Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday Videos

Congratulations to The Police on getting back together for the Grammys on Sunday (here's "Invisible Sun")...

...Happy Birthday to Donovan Leitch ("Catch The Wind," from the "flower power" days)...

...Happy Birthday also (belatedly) to Simon Phillips of Toto ("Hold The Line"; yes, I know it's a "classic rock" chestnut - ostentatious guitars, too many keyboards, ridiculously wide polyester jacket lapels, white guy 'fros as far as the eye can see - THE '70s LIVE AGAIN!)...

...Daughtry ("It's Not Over").

How It's Done

Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York leads the way here on the supposed issue of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's plane, a talking point so ridiculous that it was even shot down, so to speak, by Tony Snow (hat tip to Atrios).

Crustacean Love and Horsey Morsels

Yep, you can tell it’s a Friday afternoon in these parts and I’m running short of posting material, so here goes.

First, I was informed by one of my field correspondents that the Whole Foods chain of specialty food stores will sell lobsters in its Maine stores, but it will continue the practice of selling them nowhere else in this country.

And why exactly would it do this? As noted in the story…

The (Maine) lobsters would be kept in private compartments instead of being piled on top of each other in a tank, and employees would use a device that zaps them with a 110-volt shock to spare them the agony of being boiled alive in a pot of water.
I also have it on deep background that the lobsters will be able to spend their final, pre-zapping moments relaxing on barcaloungers listening to Yanni on their headsets while enjoying the all-enveloping comfort of wearing cable knit sweaters.

As the late, great Molly Ivins used to ask about Bushco, are there any adults here?

This appears to be PETA-ism gone completely bonkers. We like the lobster, we catch the lobster, we cook the lobster, we eat the lobster. We’re sorry that the lobster is feeling pain, but it won’t matter when the lobster is being digested in our stomachs.

Whole Foods is a great place, but they’re the ones “in the tank” on this one. Oy.

Next appears this column from Joel Stein about the delicacy of horsemeat, which is kind of a metaphorical equivalent to the last column I recall from him about refusing to support our troops.

I have a feeling this will inspire a new food craze called “Barbaro Burgers,” with this ad slogan: “Get ‘em while you can; hurry on down to a participating food retailer today. They’re going fast, so break a leg!”

(I’m sorry…)

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (2/9/07)

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.

(Again, barely worth the trouble this week; I hope these jokers are earning their salaries.)


2007 budget. The House passed, 286-140, and sent to the Senate $463.5 billion in fiscal 2007 appropriations for departments and agencies that have not yet received regular annual budgets. The continuing resolution (H.J.R. 20) would fund nine appropriations bills that the 109th Congress left unfinished.

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.), Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.) and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Voting no: Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.) and H. James Saxton (R., N.J.).
By the way, to read more about the nine appropriations bills that the happy-now-departed 109th Congress refused to pass, click here (as the Chronicle story notes, the two bills passed and signed into law by Dubya pertained to the military and homeland security).

And here’s a pop quiz; who said that failing to pass the appropriations bills was “shameful”?

a) Nancy Pelosi
b) Harry Reid
c) Jack Kingston
d) Robert Byrd
The answer is c) Repug Jack Kingston of Georgia. Kudos to him for his honesty (and Joe Pitts is clueless yet again).


Minimum wage. The Senate passed, 94-3, a bill to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour over 26 months. The measure (H.R. 2), which also would provide $8.3 billion in tax breaks to help small businesses pay the higher wage, goes to conference with the House.

All Philadelphia-area senators voted for the bill.
And by the way, the three numbskulls who voted no (as you can see here) were Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, and Jon Kyl of Arizona (and I don’t need to mention their political party, do I?).

This week, the House voted on a bill to develop alternative fuels and low-sulfur diesel fuel; the Senate considered nonbinding measures disapproving of President Bush's escalation of the war in Iraq.

What Is The Mission, Joe?

I’ll make this question as simple as I can for today.

I read the latest from Joe Klein, and that is what kept occurring to me over and over again (defined by this excerpt)...

Mission is a sacred word in the military. When you are given a mission, you are trained to complete it, to keep on trying new tactics until the objective is achieved. It is a matter of duty and honor. And so, when politicians criticize a mission, the reflexive military reaction is to assume they are acting dishonorably, putting politics above duty.
These are noble sentiments worthy of our respect. However, in the context of the Iraq war, I don't understand exactly what "the mission" is.

Could it be one of the following:

- Patrol the streets of Baghdad focusing on insurgent “hotbeds” (by the way, in this story, Lieutenant Colonel Scott Bleichwehl points out that there are “multiple missions”).

- Try to figure out why
we’ve lost five military helicopters in Iraq so far this year?

Make colleges in Baghdad safe for the student population again?

Come clean in the friendly fire death of a British soldier?

- Try to
stem the tide of refugees pouring out of Iraq?
I’m sure if I pondered this long enough, I could come up with other questions about “the mission” that you should answer, Joe, but I think these are enough for now.

And given the fact that you still continue to obfuscate on exactly what it is that’s at stake here, I don’t see where you get the right to criticize fellow Iraq war enabler Joe Lieberman (and not ruling out using tactical nuclear weapons against Iran here shows that you really haven’t learned from your somewhat hesitant cheerleading on Iraq, have you?).

(By the way, I'm sure Cpl. Jennifer Parcell was able to determine "the mission," and we should remember her as much as we are currently remembering a rich, troubled blonde who died as well, leaving behind a young daughter whose parentage is in question along with a boatload of money.)

Bill Donahue Does Not Speak For Me

I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again (nor do people like “Strip Search Sammy” Alito, John Roberts or certainly Rick Santorum speak for me):

I am a Roman Catholic, and Bill Donahue Does Not Speak For Me.

A man who said, “Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity” does not speak for me.” A man who said that there are some whites who want to perform fellatio on a statue of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. does not speak for me.

A man who speaks of trying to intimidate the Senate Judiciary Committee does not speak for me.

I am a Roman Catholic, and Bill Donahue Does Not Speak For Me (and yes, I just signed the Blogpac petition – you should too).

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Thursday Videos

I know I don't really do the celebrity stuff well, and there's a good reason for that, but I supposed I should mention the passing of Anna Nicole Smith today, if for no other reason than the fact that CNN will run with this for at least a week (so ridiculous, by the way, that they and other news organizations continue to let Bill Donahue slam Marcotte and McEwan without dealing with Donahue's wingnuttery too; the battle over Howard Marshall's money will get really interesting now).

Anyway, here's a clip of Anna Nicole flying while trying to introduce someone at an awards show (again, this stuff isn't really my thing)...

