Thursday, December 17, 2009

Al Franken shuts up Joe Lieberman on Heath Care

Today's Al Franken / Joe Lieberman exchange has everyone in politics, especially liberals, buzzing. Minnesota's newly-minted Senator Al Franken, has been flexing his political muscles of late regarding the Health Care Bill.

Senator Al Franken

On Monday, he had a testy exchange with South Dakota Senator John Thune after Franken introduced a motion to change a tax in the bill from an excise tax to a surtax and such that it only applied to those who were truly wealthy, or "making millions" as he put it.

Franken said he missed Thune's discussion on the Heath Care Bill, but asked Thune if he talked about any of the benefits that would kick in immediately upon passage. Thune said that he had not. Upon hearing this, Franken chastised Thune for only presenting some facts and not the whole set of facts: "Benefits do kick in on day one," he said. "We're not entitled to our own facts."

The chart Senator Thune presented was basically a mis-truth: a presentation of part of the Health Care Bill. It did not show when tax benefits "kicked in", and that is upon the day of passage of the bill.

Here's the video:

Al Franken's a very smart man. He's growing impatient with the Republican attempts to misrepresent what the Health Care Bill is, and so Franken's exacting his own brand of justice: legal punishment of the political enemy.

Today, the ememy was Senator Joe Lieberman. It happened to be Senator Franken's turn to preside over the Senate when Lieberman was speaking. But Liberman had so upset Democrats and Liberals with his heavy-handed blocking of any version of the Health Care Bill with a "Public Option" earlier in the week, that he made himself ripe for a political smack-down.

He got one.

Lieberman had ran out of his 10 minutes of speaking time and asked Franken for an extension of time. "In my capacity as the Senator from Minnesota, I object", Franken calmly responded. Lieberman gave a small chuckle and said "Ok".

But while Lieberman was claim and almost jovial, Arizona Senator John McCain was one thing: pissed-off. He came to the podium and first asked for 10 minutes speaking time each for the "Senator from Rhode Island" and the "Senator from Michigan the distinguished chair of the Armed Services Committee", and finally himself to speak on the bill - 30 minutes total.

McCain was asking for so much time for others to make a point.

"I've been in this Senate 20-something years and it's the first time I've seen a member denied an extra minute or two to, uh, finish his remarks. I don't know what's happening here, but I think it's wrong." Michigan Senator Carl Levin then stood to explain that the same action was taken earlier in the day to move the bill process along. But McCain was so upset, he interrupted Levin and asked against for his speaking time request to be granted.

Franken did so "without objection."

According to Joel Achenbach at the Washington Post, Lieberman later said "No hard feelings" and seemed to take the whole matter in stride. But it was a tentpole moment signaling rising Democratic anger at Lieberman. Firedoglake called it "a glorious moment".  Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin proves she wasn't watching the whole exchange, applying the term "snit fit" to Franken, when it really fits John McCain.   I'm not surprised.

Senator Franken gave a great example of how to combine Senate rules and television to punish your political opponent.  Brilliant! 

T-Mobile outage in USA and Puerto Rico, but not SF Bay Area

Various online news sources report a T-Mobile service outage. According to, the problem is centered in the Southeastern United States and Puerto Rico. For those of you direction-challenged, that's everywhere between Georgia and Florida in the United States.

The reason for the problem is not stated on the T-Mobile website public forum, but a corporate moderator named "Dan" wrote this:

Some T-Mobile customers in the Southeastern United States and Puerto Rico may be experiencing intermittent service degradation for voice and data services. T-Mobile engineers and rapid response teams are working urgently to restore full service in impacted areas as quickly as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience this may be causing our customers.

Moderator, T-Mobile Forums

Prior to Dan's post, one T-Mobile user reported:

So just about 20 minutes ago I was unable to send text messages or place calls so I restarted my phone. When I restarted my phone it automatically put me on the AT&T network. I called T-Mobile and it looks like we're about to go through another outage. They have informed me it's spreading and could be similar to the one we experienced just a month ago... great.
FloridaResident - phoned home


A few weeks back, t-mobile lost service for "5%" of its customers. Please tell me it's not happening again. Our phones are down. I was able to get out via bb messenger via wi-fi with someone else who also can not call out. I think it's about time this calls for getting out of these LOUSY contracts!
clark799 - searching for signal

Yikes. The same thing happened a month ago. Regardless, a non-working cell phone system can catch you at a time when you need it the most. Here's one example from the T-Mobile forum:

Of all days for you to have an outage it had to be the day where my sister goes into the hospital and living a full state away, I have no way of contacting my mom to know what is going on.

TYVM T-Mobile.... you can count me as a customer for a few more hours before I head to the Verizon Wireless store next to my apartment.
Whatss - pocket dials

What does TYVM means?

Well, I'm a T-Mobile user - chased to their more sane service billing plan by AT&T's fraudulent iPhone automatic billing system. I switched to a Blackberry from an iPhone just because of AT&T and I'm happy to report I've not experienced an outage with T-Mobile in the San Francisco Bay Area as of this writing.

I just wish Apple would allow T-Mobile to feature the iPhone.

NFL Chris Henry update: NFL Commissioner Goodell's statement

Roger Goodell 

I just received an email from the NFL which contains this statement by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on the passing of Cincinnati Bengals Wide Receiver Chris Henry:

"We are greatly saddened by today's tragic news about the loss of Chris Henry. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Chris's family, including his Bengals family. We have been in contact with the Bengals to offer our support through this difficult time."

