Saturday, January 20, 2007

Perino's Non-Denial Denial

Gee, what a shame that Nancy Pelosi actually stood up to Dubya and his Iraq war, stating that he was rushing more troops to Iraq because, in that event, Congress would not cut off funding.

And White House spokesperson Dana Perino called Pelosi's remarks "poisonous" and said Pelosi shouldn't question Dubya's motivations.

The problem is that Perino didn't say Pelosi's remarks were untrue, did she?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday Videos

The Subdudes ("Need Somebody" - it takes guts to play an accordion in a rock/R&B band)...

...Robert Palmer would have been 58 today ("Addicted To Love" - soon after this song came out, SNL did a parody of this with the late, great Phil Hartman as Palmer and guest host Geena Davis as one of the dancers, and it was pretty funny)...

...Janis Joplin would have been 64 (man - here's "Down On Me," including mention of the other members of her band, Big Brother and The Holding Company)...

...and speaking of the '60s, we lost Denny Doherty of the Mamas and Papas today ("California Dreamin'" with Doherty on vocals - here's some more "hippies" to be tear-gassed by J.D. Mullane; I'm still pissed off about that stupid remark of his).

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (1/19/07)

As reported in last Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer, here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress were recorded on major roll-call votes last week.

I don’t have a lot to say about what went on, particularly in the House, aside from the fact that it’s all good.


Minimum wage. The House passed, 315-116, and sent to the Senate a bill to raise the minimum wage for the first time since September 1997. The bill (HR 2) would increase the base wage in steps from its present level of $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour over 26 months.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), H. James Saxton (R., N.J.), Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.) and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Voting no: Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.).
Pitts is truly pathetic on so many levels…

Medicare drug prices. The House passed, 255-170, and sent to the Senate a bill (HR 4) requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to use federal purchasing power to negotiate lower drug prices for senior citizens enrolled in the Medicare prescription-drug plan.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Andrews, Brady, Castle, Fattah, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Schwartz, Sestak and Smith.

Voting no: Dent, Gerlach, Pitts and Saxton.

Stem cells. The House passed, 253-174, and sent to the Senate a bill to extend federal financing of embryonic stem-cell research far beyond the narrow limits set by President Bush in August 2001.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Andrews, Brady, Castle, Dent, Fattah, Gerlach, Holden, Murphy, Schwartz and Sestak.

Voting no: LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton and Smith.
You knew Smith would vote no, and at least Gerlach supported some bills but not others.

9/11 Commission. The House voted, 299-128, to put recommendations of the 9/11 Commission into effect. The bill (HR 1), now before the Senate, in part tightens airline explosives checks and requires overseas scanning of all sea cargo shipped to the U.S.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Andrews, Brady, Castle, Dent, Fattah, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Schwartz, Sestak and Smith.

Voting no: Pitts and Saxton.

Intelligence oversight. The House adopted, 239-188, a resolution (H Res 235) to add an intelligence unit to its Appropriations Committee, in response to a 9/11 Commission finding of "dysfunctional" congressional intelligence oversight.

A yes vote backed the resolution.

Voting yes: Andrews, Brady, Fattah, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Schwartz, Sestak and Smith.

Voting no: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, Pitts and Saxton.
Do you realize that Joe Pitts is the only representative (“representative” of whom, I wonder?) who voted against every single one of these pieces of legislation? This ranks right up there with that one horrendous week of his last June.


Lawmakers' families. The Senate killed, 54-41, an amendment to a pending ethics bill (S 1) that would have prohibited immediate family members from being employed for pay on a federal lawmaker's political action committee or campaign committee.

A yes vote was to kill the amendment.

Voting yes: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.), Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey Jr. (D., Pa.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.) and Robert Menendez (D., N.J.).

Voting no: Arlen Specter (R., Pa.).
Gee, I wonder why Arlen opposed this one? Could it be because his son Shanin, a trial lawyer (and a Repug? The mind boggles…) has played a major role in some of his past campaigns and could have political aspirations of his own (I have other issues with Specter, and I don’t consider this a big deal anyway).

Earmark disclosure. Voting 51-46, senators kept alive an amendment to S 1 (above) requiring full public disclosure of all earmarks used by members of Congress to direct funds or tax breaks to pet projects and political allies.

A yes vote was to kill the amendment.

Voting yes: Biden, Carper, Casey, Lautenberg and Menendez.

Voting no: Specter
I can’t imagine why Arlen would have a problem with this one either (the $50 million in question was earmarked).

This week, the House debated cutting student-loan interest rates (actually doing so I believe, but we'll find out next week), while the Senate continued to debate ethics reform. Both chambers were scheduled to vote on nonbinding challenges to President Bush's Iraq escalation "strategy."

Update 1/22/07: Commenter 10leggedshadow pointed out something important that I’ll clarify by providing this link (I’d answer with a comment, but the new, improved, oh-so-wonderful Blogger still does a stinky job with embedded links in comments - the Thomas site is flaky; I hope the link works).

The link takes you to information on the bill, including the amendment (6) about family members that Specter voted against sponsored by Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana. To be fair, though, I should point out that Specter voted for S. 1 anyway (the only Nos were Orrin Hatch and Tom Coburn – figures).

Oh, and by the way, please note that Hatch and Coburn are both Repugs, and the only Dem who didn't vote on this was Tim Johnson for a reason we all already know about.

The Audacity Of Dopes

OK, let’s see now…

- Barack Obama is smeared because his ears are too big…

- Barack Obama is smeared because his middle name is Hussein (I used to respect Jake Tapper – he wrote a hell of a book about the 2000 election – but someone obviously got to him also)…

- Barack Obama is ridiculed over beach pictures (not a shining moment for Arianna either)…

- Barack Obama is ridiculed over his rating from Planned Parenthood by right-wing butt boy Mike Allen (and since I live in Bucks County, Pa., where Planned Parenthood is viciously attacked in the Courier Times at every conceivable opportunity, I can testify that attacking that fine organization goes over very well with the hammerheads)…

- Barack Obama is ridiculed by Mann Coulter (who, of course, uses this as an excuse to ridicule the Democratic Party, and if you find yourself wondering if he ever has any evidence when making a charge, then you haven’t been paying attention)…

- Barack Obama’s voting record is misrepresented (how Dick Morris can look at himself in the mirror as well as these other cretins is something I’ll never understand)…

- Barack Obama is slurred by Mr. Anal Cyst himself Flush Limbore in a way that resurrects stereotypical images of black men in general (and I won’t dignify his sick remarks by saying anything other than that)…

And now, Barack Obama is accused of being a Muslim (since this is 2006 and not the 1950s, calling him a communist is no longer in vogue…as ThinkProgress notes, Obama spent time in a Muslim school and his father was a non-practicing Muslim, but Obama himself is a Christian).

And even though I support John Edwards, All of this means one thing to me; the freepers are “scared (w)itless” over Obama, meaning he must have a hell of a shot of actually winning the election next year.

