Saturday, May 12, 2007

Help The Newportville, PA Fire Company

Trying to sneak in this request from Patrick Murphy - just got it today...

Dear Friends,

Every day firefighters serve and protect our communities, volunteering their time and putting their lives on the line. Today, one of those brave fire companies needs our help.

The Newportville Fire Company is the only company in Pennsylvania to be selected as one of 10 finalists in the Circuit City/Firedog “Salute Your Local Firehouse” contest, and we are asking for your support. Read the story submitted by Dawn Rosales at and cast your vote for the Newportville Fire Company.

Every vote cast can earn the fire company another dollar and if Newportville receives the most votes, it will be awarded a $100,000 prize. This money will go to purchasing much needed equipment to help ensure the safety of our community.

You can vote for Newportville even if you do not live in the 8th District. The contest is open to anyone in the United States. When you vote for Newportville you will receive a confirmation email. Be sure to open the confirmation email and verify your vote otherwise the vote will not be counted.

Time is running out. The deadline for votes is Sunday, May 13.

So please go to right now and cast your vote. These brave men and women dedicate their lives to keeping our families safe, and this is a perfect way to thank them for all they do.


Patrick J. Murphy
I just cast mine a few minutes ago - good luck guys.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday Videos

Social Distortion ("Don't Take Me For Granted" - read whatever you want into that, or nothing at all if you wish)...

...Happy belated birthday to Philip Bailey, formerly of Earth, Wind and Fire ("Easy Lover," with Phil Collins; so exciting to see rock stars take helicopter rides and learn about the aerodynamics of flight - zzzzz - it's a good thing this is such a good song since this is full of kissass '80s vanity crap)...

...yesterday, the former John Simon Ritchie would have been 50 years old (here's his utterly twisted take on "My Way," recreated in "Sid and Nancy" starring Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb - and no, I definitely do not endorse any of this)...

...and in honor of today's birthday of Butch Trucks, here is a performance of The Allman Brothers Band on "The Tonight Show" from '91(the first number is "End Of The Line," and the second with Doc Severinsen and some of the "Tonight Show" band - including the recently departed Tommy Newsom - is "Kind of Bird," a tribute to Charlie Parker, with great playing by Doc, Dickie Betts and Warren Haynes...Johnny got into some really cool stuff towards the end of his run, and this is an example)...

..and before I forget, Happy Mother's Day on Sunday!

Puffing Away All Credibility

(I should note that my typically sporadic and light weekend posting will probably continue into next Tuesday.)

I don’t smoke cigarettes for a lot of reasons. Aside from the fact that my body rejected it at an early age, I’ve never found it pleasurable in any way. I also have a very special animus towards the cigarette companies that continued to manufacture and sell them in this country long after the surgeon general’s report in 1964 confirmed the link between smoking and lung cancer. As far as I’m concerned, these cretins are responsible for addicting an entire generation of men and women in this country, and they continue to do so even now all over the world.

That being said, I should add that there is now an entire body of information in existence that documents the dangers of cigarette smoking. There are all kinds of ways for people to try and break their addiction (not always guaranteed, I realize – I know what my father went through, and he never really completely kicked it), and the movie “The Insider” even depicts the games played by the tobacco industry.

In short, I think if someone decides to start smoking in this day and age, they have themselves to blame for it first and foremost.

Does that mean we should “cast a blind eye” towards how cigarette smoking is portrayed on the movies and T.V.? Of course not. However, I think this story (about the possibility of movies receiving an R rating for cigarette smoking) is a little worrisome.

Here’s a statement demonstrating my mastery of the obvious; the movie ratings system is a big deal if you’re a parent. My biggest concerns (not necessarily in the same order all the time) if I’m watching with the young one are excessive violence, sex, and language. He already knows, though, that cigarette smoking is bad, though we reinforce that message from time to time.

But what if some well-meaning individuals out there start throwing their weight around on this? Suppose, for example, that if in “Spider Man 2” (and don’t tell me anything about the third movie – we’ll get to it one of these days), Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst were smoking in addition to all of the scenes of Doc Ock bashing people with blood splattering all over the place?

It’s a great movie, but it’s borderline PG-13 as it is. If people in the movie were smoking and it was rated R, though, then that would make a big difference because he would not be able to watch it.

And yes, I’ve seen “Pulp Fiction” (another example), and the characters in the movie smoke like chimneys, in addition to doing all kinds of other things that I definitely don’t advocate for anyone else. But given the rating the movie has for the other reasons I alluded to, it should only appeal to adults. And if an adult is persuaded to smoke for the first time because of what John Travolta and Uma Thurman are doing, then I think they have bigger issues than just a newly acquired addiction to cigarettes.

In the Times story, film producer Lindsay Doran states “it would be nice if we could leave this to the filmmakers.” Actually, I think it would be more than “nice.” I think that is the way to go here, and here’s another factor…

“It’s an art, not a science,” said Joan Graves, chairman of the ratings board, of the actual weight that would be placed on smoking in assigning a rating. “It all depends on how impactful the smoking is.”
I think the Graves comment definitely applies to a movie like “Pulp Fiction.” There’s a time to let adults be adults and do bad things depending on the creative vision on the person behind the work.

Anything else sure would be a drag (sorry – too easy).

Smerky Notices Our Dead Troops – Film At 11

This post showed up on HuffPo yesterday, and I left a comment. However, my comment did not appear despite a confirmation message, so I’m going to repeat and elaborate somewhat on what I already said.

(And by the way – sorry to complain here, but I’m not sure how else to address this – it appears that I have been banned from posting comments at HuffPo. I can only conclude this because I did so previously, but as of a month or so ago I have been unable to. And I attempted to comment at different times on three different computers running the same browser but three different operating systems and two different antivirus/popup blocker applications, and the same result occurred each time. If HuffPo is going to block my comments, oh well, but the courtesy of a notification and/or explanation would have been nice.)

Anyway, back to the post, which is Smerky’s latest on Marine First Lieutenant Travis Manion and Army First Lieutenant Colby Umbrell, both of whom were from Doylestown, PA (both were killed in Iraq recently).

Smerky concludes his recount of the town’s solemn remembrance with this…

It's difficult to localize a war fought around the globe when daily stories describe a death toll pushed upward by often-faceless, nameless soldiers killed in combat.

But things have changed. Never again will I read a headline on war dead and see only words. The war has now come home.
Witness the august corporate media columnist waxing philosophical and sympathetic in Broder-esque fashion over more of our fine dead service people who, before he lost their lives, happened to reside in or near Smerky’s area code.

Well, since our military was apparently invisible to you until now as you helped lead the chorus telling us all to Sit Down, Shut Up And Clap Louder for Dubya’s Formerly Excellent Iraq Adventure, why don’t you check here to learn more about those from our army and elsewhere who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in this carnage?

