Thursday, July 28, 2005

My letter was published in Newsday!

It appears on the Newsday letters page today. I also created a dailykos entry about it, which is currently the top-ranked diary.

But the best part of the day was reading the other letters in Newsday. One particular note, written by Darlene Johnson, seemed odd. I googled around for about 0.003 second and discovered that it was astroturfed from a Focus on the Family site. Way to go, Darlene!

Newsday letter:

Judge John Roberts, President George W. Bush's pick to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court, brings with him one of the most impressive resumes any nominee to the high court has had in a generation ["Their opening arguments," News, July 20].

When he was nominated to his current post on the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, more than 150 members of the D.C. bar weighed in with their support - calling him a "brilliant writer" of "unquestioned integrity" and "fair-mindedness." He earned those accolades, in part, as a lawyer who argued more cases before the high court than all but a few of the 180,000 members of the Supreme Court bar.

Still, Judge Roberts isn't likely to sail through the confirmation process. He already is being bashed by those on the political left as out of touch with mainstream America, a baseless charge designed to direct attention away from the real issue: Liberals want a judge who will legislate from the bench, rather than strictly interpret the Constitution.

Darlene Johnson

Bay Shore

Letter generated with the Focus on the Family astroturfer.

Judge John Roberts, President Bush's pick to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court, brings with him one of the most impressive resumes any nominee to the high court has had in a generation.

When he was nominated to his current post on the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, more than 150 members of the D.C. bar weighed in with their support, calling him a "brilliant writer" of "unquestioned integrity" and "fair-mindedness." He earned those accolades, in part, as a lawyer who argued more cases before the high court than all but a few of the 180,000 members of the Supreme Court bar.

Still, Judge Roberts isn't likely to sail through the confirmation process. He already is being bashed by those on the political left as out of touch with mainstream America, a baseless charge designed to direct attention away from the real issue: Liberals want a judge who will legislate from the bench rather than strictly interpret the Constitution.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Subway bag searches

I have taken the subway every day this week, and I have yet to have my bags checked. I'm actually a bit disappointed; I want them to check my bags. Because if they check my bags, maybe they'll take me to an air-conditioned bag checking station to do it. Then I won't have to spend another second on the steaming, stinking, sweat-drenched, Blimpie wrapper-laden, crazy guy eating meatloaf from crumpled aluminum foil, souls of a billion dead rats shrieking in pain, tourists with Radio City Music Hall Tour caps taking the downtown to get to the Bronx, old guy who doesn't care that you can't smoke down there anymore, 4'8" woman sneaking between your legs to get on in front of you and then just stands there in the doorway, fat businessman patting his ruddy brow with a Burger King napkin that is quickly turning the car into a snow globe, this train is being held in the station by a drunk brakeman subway platform.

I hate heat waves.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


True, it's the hottest day of the year in New York. But I just realized that this may be my most stylish day of the year as well!

It started out on a down note. I had a stripey button-down shirt from Target that I laid out on my dresser last night. This morning, I showered, tossed the shirt on, and had to abort my mission - two buttons were missing. I stumbled into my closet and grabbed the polo shirt on top of the stack. It was a gray, with the Microsoft TechEd 2002 logo.

Doesn't sound that stylish? Well, check this out. As I was walking to the train station, I looked down and realized that I had shoved my laptop and MP3 player into my black Microsoft TechEd 2002 bag! Purely by chance, I am wearing an outfit that coordinates with my accessories. Who ever said that geeks can't dress themselves?

No letter in the paper yet

Newsday called back to verify the letter I'd sent them, which is common but not universal practice. If you write something that doesn't sound too crazy, they'll consider it for publication. And let's face it - with their circulation perhaps not what it once was, there's a smaller pool of writers. Any non-psychotic letter stands half a chance of making it in.

