teenage children in Bergamo, northern Italy.

"I was hit by a torrential downpour. I didn't think I would be able to choose among so many offers," the white-bearded Angelozzi told Reuters during his last hours in his simple two-room flat.

"But I chose the woman whose voice reminded me of my wife."

Angelozzi's appeal struck a chord in family-loving Italy where up to four generations have traditionally lived under the same roof or at least in the same neighborhood.

Today, one in five Italians is over the age of 65 and almost half of them live alone, partly because of the more mobile lifestyle of younger generations. Italy also has one of the lowest birth rates in Europe.

"Remember that my problem is one that affects so many elderly people in Italy. Always remember that," Angelozzi had said during the initial flurry of attention.

He will travel with Marlena Riva to Bergamo on Saturday night where his new home boasts a garden with apple, cherry and pomegranate trees and a beagle called Pablo to replace his cats.

"I will become a grandfather -- this was my plan. I will have the affection of this woman who is already calling me 'daddy' and the children who call me Grandpa Giorgio," said Angelozzi, who has a daughter working abroad with a charity.

The former classics teacher had told potential families he would contribute 500 euros ($615) a month to expenses, but the Rivas say what they really want is a grandfather.

"This grandfather needs help and we need him," Marlena told Corriere. Her relatives live in her native Poland and her husband's parents recently died.

Their 16-year-old daughter Dagmara said: "I just want a grandfather, the rest isn't important."


Cynicism v. Idealism

There are at least two types of liberals. The cynic liberal and the idealistic liberal. Both end up at the same place, but get there by two totally different scenic routes.

I bring this up because recently, I've found myself in discussion with both. One friend is a staunch cynic liberal. Another friend is a strong idealistic liberal. When talking to both of them, I find myself persuaded by their representative liberalism (which is what happens when most of one's friends are smarter than you), and I find myself disagreeing with it as well (which is what happens when one is not smart enough to always realize that one's friends are just on a different intellectual level). It's weird. The same conversations, the same topics, the same conclusions - but two totally different views. Perspective is great. I'm enjoying it intensely, even though I have no idea where I come out on the liberal spectrum.

Ultimately, idealism makes me uncomfortable at times, because I've got too much cynical blood in me. At the same time, cynicism makes me uncomfortable at times, because I've got too much idealism inherent in me. I can't resolve it. In Platoon, there is a quote about battle for possession of one's soul. That is how I feel sometime between idealism and cynicism, and these two guys just represent that dichotomy. And for the record, that irritates the hell out of me. Does it really have to be one or the other?

John Kerry Speech at NYU

New York, NY - I am honored to be here at New York University -- one of the great urban universities, not just in New York, but in the world. You have set a high standard for global dialogue and I hope to live up to that tradition today.

This election is about choices. The most important choices a President makes are about protecting America… at home and around the world. A president’s first obligation is to make America safer, stronger and truer to our ideals.

Only a few blocks from here, three years ago, the events of September 11 reminded every American of that obligation. That day brought to our shores the defining struggle of our times: the struggle between freedom and radical fundamentalism. And it made clear that our most important task is to fight… and to win… the war on terrorism.

With us today is a remarkable group of women who lost loved ones on September 11th … and whose support I am honored to have. Not only did they suffer an unbearable loss – they helped us learn the lessons of that terrible time by insisting on the creation of the 9/11 Commission. I ask them to stand. And I thank them on behalf of our country -- and I pledge to them and to you that I will implement the 9-11 recommendations.

In fighting the war on terrorism, my principles are straightforward. The terrorists are beyond reason. We must destroy them. As president, I will do whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to defeat our enemies. But billions of people around the world yearning for a better life are open to America’s ideals. We must reach them.

To win, America must be strong. And America must be smart. The greatest threat we face is the possibility Al Qaeda or other terrorists will get their hands on a nuclear weapon.

To prevent that from happening, we must call on the totality of America’s strength. Strong alliances, to help us stop the world’s most lethal weapons from falling into the most dangerous hands. A powerful military, transformed to meet the new threats of terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. And all of America’s power – our diplomacy, our intelligence system, our economic power, the appeal of our values – each of which is critical to making America more secure and preventing a new generation of terrorists from emerging.

National security is a central issue in this campaign. We owe it to the American people to have a real debate about the choices President Bush has made… and the choices I would make… to fight and win the war on terror.

That means we must have a great honest national debate on Iraq. The President claims it is the centerpiece of his war on terror. In fact, Iraq was a profound diversion from that war and the battle against our greatest enemy, Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. Invading Iraq has created a crisis of historic proportions and, if we do not change course, there is the prospect of a war with no end in sight.

This month, we passed a cruel milestone: more than 1,000 Americans lost in Iraq. Their sacrifice reminds us that Iraq remains, overwhelmingly, an American burden. Nearly 90 percent of the troops – and nearly 90 percent of the casualties – are American. Despite the President’s claims, this is not a grand coalition.

Our troops have served with extraordinary bravery, skill and resolve. Their service humbles all of us. When I speak to them… when I look into the eyes of their families, I know this: we owe them the truth about what we have asked them to do… and what is still to be done.

In June, the President declared, "The Iraqi people have their country back." Just last week, he told us: "This country is headed toward democracy… Freedom is on the march."