And one more thing, Smerky – why don’t you give a listen to this which will give you a little more understanding as to how the majority of this country feels about this stinking war?

Update 1: And from the network that let Smerky sit in the Imus chair for a week (lumping TV and radio together here), we have this bit of idiocy.

Update 2: Props to Patrick Murphy for this.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (5/11/07)

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.


Bush Iraq veto. Voting 222-203, the House on Wednesday failed to reach a two-thirds majority for overriding President Bush's veto of a bill (HR 1591) that required the withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Iraq starting by Oct. 1. The bill, which set no mandatory date for completing the pullout, would appropriate about $100 billion for combat operations and other military purposes and nearly $25 billion for nonwar programs.

A yes vote was to override the veto.

Voting yes: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.), and Joe Sestak (D., Pa.)

Voting no: Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), H. James Saxton (R., N.J.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
Typical Repug party-line bullshit (sorry for the bad word, but when it comes to the Iraq war, I can’t think of a better one).

Hate crimes prosecutions. Members voted Wednesday, 237-180, to expand the federal law against hate crimes to include offenses based on sexual orientation, gender or disability. The bill (HR 1592), which awaits Senate action, authorizes federal grants and law-enforcement resources to help state and local officials combat hate crimes. The law targets crimes of violence, not speech.

A yes vote was to expand the hate-crimes law.

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

Voting no: Pitts and Smith.

Not voting: Fattah
Once again, Joe Pitts emerges as an utter buffoon (so laughably easy to do the right thing here), and votes like this are the reason why I will always be wary of Chris Smith no matter how many favorable votes he may cast on behalf of our veterans (though he and his fellow Repug enablers have no trouble sentencing our current military to hell on earth for no good reason in Iraq, as we know).

Head Start renewal. The House on Wednesday approved, 365-48, a five-year renewal of the Head Start antipoverty program for children of ages 3 to 5 and the Early Head Start program for infants, toddlers and pregnant women.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

Voting no: Pitts.

Not voting: Brady and Fattah.
Add infants, toddlers, and pregnant women to the groups of Americans who will never receive any support whatsoever in this lifetime from Joe Pitts.

Religion-based hiring. Voting 195-222, the House on Wednesday refused to strip HR 1429 (above) of language that prohibits Head Start programs from using religion as a basis for hiring and firing staff members.

A yes vote backed religion-based Head Start hiring.

Voting yes: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton and Smith.

Voting no: Andrews, Holden, Murphy, Schwartz and Sestak.

Not voting: Brady and Fattah.
I’m sure, in some afterlife somewhere, Tomás de Torquemada is sighing in despair at this moment (you can read about him here – sounds like the Repugs want to “party like it’s 1498”).


Prescription drug imports. The Senate voted Thursday, 63-28, to advance a measure permitting U.S. citizens to import Food and Drug Administration- approved prescription drugs from countries such as Canada without interference from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. This occurred during debate on a pending bill expanding FDA authority (S 1082).

A yes vote backed the amendment.

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

Not voting: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.)
Interesting vote for Biden to miss, by the way.

And I’m going to “jump the gun” a bit into next week’s Area Votes in Congress writeup here and note that the Senate voted 93-1 this week to pass a bill to clean up the drug testing process as part of an effort to make the FDA get its collective act together (yet another government agency nearly ruined by Bushco).

The reason I’m noting this is that a casualty of the bill was the measure enabling consumers to buy drugs from foreign suppliers, and that is why Bennie Sanders of Vermont voted against it – God bless him.

I suppose I should blame Ted Kennedy for that, but I don’t. He needed a veto-proof majority in the event that President Stupid Head decided that he didn’t like this bill that straightens out the FDA in a number of ways, and eliminating this provision was the only way to get it (boy, for a guy who gave everything a free pass until now, Dubya seems to have that veto pen at the ready all the time). Kennedy said he would return to the issue of allowing us to buy drugs offshore, and I believe him.

This week, the House took up homeland security and intelligence budgets and a measure to fund local police hiring. And as I already pointed out, The Senate continued to debate expanded authority for the Food and Drug Administration.

“Liberation” For All, Even Benny

Today’s New York Times reports that Pope Benedict XVI met with Brazil’s president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and greeted a crowd of 30,000 at a stadium where the predominantly young Brazilians chanted “Yes to life! No to abortion!” before the Pontiff arrived.

It all sounds very positive, and if this helps to propagate the faith, all the better. However, I have some concerns, as you may have expected.

Though the Times article notes that Benny and Lula (sounds like a burlesque act) talked about protecting the environment, I sincerely hoped His Holiness told Brazil’s president in no uncertain terms to keep his mitts off the Amazon rainforest. I’m also glad that the Vatican appears to have backtracked somewhat from its statement that Mexican politicians who voted to legalize early-term abortions had automatically excommunicated themselves.

My biggest concern, though, as noted in this Times story which preceded Pope Benedict’s visit to Brazil, is the Vatican’s silence (for the moment) on the Liberation Theology movement (this link provides more, including this excerpt)…

(Liberation theology is) a school of thought among Latin American Catholics according to which the Gospel of Christ demands that the church concentrate its efforts on liberating the people of the world from poverty and oppression.
The Times story from May 7th notes the following concerning the recent history of the movement…

In the past, adherents stood firm as death squads made scores of martyrs to the movement, ranging from Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero of El Salvador, killed in 1980 while celebrating Mass, to Dorothy Mae Stang, an American-born nun shot to death in the Brazilian Amazon in February 2005. Compared to that, the pressures of the Vatican are nothing to fear, they maintain.

“Despite everything, we continue to endure in a kind of subterranean way,” said Luiz Antonio Rodrigues dos Santos, a 55-year-old teacher active in the movement for nearly 30 years. “Let Rome and the critics say what they want; we simply persevere in our work with the poor and the oppressed.”
What is the problem that the Vatican has with this movement? The Liberation Theology article notes the following…

Liberation theology stirs Christians to take seriously the social and political impact of Jesus' life and death but fails to ground Jesus' uniqueness in the reality of his deity. It claims he is different from us by degree, not by kind, and that his cross is the climax of his vicarious identification with suffering mankind rather than a substitutionary death offered on our behalf to turn away the wrath of God and triumph over sin, death, and the devil. A theology of the cross which isolates Jesus' death from its particular place in God's design and shuns the disclosure of its revealed meaning is powerless to bring us to God, hence assuring the perpetuity of our theological abandonment.
I am hardly a Catholic scholar and certainly not in the same league as the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on this. However, I cannot possibly understand how the Vatican can demean the relevance of this movement given its goal of advocating for those who have nowhere else to turn.

I can’t think of anyone who believes what I do and does not adhere to the notion that everything we endure on this earth is part of the trial we face to assure our place in Heaven one day. But until we get there, how can we justify ignoring what I believe is our apostolic call on behalf of those Our Lord ministered for during his time on earth?