I called them back and left a message on their verification hotline on Monday afternoon. No letter in the Tuesday paper, but I'll give it a few more days. They've printed three letters of mine in the past four years:

- It's nice that after 9/11, everyone's displaying the flag. But please don't drape it over the hood of your car, because it's disrespectful.
- It's nice that Bush is going after Saddam because he is ignoring UN resolutions. So how about Bush obeying the UN resolution that would bar the execution of minors and the mentally handicapped?
- It's nice that so much focus is being paid to the blonde woman who was killed under an order of protection in front of her two small kids. But why does she get several front pages and continual coverage when the Hispanic woman who was killed under an order of protection in front of her two small kids just days earlier only rated an inch or two buried in the paper?

And no, you'll find that righteous indignation knows no age limit. Yeesh, what a whiner.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Letter to Newsday time!

As acquaintances know, I am always frothing spittle about something or other. But it's only about once a year that I get annoyed enough to actually write to the newspaper about an issue. I actually have a decent publication rate, too. So anyway, I just wrote to Newsday about a couple of closely related issues that could make the Rove/Libby scandal look like small potatoes. Keep an eye out over the next few days.

To The Editors:

The Bush Administration has gone to court to block the release of further images from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. These photos and video document women being raped, Iraqi guards sodomizing children as Americans stood by and/or filmed, and other heinous acts. Republican senator Lindsey Graham has said that they're evidence of "rape and murder." Even Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has said that these photos depict "acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhuman."

Meanwhile, the President is threatening to veto the Senate military appropriations bill if it contains an amendment setting up a commission to investigate abuses like the ones captured in these photos. He doesn't even want the Senate to create rules regarding the humane treatment of our prisoners at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib--the majority of whom committed no crimes. The Administration claims that the investigations and rules will cost too much, and will "[divert] resources from the war."

President Bush says that he will make sure that we don't properly investigate, prevent, or even see the evidence of child rape by our forces - or he will cut off funding of our national defense resources. Is this cover-up of rape and torture really more important than our national security now? Sad to say, our president seems to think so, and it nauseates me.

- Josh
(name, address, and phone supplied)

Friday, July 22, 2005

Temp job

I was buying my afternoon snacks at Duane Reade, and I got in line behind a young woman who was buying a pack of butts. She yawned, and the clerk asked her if she was bored.

"Yeah, I've got a temp job upstairs and it's the most boring thing ever. You know what they've got me doing? All day, I just sit there and check two columns of numbers against each other and hit a button on the computer if they don't line up. They could've hired a chimp to do this work, but at least I'm getting paid better than I was as a camp counselor."

Let's set a couple of things straight here. First of all, no they could not have hired a chimp for the job. There are very strict animal welfare rules that prohibit primates from working at desk jobs. You have to go through this whole risk assessment analysis, do an ergonomics workup, and provide clean diapers and propeller beanies for any chimps in your employ. It's generally not cost-effective to hire a chimp to do key entry work.

Second of all, it is cost-effective to hire a human to do this work. Not only do animal welfare rules not apply, but in today's competitive grunt work market, you'll take what you can get and like it. So shut up, sit down, start typing, and don't run your juice cup against the bars of your cage unless it's your designated break time.

And third, this means that some community summer camp in the Bronx now has a chimp counselor for the next six weeks. Which would be fine--I have no concern for the safety of children for any reason--except that it's a knock-off of my upcoming series on Fox, "Chimp Counselor."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

CVS security

I just dropped by my local CVS drug store to pick up some essentials. A Diet Coke. Some batteries. A clock radio. Ear drops. Orange juice. Some peroxide. You know, the essentials.

I paid for my drug-like products and headed back to my car. As I passed through the doors, a weak beeping noise started to surround me, as if it emanated from the building itself. I paid it no heed and continued towards my car.

When I was about six feet from the Subaru, I heard a weak voice behind me. "Sir? SIR??" I turned around to see the pimple-faced clerk standing outside the door with that look of vacant urgency so common to CVS clerks.

I called back "What's up?"

He said "Sir, you know the alarm just went off."

I shrugged and replied "So you need to fix it then," and got in my car. I looked back and he was standing there with a different look of vacant urgency, one that called out "If so much as one stick of Trident is missing from this store, they're going to beat us with the blood pressure machine hose again."