But the administration’s own official intelligence estimate, given to the President last July, tells a very different story.

According to press reports, the intelligence estimate totally contradicts what the President is saying to the American people.

So do the facts on the ground.

Security is deteriorating, for us and for the Iraqis.

42 Americans died in Iraq in June -- the month before the handover. But 54 died in July…66 in August… and already 54 halfway through September.

And more than 1,100 Americans were wounded in August – more than in any other month since the invasion.

We are fighting a growing insurgency in an ever widening war-zone. In March, insurgents attacked our forces 700 times. In August, they attacked 2,700 times – a 400% increase.
Falluja…Ramadi… Samarra … even parts of Baghdad – are now "no go zones"… breeding grounds for terrorists who are free to plot and launch attacks against our soldiers. The radical Shi’a cleric, Moktada al-Sadr, who’s accused of complicity in the murder of Americans, holds more sway in the suburbs of Baghdad.

Violence against Iraqis… from bombings to kidnappings to intimidation … is on the rise.
Basic living conditions are also deteriorating.

Residents of Baghdad are suffering electricity blackouts lasting up to 14 hours a day.
Raw sewage fills the streets, rising above the hubcaps of our Humvees. Children wade through garbage on their way to school.

Unemployment is over 50 percent. Insurgents are able to find plenty of people willing to take $150 for tossing grenades at passing U.S. convoys.

Yes, there has been some progress, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our soldiers and civilians in Iraq. Schools, shops and hospitals have been opened. In parts of Iraq, normalcy actually prevails.

But most Iraqis have lost faith in our ability to deliver meaningful improvements to their lives. So they’re sitting on the fence… instead of siding with us against the insurgents.

That is the truth. The truth that the Commander in Chief owes to our troops and the American people.

It is never easy to discuss what has gone wrong while our troops are in constant danger. But it’s essential if we want to correct our course and do what’s right for our troops instead of repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

I know this dilemma first-hand. After serving in war, I returned home to offer my own personal voice of dissent. I did so because I believed strongly that we owed it those risking their lives to speak truth to power. We still do.

Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell. But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war. The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: we have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure.

The President has said that he "miscalculated" in Iraq and that it was a "catastrophic success." In fact, the President has made a series of catastrophic decisions … from the beginning … in Iraq. At every fork in the road, he has taken the wrong turn and led us in the wrong direction.

The first and most fundamental mistake was the President’s failure to tell the truth to the American people.

He failed to tell the truth about the rationale for going to war. And he failed to tell the truth about the burden this war would impose on our soldiers and our citizens.

By one count, the President offered 23 different rationales for this war. If his purpose was to confuse and mislead the American people, he succeeded.

His two main rationales – weapons of mass destruction and the Al Qaeda/September 11 connection – have been proved false… by the President’s own weapons inspectors… and by the 9/11 Commission. Just last week, Secretary of State Powell acknowledged the facts. Only Vice President Cheney still insists that the earth is flat.

The President also failed to level with the American people about what it would take to prevail in Iraq.

He didn’t tell us that well over 100,000 troops would be needed, for years, not months. He didn’t tell us that he wouldn’t take the time to assemble a broad and strong coalition of allies. He didn’t tell us that the cost would exceed $200 billion. He didn’t tell us that even after paying such a heavy price, success was far from assured.

And America will pay an even heavier price for the President’s lack of candor.

At home, the American people are less likely to trust this administration if it needs to summon their support to meet real and pressing threats to our security.

Abroad, other countries will be reluctant to follow America when we seek to rally them against a common menace -- as they are today. Our credibility in the world has plummeted.

In the dark days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy sent former Secretary of State Dean Acheson to Europe to build support. Acheson explained the situation to French President de Gaulle. Then he offered to show him highly classified satellite photos, as proof. De Gaulle waved the photos away, saying: "The word of the President of the United States is good enough for me."

How many world leaders have that same trust in America’s president, today?

This President’s failure to tell the truth to us before the war has been exceeded by fundamental errors of judgment during and after the war.

The President now admits to "miscalculations" in Iraq.

That is one of the greatest understatements in recent American history. His were not the equivalent of accounting errors. They were colossal failures of judgment – and judgment is what we look for in a president.

This is all the more stunning because we’re not talking about 20/20 hindsight. Before the war, before he chose to go to war, bi-partisan Congressional hearings… major outside studies… and even some in the administration itself… predicted virtually every problem we now face in Iraq.

This President was in denial. He hitched his wagon to the ideologues who surround him, filtering out those who disagreed, including leaders of his own party and the uniformed military. The result is a long litany of misjudgments with terrible consequences.

The administration told us we’d be greeted as liberators. They were wrong.

They told us not to worry about looting or the sorry state of Iraq’s infrastructure. They were wrong.

They told us we had enough troops to provide security and stability, defeat the insurgents, guard the borders and secure the arms depots. They were wrong.

They told us we could rely on exiles like Ahmed Chalabi to build political legitimacy. They were wrong.

They told us we would quickly restore an Iraqi civil service to run the country and a police force and army to secure it. They were wrong.