(Yeah, I know this is heavy stuff for a Friday and I haven’t bashed Bush yet today, but give me time.)

Update 5/15/07: Is Benny trying to get "the flock" out of here? - :-).

Don’t “Hedge” On Your Beliefs

I think that is the lesson from this story about John Edwards that appeared in USA Today about his recent work with Fortress Investment Group to learn about hedge funds (and I don’t think he has, by the way, concerning the title of this post).

And if you guesses that I was going to link to a Wikipedia article on hedge funds for more background, then you’re “too cool for school.”

There’s no simple way to describe what a hedge fund is, but one way to look at it is to consider it as a basket of security types whose payment terms can be quite complicated, depending on whether or not we’re talking about an equity or a bond or a forward exchange contract based on a derivative calculation, for example (some derivatives are pretty reliable based on a sound projection of performance by a particular security, and some derivatives are dangerously unreliable based on utter fantasy; as noted here, the Barings Bank collapse as well as the government default of Orange County, California have helped give derivatives a bad name).

One of the major points for us to consider here, though, is that, overwhelmingly, hedge fund investors are high net worth individuals, though that is starting to change. Also, hedge funds are not subject to oversight by the SEC, NASD or other federal regulatory oversight body in the U.S.

And as far as understanding all of this is concerned, I think Edwards is just about in the same boat as we are on this based on this quote…

"I didn't feel like I understand, and to be honest with you still learning right now, sort of the relationship between that world and the way money moves in this country through financial markets," Edwards said.

Edwards said he also spoke to some Wall Street investment firms such as Goldman Sachs besides exploring the position with Fortress. He said his role was to advise the firm about what he saw happening economically in the United States and during his travels overseas.

U.S. hedge funds, now numbering more than 9,000 with assets estimated to exceed $1 trillion, traditionally catered to the rich, as well as pension funds and university endowments, but are increasingly luring less wealthy investors.
A cynic would say that Edwards is learning about this to find out how he can use hedge funds to lessen his dependency on public campaign financing, as other presidential candidates have done (as noted here), and that may be correct.

However, I think it’s good for Edwards to learn more about this issue because, as others have noted (and this article dated from last October does also), in the event of a world wide recession of some type, we could be looking at a hedge fund collapse (this excerpt tells us more about something that I guarantee no one wants to see)…

…according to an article in Forbes, another potential disaster is brewing on the horizon, over something called "credit default swaps" and hedge funds reportedly account for 58 percent of all trading in these derivatives.

A credit swap is sort of an insurance policy on a bond, often a junk bond. If the bond defaults, the seller of the credit default swap has to pay up.

According to Forbes the total amount of bonds, loans and other debt covered by credit default swaps is $26 trillion or twice the annual economic output of the U.S. which means if the economy goes into a recession, the hedge fund industry will be in trouble ... and so will its investors.
All of this is way too rich for my blood, but I’m glad it isn’t for John Edwards. If you’re going to advocate freeing us from the tyranny of the wretched years since November 2000, then you’d better understand how we got to this position, and a lesson of this type is bound to help provide some pieces to that puzzle that can be used effectively during the campaign and (dare I hope?) an Edwards presidency.

Update 5/12/07: The ignorance and inanity of our corporate media is truly astonishing and depressing at the same time (and by the way, to find an example of a rich Democrat who looked out for the rest of us better than anyone until Bill Clinton, look no further than here).

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Thursday Videos

Arctic Monkeys ("Brainstorm")...

...I missed Bob Seger's birthday from last weekend ("Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" from the '60s on "Happening," the show hosted by Paul Revere and the Raiders - Mark Lindsay greeted Seger before the break; really groovy, you know?)...

...Happy Birthday Bono ("In God's Country" by U2)...

...and for any Philly-area folk out there, the Smothers Brothers will appear tomorrow night at the Keswick Theater in Glenside, PA as part of a tour marking the 40th anniversary of the T.V. show (hat tip to Michaela Majoun at WXPN for her good interview with Dick Smothers this morning that reminded me; in this clip, George Harrison shows up with nothing of particular interest to say - this is a better clip, but embedding is disabled, so I can only link to it.)

Goose Stepping With Our "Pal" Vlad

Did anybody catch the speech the Russian president gave to commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany yesterday?

Well, according to this New York Times story, it included these quotes…

“Moreover, in our time, these threats are not diminishing,” he said. “They are only transforming, changing their appearance. In these new threats, as during the time of the Third Reich, are the same contempt for human life and the same claims of exceptionality and diktat in the world.”
When contacted to find out what the $#!@ Putin was talking about, this is what a spokesperson has to say…

Sergei A. Markov, director of the Institute of Political Studies, who works closely with the Kremlin, said in a telephone interview that Mr. Putin was referring to the United States and NATO.

“He intended to talk about the United States, but not only,” Mr. Markov said in reference to the sentence mentioning the Third Reich.
Oh, that’s just great.

Please understand that I am the last person in this world who is going to defend Bushco’s imperial designs in this country and all over the globe, but I have to point out a few things.

This highly detailed Wikipedia article thoroughly examines the Eastern Front conflict of World War II, including signing of the Molotov-Ribbentropp pact of 1939 and how it was completely abrogated by Hitler with the commencement of Operation Barbarossa in 1941. Near the conclusion of this article, a table notes that the former Soviet Union lost 10,600,000 in the war, 6,600,000 were considered killed or missing in action, 5,200,000 were taken prisoner by the Axis powers, and 3,600,000 prisoners of war died in captivity. And the figure of U.S. soldiers lost, standing at about $16,500,000 as noted here, is likewise a staggering number.

If this were a case of Dubya mangling history in a speech, I would chalk it up to rank stupidity and nothing more. However, Vladimir Putin is not an idiot. His invocation of such an association between this country and a common foe from the prior century is to me a chilling message that he intends to bring Russia into superpower dominance once more as sort of an unholy combination of capitalist oil success and Communist aspiration of global dominance, and whether or not we happen to come along for the ride is completely irrelevant as far as he’s concerned.

This of course should have been met by a swift response by the person in charge of the executive branch of our government. However, as I mentioned yesterday, Dick Cheney was in Iraq, so that did not take place.

And in addition to being merely xenophobic, Putin was also being more than a little disingenuous. As noted here, Russia has provided Antonov-26 transport aircraft and six MI-24 attack helicopters to be used by the “janjaweed” in Darfur, while we and Great Britain threaten more sanctions on the government of President Omar al-Bashir if he fails to allow a peacekeeping force into that region.

And for good measure, China, our biggest debtor nation, sold arms and ammunition worth 12 million pounds to Sudan in 2005, along with spare parts worth 30 million pounds which could have been used to keep military aircraft airborne, also noted in the story.

