Sunday, November 30, 2008


"Only the dead have seen the end of war." — George Santayana
On a holiday to give thanks, I watched the Mumbai Massacre unfold on TV. I don't have anything authoritative to say on the tragedy. I haven't even sorted out the facts on who did it and why. I don't have anything profound to say either.

But the story of Alan and Naomi Scherr does touch me. Naomi was 13 and her father, Alan, was 54. They were on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to India with the Synchronicity Foundation to teach seminars on meditation. I didn't know these people, but by all accounts that I have read, the two were pursuing peace and tranquility. And then they met with anger and violence. Like so many victims in Mumbai, they would have extended a helping hand to those same people who would rather use guns and bombs. It's an eternal paradox.

My hope right now is that India does not imitate the disastrous policies of the US, and that the US, at the very least, ends our wars and the shameful practice of torture. We are all to blame for the suffering we cause each other.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Subprime Marriages

'You loser!" screamed Katie, aiming a vase at her husband. "You've destroyed my life,'' she continued, hurling it. "Just look at my hair, look at my nails! You loser, you jerk, you nobody."
I don't feel sorry for the rich men and their gold-digging wives described in this recent Telegraph UK article. Both sides are selfish and materialistic: the women who marry men for money and then leave them when the property portfolios shrink, and the stupid shallow men who want trophy wives and can't recognize real love. Maybe they deserve each other.

Whether these stories of toxic wives are a real trend or not, I think the super-wealthy are deserving of some kind of comeuppance. These are the people who enabled the current financial crisis. Using Citigroup as one example, the New York Times exposes how some of these millionaire bankers either had no idea what they were selling or took no responsibility for it:

According to a former Citigroup executive, Mr. Prince started putting pressure on Mr. Maheras and others to increase earnings in the bank’s trading operations, particularly in the creation of collateralized debt obligations, or C.D.O.’s — securities that packaged mortgages and other forms of debt into bundles for resale to investors.

Because C.D.O.’s included so many forms of bundled debt, gauging their risk was particularly tricky; some parts of the bundle could be sound, while others were vulnerable to default.

“Chuck Prince going down to the corporate investment bank in late 2002 was the start of that process,” a former Citigroup executive said of the bank’s big C.D.O. push. “Chuck was totally new to the job. He didn’t know a C.D.O. from a grocery list, so he looked for someone for advice and support. That person was Rubin. And Rubin had always been an advocate of being more aggressive in the capital markets arena. He would say, ‘You have to take more risk if you want to earn more.’ ”

It appeared to be a good time for building up Citigroup’s C.D.O. business. As the housing market around the country took flight, the C.D.O. market also grew apace as more and more mortgages were pooled together into newfangled securities.
Of course, it wasn't impossible to predict the meltdown. Meredith Whitney, an obscure analyst of financial firms for Oppenheimer Securities, understood the mismanagement of Citigroup and predicted the company would go bust:
From that moment, Whitney became E.F. Hutton: When she spoke, people listened. Her message was clear. If you want to know what these Wall Street firms are really worth, take a hard look at the crappy assets they bought with huge sums of ­borrowed money, and imagine what they’d fetch in a fire sale. The vast assemblages of highly paid people inside the firms were essentially worth nothing. For better than a year now, Whitney has responded to the claims by bankers and brokers that they had put their problems behind them with this write-down or that capital raise with a claim of her own: You’re wrong. You’re still not facing up to how badly you have mismanaged your business.
Pair these idiot bankers with the regulators who destroyed regulations, and you have one big dysfunctional relationship which is, sadly, a very real trend. Although I'd personally prefer the cathartic act of smashing a vase across their skulls, we are instead expected to bail them out.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Colbert Christmas

"I'm so excited right now, I'm sporting a yule log." — Stephen Colbert
A tip of the hat to Stephen Colbert for his war on the War on Christmas. A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All! is reminiscent of those old variety-show Christmas specials we haven't seen since the 70's... except this star-studded extravaganza has Willie Nelson, as the fourth of the three kings, telling the story of a plant that smokes more sweetly than either frankincense or myrrh:

The show airs again this Thursday and Friday on Comedy Central.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cutting Red Tape