In Iraq, this administration has consistently over-promised and under-performed. This policy has been plagued by a lack of planning, an absence of candor, arrogance and outright incompetence. And the President has held no one accountable, including himself.

In fact, the only officials who lost their jobs over Iraq were the ones who told the truth.

General Shinseki said it would take several hundred thousand troops to secure Iraq. He was retired. Economic adviser Larry Lindsey said that Iraq would cost as much as $200 billion. He was fired. After the successful entry into Baghdad, George Bush was offered help from the UN -- and he rejected it. He even prohibited any nation from participating in reconstruction efforts that wasn’t part of the original coalition – pushing reluctant countries even farther away. As we continue to fight this war almost alone, it is hard to estimate how costly that arrogant decision was. Can anyone seriously say this President has handled Iraq in a way that makes us stronger in the war on terrorism?

By any measure, the answer is no. Nuclear dangers have mounted across the globe. The international terrorist club has expanded. Radicalism in the Middle East is on the rise. We have divided our friends and united our enemies. And our standing in the world is at an all time low.

Think about it for a minute. Consider where we were… and where we are. After the events of September 11, we had an opportunity to bring our country and the world together in the struggle against the terrorists. On September 12th, headlines in newspapers abroad declared "we are all Americans now." But through his policy in Iraq, the President squandered that moment and rather than isolating the terrorists, left America isolated from the world.

We now know that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and posed no imminent threat to our security. It had not, as the Vice President claimed, "reconstituted nuclear weapons."

The President’s policy in Iraq took our attention and resources away from other, more serious threats to America.

Threats like North Korea, which actually has weapons of mass destruction, including a nuclear arsenal, and is building more under this President’s watch…

… The emerging nuclear danger from Iran…

… The tons and kilotons of unsecured chemical and nuclear weapons in Russia…

… And the increasing instability in Afghanistan.

Today, warlords again control much of that country, the Taliban is regrouping, opium production is at an all time high and the Al Qaeda leadership still plots and plans, not only there but in 60 other nations. Instead of using U.S. forces, we relied on the warlords to capture Osama bin Laden when he was cornered in the mountains. He slipped away. We then diverted our focus and forces from the hunt for those responsible for September 11th in order to invade Iraq.

We know Iraq played no part in September 11 and had no operational ties to Al Qaeda.

The President’s policy in Iraq precipitated the very problem he said he was trying to prevent. Secretary of State Powell admits that Iraq was not a magnet for international terrorists before the war. Now it is, and they are operating against our troops. Iraq is becoming a sanctuary for a new generation of terrorists who someday could hit the United States.

We know that while Iraq was a source of friction, it was not previously a source of serious disagreement with our allies in Europe and countries in the Muslim world.

The President’s policy in Iraq divided our oldest alliance and sent our standing in the Muslim world into free fall. Three years after 9/11, even in many moderate Muslim countries like Jordan, Morocco and Turkey, Osama bin Laden is more popular than the United States of America.

Let me put it plainly: The President’s policy in Iraq has not strengthened our national security. It has weakened it.

Two years ago, Congress was right to give the President the authority to use force to hold Saddam Hussein accountable. This President… any President… would have needed the threat of force to act effectively. This President misused that authority.

The power entrusted to the President gave him a strong hand to play in the international community. The idea was simple. We would get the weapons inspectors back in to verify whether or not Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. And we would convince the world to speak with one voice to Saddam: disarm or be disarmed.

A month before the war, President Bush told the nation: "If we have to act, we will take every precaution that is possible. We will plan carefully. We will act with the full power of the United States military. We will act with allies at our side and we will prevail." He said that military action wasn’t "unavoidable."

Instead, the President rushed to war without letting the weapons inspectors finish their work. He went without a broad and deep coalition of allies. He acted without making sure our troops had enough body armor. And he plunged ahead without understanding or preparing for the consequences of the post-war. None of which I would have done.

Yet today, President Bush tells us that he would do everything all over again, the same way. How can he possibly be serious? Is he really saying that if we knew there were no imminent threat, no weapons of mass destruction, no ties to Al Qaeda, the United States should have invaded Iraq? My answer is no – because a Commander-in-Chief’s first responsibility is to make a wise and responsible decision to keep America safe.

Now the president, in looking for a new reason, tries to hang his hat on the "capability" to acquire weapons. But that was not the reason given to the nation; it was not the reason Congress voted on; it’s not a reason, it’s an excuse. Thirty-five to forty countries have greater capability to build a nuclear bomb than Iraq did in 2003. Is President Bush saying we should invade them?

I would have concentrated our power and resources on defeating global terrorism and capturing or killing Osama bin Laden. I would have tightened the noose and continued to pressure and isolate Saddam Hussein – who was weak and getting weaker -- so that he would pose no threat to the region or America.

The President’s insistence that he would do the same thing all over again in Iraq is a clear warning for the future. And it makes the choice in this election clear: more of the same with President Bush or a new direction that makes our troops and America safer. It is time, at long last, to ask the questions and insist on the answers from the Commander-in-Chief about his serious misjudgments and what they tell us about his administration and the President himself. If George W. Bush is re-elected, he will cling to the same failed policies in Iraq -- and he will repeat, somewhere else, the same reckless mistakes that have made America less secure than we can or should be.