...and as I read about what happened to her, this song ran around a bit in my head ("Plowed," by Sponge).

Make It A Movie Night

The latest from Democracy For America…

Will you join other DFA members at a screening of The War Tapes?

Click here.

The War Tapes is one of the most compelling documentaries of our time. It focuses not just on the war, but life back home and the difficult ways family and relationships change. The film is powerful and moving conveying both the passion and mindset of American soldiers and the incredible human and community cost of war. You have never seen film like this before.

After the movie, we will send postcards to congress demanding binding action to end the occupation in Iraq and bring our brave men and women home. The movement to end this war is building; help us unite our voices by taking action together:

Click here.

The New York Times says The War Tapes is "Riveting! Compelling!" Entertainment Weekly refers to it as "the first indispensable Iraq documentary," and the Washington Post wrote that it should "be required viewing in every classroom and living room in America."

Kevin McCarthy from The Nation magazine says this about The War Tapes, winner of Best Documentary of the year at the Tribeca Film Festival:

"...audiences are too often awed by the excitement of battle and bond with the unit against the enemy. The War Tapes avoids that trap... this soldier-made documentary may demonstrate that the best way to support our troops is to bring them home."

Don't miss this movie. Let's get together, watch it, and take action!

Thank you for everything you do,

Charles Chamberlain
Field Director
Mature Content Warning:

This movie takes place in a war zone and is shot by soldiers themselves. It contains adult language, war violence and a brief moment of graphic nudity.

P.S. You can see a trailer and read the full reviews for the movie here.

The Plame Game

I’ve been trying to digest everything going on in the “Scooter” Libby trial, everything from whether or not Tim Russert gave Libby the name of Joe Wilson’s wife to whether or not Dick Cheney gave it to Libby or maybe Richard Armitage got it from Karl Rove even though Libby is claiming that he’s not going to take the fall for Rove but somehow Judith Miller refused to divulge Libby as a source even though Libby was under indictment but Libby is mad at Russert again because Libby says Russert knew he would be indicted but meanwhile Patrick Fitzgerald granted Ari Fleischer immunity to testify and then Fleischer announced in his testimony that he broke the law by giving the name to Libby but then we still don’t know who originally gave up the name to Fleischergot the name from Libby too...

Can you see why this damn story is giving me one big headache (and I’m not even taking an active role in it, thank God)? And can someone please explain to me again how Bob Novak, the conservative mouthpiece who got all of this started by outing her to begin with, manages to get a total pass in this?

I’m not impugning anyone for covering it; I admire them, actually, for trying to decipher this utter mess. This needs to be covered as thoroughly as possible (and of course, the “old, wise heads” are going to say that it isn’t worth our time).

But in the midst of the exposure of the tawdry, cliquish game played by the politicians and their slavish sycophants in the media-industrial complex (with Russert getting the once-over today and yesterday, though it looks like he’s done for now and it will be someone else’s turn shortly), I’d like to point something out.

Valerie Plame’s career was severely damaged by the revelation that she was a spy. That is what matters, not how many times Tim Russert crossed his legs on the stand or how many times Judith Miller adjusted the hem of her skirt or how much meta-commentary can be generated from the fact that Russert (if he is to be believed) automatically assumes that talking to government officials is off the record “unless specified.”

And I know the people reporting on this know that, but I think it needs to be mentioned again (and, of course, a lot of the goings-on here have no doubt been orchestrated by Bushco to shield itself and hang Libby out to dry).

And that’s why I’m going to pay more attention to the Plame civil trial than this one, since the charges will pertain more directly to the crime than in this case, which is, after all, based on obstruction of justice dealing with a crime for which no one was formally charged.

HRC And Her Dirty Dough

(Though, to be fair, “St.” McCain is doing the same thing, and others probably will also.)

This editorial in USA Today points out a disturbing new practice, and that is politicians who run for public office but decide not to take public money, which means that they don’t have to abide by campaign spending limits.

As a result, the 2008 campaign could be the first billion dollar presidential campaign in this country’s history.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is insane, mainly because we end up having even more of a government “of the money, by the money, and for the money” than ever before.

In response, here is an example of doing the right thing; as noted in the editorial, seven states (Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico and Vermont) and two cities (Albuquerque and Portland, Ore.) are now using or preparing to use public funding for some or all races.

And what happens as a result? As also noted in the editorial…

Gov. Janet Napolitano, who won office under Arizona's public financing law, implemented a prescription drug discount plan on her first day in office in 2003. Had she run with contributions from donors such as drug companies, she said that year, she might never have been able to do that. Lobbyists would have tried to undermine it, threatening to back another candidate in the next election.

"None of that happened," Napolitano said, "because special interests had nothing to hold over me."
Only public money should be used for political campaigns, and if the importance of this practice was communicated to everyone, it would go a long way towards draining the political swamp of Washington, D.C. and putting government back to work for us for a change.

I’m sure Senator Clinton knows this, but she also sees the practicality of needing vast sums of dough to outspend the Repugs, who will conjure up every demon we can imagine and a few we can’t to try and oppose her.

All the same, she should still know better.

Mitt Has Big Shoes To Fill

On the front page of today’s New York Times, a story appears concerning whether or not Mitt Romney’s religion will be an obstacle as he campaigns for the Repug nomination for president next year (Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is a Mormon).

The story notes the following…

Mr. Romney said he was giving strong consideration to a public address about his faith and political views, modeled after the one John F. Kennedy gave in 1960 in the face of a wave of concern about his being a Roman Catholic.
I found JFK’s speech online here, and I’m also including the speech in its entirety below with highlighted excerpts that I think are crucial, given Romney’s desire to pledge his fealty to the so-called “Christian” right in order to get elected (I think it's also important to revisit this because of the recent hypocrite squawking over John Edwards' bloggers by Bill Donahue):

While the so-called religious issue is necessarily and properly the chief topic here tonight, I want to emphasize from the outset that we have far more critical issues to face in the 1960 election; the spread of Communist influence, until it now festers 90 miles off the coast of Florida--the humiliating treatment of our President and Vice President by those who no longer respect our power--the hungry children I saw in West Virginia, the old people who cannot pay their doctor bills, the families forced to give up their farms--an America with too many slums, with too few schools, and too late to the moon and outer space.

These are the real issues which should decide this campaign. And they are not religious issues--for war and hunger and ignorance and despair know no religious barriers.

But because I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected President, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured--perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again--not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me--but what kind of America I believe in.