Update 1/22: Drip, drip, drip...

Good (But Mostly Bad) Journamalism

(Yes, I stole that word coined by Atrios – sue me.)

This story of the Chinese launching a satellite-destroying missile (a truly scary but unsurprising development, as noted here) was the front-page story of the New York Times today (and I say unsurprising because Bushco’s antagonizing of North Korea and treaty abrogation gave China the pretext to do something like this).

Update 1/23/07: I thought this was a good column about that subject, by the way.

Meanwhile, The Philadelphia Inquirer put it on the last page of its front section behind stories of bid rigging at a Camden, NJ high school, an article titled “Philadelphia Republicans: An Endangered Species?” (given front-page treatment, of course), a report on wired Canadian coins (?), and a hit piece on John Kerry written by Jonah Goldberg.

However, the newspaper actually did something right yesterday and published this Op-Ed piece:

Road to industrial has-been

The U.S. is losing ground to foreign-made goods - even in high-value tech sectors.

By Alan Tonelson and Peter Kim

It's been all over the news: Imports have helped decimate the U.S.-owned automotive industry. What hasn't been as widely reported is that dozens of other U.S.-based manufacturing industries are suffering similar losses. As revealed in a new study by our organization, the United States remains a military superpower, but it is steadily becoming an industrial has-been.

The council's survey of import levels in domestic manufacturing shows that 111 of 114 key U.S.-based industries lost domestic market share to foreign-produced goods between 1997 and 2005. From 2004 to 2005 alone, import penetration rose for 83 of these sectors and fell for just 31.

These industries, moreover, are exclusively the kinds of high-value, capital-intensive sectors - such as aircraft engines and wireless communications gear - that make up the backbone of any world-class national manufacturing base. Lower-value, labor-intensive sectors that were long ago overwhelmed by foreign competition - such as apparel, toys and low-end consumer electronics - were left out of the study.

In many cases, imports have made stunningly rapid inroads into critical U.S. manufacturing markets. Between 1997 and 2005, 26 of the 114 industries saw their home market share shrink by 50 percent or more, including pharmaceuticals, computers, telecommunications hardware, navigation and guidance equipment, broadcasting and wireless communications equipment, and motor vehicle power train and transmission equipment.

Eight more sectors experienced market-share losses of nearly 50 percent to imports, notably tires, switchgear and switchboard apparatus, and commercial and service industry machinery.

As a result, by 2005, imports represented at least 50 to 59 percent of sales in the United States of 24 of the 114 industries studied, including telecommunications hardware, heavy-duty trucks and chassis, and broadcast and wireless communications gear.

Imports have captured between 60 and 69 percent of the U.S. market in eight more industries, including autos, environmental controls, and aircraft engines and engine parts. And in six sectors - including machine tools - imports control 70 percent or more of the American market. If current trends continue, imports soon will account for the majority of U.S. domestic sales in sectors such as electricity measuring and test equipment, X-ray equipment, turbines and turbine generator sets, laboratory instruments, and construction machinery.

Rising import penetration means that U.S.-based producers are flunking the most important test of competitiveness: winning and keeping customers. Just as revealing, surging imports are already replacing and depressing U.S. production throughout domestic manufacturing. Between 1997 and 2005, output actually fell in nearly two-thirds of the 53 industries in which import penetration is highest or grew fastest, stagnating in many of the rest.

These losses at home are especially worrisome because the American market is the arena in which U.S.-based manufacturers should do best. After all, they should be most familiar with local tastes, and they face no trade barriers at home. If domestic industry can't even defend its home turf, how can it hope to compete abroad?

American manufacturing's woes extend even to the high-tech sector, supposedly the nation's best hope for prosperity and an area of natural advantage for the United States. Yet some of the biggest recent losers include such technology pillars as semiconductor production equipment, electricity measuring and test equipment (critical for all high-tech manufacturing), telecommunications hardware, navigation and guidance devices, and pharmaceuticals.

Two major failures of U.S. international trade policy bear much of the blame. First, Washington has done a terrible job of combating the numerous predatory trade policies, ranging from currency manipulation to illegal subsidies, pursued by other major trading powers to gain industrial supremacy. Second, too many U.S. trade agreements since the North American Free Trade Agreement have encouraged American-owned multinational companies to supply U.S. markets by moving abroad - thus helping build powerful manufacturing bases in foreign countries.

The manufacturing sectors suffering these mounting losses at home have traditionally led the U.S. economy in productivity and innovation, and on average have generated America's best-paying jobs. They also undergird the nation's security. But if imports' growing domination of American industrial markets is not reversed soon, scores of these critical industries could get pushed past the point of no return.
As the Inquirer noted, Alan Tonelson ( is a research fellow at the U.S. Business & Industry Council Educational Foundation, a contributor to the Web site and the author of "The Race to the Bottom." Peter Kim ( is a research associate at the council.

Imperial Presidential Nonsense

I’ve noticed two good New York Times’ editorials and a column in yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer (believe it or not) that I just want to post here without much comment, since they speak for themselves pretty well (all are “behind the wall,” and I think they’re too important not to read).

Here are the two editorials in the Times (first follows):

Of the many ways that President Bush has trampled civil liberties and the balance of powers since the 9/11 attacks, one of the most egregious was his decision to order wiretaps of Americans’ international calls and e-mail without court approval. It was good news, then, when the administration announced (on 1/17) that it would now seek a warrant from the proper court for that sort of eavesdropping.

The president’s decision hardly ends this constitutional crisis. Among other things, the public needs to know why Mr. Bush broke the law for more than five years and what should be done to ensure there will be no more abuses of the wiretap statute.

But we’re pleased that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales informed leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee that Mr. Bush had decided to end the warrantless program. He said the administration had worked out a way to speed the process of getting a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to intercept communications to and from the United States “where there is probable cause to believe that one of the communicants is a member or agent of al Qaeda or an associated terrorist organization.”

He said the court – created by the 1978 law on domestic wiretapping – issued an order on Jan. 10 governing this new process and that eavesdropping under “the terrorist surveillance program” would be subject to the court’s approval. There are still some big unanswered questions. For one thing, because the new warrant process is secret, we don’t know whether the court has issued a blanket approval for wiretapping, which would undermine the intent of the law, or whether the administration agreed to seek individual warrants.

It was also troubling that Mr. Gonzales repeated his insistence that the warrantless spying was legal. That suggests that the administration –
which has never explained why it could not have sought warrants from the start and turned down offers to amend the law – will continue to resist legislative oversight of the wiretapping. It’s also likely to argue that the lawsuits challenging the eavesdropping should be dismissed. The damage has already been done by the president’s decision to ignore the law, and the lawsuits should proceed.

Mr. Gonzales’ announcement clearly was politically timed; he (appeared yesterday) before the Judiciary Committee, now controlled by Democrats who have vowed to investigate the eavesdropping.

