Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday Videos

Re-Flex ("The Politics Of Dancing" - I think we've seen some of that on display over the last week in particular, but the problem is that this is 2007, not 1983, and we just can't put on our jump suits and our Ray-Bans, go outside and dance/rollerblade our problems away any more like we used to)...

...OK, rant mode off; Happy Birthday to Paul Weller of The Jam ("Man In The Corner Shop" live, a great song with not the best production here, unfortunately - click this link if you want to read the lyrics)...

...Happy birthday also to Mike Myers (hope the new Shrek movie continues to do well; here he is on SNL as Mick Jagger and Jagger himself as Keith Richards, who is also in a big new summer movie of course; God, this is funny)...

...and finally, I just didn't have it in me to say anything about the 30th anniversary of "Star Wars" today, so I'll just link to this riotous bit from Triumph The Insult Dog busting on a bunch of geeky fans here instead (there was once a time when I could have slipped into this mode, but fortunately I discovered alcohol).

Happy Motoring

I hope everyone has a good holiday weekend, and while we all pay way too damn much at the pump, I’d like to bring you this Buzzflash article written before Dubya and his flunkies seized control (and blaming Clinton for the year-2000 price of gas in the process - #5).

And you can also file this column written by Arianna Huffington under the “Past Is Prologue” department (and here is the latest excuse).

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (5/25/07)

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.


War funding correction. In last Sunday's Inquirer, incorrect information was provided about the House's vote on Iraq war funding. Here is the correct information: The House passed, 221-205, and sent to the Senate a bill to release $96 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan war funding in two steps. About $43 billion would be provided immediately and $53 billion in July if President Bush certifies Iraq has met certain benchmarks.

A yes vote was to pass the bill (HR 2206).

Voting yes: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), 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.).

Not voting: Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.) and Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.).
Glad the Inky straightened that out so Joe Pitts knew what he voted “no” to.

Federal budget. The House approved, 214-209, the conference report on a five-year budget that for 2008 projects $2.9 trillion in spending, a $252 billion deficit, full funding of President Bush's defense request, and more than he seeks for domestic items.

A yes vote was to approve the conference report on the budget (SCR 21).

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

Voting no: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Murphy, Pitts, Saxton and Smith.
Though I think it was good on balance for Patrick Murphy to join the Blue Dog coalition, I haven’t seen him line up with Tim Holden, his sponsor into that clique, on too many votes, so I’m not sure how good a fit Patrick is for those people (and I mean that as a credit to Patrick, by the way – I noted his vote on this last week but really haven’t seen any follow-up in the media since).

Defense budget. The House passed, 397-27, and sent to the Senate a $646 billion military budget for 2008. The bill authorizes $142 billion for ongoing warfare, raises military pay 3.5 percent, and orders the most thorough evaluation since 1947 of the U.S. military's core mission.

All Philadelphia-area representatives voted for the bill (HR 1585).

Iran attack ban. The House defeated, 288-136, a measure stipulating that no funds in HR 1585 (above) could be used to attack Iran except in response to an Iranian strike against the United States.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Brady, Fattah and Schwartz.

Voting no: Andrews, Castle, Dent, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Pitts, Saxton, Sestak and Smith.
I thought this was a bit interesting, partly that Allyson Schwartz, who voted for the Iraq Supplemental without a timeline for withdrawal, now voted (wisely, I think) to tie Dubya’s hands concerning involvement with Iran.

As for those who voted no, including Patrick Murphy (more on the amendment here), I can imagine that they didn’t want to set a bad precedent. However, I fail to understand how they cannot see that Bushco’s wretched reign has been full of bad precedents, and anything they could possibly do to prevent this narcissistic, delusional head case from starting what would be an almost biblical slaughter at the hands of Iran (yes, I really said that – THEY haven’t had their military hammered in the Middle East for over four years now) would be welcome.

This was another bad development for Democrats in what has been a truly dark last few days, and they brought it on themselves.

Interrogation videotapes. The House rejected, 229-199, a proposal to require that the U.S. military's prisoner interrogations be videotaped and that prisoners in U.S. custody be given access to international humanitarian officials.

A yes vote was to add the amendment to HR 1585 (above).

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

Voting no: Dent, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Pitts and Saxton.
Wow – how could Chris Smith do the right thing here while Patrick didn’t?

A minute ago, I said Patrick and Tim Holden hadn’t lined up in their votes much. I really wish they hadn’t done so here.

Guantanamo Bay. The House voted 220-208 to require the Bush administration to present a plan for relocating all detainees from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The document is to include data such as the number of prisoners being held without charges.

A yes vote backed the amendment to HR 1585 (above).

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

Voting no: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton and Smith.
Glad to see somewhat of a return to sanity and the partisan status quo here (with the Repugs showing their true colors, as always).


Iraq war funding. The Senate defeated, 67-29, a measure to start a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq within 120 days and stop war funding by March 31, 2008. The amendment was offered to a water projects bill (HR 1495) that later passed.

A yes vote was to stop funding the Iraq war.

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

Voting no: Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey Jr. (D., Pa.), and Arlen Specter (R., Pa.).
This was Reid-Feingold, of course (noted here and here - and by the way, Carper is a coward also, but we already knew that).

Iraq benchmarks. In a 52-44 vote, the Senate failed to reach the 60 votes needed to approve a proposed cutoff of nonmilitary reconstruction funds to Iraq unless the government there meets certain political and security benchmarks. The vote occurred during debate on HR 1495 (above).

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Specter.

Voting no: Biden, Carper, Casey, Lautenberg and Menendez.
As noted here…

(Sen. John) Warner’s amendment would require the president to produce reports in July and September on the Iraqi government’s progress toward certain benchmarks, and unless he certified that they were moving forward, reconstruction aid would be withheld. But the president could waive that sanction.
More toothless nonsense…

Federal budget. The Senate approved, 52-40, the conference report on budget plan for fiscal 2008-2012 (SCR 21, above).

A yes vote was to adopt the budget plan.

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

Voting no: Specter.
This week, both chambers sent to Dubya the revised $96 billion war appropriations bill. The House debated lobbying rules, while the Senate took up immigration reform and a no-confidence vote on Attorney General Abu Gonzalez.