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute--where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote--where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference--and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish--where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source--where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials--and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew--or a Quaker--or a Unitarian--or a Baptist. It was Virginia's harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jefferson's statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the victim--but tomorrow it may be you--until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.

Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end--where all men and all churches are treated as equal--where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice--where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind--and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.
Actually, I should have highlighted the entire preceding paragraph.

That is the kind of America in which I believe. And it represents the kind of Presidency in which I believe--a great office that must neither be humbled by making it the instrument of any one religious group nor tarnished by arbitrarily withholding its occupancy from the members of any one religious group. I believe in a President whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.

I would not look with favor upon a President working to subvert the first amendment's guarantees of religious liberty. Nor would our system of checks and balances permit him to do so--and neither do I look with favor upon those who would work to subvert Article VI of the Constitution by requiring a religious test--even by indirection--for it. If they disagree with that safeguard they should be out openly working to repeal it.

I want a Chief Executive whose public acts are responsible to all groups and obligated to none--who can attend any ceremony, service or dinner his office may appropriately require of him--and whose fulfillment of his Presidential oath is not limited or conditioned by any religious oath, ritual or obligation.

This is the kind of America I believe in--and this is the kind I fought for in the South Pacific, and the kind my brother died for in Europe. No one suggested then that we may have a "divided loyalty," that we did "not believe in liberty," or that we belonged to a disloyal group that threatened the "freedoms for which our forefathers died."

And in fact this is the kind of America for which our forefathers died--when they fled here to escape religious test oaths that denied office to members of less favored churches--when they fought for the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom--and when they fought at the shrine I visited today, the Alamo. For side by side with Bowie and Crockett died McCafferty and Bailey and Carey--but no one knows whether they were Catholic or not. For there was no religious test at the Alamo.

I ask you tonight to follow in that tradition--to judge me on the basis of my record of 14 years in Congress--on my declared stands against an Ambassador to the Vatican, against unconstitutional aid to parochial schools, and against any boycott of the public schools (which I have attended myself)--instead of judging me on the basis of these pamphlets and publications we all have seen that carefully select quotations out of context from the statements of Catholic church leaders, usually in other countries, frequently in other centuries, and always omitting, of course, the statement of the American Bishops in 1948 which strongly endorsed church-state separation, and which more nearly reflects the views of almost every American Catholic.

I do not consider these other quotations binding upon my public acts--why should you? But let me say, with respect to other countries, that I am wholly opposed to the state being used by any religious group, Catholic or Protestant, to compel, prohibit, or persecute the free exercise of any other religion. And I hope that you and I condemn with equal fervor those nations which deny their Presidency to Protestants and those which deny it to Catholics. And rather than cite the misdeeds of those who differ, I would cite the record of the Catholic Church in such nations as Ireland and France--and the independence of such statesmen as Adenauer and De Gaulle.

But let me stress again that these are my views--for contrary to common newspaper usage, I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party's candidate for President who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my church on public matters--and the church does not speak for me.

Whatever issue may come before me as President--on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject--I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.

But if the time should ever come--and I do not concede any conflict to be even remotely possible--when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office; and I hope any conscientious public servant would do the same.

But I do not intend to apologize for these views to my critics of either Catholic or Protestant faith--nor do I intend to disavow either my views or my church in order to win this election.

If I should lose on the real issues, I shall return to my seat in the Senate, satisfied that I had tried my best and was fairly judged. But if this election is decided on the basis that 40 million Americans lost their chance of being President on the day they were baptized, then it is the whole nation that will be the loser, in the eyes of Catholics and non-Catholics around the world, in the eyes of history, and in the eyes of our own people.

But if, on the other hand, I should win the election, then I shall devote every effort of mind and spirit to fulfilling the oath of the Presidency--practically identical, I might add, to the oath I have taken for 14 years in the Congress. For without reservation, I can "solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the help me God.
If Romney’s words and actions come anywhere close to matching those of JFK, then I will pay closer attention to him. Otherwise, Romney would be better off not bothering to invoke the name of a public servant who was far greater than he will ever be.

Update 12/06/07: The headline from Kagro X here says it all.

More On Marcotte

I thought this Time article on the dustup within the Edwards campaign over Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan wasn't too bad, though I don't think it's a big deal given the fine overall quality of their work (re: the two bloggers) and the craziness of the people who brought all of this to a head.

However, I did want to point out to Time that John Thune is a Republican.

Update 2/8 AM: Never a doubt (hat tip to Atrios)...

Update 2/8 PM: Oh, shut up Donahue - besides, we're wise to assclowns like you now.

Update Again 2/8 PM: Cliff Schecter nails it here (but no possessive apostrophe, dude - very anal, I know).

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Wednesday Videos

I missed the birthday of vocalist Cory Wells of Three Dog Night on Monday ("Easy To Be Hard" on "The Music Scene" with David Steinberg in 1969-1970; I think the lead vocalist here is Chuck Negron - what an absolutely hideous white belt)...

...Jet ("Cold Hard Bitch" - Valentine's Day is next Wednesday, by the way; also, the answer to last night's trivia question is "To Kill A Mockingbird").

Fun With Bill Donohue

I was a little curious about the guy making accusations against the two bloggers in the John Edwards campaign, so I checked around a bit on Bill Donohue, and came up with this comment about lesbians, as well as an assortment of hate speech here.

These items weren't highlighted by Media Matters, but I'd like to do so here.

- Regarding "The Passion Of The Christ" - "I'm pretty good about picking out who queers are and I didn't see any in the movie. I'm usually pretty good at that."

- I was also repulsed by Donohue's argument against stem cell research, stating that it would be like "serving human embryos at a cocktail party."
And Kagro X of The Daily Kos reminds everyone that, while today it is the Edwards team, tomorrow it will surely be the team of another Democrat that is targeted by the wingnuts, so we need to slap these cretins down.

Also, please allow me to go on the record once again concerning this vile individual.

I am a Roman Catholic, and it seems like everyone of my faith who pretends to speak the loudest for me is certifiably nuts.

Bill Donohue most certainly does not speak for me.

Finally, I'm going to consolidate the following from an earlier post since I added it on this topic to the Bill Lawhorn post earlier, but it really doesn't belong there.

(By the way, I updated this post after reading the New York Times story on the criticism by Bill Donohue of bloggers Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan and the response from Atrios and Media Matters related to this item, and I get it now - sorry for the "duuuh" moment. I think the "let's wait and see" statement from Edwards spokesperson Jennifer Palmieri is OK and doesn't concern me; I give Edwards enough credit not to throw Marcotte and McEwan under the bus. We'll see.)

Oh, and by the way, CNN, if you're going to write about the story with Edwards and Donohue, try writing photo captions that actually make sense, OK?