And if you are a subscriber to Times Select, Nicholas Kristof tells us why all of this matters here.

Not A Lark-O For "Sarko"

As incoming French president Nicolas Sarkozy prepares to take over in a country where labor unions hold such critical power (not taking a stand on that one way or the other, just making an observation), look for some kind of a battle a la Margaret Thatcher versus Great Britain’s coal miners in 1984 (as noted here) as part of the attempt by “Sarko” to gain control (I would also draw a comparison to Reagan’s firing of the air traffic controllers – just because he was allowed to do it by law doesn’t mean that it was a smart move). And given Sarkozy’s past antagonism displayed towards Africans and Arabs in the 2005 riots (as noted here), it would be foolish not to anticipate more of the same.

I will admit that it is way too early to determine how all of this will play out. My main reason for mentioning this is to try and rein in some of this country’s freeper pundits who are waxing orgiastic over Sarkozy’s victory.

And I think the coverage of the French election between Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal showed more maturity than something we would be subjected to in this country in one regard; according to this New York Times report, there has been marital difficulty between Sarkozy and his wife, including a highly-publicized affair between her and another man, and her absence during Sarkozy’s victory has been noted (the couple have a son who, according to the Times report, should be 10 or 11 by now).

Gee, with the mother of their child absent, then I guess Smerky should have flown over to chide him and tell him how he can’t devote himself to political office without being a good father, right?

And by the way, Sarko, I was serious the other day when I said it was time for France to send troops to Iraq. That's the least one conservative "dawg" can do for his American homey Dubya, n'est-ce pas?

Immodest Mouse

After this story, I wonder what’s next. Danyal Duck teaching kids how to fire rocket launchers? Ghulam Goofy demonstrating new ways to hide explosives that can be detonated in crowded shopping markets?

Any sane person would disapprove of this, of course; even though Hamas pulled the show, I wonder how it was still able to air.

Still, though, it’s not as if Walt’s Rodent hasn’t been used for propaganda purposes before.

Watch Out For The Dagger

As our august corporate media fawns over The Decider Guy and his faux show of emotion regarding the Kansas tornado wreckage, I would ask that you read this great post from Kagro X at The Daily Kos about how our National Guard is unable to do its job since so many of its state-by-state resources have been deployed to Iraq.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Wednesday Videos

Death Cab For Cutie ("Crooked Teeth")...

...Happy Birthday to Billy Joel ("Leningrad," a beautiful, powerful song, with images that speak for themselves - he should return to writing the music he knows best one day).

Wednesday Wrapup (5/9)

- As an ongoing tribute to the eternal Molly Ivins (who surely would have something to say about this), I should take note of the fact that Texas Gov. Rick Perry has decided not to veto a law passed by the Texas legislature that, in effect, blocks Perry’s order to inoculate girls in that state of about age 11 with the human papillomavirus vaccine starting in September 2008. Perry will instead let this ban become law without his signature.

The story describing this sorry episode notes that Perry chided “the lege” (as Molly once referred to these life forms), appearing with women who have battled cervical cancer and HPV as he did so.

Maybe Perry’s action is merely a political calculation given that he probably would not win on this, amazingly enough. If so, it illustrates once again that the position of governor of the state of Texas is truly ceremonial and nothing more.

- I have a request; no more Iraq photo ops, OK?

And I promise I’m not saying this just because Darth Cheney went over there and apparently tried to do his very best Knute Rockne bit to rally the troops (yeah, Mr. Five Deferments really carries a lot of weight with our service people when it comes to stuff like that, I’m sure). And I’m not saying this just because Kit Bond and Saxby Chambliss went over there, came back, and told us everything was just peachy keen (if a Dem went over there, I’d still be in favor of ending this stuff).

I’m saying this because enough is enough. I mean, it’s not as if Bob Hope is going to descend from a chopper landing at Chu Lai Air Field with the Doc Severinsen Band and Ann-Margret singing show tunes in the most provocative manner possible and tossing out garter belts or something. It’s not as if there is anything that we might call “normalization” going on (nothing that can be sustained once the moment our people leave, anyway).

There is nothing left to do but start getting our people out of there.

- Our Man Arlen Specter chimed in on Abu Gonzales recently, and these pearls of wisdom were captured by the Philadelphia Inquirer here (regarding Specter’s non-call for Gonzales’ ouster).

"I think there's a distinct possibility, maybe probability, that the president will act on his own," Specter said in an interview. "I think the president is more likely to fire him if he's not being told what to do . . . if he didn't have the 'anvil chorus' coming down all around him and making it appear like he's yielding to pressure."
Glad to see that Arlen is utterly waffling to the point of towing the Bushco line outright; I mean, why break with tradition?

- As noted here, there were 27 plane hijackings to Cuba in 1968. Given that, would this be considered irony?

Where's Bill Donahue When You Need Him?

Sorry I’m a little late with this one…

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) had been invited to speak at her daughter’s upcoming commencement ceremony from St. Joseph’s Academy, but the invitation was rescinded by the school upon the recommendation of Raymond Burke, the archbishop of St. Louis (as noted here).

Archbishop Burke is no stranger to controversy, of course. As noted in this Wikipedia article, he publicly stated during the 2004 presidential election that John Kerry and other Catholic politicians who vote pro-choice should not receive the Eucharist and were guilty of committing a mortal sin (of course, he modified the part about mortal sin after the election – how thoughtful of him).

I guess snubbing McCaskill is a bit of a payback for the snit over Sheryl Crow’s performance in an April benefit concert for Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, of which Burke was chairman of the board. Burke resigned in response to the performance by Crow, who is pro choice (no word on whether or not Burke thanked her for trying to do something good; I guess he just decided to have an ecclesiastical hissy fit instead).

And as if all of this isn’t enough, Michelle Pilecki of HuffPo informs us that Dubya is scheduled to give the graduation address at Saint Vincent’s College, a 161-year-old Benedictine institution this Friday May 11th (the school is located in the Laurel Highlands of southwestern, PA, just the type of scenic backdrop for another thoroughly nauseating photo-op).

Here is a petition started by the school’s students to protest the visit.

So…a mother of a daughter attending a Catholic school cannot attend a commencement because the mother, a U.S. Senator, is pro choice and supports stem cell research.

However, a president chiefly responsible for a ruinous war without end that has claimed thousands upon thousands of lives as well as the greatest refugee crisis on this earth, a president who has done nothing in response to the global climate crisis as part of the almost biblical destruction wrought by his environmental neglect, a president who has actually encouraged the offshoring of our jobs as part of his war on the middle class of this country, a president whose administration is fraught with corruption and cronyism with new scandals and unseemly revelations appearing almost daily, a president who has crippled our army and utterly bankrupted our country to the point where every man, woman and child now statistically inherits a dollar debt ranging into five figures…this man is allowed to speak at a commencement instead of the mother, who is a U.S. Senator.