A New Way Bushco Can Sicken Us

It would seem that a next step in our ongoing effort to instill a spine into the Democratic congressional leadership could be a march on Washington, and given the options discussed by Meteor Blades of The Daily Kos in this post, my guess is that this would take place sometime in September.

If and when we do, all I ask is that we remain mindful that the possibility exists that our government may use that as an excuse to dose us somehow with some as-yet-unidentified chemical agent.

I qualified that statement as much as I could because I readily admit that I don’t have any kind of a “smoking gun” on this – just a bunch of worrisome circumstantial stuff that I’m going to try and string together here.

To begin, I give you this excerpt from Dubya’s speech at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT on Wednesday…

To help stop new attacks on our country, we launched the BioWatch program, placing state-of-the-art equipment in major U.S. cities to detect biological agents.
Believe it or not, that’s actually true, at least to the extent that these sensors were placed in Washington. D.C.

And the reason we know this is because of the posts noted here, here and here at the Gorilla Radio Blog referencing stories from the Washington Post from October 2005. The bio sensors Dubya mentioned detected low levels of the Francisella tularensis bacteria that causes tularemia, otherwise known as rabbit fever (also noted here).

As the Gorilla Blog continues…

Rabbit fever cannot be passed from person to person and can be effectively treated with readily available medicines, the CDC said. Symptoms usually appear 3 to 5 days after exposure, but in rare cases can take up to 2 weeks.

Symptoms of the disease, which an infected person would have begun experiencing no earlier than on Monday, include: sudden fever, chills, headaches, conjunctivitis, diarrhea, muscle aches, joint pain, dry cough and progressive weakness.
For a person in reasonably good health to begin with, this probably would not be a big deal in the long run. However, suppose you were suffering from a debilitating illness and/or you were an elderly person, to say nothing of AIDS? You could die from something like this.

Now, of course, there is no proof (none to my knowledge, anyway) that the virus was intentionally spread within the Mall knowing that the protestors would arrive. However, as this Counter Punch story notes, a chemical agent that caused these symptoms could have been manufactured at the Ft. Detrick facility in nearby Frederick, Maryland.

As the story continues…

"In May of 2003, it was reported that the United States Army has developed and patented a new grenade that it says can be used to wage bio-warfare. This is in explicit violation of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), which explicitly prohibits all development of bio-weapons delivery devices. US Patent #6,523,478, granted on February 25th 2003, covers a 'rifle launched non lethal cargo dispenser' that is designed to deliver aerosols, including, according to the patent's claims, 'crowd control agents, biological agents, [and] chemical agents...'"
The Counter Punch article by Kevin Zeese discusses the long and controversial history of Ft. Detrick, including the attempt by President Nixon in 1969 to clean a seven-story tower used to house anthrax bacteria (remember the anthrax scare, which the FBI believed “would never be solved” in February 2004 – see Item 18 on this list), as well as the discovery in 1991 of high levels of the cancer causing agents TCE and PCE in the water near Ft. Detrick by the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Frederick County Health Department.

And one more thing – as noted in the Gorilla Blog posts…

The CDC waited a week to notify city officials of the detected bacteria because it took that long to test the samples at labs and confirm its presence, the radio station reported.

According to the CDC's Web site, people can get rabbit fever by being bitten by an infected tick, deerfly or other insect; handling infected animal carcasses; eating or drinking contaminated food or water; or, breathing in the bacteria.

The CDC also said the bacteria can be used as a weapon if made into an aerosol that could be inhaled.

The bacterium, francisella tularensis, also called 'rabbit fever' is naturally occurring, but has a long history of manipulation for the purpose of weaponization. Imperial Japan is noted for its groundbreaking experiments on tularemia's effects on human physiology. They are estimated to have sacrificed more than 10,000 prisoners to science during their occupation of China.

The results of Japanese efforts were not lost on the American government, and by the late 1960's Biological Weapon (BW) tularemia was a component of both the vast U.S. arsenal of chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, and that of their arch Cold War nemesis.
Did Bushco, as part of some “ops” campaign, distribute an aerosol version of rabbit fever into a crowd of antiwar protestors in October 2005 by means of a rifle-launched grenade of some type? I don’t know that – all I’m doing here is presenting a bunch of pieces to this puzzle that may or may not fit, and of course Bushco would deny and ridicule as always in response.

Though it’s not as if this administration has never played fast and loose with the facts on chemical and biological weapons before, right?

You Got That Right, John

The latest from John Edwards...

About an hour ago, the Senate caved to President Bush and sent him another blank check to continue the war in Iraq.

This is a serious blow for all of us, but no one lost more today than the troops in the field who continue to sacrifice so nobly and their families still waiting back home.

It's a hard moment, but you and I don't have the luxury of getting discouraged. We must remember: This is not over. For those of us committed to change, it has only begun.

This weekend, thousands of us will take action in our communities to support the troops and end the war. We will speak out in public. We will send care packages to soldiers in Iraq. We will gather letters for Congress and the president. And on Memorial Day, we will remember and honor those who sacrificed everything for their nation.

Join us:

After tonight, one thing is now perfectly clear: No one else is going to end this war for us. Bush will not listen. Congress will not fight. There's no one left to lead the country now but we the people.

Each of us has a duty and a responsibility to our troops and to each other to do all that we can to end this war. Under the Constitution of the United States of America, we the people are the sovereign and the ultimate deciders--and by all that I know is right we will succeed in bringing our troops home.

Thank you for standing up.

--John Edwards
And now that I think of it, it might be a good time to dust this off from the '06 political campaign and play it loud and long.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Thursday Videos

Grant Lee Buffalo ("Truly, Truly" live on "Letterman"; once again, Dave does his part to help good acts)...

...and, as noted earlier, today is Bob Dylan's 66th birthday ("Love Minus Zero/No Limit," from The Concert for Bangla Desh).

Costs Of The War

Editor and Publisher Online linked to a Boston Globe story here in which readers were asked what the $124 billion Iraq war appropriation could be spent on more effectively in this country, and this was the response (ranging from serious to ridiculous, though not quite as ridiculous as the Democratic “leadership” dropping the withdrawal timelines for the Iraq Supplemental – better not get started all over again on that).

Update: Regarding the Iraq Supplemental, what Atrios sez.