Update: And Glenn Greenwald via Atrios points out here that if bloggers for Edwards are going to merit close scrutiny, then that should be the case for those on the Republican side also (I don't take shots at family members out of the public eye, and that's why the cheap shot at Chelsea Clinton is in particularly bad taste).

“Hot Air Jim” Still Fights Global Warming

(And probably always will…)

Once upon a time, boys and girls, there was a loudmouthed senator from Oklahoma who huffed and puffed as hard as he could and did his best to scare everyone into believing that we can burn all of the fossil fuels we want and create CO2 any way possible and it was still all right.

And he believed this because he thought that global warming didn’t exist, even though reliable scientific data stated categorically that it did.

Well, since this was part of the reason why this senator’s political party lost the election last November, he also lost some of his power. But do you think he learned a lesson?

Why no, of course not.

And since the other political party won and is now performing its oversight role that this senator refused to do, how do you think he decided to respond?

Why, he decided to attack the author of a children’s book who also produced a movie that the senator didn’t like warning everyone about a problem that, according to the senator, still doesn’t exist.

I’ll tell you what, boys and girls. Let’s clap our hands together and make a wish, and maybe if we’re lucky, the senator will get caught in the middle of a rapidly evolving storm front that is a typical weather fluctuation for what he claims isn’t happening, and it will wash him all the way out to the Gulf of Mexico. Maybe that will teach him his lesson.

But I know that’s impossible; it really would be a fairy tale if we ever thought Inhofe would get anything through his thick skull.

Update 2/16/07: By the way, the Kyoto Protocols came into force two years ago today.

Follow The Money, If You Can

As reported here, Paul Bremer, the former civilian administrator in Iraq, testified before a House oversight committee chaired by Henry Waxman in an effort to find out whether or not any money intended for Iraq’s reconstruction ended up with insurgents instead.

As you might expect, Bremer vigorously defended himself. But to get a reminder of what transpired under Bremer’s watch, let’s travel back to those heady days right after the statue of Saddam Hussein had fallen for a few minutes, OK (specifically, here).

Paul Bremer's taste in clothes symbolises "the new Iraq" very well. He wears a business suit and combat boots. As the proconsul of Iraq, you might have thought he'd have more taste. But he is a famous "anti-terrorism" expert who is supposed to be rebuilding the country with a vast army of international companies-most of them American, of course-and creating the first democracy in the Arab world. Since he seems to be a total failure at the "anti-terrorist" game-50 American soldiers killed in Iraq since President George Bush declared the war over is not exactly a blazing success-it is only fair to record that he is making a mess of the "reconstruction" bit as well.
And how on earth could we have ever imagined longing for the day when only 50 of our troops had been killed after Dubya’s “Mission Accomplished” moment?

Indeed, anarchic violence is now being embedded in Iraqi society in a way it never was under the genocidal Saddam. Scarcely a day goes by when I do not encounter the evidence of this in my daily reporting work in Baghdad. Visiting the Yarrnouk hospital in Baghdad on Monday to seek the identity of civilians killed by American troops in Mansur the previous day, I came across four bodies Iying out in the yard beside the building in the 50C heat.

All had been shot. No one knew their identities. They were all young, save one who might have been a middle-aged man, with a hole in his sock. Three days earlier, on a visit to a local supermarket, I noticed that the woman cashier was wearing black. Yes, she said, because her brother had been murdered a week earlier. No one knew why.
And disbanding the Iraqi army soon after he became “viceroy” (and try telling me that a title like that didn’t have imperialist connotations - don't completely understand the difference between that and "proconsul," assuming there is one) was part of the reason for all of the violence described above. However, in an interview conducted two years ago, Bremer called it ".. the most important decision I made, and it had the effect of avoiding a civil war in Iraq.”

I hate to break the news to you, Paul, but your decision only postponed civil war. It didn’t avoid it.

And I found Bremer’s quote here darkly humorous (and again, this passage was written in 2005)…

Recent low levels of American public support for the Iraq effort can be explained partly because of the far-off setting, and because the two-year conflict remains unresolved, he said.

"Americans are can-do, impatient kind of people. They like to get on with things," Bremer said. "And this is tough stuff. Nation building is not something that happens overnight."
Well, pardon us, Paul, but as an American taxpayer, I get highly concerned when I hear about 363 tons of cash in stacks of $100 bills that are flown over on C-130 military cargo planes into a war zone that suddenly cannot be accounted for. That’s not called being “impatient.” It’s called “exercising common sense,” something that you apparently didn’t do when you called the shots over there (especially because, as you have so infamously noted here, you “didn’t see the insurgency coming”.

And of course, Bremer was awarded the Congressional Medal of Freedom by Dubya, who of course recognizes failure as success regularly (see Rumsfeld, Don).

Good for Rep. Waxman for making Bremer squirm a bit. It’s the least Bremer should have to endure, as opposed to these heroes who have paid the ultimate price.

The Price Of Standing Up

A full-page ad appeared in the New York Times on Sunday for the Employee Free Choice Act, and it explained the story of Bill Lawhorn. The text follows…

After working as a forklift driver at Consolidated Biscuit Co. in McComb, Ohio for 11 years, Bill Lawhorn was tired of the abuse and disrespect. He and his co-workers decided to form a union: “We wanted to be treated like human beings. We wanted a better life.”

Three-quarters of the workers joined Bill in petitioning the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for a union representation election.

Then the company went on the attack. Harassment. Intimidation. Mandatory anti-union meetings. Threats to cut benefits and shut down the plant. Bill was told he’d lose his job. The company’s tactics succeeded with enough workers to tip the election.

The next day, Bill was fired. That was back in 2002. The NLRB ordered him reinstated with back pay and called for a new election.

But after five years of appeals and delays by the company, Bill’s still waiting. Without a steady job. Borrowing from his kids. And no union to help his co-workers fight for better wages, benefits and respect.

In Bill’s words, “The laws are set up for the employer to win.” And what happened to Bill happens to workers across America every day.

That’s why we need
the Employee Free Choice Act (more info here). So workers can make a free choice to win better treatment at work and a better life for their families.
And take a guess as to which presidential candidate supports the Employee Free Choice Act (nice try on the “in bed with labor” remark, Tweety).

For What It's Worth

I started to answer Prof Marcus’ comment to the AP post below, but I realized it might be getting too long for a comment, so I’m just making a new post out of it.

As long as you’ve made this good point, please allow me to tell you about how I wrestle with this every day.

