Monday, March 30, 2009

Spanish Judge About To Gore Gonzalez, 5 other Bush Aides

Say goodbye to freshly made paella, Alberto Gonzalez. Ah, those wonderful baquettes in Paris. Forget about whiffing their warm, yeasty delight, David Addington. John Yoo, you like torture; so say goodbye to the medieval spectacle of a Spanish bullfighting because the globally defender of human rights, Spanish magistrate Balthazar Garzon, is going to indict you soon.

In addition to the trio, San Francisco Curcuit of Appeals Judge Jay Bybee, the man Gen. Tommy Franks once derided as the "f--king stupidiest guy on the face of the earth", Douglas Feith and current Chevron lawyer William Haynes III were named in a complaint issued for review to the Spanish court. The Spanish believe they have jurisdiction because five Spaniards were allegedly tortured in Guantanamo. All five were thrown out of court because their torture led to inadmissible evidence.

It's been the LFR stance for two years, President Bush, Dick Cheney and/or their minions would one day face legal jeopardy for their deeds the best eight years with the likelihood, the infamous Spanish judge would be its starting point and one former U.S. official's plight could be instructive.

Former Secretary of State and Bush cohort Henry Kissinger has lived the past 30 years under the shadow of international indictments stemming from his actions with the CIA in South America known as Operation Condor. It is de rigueur for Kissinger to inquire about the possibility of incarceration before travelling abroad. This is likely to be the lasting effect of possible Spanish indictments against the six former Bush aides. Although liberals would salivate at the possibility, there is simply no situation where an American president would allow an international court to nab current or former government officials for merely the sake of precedent, but the implication of impropriety is better than nothing.

President Bush wouldn't care if he couldn't climb the Alps in Switzerland or ride his mountain bike under the Champs de Elysses. He was probably going to the let his passport expire anyway.

Turnabout: Now It's The Liberals Aiming To Conquer The Nation?

If you write and follow politics for awhile, you'll notice both sides utilize the same tricks no matter how ridiculous they might be. Take for example a opinion piece in the right-wing Washington Times.

Andrew Breitbart used the same criticism against liberals that the left levied against the conservatives for the last eight years regarding the veracity of their beliefs, specifically in this article, online comments crafted by lefties on conservative web sites.

Uninvited Democratic activists are on a mission to demoralize the enemy - us. They want to ensure that Barack Obama is not subject to the same coordinated, facts-be-damned, multimedia takedown they employed over eight long years to destroy the presidency - and the humanity - of George W. Bush.

Political leftists play for keeps. They are willing to lie, perform deceptive acts in a coordinated fashion and do so in a wicked way - all in the pursuit of victory. Moral relativism is alive and well in the land of Hope and Change and its Web-savvy youth brigade expresses its "idealism" in a most cynical fashion.

The ends justify the means for them - now more than ever
It is a appalling and downright disingenuous to say President Bush was somehow torpedoed by left wing generated falsehoods when it was the dissemination of the truth which thwarted even more damage to the country than what eventually occurred. Liberals did not create the fact that WMD did not exist in Iraq, or that torture techniques were co-opted by the Administration or that the war in Iraq was about the military-industrial complex taking part in war profiteering.

On the contrary, "politics for keeps" mixed with deception and fear are all hallmarks of Karl Rove and have been reported on this web site for nearly five years. Pieces such as these give pause to the notion the Republican Party can rebound and for the good of the nation contribute new ideas to the conversation. We need a healthy opposition party in times like these, when many are feeling more desperation by the state of our economic affairs. For godsake, even listing the litany of Bush-era offenses makes me feel out of touch with our current situation. If only conservatives could realize they lost the election and now make a contribution instead of impeding progress with silly accusations.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

U.S., Russia Push 'Reset'; Cold War Distrust Remains

While most of the industrialized world prepares to fix the world's economy next week in London, an important geopolitical sideshow will be taking place when the U.S. and Russia discuss an old Cold War sticking point.

With the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) due to expire this December, old diplomatic ploys and negotiations are returning to the table while both sides have retained suspicions of each other's intentions. Back in 1982, President Reagan presented the then-Soviet Union with an offer to reduce the number of strategic nuclear weapons pointed at each other. The beginnings of the START suffered many starts and stops during the 1980s. The treaty was not signed until 1991.