And speaking of the war, I really find it hard to quantify my disgust with President Pretender when he predicts “heavy fighting” for our troops over the summer in Iraq, as opposed to the “light” fighting they’re currently enduring (?). And all of this from a man who has never seen military combat and whose whereabouts when allegedly serving in the National Guard cannot be completely accounted for (putting aside Bush's complete and total disregard for the will of the vast majority of this country, of course).

This site provides more information on the financial cost of the war, and this of course provides information on the most important cost of all.

Update 5/25/07: After reading daveyawayfromhome's comment, I just realized that this could have been one of the ways to spend the money better (so many other ways, I realize).

Nyet To Dissing Vlad, Comrade

The New York Times ran an editorial today noting that journalists from all over the world are going to converge in Russia next week to make a statement on behalf of their colleagues who have been persecuted and/or killed in the name of doing their jobs.

I don’t really have much to add except that I applaud them, and as if to emphasize the need to investigate and support a free press in that country, we have this story that appeared in the Moscow Times today of a journalist who wrote a column for a weekly paper in a Russian suburb criticizing the reburial of the remains of six World War II pilots and, as a result, had his care fire-bombed (though, of course, that’s not what the police are saying about it).

And let us not forget the courageous example of this Russian reporter, whose memory will no doubt be invoked by those who will be arriving in that country in a few days.

Just A Stranger On The Bus

(A line from the song “God” by Tori Amos Joan Osborne that I think applies here – please forgive my momentary fit of artiness.)

This is something my mother would write if she were a blogger, so I’ll attempt to do her justice in this regard (trying to communicate her thoughts on this subject).

As this linked article notes (10 days old, I’ll grant you), Christopher Hitchens is promoting his book in which he has disparaging things to say about organized religion in general.

You know how I feel about Hitchens, but I must confess that I feel a bit of pity for him. I’m sorry that he can apparently find nothing good in the sense of communion and common belief that comes from sharing one’s faith or sense of spirituality with others.

Yes, I have expressed more than a bit of frustration with the hierarchy of the Catholic church, with its secretive functioning as an apparatus of what appears to be suspicious old men more concerned with holding onto their power and sway over the flock than ministering to people who I know and work with on an everyday basis, including myself. And I have a loathing for anyone or anything that professes to represent religion while calling for death and destruction to be carried out against anyone or anything that doesn’t share a preferred system of beliefs. And we all can cite examples of civilization being poisoned in the name of religion on a grand scale.

But that isn’t an excuse for inaction, contempt, or ill words cast towards those we don’t agree with (including gestures of profanity).

If you choose to read Hitchens’ book, that’s up to you of course (there are details in the linked article that I won’t replicate here). Despite how I feel about Hitchens, I know he is a formidable writer, though if you choose to partake in this work, I have a feeling that you may end up confirming his firmly one-sided view, possibly turning against your own in favor of his.

However, I would ask that you also consider reading this book afterwards or even instead of Hitchens’ book; I haven’t read it yet, but I plan to. It is a collection of stories related to 9/11, including those of hope, and the proceeds go to the families and friends of the victims and communities affected by the attacks.

This may sound hypocritical coming from someone who blasts his preferred targets with frequency and gusto as I do, but when it comes to core beliefs, positive reinforcement yields better results than the negative type, and all I ask is that you consider that.

And speaking of people trying to discover God, this guy hit a milestone (#66) today.

(One more thing - when it comes to book recommendations, let's not forget about this one.)

Dubya's Latest "Terra, Terra, Terra" Bombast

In his commencement address at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT yesterday, President 31 Percent “Mandate” (remember how he and Deadeye Dick said they had one in November 2004?) cherry-picked more intelligence stating that al Qaeda had contacted their operatives or sympathizers in Iraq to plot more attacks in this country.

The absurdity is almost too painful at this point.

This is more “just shut up and assume we know what we’re doing” rhetoric that the vast majority of this country stopped believing long ago. And besides, al Qaeda wasn’t even in Iraq under Saddam Hussein – they showed up after we blew the place to bits (and I realize that sentence could cause the 101st Keyboard Kommandos to lurch into action, rehashing badly sourced information – rumor, actually – that Hussein knew al-Zarqawi was in his country somehow before we invaded…so, soo tired by now).

Party because I thought there absolutely had to be something more interesting than this in the speech by President Brainless, I actually read a good portion of what he had to say (including repeating that moronic joke about how George Washington’s friends use to call him “George W.” that Shrub uttered to mass adulation at the Repug National Convention in 2000). Among other things, I found that he kept repeating the phrase, “To help stop new attacks on our country,” ad nauseum, once again, believing that his audience is as dumb as he is (far from it).

I also found this…

A coalition of more than 90 nations -- nearly one-half of the world -- is working together to dry up terrorist financing and bring terrorist leaders to justice. We launched the Proliferation Security Initiative, a vast coalition of nations that are working to stop shipments of weapons of mass destruction on land, at sea, and in the air. With our allies, we have uncovered and shut down the A.Q. Khan network, which had supplied nuclear-related equipment and plans to terrorist states, including Iran and North Korea. With Great Britain, we convinced the leader of Libya to abandon his country's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. The key components of Libya's nuclear program are now locked up in a storage facility right here in the United States. And today the world is safer because Libya is out of the nuclear weapons business. (Applause.)
The first thing I wondered was why he was attacking Libya; after all, aren’t we supposed to be friends with them now? Why bring up bad memories from the past with a new "ally"?

I also wondered what the heck the Proliferation Security Initiative was, so I started looking a bit, and according to the article from this link, dated in the spring of 2004….

In keeping with the Bush administration’s preference for assembling informal coalitions to address international problems, as opposed to building new multinational institutions, the PSI was launched with a small group of trusted allies. President George W. Bush personally unveiled the initiative, and it has remained a high-level, high-visibility political effort ever since.
The article then goes on to mention how former U.N. Secretary John Bolton personally headed delegations to plenary-level PSI meetings, which of course doesn’t fill me with confidence (sounds like an organization made up of some participating U.N. members that was trying to act outside the U.N., an organization Bolton never thought of highly anyway).