In Iraq, we have a mess on our hands. But we cannot throw up our hands. We cannot afford to see Iraq become a permanent source of terror that will endanger America’s security for years to come.

All across this country people ask me what we should do now. Every step of the way, from the time I first spoke about this in the Senate, I have set out specific recommendations about how we should and should not proceed. But over and over, when this administration has been presented with a reasonable alternative, they have rejected it and gone their own way. This is stubborn incompetence.

Five months ago, in Fulton, Missouri, I said that the President was close to his last chance to get it right. Every day, this President makes it more difficult to deal with Iraq – harder than it was five months ago, harder than it was a year ago. It is time to recognize what is – and what is not – happening in Iraq today. And we must act with urgency.

Just this weekend, a leading Republican, Chuck Hagel, said we’re "in deep trouble in Iraq … it doesn’t add up … to a pretty picture [and] … we’re going to have to look at a recalibration of our policy." Republican leaders like Dick Lugar and John McCain have offered similar assessments.

We need to turn the page and make a fresh start in Iraq.

First, the President has to get the promised international support so our men and women in uniform don’t have to go it alone. It is late; the President must respond by moving this week to gain and regain international support.

Last spring, after too many months of resistance and delay, the President finally went back to the U.N. which passed Resolution 1546. It was the right thing to do – but it was late.
That resolution calls on U.N. members to help in Iraq by providing troops… trainers for Iraq’s security forces… a special brigade to protect the U.N. mission… more financial assistance… and real debt relief.

Three months later, not a single country has answered that call. And the president acts as if it doesn’t matter.

And of the $13 billion previously pledged to Iraq by other countries, only $1.2 billion has been delivered.

The President should convene a summit meeting of the world’s major powers and Iraq’s neighbors, this week, in New York, where many leaders will attend the U.N. General Assembly. He should insist that they make good on that U.N. resolution. He should offer potential troop contributors specific, but critical roles, in training Iraqi security personnel and securing Iraq’s borders. He should give other countries a stake in Iraq’s future by encouraging them to help develop Iraq’s oil resources and by letting them bid on contracts instead of locking them out of the reconstruction process.

This will be difficult. I and others have repeatedly recommended this from the very beginning. Delay has made only made it harder. After insulting allies and shredding alliances, this President may not have the trust and confidence to bring others to our side in Iraq. But we cannot hope to succeed unless we rebuild and lead strong alliances so that other nations share the burden with us. That is the only way to succeed.

Second, the President must get serious about training Iraqi security forces.

Last February, Secretary Rumsfeld claimed that more than 210,000 Iraqis were in uniform. Two weeks ago, he admitted that claim was exaggerated by more than 50 percent. Iraq, he said, now has 95,000 trained security forces.

But guess what? Neither number bears any relationship to the truth. For example, just 5,000 Iraqi soldiers have been fully trained, by the administration’s own minimal standards. And of the 35,000 police now in uniform, not one has completed a 24-week field-training program. Is it any wonder that Iraqi security forces can’t stop the insurgency or provide basic law and order?

The President should urgently expand the security forces training program inside and outside Iraq. He should strengthen the vetting of recruits, double classroom training time, and require follow-on field training. He should recruit thousands of qualified trainers from our allies, especially those who have no troops in Iraq. He should press our NATO allies to open training centers in their countries. And he should stop misleading the American people with phony, inflated numbers.

Third, the President must carry out a reconstruction plan that finally brings tangible benefits to the Iraqi people.

Last week, the administration admitted that its plan was a failure when it asked Congress for permission to radically revise spending priorities in Iraq. It took 17 months for them to understand that security is a priority … 17 months to figure out that boosting oil production is critical … 17 months to conclude that an Iraqi with a job is less likely to shoot at our soldiers.

One year ago, the administration asked for and received $18 billion to help the Iraqis and relieve the conditions that contribute to the insurgency. Today, less than a $1 billion of those funds have actually been spent. I said at the time that we had to rethink our policies and set standards of accountability. Now we’re paying the price.

Now, the President should look at the whole reconstruction package…draw up a list of high visibility, quick impact projects… and cut through the red tape. He should use more Iraqi contractors and workers, instead of big corporations like Halliburton. He should stop paying companies under investigation for fraud or corruption. And he should fire the civilians in the Pentagon responsible for mismanaging the reconstruction effort.

Fourth, the President must take immediate, urgent, essential steps to guarantee the promised elections can be held next year.

Credible elections are key to producing an Iraqi government that enjoys the support of the Iraqi people and an assembly to write a Constitution that yields a viable power sharing arrangement.

Because Iraqis have no experience holding free and fair elections, the President agreed six months ago that the U.N. must play a central role. Yet today, just four months before Iraqis are supposed to go to the polls, the U.N. Secretary General and administration officials themselves say the elections are in grave doubt. Because the security situation is so bad… and because not a single country has offered troops to protect the U.N. elections mission… the U.N. has less than 25 percent of the staff it needs in Iraq to get the job done.

The President should recruit troops from our friends and allies for a U.N. protection force. This won’t be easy. But even countries that refused to put boots on the ground in Iraq should still help protect the U.N. We should also intensify the training of Iraqis to manage and guard the polling places that need to be opened. Otherwise, U.S forces would end up bearing those burdens alone.

