Saturday, July 21, 2007

Today's Impeach Moment

Avedon (via Atrios)...

Impeach Bush...

Over and out.

(and Impeach Bush and Impeach Bush to fill the post quota...)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday Videos

Interpol ("Rest My Chemistry"; I heard this on 'PRB tonight and I've had it in my head for the last couple of hours - video is just a bunch of band shots, but I like the tune)...



...Happy belated birthday to Brian Glascock of The Motels ("Suddenly Last Summer," some '80s fluff recorded before he joined the band, actually; I get all the other music video clichés for that period, but the ice cream truck is a new one)...



...Happy Birthday to both Jack Irons and Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam ("Alive")...



...and Happy Birthday to the one and only Carlos Santana (performing the epic version of "Soul Sacrifice" at Woodstock in 1969 with the rest of the band; hard to tell who gave a more amazing performance, though drummer Michael Shrieve, all of 19, might have topped everyone).

Harry Potter And The Ghastly Hype

This (below) is probably the best (?) parody I could find out there in light of that book that is due to go on sale in these parts within the hour.

(We just came from a Harry Potter party at Barnes and Noble; fun, but I thought I left oppressive crowds behind in Orlando - more fool me I guess. The young one was dressed as a dementor, and I of course was a "muggle," which is about as far as I go with this whole thing).

Three More For Friday

(I’ve had to shift gears like crazy today since my two main posting topics aren’t available online for some reason, so…)

  • Under the “Brownie’s Still A Gasser,” dept., we have the story of formaldehyde in FEMA trailers, a chemical known to cause sore throats, burning eyes and respiratory problems.

    As noted here…

    “They wanted to ignore the problem,” (House Oversight Committee Chairman Henry) Waxman said, referring to headquarters officials. “What we have is indifference to the suffering of people who are already suffering because of Hurricane Katrina, and this is from an agency that’s supposed to serve the public.”

    Mr. Waxman said that after news reports in March 2006 about formaldehyde in the trailers, members of the field staff urged immediate action. He quoted a response in an e-mail message from a FEMA lawyer who said: “Do not initiate any testing until we give the O.K. Once you get results, the clock is running on our duty to respond to them.”

    The documents include an e-mail exchange among agency staff members dated June 27, 2006, relating the news that one person had been found dead in a trailer in St. Tammany Parish, La.

    Referring to the use of air-conditioning, one e-mail message said: “We do not have autopsy results yet, but he had apparently told his neighbor in the past that he was afraid to use his A.C. because he thought it would make the formaldehyde worse.”
    OK, so instead of poisoning or suffocating the people living in the trailers, let FEMA broil them to death. Why not?

    I predict, by the way, that Henry Waxman is going to be the busiest man in America investigating this bunch for at least the next two years.


  • I was not able to track down the Area Votes in Congress for the week of July 9th from philly.com for some reason. So instead, here is a brief summary of legislative activity (that was the first link – I don’t know if I can make it unless I know what Joe Pitts voted “No” to; what a burden!).


  • Someone named Donald Petrille, Jr. former chairman of the Bucks County Federation of Young Republicans, wrote an absolutely demented Guest Opinion in the Courier Times today attacking Patrick Murphy today (that was the second link). I’ll respond at some point in the future when I can find it online.


  • And as always, Impeach Bush, Impeach Bush, and Impeach Bush.

    What Took Him So Long?

    So the courts want “all evidence” when reviewing the status of Guantanamo detainees, huh? What are they, a bunch of America-hating li-bu-ruuuls? (smirk)

    I wonder if the fact that Dubya felt he had to maybe, um, hide some unpleasantness that might come out in that event is the reason why he issued this order?

    And in a related story, with the preznit “going under” for a medical procedure in a very personal area that is actually normal for someone his physical age, that left will leave Deadeye Dick officially in charge tomorrow for a time (insert your punch line here).

    And since that’s only two mentions of President Numbskull…oh wait, never mind.

    Update 7/21: And thanks so much to "the most trusted name in news" for bringing us continual updates on the state of Dubya's...rear end (Tony Snow, for the record, refused to confirm the reported presence of a hemorrhoid).

    Friday News Grab Bag

    (just throwing this stuff together here…)

  • The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a half-page ad in its Nation and World section yesterday from a group called America’s Student Loan Providers in which it advocated the Nelson-Burr Amendment, which mcjoan at The Daily Kos refers to here as “a big gift to the student loan industry.” As mcjoan notes…

    The amendment would reduce funding for by something like $4.2 billion for the amount of money that the Senate bill would devote to students receiving the maximum Pell Grant. The neediest students would lose out on an average of $300 in increased scholarship aid. The lending industry doesn't need the protection of the Nelson/Burr amendment. It's doing just fine.
    The House action was a response to cleaning up the mess in the $85 billion (!) student loan industry, highlighted by the recent resignation of Theresa S. Shaw, the individual responsible for overseeing the program, no doubt due to lax oversight of lending practices (“Terri has told us she plans to take some time off,” huh? Too funny).

    It was also a response to the coziness of Rep. John Boehner with Sallie Mae, this country’s largest student loan provider. As noted here (regarding legislation Boehner supported)…

    Historically students were permitted to consolidate loans only one time in order to take advantage of lower interest rates. If lower interest rates subsequently became available, students were permitted to move their consolidated loans to the Department of Education’s Direct Consolidation program and then were given a second chance to take advantage of lower interest rates by reconsolidating again with a private lender. The ability to do that was removed by the budget bill (that passed Congress last year). That makes students unhappy since they would like to think they are just like any other borrower who can always refinance to take advantage of reduced interest rates.
    Author Christopher Brauchli is a bit tongue-in-cheek here; also, why did I know that the “Nelson” in this (as opposed to North Carolina Repug Richard Burr) was Ben, possibly the lowest Dem this side of Joe Lieberman?