In the excerpt from Dubya’s speech yesterday, he noted “stopping Libya’s nuclear program” and “shutting down the A.Q. Khan network.” I don’t believe the second statement about Khan, since if he had, he would have made such an announcement with other world leaders, including Tony Blair (and according to this article, he hasn't). And as far as moving against Libya, it seems that he was referring to this excerpt from the article…

…The most recent publicized case involved the interdiction of a shipment of nuclear centrifuges bound for Libya. As a result of penetration of the Pakistani A.Q. Khan network, American and British intelligence identified the shipments of advanced centrifuge parts.
But here is something to note about the centrifuges (from this story)…

...Rekindling debate on how close Libya actually came to acquiring a nuclear bomb, a private arms-control group says the Bush administration overstated the number of devices the country had for making uranium fuel.

The group, the Institute for Science and International Security, based in Washington, said yesterday that the administration had given an inaccurate briefing to reporters last week at the Energy Department's nuclear weapons lab in Oak Ridge, Tenn. At that briefing, officials displayed a dozen uranium centrifuges from what they said was a cache of about 4,000 that Libya had obtained before agreeing in December to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

The institute, which has done extensive research on uranium centrifuges, said its own inquiries, including interviews with federal and overseas experts, found that Libya had obtained 4,000 casings for centrifuges, but that few if any had the finely tooled rotors that are the machine's heart.

(David) Albright (president of ISIS) said the administration had papered over a huge gap between centrifuge theory and practice. "It would take the Libyans a long time to learn how to make the sophisticated components," he said. "They might have failed because some of them are extremely difficult to make. The bottom line is that what they had was a far cry from a large number of working machines."
Was it good that the centrifuge casings were caught? Absolutely, and those responsible should receive credit. But don’t portray the episode as something that prevented Libya from posing an imminent nuclear threat, particularly since Libya had purchased them before signing the agreement to end the program anyway.

And here’s another thought; just call me old fashioned, but couldn’t something like this have been accomplished by – oh, such a relic of a concept for Bushco, I know – DIPLOMACY??!! (especially since that had just worked with that country?)

And as noted from this linked story…

The PSI is an informal grouping of states without an organizational framework, treaty, or permanent staff.

Initially, critics charged that the voluntary PSI lacks a legal framework and might violate existing laws on international transportation. Subsequently, in April 2004, the United Nations provided some legal support for the PSI by adopting Resolution 1540, which obligates all member states to work to bar non-state actors from transferring WMD-related materials. Also, the International Maritime Organization added the 2005 Protocol to the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, outlawing the transportation of WMD materials.
These are good baby steps towards legal compliance, if you will, but the fact is that the nations participating here are doing so on a voluntary basis. And as the Center for International Trade and Security article notes, some U.N. member countries, China and Russia in particular, have expressed concerns about the initiative (suppose they decide that they don’t want their ships to be boarded, let’s say – they’re legally covered because they’re not participating, but the boarding country wouldn’t be because this initiative doesn’t have a framework).

So what we have here is more “cowboy diplomacy” that could easily blow up in our faces, all because Dubya and John Bolton thought it was too inconvenient to set this up properly through the U.N.

Finally, in this February 2005 press briefing after Dubya’s State of the Union address that year, you have counselor Dan Bartlett saying this about the initiative, in response to a question from Masa Ota with the Japanese Kyodo News service…

“(The PSI) can be only of the highest national security importance of not only this country but free countries all over the world and will be a topic of conversation for many meetings to come.”
Until today, I’d never heard of the Proliferation Security Initiative. And I have a feeling that I’ll never hear of it again for the rest of Dubya’s wretched presidency.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wednesday Videos

Amos Lee ("Shout Out Loud")...

...Happy 77th Birthday to Kenny Ball ("Midnight in Moscow," his early '60s instrumental hit accompanied by a neat slide show)...

...Happy belated birthday to Morrissey ("We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful" - so do I; typically anarchic here)...

...and Happy Birthday also to Joe Cocker (covering "Unchain My Heart" by Ray Charles).

Keith Olbermann's Special Comment Tonight

You know what it's about, so there's nothing left to say except here is is (or, as Atrios sez, don't piss on us and tell us that it's raining).

Update 5/25/07: Via Booman and Atrios, here is the House vote.

Roger The Codger

It’s big local news here that Roger Clemens of the New York Yankees is going to pitch over at Waterfront Park in a rehab assignment game for the Trenton Thunder baseball team, which is the minor league affiliate of the New York Yankees (noted here, dipping into sports again for a minute).

Actually, I hope he throws his arm out on the first pitch, and from that point on, I don’t care if he ever throws a baseball again.

I mean, exactly how many times has this guy retired and come back? And oh, weren’t the Yankee faithful ecstatic when he just did so again not too long ago.

Yeah, what a great guy. And he’s making such a sacrifice too, isn’t he, getting paid $28 mil and all.

And besides that, he apparently was able to negotiate terms into his contract that allowed him to skip traveling with the team if it involved games in which he didn’t have to pitch (and fellow Yankee pitcher Kyle Farnsworth, by the way, is a stand-up guy in my book for pointing out how ridiculous that is).

And since he’s from Texas, is it necessary to point out that he’s a bud of the former owner of that state’s baseball team (partying in a White House ceremony here – I’m sure there’s a better link out there for this story, but this is the only one I have for now).

So, baseball fans young and old, hurry on over to the park and catch the game (should be a beautiful night). After all, this may be your only chance; I’m sure Clemens will go back on the DL again shortly before he retires yet once more (For good this time? Please…).

Update: Apparently he got lit up - sweet!

Tick Tock, Dems

To say I remain unhappy with our Democratic “leadership” for caving on the withdrawal timeline for the Iraq Supplemental is an understatement, though this New York Times story notes that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid intend to return to this issue over the summer (and Meteor Blades at The Daily Kos has written some great posts on this, including here and here).

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran an editorial on Monday describing the Democratic accomplishments while running Congress as “thin” (and you cannot appreciate how unintentionally funny that is until you see how the paper has shrunk since the beginning of the reign of Bruce Toll and Brian Tierney). This letter appeared today in response…

There are several fallacies in your Monday editorial "The Democratic Congress: Any day now." Democrats took control of Congress for the first time in more than a decade only four months ago. They have exercised more constitutionally mandated oversight in those four months than Republicans did in six years of their control of Congress.

Many legislative initiatives have been started; many passed in one or the other house, and there has been a complete change in the political discourse. There have been no ridiculous bills predicated on electoral wedge issues. There is serious debate about the problems facing the nation.