We hope they will do that. Congress has a legitimate interest in the creation of this program, which has always seemed motivated more by the president’s relentless campaign to expand his powers than by a real need to speed intelligence gathering.

We strongly agree with John Rockefeller IV, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, that “the administration’s go-it-alone approach, effectively excluding Congress and the courts and operating outside the law, was unnecessary” and that the White House should turn over documents on the creation of the wiretapping program. If the 1978 law needs to be updated, that should happen in public, not in a secret court.”

This administration long ago forfeited the public trust on these issues.
Here’s the second…

In its secretive purge of key United States attorneys, the Bush Administration is needlessly giving comfort to any number of individuals now under federal investigation. Most prominently, there is Representative Jerry Lewis, the California Republican whose dealings as appropriations chairman have been under scrutiny in the continuing investigation of lawmakers delivering quid pro quo favors for contractors and lobbyists.

U.S. Attorney Carol Lam of San Diego is one of a number of prosecutors (there’s no official tally) being forced from office without the courtesy of an explanation. A career professional, Ms. Lam ran a first-rate investigation of Randy Cunningham, the former Republican congressman from California, who admitted taking more than $2.4 million in bribes.

Ms. Lam then turned her attention to Mr. Lewis as she plumbed Congress’ weakness for “earmarks” – legislation that lawmakers customize on behalf of deep-pocketed campaign contributors. The focus moved to Mr. Lewis – who has denied any wrongdoing – after the disclosure that one of his staff aides became a lobbyist and arranged windfall contracts worth hundreds of millions.

Stymied by the previous Republican Congress, Ms. Lam was negotiating with the new Democratic leadership to obtain extensive earmark documentation for her investigation when the administration forced her resignation.

Legal professionals are defending Ms. Lam, with the F.B.I. chief in San Diego asking: “What do you expect her to do? Let corruption exist?” It’s especially alarming that the White House
can use a loophole in the Patriot Act to name a successor who will not have to face questions or confirmation by the Senate. The administration owes the nation a full explanation of a move that reeks of politics.
Definitely (I'll get to the Inquirer column later).

And by the way, mcjoan over at The Daily Kos noted this exchange between Gonzales and Arlen Specter regarding habeas corpus (Arlen trying to recover from that little "loophole" thing) that tells you how little regard Bushco has for laws in general, to say nothing of congressional oversight.

Hot Air On Global Warming

Tom Friedman today in the New York Times (continuing my “stupid pundit parade” from yesterday)…

Neither the White House nor the Democratic Party seems to grasp that the public and business communities are miles ahead of them on (global warming).
How interesting that Friedman chooses not to assign blame to the happily-now-departed 109th Republican Congress, which did nothing to address our oil addiction that contributes to the greenhouse gasses that are slowly suffocating life on this planet.

Well then, I think it’s time for a little history lesson, don’t you?


Senate Democrats offered an alternative yesterday to a Republican plan to allow drilling in an Alaskan wildlife refuge and instead called for more energy conservation and stricter fuel mileage standards for cars and sport utility vehicles.

"Today, we are introducing a comprehensive, balanced energy plan that will strengthen our economy, protect our environment and provide energy security for our nation for decades to come," Senate Leader Tom Daschle told reporters.

Daschle plans to have the Senate debate the legislation when lawmakers return from their holiday recess in January and hopefully vote on the measure by mid-February.
Instead of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as Republicans favor, Democrats sought a different route to boosting domestic production.

Their bill would provide funds to hire more government workers to clear a backlog of applications from energy firms that want to drill on millions of acres of federal lands and offshore waters already open to exploration.

Other provisions in the Senate Democrats' bill would:

* Triple the amount of electricity generated from renewable energy sources, like solar and wind power, by 2020;

* Streamline regulations to relicense hydroelectric dams;

* Allow alternative fuel vehicles to use rush-hour lanes normally reserved for cars carrying several passengers;

* Increase federal funds by $3.4 billion to help low income families pay their energy bills; and

* Study building a new electric rail system for Amtrak between Washington and Boston.

“They made us an offer we couldn’t refuse--the Democratic energy bill we passed last year,” said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota). “We’d much rather go into conference with a Democratic vehicle than what was going to pass at the end of this debate as the Republican bill.”

“In our fondest dreams, we never thought we’d be able to pass a Democratic bill in a Republican Congress,” Daschle added.

But Senate Energy Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico) was confident the gambit would ultimately work in the Republicans’ favor. “The reason I’m happy is because I’ll be rewriting that bill,” said Domenici. “We’ll write a substantially different bill.”

(Colorado’s Ken) Salazar, a Democrat who won his Senate seat in the November 2004 election, spoke to about 75 people at Centennial Hall. He praised the new energy bill for the incentives it establishes for energy conservation and alternative energy sources. He said the incentives are strong enough to begin to slow and then reverse the widening gap between domestic energy production and demand.

However, he said the original Senate version of the bill, ultimately modified by the House of Representatives and the White House, would have done more in the coming decade to decrease the nation's dependence on foreign energy.

"We don't have the right kind of leadership in Washington. That's my point of view," Salazar said. "If we had courage in Washington, and that includes the president, we could have done more."
Call me crazy, but it looks like there’s a pattern here, Tom. The Dems craft legislation doing the right things on energy, and then the legislation gets scuttled by the Repugs.

To be fair to Friedman, he has been beating the drum on this issue for a little while now, and in the past, he has affixed blame where it belongs. But he is wrong to suggest that the Dems are behind on this issue.

At least give Harry Reid and company a year or two to hammer something out (and crafting legislation will be a lot tougher in the Senate with its razor-thin Dem majority than the House) and then start bitching at them if you don’t like the result, OK?

Update: By the way, speaking of energy, click here to find out how you can take the lead on this issue along with the rest of the John Edwards For President Campaign.

Update 1/20 Freidman has been wrong on other high-profile issues also, as we know (smartass).

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Thursday Videos

Evanescense ("Bring Me To Life")...

...and David Ruffin of The Temptations would have been 66 today (here's "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep" back in the group's '60s teeny bopper heyday...watching Ruffin perform at Live Aid with Hall and Oates, totally emaciated and hopelessly addicted to crack cocaine, was the most powerful anti-drug message I can imagine)...

God Rest Ye With A Smile

This is just a remembrance of Art Buchwald, who passed away today, and who will be buried in Vineyard Haven.

And knowing "the island" as I do, no one else will ever sit in that chair running the "Possible Dreams" auction again (though others no doubt will carry on in his place).

Dubya's Latest College Hijinks

Suzanne Fields really earned her money today in the Bucks County Courier Times with this one (I mean, I’m sure she makes way too much for the drivel she writes, but everyone has to pay the bills I guess; this completes my "dumb pundit" trifecta).

Her topic today was Dubya’s likely choice of (pause for dramatic effect...) Southern Methodist University for his presidential library (and I’ll get to the requisite snark later).