  • Move On is threatening Repugs supporting the Iraq carnage with “political extinction” (yes, it’s another pitch for money – sorry). To learn more, click here.

    And high on that list, by the way, should be Our Man Arlen Specter in PA for saying that the Reid all-night session to force a vote on Iraq troop withdrawal measures was “a waste of time” here.


  • Sorry that Valerie Plame’s civil damages trial was dismissed against Deadeye Dick and company; good luck on the appeal (and a great, pithy commentary by Bill Maher in a related vein appears here).


  • And of course, as always, Impeach Bush, Impeach Bush and Impeach Bush.

    With Hat In Hand

    Are we actually seeing signs of humility from Bushco lately? Some indications of their horrendous mistakes that have led to such murderous chaos, particularly in the Middle East?

    Well, no, I suppose, but the closest thing to that would be something approximating common sense. Some of that appeared in the following New York Times column today by Zalmay Khalilzad (pictured), the United States ambassador to the United Nations (see, now they tell us that the U.N. should be involved in that mess, when we should have been partnering with them every step of the way).

    I just want to add a few thoughts to what Kahlilzad says here – he’s smarter than your typical neocon wingnut so I don’t have much to say, though he’s definitely one of them to be sure…

    AFTER meeting with President Bush on Tuesday, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the Iraqi situation is “a problem of the whole world” and that the United Nations is prepared to contribute to the “Iraqi government and people to help them overcome this difficulty.”

    The United States recognizes the global importance of stabilizing Iraq and supports this forward-leaning approach to enhancing the United Nations’ role. The United Nations possesses certain comparative advantages for undertaking complex internal and regional mediation efforts; it can also help internationalize the effort to stabilize the country.
    All of which is necessary because we chose to act unilater…oh, excuse me, I forgot about the “coalition of the willing” for a minute.

    In coming weeks, the United Nations will appoint a new envoy for Iraq and renew the Security Council mandate for its mission in Baghdad. As special envoy and ambassador to Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005, I saw how the United Nations could play an enormously helpful role when represented by talented envoys who are given the right mandate, and when supported by the major powers. In Iraq, the United States supports a larger United Nations role because we believe that with the right envoy and mandate it is the best vehicle to address the two fundamental issues driving the crisis in Iraq.
    That’s nice that we like the U.N. again. Maybe we won’t spy on delegates any more to see whether or not they’ll vote in favor of greater involvement in Iraq.

    First, the United Nations has unmatched convening power that can help Iraq’s principal communities reach a national compact on the distribution of political and economic power. In the role of mediator, it has inherent legitimacy and the flexibility to talk to all parties, including elements outside the political process.

    A new United Nations envoy should have a mandate to help Iraqis complete work on a range of issues: the law governing distribution of hydrocarbon revenues, the reform of the de-Baathification law, the review of the Constitution, the plan for demobilization of militias, an agreement for insurgents to give up their armed struggle. The envoy should be empowered to help resolve the status of Kirkuk and disputed internal boundaries and to prepare and monitor provincial elections. Also, the mandate should make it possible for the United Nations to explore potential third-party guarantees that may be needed to induce Iraqi factions to reconcile.
    Putting aside the “blue sky” language in the preceding paragraph, I just want to point out that “de-Baathification” was something mandated by Paul Bremer, the first “viceroy” of Iraq (as noted here), but then we seemed to put it on hold to win support of the Sunnis as part of embedding our troops amidst “the surge,” but now it seems to be back “in vogue” again.

    In this role, the United Nations has an added advantage by virtue of its role as co-leader with the Iraqi government of the International Compact for Iraq, an agreement that commits Iraq’s leaders to key political steps and policy reforms in exchange for economic and other support from the international community. The influence that the United Nations has over the release of any assistance will give its envoy significant leverage to encourage compromises among Iraqi leaders.
    For a little while now, Bushco’s strategy has been to involve the U.N. in Iraq more and more – that actually was the pretext for the whole business with Wolfowitz and Shaha Riza of the World Bank coming over to the State Department, though much of our corporate media in its laziness refused to dig deeper and find that out (though David E. Sanger of the New York Times did just that - kind of buried a bit on this post). I think it makes sense to involve the U.N. to a greater degree, but in its typical sneakiness and dishonesty, Bushco refuses to acknowledge that they’re doing that.

    Second, the United Nations is also uniquely suited to work out a regional framework to stabilize Iraq. Several of Iraq’s neighbors — not only Syria and Iran but also some friends of the United States — are pursuing destabilizing policies. The United States supports a new mandate that creates a United Nations-led multilateral diplomatic process to contain the regional competition that is adding fuel to the fire of Iraq’s internal conflict.
    Khalilzad is being polite and not mentioning the fact that Turkey has about 140,000 troops stationed on the border of Northern Iraq, as noted here.

    This process should build on the work of the expanded neighbors conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in May, where regional powers, as well as members of the Security Council and the eight industrialized nations, began a dialogue on Iraq and established a set of working groups on security, energy and refugees. Going forward, this dialogue should be institutionalized at the ministerial level under the leadership of the secretary general. Also, the United Nations envoy for Iraq should convene a contact group at the subministerial level that will meet regularly to determine whether specific agreements are being carried out.
    This language of administrative gobbledygook is all over the place in “State of Denial” by Bob Woodward, by the way; all of these groups, subgroups, working groups etc. are useless unless the right direction is coming from the top.

    To do this work, the United Nations will need additional political, financial, logistical and security support from states with interests in the region. In addition, the coalition will need to maintain forces in Iraq to build on the initial positive security results of our new strategy in Iraq, and to work with the United Nations to ensure that the coalition’s military strategy supports the internal and regional mediation efforts. The United States recognizes its responsibilities and is prepared to do its part.
    Read “the coalition will need to maintain forces in Iraq to build on the initial positive security results of our new strategy in Iraq” to mean that Bushco has no intention whatsoever to start drawing down our forces, by the way.