If the President would move in this direction … if he would bring in more help from other countries to provide resources and forces … train the Iraqis to provide their own security …develop a reconstruction plan that brings real benefits to the Iraqi people … and take the steps necessary to hold credible elections next year … we could begin to withdraw U.S. forces starting next summer and realistically aim to bring all our troops home within the next four years.

This is what has to be done. This is what I would do as President today. But we cannot afford to wait until January. President Bush owes it to the American people to tell the truth and put Iraq on the right track. Even more, he owes it to our troops and their families, whose sacrifice is a testament to the best of America.

The principles that should guide American policy in Iraq now and in the future are clear: We must make Iraq the world’s responsibility, because the world has a stake in the outcome and others should share the burden. We must effectively train Iraqis, because they should be responsible for their own security. We must move forward with reconstruction, because that’s essential to stop the spread of terror. And we must help Iraqis achieve a viable government, because it’s up to them to run their own country. That’s the right way to get the job done and bring our troops home.

On May 1 of last year, President Bush stood in front of a now infamous banner that read "Mission Accomplished." He declared to the American people: "In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." In fact, the worst part of the war was just beginning, with the greatest number of American casualties still to come. The president misled, miscalculated, and mismanaged every aspect of this undertaking and he has made the achievement of our objective – a stable Iraq, secure within its borders, with a representative government, harder to achieve.

In Iraq, this administration’s record is filled with bad predictions, inaccurate cost estimates, deceptive statements and errors of judgment of historic proportions.

At every critical juncture in Iraq, and in the war on terrorism, the President has made the wrong choice. I have a plan to make America stronger.

The President often says that in a post 9-11 world, we can’t hesitate to act. I agree. But we should not act just for the sake of acting. I believe we have to act wisely and responsibly.

George Bush has no strategy for Iraq. I do.

George Bush has not told the truth to the American people about why we went to war and how the war is going. I have and I will continue to do so.

I believe the invasion of Iraq has made us less secure and weaker in the war against terrorism. I have a plan to fight a smarter, more effective war on terror – and make us safer.

Today, because of George Bush’s policy in Iraq, the world is a more dangerous place for America and Americans.

If you share my conviction that we can not go on as we are …that we can make America stronger and safer than it is… then November 2 is your chance to speak... and to be heard. It is not a question of staying the course, but of changing the course.

I’m convinced that with the right leadership, we can create a fresh start and move more effectively to accomplish our goals. Our troops have served with extraordinary courage and commitment. For their sake, and America’s sake, we must get this right. We must do everything in our power to complete the mission and make America stronger at home and respected again in the world.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.


He that never changes his opinions, never corrects his mistakes, will never be wiser on the morrow than he is today.--Tryon Edwards

I asked a friend how he's changed in the last 5 years, and he responded accordingly, and then turned the question around. It seems like such an easy question, doesn't it? It's actually not. I just write without thinking, but my response surprised even me. My response:

I've been with me for so long that changing was a gradual process rather than a life altering event that caused any change (if such a thing is even possible anywhere but in books and movies), and yet there are times when I don't even remember the girl that I once was. I know that I'm still wearing the same crystal necklace that I wore then, b/c I've worn it since I was 14, but I suspect you are looking for something deeper than that. I’m sillier, but not sillier than I was, just sillier than you knew me as. You knew the philosophical and political Stephanie, which I used to separate, but it’s now just part of the entire mess of Stephanie. So from the person who you wrote to, I’m definitely sillier. I would also assume that I’ve matured in five years, but sometimes I find myself dealing with situations in the same way that I did before. Seeing myself do it, but not being able to stop from doing it. Sometimes I worry that I haven’t grown at all. Except back then I wouldn’t have recognized it I guess. Unlike you, I’m still naive, and try to hold onto that, actually. That and my idealism are all I have to change the world. (Other than my intellect, naturally.) ;-) However, I’ve become cynical as well, which always makes for an interesting dichotomy. Actually, I think, like Billy Joe Armstrong, that I’m a walking contradiction. More than before because I used to see everything in terms of black and white, and I’m less likely to do that now and see all the grey. I don’t try to antagonize people as much now, but I think I may actually inadvertently do so more. I’m currently off my ADHD medication (you probably can tell from my meanderings in this message, actually!) I probably trust less in things - God, friends, humanity, the jury system, the Supreme Court, America, the world, the future - but I have just as much hope for them. Actually, I probably have more hope. I see how great things can be. In the last year or so, I’ve started to realize that parents divorcing actually *does* make a difference in their children’s lives down the road and watching myself interact sometimes is interesting. Unlike you, I must be more public in my liberalness somehow. People can somehow tell. In May, I was at a wedding for a law school friend. We were sitting at the table talking at the rehearsal dinner, talking about sports and pop culture and the fiancé of one of my friends says to me, "you’re a liberal, aren’t you." I swear, the conversation never once turned to politics before that point. Maybe it’s pheromones?

Why can't I really articulate a change in 5 years? I mean, other than the "I-used-to-be-a-law-student-and-now-I'm-a-lawyer" change. Seriously, have I not changed? Isn't that the mark of a failure of a human being? To be so inflexible that you refuse to change? And I know that no one has really known me long enough to answer that question, but it causes some concern for me. A reevaluation, if you will. Gosh, I hate that.