The Bush Administration's announcement late last year to install weapons interceptors in Poland and radar capabilities in the Czech Republic -- two former members of the Iron Curtain -- is reminiscent of an earlier tactic engineered in 1983 when Reagan announced plans for a Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), also known as "Star Wars". The Soviets perceived it as a threat, even though the plan's feasibility and cost was widely questioned. The presence of SDI and, in hindsight, last-ditch efforts by the dying Soviet empire to show strength were a few of the reasons the agreement took nine years to ratify...

Read the rest of this article at the Commonwealth Club blog. Click here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Obama Angles To Allow Potheads To Chill

The parallels between the first 100 days of the Roosevelt presidency and that of Obama's have been much commented upon, with Roosevelt's first days being used as a yardstick for legislative achievement or at least activity. Now a new link between the two eras has begun to emerge: the decriminalization of marijuana.

In 1933, after Roosevelt enacted a steady stream of legislation to secure the nation's economy that would last generations, he repealed the 18th Amendment allowing for the sale of alcohol. While it was long a Democratic desire to do so, the practical reason was to generate tax receipts from the sale of liquor and expand various programs to put people back to work. It seems times have not changed much in 76 years.

Former San Francisco Supervisor and current State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano says the flailing California economy could receive a $1 billion boost by taxing the sale of marijuana. The legislation is currently in Sacramento. According to a Time article, the estimated $14 billion in sales of the drug would nearly double the state's next largest cash-crop -- milk and cream.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder also signaled that the government is beginning to soften its decades-old stance against marijuana when he said that federal raids against California cannabis clubs would cease (such dispensaries are legal in the state) and states would be allowed to make their own laws on the subject.

As populist anger continues to bubble over regarding the economy, a steady stream of huge unemployment figures and the current scandal of corporate bonuses paid with taxpayer money, The Nation's Alexander Cockburn thinks making pot legal might calm the citizenry the way making alcohol legal was intended to cool pre-Great Depression America.
Ending Prohibition was functional to social control. If people head for the bars, they'd be less likely to man the barricades, calling for real change. As FDR's popularity soared, so Obama's popularity has soared for dope smokers, among them those whom the herb is the best and cheapest line of defense against pain.
The Internet has cultivated a large following of cogent pleas for decriminalization easily outnumbered by thousands of hokey ideas and conspiracy theories. The functionality of hemp seems to be quite popular on many of these sites. One unlikely voice in the crowd is noted travel author Rick Steves, who recently visited the Commonwealth Club of California to discuss not marijuana, but his film on Iran.

In a interview this week with Salon, the author gave his views on the elitism of many of our laws regarding pot.

The fact is, the marijuana law in the U.S. is a big lie. It's racist and classist. White rich people can smoke marijuana with impunity and poor black people get a record, can't get education, can't get a loan, and all of sudden go into a life of desperation and become hardened criminals. Why? Because we've got a racist law based on lies about marijuana.

It is unlikely a full repeal of many of these marijuana laws would occur under Obama -- the nation and the relative strength of many moderate Democrats and the Republican party would make it difficult even under the guise of increased tax revenue. What the attorney general's announcement indicates is a willingness to look away similar to what law enforcement already does when there are bigger problems than a high schooler smoking pot during fifth period.

This article is featured at The Commonwealth Club of California blog.

Monday, March 23, 2009

S.F. Chronicle Again Lays Down Racial Overtones In Oakland Killings

Here's a cautionary tale of what could happen if metropolitan areas begin losing newspapers and the pulse of the community is lost from reporters:

Four Oakland police officers were killed this weekend by a parolee fearful of returning to prison. The story is tragic and points to real policies debates that need to be confronted, namely, overturning President Bush's repeal of the mid-90s assault rifle ban, but what happens when the Bay Area's pre-eminent daily shows a complete unawareness of the nuances of the story as it relates to the community?

All the Bay Area papers led with screaming front pages stories of the Friday slayings, but the cross-bay San Francisco Chronicle showed both an elitist and ignorantly slanted reporting of the story. Here's the lede Saturday from the triumvirate of Jaxon Van Derbeken, Demian Bulwa and Carolyn Jones:
Three Oakland police sergeants were shot and killed and a fourth officer was critically wounded Saturday in a pair of related incidents that together rank among the deadliest attacks on law enforcement in California history.
How did the inclusion of the imagery of an "attack" find its way into the lede without an editor asking for a rewrite? Is the new-look Chronicle attempting to color its coverage with more of a tabloid edge these days or are they oblivious to the racial overtones and inherent animosity between the law enforcement in Oakland and blacks and other minorities? The imagery of attacking the powers that be conjures up terrorist us-against-them propaganda. The terrorists "attacked" the World Trade Center. The "blacks" attacked the police department. The coverage of BART policeman Johannes Mehserle on a black man at the Oakland Fruitvale station was never describe as an attack by anyone. (Also, read the Chronicle's simplistic, downright dopey editorial from today.)