    While reasonable people can differ on whether the coalition should have intervened against Saddam Hussein’s regime, it is clear at this point that the future of Iraq will have a profound effect on the region and, in turn, on peace and stability in the world. The United States endorses Mr. Ban’s call for an expanded United Nations role in Iraq to help Iraq become a peaceful, stable country — one that will be a responsible partner in the international community and a force for moderation in the region.
    What an inadvertent admission of guilt, by the way, for Khalilzad to still acknowledge the disagreement over the fundamental reason for our pre-emptive war.

    And by the way, as long as we’re talking about the U.N., Kevin Ferris of the Inquirer bashed the U.N. Human Rights Council today since it has been in existence for approximately one year (here).

    Though Ferris engaged in his typical baiting language and acknowledged his freeper pals everywhere he could, I have to grudgingly admit that he has a point – the council definitely has issues, easy target or no.

    However, I want to take note of this excerpt from his screed…

    The U.N. can't say it wasn't warned. When John Bolton was U.S. ambassador to the world body and insisted on creating standards for council membership, he was accused of undermining reform and not being diplomatic.

    "We want a butterfly," Bolton said. "We're not going to put lipstick on a caterpillar and declare it a success."
    As noted here (regarding the U.S. seeking a seat on the council)…

    U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said the United States concluded that since the council has "fundamental flaws" Washington would skip this year's election and concentrate on other priorities, including the overhaul of U.N. management. But he indicated the United States was also concerned about whether it could win a contested election.

    President Bush's administration has been strongly criticized in many countries for invading Iraq and for the U.S. treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and the Abu Ghraib prison.
    Of course, heaven forbid that Ferris would be impolite enough to point that out.

    And coming back to the “humility” theme that I started with, it was surprising to see this from Defense Secretary Robert Gates (Rummy would merely have snarled, possibly laughed, and continued to stamp his signature on another condolence letter to a grieving family).

    (Drat, I keep forgetting about my pledge yesterday in honor of Dr. Carmona, who, as Surgeon General, was told to mention Dubya three times on every page of his speeches...Impeach Bush - that's three total).

    Thursday, July 19, 2007

    Thursday Videos

    The Von Bondies ("C'mon C'mon"; short, loud, and it gets to the point in a hurry)...



    ...Happy Birthday to Bernie Leadon of The Eagles ("Witchy Woman," from 1973)...



    ...Happy Birthday to Brian May of Queen (performing "Love Of My Life" and accompanying the one and only Freddie Mercury here - R.I.P.)...



    Update 7/25: Wow - "to infinity and beyond," huh Brian? Way to go!

    ...Happy Birthday to Alan Gorrie of the Average White Band ("Cut The Cake")...



    ...and finally, for anyone who has missed it thus far, the King Tut exhibition opened at the Franklin Institute here in Philadelphia a little while ago, and to get everyone in the mood to go see it, I present this.

    The Long Goodbye

    As I shake my head over mcjoan’s post concerning this Eric Edelman person at the Pentagon who said that Sen. Hillary Clinton’s questions about U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq “boost enemy propaganda,” I found myself wondering exactly how we were going to accomplish the task that Sen. Clinton inquired about.

    This story by reporter David Wood in the Baltimore Sun gives us an idea of the scope of the effort required for the withdrawal…

    The 20 ground combat brigades deployed (in Iraq) will fill 10,000 flatbed trucks and will take a year to move, logistics experts say. A full withdrawal, shipping home some 200,000 Americans and thousands of tons of equipment, dismantling dozens of American bases and disposing of tons of accumulated toxic waste, will take 20 months or longer, they estimate.

    Yet the administration, long intent on avoiding what it once called a "cut and run" retreat from Iraq, has done little to lay the groundwork for withdrawal, officials here said.

    "We don't have the plan in detail yet. We're seriously engaged in trying to figure this out," said Marine Brig. Gen. Gray Payne, director of the U.S. Central Command's logistics operations center.
    Sounds like efforts are already underway; Jack Bell, deputy under secretary of defense for logistics and materiel readiness, told a Senate committee last week that planning has been going on for some time, as Wood notes here.

    Even with the benefit of a detailed plan, Payne said, "this is going to be an enormous challenge."

    Extricating combat forces during an active war is a tricky military maneuver under the best of circumstances, according to interviews with senior military officers and dozens of tactical and strategic military planners and logistics experts in Iraq and at U.S. military facilities across the region.

    A hastier departure could find military convoys stalled on roads cratered by roadside bombs, interrupted by blown bridges and clogged with fleeing refugees; heavy cargo planes jammed with troops could labor into skies dark with smoke rising from abandoned American bases.



    "It's going to be mind-boggling - like picking up the city of Los Angeles and putting all the pieces somewhere else," said an official of the U.S. Army Sustainment Command, which will oversee much of the work.



    The end of America's last big war, in Vietnam, was planned in detail. Despite the popular image of a helicopter plucking the last Americans from a Saigon rooftop, the withdrawal of 365,000 soldiers took place in increments between 1969 and 1973. The planning took two years.



    Officially, the military lists 160,000 troops assigned to Iraq. Army officers here say they are also supervising 56,000 contractors and between 30,000 and 50,000 foreign workers, including some Iraqis who are dependent on the U.S. military for jobs and protection.

    U.S. Central Command planners are figuring having to move 207,000 troops, said Air Force Col. Dennis J. Nebara deputy director of the Central Command Deployment and Distribution Operations Center.

    Most of the Americans, at least, will be flown out of Iraq. "You don't want a lot of people riding around on buses," said Lt. Col. Eric Casler, an Air Force logistician.