Michael Stipe, why have you forgotten me??

I am absolutely devestated. THIS is what I received from Ticketmaster today less than an hour ago:
Reference: Cancelled Show
Hello, this is TicketMaster Customer Service with an important alert regarding your upcoming event. R.E.M., scheduled at EJ Thomas Hall on Wednesday, October 27th, 2004 has been cancelled. Your account has been issued a credit in the full amount of the ticket price and service charges. The $3.55 per order processing fee and any UPS or TicketFast delivery charges are non-refundable.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us via our website at
Thank you for using TicketMaster!

Do I have any questions? How could REM do this to me? Have I not been a faithful fan? What am I going to do?? How will I get through this? What happened in the last WEEK? Does REM hate me? Have I been bad in this life? Oh, no!

Bush Flip Flops Fwd

Department of Homeland Security
BUSH OPPOSES THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY..."So, creating a Cabinet office doesn't solve the problem. You still will have agencies within the federal government that have to be coordinated. So the answer is that creating a Cabinet post doesn't solve anything." [White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, 3/19/02]...
BUSH SUPPORTS THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY "So tonight, I ask the Congress to join me in creating a single, permanent department with an overriding and urgent mission: securing the homeland of America and protecting the American people." [President Bush, Address to the Nation, 6/6/02]

Weapons of Mass Destruction
BUSH SAYS WE FOUND THE WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION..."We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories…for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong, we found them." [President Bush, Interview in Poland, 5/29/03]...
BUSH SAYS WE HAVEN'T FOUND WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRU CTION "David Kay has found the capacity to produce weapons. And when David Kay goes in and says we haven't found stockpiles yet, and there's theories as to where the weapons went. They could have been destroyed during the war. Saddam and his henchmen could have destroyed them as we entered into Iraq. They could be hidden. They could have been transported to another country, and we'll find out." [President Bush, Meet the Press, 2/7/04]

Free Trade
BUSH SUPPORTS FREE TRADE... "I believe strongly that if we promote trade, and when we promote trade, it will help workers on both sides of this issue." [President Bush in Peru, 3/23/02]...
BUSH SUPPORTS RESTRICTIONS ON TRADE "In a decision largely driven by his political advisers, President Bush set aside his free-trade principles last year and imposed heavy tariffs on imported steel to help out struggling mills in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, two states crucial for his reelection." [Washington Post, 9/19/03]

Osama Bin Laden
BUSH WANTS OSAMA DEAD OR ALIVE... "I want justice. And there's an old poster out West, I recall, that says, 'Wanted: Dead or Alive.'" [President Bush, on Osama Bin Laden, 09/17/01]...
BUSH DOESN'T CARE ABOUT OSAMA "I don't know where he is. I have no idea and I really don't care. It's n ot that important." [President Bush, Press Conference, 3/13/02]

The Environment
BUSH SUPPORTS MANDATORY CAPS ON CARBON DIOXIDE... "[If elected], Governor Bush will work to…establish mandatory reduction targets for emissions of four main pollutants: sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and carbon dioxide." [Bush Environmental Plan, 9/29/00]...
BUSH OPPOSES MANDATORY CAPS ON CARBON DIOXIDE "I do not believe, however, that the government should impose on power plants mandatory emissions reductions for carbon dioxide, which is not a 'pollutant' under the Clean Air Act." [President Bush, Letter to Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), 3/13/03]

WMD Commission
BUSH RESISTS AN OUTSIDE INVESTIGATION ON WMD INTELLIGENCE FAILURE... "The White House immediately turned aside the calls from Kay and many Democrats for an immediate outside investigation, seeking to head off any new wide-ranging election-year inquiry that might go beyond reports already being assembled by congressional committees and the Central Intelligence Agency." [NY Times, 1/29/04]...
BUSH SUPPORTS AN OUTSIDE INVESTIGATION ON WMD INTELLIGENCE FAILURE "Today, by executive order, I am creating an independent commission, chaired by Governor and former Senator Chuck Robb, Judge Laurence Silberman, to look at American intelligence capabilities, especially our intelligence about weapons of mass destruction." [President Bush, 2/6/04]

Creation of the 9/11 Commission
BUSH OPPOSES CREATION OF INDEPENDENT 9/11 COMMISSION... "President Bush took a few minutes during his trip to Europe Thursday to voice his opposition to establishing a special commission to probe how the government dealt with terror warnings before Sept. 11." [CBS News, 5/23/02]...
BUSH SUPPORTS CREATION OF INDEPENDENT 9/11 COMMISSION "President Bush said today he now supports establishing an independent commission to investigate the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks." [ABC News, 09/20/02]

Time Extension for 9/11 Commission
BUSH OPPOSES TIME EXTENSION FOR 9/11 COMMISSION... "President Bush and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) have decided to oppose granting more time to an independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks." [Washington Post, 1/19/04]...
BUSH SUPPORTS TIME EXTENSION FOR 9/11 COMMISSION "The White House announced Wednesday its support for a request from the commission investigating the September 11, 2001 attacks for more time to complete its work." [CNN, 2/4/04]