Instead of trying to chop off the stinking, rotten head of the snake all the time, as it were, I try to take a shot at it every now and then but also go after everything that gives the snake its phony sense of legitimacy so the snake is left to slither on its own.

That’s why I said what I said about that dumb David Espo “story,” and that’s why I chimed in against Broderius Ignoramus the other day and this insulting fiction of his about how everything is going to be so gosh-golly-bleeping-swell in the new Congress, and that’s why I slam the Repugs who support Dubya every chance I can get. I’ve got to mix it up – I can’t hammer Dubya over and over and over again because I’d lose my goddamn mind, to say nothing of the people who graciously take time to read what I have to say (which is actually pretty incredible when you think that anybody values my opinion or any blogger’s to any degree enough to do that, though I’m not trying to puff myself up by saying that).

Yes, it’s infuriating that more isn’t happening with impeaching this clown and his gang of crooks. Yes, it’s true that the fact that we’d be officially stuck with Cheney isn’t really an excuse for the status quo. Yes, it’s true that the attendant media circus of right-wing whores prattling on about that bad Democrat party again in the event that the impeachment ball got rolling for real isn’t a reason to let up either.

But I just want to mention something else about that, and I wish I could remember where I heard this first. You probably know as well as I that when the investigation of the break-in at the Watergate hotel began, no one had any idea it would lead to Nixon’s resignation. Even though Pelosi has said that impeachment is off the table, they are investigating this administration and Congress is FINALLY exercising its function of oversight. There is movement in the direction that may God willing one day lead to impeachment (including the Obama/Patrick Murphy/Thompson bill – even though the people of this country are way ahead of the political “leadership,” I can’t think of any other way to play this game).

I’m keenly aware of the fact that Molly Ivins, with her dying breath, was telling people to go out in the street and protest the Iraq war, and I never feel like I’m doing enough about that. I’ve also just about given up trying to persuade friends and family members by presenting the facts and trying to initiate a discussion. The latest example of head-butting on this was with a guy I was friends with for years, and I mentioned how Biden is such a rotten candidate because he supported the fraud bankruptcy bill and tort “reform,” and my former friend said, “Well, I support Biden on that. He’s trying to keep people from credit card abuse, and I believe in personal accountability.” And I got pissed and said, “Like I don’t?”

Suffice to say that it went downhill from there – I didn’t even bother trying to explain to him that the majority of people don’t lose their homes because of credit card fraud; people max out their savings and credit cards and lose their homes often because of health care costs or job loss…don’t even try to lay that stupid, AEI-approved “personal accountability” crap on me!

So what I’m trying to do here, along with many other bloggers whose company I am proud to share, is fight the ideological battle. Bushco wouldn’t have been able to acquire its power unless the vast majority of this country believed a whole boatload of ideologically-generated crap, and I’m just trying to do my part to debunk it a bit at the time. I’m chipping away at the façade in the hope that it will completely crumble one day. Given the usual constraints, I don’t know what else I can do.
I’ll get back to creating my usual content as soon as I can.

The AP Strikes Again

I read this excerpt from the following AP story (near the end on page 3) about the Democratic Party trying to hold Bush accountable for the Iraq War in Congress, and I almost lost my mind.

Apart from legislation, Democrats have embarked on an effort to undermine public support for the war by holding numerous hearings.
I have news for David Espo; there isn't a whole hell of a lot of public support for the Iraq war here or elsewhere to be "undermined."

If Espo himself wrote that line, he should be fired. If not, the editor responsible for it should be booted immediately instead.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Tuesday Videos

Happy Birthday to Tim Brown of The Boo Radleys ("Lazarus" - interesting '90s/faux '60s sound; by the way, the name of the band is a character from what novel?)...

...and Frankie Laine died today ("The Sunny Side Of The Street" - couldn't find "Jezebel," unfortunately).

Rockin' With Johnny E.

I'm a little late on this, but after reading this Will Bunch post, I think Sen. John Edwards needs a little help here.

I haven't seen the Chevy ad Bunch refers to, and how can you not respect John Mellencamp for his support of progressive causes, but yes, I think Edwards needs to diversify his musical selection a bit to help get his message through.

So with that in mind, I'd like to see the senator choose from the following selections in the event that he is given a future opportunity to do so:

World Party (“Ship of Fools”)

Trapt (“Stand Up”)

Cake (“The Distance”)

Widespread Panic (“Hope In A Hopeless World”)

Soundtrack from “Pippin” (“Magic To Do/Corner Of The Sky”)

Laura Nyro (“Save The Country”)

Todd Rundgren (“Healer/Time Heals”)

Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes ("Wake Up, Everybody")

Jackson Browne ("World In Motion")

Weezer ("Buddy Holly" - helps to lighten up a bit)
I've already featured some of these selections on the site, and I'll try to show more of them in the future.

The Free Trade Gospel According To Ben

So far, I would say (from this story) that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is the leading contender for the WTF Moment Of The Year with this quote.

"The influence of globalization on inequality has been moderate and almost surely less important than the effect of skill-biased technological change," Bernanke said.
Bernanke was speaking to the Omaha Chamber of Commerce at the time he came up with this “duuuh” moment (“skill-biased technological change” sounds like a phrase right out of an Econ 101 textbook, and I definitely "heart" the description of "the Democrat-controlled" Congress in the AP story).

I took some time to beat my head against a wall while I pondered this, then downed a fistful of Ibuprofen and found this link to discount the “moderate” influence of globalization (including this excerpt - I know we know this stuff, but to answer Bernanke’s inane remarks, it must be pointed out again )…

In the 1980s, this "offshoring" seemed limited to manufacturing jobs in blue-collar industries such as textiles, steel or metal fabrication. The U.S. responded by helping create the precursors of the Advanced Technology Program and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program at the Department of Commerce.

Recently, however, offshoring has begun to strike at the very high-tech jobs that we believed U.S. workers would move to fill as blue-collar opportunities shifted to other countries. A Cable News Network report in early March 2006 noted that 500,000 American jobs have migrated to India in recent years. That number is expected to triple in the next two years as American companies seek to cuts costs and streamline business. India is but one example of a country that seems to be gaining employment at the expense of American workers. Over the last six years, the U.S. has lost just under 3 million jobs due to offshoring.

Now, we are witnessing software engineering, computer design, research and development, radiology, architecture and design and other high-value-added positions moving offshore to low-wage markets such as India, China, Ireland, and Brazil.
To be fair, I should mention that Bernanke is advocating education and training, which is never a bad thing. However, he represents an administration that has failed on both of those counts (education and jobs, including job training).

And Bernanke also said that “research is inconclusive about the impact of the minimum wage on income inequality.”