    But commercial charter aircraft are not allowed to fly into combat zones such as Baghdad or any of the large airfields in Iraq at Balad, Al Asad or Al Taqaddam, Casler said. That means troops will have to be ferried out in C-130 cargo planes so worn out that Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne said last spring he is worried that "their wings are going to fall off."
    Dear God…

    There’s a lot more to Wood’s article, though I know I’ve presented a big excerpt here. It is obvious, though, that getting us out will be a Herculean labor (the New York Times editorial called “The Road Home” two Sundays ago was also an excellent analysis).

    And even if Dubya and his bunch were amenable, I don’t think this administration has the intelligence, operational knowledge or organizational skill to do it.

    (And since I only mentioned Dubya once here, Impeach Bush and Impeach Bush – I won’t do this for the music posts, though.)

    Today's Broder Errata

    From the Bucks County Courier Times today (re: this column concerning the 85th birthday celebration for George McGovern and other stuff – he’s referring to the 1972 presidential election below)…

    At the time, it certainly didn't look like salvation to party leaders, who saw the Democrats losing seat after seat in the McGovern debacle.
    To clarify, the Democrats lost some seats in the U.S. House, though they still held the majority. However, they gained seats in the Senate, and anti-war candidates were not hurt when they ran for Congress (sorry I can’t source this better; I was reminded of that here, but I know I also read it elsewhere, probably in The Nation online - certainly not by Podhoretz, of course). Also, as commenter M.A. (#1) noted, Nixon was starting to de-escalate our troop presence; there certainly wasn’t any talk of “a surge.”

    Also, I would ask that you read the second paragraph of this excerpt in particular (re: “sticking to your guns,” as they say)…

    There's a lesson in this for those running for president today. There is more than one way to measure a successful campaign. Pragmatism -- setting positions to suit the current political winds -- can yield short-term victories. But sticking to principle can build a legacy for a generation.

    That may be consolation for John McCain, who is the most stubbornly principled person in the Republican field. He is being punished now for saying what he believes about Iraq and immigration, among other things. But the examples of (Barry) Goldwater and McGovern tell us that battle-tested veterans who take the abuse and don't abandon their beliefs can inspire a movement of enduring importance.
    What flowery language here by Broderella; the problem is that McCain is in trouble primarily because he sold himself out completely (as you can see here), and he tethered himself hopelessly to the Iraq war (as noted here by Arianna Huffington).

    McCain deserves this political fate, but I can never forget his sacrifice for our country, nor should any of us. For this reason, he stands apart from the field of Repug presidential pretenders.

    (And by the way, Impeach Bush, Impeach Bush and Impeach Bush).

    The War On Science Continues

    Today marks the one-year anniversary of the first veto of Dubya’s failed presidency, and that would be for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research (which he replicated again recently as we know).

    Ruy Teixeira of The Century Foundation has more.

    Oh, and by the way, Impeach Bush and Impeach Bush - only have to say it twice this time.)

    Still "Two Americas"

    This story appeared on Yahoo News via Time about James Lowe, a 51-year-old disabled coal miner who lived with a severe cleft palate for five decades before he was able to receive treatment last year. His story was told by John Edwards during his tour to highlight poverty in America.

    It is representative of the populist chord that Edwards is striking with a great many voters in this country, and it is why our corporate media will continue to denigrate him as a phony while trotting out the usual “non-stories” about Edwards that you and I know all too well.

    With this in mind, please take a minute or two to read this from Elizabeth Edwards…

    Dear friend,

    For the last 30 years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to share my life with John Edwards, the most optimistic, hard working, and fair-minded man I have ever met.

    Whenever I talk to voters about this campaign, I try my best to share straight from the heart why I know—really know—that John Edwards is the right person to lead this country.

    I wish I could talk to every voter individually, but since I cannot, I asked to record a special message that we are putting on the air today in New Hampshire. It is hard to condense 30 years of admiration into 30 seconds, but I think it came out well.

    I hope you will help me make sure as many people as possible see this message in the early voting state of New Hampshire. I am but one voice in this cause—a voice that grows stronger only because of your help. Please watch the video and contribute what you can to make a difference in our campaign and keep this ad on the air,
    here.

    Please take a moment right now to watch my message for yourself. And then pass this note on to anyone you know who would like to learn a little more about who John Edwards actually is—and what kind of leadership he can offer our country.

    Click here.

    Thank you,

    Elizabeth Edwards
    Wednesday, July 18, 2007

    P.S. This week, John is leading the Road to One America tour, bringing national attention to poverty in America, and visiting communities that are leading the fight to end it. On Monday, he gave a truly inspiring speech on the struggle for fairness in this country—it was one of the best I have ever seen. You can watch it yourself
    here.
    Also, I noticed that some kind of a parody of the tour by John Edwards appeared on the Huffington Post site. I am not able to view it at the moment, nor do I have any desire to at any point (but if anyone wants to, go ahead by clicking here - feel free to waste your time in this manner if you so choose).

    I would have cut the Huffington Post some slack on this if they had devoted any time whatsoever to highlighting this tour. But instead, they have chosen to feed into this country’s most craven and selfish impulses by linking to something like this (completely and sickeningly reflected in the comments, I may add – God, it’s frightening how thoroughly this country has been conditioned to spit out propaganda like “LBJ’s War on Poverty was a failure because all of the money went to Vietnam”).

    If your intention is to make fun of John Edwards personally, all you had to do was put up that stupid “I Feel Pretty” YouTube video or something or republish that horrible column by Kathleen Parker (automatically putting you on the same level as a freeper outlet). However, it is completely beneath you and any progressive impulse you purport to have by ridiculing Edwards for drawing this country’s attention to an issue that has been almost completely ignored by our corporate media (unless, of course, they decide to air some “feel good” fluff piece that happens to touch on it).

    This is totally beneath you, Arianna (and in a related vein, to quote Atrios, What Digby Said).

    (Fortunately, since HuffPo is apparently incapable of producing a serious analysis of what Edwards is all about on this, I happened to find a column from McClatchy Newspapers on it here, and before anyone gets too freaked out by the mention of "cost to taxpayers," consider that the full reinstatement of the estate tax would take care of a good deal of that.)