I just wanted to make sure we’re all clear on that, OK?

Lou Dobbs Has No Prayer On This One

The following appeared in this column from Lou Dobbs at CNN today…

The separation of church and state in this country is narrowing. And it is the church, not the state that is encroaching. Our Constitution protects religion from the intrusion or coercion of the state. But we have precious little protection against the political adventurism of all manner of churches and religious organizations.
Gee, Lou, I would venture to say that you’re…oh, I don’t know…maybe 20 YEARS LATE AT LEAST with that observation!

The entire conservative ascendancy in this country which has left its sadly indelible imprint on practically every area of our lives since The Hallowed Days Of Morning In America Under The Sainted Ronnie R TM is owed to the unholy merging of government and faith as interpreted by people who, for the most part, are intolerant fundamentalist zealots (and more than a few racists also). Of the many ways that that has been made manifest, the latest is the pervasive influence of Pat Robertson’s Regent University throughout the U.S. Justice Department.

But why does Lou care about this now, you ask? Well, as our Titan of Self-Importance tell us…

The nation's religious leaders seem hell-bent on ignoring the separation of church and state when it comes to the politically charged issue of illegal immigration. A new coalition called Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform Wednesday will begin lobbying lawmakers with a new advertising and direct mail campaign on behalf of amnesty for illegal aliens.

The Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners Magazine put it this way: "If given the choice on this issue between Jesus and Lou Dobbs, I choose my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ."
Praise Jesus, it’s green cards and HB-1’s all around. Hallelujah! And to support his claim, Dobbs offers this…

A Zogby poll last year asked churchgoers if they supported the House bill that would make illegal aliens return home and reduce future illegal immigration by securing the border and performing checks on illegal employers. Seventy-five percent of Protestants responded that was a good or very good idea, 77 percent of born-again Christians also agreed, and 66 percent of Catholics also backed tougher enforcement measures.
As far as I’m concerned, Atrios thoroughly refuted Dobbs on that one with this post from last December, citing numerous polls from last year also.

Way to be timely and cutting edge on this one, Lou. I can hardly wait for your follow-up report on the end of the disco era.

Update: At least Lou isn't in the same league as this other truly pathetic offering from his network (meant to get to this earlier).

Life, Death and Politics

According to this Washington Post story, the judiciary committee of the New Jersey State Senate will consider two bills tomorrow that could abolish the death penalty in that state, replacing that sentence with life imprisonment without parole.

This Newsday story lists the nine people currently on Death Row in New Jersey (the count has been listed as 13 at the Death Penalty Information Center and elsewhere, but since 9 cases can be substantiated by the Newsday article, I’ll go with that).

Of the nine, perhaps the most notorious on the list are Jesse Timmendequas, who murdered seven-year-old Megan Kanka ten years ago (a more innocent looking child you will never see, by the way – it is little wonder that this started the movement to require sex offender registration in all 50 states), and Ambrose Harris, who murdered 22-year-old graphic artist Kristin Huggins from Bucks County, PA 15 years ago.

This New Jersey Policy Perspective article makes a powerful case for abolishing the death penalty based on the cost factor alone (the article was written in 2005 and New Jersey reinstituted the death penalty in 1982, and it states that New Jersey taxpayers have paid a quarter of a billion dollars for costs related to death penalty prosecution and appeals, though no one has been executed in 23 years).

And by the way, the next time you hear someone speak sympathetically about former Governor Jim McGreevey merely because he was gay (a personal matter I realize, though he used it to try and cover his own malfeasance as far as I’m concerned), please recall this excerpt from the detailed report…

In January 2003, Gov. James McGreevey vetoed a bill, passed unanimously by the Senate and overwhelmingly by the Assembly, that would have studied all aspects of New Jersey’s death penalty, including cost. In contrast to the Legislature’s sentiment, he expressed the view that after having three previous death penalty study commissions in New Jersey it was unlikely new information would be brought forth. Commissions in 1905, 1964 and 1971 had studied the New Jersey death penalty—all prior to the system being re-instituted in 1982.

As I said, there is a powerful case to be made for abolishing the death penalty, and Governor Corzine opposes it also, so you can be sure he will sign any legislation getting rid of it.

However, I think it is a mistake to do so, and I realize that that’s probably a strange attitude for someone like me to have, but I’ll try to explain.

If, God forbid, we were the victims of horrendous violence from someone that took a life, and the guilty person was eventually convicted, I honestly don’t know how I would handle the knowledge that this person could not be executed. I know that’s a shortcoming on my part and I readily admit it, but that’s how I feel. And that goes for any friends or close acquaintances as well; I would have no right whatsoever to say to them that they should be open-minded and let the killer live out the rest of his or her days rotting in jail. If that is decided by someone else, so be it, but I don’t think I should have a say in that.

Again, I realize that the money discussed in the NJADP Executive Summary pretty much wraps up the argument from one point of view, but here’s another example. Whenever I hear or read anything about the death penalty, I think of the murdered husband of Maureen Faulkner and find myself wondering why Mumia Abu-Jamal isn’t worm food by now.

Here is something else to ponder, and I definitely realize that it is a secondary consideration, but I came across the following in this Wikipedia article about former New York governor Mario Cuomo…

While governor, he vetoed several bills that would have re-established capital punishment in New York State (the death penalty was in fact reinstated by (Republican George) Pataki the year after he defeated Cuomo in the 1994 election, although it was never put into effect and its statute declared unconstitutional by the New York Court of Appeals in 2004).
I remember how Pataki rode the “death penalty” wave into the Governor’s mansion in Albany, and I know that should be another reason to oppose it.

The reason I’m pointing this out, though, is to note that if the Democrats get rid of the death penalty in New Jersey, it will absolutely galvanize the Republican Party in that state. Again, this is a secondary consideration, but the Democrats had better prepare for it.

As of now (for whatever my opinion is worth), I think New Jersey should keep the death penalty on the books. I know they may never execute a single living soul under it, but I think its existence is a powerful reminder that politicians understand the extent to which the most horrific of crimes can cry out for an equal measure of justice from all of us. And what that ultimately says about us is something someone else can speculate about at another place and time.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Tuesday Videos

The Fratellis ("Flathead" - don't you just hate it when artists have to resort to cheap, exploitative gimmicks to be recognized? I'm so upset by it that I'm going to go back and watch this video multiple times just to make sure it really bothers me :-)...

...Happy Birthday to Chris Frantz of The Talking Heads ("And She Was" - "biting Carmen and Laurie?" Whaaaa???)...

...Rick Nelson would have been 77 today ("Fools Rush In," from back in the B&W days of Camelot, as they used to say)...