I wish I could say it was photoshopped, but this outrageous picture of regulators destroying regulations was taken at a 2003 press event. Yesterday's Washington Post article titled Banking Regulator Played Advocate Over Enforcer mentioned this unfortunate image:
In the summer of 2003, leaders of the four federal agencies that oversee the banking industry gathered to highlight the Bush administration's commitment to reducing regulation. They posed for photographers behind a stack of papers wrapped in red tape. The others held garden shears. Gilleran, who succeeded Seidman as OTS director in late 2001, hefted a chain saw.
The other men in the picture were identified by CalculatedRisk: John Reich (then Vice Chairman of the FDIC and later at the OTS), James McLaughlin of the American Bankers Association, Harry Doherty of America's Community Bankers, and Ken Guenther of the Independent Community Bankers of America.

As we lurch from financial crisis to financial crisis, we would all like a simple explanation. Unfortunately, life is complicated:
As Congress and the incoming Obama administration prepare to revamp federal financial oversight, the collapse of the thrift industry offers a lesson in how regulation can fail. It happened over several years, a product of the regulator's overly close identification with its banks, which it referred to as "customers," and of the agency managers' appetite for deregulation, new lending products and expanded homeownership sometimes at the expense of traditional oversight. Tough measures, like tighter lending standards, were not employed until after borrowers began defaulting in large numbers.

The agency championed the thrift industry's growth during the housing boom and called programs that extended mortgages to previously unqualified borrowers as "innovations." In 2004, the year that risky loans called option adjustable-rate mortgages took off, then-OTS director James Gilleran lauded the banks for their role in providing home loans. "Our goal is to allow thrifts to operate with a wide breadth of freedom from regulatory intrusion," he said in a speech.

At the same time, the agency allowed the banks to project minimal losses and, as a result, reduce the share of revenue they were setting aside to cover them. By September 2006, when the housing market began declining, the capital reserves held by OTS-regulated firms had declined to their lowest level in two decades, less than a third of their historical average, according to financial records.
With no end in sight for this financial crisis, some are perceiving a fundamental flaw in capitalism which will leave us all relying on the barter system. I guess now is a good time to learn how to hunt and fish?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

But Do We Believe Him?

As White House Press Secretary, Scott McClellan had a lucrative career lying to us. Now, with the recent change in political climate, he makes his bucks exposing those lies. His most recent revelation is that George W. Bush outed CIA agent Valerie Plame (if video doesn't show, click here):

So this video is already a week old. Has Bush been impeached yet? Let me check... nope. However, Dick Cheney has been indicted on something totally unrelated. I'm shocked -- the charges aren't shocking but the indictment itself surprises me. In a government where an executive order can grant the VP limitless power, I thought Cheney was untouchable...

So let's optimistically imagine we can get to the point where Bush is put on trial, and Scott McClellan is called as a witness. I am sure that McClellan's loyalty and character will be attacked along with his honesty. In an astonishing contradiction, Scott McClellan told members of the House Judiciary Committee last June that he didn't think that the president knew in advance about the Plame Wilson leak. He has clearly changed his story.

However, I still feel that McClellan's claims corroborate other reports and charges against Bush and Cheney. I could care less about McClellan's apparent lack of loyalty to a political party. I just wish he wasn't a professional liar.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What Does This Mean?

I first saw the above footage on The Daily Show, and it was offered without the usual wisecracks. I watched in mild disbelief, but concluded that our President Numb-Nuts was simply oblivious to the fact that it was hand-shaking time again. After all, as the Daily Show noted and documented, Bush had already greeted every world leader at the commencement of the Global Economic Summit in Washington, D.C., and the two day event was probably boring Bush to tears!

However, in the above CNN video, anchorman Rick Sanchez thinks Bush looks like "the most unpopular kid in high school that nobody liked."

So which is it? Was Bush oblivious, bored, and rude, or did all the G20 leaders conspire to snub Bush as some kind of response to his catastrophic presidency? If so, why didn't Bush even extend his hand? Why didn't he hold his head up or make eye contact? If he didn't make a single gesture, then you can't say the others rejected him.... Unless Bush was tipped off ahead of time that he was going to be snubbed, and so he decided he would rather whistle pass those guys.