NFL Chris Henry update - Bengals talk about Henry

A Chris Henry update.

The Cincinnati Bengals just held a press conference on the death of Wide Receiver Chris Henry. According to WTLT Cincinnati, Bengals Owner Mike Brown said that the receiver was well-liked by most in the organization:

"We knew him in a different way than his public persona... We liked him, he had worked through troubles in his life and had finally, seemingly reached a point in his life where he was blossoming. And then this tragedy cut him down."

Both Brown and Head Coach Marvin Lewis said that many spent a lot of time working to help Chris Henry. "I think everybody here, a lot of people here have spent a lot of time helping Chris develop as a person," said Lewis.

Bengals Quarterback Carson Palmer said this: "It's a very sad day for our team, for our organization, for Bengals fan. Chris was a guy who I believe, and our team believes, was heavily misunderstood."

Wide Receiver Chad Ochocinco echoed the thoughts I expressed in my last post when he said "He's been doing everything right. He's been doing everything right. My grandma always says you never really question the man upstairs on decisions because he never makes mistakes. I don't see how Chris was pulled to go already, especially when you're on the right path."


Chris Henry died this morning - a sad day

Cincinnati Bengals Wide Receiver Chris Henry died this morning at 6:36 AM EST after sustaining injuries suffered after he fell from a moving pickup truck driven by his fiancee fiancee Loleini Tonga yesterday. Before I continue, Henry's fall was reportedly not her fault even though they had been arguing; she was questioned and released by police without being taken into custody Wednesday.

Chris Henry

My sympathies are with the family of Chris Henry and of his fiancee Loleini Tonga, and the Bengals and the NFL. I am really sad about this to the point of tears because Chris Henry was really getting his life of track and off to a great future.

Much has been written about his less-than-stellar off-the-field past, much of it the product of a misguided young man. But the Bengals really hung in there as did many in the NFL including former Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Michael Irvin, who must be totally devastated by this development. Irvin was personally involved in helping Henry.

We love people who overcome personal demons and rise to the level of success they so richly deserve. Chris Henry was one of those people. What bothers me is that my prayer that Henry make it wasn't answered, which can only mean God has a better place for him. I'll just have to accept that.

Folks, when you've attended or have been informed of, seven funerals and memorials of friends and relatives in two years, it impacts you. That's what I've been through - four this year alone and two within one week. The latest was Jerry Foster, a friend and a long-time patron of The Alley in Oakland where I go and sing (or try to), who died in his home last week; his memorial was Sunday. I got the call about Jerry as I was boring the plane from Atlanta to Chicago.

Life is not promised to us and we meet or at least see so many people, good people, along this journey, that it's hard to see them go. I will miss Chris Henry, both for his football skill and for his promising future. I will miss Jerry Foster singing at The Alley, using his PDA to read the lyrics of a song he picked out. I'll miss kidding him about his beloved Minnesota Vikings, and talking about their quarterback, Brett Farve.

A sad day of a terrible week.

Tiger Woods divorce? Woods not divorcing before Christmas

Tiger Woods divorce? Tiger Woods partying with Tony Romo of The Dallas Cowboys? Holly Sampson talking about Tiger Woods? The idea that a Tiger Woods divorce from Elin Nordegren, or more accurately Elin Nordegren divorcing Tiger Woods, is all over the news and revealing two things: how insensitive the media is to Christmas, and how most of the blogs and articles are presenting the past as if it was the present.

 Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren still together

There's no one absolute, 100 percent certain word from either Tiger Woods or Elin Nordegren that they're getting a divorce. Nothing. There's no total proof that Elin Nordegren has moved out of the Tiger Woods home, even with reports to the contrary from US Weekly.

A little common sense can go a long way. With Christmas just over a week away, why would either Tiger or Elin just suddenly rip their kids away from a Christmas together, if only just to keep things as normal as possible for them?


US Weekly blurts that Elin Nordegren didn't go to the "annual holiday party at the Isleworth Country Club". Uh, why would she? No one would go to any event if they were under the media spotlight that both Tiger and Elin are faced with. It's not only stressful, but risky. The moment Elin shows up and happens to give a friendly hug to some man or woman, the tabloids would go so far as to assume she was dating that person. I'm serious.

It's not too much to ask for an application of a little common sense here. Yes, Tiger Woods acted badly, and the New York Post has a breakdown of his method of operation with his mistresses, courtesy of Jaimee Grubbs:

"Meet me at the Island Hotel," he texted Grubbs, a cocktail waitress, on Oct. 15. "We're in room 905 in Newport Beach under Mr. & Mrs. Bell."

The NY Post reports that "Byron Bell is a longtime pal of Woods."

But the rest of the NY Post account is all about the past and not the present or the future. Porn star Holly Sampson's words were about actions that took place before he was married. has a post about Tiger Woods at Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo's luxury box in the new Cowboys Stadium for the U2 Concert in October. But the photos of Woods and the blonde woman he's standing next to are so blurry one can't make out who she is. To TMZ's credit, that fact is noted.

But the TMZ post is about a past event.

The truth is folks, no one knows a thing except the two of them, Tiger and Elin. But a little nod to the season would give a clue that it's highly unlikely Elin Nordegren would break up the family before Christmas. And I'll bet Tiger Woods is trying to make sure he's got his family together for the holidays. He's asked for another chance so let's see how this plays out before we're ready to declare them separated.

Oh, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!