One Hour Limit for 9/11 Commission Testimony
BUSH LIMITS TESTIMONY IN FRONT OF 9/11 COMMISSION TO ONE HOUR... "President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have placed strict limits on the private interviews they will grant to the federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, saying that they will meet only with the panel's top two officials and that Mr. Bush will submit to only a single hour of questioning, commission members said Wednesday." [NY Times, 2/26/04]...
BUSH SETS NO TIMELIMIT FOR TESTIMONY "The president's going to answer all of the questions they want to raise. Nobody's watching the clock." [White House spokesman Scott McClellan, 3/10/04]

Gay Marriage
BUSH SAYS GAY MARRIAGE IS A STATE ISSUE... "The state can do what they want to do. Don't try to trap me in this state's issue like you're trying to get me into." [Gov. George W. Bush on Gay Marriage, Larry King Live, 2/15/00]...
BUSH SUPPORTS CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT BANNING GAY MARRIAGE "Today I call upon the Congress to promptly pass, and to send to the states for ratification, an amendment to our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as a union of man and woman as husband and wife." [President Bush, 2/24/04]

Nation Building
BUSH OPPOSES NATION BUILDING... "If we don't stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we're going to have a serious problem coming down the road." [Gov. George W. Bush, 10/3/00]...
BUSH SUPPORTS NATION BUILDING "We will be changing the regime of Iraq, for the good of the Iraqi people." [President Bush, 3/6/03]

Saddam/al Qaeda Link
BUSH SAYS IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEEN AL QAEDA AND SADDAM... "You can't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror." [President Bush, 9/25/02]...
BUSH SAYS SADDAM HAD NO ROLE IN AL QAEDA PLOT "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in Sept. 11." [President Bush, 9/17/03]

U.N. Resolution
BUSH VOWS TO HAVE A UN VOTE NO MATTER WHAT... "No matter what the whip count is, we're calling for the vote. We want to see people stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security Council. And so, you bet. It's time for people to show their cards, to let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam." [President Bush 3/6/03]...
BUSH WITHDRAWS REQUEST FOR VOTE "At a National Security Council meeting convened at the White House at 8:55 a.m., Bush finalized the decision to withdraw the resolution from consideration and prepared to deliver an address to the nation that had already been written." [Washington Post, 3/18/03]

Involvement in the Palestinian Conflict
BUSH OPPOSES SUMMITS... "Well, we've tried summits in the past, as you may remember. It wasn't all that long ago where a summit was called and nothing happened, and as a result we had significant intifada in the area." [President Bush, 04/05/02]...
BUSH SUPPORTS SUMMITS "If a meeting advances progress toward two states living side by side in peace, I will strongly consider such a meeting. I'm committed to working toward peace in the Middle East." [President Bush, 5/23/03]15.

Campaign Finance
BUSH OPPOSES MCCAIN-FEINGOLD... "George W. Bush opposes an infringement on free expression." [Washington Post, 3/28/2000]...
BUSH SIGNS MCCAIN-FEINGOLD INTO LAW "[T]his bill improves the current system of financing for Federal campaigns, and therefore I have signed it into law." [President Bush, at the McCain-Feingold singing ceremony, 03/27/02]


It's A Small World After All

Being a lawyer isn't as bad as this legal assistant warns, but there are times it's not fun. Sometimes due to things out of your control, sometimes of your own volition. One of the parners here is currently irritated at me. Granted, he has every right to be. There is an arbitration brief that he wanted last Monday (the 20th) and I didn't give to him until today (the 23rd). There are lots of reasons for this: I've been not in a working mood this month after my August month of hell and feel that I deserve not to work; I have been interrupted by interviews every day; I have been interrupted by telephone calls on another case where I'm in the midst of discovery; I had a reply brief that had to be filed with the court recently; the brief isn't really due to the arbitrator until this coming Monday so it's less important than things that are really due; I've started over from scratch three times because I didn't like the format and direction of the brief; I'm not sure of the best way to attack this particular brief and separate the issues so I've just had a severe case of writers block. And I just don't feel like working now (have I already mentioned this?) During al this, the partner hadn't called or stopped by to see what was going on. Though to be fair, neither had I, and when I'm taking an extension, it's my responsibity and I know that. So anyway, I hand it to him this AM and he tells me to get an extension, b/c he needed it Monday not today, and he doesn't have time to deal with it. Ugh. It was NOT a pleasant conversation. At least when I fuck up with Yoda

I feel ok about myself as a human being (even if not a skilled lawyer). Right now I feel like a cockroach. :(

So I've got a positive email story to share. A old friend of mine randomly emailed me the other day. He Googled my name and, after ruling me out as a fashion designer, found my firm website. (Despite Curtis's arguments to the contrary, Google IS the only search engine worth using.) It was a most pleasant surprise. Actually, not a surprise, a total shock. One doesn't expect someone out of ones life for 5 years to suddenly ressurrect themselves. But coming on the heals of the crazy man emails, that was nice. (Not to be sexist, but I feel ok calling it a man because I put some of the language from the email into the Gender Genie and the Female Score was 0 and the Male Score was 193, so the Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is male.)

Oh, just like everyone else in the free world, I have a neverending supply of Gmail invites if anyone is interested in Googles email service. Just let me know.