It’s nice that Bernanke at least acknowledged the obvious fact that income inequality exists in this country. The “research is inconclusive” part of the sentence is standard Bushco boilerplate, though.

On this topic, I think this provides important information (particularly this excerpt)…

Robert Frank, an economist at Cornell University, for instance, found that in counties with the widest income gaps, rates of personal bankruptcy and divorce rates were higher than average.

He also notes that when wealthier families see their incomes rise at a faster pace than everyone else, their spending can create what he calls an "expenditure cascade." That is, the demand for bigger and better homes or safer cars can create new standards for those lower down on the economic scale.

But since their incomes aren't growing as fast, they have a hard time keeping up, leading to what Frank calls "welfare loss." For example, as home prices rise, it becomes harder to afford a home in a neighborhood with good public schools.

And when the majority of households come under financial stress to provide a solid life for their families, voters will be less inclined to pay for public services such as bridge and highway maintenance, port security and food inspection.

And that can adversely affect everyone.
Indeed. Somehow market capitalization and consolidation doesn’t mean jack when our infrastructure is crumbling, does it, Ben?

Funny As A Rubber Crutch

Since I spend so little time any more trying to find anything newsworthy in The Philadelphia Inquirer, I almost missed this attempt at humor that they published yesterday from Andy Borowitz, conservative comedian (which, to me, is an oxymoron if one ever existed, because these people are never humorous in an intentional way).

Actually, in a way, I wish I had missed this column.

It’s supposed to be about a gathering of terrorists including bin Laden giving something like a “State of the Jihad” speech, with terrorists mimicking Dubya and Congress in their words and behavior.

And by the way, Borowitz sticks in the obligatory jab at John Kerry at the very end, as you’ll see.

Al-Qaeda terror mastermind Osama bin Laden delivered his annual State of the Jihad address last night and immediately faced criticism that the speech was short on specifics and little more than a laundry list of vague threats.

Speaking from his cave in an undisclosed location in the mountainous region between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the world's most wanted man began his address with an upbeat assessment of the global jihad against the infidels.

"Friends, terrorists, extremists and madmen," bin Laden began. "The state of the jihad is strong."

The al-Qaeda leader's 50-minute address was interrupted by applause at least 35 times, usually when bin Laden punctuated his remarks by saying, "Death to America."

Bin Laden sounded themes that were familiar to audiences of previous State of the Jihad addresses, such as his warning that "al-Qaeda must become less dependent on foreign sources of chaos."

As is his tradition, he also used the address to acknowledge several "heroes of the jihad," including one terrorist, Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, who risked his life by pulling another terrorist out of the path of a charging donkey.

But the al-Qaeda kingpin was in for some blistering criticism in the official response to the State of the Jihad address, which this year was delivered by opposition lunatic Hassan al-Medfaii.

"What we heard tonight was little more than 'stay the course,' " said Medfaii. "As a madman, I had to ask, 'Where's the beef?' "

Elsewhere, Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.) bowed out of the 2008 presidential race, stating, "I decided to run for president before I decided against it."
This isn’t funny, and my reaction really doesn’t have anything to do with politics.

I firmly believe that someone who is Democratic/liberal/progressive/whatever would have enough common sense to know not to write something like this.

If Borowitz or others of his ilk had the slightest clue as to what our thoughts, feelings and prayers are all about concerning that awful day forever burned into our consciousness, he would know that there will never, never be anything funny about Osama bin Laden and his fellow terrorist cowards who perpetrated these monstrous acts while what passed for our political leadership slept.

By concocting this sick, unfunny joke, Borowitz has confirmed for all time that he will never understand what 9/11 was all about, since he believes it is just an excuse to make political points of some fashion and nothing more than that.

And given the fact that the Inquirer saw fit to publish this crap, how interesting it is to learn today that Smerky himself will be writing a column for the Inquirer, yet the next step in the de-evolution of this once rightly proud newspaper (he already has a soapbox for the Daily News, so I guess it made ideological and financial sense to do this).

Smerconish has given generously to the 9/11 Memorial Garden in Lower Makefield, for which he deserves a lot of credit. I believe he is sincere in trying to provide help for the family members of the victims of the attacks.

In his very first column, then, Smerconish should slap down Borowitz for this insult and the publishers of the Inquirer for allowing it space in their newspaper. I disagree with Smerconish on practically everything, but unlike Borowitz ever will, I think he understands what is fair comment concerning that tragic day and what isn’t.

Update: After doing some minimal investigation, it turns out that Borowitz has appeared on CNN and NPR and has written for the New York Times and The New Yorker (I've never seen his work appear in either publication, but I'm not disputing that claim). Apparently, he's not a conservative per se, but on this occasion, he certainly wasn't a comedian either.

Where's The Rest Of Him?

(A takeoff on our hero’s line uttered in “King’s Row,” considered by some as his best performance, though I will admit that that doesn't also consider his presidency as a whole…)

My oh my, does J.D. Mullane have the nostalgia meter working overtime today!

You see, today would have been the 96th birthday of his hero Ronnie Reagan, so this gives J.D. an excuse to wax nostalgic all over the place concerning Regan’s “optimism” and his vision of “a shining city on a hill.”

Of course, it was easy for Ronnie to be “optimistic” since he played his role as an actor and conservative mouthpiece for the likes of G.E. and ratted out his friends in the ‘50s, as well as turning his back on someone like Gregory Peck, who had more compassion and intellect in his little finger than Reagan did in his whole body.

But before we get to the accolades, we have Mullane recounting how he was teased by his college roommates for having a Reagan photo in a dorm room (it always starts out with a festering grudge of some type, doesn’t it?). And of course, as a lead-in to his recall of Reagan’s presidency, he sums up those supposedly-nothing-but-awful years of Jimmy Carter in this manner…

Double-digit inflation. The Fairless Works slowly closing. Unemployment. Gas rationing. Hostages in Iran.
You see, we never had unemployment or a hostage ordeal (see Ronnie and George H.W.B.) for any other president besides Carter, as we know, to say nothing of jobs disappearing; Carter was hardly perfect as a president, but it’s hard to get a true picture of his administration when the freepers never give you one. How about credit for the Camp David accords and the Panama Canal treaty while you’re at it, J.D. (yes, I know I should chastise myself for such a foolish notion as fairness from this hack).

Another thing: I should point out that Mullane somehow doesn’t manage to work in a slur against “hippies” in this column, which is shocking. No tear-gassing jokes today? Dag, you’re slipping, J.D.!