However, the Democrats have a one-vote majority in the Senate, which means Republicans can and have blocked most reasonable initiatives. The Democrats also face a president who, with nothing left to lose, has shown he intends to veto any sensible legislation that comes to his desk.

Let us not forget that Republicans used the strategy of block and blame to great advantage in 1994. It helped produce a Republican Congress for the first time in a generation.

Give the Democrats a little time. Congress was designed by the framers to work slowly. Democrats are changing the agenda to deal with the actual problems the nation faces. They are rooting out the deeply entrenched incompetence, corruption and blatant criminality Republicans condoned for six years.

Brandon Bittner
Royersford, PA
Bittner is right, of course.

And actually, slamming the Dems like this is a step forward for the paper, which ran a hard-hitting and insightful column on the danger of metal baseball bats used in the little leagues. I cannot hazard a guess as to why it appeared in the editorial section and not the sports page, however.

Bye Bye Baroody

I noted in a post on Monday that Bushco had nominated Michael Baroody of the National Association of Manufacturers as the next chairman of the Consumer Products Safety Commission, but now it turns out that Baroody has withdrawn himself from consideration; this was prompted by a letter to Dubya from Senate Dems Bill Nelson and Dick Durbin noting Baroody’s close ties to the industries he would have regulated (again, a “water wet, sky blue” M.O. for Bushco).

I did a bit of checking, and it seems that this administration has had trouble nominating the right people for this agency as they have had elsewhere, including Repug Hal Stratton (#9 on the list in this article), whose last job prior to his appointment was chairing the campaign fundraising group Lawyers For Bush in 2000. Before his confirmation hearing, Dem Senator Ron Wyden expressed concern that Stratton “had no demonstrable record on public safety,” but he was confirmed anyway (and here is one of his more infamous moments)…

Despite saying that he wouldn't let his own daughters play with water yo-yos--rubber toys that are outlawed in several countries because of concerns that children could be strangled by them—(Stratton) refused to ban them in the United States.

I could probably retire documenting the nonsense from Bushco’s government appointments, and let’s not forget after all that that’s another way that Dubya is giving us all the finger.

Despite that, though, I actually want to help our preznit with my own recommendation. Given his disregard for our safety and quality of the products regulated by this agency (and that covers a lot), I think it would make sense in a twisted way to nominate someone who exemplifies this mentality perfectly. And I can think of no one else more appropriate than Irwin (“Bag Of Glass”) Mainway, the character played by Dan Aykroyd on “Saturday Night Live” (and for good measure, nominate Jane Curtin also to continually say to him, in as dour a way as possible, “You’re such a sleazy man.”)

Iraq In A Microcosm

This notes the optimistic prediction of Gen. David Petraeus the other day that at least two of the three recently abducted U.S. soldiers in Iraq could still be alive.

This notes that a body found in the Euphrates River may be shipped home to identify whether or not it is one of the missing soldiers.

And by the way, I hope Petraeus is right. I just hope he’s a bit more judicious the next time he decides whether or not to open his mouth.

I Laugh And Cry At You Too, Friedman

Somehow I question the sincerity of Tom Friedman in his New York Times column today where he writes about “America’s quiet crisis” in “high-end science education,” which is significant to the point where Friedman noted an abundance of foreign-born graduates in the class at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he recently participated in the commencement.

This excerpt struck me in particular…

Folks, we can’t keep being stupid about these things. You can’t have a world where foreign-born students dominate your science graduate schools, research labs, journal publications and can now more easily than ever go back to their home countries to start companies – without it eventually impacting our standard of living – especially when we’re all slipping behind in high-speed Internet penetration per capita. America has fallen from fourth in the world in 2001 to 15th today.
I would call that a total indictment of this country’s lack of investment in education and R&D under the now-happily-over days of Repug congressional ownership, though of course Friedman only goes so far as to correctly point out the obvious; that the Iraq war is draining this country via its human cost as well as investment in an utterly failed enterprise and our loss of world prestige (OK, I’m putting words into his mouth a bit here).

But really, how seriously are we to take Friedman anyway as he laments the lack of homegrown science college graduates? Especially when he has been one of globalization’s biggest cheerleaders, even extolling the virtues of Wal-Mart in his book – what’s the point of graduating more Joe and Jane Smiths when their jobs are going to end up in Bangalore or Beijing?

I’ll tell you what, Friedman; put the formidable resources of your paper to work and find out what happened to the Defending American Jobs Act proposed in the U.S. House by former Rep. Bernie Sanders and Pete Stark of California in 2004 (noted here). Do that (and also contact your elected representatives to spur them into action on it maybe?) and I will believe you when you state that you care about graduating more American-born college graduates in the sciences.

Otherwise, your dire warnings of a problem you’ve helped to perpetuate will fall as flat as the world in the title of your book.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Yes, I'm Pissed

I’m just going to link to Meteor Blades at the Daily Kos here since this person captures a lot of what I feel at this moment about the strong possibility of yet another Dem cave-in on Iraq (I had a feeling this might happen – again, assuming it does, though that appears to be likely – after the vote on McCain-Feingold last week that must have left the Repugs roaring with hilarity…and yes, I actually mean to imply that some truly wretched life forms out there that would find humor in scoring political points at the expense of our dead and maimed service people).

Here is what the Democrats should have done when passing the Iraq Supplemental; they should have made sure that the families and friends of our military who have suffered the most out of all of this were in attendance while the votes took place so all of those voting against the legislation would have had to do so in the presence of people representing our military. When the congressional leadership (using the term loosely at this moment) met the media over the passage of the bills, they should have made sure the aforementioned families and friends were “front and center” on it (having Patrick Murphy lead the way in the House is wise, but somehow I think the Repugs would have had a lot harder time trying to malign a group of people as opposed to one person – that’s one of the reasons why it’s so easy for them to dump on Michael Berg). From what I saw, I honestly don’t remember that happening.

And do I really need to point out what the Repugs would have done had the shoe been on the other foot? Is it really necessary to remind the Democrats (who have now etched in stone the “divided Democrats” narrative – I might as well completely give up on fighting that one) that, if Dole and Gingrich were still around (harping from yesterday on this, I know), they would have sent the same bill to Dubya over and over and over and yelled loud and long about how most of the country wants this misery to end and Bush is just ignoring that?