...and the legendary bluesman Robert Johnson would have been 96 today (here is Johnson's "Crossroads," performed by Cream, of course).

Too Late To Help Rush, Though

(Time Magazine should apologize to everything in the universe for that ad.)

How nice of Purdue Pharma to do the right thing concerning an extremely powerful substance that can make you act like an unapologetic racist and make fun of people suffering from Parkinson’s disease, as noted here (though I realize such conduct is based on bad behavior more than anything else).

And in other addictive drug news, this product will shortly be renamed to Liquid Crack.

Standing Firm

The latest from John Edwards...

Dear Friend,

Congress has reached a fork in the road on the war in Iraq and they urgently need your help to choose the right path.

One direction leads straight to more war with no end in sight. It's a road paved with symbolic deauthorization bills and so-called temporary extensions that give Bush all the money he needs without ever actually bringing a single troop home.

But in the other direction lies real action—using Congress' funding power right now to pass another binding plan to force George Bush to actually end this war.

Only massive, direct public pressure will get Congress to choose the right path. Congress took the right first step by passing their last funding bill. But following Bush's veto the resolve in Washington has started to fade. If we want to end this war, we've got to speak up now.

So this week we're gathering 100,000 voices calling on Congress to stand firm and send back a binding plan to end the war. We're at nearly 70,000 signatures now, and we need your help to get over the top. Please sign our emergency petition right away.

Click here.

After you've signed yourself, please ask at least one person you know to do the same. Getting to 100,000 will take all of us.

The latest news from Washington is that Congress is considering abandoning their binding plan to end the war and instead give Bush another extension—probably until September. This is completely irresponsible. When September rolls around, we'll be right back in the same place and Bush will push for another extension, just like he's been doing for years.

This has to stop now. It's already clear that the escalation has failed. Bush has no authority to use American troops to police a civil war, but that's what he's doing. There is no military solution to the sectarian violence in Iraq.

Enough is enough. It's time to end the war. And that means no more extensions, no more delays, no more non-binding anything.

If Congress is going to find the courage to end the war, they're going to need to get it from you. This is the moment of choice. The road our nation embarks down this week will have massive consequences for our troops, their families, and our country. And as citizens who know this war needs to end, we must raise our voice today.

We're aiming to deliver 100,000 signatures this week to show Congress that the American people are counting on them to end this war. Please help make that happen by adding your name today, and finding as many people as you can to join our call.

Click here.

Thank you,

--John Edwards
Tuesday, May 08, 2007

P.S. Last week, your tremendous outpouring of support enabled us to run an emergency ad in Washington DC calling on Congress to stand firm, and then to expand the plan to run the ad in Iowa. You can see the original and Iowa version of the ad, as well as the version with dozens of citizens voices added in online, by clicking here.
To learn more, click here.

Pay Her Out In Coin She Knows Of

(I know that’s kind of an artsy post title – a line uttered by Captain Vere played by Pete Ustinov in “Billy Budd,” the movie Ustinov also directed…a great one if you’re able to watch it, with an incredibly young Terence Stamp in his film debut, and Robert Ryan menacing as Sergeant-At-Arms John Claggart.)

I’ll admit that this is a strange way to lead into a post on Henrietta Holsman Fore, who (as noted here) was nominated by Dubya to take over as administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, to replace Randall Tobias who resigned after his name was linked to an escort service (thereby ensuring the place of Tobias in Porter Goss Land, a place where, if you're an operative of this administration, you apparently disappear from the sight of the beltway media if you do something wrong).

As the WaPo story states, Fore formerly ran the U.S. Mint (hence my somewhat inscrutable post title). A related backgrounder in USA Today observes the following…

In the last 1½ years, she has reduced the time it takes for a coin to be produced — from the time the raw material comes in until the final product is shipped — to 62 days, down 80% from April 2002.

The Mint in her tenure has cut coin production costs by 20%, and the agency has continued to make money, returning more than $1 billion to the U.S. Treasury last fiscal year.

"Having outside business eyes look at the operation can be very helpful," says Fore, the first business person to head the agency. "We're looking at private industry models and seeing what we can learn from them."
Ah yes, the beauty of private industry as opposed to that bad, corrupt, inefficient government again. What a marvel this woman is, right?

Well, perhaps. However, there is this itsy bitsy, teeny weenie, nagging little matter as noted in this Toledo (Ohio) Blade article, involving the infamous Tom Noe…

In the months before (Noe) came under scrutiny for his state-funded rare-coin venture, he used a federal appointment to forge relationships with U.S. Mint officials that opened doors for him on Capitol Hill, documents obtained by The Blade show.

Mr. Noe’s quest to become a Washington power broker and to help redesign all U.S. coins fell apart (in 2005) when controversy gripped the $50 million rare-coin investment he managed for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and federal authorities announced they were investigating the GOP fund-raiser for allegedly laundering political contributions to President Bush’s campaign.
So who helped Noe along the way?

In May, 2003, the White House and House Speaker Dennis Hastert recommended that Mr. Noe get a seat on the influential 11-member (Citizens Coinage Advisory) committee. Treasury Secretary John Snow appointed Mr. Noe, less than six months after the Toledo-area coin dealer expressed interest in joining a Mint committee to Henrietta Fore, then director of the Mint.

“I have always had interest in getting more involved on the national level,” Mr. Noe wrote to Ms. Fore.

Mr. Noe’s appointment and eventual chairmanship of the (committee) enabled him to expand his reach into the federal government, according to more than 2,700 pages of e-mails and other committee records released last week by the Mint to The Blade. The newspaper filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the public records in June, 2005.
And as noted here from Wikipedia…

On November 20, 2006, Thomas Noe was given an 18-year sentence, to be served after the 27-month federal sentence imposed in September, fined $213,000, "ordered to pay the cost of the prosecution, estimated at nearly $3 million, and ordered to pay restitution to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation for the money missing from the rare-coin fund, estimated at $13.7 million."
So it sounds to me like John Snow, Madelyn Simmons Marchessault and Henrietta Fore may have aided and abetted a felon.

So what has Ms. Fore to say for herself about this? As noted in the Blade story from April 2006…

“Since it is an issue before the courts, under investigation, at this point we at the State Department and our officials aren’t in a position to comment,” said Adam Ereli, a spokesman for the department. “What we can say is that we know Henrietta Fore and Ms. Simmons [Marchessault] to be upstanding public servants of the highest integrity.”
Well, the issue is no longer before the courts. And before giving some eyewash of a confirmation to Ms. Fore, the Senate should grill her on her possible involvement with Noe.

And any pleas of ignorance from her, should they be forthcoming (so typical for this bunch, after all), should be treated as nothing but chump change.

Oh, and in the category of Bushco Flunky Screwups, here’s the story of more lost computer data, this time from the TSA (remember the VA mess from awhile back?).