If these Chronicle staff writers knew the beat and actually covered the communities words like "attack" would not have been written. The prevailing attitude on the streets is obvious sorrow for the men in uniform who perished, yet underneath that feeling is the notion the police have taken out more of "them" than they have taken from the police. This mistrust is teeming through the city of Oakland and will likely get worse. The theory going around is that the rage on the police department's side will be taken out on the poor blacks in Oakland.

This is not the first time the Chronicle has shown a pro-law enforcement bent. An LFR posting from Jan. 5 of this year illustrated the differences between their coverage of the Oscar Grant BART shooting and the Oakland Tribune. The same reporter on this weekend's story, Demian Bulwa, showed either a lack of understanding regarding Oakland or simply was too lazy to get any other side of the story other than the Police department's

Similarly, the Oakland Tribune again published a solid, down-the-center story Saturday which did not evoke either side in a just-the-facts style. This, too, may not have been a function of knowing their backyard, but with such an explosive story playing it down the middle is the smartest journalistic course of action.

Many in the newspaper industry lament the day when a large American city will not have a daily newspaper on its streets, but what happens when reporters on any platform, whether on paper or on the Internet fail to actually report?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Feel The Noise: Washington Is Miscalculating Americans' Fury

David Kurtz at thinks the comments made by Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod are symptoms of tone deafness on the administration's part. Emanuel called the AIG scandal a "big distraction" and Axelrod added the American people "are thinking about their own jobs."

The entire Beltway has its ears clogged with ear wax on this one. The Treasury was well aware of the bonuses. They were then caught flat-footed when their existance became known and appeared impotent in their unwillingness to get the money back. If the anger was not palpable enough, they seemed to go along with AIG CEO Edward Liddy's offer of returning half of the bonuses while feigning a sob story to Congress that he feared for his employees safety. The president seems weak and Congress looks strident in passing a bill that will tax AIG bonuses at 90 percent. One congressman even flippantly added, "we figure state and local taxes would take the rest."

Axelrod is correct. Americans are worrying about their jobs, but their capacity to think is far larger than the White House believes. This scandal is unique in recent American political history. A story that sweeps across every possible demographic--an oddity--an issue every American is vociferously angered about and knowledgeable, too. But, here's the weirdest theory I've heard in a long time from the intern at Salon's War Room blog. The Obama people are setting us to wow us.

Those kinds of comments may, on their face, seem like a misstep politically. It’s worth noting, however, that nobody plays rope-a-dope as well as President Obama and his people. It would be just like them to let outrage build, allow themselves to be portrayed as feckless and ineffectual, and then roll out a plan that capitalizes on public outrage, gets their priorities through Congress and leaves the president stronger than he was at the start of this whole thing. That's no guarantee, but they've pulled it off before.

The author, Gabriel Winant, is apparently tone deaf, too. Likely swilling overpriced cocktails in a trendy South of Market San Francisco bar with pierced hipsters and wide-eyed, young cub reporters. This issue is not the appropriate time to be playing Machiavellian politics and I doubt Obama's inner circle has a plan at this late stage to miraculously fix the problem or change the subject.

Americans are really angry and part of the rage may not be the relatively paltry $165 million going to undeserving financial analysts but because these sort of shenanigans were promised by Presidnet Obama to be a thing of the past.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

AIG CEO: Give Them Half

I use to know a little kid who realized bargaining from a position of power had its advantages. She would start by asking for four scoops of ice cream--a totally unacceptable proposition--while knowing she would settle for just two. It worked. Is that what the CEO of AIG is trying to pull with Congress?

Edward Liddy testified before Congress and said he has encouraged those who received over $100,000 bonuses to return half of the windfall to the company. Robert Scheer sheds more light on the executive who also led AIG on a $440,000 company excursion last year.

AIG believes American are up in arms because they believe the failed executives received too much money, but deserved a little something for running the company and the U.S. Treasury into the ground. Just when you thought the AIG debacle could get worse, the captains of American finance, with their heads in piles of $100 bills find a new low.