    (And by the way, in keeping with my pledge from the Carmona post, Impeach Bush, Impeach Bush, and Impeach Bush).

    Sickness Isn't Ideological

    The utter catastrophe of the Iraq war should be enough to indicate the moral bankruptcy of the adminis- tration of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. However, as we know, there are many other symptoms that clarify that sorry state.

    And perhaps the most dramatic new one is the determination by President Brainless to veto bipartisan legislation to renew the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. As noted in this story…

    About 3.3 million additional children would be covered under the proposal developed by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Republican Sens. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa) and Orrin G. Hatch (Utah), among others. It would provide the program $60 billion over five years, compared with $30 billion under Bush's proposal. And it would rely on a 61-cent increase in the federal excise tax on cigarettes, to $1 a pack, which Bush opposes.

    Grassley and Hatch, in a joint statement this week, implored the president to rescind his veto threat. They warned that Democrats might seek an expansion of $50 billion or more if there is no compromise.

    They also said that Bush should drop efforts to link the program's renewal to his six-month-old proposal to replace the long-standing tax break for employer-based health insurance with a new tax deduction that would help people pay for insurance, regardless of whether they get it through their jobs or purchase it on their own.
    However…

    The president said he objects on philosophical grounds to a bipartisan Senate proposal to boost the State Children's Health Insurance Program by $35 billion over five years. Bush has proposed $5 billion in increased funding and has threatened to veto the Senate compromise and a more costly expansion being contemplated in the House.
    (Note to the WaPo: I have to admit that I’m confused by these numbers. First you state that the proposed Senate increase over five years is $35 billion, then $60 billion late on. Sorry, but I’m lost).

    The point, though, is that Dubya’s $5 billion proposal in response is a slap in the face.

    See, Dubya wants everyone to sign up for private insurance, which on balance is more costly and provides less coverage, and we can’t possibly leverage the government here to provide better coverage for less money, can we now? After all, that isn’t part of the Grover Norquist strategy of making government so small that you could “drown it in a bathtub,” right?

    This Center for American Progress post has all kinds of good information on this isue, particularly the following...

    Several parties, including conservative think tanks and insurance industry stakeholders, have advanced proposals that would have a significant impact on the benefits low-income children may receive. In particular, two of their suggestions should prompt a reconsideration of how Medicaid, SCHIP and private coverage benefit packages meet low-income children’s health care needs to various degrees: that some portion of SCHIP reauthorization funding should be used for tax credits or other mechanisms to finance private coverage; and that state SCHIP programs should place more emphasis on enrolling children in private or employer-based coverage.

    Neither of these approaches will strengthen the SCHIP program’s ability to provide low-income children with critical health coverage. Policy choices that would use SCHIP funding for tax credits or programs to purchase private coverage would leave low-income children and their families with coverage that does less to meet their needs yet requires greater out-of-pocket contributions from these families. Instead, policymakers should seek to bolster efforts to provide children with appropriate coverage that meets their medical and developmental needs.
    And how’s this for logic near the end of the WaPo story, by the way (something else Dubya doesn’t like)…

    Bush said he is opposed to a bipartisan legislation that would allow the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products, which could lead to stronger warning labels and limits on nicotine and other ingredients.

    "We've always said that nicotine is not a drug to be regulated under FDA," Bush said.
    This is such astonishing idiocy that it literally makes my head hurt (unbelievable that these reporters just transcribe this stuff without asking him if he's lost his $#@!ing mind, though I'm sure they already know he has). And finally, I want to take note of this…

    In the 15-minute interview, Bush also rejected the charges by former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona that the administration's political appointees routinely rewrote his speeches, blocked public health reports for political reasons and screened his travel.
    In this article, Dr. Carmona notes that he was told to mention our preznit three times on every page of his speeches. Well, as a “tribute” to our head of state (and in respectful remembrance of yet another life sciences professional who was marginalized by this cabal), I will endeavor to mention Bush three times in every blog post from now on (though I admit that I will have to be creative). How’s that?

    And regarding Dr. Carmona again, if you thought Bushco couldn’t go any lower, read this letter that recently appeared in the New York Times…

    As one who has made his living in science education for 30 years, I expected to be distressed when I read the article about yet more political interference by the Bush administration in a science-based agency. I was thoroughly appalled, however, to learn that “administration officials” discouraged Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona from attending the Special Olympics because of that charitable organization’s longtime ties to a prominent family, the Kennedys.

    It was my honor to work with children in the Special Olympics years ago, and I’m deeply saddened, but hardly surprised, to learn that those who trumpet “traditional family values” would deny assistance to disabled people in the name of political pettiness.

    Joseph D. McInerney
    Lutherville, Md., July 11, 2007
    Our president is truly scum.

    Update 7/30: This is a typically great column by Paul Krugman on this subject.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2007

    Saint Mikey Trods His Lonely Path

    OK, boys and girls, it’s time to break out the hankies; we’re all going to have a good sob over poor Mikey Fitz- patrick, OK?

    Since our lovable pal of a former 8th District U.S. Congressional rep was exiled into profitable private life by those baaaad Bucks Countians voters who voted elected for Patrick Murphy last fall, it seems that he has borne his yoke of oppression for lo these many months in silence (well, almost).

    We were reminded of this by the following Letter To The Editor by Kay McBride that appeared in the Courier Times today…

    Reconsidering the past congressional election gives me a real appreciation for the power that slick marketing now has over the election of public officials.

    The 8th Congressional District had in office a true “public servant.” Mike Fitzpatrick has lived his whole life in Bucks County and is raising his children in Bucks County. His life and his prior service have demonstrated his vested interest in his hometown.

    Our choice for change was a nicely packaged “politician.” Patrick Murphy identified a political opportunity, purchased a home in November of 2005, announced he was running for office in January of 2006, married in June of 2006 and had a child in November of 2006. All make this package “sell-able.”