Thus was Fields given an excuse to tar SMU over not adhering to a liberal orthodoxy in education (I kid you not)…

In an astonishing admission of ignorance of how the world works, even the world on a cloistered campus, 150 of the university's 600 professors say they're afraid academic freedom and political independence would be compromised by the arrival of new information. One professor frets that the public might confuse the Bush Museum with the university. (Only if they can't read.)

Professors, at least in theory, are dedicated to opening the minds of students, to teach the intellectual discipline and rigor that enables the young scholar to make discriminating judgments. Access to information, even information about how a president made the momentous decisions over his eight years in office, is crucial to education. This, alas, is a naive view on many campuses, where learning is dumbed down to make it fit the professor's own cramped understanding of politics.

A liberal education is concerned with the process of learning, the ability to analyze ideas critically.
Somewhere, David Horowitz is twitching uncontrollably, vexed by the impulse to file another lawsuit against a school district or legislature to preserve “academic freedom” in response to Fields’ heresy.

Fields would have you believe that some sort of political correctness is the reason why there is opposition to SMU’s selection as the repository for Dubya’s books and archives (though I’m sure there would be just as much room for all of those Archie Comics and Bazooka Joe bubble gum cartoons somewhere else - I told you I'd get around to it).

This links to a Raw Story article featuring a blog post by Paul Burka the senior executive editor of the magazine Texas Monthly; included are excerpts of a letter written to SMU's president by faculty, administrators, and staff of the university's Perkins School of Theology, worrying about siting the library at the university. In it, they say they would:

...regret to see SMU enshrine attitudes and actions widely deemed as ethically egregious: degradation of habeas corpus, outright denial of global warming, flagrant disregard for international treaties, alienation of long-term U.S. allies, environmental predation, shameful disrespect for gay persons and their rights, a pre-emptive war based on false and misleading premises, and a host of other erosions of respect for the global human community and for this good Earth on which our flourishing depends.
Well said.

And this takes you to an article in The Dallas Observer which describes how SMU acquired the land for Dubya’s library, including this excerpt from writer Jim Schultze…

For those who revere the president, the SMU site would link his name with an inappropriately dirty story. For the rest of us, that dirty story would provide a darkly appropriate final chapter to the entire Bush saga…
The story has to do with SMU’s seizure of the nearby University Gardens condominium units and forced expulsion of elderly fixed-income individuals living there so the units can be bulldozed in order to build the library. And as you might expect, the owner of the units is rightly fighting this move; the residents, including 74-year-old Pat Davenport (mentioned in the story), agreed to SMU’s deal in fear that they would be left empty handed.

So what really matters here isn’t Fields’ inane accusations of some kind of bias that is preventing the SMU move. It’s the laudable stirring of conscience on the part of some faculty over the unconscionable behavior of our president and their own university.

Though, given all of the crookedness behind the siting of Dubya’s library (to say nothing of Bushco itself), I’m beginning to think that SMU is an appropriate place after all.

Update: When was the last (or even the first) time that the residents of a president's home state protested his library?

Ignored Insight

Speaking of clueless pundits, Richard Cohen inflicted another attack recently.

In light of Dubya’s criticism of the hangings in Iraq of Saddam Hussein and his accomplices (and if there’s something Dubya actually knows about, it’s executions, given his record as former Texas governor), Cohen recalled how Dubya responded in a 2000 presidential debate about whether or not capital punishment was a deterrent. With typical petulance, Bush responded, when told that there’s no evidence that capital punishment is a deterrent, that “the other side (presumably those opposed to capital punishment) can’t prove that it isn’t.”


Well, in response, here’s a link that provides information on crime deterrence in states that have legalized the death penalty versus those that have not. And while I’ll admit that these statistics may not be the most current ones available, I think this at least presents some information that could be the basis for an informed and reasonable discussion on the issue (and I realize that automatically excludes Dubya’s participation).

Getting back to Cohen, he then takes this anecdote about President Nutball and uses it to show the precedent for Dubya’s irrational conduct of the Iraq war.

And I would say that Cohen is about six and a half years too late in making this observation for it to be of any actual use.

Oh, but Al Gore was all stiff and wooden, with focus-group-tested answers and his “Ozone Man” theories on global warming (which turned out to be absolutely correct) and his phony-looking earth-toned attire, as if those were supposed to be the issues that mattered. And Dubya was somehow OK because he was “down home” and “one of us.”

And isn’t Cohen the guy who said that “only fools and Frenchmen” would oppose the Iraq war anyway, and that violence would actually be “therapeutic”?

Closing The Door To Discovery

Maybe I should have paid more attention to the Philadelphia Inquirer this week after all, in light of this letter that appeared in the paper today.

Charles Krauthammer credits President Bush with taking the moral high road by not permitting human embryos for scientific research. I would like to know how much credit Bush deserves on the morality meter for sending latter-day human embryos, a.k.a. adult human beings, to an ill-conceived war, with insufficient equipment, poor planning, and no exit strategy. I would like to know the morality of that. This man is bringing us closer to Armageddon.

I would like to hear Krauthammer defend a man who displays indifference for the lives of our men and women serving in Iraq, yet profoundly defends embryonic stem cells. Perhaps it's nothing more complicated than a new stem cell today, a future soldier for a pointless war tomorrow. Why doesn't Bush care about the lives he can save by withdrawing our troops gradually?

Linda Gordon
I applaud Ms. Gordon’s comments on the Iraq war, and it made me a bit curious to go back and read what Krauthammer said (here).

I should add that there actually was a time when I bothered to read Krauthammer on a regular basis. Though he is a dyed-in-the-wool freeper (make no mistake), he actually possesses something of an intellect, though he threw it completely out the window for Dubya’s Excellent Iraq Misadventure as far as I’m concerned.

I wanted to take issue with a couple of points in Krauthammer’s article (aside from his typical freeper demonizing that stem cell research will automatically lead to human cloning).

First, he hails the discovery of embryonic stem cells in amniotic fluid as a breakthrough discovery of some type, since harvesting these cells would not harm the embryo. However, this BBC article notes the following:

UK experts had doubts about the feasibility of the technique.

They said gathering amniotic fluid from large numbers of women might be difficult.


Professor Colin McGuckin, from Newcastle University, is researching the use of similar cells taken from the umbilical cord at birth.

He welcomed the report, saying that it was 'thorough' and demonstrated the potential of amniotic stem cells.

"The best thing is to have a variety of stem cell sources to provide the best stem cell for patients. Unless researchers do work to demonstrate there are alternatives to embryonic stem cells, the wider public won't understand that.

"It shouldn't be seen as a race between embryonic stem cells and other sources."
However, he said that harvesting amniotic fluid presented particular difficulties in many cases.

"If it is a natural birth, the waters break and they are all over the floor, and you've lost them. In this country, the majority of women give birth naturally, which means that fluid could not be collected.

"You could conceivably gather amniotic fluid during a caesarean section, but that process could interfere with the experience of giving birth."
Nothing like some actual science to deflate Krauthammer’s bubble a bit.