Also (though this pales in comparison to the human cost), the political implications here are significant, because the Dems now own this war too. There’s no sense in any of the congressional candidates for president trying to run against it, because their party in power will have failed to do anything about it (I guess this enhances the candidacy of John Edwards somewhat since he has had nothing to do with this, but I can assure you that I take no pleasure from that).

If, God willing, a Dem wins the White House next year (and I say that only because of the consequences of a Repug victory), this person will bear the brunt of trying to find some resolution to this now, and the fallout from that will land squarely on this person’s shoulders (and the war may end up dominating this person’s presidency as well as that of the pretender currently taking up space at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue). And assuming there are Democratic gains congressionally next year (I don’t mean to take that for granted, though, especially after this), the war will take up the majority of the time of the next congress also.

These are the political prices that will be paid as a result of giving Dubya what he wants here and now (and again, I readily admit that they pale in comparison to the human cost).

Well, since it appears that the Dems need another lesson in what this war is all about (with most of the rest of the country having long since given up any hope of a good outcome), I think it is appropriate for me to link to this song by John Flynn one more time.

Update: Meteor Blades has more on what we can do about this (kudos to Patrick Murphy for supporting the McGovern bill, and once again, Tim Holden and Allyson Schwartz have some explaining to do).

Giving Max The Boot

Conservative war cheerleader Max Boot, a model of veracity, penned this drivel in an Op-Ed column appearing in today’s New York Times (the subject was whether or not we ingrate Americans should be complaining about the proposed recess by the Iraqi parliament)…

The United States needs to keep pressing for important bills — especially laws on sharing oil revenue, de-Baathification and provincial elections — to be passed as part of a broader reconciliation process. The failure of Iraqi politicians to make more progress is frustrating.
OK, now what exactly is going on with “de-Baathification” here? Can anyone tell me? Does that mean that we’ve given up on the Sunnis? Then what is the point of the Petraeus strategy of “embedding” our people in Iraq? Wasn’t that supposed to help the Sunnis primarily? Wasn’t that supposed to be the main reason for “the surge”?

But we shouldn’t kid ourselves that even in the unlikely event that all these bills are approved by September, they will mark a turning point in the war. At best they will give Gen. David H. Petraeus and President Bush some signs of progress they can point to in arguing for more patience from the American public to give the “surge” a chance to work.
“Arguing for more patience”? This war has already dragged on longer than World War II with no end in sight!

The problem isn’t that we’re impatient. The problem is that we’ve been too patient with the limitless failures of Bushco's conduct of the war!

This is not meant to be an excuse for Iraqi politicians, who should be doing more to end the violence ripping their country apart. But our politicians, who are reduced to quivering piles of Jell-O by the threat of falling opinion polls, aren’t in the best position to point fingers at Iraqi politicians who perform their duties under constant threat of death.
And oh yeah, Max, about those polls…

Some have argued that it’s far more important for the Iraqis to meet, because they’re in the middle of a war. But lest we forget, there are American men and women fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq right now. We’re in the middle of a war, too.
No, Max. They’re in the middle of a war, not you.

(And I don’t really have to point out whether or not Boot actually served, do I?).

"Political Theater," Huh?

I’ve said this probably a hundred times, and I’ll probably say it at least a hundred more times; every time Dubya says or does something to indicate how reality-challenged he truly is, I think “he cannot possibly go lower than this,” and then he proceeds to do just that.

Only the “28 percenters” out there whose support the preznit no matter what and whose brains must be totally calcified at this point think he’s doing the right thing by sticking with Abu Gonzales. As for everyone else, the metaphorical ship on whether or not Dubya’s buddy Al should stay or go sailed long ago.

mcjoan at The Daily Kos sums up the story with context on how many of the GOPers in Congress, including those planning to run for re-election, want Al to go away, not unlike the Baby Ruth candy bar floating in the pool in “Caddyshack” (and how sad is it that the Dems are discussing a “no confidence” vote and have to be reminded that Gonzales can actually be impeached – yes, it’s really true, boys and girls, and you don’t have to journey to a land of cotton candy, fairies and happy little elves to do it either).

And speaking of political theater, boy, are we in store for some tomorrow when Monica Goodling is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee (more here). I wish I could bring a tub of popcorn along with a pitcher of daiquiris and lay back nice and easy in the barcalounger for that one – what an anxious, twitchy festival of non-recollection that is sure to be!

Actually, I take back what I said about the Dems a minute ago, now that I think about it. Maybe they plan to let Abu G. hang on for as long as possible because they know President Nutball won’t do a thing to get rid of him, and that is bound to help them in the polls. And as much as Abu G. is a problem, the bigger issue is how thoroughly infested the Justice Department, to say nothing of other government agencies, has become with Bushco-sympathetic cretins, and that won’t get resolved until this pox of a presidency is no longer inflicting this country (on 1/20/09, barring impeachment as always).

And here’s something else to consider concerning whether or not Abu G. should stick around; another pillar of Bushco who eclipsed Gonzales in his profile and impact was our ol’ buddy Don Rumsfeld, and I still believe that keeping him around until after the election had more than a little bit to do with the Repugs losing the Senate – they would have been routed in the House regardless. As much as I admire Jim Webb (though not so much lately for bailing on McCain-Feingold), I could see he or Claire McCaskill losing narrowly if Dubya had sacked his SecDef a little earlier (but fortunately, he didn’t).

So yeah, maybe it is a bit of “political theater,” Dubya. And it’s too bad that you’re not a player in it, but merely a spectator without a clue of what’s coming in the next act.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday Videos, etc.

Manic Street Preachers ("Your Love Alone Is Not Enough," one of the more elaborate breakup songs I've ever heard)...

...Happy Birthday to drummer Stan Lynch, formerly of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers ("A Woman In Love")...

...Happy Birthday also to Al Franken, hopefully the next Senator from Minnesota (funny recollections on "Letterman," particularly about Sylvester Stallone, who, oddly enough, is in the news again, and Dave tells an off-color joke that gets bleeped - sorry the sound is poor, but this is good)...

...I also apologize for failing to acknowledge earlier the tragic death of Philadelphia jazz and R&B song stylist Zan Gardner - here is a link to a Dreambox Media site where you can listen to and download some of her terrific versions of popular standards.