The New York Times article insinuates Liddy's offer is being looked at favorably by Congress, wait until tomorrow when their constituents flood their phone systems and email servers with a constant litany of anger for this new middle way.

Americans do not trust Congress as far as they can collectively throw them to handle each of these bailouts. Recouping half of something when none was deserved is not acceptable. Over 400 shameful employees of AIG split $165 million in bonuses after accepted nearly $150 billion in taxpayer supported bailout money. We see at it as it is: the rich getting richer by making us poorer. This time, though, we're wise to them.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Americans Are Getting Angrier; Will They Take It out On Obama?

Here's something a bit worrisome: It is now apparent President Obama failed the first test of his decision-making abilities when he appointed Timothy Geithner to the Treasury. Worse, it was the one cabinet position that needed to sufficiently filled for the times we live. Shockingly, the administration has backed dubious bank-friendly policies and incoherent explanations from Geithner about what he intends to do with the banks. Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz has a fine article in The Nation this week that illustrates the Treasury Department's apprehension to make the tough decisions.

Robert Reich says get rid of him before more damage is done, although he recommends Paul Volcker, whose monetary policies were the reason for the 1981-82 recession--the original worst recession since the Great Depression?

It is possible that we will look back at the administration's feeble attempts to dissuade AIG not to pay up to $165 million in bonuses to the very people who torched the company and the economy as the beginning of populist anger that can be easily co-opted by the Republican party. Most likely, the immense pressure the White House and Congress can apply will force AIG to find some sort of escape clause allowing them to recoup the bonuses, but the damage has been done. While the former president signed off executive orders with impunity, even possibly trashing the Constitution in the process, this president cannot stop an insolvent insurance company masquerading as a hedge fund from doing the wrong thing. This is not the sort of change in Washington Obama vowed to bring.

Although Obama currently garners the support of about two-thirds of opinion polls, it's hard not to see the likelihood of Congressional losses in 2010 and here the seed may have been sown. History has shown the havoc that can be caused with a restless, underemployed electorate. Mix in, an incredibly weak minority party waiting for the perfect campaign theme and you have the recipe for a reawakened Republican party.

By the fall, the poor economy can fairly be viewed as "owned" by Obama's policies and populist anger is something that can easily be molded to your own means. All Republicans would have to do in mid-term elections is point to the perception no one in administration seems to know how to fix the problem, so they just throw "taxpayer" money at it. The Republicans don't even have to be particularly dirty to make the point, either.

Rep. Mitch McConnell makes a cogent point in the Times, "The government has been heavily involved in A.I.G. for some months now. It’s shocking that they would — the administration would come to us now and act surprised about these contracts. Why didn’t they ask the question two weeks ago, before they gave them $30 billion?” An editorial in today's Wall Street Journal also makes this point and rightly points the finger at politicians, too.

If the public continues to see the economy grow worse in tandem with these easily recognizable abuses by the financial sector, it is likely conservatives will make positive gains next year while the image of Obama as the "chosen one" is greatly diminished.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Populist Anger Threatens To Derail Obama

Jon Stewart is a comedian, not a media critic, but he voiced America's frustration with the financial system last week when he sparred with CNBC's Jim Cramer. Robert Reich is an economist who better summed up the essence of Stewart's populist rant in a word: "helpless."

Read more of this article at The Commonwealth Club of California blog at

Friday, March 13, 2009

Newsom Is Nuts; You Can't Be Honest About Your Positions And Win

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom might be too young, too inexperienced and too forthright to be the governor of California, but he was, at times, inspiring this week at the Commonwealth Club when speaking about the issue most closely linked to him nationally, same-sex marriage.

“The idea that someone wants to share that moment and that experience of something that has been denied them their entire life and they want you to share that, and for [me] to say no because I'm worried about my politics is everything I'm not about. If I was worried about politics I would have never done this, ever. Do you think it's helped in the context of everything else? These guys are running around -- these politicians -- on this.

"I know it's not good politics," he continued. "I understand it better than any human being alive. Every single day people are expressing their point of view about how outraged they are and every consultant saying, 'Well, just tone it down.' I can't tone [down] something as fundamental as someone else's rights. If a politician can put aside someone else's rights so they can get ahead politically ... you've got a million politicians who wish to do that. I'm never going to be that person. I never will.”

When listening to Newsom speak so candidly about controversial issues like same-sex marriage and the death penalty, you can't help but think either he is psychotic or possibly a political visionary who ultimately will benefit greatly in the future when some of the vehement opinions of the right water down towards acceptance. Nevertheless, I have never heard a politician for higher office ever speak like Newsom did last Wednesday.