Repugs Pop A "Boehner" On Student Loans

(The gutteral liberal blogger strikes again, I know.)

An editorial appeared in today’s New York Times documenting how institutions lending money for student loans through the Department of Education are collection all kinds of fee revenue since, as the Times notes, the institutions have effectively taken over the DOE (paging Margaret Spellings – gee, another Bushco instance of “the fox guarding the hen house”…go figure, huh?).

This information describes the difference between the two major types of student loans: direct loans in which the government is the lender, and subsidized loans as part of the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program in which another entity is the lender.

And when it comes to “other entities,” the biggest is Sallie Mae, as noted in this San Francisco Chronicle story. Here is something else noted in the story…

Direct lending, which was created by Congress in 1993 and championed by the Clinton administration, provides loans directly to students through their colleges, bypassing the banks and student-loan-guarantee agencies that make up the rival guaranteed-loan program.
And do I need to mention that direct loans are less costly than subsidized ones (subsidized by companies such as Sallie Mae)?

So how do companies like Sallie Mae continue to hold sway in the manner described in the Times editorial?

Enter House Repug Minority Leader John Boehner, the best friend private institutions providing subsidized loans ever had (if he wasn’t, would his daughter be working in loan collections for a Sallie Mae-owned company?).

As noted in the Chronicle story…

Over the past year, Mr. Boehner worked especially closely with Sallie Mae lobbyists in spearheading efforts to defeat a bill supported by direct-loan supporters that was designed to entice colleges to enter the program.

He also pushed legislation, favored by Sallie Mae and other student-loan providers, intended to make the federal student-loan-consolidation program less attractive to borrowers by preventing them from being able to lock in low rates for up to 30 years, as they can now. Instead he backed a plan put forward by the loan industry that would have shifted the interest rate on consolidated loans to one that varies from year to year.

Aides to Mr. Boehner chafe at suggestions that they are acting at the behest of Sallie Mae or any other student-loan provider. They point out that he pushed a bill through Congress last month that would cut lender subsidies as part of a larger measure that aims to reduce the federal budget deficit.

"The student-loan legislation that passed through our committee in the House did not include changes lobbied for by Sallie Mae," said Don Seymour, a spokesman for Mr. Boehner. "So any attempt to correlate political contributions to policy is patently false."

But the bill (S 1932) was not as tough as an earlier version that had narrowly passed the House in November. For example, the earlier measure would have doubled the fee that private lenders must pay to the government to originate a loan, to 1 percent of the amount lent.

Loan-industry officials were in an uproar over that bill. But in a speech he delivered in December at the annual meeting of the Consumer Bankers Association, Mr. Boehner sought to reassure the lenders that they would not be unhappy with the final measure. "Know that I have all of you in my two trusted hands," he said, adding later, "I've got enough rabbits up my sleeve to be able to get where we need to" (
The Chronicle, December 16).
As we ponder the image of Boehner standing over a derby not unlike Bullwinkle J. Moose telling Rocky The Flying Squirrel “Nothing up my sleeve – presto!” before he pulls out the growling head of the rhinoceros by accident (as I’ve said before, my consciousness is a dusty attic of pop-culture baby-boomer references), let’s recall the performance of the recently-installed 110th Congress on this issue.

This takes you to information on H.R. 5 (Roll Call 32), the College Student Relief Act, which passed out of the U.S, House in January (as part of the initial two-week wave in which six major pieces of legislation were passed, this being one). Upon arrival in the Senate, it was rolled into S. Con Res 1 which, as of May 3rd, is still being resolved in a House-Senate conference (as noted here: part of the holdup was due to an amendment by Arizona’s Jon Kyl which tried to lower the rate of the “death tax” – God, they’ll never stop trying to pull this nonsense).

Update: Curiouser and curiouser...

Update 2/27/14: HAHAHAHAHA!!!! (here - h/t Atrios).

Monday, May 07, 2007

Monday Videos

The Red Hot Chili Peppers ("Hump De Bump," with Chris Rock)...

...Happy Birthday to Prairie Prince of The Tubes ("White Punks On Dope" live - glam rock goes to hell; R.I.P. Vince).

Shot With Our Own Gun

So legal scholar Laurence Tribe now is in favor of the “individual rights” argument concerning the Second Amendment on guns, as noted here (actually, he has written in that vein for some time, and his work helped create the slippery slope that enabled the recent Parker decision that overturned Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban).

As you can read from here, Tribe is a titan of traditionally liberal causes, arguing before the Supreme Court 34 times (including Bush v. Gore in 2000), and he was instrumental in helping to overturn the infamous Texas sodomy law in 2003. He also created some lifetime enemies, unfortunately, when he blessedly opposed the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987 (Scalia managed to get in right after Bork, though, the gift from Ronnie Baby that keeps on giving, as they say).

But now, we’ve lost him to the gun nuts, and we need all the help we can get on this issue. Ugh…

I wish that Tribe would instead take to heart the advice of former Supreme Court justice Warren E. Burger, who stated the following (as noted in the Times article)…

“The Second Amendment doesn’t guarantee the right to have firearms at all,” Mr. Burger said in a speech. In a 1991 interview, Mr. Burger called the individual rights view “one of the greatest pieces of fraud — I repeat the word ‘fraud’ — on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”
And by the way, the considerations here are a lot more than the type you’d find in a classroom…

Linda Singer, the District of Columbia’s attorney general, said the debate over the meaning of the amendment was not only an academic one.

It’s truly a life-or-death question for us,” she said. “It’s not theoretical. We all remember very well when D.C. had the highest murder rate in the country, and we won’t go back there.”
And despite what anyone says about the Supremes wanting to take a pass on second-amendment cases, I think the court of “Hangin’ Judge” J.R. just can’t wait to rule on this in support of the so-called “individual rights” argument.

(And with all due respect to The Gun-Toting Liberal here, I think he is flat, dead wrong about the SCOTUS and other matters here, and if there’s one thing I’m fed up with out of my mind, it’s this paranoid idea that anyone who supports gun control wants to steal guns from people who observe the law and own the weapons legitimately; for the record, I categorically oppose confiscation under those circumstances.)

And finally on this, I leave you with this nonsense from Joe Lieberman Weekly, otherwise known as The New Republic; what’s their great idea in this whole argument? Why, abolish the Second Amendment altogether.


This Weekend's Inky Lowlights

Time to cringe once more...

1) Smerky did it again yesterday (as we knew he would).

In a column about someone named Ken Smukler, a former aide to Philadelphia mayoral candidate Bob Brady who left the Brady campaign after he had explored the possibility of forming a “527” group – the number designates the section in the Internal Revenue Code requiring the registration of such “issue oriented” groups – Smerky describes the 527s in the following manner…

Three such organizations - Swift Boat Veterans for Truth,, and the League of Conservation Voters - were fined in December 2006 for breaking various federal laws during the 2004 presidential campaign. SBVT campaigned against the candidacy of Sen. John Kerry, and the other two lobbied against George W. Bush.
Only Smerky would attempt to equate these three groups as being similar in any ideological or practical way.