Thanks for everything, Zan - rest in peace.

I Don't Like Mondays Either, Bob

Did anybody catch what you could call (for lack of a better way to put it) the do-gooder hissy fit by Sir Bob Geldof a few days ago over what Al Gore has in mind to promote global warming awareness (yep – I’ll be catching up for a little while I’m afraid).

From this story, it sounds like Geldof was annoyed at Prince Albert because he more of less bastardized the name of some of Geldof’s prior concerts (with Gore calling the July 7th performances “Live Earth”), and also for the following reason…

"I would only organize (Live Earth) if I could go on stage and announce concrete environmental measures from the American presidential candidates, Congress or major corporations," Geldof told De Volkskrant. "They haven't got those guarantees, so it's just an enormous pop concert or the umpteenth time that, say, Madonna or Coldplay get up on stage."
I understand what Geldof is saying about “concrete measures,” and of course he’s right. But I would say at this point that anything to promote awareness of global warming would be bound to have a positive impact of some type; I just don’t understand Geldof’s agitation.

And by the way, what were the “concrete measures” of Geldof’s “Live 8” concert? Well, as noted here…

These concerts are the start point for The Long Walk To Justice, the one way we can all make our voices heard in unison.

This is without doubt a moment in history where ordinary people can grasp the chance to achieve something truly monumental and demand from the 8 world leaders at G8 an end to poverty.

The G8 leaders have it within their power to alter history. They will only have the will to do so if tens of thousands of people show them that enough is enough.

By doubling aid, fully cancelling debt, and delivering trade justice for Africa, the G8 could change the future for millions of men, women and children."
Yes, those were “concrete” measures. They were well intentioned but totally unattainable also, unfortunately.

Besides, Bob, why don’t you try to lend a hand; don’t shoo-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-oooot the whole day down, OK?

Auf Wiedersehen, Dieter

“Overestimated the potential for synergies,” huh (as noted here)?

Gee, isn’t it just nauseating to read corporate gobbledygook as an explanation for a business development that will no doubt leave a lot of people’s lives in a state of utter upheaval?

Yes, I know I’m coming in late on the sale of Chrysler from Daimler, but if chief executive Dieter Zetsche really wants to know why he didn’t make money with his brand, maybe he ought to read some of this Inquirer article, particularly this excerpt…

"There is too much product and too many dealers," said Carl Weirick, general manager of Anthony D'Ambrosio Dodge Chrysler Jeep in Elverson, Chester County. "Last year was just awful with DaimlerChrysler." He said the company's products were well-made but product rollouts fell flat and the company does not consistently manufacture vehicles with options people want to purchase, loading dealers with tough-to-move inventory.
And as Gail Edmondson of Business Week noted last month, maybe treating shareholders and the media with a bit more courtesy and respect would have helped generate good PR as well.

Another thing – somehow I don’t think the decision to drop a mil in advertising for Time Magazine’s Person Of The Year issue was such a fit of genius (especially given who the “person” turned out to be; I wonder if this story is a “goof”?).

But I think Jonathan Tasini made the best points of all about the sale here, in which he comments on another Times story about the sale…

What first jumps out in this story is the use of the word "perks." The word fits with the typical storyline: American auto companies are in trouble. The trouble is caused by "generous" benefits paid to auto workers. Solution: cut those benefits--referred to here as "perks"-- to save the auto companies.

As a matter of economics, it's worth noting that auto workers "perks" amount to a pension that averages $32,000 if you worked 30 years and retired. And that monthly payment by the company GOES DOWN once a worker begins to collect Social Security. Let's be clear: the Chrysler pension fund is completely funded...

Health care is a big cost item---but, if the auto industry (not to mention the rest of corporate America and many of our political leaders) could get past ideology and focus on economics, there would be a much better solution: a single-payer health care system. If Cerberus wants to make a ton of money, its genius leaders should become immediate advocates for a single-payer system.

Daimler succeeded in botching the management of Chrysler, wiping out $25 billion in shareholder value during the time the German company owned Chrysler--and, yet, there is no penalty to those executives who failed miserably. In fact, their pay and pensions have grown.
All the transatlantic intrigue, corporate claptrap and media spin can’t mask the fact that Zetsche mismanaged what could have been profitable operation given the American market and propensity for driving anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

Dr. “Z” indeed – for “zero,” that is.

Connecting The Dots On “Free” Trade

As many of us know, Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic congressional leadership recently announced agreement on free trade pacts with Panama and Peru based on the assumption that “labor and environmental standards” had been incorporated into those agreements.

I would feel more comfortable about this if it weren’t for this (from David Sirota via Prof. Marcus – I got into this issue a bit in a comment at takeitpersonally last night)…

On trade, Public Citizen has shown that the Democratic Party relied on candidates who ran against lobbyist-written trade deals in order to win many of the crucial conservative-leaning districts that were necessary to win the congressional majority. Yet, as we've seen over the last week, a handful of senior Democratic leaders are joining with the Bush White House in an attempt to ram an ultra-secret free trade deal through Congress, acknowledging that in order to be successful, they will rely on all Republicans and just 25 percent of Democratic lawmakers. As rank-and-file Democratic lawmakers and organizations representing millions of workers, farmers and small businesses have raised objections to the deal, Reuters reports today that Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) is digging in, saying that if he knew what he knew now about how serious rank-and-file Democratic opposition to lobbyist-written trade policy was, he would have tried to negotiate the deal in even more secrecy than it was negotiated in the first place.
Boy, isn’t that comforting on Rangel’s part – “hey, if I’d known these deals would stink so badly, I would have done a better job of hiding them.”

Another important consideration in all of this was the subject of a fine New Yorker column by James Surowiecki last week (I’d link to it, but the link is a bit flaky) about how American companies insist on intellectual property changes to the laws of other countries ostensibly as a protection against pirating of their products (think Microsoft, Pfizer, and Disney). Surowiecki notes, for example, that South Korea “will now have to adopt the U.S. and E.U. definition of copyright – extending it to seventy years after the death of the author.”