    Along the way were promised many things, first and foremost that we would be out of the war. Unfortunately, amidst the continuation of the war and Murphy’s own revelation that he accepted
    a $100,000 book advance, the package appears to be unwrapping.

    On the other hand, our public servant after being unseated continues to be our public servant. After his loss, he went to Newtown Friends School because he said no matter the outcome of the election he would keep his promise, and he did, in the quiet manner that is so typical of Mike Fitzpatrick.

    Now that Mike Fitzpatrick is a private citizen, he still gets calls from his Bucks County neighbors seeking help and our public servant doesn’t turn them away, he doesn’t ask them who they voted for, he quietly does what a true public servant does – whatever he can to help. After all, this is his hometown.

    Kay McBride
    Bensalem, PA
    I just have this to say in response…

    BAAAAWWWWWLLLL!!!!!

    OMIGODIMSOOSORRRYYYYY!!!!!!

    I suppose I shouldn’t give people like McBride the time of day, but if she had merely stopped at trying to nominate Mikey for consecration by the Holy See, then that would have been one thing. But her foul calumnies against Patrick Murphy cannot be tolerated (“had a baby” in November 2006? Uh huh – I suppose Jennifer just went along for the ride, right?). And maybe in some kind of alternative universe, McBride will actually bother to explain Mikey’s affiliation with Newtown Friends School.

    We’ve just witnessed a preview of the 2008 campaign, by the way. The utterly ridiculous meme that Patrick was sent to Washington to end the war but couldn’t do it (totally discounting Repug obstruction as well as the fact that our beloved Mikey did everything possible to continue it, of course – “strongly worded” letter to the Iraq Study Group or no) will be played out over and over (sickening to think we could be in the same Iraq mess, or worse, a year from now, but unless we get Dubya and “Big Time” out, that will be the case). And oh yes, the fact that Patrick somehow “isn’t one of us” will be another continual refrain.

    This does a lot to explain why your dear heart Mikey lost, Ms. McBride. And this does a lot to explain why Patrick won.

    Now go away.

    Wednesday Gun News

    I should note the passage of a gun bill in the PA State Legislature Monday night (sorry I’m getting around to this only now).

    Yes, I’m serious (and by a vote of 50-0, no less). As noted here…

    One part of the bill would compel police departments to trace all illegal firearms confiscated from those under the age of 21 and report the guns to a state-police-run registry. The other would expand the definition of firearm under state law to include long-guns such as rifles and shotguns, providing more uniform application of state law.
    Though these are “baby steps” in the right direction (but progress all the same), what would really help would be if we could trace all illegal firearms confiscated from those over the age of 21 also. But oh no; see, that’s where that nasty little “Tiahrt/Shelby” amendment kicks in.

    As noted here, the original Tiahrt language was taken out of an appropriations bill by Senate Dem Barbara Mikulski, only to be put back by Repug Richard Shelby with more strident language…two versions exist at the moment, one each in the U.S. House and Senate, and the Senate version includes the particularly odious provision that would threaten law enforcement officials with prison time for using gun tracing data beyond a specific investigation, say, for identifying and targeting gun trafficking patterns, as stated in this editorial.

    And John Lott weighed in yesterday in the Inquirer to tell us, once again, that the “real” problem isn’t the amount of guns on the street, but that Philadelphia “simply isn’t doing such a great job of law enforcement” (I’ll give him $20 if he summons the guts to say that in front of a room full of cops).

    And speaking of smoke and mirrors on the gun issue, the NRA recently stopped the practice of handing our passes to Sesame Place in Middletown Township, PA in return for donations to its legislative action fund (here). However, Anheuser Busch is running about neck-in-neck with the NRA when it comes to putting money over the lives of our kids for discontinuing this practice at Sesame Place, but allowing it at its other theme parks (oh, but they’re not as “kid friendly”? Please).

    Meanwhile, the funeral for Tykeem Law, a little boy shot while riding his bicycle in an apparent case of “road rage,” will take place at 9 a.m. next Tuesday at New Hope Temple Baptist Church, 711 South 12th St. in Philadelphia (allegedly the suspect, Charles T. “Chuckie” Meyers, didn’t think the 14-year-old boy was riding quickly enough in front of him while he drove, so instead of just hitting his horn, he plugged him).

    Stop Me If You've Heard This One

    (Pic is from house blogs.net)...

    CNN reports that we’re currently holding bin Laden’s “go-between” in Iraq. You know, the liaison guy between Iraq’s al Qaeda and the regular al Qaeda.

    Sure we are (can you say “highly questionable timing”? - substitute "arrests" for "deaths" here).

    Update 7/19: Sounds like our military command is in on the joke too, though admittedly, it isn't all that funny (h/t Atrios - "Baghdadi"?).

    “Hot Tub Tom,” The Concern Troll?

    The Inquirer also allowed itself to serve as Tom DeLay’s PR vehicle in this column by Dave Boyer of the editorial board today, noting DeLay’s appearance Monday night at the National Constitution Center in front of an audience of 200 people who, shockingly, had nothing whatsoever better to do with their time. And since we’re talking about DeLay, you know he wouldn’t have bothered to show up unless he could make money for himself.

    DeLay appeared at a fundraiser where he also hawked his book No Retreat, No Surrender (how dare he use the title of a Springsteen song!), and also invoked the Hillary-Clinton-as-President boogeyman in an effort to scare the audience into contributing larger donations (which Boyer actually noted, by the way).

    Actually, DeLay’s book really should be titled “No Church-State Separation,” since that is what he advocated on behalf of his fellow travelers at the Family Research Council here, or “No Overturning of My Redistricting Scam,” since that is what happened and led to the election of Dem Ciro Rodriguez over longtime Repug Henry Bonilla in Texas’s 23rd Congressional District (noted here).