Another possibility is that all these adults are in some kind of snit over something somebody said, but it's hard to tell. The consensus among key politicians, commentators and economists is that nothing extraordinary was accomplished but nothing extraordinary was expected.

Maybe the whole event was irrelevant due to the lame duck host and the absence of president-elect Barack Obama.

Still, I'm left with the impression that if these world leaders are indeed ostracizing Bush, then they are ostracizing the whole United States. Even if you hate Bush, you shouldn't be gloating over this possible snub. This situation is alarming. I think we will suffer many years for Bush's mistakes.

Monday, November 17, 2008

We Are Not Toys

The Iraq Veterans Against the War recently staged Operation W.A.N.T. (We Are Not Toys). The demonstration was a peaceful attention-grabber. The veterans infiltrated an unidentified gas station and deployed a battalion of 4171 toy soldiers, together with a sign reading, "Price of Gas: 4171 U.S. Soldiers." (If video doesn't show, click here):

I see the protest as a somber response to a public that does not acknowledge the consequences of the American lifestyle and a president who has often seemed like a spoiled child-commander for toy soldiers.

We are not toys. Our soldiers are not toys. Iraqis are not toys. Look at this heart-rending picture. We need to see these consequences.

Related Post: Bang Bang! Kiss Kiss!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is a new technology that brings real and virtual objects together. You really have to see it in action before you can begin to understand it (if video doesn't show, click here):

Your first impression from that video might be "Oh a hologram!" But no, it's not a hologram. The gadget, created by Geisha Tokyo Entertainment Inc., comes with two "cybercubes" and two "cybersticks." You aim your webcam at these real objects, and the software renders video of virtual Alice responding to your taps and... umm... touches.

Ok, if your first impression was not amazement over new technology, then maybe it was bewilderment over stripping, touching, and paddling a four inch tall virtual girl who cries like a child then collapses into a fetal position.

Of course I'm a fan of video games, virtual worlds, and new technologies, but this cyber geisha is disturbing. Maybe it's her submissiveness and distress followed by sudden happiness over a mere teddy bear? What kind of guy has these fantasies? Or maybe I should ask how many guys have these fantasies?

I'm not naive. I've had my own forays into the red light districts of Second Life, but ultimately those online trysts are with consenting humans on a cyber landscape. A computer controlled girlfriend can be as cutesy and unreal as any geek can imagine...

... or maybe I am naive to deny that our imaginations have long been the stage for these fantasies before the technology caught up? The $57 billion worldwide pornography industry drives many new technologies. So today we see cyber geisha, and tomorrow maybe we'll see a new generation of The Sims, or maybe even something practical.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Working for Change

If you want to work in the Barack Obama administration, you'll have to answer a few questions. The 63 item questionnaire includes the typical inquiries about employment history, lobbying history, and financial and tax information.

But you will also have to disclose your online aliases and all your writings including diaries, blogs and comments on blogs.

Also, you must explain "any association with any person, group or business venture that could be used -- even unfairly -- to impugn or attack your character or qualifications for government service." Neocons are predictably screaming "hypocrisy" over that question, but I yawn. I think the transition team simply wanted a quick way to weed out Todd Palin's application.

And then, of course, list three professional references just like every boring job you've ever applied for.

Obama's transition team has about 7000 positions to fill according to the 2008 Plum Book, the quadrennial list of positions subject to presidential appointment. Well maybe one less position now, but you didn't want to be Secretary of State anyway, right? And you weren't hoping for this job either:
The Vice Presidency is a unique office that is neither a part of the executive branch nor a part of the legislative branch, but is attached by the Constitution to the latter. The Vice Presidency performs functions in both the legislative branch (see article I, section 3 of the Constitution) and in the executive branch (see article II, and amendments XII and XXV, of the Constitution, and section 106 of title 3 of the United States Code).
Dick Cheney and his lawyers must have written that ridiculous job description. No wonder Sarah Palin was so confused.

Anyway, if you're ready to work for change, the Washington Post has tips on how to actually apply.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Image via Crooks and Liars.