Why is this bad? Surowiecki continues…

“The great irony here is that the U.S. economy in its early years was built in large part on a lax attitude towards intellectual property rights and enforcement. As the historian Doron Ben-Atar shows in his book ‘Trade Secrets,’ the Founders believed that a strict attitude towards patents and copyright would limit domestic innovation and make it harder for the U.S. to expand its industrial base.”
Surowiekci also notes that strict patent protection in developing economies can be used to keep competitors from entering into new markets, as well as limiting the access of consumers to valuable new products. Surowiecki continues by stating that Alexander Hamilton (as noted by Ben-Atar), this country’s first Secretary of the Treasury, advocated in his “Report on Manufactures” written in 1791 the theft of technology and the luring of skilled workers from foreign countries.

With this in mind, I want to point out the following from today’s New York Times story on the immigration bill currently being debated in the Senate.

The speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, expressed concern on Sunday about a central element of the bill, under which the government would establish a point system to evaluate would-be immigrants, giving more weight to job skills and education and less to family ties.

“I have serious objection to the point system that is in the bill now, but perhaps that can be improved,” said Ms. Pelosi, a California Democrat. She asserted that this part of the bill, ardently sought by the White House and Republican senators, could undermine “family unification principles which have been fundamental to American immigration.”
What does immigration have to do with “free” trade, I hear you ask? Plenty, if employers continue to adhere to the rather brazen propaganda that alleged labor shortages in this country are the reason why they are seeking hires from offshore. This “points provision” in the bill would effectively legalize the practice of allowing, for example, Manuel, who has some IT training or education from somewhere (or an aptitude at least) entry into this country, while telling his brother Juan, a barely or even unskilled laborer, to get the hell out.

To say nothing of how this repugnant practice would destroy families, it would seem to tie in nicely to the thinking in this country dating back to Alexander Hamilton, wouldn’t it? Particularly since, as Surowiecki noted, intellectual property agreements (referred to very briefly at the bottom of the Boston Globe story) take precedence in a rather extreme way over worker and environmental safeguards in these agreements anyway (and does anyone honestly think that an American company would do anything less than make our hypothetical friend Manuel sign over all rights to his patent if he created something as an employee?).

And to further “catapult the propaganda” that we need immigration bills allowing highly-to-reasonably-skilled workers only to compete in “free” trade deals, I give you this AP story with more highly specious numbers about the decreasing number of manufacturing jobs required a more extensive skill set on the part of employees than ever before.

I’m not questioning the claim about the jobs and the skill set. However, I am questioning the highly specious and pejorative language in the article about people of this country who allegedly have no desire to perform blue collar work.

And who would say such a ghastly thing? Why, the National Association of Manufacturers, of course.

And since the AP story didn’t tell you more about these cretins, I’ll come back to David Sirota here and let him do this better than anyone else I know. And to further note the ultra-capitalist Repug-simpatico “cred” of these people, I give you this story of Michael Baroody, a lobbyist with this group who Dubya has nominated as the head of the Consumer Products Safety Commission (do I need to point out that this is yet another “fox guarding the hen house” situation?).

Despite all of this, though, the Peru and Panama trade deals do make some concessions for the environment and workers rights, particularly regarding child labor (as noted earlier), so that’s better than nothing. But assuming Congress sends those agreements to Dubya, nothing beyond that should even be considered until after he and the Bushco cabal are gone; next up are South Korea and Columbia, two countries with all kinds of issues that, possibly, cannot be addressed by any government, particularly the one we have now (and that indictment goes to both of our major political parties when it comes to these agreements, by the way).

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Typical "Enlightened" Winger Response

I know Casey Lee Cobb will want to know about this; just got this in my "in" box" (and once again, I got on this distribution list totally by accident)...

Dear Fellow Conservative:

Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis is leading a campaign to ban Rep. Ron Paul from future presidential debates, saying his conservative comments are “off the wall and out of whack.”

Do you agree? Disagree? We give you a chance to voice your opinion in the new poll on We’ll let the national media know how conservatives feel about this, so make sure your opinion is included by voting NOW!

While you’re on the site, be sure to read how “Another Republican leader betrays conservatives” and sign our petition to can him. If you’ve already signed our petition, that’s great but only the first step. Now get your friends to sign it!

See you and your friends at


Richard A. Viguerie
Suite 400
9625 Surveyor Court
Manassas, VA 20110
It's bad enough I provided this much information about Viguerie; if he thinks he's getting a link, he can kiss my ass.

After checking out Ron Paul a bit, I think he has interesting ideas particularly on our foreign policy and oil dependency and totally whacked ideas against a single payer health care system. However, his voice should be heard for as long as he remains a Republican presidential candidate.

And given his attempt to silence dissent in this way, I should pose this question directly to Viguerie: what country am I living in again?

Abridged 'Inquirer' Columnists Today

Apologies to D-Mac for stealing his feature for now...

Trudy Rubin: Here goes another column about a world leader (Tony Blair) that will make Bush look even more illegitimate than he already is.

Dick Polman: Gee, I can't understand it; marital infidelity was such a big deal to the Republicans when Bill Clinton was president, but now with the presidential election coming up next year and all of that party's candidates "challenged" in that department (McCain, Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Newt if he declares - please do, Newt!), it's doesn't seem to be so important. Amazing.

Jonathan Last: And now, a hard-hitting expose on Limbo (dude, when I want to learn about theology, I go to church, OK?).

Mark Bowden: Yep, here goes another interesting, well-researched and "sourced" story that has no chance in hell of making the front page of the "Currents" section in this sorry excuse for a newspaper.

Michael Smerconish: DIE, MUMIA, DIE!!!

Actually, Smerky's latest rant today contained this interesting absurdity concerning the murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner for which Abu-Jamal was convicted and sentenced to death...

In the intervening quarter-century (while Mumia Abu-Jamal has lived on death row during the appeals process), many Faulkner family members have passed without closure, due to a delay initiated by death-penalty opponents.
Let me state at the outset that I think Jamal should be dead by now. However, to categorically blame anyone who opposes the death penalty for this grotesque circumstance whereby Jamal continues to live and breathe is a typically absurd attitude on Smerky's part.

I'll tell you what, Smerky; since you profess to be such a moralistic, holier-than-thou arbiter of all that is supposedly right and wrong with our culture, why don't you communicate your latest balderdash to this great lady and let me know what happens, OK?

(Now you see the Comments link, now you don't - aaarrrggghhhh!!!!).