More importantly, since when did this become my problem that CVS has installed a faulty security system at their store? It doesn't matter to me whether the gate is malfunctioning or the clerk just failed to deactivate the theft control device in my Diet Coke - it's still not my duty to allow a store clerk to search my personal belongings because their alarm is broken.

Plus, I get to keep all the Coppertone and feminine protection products I hid in the back of my t-shirt as I walked out of the store!

You're not supposed to ADMIT gouging

Scene at the convenience store at the Hunterspoint Ave. train station this afternoon. A woman is buying a bottle of Poland Spring water.

Owner: "A dollar ten."
Woman: "A dollar ten? This morning it was a dollar."
Owner: "It's a dollar in the mornings."

You know, this just has to be illegal. I don't know how or why, but when this poor woman spent the time to reach behind the Malta Kola and the expired Devil Dogs and the holographic poster of Carlos Beltran just to get her lukewarm bottle of Poland Spring, she has to pay an extra dime for the effort? I realize that this shop gets about 8 minutes of peak business a day due to its location, but can't they just charge $1.05 each way?

Then I got my Diet Coke. $1.35. Hmmm, wonder how much that would've cost just seven hours earlier.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Bring it on, Clippy

When you launch MSN Messenger, it used to show you a little dot darting back and forth and creating concentric circles on the window. It was updated to give it a new look a while ago, but why did they choose to show two buddy icons cautiously circling each other like they're about to have a knife fight? C'mon, who wants a piece of lighter blue guy??

Our elevators

They put new indicator lights over our elevators today. The old ones were just a little white circle. These new ones light up with a red down arrow or a green up arrow! At least I assume the up arrow is green; we're at the top floor of our elevator bank, so they ONLY GO IN ONE DIRECTION FROM HERE. But if the elevators ever DO decide to go up, we're prepared.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

17 questions about Plamegate

This is kind of fun, no?

What exact wording did Rove use when he talked to his reporter friends?

Was he aware of the law that said he couldn't divulge names, and if so did he try to sneak around it on a technicality?

What has Rove said to others in the White House, and does it make any of them accomplices?

Who was the second administration source that both Novak and Cooper have alluded to?

When was the White House made aware of Novak's column? Was it on the 11th or the 14th?

Has the White House provided full phone logs as requested by the grand jury?

How was John Bolton involved in providing confidential information about Plame?

Who was responsible for planting Gannon/Guckert, who was evidently there to provide fake press corroboration that everyone already knew Plame?

What role did Judith Miller play in this - did she actually spread the info to other reporters and the administration?

Did Miller get it from Ahmad Chalabi, and if so, where did he get it from?

Who is Miller actually employed by?

Will Rove be able to use his "I didn't inhale" defense now that he's been caught out lying?

Will Bush pretend that he didn't say that he'd fire the leakers, now that Rove has admitted to leaking?

If Aldrich Ames is serving a life sentence for leaking classified info during peacetime, what should the leaker's punishment be for doing it during wartime?

Have Cheney and Rove feuded over this?

What steps did the president take to slow down the investigation?

What did Bush know, and when did he know it?

Thursday, July 7, 2005

Flypaper strategy

Looks like Kerry was right.

THE PRESIDENT: My opponent has a different view.
THE PRESIDENT: He says that fighting -- he says that fighting terrorists in the Middle East, America has -- quote -- "created terrorists where they did not exist." End quote.
THE PRESIDENT: This is his argument -- that terrorists are somehow less dangerous or fewer in number if America avoids provoking them.
THE PRESIDENT: But this represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the enemy. We are dealing with killers who have made the death of Americans the calling of their lives. If America were not fighting these killers west of Baghdad and in the mountains of Afghanistan and elsewhere, what does Senator Kerry think they would do? Would they be living productive lives of service and charity? (Laughter.) Would the terrorists who behead innocent people on camera just be quiet, peaceful citizens if we had not liberated Iraq?
THE PRESIDENT: We are fighting these terrorists with our military in Afghanistan and Iraq and beyond so we do not have to face them in the streets of our own cities. (Applause.)