    And speaking of Hillary Clinton, the Inky also printed an odious Glenn McCoy cartoon today (redundant?) where a pollster is asking a couple with a baby in a stroller if they’d “would like to see the Clintons back in the White House,” and the mother says, “Sure, if they return all the stuff they stole when they left.”

    I would ask in response that you read this story, particularly the following summary..

    (In the investigation into the alleged theft and vandalism) The White House made 78 staffers available for interviews with the GAO, and clearly spent an enormous amount of energy just to try to stick another scandal to the Clintons. (Gonzales' time alone, billed by the hour, might cost more than the $9,000-plus the GAO blamed on the Clintons.) After 11 months, and an investigation that Democrats told the Washington Post cost $200,000, one somehow expected more. Now that all the facts are in, it seems pretty clear which administration should get the blame for the White House vandal scandal.
    What a shame that Trudy Rubin’s fine column on Bushco’s insipid attempt at trying to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord was buried beneath all of this muck.

    Votes Matter, Not Sympathy

    The Inquirer also ran a story today about New Jersey Repug U.S. House Rep. Frank LoBiondo and his personal ordeal in supporting Dubya’s failed war in Iraq (here).

    Here, however, is a list of votes cast by LoBiondo dating back to January of 2005; I’d like to call attention to the following in particular…

    Vote 624: H.R. 2956: This bill would require the president to begin reducing the number of U.S. troops serving in Iraq 120 days after its enactment and would require most troops to be withdrawn by April 1, 2008 (No).

    Vote 425: H.R. 2206: This bill would provide funding in Iraq without setting withdrawal deadlines for troops, which anti-war Democrats sought in an earlier bill (Yes).

    Vote 265: H.R. 1591: House and Senate conferees approved this legislation providing $124.2 billion primarily for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and setting benchmarks and a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, but President Bush vetoed the bill on May 1 (No).

    Vote 186: H.R. 1591: The bill offers supplemental appropriations to help the United States fight the global war on terror, among other things. However, President Bush has vowed to veto the bill because it includes a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq (No).

    Vote 99: H Con Res 63: This measure expresses the House's disagreement with President Bush's planned troop buildup in Iraq (did not vote).
    I believe Rep. LoBiondo is showing genuine sorrow in the Inquirer story, but if he is really serious about taking the hard steps in an effort to fix this mess (could take a decade, easily), he can start by representing his constituents in a manner consistent with how the majority of the U.S. feels about this nightmare for our troops and our country.

    Today's Pitiable Inky Nonsense

    The Philadelphia Inquirer has provided a lot of material to keep me busy today, so I’d better get started.

    This story on the front page has to do with the shooting of Air Force Senior Airman Jonathan Schrieken in Willingboro, NJ on July 4th. The story tells us that Schrieken was “fighting for his life” afterwards, but he has since been released from Cooper University Hospital. The shooter, Matthew Marren of Pennsauken, NJ, killed himself soon after shooting Schrieken with his 25 mm semiautomatic handgun, presumably with the same weapon.

    Willingboro police continue to investigate this shooting, and that really should be the end of it. However, the freepers have jumped all over this, so you know they’ve propagandized this to the hilt. As noted in the story…

    Within days of the incident, cyberspace was burning with criticism of the media for underplaying the story and failing to report the reason for the shooting.

    Bloggers cited two notes left by Marren - in his car and at home - that reportedly blasted the government and military. The general content was revealed by Marren's Trion, Ga., aunt in a story on the Web site PhillyBurbs.com. The aunt said he "wanted to make a statement" on Independence Day.

    "Now, imagine the scenario flipped: What if a soldier had attempted to murder a peace activist over the holidays in order to 'make a statement?' " wrote (Michelle, of course) Malkin in a July 11 piece titled "When Peaceniks Attack, Journalists Snooze" on Townhall.com. "The [New York] Times would be holding a front-page vigil, and Katie Couric's brow would be furrowed for a week."

    The Little Green Footballs blog ran a July 10 posting that said "authorities and media are doing their best to downplay and cover up the shooter's motivation."

    Another blog, baldilocks, said in a July 8 posting called "Dropping the Mask": "I guess that 'supporting the troops' is starting to become difficult to pull off."

    And in a July 8 posting on the military blog, Black Five, a writer called on readers to "keep this airman in your thoughts, prayers, meditations, or whatever it is you do . . . I ask that the name of the shooter and discussions about them not be placed in the comments (at the Black Five site), as this isn't the place for them: It's about Jonathan Schrieken."
    Now, let’s hear from the reality-based community once more…

    "No motive has been determined," said Jack Smith, a spokesman for the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office. "They [investigators] are still indicating that it was an act of random violence."



    Yesterday, Smith...described Marren's final words (in his two notes) as "rambling. There was no mention of the military, the war in Iraq or the victim being a soldier.

    " . . . This has taken on a life of its own."
    And that is usually the case with this crowd (and there’s no way I’m going to extend the courtesy of linking to any of them – at least someone at Black Five told everyone to concentrate on Schrieken instead of the attendant circus that has been created).

    I’m not blaming Colimore here, since he’s written a hard news story that brings us the details. However, I am taking his editor to task, as well as managing editor Bill Marimow, for not having enough sense to smell how rotten this freeper garbage truly is.

    So Marren’s “aunt” revealed the content of the notes by Marren before he shot Schrieken? At what point were these letters turned over to law enforcement (at Trion. Ga., presumably)? Did the “aunt” ever communicate to anyone something along the lines of “Hey, my grandson is nuts, and he’s sending off signals like he wants to shoot somebody”?

    And I’m going to put aside Malkin’s childish hypothetical of a soldier shooting a peace activist since, as Jack Smith of the Burlington County prosecutor’s office noted above, there’s no evidence supporting Malkin’s notion that there was any intent by Marren to shoot Schrieken, so there’s no reason to even “go there” (and Malkin’s flunkies such as Little Green Snotballs and the others barely deserve a mention here also).