If you ever have a chance to get a Home Interiors Baked Apple Pie candle, I recommend it. It's great. Almost as good as the Buttercream from Yankee Candles. They appear to be the most popular at work.

So in light of McCain's post-convention return to his liberal tendencies, a friend and I have been talking about whether he will abandon the Republican party and if not, then why not. (The same topic that many have been discussing since 2001 and Jeffords.) I think that McCain is a solider, and soldiers don't desert anyone - whether a person or the Republican party. Even if they desert him. (And the Republican Party has definitely deserted McCain.) He strenously disagreed with my, saying, "if you know the ship is sinking, your fellow soldiers have gone off the deep end, and are beyond saving, as a soldier or regular citizen it should be your duty and honor to try to stop them. an example that comes to mind is of Hugh Thompson, a soldier, the helicopter pilot that helped to stop the My Lai massacre. he was able to save people by recognizing that his fellow soldiers were doing something terribly wrong and stopping them. by McCains statements he knows thing are completely wrong in Iraq. his supporting Bush is certainly not going to help." I don't know. I see his point and I don't. When McCain ran for the Republican presidental nomination in 2000 against Dubya, his support was mostly moderates, independents, and even Democrats. Republicans did not like how "liberal" McCain was. McCain's politics are extremely different from the Republican platform, and he generally votes on policy, not based on partisan. I think there are a few different ways to look at it. First, as I said, McCain is a soldier. You don't desert your party. Rather, you dance with the girl who brought you to the dance. McCain was elected Senator b/c of the Republicans. However, if you want to be a cynic, the simple fact is that McCain has more clout as a Republican than he would as a Democrat. He's the wild card, and unlike Jeffords, a wild card with national name recognition. Both parties recognize that, and give him power that just a regular guy voting with the party. As a Democrat voting the same way he generally votes, he doesn't get that individual attention. And this is a man who is thinking 2008...

Jennifer posted about the Rowboat Veterans for Truth. It made me spit water on my computer and the Care Bear on top of my computer. (Grumpy Bear, for anyone who cares. What were you expecting?) Actually, for anyone who's curious as to Stephanie's toy collection, I have a Yoda doll, a Darth Vader voice changer, an R2D2 Simon, a box with Yoda and Darth Vader's profiles, two Yoda figurines, a Yoda, Darth Vader and Eeyore pez dispenser, an Eeyore bath toy, a Scooby Doo sucker twister, a Scooby Doo bendy toy, a Scooby Doo pop top, two Mystery Machines, six colors of Play Doh (red, orange, yellow, blue, white, and black), four stress balls of various material, one Yo Yo shaped like a basketball from Lexis, one stress fish (also from Lexis), two plastic bugs that jump if you press on their backs, one smaller sized basketball, two high bounce balls that glow when they hit the ground, three small high bounce balls, one plastic thing that you turn inside out and put on your finger and it jumps inthe air, two twisty things with the firm name on them, one frisbee, one of those games with the water where you try to get the hoops on the rod, one etch a sketch, a lego woman, one of those blue punching men, a travel size connect four, two sets of playing cards, a kazoo, a wooden "ladder" and a magic eight ball in my office (along with a few other toys that I have no idea what they are). And then I wonder why people don't take me seriously??

I want a fun name like "They." Although this guy literally *did* change his name to "They" and that might be a bit too weird for me. I've always wanted a nickname. I haven't ever really had a nickname. I've given other people nicknames (including people who protest their nickname, silly people!) but no one has ever given me a nickname. Well, "The Bitch" in college, but I'm not sure about that anyway. I guess I'm not the nickname type.

And this HAS to be hard coming up with 52 reasons to re-elect George Bush. (That is to say that he was elected rather than appointed a first time...) Though I have to say, the playing cards go a bit...well: "He restores hope in our economy." Are they talking about the same Dubya and the same economy with the unemployment rate (other than all those making their living by EBay, I mean)? "He has restored moral dignity to the White House." Huh? He LIED to the American people about WMD and Iraq. He continues to pretend that there is a connection between 9/11 and Iraq when everything points to the contrary. Yeah, maybe he didn't screw over his wife, but he DID screw over the entire country. Wow. And they've got 52 of these gems...


The UBER R.E.M.!

You can now listen to Around The Sun (REM's new album, which doesn't comes out for two weeks).

Go to: hppt://

This is a public broadcast of the REM obsession fan club... ;-)

Google Searches

Taking a page from Jen (so the more recent posts follow this):

If you are looking for REM’s Lyrics to Leaving New York, click
here. And buy the album on October 5.

If you are looking for John Kerry is a Douchbag, click

If you are looking for the Jeopardy question that Ken Jennings loses, click
here and here.

If you are looking for the REM tickets at EJ Thomas Hall, my guess is that you are too late - they went on sale at 10 on 9.17. I’m not sure why you’d look here rather than Ticketmaster anyway.
Here's where I talked about it. And here, (a picture of EJ Thomas hall.)

If you are looking for Andy Borowitz’s article that Cheney said that a Kerry victory would result in the end of the world, click

If you are looking for the attorney calling another attorney a monkey scribe, click

And those are all anyone cares about me for...

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