Terror blasts in London

Four quick thoughts:

1. Thank god NYC didn't win the Olympics bid.
2. Thank god all the terrorists on earth are busy fighting us in Iraq, so everyone else is safe now. 3. Thank god the UK didn't capitulate to terrorists like Spain did, so they're safe from attacks.

And most importantly...

4. Thank god Steve just checked in with me, safe and sound.

Update: Al Qaida claiming responsibility, protesting the G8 and Iraq/Afghanistan. Might not have been Olympics-related (but thank god we didn't win anyway). London's closer to my heart than other cities (having been born there and having visited almost a dozen times in the past decade), so this is a particularly upsetting attack.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

The crushing loss of the 2012 Olympics

An AP story claims:

Madrid residents and Muscovites erupted with hoots, whistles, insults and boos. Parisians folded up French flags and emptied ice buckets of victory champagne. New Yorkers stared silently down at subway platforms.

Deflated, dismayed and downright depressed, people in the four cities who lost out to London on Wednesday in the battle to host the 2012 Summer Olympics found themselves coping with the agony of defeat.
. . .
The mood was subdued on a gray morning in New York, which had hoped winning the games would give it something bright to focus on after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"Everybody seems disappointed," said Nick Patrickas, a painter from Long Island who came to Manhattan early Wednesday hopeful of a New York victory. A planned Rockefeller Center victory party instead turned into an outdoor wake. A giant Jumbotron, used earlier to beam in a feed of the vote, carried a message of defeat: "Thank you New Yorkers for your support."

See, this is what happens when you interview three people who were waiting at a victory rally. There was no staring down at subway platforms today. There was no discernible shift in the mood around Manhattan, because most people just didn't care. At worst, they were relieved that the city wasn't going to spend a few billion to disrupt everyone for seven years and incur huge graft and cost overruns, just to host some javelin throws that no one from the area would be able to get into the city to see anyway.

"OH MY GOD," no one wailed on the 42nd Street 7 train platform this morning, "ON THE HEELS OF 9/11, THIS IS LIKE A SECOND ATTACK IT'S SO TERRIBLE." No one stared down at the platform as they were waiting for the train. We were all standing there wondering why the V train came and left while we were all crammed onto the B train across the platform. No one ever stares down at the platform, because if you lose your focus for one second on the subway, you end up naked and unconscious in a Dumpster in Canarsie. This is why this story is hyperbolic crap. Maybe if the vote had occurred in November 2001, yeah, this would bring people down a bit. But on the other hand, I rooted for the Yankees to lose in October 2001 and when they did, it cheered me up!

There's too much great about New York to worry about whether the Olympics will make it a world-class city like, er, Atlanta and Salt Lake. No one has been saying "if only we had something bright to focus on in 2012." No one who is still suffering from PTSD or clinical depression is going to have it cured by the promise of an Olympics in 7 years. They need proper medical attention.

Congratulations, London!

Throwaway jokes, saved forever

Thanks to Technorati, I found the first and only link to me. I was even rated "Zing! Post of the day."

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Peter King update

I posted the exchange below on Daily Kos, and it's been in the top 4 recommended diaries all day, with over 100 comments. And I still don't understand why a congressman would write such a sharply worded letter to a constituent.

Karl Rove, Rep. Peter King, and me

After Karl Rove made some deeply offensive comments two weeks ago, I decided to write to my Congressman, Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford). I asked Rep. King if he was willing to distance himself from these statements in the interest of the country's unity during war.

Sent: 6/23/05
Subject: How do you view Iraq war dissenters?

Dear Rep. King,

I was quite disturbed by a passage I just read in the New York Times:
"Has there ever been a more revealing moment this year?" Mr. Rove asked. "Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."