And of course, Krauthammer takes this opportunity to try and puff up Dubya as some sort of visionary leader with this nonsense (please)…

Congress will soon vote to erase Bush’s line (on embryonic stem cell research). But future generations may nonetheless thank Bush for standing athwart history, if only for a few years.
That’s assuming “future generations” aren’t killed in Iraq first.

And second, with typical deception, Krauthammer offers this skewed portrayal of countries embarking on embryonic stem cell research.

South Korea enthusiastically embraced unrestricted stem cell research. The subsequent greatly heralded breakthroughs — accompanied by lamentations that America was falling behind — were eventually exposed as a swamp of deception, fraud and coercion.
Maybe South Korea ran into problems, but as noted here, the U.K. and the European Union don’t seem to be having any problems with their research.

And this post by the blogger Hilzoy provides a lot of useful background information on this issue.

Of course, in what purports to be a column about science, Krauthammer starts off by taking a shot at John Kerry in the 2004 election, which tells you all you need to know about his priorities.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Leader Who Knew The Cost

I’m probably overdoing it with the history lessons today, but I think it’s necessary at the moment.

I could continue to rant about Dubya’s idiocy ad nauseum, and I realize it would get awfully boring for you, dear reader (to say nothing of boring for yours truly rehashing the continual missteps of this imbecile).

But as I’ve read about Dubya’s interview with Scott Pelley of “60 Minutes” the other night (and again, call me any name you want, but I cannot listen to or watch this man), I keep hoping in my naïveté for some glimpse into this soulless shell, this deranged individual who thinks that bringing us to the brink of war with Iran is a viable response to his catastrophe in Iraq (hat tip to Prof. Marcus for this).

And what really drove home to me that our red-state president is out there in some scary place mentally is this excerpt in particular having to do with what he said to family members of those who’ve died for his illegal war (oh, what the hell: time to give Cynthia Sneed another boot – I haven’t done it for awhile now)...

It's uh (sigh), you know I, uh (looking to sky), uh, it's hard to, uh, for the family members to recount, uh, or relive their love in front of the President (shrug). Yet, you know once we get beyond the initial (pause), kind of meeting, it's amazing how strong the folks are and umm, they want to just let 'em, let me know a lot of things. They want me to let me know what their son or husband was like.

...Umm, (sigh) you know, you know a lot of them say, you know, Mr. President, don't, don't let my son die in vain.
“They want me to let me know what their son or husband was like.”

I’ve run that sentence around in my head about three times now, and it still doesn’t make sense (I suppose that it never will, assuming that that quote is accurate).

And in a related story (as they say), blogger Bill Robinson at HuffPo encourages Andrew Rove (Turd Blossom’s son) to be drafted into the Army and shipped off to Iraq (careful with that “d” word, though I think Robinson’s point is well taken).

Well, I grew a bit nostalgic after reading this, as I often do in the face of our present insanity (brought to us by Ms. Sneed and people like her). And what that happens, I recall how our forbears acquitted themselves when faced with similar circumstances.

And I immediately thought of LBJ; there were too many reasons not to.

And I went back to our somewhat-worn copy of “The Vantage Point,” because I could recall that Johnson expressed some sentiments about sending family members off to war (in the days of the draft) that should have served as the template for how all of our presidents should ponder this awful responsibility of sending our men and women into combat (though somehow I’m sure all of them did until the present pretender and his cabal took over).

I wanted to share this excerpt from Johnson’s book, since I believe it’s instructive (written about a hugely important day in Johnson’s presidency):

Our daughter Lynda had been flying all night from California on the “Red Eye Special.” She had just said good-by to her husband, Chuck, who was leaving for duty in Vietnam. Mrs. Johnson and I got up early and were waiting at the south entrance of the White House to welcome her home. When she arrived, a little after 7 A.M. that Sunday morning, we all went up together to the family quarters on the second floor of the Executive Mansion.

Lynda was tired, and she seemed lonely and bewildered. War and separation were cruel intrusions into her young life. The divisions in the country had left their mark on her, as they had on her mother and her sister, Luci. Lynda had been reading about those demonstrators and critics who looked on such sacrifices as hers and Chuck’s as meaningless, or worse. The hurt that had been building up inside her was now released in a flood of tears. Why, she asked, was her husband going away to fight, and maybe die, for people who did not even want to be protected? It was a question that might have been asked by any young woman who had just seen her husband off to Vietnam. I wanted to comfort her, and I could not.

That was the way the day started – March 31, 1968 – a day that I profoundly hoped would mark the beginning of the end of the war that had brought so much pain and anguish to the people of my country. The day marked as well the beginning of the end of my career, which stretched back over nearly four decades of public service.

After breakfast I went to mass with Luci and her husband, Pat Nugent, at St. Dominic’s. This was one of my favorite churches, a somber, gray Victorian-Gothic structure, with twin spires rising above the modern construction that was going up around it, in a poor section of southwest Washington. Inside St. Dominic’s was simple and restful. I had gone there on many Sunday mornings, and on numerous unreported occasions I had dropped in for a few minutes of prayer late at night. I went there with Luci just before midnight in June 1966 when we sent out bombers to hit the fuel dumps in Hanoi and Haiphong.

After mass was over and we were back in the car, I closed the glass partition to the front seat and told Luci and Pat that I had something to read to them and that I wanted them to listen carefully. As we rode through the quiet streets of Washington that Sunday morning, I read to my daughter and her husband the statement destined to change, to some extent at least, the lives of all of us. When I finished, there was a silence. I saw tears begin to form in Luci’s eyes, and I said to her that I thought this was what she had wanted me to do. Trying to smile, she said that her reaction was complicated. I understood. No matter how strong and simple the conviction, when you got right to the finish line it was complicated.
I suppose this excerpt thus far is a pretext to what I really want to mention below:

Looking at both of them, I experienced emotions too overwhelming to express. They were so very young, and they had such promising and happy lives ahead of them, if they were lucky. Pat already had his orders for Vietnam. In a matter of days, by his own insistence, he would be with Chuck Robb in action in Vietnam. The good Lord had blessed us with two brave sons-in-law, and no man could have been prouder of them than I. Now, for a year or more, their wives would wait and pray, as other wives across America would, for their husbands to return to them and their babies.

I was never more certain of the rightness of my decision. I was putting everything I could command and everything I had personally into the search for peace – not a false peace carrying the seeds of a new war, but a true peace forged to endure, with freedom intact. The speech I planned to make that evening would be, more than anything else, my pledge of faith to the Pat Nugents and the Chuck Robbs of our country – and to all of the brave young men and women of their generation.
I thought it was important to recall the process by which Johnson deliberated over his actions, prayed over them (back when nobody proclaimed their faith because most people considered it to be showing off over a private matter), and sought the feedback of family members, discussing his own conflict as he did so. I thought it was also important to portray Johnson’s sense of shared sacrifice in the most divisive war this country had seen until now.

