The Fog of Ditka has lifted. Da Coach will not run for da U.S. Senate.
In a front-page article, the New York Times’s Elisabeth Bumiller writes:
The newest theory - advanced privately by prominent Democrats, including members of Congress - holds that Mr. Cheney recently dismissed his personal doctor so that he could see a new one, who will conveniently tell him in August that his heart problems make him unfit to run with Mr. Bush. The dismissed physician, Dr. Gary Malakoff, who four years ago declared that Mr. Cheney was “up to the task of the most sensitive public office” despite a history of heart disease, was dropped from Mr. Cheney’s medical team because of an addiction to prescription drugs.
@messaging.sprintpcs.comLast night’s rainstorm created a lake in the middle of the dog park. Needless to say, the dogs think this is the coolest thing EVER. :)
This made me laugh out loud:
Airport police said a security screener was waving a metal-detecting wand over [airline passenger Daryl] Miller’s pants area on Friday when Miller pulled his shorts down to his ankles. He wasn’t wearing any underwear.
Miller then said, “There, how do you like your job,” thus ending the screening, according to the police report. He was charged with indecent exposure and released on $300 bail. …
“This person exposed themself in a public area, a clear violation of the law, and we needed to take some action on that, otherwise everybody would be dropping their pants,” [airport police Lt. Matt] Christenson said.
Oh yeah, America is one indecent-exposure charge away from becoming a giant nudist colony. Riiiiight.
Of course, you know why this happened. It’s because the FMA was defeated. I told you gay marriage would undermine the moral fabric of our society! Quick, somebody get Santorum on the phone! :)
Over on BoiFromTroy’s blog, Jim comments, “I am so proud to be an Arizonan right now. It doesn’t happen very often, and I gotta hold on to that feeling whenever it comes around.” Why? Because of what John McCain said today:
“The constitutional amendment we’re debating today strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans. It usurps from the states a fundamental authority they have always possessed and imposes a federal remedy for a problem that most states do not believe confronts them.”
“Hells yeah! That’s our senator, baby!” Becky wrote in an e-mail to me this afternoon.
Full text of McCain’s speech here.
In other FMA news, Andrew Sullivan notes that if the amendment had come to a full vote, instead of dying on a procedural matter, it apparently would have been defeated even more soundly. “Up to a dozen Republicans would have voted against the measure,” Sully writes. (That would be twice as many as voted no on the cloture motion.) “It truly is a humiliation for the anti-gay forces in the GOP. Let’s hope they take this to heart - and leave the states to figure out how to accommodate gay families into American society.”
More FMA stuff in my lunch-break update below.
Taking just a very brief break from work to give you a quick Ditka update… Drudge is now reporting:
FLASH: IN, OUT, IN, OUT, IN… DITKA IS OUT? Champaign, Illinois radio station WDWS is reporting that Mike Ditka will not be running for Senate. Morning personality and station manager Stevie Jay spoke with Ditka in the last hour and Ditka told him that he had too many other commitments.
Did he change his mind because of da leak?
UPDATE: The AP reports: “Ditka was silent Wednesday on a possible candidacy. State GOP chairwoman Judy Baar Topinka said a meeting with him Tuesday night ‘wasn’t totally encouraging,’ and Ditka’s wife has said she isn’t a fan of the idea.”
But Chicago’s NBC affiliate, WMAQ 5, reports that “fans of former Bears coach Mike Ditka are organizing a campaign fund-raiser scheduled for Thursday night, where they hope Ditka will make an announcement.”
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the Fog of Ditka.
Meanwhile, Ditka’s would-be opponent, Illinois Democratic Senate candidate Barack Obama, will deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, it was announced today.
A return to the old lunch-break-update format today, with a bunch of brief snippets on unrelated (or tangentially related) topics strung together into one chaotic post. Why? Because I feel like it. So here goes… a Spectacular Seven items of interest for y’all…