I am a liberal in your district, and I know you as a public servant who is not afraid to take a principled, rather than partisan, stand on issues - even when I don't agree with you. However, I find this statement emanating from a senior member of the White House staff to be deeply offensive and troubling. I am being accused of wanting our troops to die! This is not the sort of rhetoric we need during a time of war, and I strongly resent the idea that I would ever want any of our soldiers to be put in greater danger. Mr. Rove is going beyond mere politics by making personally slanderous and degrading comments like this.

As a constituent of yours, I would like to know, sir, if you agree with Mr. Rove's statements. Does he speak for you? Or are you willing to take a public stand against this type of gross partisan attack?


Joshua Trupin
(address and phone supplied)

Rep. King quickly replied via postal mail, and his response was not only long (two typed pages), it was quite clearly not auto-generated. Here's what King had to say to me, complete with little personal jabs and unnecessary Latin. Comments welcome.

Mr. Joshua Trupin

Dear Mr. Trupin:

I am in receipt of your June 23rd e-mail and disagree in toto with your accusations regarding Karl Rove's speech.

If you are capable of such indignant outrage, I am surprised you didn't contact me to express your disgust when Senator Durbin scandalously attempted to juxtapose Guantanamo with Hitler and Stalin.

What Karl Rove did do was deliver a speech which was politically incorrect but entirely factual. He pointed out inter alia that in the immediate aftermath of the September 11th attacks a number of prominent liberals such as urged "moderation and restraint" in response to the terrorist attacks rather than "war, violence or destruction." Even more egregious was Michael Moore whose "Fahrenheit 9/11" film hypothesized that the war against Afghanistan resulted from collusion between President Bush and the oil industry.

I have been in politics long enough to know that wacko elements are always attempting to attach themselves to our main political parties. This only becomes significant when the political party in question fails to reject that fringe element or, even worse, accepts its support. Responsible political leaders are expected to act quickly and decisively. For instance, in 1948, Harry Truman risked reelection but did the right thing by severing all connections with Henry Wallace and the pro-communists in the Progressive Party. Similarly, in 1962, the conservative movement led by William F. Buckley, Jr. denounced Robert Welch and the John Birch Society.

Considering the horror of 9/11, I would have expected today's Democrats to emulate Harry Truman. Instead, Democratic leaders such as harry Reid, Ted Kennedy and Dick Durbin actually speak at MoveOn rallies, giving encouragement and support to this fringe movement. ("We are depending on you" said Harry Reid; ", you're changing America for the better," added Senator Durbin.) Democratic candidates have also accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from's PAC. As for Michael Moore, the Democrats gave him a seat of honor at their national convention-- in a luxury box next to President Carter. (As a New Yorker weren't you outraged that a man who had so shamefully defiled 9/11 was treated with such respect and dignity by the Democratic leaders?) Then, or course there was Howard Dean, the National Chairman of the Democratic Party, saying he didn't want to "prejudge" Bin Laden's guilt prior to a "jury trial."

What all of this means is that too many Democrats, in their zeal to bring down President Bush, are aligning themselves with the most radical left-wing fringe elements and ignoring the damage this could do to our country in time of war. This is why Democrats such as Ed Koch supported President Bush for reelection because he did not believe Democratic leaders "had the stomach" to effectively fight terrorism.

Karl Rove did not challenge the patriotism of liberals. He questioned their judgment and their ability to do what has to be done to win a long and difficult war that must be fought in many place and in many ways.

Democrats should welcome Karl Rove's speech as a clarion call to save their party from the left-wing fringe elements. If they do, perhaps in the future Democrats will not again stand mute when their leaders such as Senator Durbin shamefully slander.

Two years ago Andrew Cuomo wrote that Democrats "handled 9/11 like it was a highway bill instead of a matter of people's lives. We fumbled the seminal movement of our lives- the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The President exemplified leadership at a time when America was desperate for a leader. He deserves credit, as to Congressional Republicans, for recognizing the challenge of 9/11 and rising to it."

The time has come for you to accept the challenge and acknowledge that Karl Rove is right. By doing so, you will save your party, and, much more importantly, your country.

Very truly yous, [sic]

PETER T. KING Member of Congress

P.S. I would suggest that you broaden your horizons and read something besides the New York Times.