All of this is missing when we see Dubya in action, of course. In place of careful consideration, we see tragically erroneous stubbornness bordering on (perhaps) psychosis (I’m not a health care professional, so I can’t make that diagnosis, as much as I’d like to try).

And when Lyndon Johnson, a far better man than Dubya could ever be despite Johnson’s many flaws, gave his resignation speech on the night of March 31, 1968, he didn’t mutter “um, um, um,” shrug his shoulders, or look incoherently off in another direction in avoidance. He spoke with purpose and conviction, doing what he thought was best for the country.

And to say I dream that Dubya would one day follow Johnson’s lead is the hugest understatement I can make.

Wise Words From The Past

As President Eisenhower left office, he gave his farewell speech 46 years ago today warning about the rise of the military-industrial complex (coining that phrase for the first time), highlighted by this excerpt…

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against
the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
I had issues with Ike, but he was a giant for his time (and by comparison, Dubya is a flea).

Following Our Money

I can just hear you know; “God, Doomsy, you’re just so full of boring, policy-wonk stuff on this blog that nobody cares about” (well, a few people anyway I hope).

Yep, I sure am. And here’s some more.

Yesterday, the New York Times ran the following editorial:

The new Congress is promising far tighter oversight of Bush administration spending programs, and few targets are more in need of scrutiny and daylight than the outsourcing of government programs to private contractors. This highly lucrative world quietly ballooned by 86 percent – to $377 billion annually – during the first five years of the Bush administration, according to Congressional estimates. Outsourced spending, on Iraq, Katrina and other bonanzas, has grown twice as fast as other discretionary spending, according to Representative Henry Waxman, the California Democrat who is chairman of the oversight and reform committee.

Mr. Waxman is fairly itching to finally map the waste, fraud and abuse in private contracting that went largely ignored by the previous Republican Congress. Taxpayers should wish him well.

In a preliminary glimpse, 118 contracts worth $745 billion were found by government auditors to be rife with questionable award procedures, mismanagement, overcharging and skimpy to nonexistent oversight. Full inquiries and public hearings are vital if the rich and shadowy world of privatization is ever to be plumbed for the scandal it is nurturing. Taxpayers have only a vague notion of what’s gone on, mainly through reporting on the fantastic good fortune of Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former company, whose contracts increased a whopping 600 percent across five years as the Iraq war costs cascaded. Not incidentally, privatization has been a cash cow in stirring campaign donations from successful contractors.

According to one recent audit reported in The Washington Post, among 49 privatized contracts, three out of five were awarded noncompetitively, lacked oversight, and raised questions of legality. What’s been going on out there? This question cries out for an answer from the new Congress.
While Waxman toils in this Herculean effort in the house, Sen. Patrick Leahy (pictured), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, will undertake a similar effort in the Senate.

Well, at least there will be an effort to find out what has been going on in Iraq. As Kos notes here, Sen. Joe Lieberman of the Repug Mouthpiece But Pretending To Be An Independent party utterly copped out on investigating the contractor fraud that occurred as a result of Hurricane Katrina (and, in the process, probably dealt the death blow to the re-election prospects of Dem Sen. Mary Landrieu next year, who I’ll admit is hardly innocent herself).

Don’t Cry For Little Ricky

Reg Henry of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reminds us that our former jackbooted senator has found a nice, cushy job from which to poise himself for his next foray into politics (and make no mistake, that will come eventually).

I had a good laugh over Henry’s well-written column, except for the very last sentence (and I have this sneaking suspicion that he may be right).

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tuesday Videos

Happy Birthday to Bob Bogle of The Ventures ("Walk, Don't Run"/"Perfidia")...

...and keeping it instrumental, here's the late, great Stan Getz (another Philadelphia native son) with "Lush Life."

Patrick On The Job

This Guest Opinion from Patrick Murphy appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times on Sunday (concentrating on the Courier Times and the "newspaper of record" because the Inquirer is so lousy anymore)...

During the campaign of 2006, I pledged to voters in the 8th Congressional District that, if elected, I would work hard to change the direction of our country. One week into the new session, I am proud to report that we have delivered on several of the things you heard me talk about on the campaign trail.

I promised during the campaign that I would continue to reach across party lines and seek fresh ideas to solve the problems facing our district and our nation. I will do just that in Washington.

Before the aggressive “100 Hours” legislation began, Democrats got to work on day one to pass a new set of rules and landmark ethics legislation – the first of its kind. The next piece of legislation we passed was “Pay-As-You-Go” budgeting or PAYGO, which forbids any piece of legislation from even being considered unless we figure out how to pay for it first. Getting our fiscal house in order is a critical priority – that is why I chose to speak on this important issue for my first official statement on the House floor.

Last week, Congress acted without delay to make America more secure by enacting the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, to raise the minimum wage for American workers, to allow for embryonic stem cell research and to make prescription drugs more affordable.

This is bread-and-butter legislation that will improve the everyday lives of families in Pennsylvania and I am proud that we have been able to pass these measures out of the House. Our work is not yet done. We need to make sure these bills quickly become law.

Last week, all of us heard as President Bush called for more troops for Iraq. We were hopeful that he would listen to his generals, the Iraq Study Group or the millions of voters who said it was time for a change, but he didn’t. I have called for a surge in diplomacy, rather than escalation in military action. While we can’t bring all of our troops home tomorrow, I do believe that the Iraqis need to come off the sidelines and that American troops should start coming home.

I pledged on the campaign trail that I would support much-needed improvements to our healthcare system. That begins by finally allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices. This is a practice that works in the military, and will work for Medicare as well. By purchasing prescription drugs in bulk, we can lower prices and increase accessibility for millions of Americans.
I don't know if the bill to negotiate drug prices has passed yet, but it's close.

Much has been made, both during our campaign and during the first week (of) the “six for ‘06” agenda. These items are not just the Democratic agenda; all of them (sic) enjoy broad bipartisan support. I will work with members of both parties to secure their passage, because progress will not be a victory for any one party, but for all of the American people. I am pleased to report, however, that we have gotten right to work on these issues.

This week we will vote to make college more affordable and to finally repeal government subsidies to Big Oil so that we can start working toward energy independence. I have rolled up my sleeves and am grateful for the opportunity to work for the families in the 8th District and I encourage you to share ideas as well. Please join the debate, contact my offices and let me know what you want Congress to focus on, because we are going to need fresh ideas from Democrats and Republicans to get our country moving in the right direction once again.
Here is Patrick's contact information, by the way.

Good to see that Patrick has been true to his word, though I can't imagine that anyone seriously believed that there would be a doubt about that.

Mullane's A "Gasser," All Right

Part of me is truly at a loss to comprehend what is perhaps the stupidest column I have ever read in a newspaper in my entire life.

And if you guessed that it was written by J.D. Mullane of the Bucks County Courier Times on Sunday, then go to the head of the class.

The rally in Bristol Township against the escalation of the Iraq war was a pocket-sized protest. Only 14 people were outside the PA Action community book and clothing store on Edgely Road.