1. Don’t miss my post below pondering whether John Edwards is an ambulance-chaser.
2. The Federal Marriage Amendment was effectively defeated in the Senate today on a procedural vote. Hooray! Gay marriage opponents fell twelve votes short of the 60 that would have been needed to end debate and force a final vote, losing 50-48. So the amendment is essentially dead (in the Senate, at least) for this session. Andrew Sullivan rejoices: “This is a symbolic but important blow to the agenda of the far right. They have divided their party, and tarnished their reputation for fairness - but the Constitution remains intact and unviolated. That’s one reason to cheer.” The roll call of my senators and potential/future senators: Dodd (D-CT) Nay, Lieberman (D-CT) Nay, McCain (R-AZ) Nay, Kyl (R-AZ) Yea, Bayh (D-IN) Nay, Lugar (R-IN) Yea. Neither Kyl nor Lugar will be getting my vote anytime soon, no matter where I end up registering. Chris, Joe, John and Evan all get kudos. BoiFromTroy has lots of links, and he also points out the roll-call “notables”:
Democrats against Gay Marriage: Byrd (WV), Miller (GA), Nelson (NE)
Republicans against the Amendment: Campbell (CO), Chafee (RI), Collins (ME), McCain (AZ), Snowe (ME), Sununu (NH)
Kerry and Edwards weren’t there for the vote; hence the 50-48 instead of 52-48. They said they would have made the trip if it were an actual up-or-down vote on the bill, but because it was just a procedural thing, they couldn’t be bothered. Personally, I wish they had been there, especially when I read comments like this: “Ah yes, two fierce champions of gay rights! Maybe gays should ’skip the vote’ too when November 2nd rolls around…” But I personally am not going to lose any sleep over it. Running for president is sort of important, and the best thing Kerry and Edwards can possibly do for gay rights is to defeat Bush in November.
3. Speaking of the FMA, Wonkette reports on a “Defend Marriage” press conference yesterday: “Yes, if I was going to have a press conference celebrating the joys of heterosexuality, this is exactly what I’d wear:”
Hehehe. Hey, is that gleam in the eye of Rick Santorum (standing behind the orange-coated Pat Boone) the look of repressed homosexual desire? We insinuate, you decide.
5. Speaking of representations of the f-word, Ralph Nader says a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Melvin Watt (D-NC), yelled at him during a meeting: “You’re just another arrogant white man — telling us what we can do — itâ€™s all about your ego — another f***ing arrogant white man.” Nader is calling this an “obscene racist epithet” and demanding an apology. Opinion Journal’s right-wing “Best of the Web” column, in what is presumably a rarity, agrees with Nader: “There’s no question that Nader is arrogant, and we’re pretty sure he’s a man. But what does his race have to do with anything? We have a dream of a nation in which the Congressional Black Caucus will not judge people by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Again, heh. Yeah, that would be nice.
6. Who wants to be a millionaire? This guy! On Jeopardy!
7. Last but not least… basketballer Nick Young, by some accounts the seventh-best high-school player in the country, will play for the USC Trojans this winter. He is described as “a stud small forward with a great frame for a 6′6 player.” Nice. “By the way, if you haven’t noticed, Henry Bibby has seven seniors slated for next year’s team. Look out.”
Kerry’s selection of Edwards as his runningmate is proving potentially disastrous for his chances of earning the Zak family’s three votes in the swing state of Arizona — perhaps just as disastrous as if he had selected Hillary. I spoke to Mrs. Zak, a retired nurse, on the phone last night, and she was railing against Edwards’s history as a medical-malpractice lawyer, winning multi-million-dollar verdicts in (according to her) flimsy, scientifically unsound cases. Dr. Zak, a retired eye surgeon, gave Becky the same shpeel a few minutes later, and before long, Becky, herself a trained EMT, was repeating it to me.
Needless to say, medical malpractice law — and the need for reform thereof — is a hot-button issue with the Zaks. I should have anticipated that the selection of Edwards would cause them to turn against Kerry (not that any of them were solidly in Kerry’s column before, but they were all, as best as I could tell, on the bubble), but having supported him for purely tactical reasons during the primaries, I hadn’t read much about Edwards’s past, so I didn’t realize that malpractice suits, in particular, are where he made the bulk of his fortune.
The thing is, although I have no medical training, I care about this issue, too. I agree with the Zaks that malpractice verdicts have gotten out of hand, and it is a severe problem that insurance rates have gotten so high that in some cases doctors are retiring (because they can no longer make adequate profit to make it worthwhile) or refusing to perform certain procedures. So the question, really — and it’s an important one — is: are the claims about Edwards’s sham verdicts true?
“Illinois’ current shortage of qualified doctors is exacerbated by ambulance chasing attorneys like Vice-Presidential candidate John Edwards,” writes columnist Lee Enokian in the conservative Illinois Leader. That’s all well and good, as ad hominem attacks go, but what are the facts? Is Edwards a responsible attorney who goes after cases where there is real fault (not all medical malpractice verdicts are wrong, after all), or is he really an odious ambulance-chaser who does whatever it takes to make a buck, even if that means invoking flimflam science to trick gullible juries into persecuting innocent doctors?
The New York Times has an interesting article about Edwards’s lawyering history, suggesting (rather plausibly, methinks) that there are — you know — two sides to this story. Yes, the article contains some quotes and anecdotes from Edwards’s enemies suggesting that he’s a money-grubbing bastard. But it also this quote, from a courtroom adversary who defended doctors and hospitals against Edwards’s lawsuits more than a dozen times:
“He only took the best cases, and by that I don’t mean the ones with the highest damages,” Mr. Cooney said. “I mean the ones where somebody had done something really bad.”