Politico explains how Barack Obama can hit that undo button:
It could take Obama years to undo climate rules finalized more than 60 days before he takes office — the advantage the White House sought by getting them done by Nov. 1. But that strategy doesn’t account for the Congressional Review Act of 1996.

The law contains a clause determining that any regulation finalized within 60 legislative days of congressional adjournment is considered to have been legally finalized on the 15th legislative day of the new Congress, likely sometime in February. Congress then has 60 days to review it and reverse it with a joint resolution that can’t be filibustered in the Senate.

In other words, any regulation finalized in the last half-year of the Bush administration could be wiped out with a simple party-line vote in the Democrat-controlled Congress.
Well, I hope this is true! One day maybe we will wake up to these headlines. Hey, I can dream, can't I?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Open Secrets

I was reading this article entitled Predatory Scapegoating and learned a few things I'm surprised I had not yet heard. Nine months ago, before Eliot Spitzer was forced to resign as governor of New York, he published this op-ed about the marked increase in predatory lending practices by mortgage lenders and how the Bush administration stopped the states from helping consumers:

In 2003, during the height of the predatory lending crisis, the OCC invoked a clause from the 1863 National Bank Act to issue formal opinions preempting all state predatory lending laws, thereby rendering them inoperative. The OCC also promulgated new rules that prevented states from enforcing any of their own consumer protection laws against national banks. The federal government's actions were so egregious and so unprecedented that all 50 state attorneys general, and all 50 state banking superintendents, actively fought the new rules.

But the unanimous opposition of the 50 states did not deter, or even slow, the Bush administration in its goal of protecting the banks. In fact, when my office opened an investigation of possible discrimination in mortgage lending by a number of banks, the OCC filed a federal lawsuit to stop the investigation.

Bush and his friends really know how to break a government, but unfortunately it was our government. And unfortunately the MSM is too easily distracted by a SEX SCANDAL!

But here is another interesting fact from the Predatory Scapegoating article. George Herbert Walker IV is a second cousin to George W. Bush and is also a managing director at now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers. Obviously that family has a certain gift for finance.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Misplaced October Surprise?

Remember back in August, right before the Democratic National Convention, when there was that little five day South Ossetian War fought between Georgia on one side, and Russia, and the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on the other? Remember when McCain spoke of his conversation with Georgian president Saakashvili? "And I told him that I know I speak for every American when I say to him, 'Today we are all Georgians.'"

I thought McCain sounded totally cocky. I'm not a Georgian. I never have been and I never will be. I'm an American. Between McCain's saber rattling and pretending to be president, what was really going on?

Last week the New York Times reported on the observations of international monitors working under the mandate of OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) in South Ossetia when the conflict started:
Newly available accounts by independent military observers of the beginning of the war between Georgia and Russia this summer call into question the longstanding Georgian assertion that it was acting defensively against separatist and Russian aggression.

Instead, the accounts suggest that Georgia’s inexperienced military attacked the isolated separatist capital of Tskhinvali on Aug. 7 with indiscriminate artillery and rocket fire, exposing civilians, Russian peacekeepers and unarmed monitors to harm.
As the conflict was developing, I noticed how the media framed the entire thing in terms of the U.S. presidential election and portrayed McCain as the tough guy who would put Russia in its place even if that meant using Georgia as an unwilling proxy in a long, bloody guerrilla war... as if the world needs another war.

But McCain's posturing during election season was no accident. Tom Hayden on TPMCafe asks if the Georgian war was a neocon conspiracy and early October Surprise:

The new evidence increases the likelihood that the August 7-8 clash between Georgia and Russia was an "October Surprise" that would highlight John McCain's greater foreign policy experience at the height of the presidential election.

The Georgia fighting occurred immediately before the Democratic convention in Denver. McCain, the leading public advocate for Georgia, immediately declared "we are all Georgians now" and promised "to blast Russia." Obama, on vacation in Hawaii, at first called for greater diplomacy, but quickly fell in line with a bipartisan consensus of national security advisers and the mainstream media. Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, openly applauded the White House for its rapid response, including support for NATO's inclusion of Georgia and the Ukraine and a one billion dollar emergency appropriation.
The relationship between McCain and his top foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann, definitely adds credibility to Hayden's claims.