Of course, if J.D. wanted to be “fair and balanced” concerning his hero, he would have noted that al Qaeda formed as a result of our intervention in the Soviet-Afghan war under Ronnie’s watch, as well as the bombing of our Marine barracks and our liberation of Grenada, which was such a threat to this country being that it is a tiny Caribbean island (riiiight). And don’t even get me started on Iran-Contra, OK?

I’ll tell you what: as long as we’re on the subject of birthdays, here is someone who I think deserves credit also who actually served, and here is a remembrance of a musical force and spiritual leader also born on this day courtesy of Shaun at Kiko’s House.

And as long as I’m mentioning the Courier Times, I should note that they published another hit piece from Don Mihalek today; this is the guy who once said that anyone who voted for Patrick Murphy for Congress was guilty of inflicting “collateral damage” on the 8th district. It seems that Mihalek is mad at Murphy because Patrick didn’t attend a Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House for a Marine who gave his life in duty, as well as the fact that Patrick has only one office in the district.

I’m sure that if Patrick had had any chance whatsoever to attend the ceremony for Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham, he would have done so, but I would guess that it’s kind of difficult to break away from the job of representing this district on the floor of Congress when the new session has just started, especially when you’re new on the job as Patrick is. And Mihalek also has some partisan gripes in his Guest Opinion that is nothing but the typical nonsense.

I wish the Courier Times had acknowledged the fact that Mihalek used to work for the Mike Fitzpatrick campaign, but it’s possible that they may not know that (I found that out at the local party gathering a few weeks ago).

(And by the way, concerning Patrick, this tells you part of what he's been up to; we should all check this out, and that means you too, Mihalek.)

Let's Not Go Crazy

Congratulations to Prince, by the way, for putting on a halftime show at the Super Bowl on Sunday that didn't manage to make the fundamentalist nut jobs lose their minds.

And to get an idea of the consequences had he done so, take a look at this.

Monday, February 05, 2007

A "Return To Civility," Huh?

Gosh, what will David Broder make of this? I mean, hadn't Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell forged "a special relationship" or some such nonsense, according to the august dean of the Washington press corps?

Click here to learn how you can respond to the latest pro-war cowardice from the Repugs in the Senate.

(Or click here to contact your senator or house representative on this directly.)

Update 2/6: Actually, David Broder is much worse than merely a propagandist (as Oliver Willis notes here).

It's Jimmy G.'s "Fun With Food"!

So, despite the entreaties of consumer groups, it turns out that the FDA won’t be labeling food according to whether or not the animal used for the food was created by cloning, artificial insemination, or sexual intercourse.

(I can just hear that ol’ wah-wah guitar cranking up now with Marvin Gaye crooning in the background – “hey baby, meet me behind the stable after midnight, and come alone!...”).

Why not just label whether or not the food was produced by cloning, and leave it at that?

I mean, after all, didn’t we have a little dustup in this country when Monsanto tried to export bioengineered food to Europe (with even Prince Charles claiming that Monsanto was “trying to play God”)?

At least our former 8th district U.S. congressional representative James C. Greenwood will be happy to hear that the cloned food won’t be labeled; he of course has no wish to mislead us, given the fact that he’s president and C.E.O. of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (what possible motivation could he have, right?).

(And doesn’t our boy Jim look so much happier since he cashed in from that gig in Congress?)

Another thing…I’m wondering if people who oppose stem-cell research of any kind also oppose cloning or bioengineering of our food. How could you object to one on the grounds of “messing with the powers of the Infinite” or whatever and not the other as well?

More Taxing Nonsense From Dubya

Now we know why our red-state president was trying to make nice with the House Democratic leadership on Saturday; he knew he was going to send another turkey of a budget to Capitol Hill, and he was trying to blow smoke up their butts.

And I have to laugh at the reporting, actually, when our corporate media keeps stating that “the President is proposing painful cuts” to the traditional entitlements (as noted in the story, he’s proposing cuts to or elimination of 141 government programs).

He’s still trying to “drown it in the bathtub,” and always will be. It’s silly to report this stuff as anything other than that. Don’t imply that this is an occurrence that isn’t part of a long-since-etched-in-stone neocon agenda.

We could focus at a lot of what is wrong here, but I want to take a closer look at the alternative minimum tax, which represents but a single issue that is timely since I’m sure many of us are ready to do our taxes by now.

As noted in the CNN story…

(Bush) only includes a one-year fix for the alternative minimum tax, which was initially designed to make sure the wealthy paid their fair share of taxes but is ensnaring more middle class wage earners.
Here are here are detailed articles on the alternative minimum tax. As stated in the Wikipedia article…

The AMT was introduced by the Tax Reform Act of 1969,[1] and became operative in 1970. It was intended to target 155 high-income households that were eligible for so many tax benefits that they wound up paying little or no income tax under the tax code of the time.

In recent years, the AMT has become the subject of increased attention. Because the AMT is not indexed to inflation, an increasing number of middle-income taxpayers have been and will be finding themselves subject to this higher tax.
Here is a scenario of how a family could be affected by the AMT (as noted in the report to Congress)…

…in 1993, a married couple with two children under 17 and a total income of $65,000 would have owed $9,035 in federal income taxes under the regular income tax. Their tentative AMT tax liability would have been $5,200.

Because of tax indexation of the regular income tax and the addition of the new child tax credit, in 1999, a married couple with two children under 17 and a total income of $65,000 will only owe $6,021 under the regular income tax. Their AMT liability, however, remains at $5,200. As shown by this example, indexation of the regular income tax combined with new tax credits has greatly narrowed the gap between regular income tax liabilities and AMT liabilities.

The potential problems of an indexed regular tax and an unindexed AMT have long been recognized by tax analysts. In 1997, approximately 605,000 taxpayers or about 1% of all taxpayers were subject to the AMT.

Preliminary estimates indicate that by 2010, when the effects of both inflation and the legislative changes contained in the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 are taken into account, the number of taxpayers falling under either the AMT or AMT limits on their tax credits under the regular income tax will grow to 35 million (33% of total taxpayers). If the EGTRRA provisions are made permanent, then by 2012, 41 million taxpayers (37% of total taxpayers) would be affected by the AMT.

The individual income tax rate reductions and the marriage penalty tax relief provisions of the 2001 Act are expected to increase the number of taxpayers subject to the AMT. Indeed, many taxpayers in the middle income ranges will find that the AMT will “take back” much of the tax reductions contained in the 2001 Act.
So, in yet another bait-and-switch, the 2001 EGTRRA will giveth, but the non-indexed-for-inflation AMT will eventually taketh away.