A spokesman for Edwards is also quoted as saying, “He employed a full-time medical staff to make sure the cases he took were those with the most merit, and he would not go forward with any case without the support of experts in the particular medical field.”
Of course, you’d expect a spokesman for Edwards to say good things about him. And you’d also expect a New York Times article to highlight the positive about the Democratic candidate for vice president. But to me, the quote from a long-time courtroom opponent basically saying that Edwards is not an irresponsible ambulance-chaser is quite powerful.
So what’s the truth? I don’t presume to know without looking into it further (which I intend to do). But it’s clearly not as simple as some conservatives want to make it out to be (and as some lazy journalists will let them). As I wrote to Becky in an e-mail:
Quite often, these things are distorted by news articles and opinion columns and the rumor mill, to the point that perfectly legitimate cases (or at least debatable cases that reasonable people can disagree on) end up being made to sound totally frivolous and ridiculous by being taken totally out of context. … It’s all part of the demonization of trial lawyers, and it’s unfortunate, because truly frivolous cases are a real problem, but that problem is cheapened when people assume that all cases are automatically frivolous just because, you know, lawyers are evil.
Now, when conservatives and Republicans (who are especially prone to hate lawyers anyway) have such a powerful motive to demonize this particular trial lawyer (they want Bush to win, duh!), you can understand why I’m skeptical and I want to look at the evidence myself.
Links to additional articles and evidence about Edwards’s past are welcomed. I am not prejudging this issue, pro or con. It’s actually one that matters to me, so like I said, I want to look into it more.
And now, I’m off; we have a meeting at noon here at work. More later, when I resume my lunch break after the meeting.
As requested, here — courtesy of Keri Hustad — are some photos from the June 21, 2003 wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Justin and Jenny McLelland! (Jenny, formerly Jenny Campbell, is a Trojan Hall alum who is prominently featured in many of my freshman-year photo galleries. :)
Many more here. Thanks for the photos, Keri! And belated congratulations (and slightly less belated first-anniversary wishes), Jenny! :)
Drudge reports: “FLASH: Former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka will announce this morning at 9:30am he intends to run for senate in Illinois, says well-placed source…”
If he means 9:30am Central Time, that would be over a half-hour ago now. As yet there has been no announcement. Moreover, the Illinois Leader is reporting:
This morning in downtown Chicago, Mike Ditka left a secret meeting with IL GOP decision makers, angered about the media being tipped off.
Ditka was to meet with members of the IL GOP State Central Committee and to speak via conference call with national level Republicans.
As word of the meeting leaked out to the press, Ditka reportedly was angered when met by reporters, exited the meeting promptly and hopped into his black Escalade, and left, obviously upset.
Matt Drudge reported this morning that an announcement would be made at 9:30 am.
No word as to the ensuing discussion among state central committee members left at the meeting, which is still going on.
Ditka’s willingness to take on the candidacy may be in doubt now.
Methinks somebody needs to make da peace offering. Perhaps a nice big piece of Polish sausage is in order.
UPDATE: Blogger CK Rairden of The Washington Dispatch notes:
[Ditka’s anger over the leak] is not a surprise, as Ditka loves to be in charge and complete control of the situations he is involved with. And while that won’t play well in Washington DC, it will play very well in Americaâ€™s heartland. It’s impossible to call at this point, but his candidacy seems to be getting closer to fruition. If he does run–expect daily fireworks.
Rairden also quotes a possible campaign slogan: “Mike Ditka: A tough guy for tough times.”
The Oregonian points out that he wouldn’t be the first celebrity to run for high office out of the blue. (Well, duh. Er, da duh. :)
Meanwhile, an NPR comedian-commentator is literally praying for Candidate Ditka’s entry into the race.
UPDATE UPDATE: In his own words:
Come on here, you know you’re talking to a guy that is ultra-ultra-ultra conservative. So you know, people who don’t like that, you won’t like me one bit. But I think I’m about what the majority of this people in the country are. I believe this country was founded under God. I think people who say it wasn’t are crazy. But that’s their biz; you know, that’s me.
What you see is what you’re gonna get. You’re not going to like all of it. But you’re gonna like some of it, and maybe you’ll like enough of it to say, okay, this guy is all right.
Well, at least he’s honest. Not surprisingly for a self-described “ultra-ultra-ultra conservative,” Ditka also says he wants to outlaw da abortions.
Last night, as I was taking long-exposure thunderstorm photos at the dog park, I accidentally hit the shutter button too soon on a 15-second-exposure shot. The camera was still moving when the shutter opened, so I realized there was no hope of the picture coming out well, and I would have to wait for 15 seconds (more like 25, actually, when you count the processing time) before I could try again. So I waved the camera around impatiently, pointing it at various streetlights and such, figuring a bizarre picture would be more interesting than a plain old blurry one. What I ended up with was much neater than expected:
Pretty cool-looking, huh?
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