I expected a larger turnout and a younger group.

This was, after all, the day after a nervous-looking President Bush announced he would deploy an additional 20,000 soldiers to Iraq. If you are against the war, disapproval of an escalation is something worth taking to the streets, I would guess.

It's puzzling. Almost four years after the invasion, Iraq is a big war with tiny protests.
Please explain to me, J.D., how a gathering of about 100,000 people in New York City (to say nothing of hundreds of thousands more around the world) qualifies as “tiny” (the NYC protest took place in 2003, and this describes protests in 2006).

Oh, and by the way, J.D., if you want to read about more protests, check this out.

Oh, there have been some large rallies with emphatic speakers. But at the Edgely Road protest, the war's critics could not say precisely why there isn't more public protest.

Speculation was wide-ranging. There is no draft. People are too busy. Youngsters sign online petitions rather than actually march. If you protest, you risk having your patriotism questioned.

“Maybe my generation is a little lazy,” said Julia Ramsey, 25.

With so many parallels to Vietnam, the lack of alarm is alarming.
It’s actually funny in a perverse way to read these remarks from someone who cheered both for Dubya and the Iraq war as vociferously as Mullane once did, by the way.

During the 1960s, weren't young people regularly roaming about, burning draft cards and inserting daisies into Marine rifles for LIFE magazine photographers?

That's the impression I get. But I have watched way too many documentaries and films on that era.

Inevitably, the documentary begins with some sort of period pop tune, like Buffalo Bedspring (or whatever that group was called) singing, “There's something hap-pening here ... Thousand people in the street ... Singing songs and carrying signs.”
“Buffalo Bedspring”…huh, huh, huh-huh – journalism’s dog-faced boy is trying to make a joke; let’s pretend to laugh, OK?

While the song plays, there is archival footage of military helicopters landing in the jungles of South Vietnam. There are quick cuts to scenes of large anti-war crowds, replete with peace signs and twirling hippies. Groovy.
Whenever J.D. mentions the word “hippie,” by the way, that’s a cue to us that he’s about to engorge himself in the most bilious language and imagery that he can for a family newspaper.

Why can't we do at least as well with this war? I mean, the only thing more unpopular than Bush is Iraq. Some 70 percent of Americans oppose Bush's “handling” of the war, according to an AP/Ipsos poll posted last week.

Isn't that worth more than a handful of people?

“For one, people often forget that the Vietnam War, which is the classic case of war protest, took years to develop. That war was going on in the '50s. It took quite a while for disapproval to build. With this war, we are only a few years into it,” said Craig Kaufman, 33. The co-director of PA Action, he organized the rally.

“Another issue is there is no draft,” he said, “so for a lot of people the war never touches them. There are people who aren't worried about being over there, if they don't want to be over there. That makes a difference.”

So I offered a suggestion as to the puny turnouts here and elsewhere.

While disapproval of the war is wide, it is not deep. This dissatisfaction is not with war, really, but with how it is “handled,” as the AP poll question suggests.
This is truly astonishing idiocy.

I don’t know what difference it would make for the AP to phrase its polling question a little differently so as to make J.D. happy, but based on the links I provided above, it’s pretty safe to say that the disapproval of the war is “deep,” and that “depth” pertains both to the war AND how it has been “handled.”

Turn things around in Iraq and that 70 percent war disapproval number would collapse quicker than a hippie hit by tear gas.

God – what a vile, detestable remark!

Take a look at the photo I’ve included with this post, you moron! It’s from and it shows a woman of undetermined ethnicity caught in the middle of an attack of tear gas and rubber bullets.

Does it look to you like she’s laughing, Mullane?

Does the tear gas attack look funny to you in any way?

What type of tear gas are you talking about, by the way? Pepper spray? Though noxious, at least it wouldn’t cause burns or any kind of a permanent condition. I assume that’s what you’re talking about, since other types of tear gas can be fatal (and boy, death sure is hilarious, isn’t it?).

I DARE you to make a crack like that about a Bush supporter (assuming you can even find one at this point).

Turn Iraq into a stable democracy and an ally fighting Islamic fascists, and Bush's approval ratings would leap to Clintonian levels.

Win the global war on terror, and Bush, Abu Ghraib and the torture allegations would swing from grotesque to Lincolnesque.

Anti-war protests are small because most of us are OK with waging war. Kosovo and the liberation of Kuwait were good wars, right?

We just don't like losing a war. Right now, it feels like we are losing.
I read those words of utter, mind-numbing stupidity (from “turn Iraq into a stable democracy”) and I didn’t know what else to say.

I’ll tell you what – here is Mullane’s Email address. Write to him and tell him what you think of this dreck.

Or better yet, write to Dale Larson, the publisher of this newspaper, and ask him, based on columns like this, why Mullane still has a job.

No More Lives Lost

These fine letters appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times last Saturday (I’m sorry I only have a thumbnail of Jae Moon for this post).

We were brought to tears when we read about the death of our son’s friend Jae Moon in Iraq in the December 28, 2006 edition of the Courier Times.

He was a wonderful boy who we have known since he was in elementary school.

The waste of a wonderful life such as his is a crime beyond compare and we grieve with his family. Both Jae’s family and Bucks County will be much poorer for his loss.

In the December 29, 2006 Courier Times, we get to read (in the same column) that President Bush spent nearly three hours “consulting his plan” for Iraq, which will almost certainly mean that more, such as Jae, will die for this man’s blunders.

Three hours? Is that all he can spare from his vacation? Bush has had the Iraq Study Group’s report for more than a month. He has been in charge of the occupation of Iraq for three and a half years. And he is still deciding?

How much longer will “The Decider” take?

How many more wonderful people such as Jae will die while Bush takes his own sweet time on the fiasco he has created?

Or, is Bush’s vacation time more important?

Almeda and Stephen Ruger
Middletown Township, PA

Jae Moon died in Iraq on Christmas Day. He died in a war that shouldn’t have been started and was conducted so poorly as to verge on the criminal. A war that was overwhelmingly repudiated by the American people 37 days before Jae died.

The Moon family moved in a few doors down from my childhood home. My mother watched Jae grow from a precocious child, to a respectful teenager to a responsible adult with a bright future ahead of him. It would be hard not to love the kind of person Jae was.

I returned to the area before Jae entered the Army in order to obtain a college education and pursue a career in the FBI. I was here when he came home for a visit during his first tour in Iraq. Typically, he didn’t tell his parents he was coming; he just showed up at the door. During a visit with us at the time he said his main concern about being in Iraq was how his parents worried.

Jae returned from that first tour in Iraq and his family, friends and those of us who knew him in Deep Dale West were jubilant. He told us that he was happy he would be reporting to a safe post in Colorado. We hadn’t heard that the Army deemed it necessary to send him to Iraq again.

Jae called his parents on Christmas Eve, 10 days after he was severely wounded by an IED that exploded hear his Humvee. I can only assume that he didn’t mention his injuries because of his love for his parents and concern about them worrying. He died the next day.