The League of Conservation Voters advocates for the environment by encouraging its member to contact Congress and the White House and tell them to either support or oppose environmentally-related legislation. It also provides links to news articles about issues affecting the environment. It also organizes to support candidates who work in concert with the group and oppose those who don’t. operates in a similar fashion to effect action oriented towards political change through organizing, fundraising, and candidate support. I won’t kid you and try to make the case that they don’t oppose George W. Bush, because they plainly do, which I applaud. Both groups have existed since approximately the mid-1990s, with arising as a reaction to the Clinton impeachment farce (the group’s attitude was reflected in the title, as in “censure and move on.”).

However, the sole reason for the existence of the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was to sabotage the presidential campaign of John Kerry in 2004. This group is a front and does not exist for issue-oriented change in the same manner as MoveOn and the LCV in any way, shape or form, except for fundraising.

2) Timed for the Kentucky Derby last weekend, former Inquirer sports columnist Bill Lyon wrote a good column about horse racing (resurrecting the memory of the sainted Barbaro – let us all pause and hang our head in silent sorrow for a few seconds over a horse that received better heath care before it died than most people in this country could ever dream of).

As I said, it was a good sports column. What on earth it was doing on the Op-Ed page is something I cannot imagine.

3) As D-Mac of Philadelphia Will Do notes here, what passes for a brain trust at Philadelphia Media Holdings L.L.C. was just so full of itself last Friday and yesterday over the increase of its circulation that it felt it had to produce a separate advertising supplement over it (with D-Mac’s astute observation that, somehow, a readership bump of 2,000 is supposed to offset a 40,000 loss in subscribers over the last two years – as I noted previously, the Inky has a problem with math from time to time).

I should note that the four-page (!) advertising supplement appeared in the U.S. and World news section (which is more department store ads than anything else these days). It attempted some Onion-esque parody (emphasis on “esque”) with phony testimonials from people shocked by this supposedly momentous circulation gain (with a “blogger” named Lockfist Blowhard, pictured above – nice – who reveals a plan to make sure no newspaper ever gains another reader; it’s past the point of me stating yet again that the Inky, no matter how hard it tries, will NEVER be intentionally funny).

The supplement actually did serve a function in our household as it turned out, though. After I sliced it up to be used for our cat’s litterbox, I then drove to our convenience store to purchase the Sunday New York Times, which, as we know, is a newspaper produced by and for adults.

Try My Plan Instead - It's Called "GTFO"

As long as Fred Kagan talked about alphabetized plans for “the surge” yesterday in the New York Times (discussing his Plan A, then brushing off Plan B a la Condi here – Repugs and their acolytes are always on the same page with “the message” in good times and bad, though I can never recall when times were good), I’d like to introduce my own for our people (the expurgated long term would be Get The Frack Out).

Kagan starts off by shooting himself in the foot, as it were, in typically arrogant Bushco fashion…

In fact, the debate shows only how little the critics of the war understand about military operations. As one of the initial proponents of the surge, I argue that there is no Plan B because there cannot be one. The idea that there can be a single alternative strategy, developed now, just at the beginning of the surge, is antithetical to the dynamic nature of war. At this early stage, there are only possible general responses to various contingencies, which will become more focused as operations move forward.
Yes, you unbelieving, non Bushco-supporting ingrates, I know what’s best to achieve victory as opposed to you poor saps. And you ask us to actually think ahead and plan for contingencies? What, are you part of “old Europe” or something?

What a shame that Kagan wasn’t as precise here about his 18-24 month timeframe (dating back to last December) as he was here.

Here is the only factual information I was able to discern from this utterly transparent propaganda in the Times yesterday – the rest was all vague, indefinite, suppositional claptrap…

- Saudi Arabia has agreed to forgive 80 percent of its loans to Iraq
- The two dozen or so major tribal leaders in Anbar province have joined the new Anbar Salvation Council, which is committed to fighting Al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists
- After driving al Qaeda forces from Anbar province, their forces moved to Diyala Province, and our forces, under Generals David Petraeus and Ray Odierno, followed.
- Gen. Petraeus wrote a letter to Moktada al-Sadr, head of the Shi’ite insurgency, when al-Sadr’s forces demonstrated against “the surge” last month. According to Kagan, Petraeus reminded the Iraqis that such demonstrations would not have been allowed under Saddam Hussein, and for that reason, the demonstrations were peaceful.
But wait a minute – concerning the letter to al-Sadr, didn’t Kagan also say that he had “apparently” fled to Iraq? Kagan also stated that “700 key leaders” and allies of al-Sadr’s Mahdi army have been killed or captured by our forces. So, al-Sadr is going to support us now even though he apparently isn’t even in the country any more? And why on earth would anyone believe, even if that were true, that his forces would no longer oppose us?

Are al-Sadr’s people going to help us against al Qaeda or not? Or are they just going to keep attacking Sunnis and us in the process? Or are al-Sadr’s forces collaborating with al Qaeda?

And as the Times noted today, the leading Sunni Arab party in Iraq’s prime minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s government is about to walk out because they don’t believe their issues will be addressed.

So the civil war will wage on and on and on.

The whole thing is an utter, stinking mess. All we should be doing now is trying to contain it.

Start getting our people out and end our involvement in this now.

"America's Mayor" Is A Big Baby

Waaah, poor Rudy Giuliani!

Gosh, what a shame he had to deal with MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann moderating last week’s Ronald Reagan He-Man Love Fest that pretended to be a debate among Republican presidential candidates (I can’t judge for certain because I didn’t watch – I mean, if I wasn’t going to watch the Dems, why the hell would I subject myself to the Repugs? I’d sooner rub a cheese grader across my scrotum).

Hey Rudy, here’s a clue; don’t give a speech stating that a Democratic victory next year would be “waving a white flag,” in the Global You’d Better Know It You Pansy Ass Liburuls And I’m Rudy Freaking Giuliani And You’d Better Goddamn Believe I Approved This Message War On Terra.

What a wuss.

Oh, and by the way, click here for Olbermann's Special Comment that got Rudy's shorts twisted all in a knot, as it were.

Update: Good for Barry Yourgrau.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Hamell On Trial - Values

Last night I stole a video from The Daily Kos, so tonight, I'm stealing this R-rated goodie (language) from Atrios (funny stuff).

Hey, shouldn't ambition count for something here?

Congratulations, Nick

Way to go - glad we're friends again (though the last conservative head of state who talked about a mandate ended up falling hard from grace, deservedly so).

Now, send some troops to Iraq.