To read my article on Mayor Gavin Newsom's appearance Wednesday night at the Commonwealth Club of California's blog. Click here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sonny Corinthos Runs For Governor

SEPARATED A BIRTH? Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has an uncanny resemblance to General Hospital's resident gangster Sonny Corinthos. The mayor's gubernatorial aspirations took a setback last week when only 128,000 Angelenos out of 1.2 million registered voters sent him back to the mayor's office. Here's hoping Villaraigosa runs L.A. a little different than Port Charles.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Rush Falls All Over Himself; Waits For Gingrich To Kiss His Ring

Rush Limbaugh has reached levels of delusion unknown to mankind. After Newt Gingrich took a shot at the GOPfather's legitimacy yesterday on Meet the Press, Limbaugh sounded off on the former Speaker of the House, saying:
Here's my attitude on this. I am at the top of the mountain of what I do. Everybody underneath it wants what I've got. That's great. That's human nature. As such, they'll do what they can to take me down or to criticize me or what have you. It is beneath my dignity to be critical of those beneath me. It's just a waste of time. All this is such human nature. I know that Newt would give his whatever to have what I've got. So would any of these other critics of mine.
Is Limbaugh beginning to live up to the observation made by David Letterman that he looked like an Eastern European thug? (See the photo above) Is Limbaugh on drugs again? If not, is he taking his meds and who told him to wear a black silk shirt unbuttoned wide? I haven't seen so much chest hair exposed since the Portuguese dance last Fall.

So, another Republican is challenging Limbaugh. Who cares? In attacking a venerable old lion of the party, Limbaugh can assured that The Newt will not return next week with an exhaustive mea culpa like other Republican weaklings have done recently. What the statements do reveal is that Limbaugh is honest about his motives. He is an entertainer with a huge daily radio audience. He is not the leader of the party, nor does he want it. What "Ditto heads" should realize, though, is that his relentless quest for ratings is hurting the party he professes to adore. Makes you wonder if a conservative can really trust him. Of course, you shouldn't trust a liberal like me with the intent to further divide the Republican party either.

It's Time To Impound GM

If you view a laid-off employee as the top of their very own food chain, as the Los Angeles Times posits today, then their activities, or lack thereof, would ripple down to the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker.

In a story today, the Times used the example of a Southern California man whose software deal fell through, which then forced him to lay off his employees. In other sections of the article lay-offs meant consumers put off haircuts and skimped here and there to stretch their budgets.

Of course, there's an unquestioned rationale to this phenomenon, but isn't this the case General Motors and the United Auto Workers are trying to pass as reason for the government to keep it afloat? The GM question is indicative of many of the financial dilemmas facing the Obama administration. How can a company and, by extension, an industry so steeped in the American culture like the automotive business be allowed to flounder? Yet, when does continually propping up GM as a practical long-term policy become a lost cause?

CBS News today wondered what bankruptcy would likely mean to workers. The decision would likely trickle down to the closing of part makers and the shuddering of car dealerships around the country. That means, thousands of factory workers, mechanics and car salesmen added to the unemployment rolls. On the other hand is it wise to give another $15 billion or so to GM just to keep the lights on when it is likely another $20-$30 billion may be needed a few months from now.

President Obama ran on a platform preparing Americans to tighten their belts and begin making the tough decisions. He has yet to make those decisions. Although, maybe we should give him some time since according to a well-researched article in the New York Review of Books that chronicles his first month in office, Obama has spent an inordinate amount of time simply turning back many of President Bush's horrendous policies. Yet, on the economy, the Treasury Department has done little to force the banks and the entire financial system to concede one point similar to the circumstances around GM.

Instead of holding these auto-related industries in place while they lie precariously on the edge to oblivion, how about pulling the plug on them while there is time for the government to restructure the work force in an orderly manner. The New York Times ran a chilling front page article last Friday that reinforced this notion that the workforce is in many cases, obsolete. A chief economist at Wachovia Bank said, "These jobs aren’t coming back.” Isn't that what the foreman in the Bruce Springsteen song "My Hometown" said?

"Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain't coming back to your hometown," sang The Boss. Ironically, those lyrics were written during the equally disastrous 1981-82 recession.