Although Russia has withdrawn all troops, and the U.S. State Department has admitted that the Georgian attack was a mistake, we shouldn't forget about this incident. Indeed I think we need to learn more about it. Hillary Clinton has introduced S.3567 "to establish a Commission on the conflict between Russia and Georgia, and for other purposes."

I hope that president-elect Obama will favor diplomacy in these situations, and I hope that he will rethink the U.S. relationship with Georgia, because I'm afraid this misplaced October surprise will come back to haunt us.

About The Human Heart

I've been terribly sick with a cold for two days, and I've spent many hours in bed. However, the urge to blog is stronger than shivers, sweats and sneezes.

I'm going to let Keith Olbermann provide the heart of this post for me. Here are his special comments on California's Proposition 8 (if video doesn't show, click here):

On a lighter note, this guy who I've never heard of before wants you to know that his only serious concern about gays getting married is that they'll "register someplace pricey."

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Crafty Confrontations

I went to a craft fair today and won this lovely embroidered pillow. The arts and crafts scene isn't my usual thing, but it was something to do with my mom this Saturday...

And all would have been enjoyable, except my mom brought up politics which she doesn't really follow except for those chain e-mails her friends at the Y keep sending her. As I mentioned once before, my mother has developed a serious and unshakable case of Baracknophobia. Reason and logic can't cure it.

My father also fears Obama, but dad's opinions are more a product of Fox News and a yearning for a social order that hasn't existed for 40 years.

So here is the gist what my mom said: your dad was really upset about those comments Obama made about Nancy Reagan. He said "Obama had to apologize for it, but you won't hear the liberal media reporting on that!"

At that point, I'm not sure what happened to me. I don't know if it was the past few weeks of anxiety over the election, or the realization I'd be facing a multitude of silly manufactured outrages from neocons over the next 4 years (and hopefully 8) -- but my anger exploded like verbal fireworks. Or a singular firework -- one big explosion and then it faded. But I ticked off in one long sentence everything that Bush has never apologized for. You know the list of fuck-ups that have happened on his watch: 9/11, anthrax attacks, hurricane Katrina, war in Iraq, not catching Bin Laden, etc. Then I finished with the revelation that it will be nice to have a president who cares enough to apologize when he makes a mistake.

I used to be such a quiet person. I surprise myself with this recent anguish. Should I starve it or nurture it? I don't know.

But after my little burst, my mom finished the story. She said, "well I found Obama's apology in the newspaper, so I neatly folded the paper with that article showing, and left it at the table for your dad."

I guess that's the pathological way I've learned to avoid confrontation. Don't argue. Just leave a note.

Friday, November 07, 2008

We've Earned A New Puppy

Over on Gawker, they have the scoop on the people who will fix your money. The BBC has the scoop on who has been named for the new Obama administration. And over on Newsweek, they scoop the poop on past White House lawn poopers.

I find that all fascinating, but I want to talk about a different type of animal. The elephant. The mascot of the Republican party, right? So why not dress your little Republican offspring as an elephant for Halloween? I wouldn't have given much thought to that idea until I was watching Countdown tonight and was alarmed at what I saw at about 5:30 into the following video (if video doesn't show, click here):

Did you see it for yourself? Sarah Palin dressed her son with Downs Syndrome in a Dumbo costume! He's mentally challenged and in a Dumbo costume. Does that woman ever think? Am I being hyper sensitive?

When I was a child back in the dark ages (the 1970's), I had to go to a "special" school where they placed children with physical disabilities in the same classrooms with children with mental disabilities. It actually wasn't a bad deal. The class sizes were very small and my lessons were individualized for my abilities and pace...

But what I'm remembering is that when they put on an annual play, and they chose Snow White -- it was changed to Snow White and the Six Dwarves. They intentionally left out Dopey. There was no need to teach new and demeaning labels to vulnerable children. There was no need to reinforce the epithets they may have already heard from their crueler peers.