Jae Moon, like the other men and women who have died during their tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, is a hero. He was a bright young man and carried out the responsibilities he took on when he joined the Army.

As of Jan. 10, (2007), 3,018 service men and women have died in Iraq, 22,714 have been wounded, with 2,881 having died since our commander in chief, who managed to shirk his own duty in Vietnam and whose own daughters are safe to romp around South America, flew onto an aircraft carrier and declared mission accomplished.

I am sickened by the death of Jae Moon. I am sickened over the pain his parents are suffering today along with the pain and suffering of so many other parents. I am sickened over the irresponsibility of our elected leaders who, while admitting the war is a lost cause, won’t bring our men and women home to their families.

The Iraq Study Group and the generals on the ground have indicated that we need to start reducing the forces in Iraq. If George Bush is in such a state of denial that he continues to balk – or even sends in more troops – then we as American people need to rally and demand and end to the carnage. Jae Moon’s death requires nothing less.

Chuck Thompson
Middletown Township, PA

The funeral for President Ford is over. The events were memorable, appropriate and well deserved. Ford qualifies as a genuine American hero. But so do thousands of young American soldiers today. Yet we sneak them back into the country in caskets, acknowledging their passing with a knock on the door, a letter of commendation and a folded flag.

Presley R. Brown
Middletown Township, PA
And do I really need to ask whether or not the additional troops Dubya, Cheney, St. McCain and Lieberman want to send over will be properly armored?

No, I didn’t think so.

As John Edwards pointed out yesterday, we must do two things:

1) Join nearly 50,000 other Americans who have signed the petition calling on Congress to block funding for escalating the war in Iraq.

2) Call your Senators directly and tell them to block funding for escalation. Click here for your Senators' contact information.
Because, as Chuck Thompson said, Jae Moon’s death requires nothing less.

Glenn On Guns Fires Blanks

I cannot possibly imagine what possessed the New York Times to allow column space to Glenn Reynolds this morning so he could pontificate about guns, but that is exactly what they did.

The Perfesser took aim at laws in Greenleaf, Idaho and Kennesaw, Ga. promoting gun ownership and noted as follows:

As David Kopel noted in a 2001 article in The Arizona Law Review, burglars report that they try to avoid homes where armed residents are likely to be present. We see this phenomenon internationally, too, with the United States having a lower proportion of “hot” burglaries — break-ins where the burglars know the home to be occupied — than countries with restrictive gun laws.

Likewise, in the event of disasters that leave law enforcement overwhelmed, armed citizens can play an important role in stanching crime. Armed neighborhood watches deterred looting in parts of Houston and New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
I would seriously hope that disasters such as those cited by Reynolds are occurrences of such infrequency that it would not be necessary to arm citizens as a last resort (which, actually, is a bad idea anyway as far as I’m concerned, and I think some of the “deterrence” in the wake of Katrina and Rita was either anecdotal or the stuff of urban legend).

And yes, I know there is statistical evidence to note that gun ownership can reduce crime. However, I would ask that anyone who believes that read the information from this link, in particular the following paragraph.

The issue of "home defense" or protection against intruders may well be misrepresented. Of 626 shootings in or around a residence in three U.S. cities revealed that, for every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides (Kellermann et al, 1998). Over 50% of all households in the U.S. admit to having firearms (Nelson et al, 1987). Persons who own a gun and who engage in abuse of intimate partners such as a spouse are more likely to use a gun to threaten their intimate partner. (Rothman, et al) It would appear that, rather than being used for defense, most of these weapons inflict injuries on the owners and their families.
Also in the link, there’s information presented on firearms involved in the death of kids 15 years or younger, and even if you don’t read all of it, I would say that the color-coded chart showing fatalities in this country as opposed to the rest of the world is dramatic enough to make the case all by itself.

And, as Reynolds actually notes himself, the laws in Idaho and Georgia really aren’t necessary, because most of the residents legally own guns anyway (making me wonder what the point is of the column aside from more propaganda, and Reynolds also misinterprets the Second Amendment again as many gun proponents do, recalling this country’s frontier history and stating that that’s an excuse for residents throughout the country – even inner city areas, presumably – to arm themselves).

However, I think Reynolds makes a point worth considering, believe it or not. He is advocating that communities should be allowed to decide for themselves what gun laws they want to pass and enforce, and I think it’s high time that they were allowed to do that (as noted here, only the Pennsylvania state legislature is allowed to pass gun laws for this commonwealth, as opposed to letting Philadelphia pass its own law, thereby ensuring that the NRA will forever hold sway, though that doesn’t mean that the battle for common-sense gun laws should be automatically conceded…and by the way, new PA House Speaker Dennis O’Brien, I’m talking to you when I say that).

I don’t know how much has been spoken and written about gun laws in this country (I probably couldn’t even estimate how much), but I assume that this is a battle which we will have to fight indefinitely as long as people in this country think it’s more important to own weapons of death than to keep the rest of this country safe (and in the former category, I present Bob Sarb courtesy of J.D. Mullane; I will have more to say about Mullane later).

One final thought; it would be nice if members of law enforcement were more vocal about opposing the NRA instead of just filthy, unkempt liberal bloggers such as myself and other real/imagined do-gooders out there (I know some are, but we need more). After all, they’re on the front lines in this battle along with the rest of us.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Honoring The Dream

To commemorate the holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I'd like to link to this recent post from Shaun Mullen at Kiko's House which, I think, captures why King was so important to so many and also the fact that, in this day and age, elements of racism have been exacerbated by the so-called "war on terror" (a legitimate fight to be sure, depending on whether or not you're talking about Iraq, but one that should be fought with intelligence, determination, and compliance with the law, and Bushco falls short under all three of those categories, especially the last one).

This links back to my post last year on this, which also includes a link to some good words from Prof. Marcus, as well as an audio/video of King's speech at the Barratt School in Philadelphia (there is nothing I need to add to Dr. King's stirring words).

Update: John Edwards reminds us that there are two things we can do to honor Dr. King's legacy at this moment (opposing the Iraq War as King once opposed the Vietnam War):

1) Join nearly 50,000 other Americans who have signed the petition calling on Congress to block funding for escalating the war in Iraq.

2) Tomorrow, when Congress returns to session, call your Senators directly and tell them to block funding for escalation. Click here for your Senators' contact information.

And this takes you to the audio and video of Senator Edwards' speech at Riverside Church yesterday (and if you are able to contribute, please do so here).

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sunday Videos

Godsmack ("Speak" - this rocks big time)...

...Modest Mouse ("Cold Part Of The World" - trippy stuff)...

...Warren Zevon and Bruce Springsteen ("Disorder In The House" - sadly still true, and sung by Zevon with some of his last breaths)...

...and this is a tribute to saxaphonist Michael Brecker from Philadelphia who we lost today also (a truly amazing riff in "Nothing Personal" - takes a few seconds for the volume to come up).