And this from the Wikipedia article offers an idea as to why Bushco would have no desire to look at this issue…

The AMT disproportionately affects those who live in wealthier areas with higher cost of living and areas with higher state and local taxes, areas which are primarily represented by Democrats. Thus, many Democrats favor a tax reform of the AMT that would benefit primarily those who would be objectively viewed as wealthy by the standard of the country as a whole or their incomes, although they only live what they, themselves, like to call "a middle class lifestyle". Some Republicans wish to package AMT reform together with extensions of other tax cuts, which Democrats in general oppose.
Because, as we know, as far as the Repugs are concerned, “tax cuts are their Jesus.”

So what would happen if the AMT were adjusted for inflation (Wiki again)?

The Joint Committee on Taxation reports that indexing for inflation would explode the deficit by $370 billion over the next several years.[2] The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (an advocate for low-income Americans) states repealing the AMT, assuming that the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 are made permanent and without other tax increases to make up the shortfall, would add $1.2 trillion to the debt over the next 10 years. Deficits would also widen over the next decade, with deficits as far as the eye can see.
So basically, if the Dems were to try and fix the AMT, it would almost automatically require a tax increase and/or such a drastic cut in entitlements that they would get blasted from both barrels of that shotgun, as it were.

And the Repugs would sit back and laugh because their own cowardly non-stewardship would have created yet another mess for which the Dems would end up ultimately paying the price for doing the right thing.

(And this was as we expected, wasn't it?)

Don't Even Think About It, Traitor

In response to Ralph Nader’s recent rant over Hillary Clinton, saying that Nader would enter the race if “panderer” Hillary Clinton won the Democratic Party nomination for president next year, I would like to point out the following from this link, quoting Harvard professor Laurence Tribe in 2004 when Nader staged another failed presidential campaign…

Tribe alleges that Nader's decision to run is based more on ego than on a desire to improve the country. "For Nader to use the ballot box in states like Florida as a pulpit for his views, however progressive and enlightened some of those views may be, seems to me an inexcusable indulgence and a grave abuse of the electoral process," said Tribe.

"It is an abuse that Ralph Nader is perpetrating at incalculable human and ecological cost, and one that, among its many tragic consequences, risks fully erasing the great legacy that Nader would otherwise have left in his wake."

This is not the first time Professor Tribe has argued an important case stemming from Florida and impacting a presidential election. In 2000, Tribe represented Vice President Al Gore before the United States Supreme Court over the issue of whether ballots should be recounted in Florida. Many believe Nader was responsible for Gore's loss during the 2000 election, when Gore lost Florida by 537 votes. Nader garnered 97,000 votes in Florida during the 2000 election, votes which some believe would have gone to Gore.
I realize it’s probably fruitless to point this out to Nader, but I’ll try anyway.

He shares a large measure of responsibility for the failed Iraq war, the continued fouling of the environment, the ongoing quest to offshore our jobs, the corporate plundering facilitated by our happily-now-departed Repug congress and our red-state president, and the continual onslaught against the New Deal legacy that has protected the middle class of this country for decades and which has been, primarily over the last 30 years, severely eroded.

How Nader can still claim to be a champion of the rights of consumers and still carry on with all of this on his resume is one of life’s great mysteries as far as I’m concerned.

And one more thing: though I share some of his reservations about Senator Clinton, it is stupidly naïve of Nader to accuse her of “pandering” when every other politician does the same thing. That is an unfortunate fact; I think that it’s important to consider the degree of pandering, and on that score, Clinton is pretty typical (versus an extreme case like John McCain, who seems to flip-flop minute by minute).

Though I don’t support Hillary Clinton, I will have to if she wins the nomination of the Democratic Party, much like I did when Bob Casey defeated Chuck Pennacchio in the Democratic U.S. Senatorial primary. And if Nader truly cared about acting politically in the name of causes he professes to support, he would do the same thing, instead of whining like the old, tired egotist he has sadly become.

Disposable Players, Disposable Lives

So let Peyton Manning have all his awards and all of his glory.

Go ahead, enjoy it, you creep. Continue to dime out your teammates and complain about your offensive line when you think it doesn’t give you enough protection or your defense if it can’t hold a lead.

(And I also don’t like the guy because he donates to the Repugs.)

But please allow me to shift a bit at this point.

As I made the rounds this morning, I came across this post in a football vein from Taylor Marsh at HuffPo about the lack of medical care and disability compensation to former players, and Marsh cites the example of former St. Louis Cardinals offensive lineman Conrad Dobler.

I wish Marsh could have found a better example to make her case, because Dobler was truly one of the game’s dirtiest players. However, fair is fair – he did put in his time, and if the NFLPA wasn’t such an utterly toothless union, he would receive compensation. As Marsh notes…

The NFL takes care of their great players, right? Players like Dobler have pensions and health insurance, or can get disability right? Wrong. Doctor after doctor have pronounced Dobler 90% disabled, but then the NFL brings their own doctors in and... well, you know the drill. What the NFL is doing to former pros is un-American.
This comes not too long after the New York Times story documenting the findings of a neuropathologist who identified a link between repeated concussions suffered by former Eagles player Andre Waters and the brain damage that very likely played into his depression and led to his suicide. We also have the example of former Pittsburgh Steelers’ hall-of-fame center Mike Webster, who died in September 2002 after a string of health woes that began with brain trauma diagnosed after his playing days ended.

This post mentions what former players Paul Krause, Leroy Kelly and Joe DeLamielleure, all Hall of Famers, have had to endure without health benefits (the more I read about this issue, the more I understand Marsh’s rage at NFL players union head Gene Upshaw).

And now, we have former New England Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson complaining that coach Bill Belichick made him play too soon after he’d suffered a concussion, which subsequently led to another concussion. Now, in Johnson’s words, "There's something wrong with me. There's something wrong with my brain. And I know when it started."

I wonder if Johnson will have any difficulty qualifying for the disability health benefit he apparently will need now, probably for the rest of his life?

Also, I’d like to ask anyone out there who may be reading this who professes to hate “government” a question: Do you really want to see congressional intervention here?

If we can spend time and money on a steroids investigation for major league baseball, shouldn’t we do the same thing on behalf of the health of these men who have contributed so much (as noted, their very lives in some cases) to our enjoyment on Sundays?

If you want to see that happen, then click here and tell your elected representatives. But if you want the NFL to clean up its act without taking that step, click here and tell that to Gene Upshaw yourself.

Or better yet, if you’re a Colts fan, contact Peyton Manning and tell him to speak up on the behalf of former players instead of himself for a change. I don’t encourage this, but he’s one head-shot away from la-la land himself, and some empathy would be nice.