There would be repercussion other than in employment. Sure, innovation would suffer. Plans for the vaunted Chevy Volt would gather dust, but who would be able to afford a $35,000 green car without a job or reliable financing available. We can take the hit now and hope for the recovery to not just get us back on our collective feet, but in far better position to dominate the marketplace for the next 30 years.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said last week, the voters showed that the last 30 years of conservatism was a failure, yet the decisions this president is making on behalf of liberalism will define the next 30 years either positively or negatively for another generation of American political thought. Now is not the time for short-term thinking.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Friedman Says The Unmentionable

It seems like people don't want to face the truth. Some people have been calling this era of economic downturn as not a Great Depression in the making, but, instead the "Great Repression".

It has been said here many times the presence of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Larry Summers in tandem with the hovering spirit of Robert Rubin would portend for more of the same faulty economic decisions that got us into this fiscal turmoil. Nobody wants to say the banks are insolvent even as Citigroup flirted with sub-one dollar stock prices yesterday. And nobody would dare say the early-goings of the nascent Obama administration might flail in response to this crisis until Thomas Friedman wrote it yesterday in The New York Times and others quickly sought to skewer him. For instance, Vanity Fair's political blog.

"But do you know what I fear? I fear that his whole first term could be eaten by Citigroup, A.I.G., Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and the whole housing/subprime credit bubble we inflated these past 20 years," said Friedman before illustrating how big this banking beast really is and how nobody has a clue how to solve it.
I hope my fears are exaggerated. But ask yourself this: Why couldn’t former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson solve this problem? And why does it seem as though his successor, Tim Geithner, won’t even look us in the eye and spell out his strategy? Is it because they don’t get it? No. It is because they know — like Roy Scheider in the movie “Jaws,” when he first saw the great white shark — that “we’re gonna need a bigger boat,” and they’re too afraid to tell us just how big.
Instead, the administration seems to be relying on the American people to become inured to the price tags zooming by them. $700 billion there. $350 billion there. $14 billion there and $2 billion in aid to some far-flung despotic third-world country. After time, what's a few billion here or there. Most of us cannot grasp what a billion looks like anyway. Republicans like Sen. John McCain, on the other hand, are appalled at a mere $1.7 million earmarked to study the foul smell of pigs.

In the meantime, things are continuing to get worse. Jobless claims again rose to 651,000 spearing any hope that the we have hit the bottom. In reality, we may have reached that point, but the bottom is just becoming wider and will only persist until the administration confronts the banks in earnest.

I heard an interesting fact last week on Real Time with Bill Maher. The Chinese character for crisis is the same for the word opportunity. An interesting notion that Obama's pledge of change is not wholly grasping.

The Homeless Cellphone Kings?

The dust-up over the photo of Michelle Obama being photographed by a "homeless" man's cellphone reminds me of President Reagan falsely highlighting the notion of the "welfare queen".

Conservative bloggers have been merciless in poking fun at the fact that a person at a soup kitchen has a cellphone. To that, I say, is it 1995? Who doesn't have a cellphone and do any of those critics know how much a phone costs these days. Back in the early 90s, George H.W. Bush famously did not know the price of a gallon of milk. Have conservatives gone to the T-Mobile kiosk at their local mall lately? For all we know, the phone in question may be linked a billing plan suited for low-income people or more likely a pay-as-you-go type deal.

What is funny are the cracks about a homeless shelter serving mushroom risotto (in the above photo you can see the day's menu posted). Salon's Alex Koppelman didn't grasp its humor, though, sounding much like one of those liberals oblivious to jokes centered to closely to politics he wrote, "(For the record, it was actually mushroom risotto. And her nasty 'weird crap' remark? It's rice cooked in chicken stock with some vegetables, something most cultures are quite familiar with, no matter what you choose to call it. Come on.)" I love risotto. Maybe being homeless wouldn't be so bad, after all.

All I have to add to this story is that I have encountered an instance of homelessness that Bill O'Reilly would love. In November of last year, I wrote an article about a homeless woman in San Francisco named Rhonda who sat on the same spot near Market Street seemingly without notice of passing businessmen and tourists. Read the article here.

It would seem to conservative eyes that Rhonda is the richest of the poorest. On many occasions, I've seen Rhonda sitting in the nearby Starbucks sipping a venti coffee. Ah, those latte liberals, O'Reilly might scream, but how much is a regular cup of coffee at Starbucks? Two bucks. Don't tell O'Reilly about this, but if you do, the offending Starbucks is near the corner of 4th and Market and the barista is the fastest I've ever seen.