Palin's baby boy is too young to remember this event, but I hope she gains a modicum of political correctness before her son goes to school.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Above Ground

Yesterday morning, as millions were going to the polls, Bill Ayers emerged from his home to give a short interview for the Washington Post. Ayers had this to say:
"Pal around together? What does that mean? Share a milkshake with two straws?" Ayers said in his first interview since the controversy began. "I think my relationship with Obama was probably like thousands of others in Chicago. And, like millions and millions of others, I wish I knew him better."
I can honestly say I'm glad he didn't know Obama better. But at least this story dismisses all the dire warnings, innuendo, and bullshit we've been hearing from Sarah Palin for the last month.

Regardless of Palin's efforts, these attacks were ineffectual. Maybe they even backfired. Why did McCain even agree to such a strategy? Well, Newsweek's postmortem on the McCain campaign has this tidbit:
Palin launched her attack on Obama’s association with William Ayers, the former Weather Underground bomber, before the campaign had finalized a plan to raise the issue. McCain’s advisers were working on a strategy that they hoped to unveil the following week, but McCain had not signed off on it, and top adviser Mark Salter was resisting.
I guess that's what you get for picking a "maverick." I wonder if McCain has any regrets? Bill Ayers certainly has regrets about his own past:
"I wish I'd been wiser," he said. "I wish I'd been more effective. I wish I'd been more unifying. I wish I'd been more principled."
In other words, he wishes he had been more like Barack Obama.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Obama Wins!

When the news was announced a little after 8pm Pacific time, I was pleased to hear a few firecrackers go off in my own neighborhood. It sounded like New Years, and in a way it feels very much like a new world...

Let's not forget that this historic win is not the answer to everything, but I feel like my faith in this country has been restored. USA! USA! USA!

I wish I could have the same pride in California tonight, but it's not looking good.


Everybody should get out and vote! Even underachievers and dyslexic cake decorators!

(Image via Cake Wrecks.)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Hope and Wait

I have already cast my vote. Tomorrow I will simply hope and wait. I'll watch a little news, and maybe I'll blog, but I think I've already said everything I can possibly say about these presidential and vice-presidential candidates. I can't imagine who these undecided voters are. Luckily, David Sedaris can explain it:
To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. "Can I interest you in the chicken?" she asks. "Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?"� To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked. I mean, really, what's to be confused about?
I find nothing to be confused about. I've examined every lie, half truth and innuendo during this malignant election, and I feel completely confident in my vote for Barack Obama.

I'd prefer not to write anything more about election 2008 until I can perform an autopsy.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Nailin' Palin

Oh, no! Not another Sarah Palin post! I'll try to be brief. Yesterday a Quebec comedy duo notorious for prank calls to celebrities reached Sarah Palin, convincing the Republican vice-presidential nominee that she was speaking with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Hilarity ensued (if video doesn't show, click here... or if you simply can't stand that shrill voice, read the transcript here):

I'm not going to criticize her for falling for a prank. Hell, I fell for at least one good one in my younger years (maybe that will be a blog post for another day). But what irks me about her conversation with the impostor Sarkozy is her girlish laughter. I imagine that I sounded that way when I was 14 and talking to a cute boy. I've since learned to control myself, and I would hope a VP candidate could also learn to behave a little more appropriately...

Oh, who am I kidding? I'm talking about a ditsy woman with superstitious beliefs and a gross and shamelessly erroneous interpretation of the First Amendment:
Palin told WMAL-AM that her criticism of Obama's associations, like those with 1960s radical Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, should not be considered negative attacks. Rather, for reporters or columnists to suggest that it is going negative may constitute an attack that threatens a candidate's free speech rights under the Constitution, Palin said.
Glenn Greenwald comments on this profound ignorance:

The First Amendment is actually not that complicated. It can be read from start to finish in about 10 seconds. It bars the Government from abridging free speech rights. It doesn't have anything to do with whether you're free to say things without being criticized, or whether you can comment on blogs without being edited, or whether people can bar you from their private planes because they don't like what you've said.

If anything, Palin has this exactly backwards, since one thing that the First Amendment does actually guarantee is a free press. Thus, when the press criticizes a political candidate and a Governor such as Palin, that is a classic example of First Amendment rights being exercised, not abridged.

You can listen to Palin's comment here, but it's painful... and I'm not talking about the pitch this time.