    There are so many ways I could demonstrate that Malkin and her crowd don’t know what they’re talking about, but I’ll present one name to you for consideration: Jamil Hussein.

    As noted here, a story was reported by the AP earlier this year that Shiite militiamen in Iraq had "grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive near Iraqi soldiers who did not intervene." The source for the story was Hussein, an Iraqi police captain.

    Here’s more on this…

    Once Iraqi government and U.S. military officials claimed they had no records of a police officer named Jamil Hussein, warbloggers, led by Michelle Malkin and supported by Instapundit, Powerline, Confederate Yankee, and numerous others, announced that Hussein was a phony source the AP had used in order to spread insurgent "propaganda." The search for Hussein became so all-consuming that Malkin announced this week that she was going to travel to Iraq in order to prove he did not exist.

    Some triumphant warbloggers even demanded that AP executive editor Kathleen Carroll resign in the wake of the so-called scandal.

    Warbloggers, who enthusiastically supported the invasion of Iraq, have tried to expand the Hussein controversy to suggest that if AP had used a "fake" source, then news consumers could not believe anything the AP reported about Iraq and its bloody disintegration. "Quite literally, almost all AP reporting from Iraq not verified from reporters of other news organizations is now suspect, and with good reason," wrote warblogger Bob Owens.

    Added warblogger Curt at Flopping Aces, who '"broke," the Hussein story in November, "NO story we get out of Iraq can be trusted anymore until the news services admit their mistakes and quit using these biased sources."

    But the bottom fell out…when the Iraqi government flip-flopped and suddenly confirmed Hussein's existence. In fact, he was under arrest for doing what warbloggers insisted Hussein could never do in the first place -- talk to reporters…
    Also, the Inquirer seems to have no qualms whatsoever about providing a soapbox for these journalistically disreputable characters. With that in mind, here is what Eric Boehlert asked in February here (he was directing it to the Washington Post, which had run a feature on conservative bloggers, but he could easily have directed it to the Inquirer also)…

    Where, in the last two years, has the Post's Style section run a feature on Markos "Kos" Moulitsas Zuniga, whose DailyKos.com is the most popular political blog in the world? Where was the feature on progressive wunderkind organizer Matt Stoller, one of the forces behind the widely read MyDD website? Or pioneers like Eric Alterman (a Media Matters for America senior fellow) and Josh Marshall, who were among the first to establish progressive outposts online? Or John Amato, who revolutionized political blogging by posting video clips on his Crooks and Liars website, which, according to one recent survey, was the 10th most-linked-to political website in the world? Or Jane Hamsher, who founded influential firedoglake.com, and who's been leading a team live-blogging the Scooter Libby trial? Or Duncan Black (a Media Matters senior fellow), whose hugely popular blog, Eschaton, remains an online must-read? Or John Aravosis, the progressive activist who runs AMERICAblog and just a few weeks ago forced the candy giant Mars to yank online Snickers ads after Aravosis and others tagged them as anti-gay? (Full disclosure: I know most of those bloggers on a personal basis.)
    There are many others that could be added to that group, including Glenn Greenwald, The Brad Blog, Talk Left, Liberal Oasis, the Center for American Progress, etc. All of these people are committed to telling the story straight, as opposed to packaging rumor and innuendo as fact.

    The right-wing online hit squad has dedicated its existence to manufacturing smokescreens any way they can. When they are exposed to the truth, they simple move on to ply their dark art over something else. Not much more to say about it than that.

    Update 7/20: I'm sure I'll be dumping on the Inky again at some point, but for now, kudos to them for this editorial.

    Tuesday, July 17, 2007

    Tuesday Videos

    Franz Ferdinand ("Darts Of Pleasure," with the debut of the "Mouth-Cam" - bleaugh!)...



    ...forgot to note the birthday last week of Soul Asylum's Dan Murphy ("Runaway Train"; heartbreaking stuff - let's just pray for them and do what we can to help)...



    ...Happy Birthday to both Bill Ward and "Geezer" Butler of Black Sabbath ("War Pigs," set to images burned into our memory, unfortunately - and no, this does not constitute insulting our military; those whom Harry Reid has quite rightly forced to stay in the Senate to explain why they refuse an up-or-down vote on amendments related to the Iraq nightmare should be forced to watch this)...



    ...and today marks the 40th anniversary of the death of John Coltrane ("My Favorite Things," recorded in 1961, probably with McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones; the sound is kind of goofed up, so keep the volume at about half way).

    "The Scream" Lives On

    As you all know, I support John Edwards, but I have to point this out about another Democratic candidate.

    I realize it’s way too much to ask of our elite Beltway journos and other pundits to actually analyze candidates for political office based on their positions on the issues, so instead, we have insider tripe such as this column from Anne E. Kornblut and Perry Bacon, Jr. of the Washington Post today. They wrote what is, in essence, more meta-data campaign fluff that does absolutely nothing to help a voter learn about either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama (there’s a slight mention on Iraq near the end, but that’s it).

    More than anything else, the article preoccupies itself with how much money the Clinton and Obama campaigns have raised, as if that by itself is the objective of the election.

    And oh yes, we have these choice excerpts…

    Like (Howard) Dean and (Bill) Bradley, Obama is strongest among elites, whom other Democrats derisively call "latte liberals" -- a group that voices strong opinions but is not big enough to win him the nomination. Polls show that Obama is ahead of Clinton among voters with college degrees, while Clinton has a huge lead among voters who make less than $35,000 and those who have graduated only from high school.



    Obama (is “retooling” his campaign and talking about the economy and) has made other subtle changes as well. He recently pulled one of his closest aides, longtime spokesman Robert Gibbs, out onto the campaign trail to help sharpen his message. Aides are working to get the occasionally long-winded senator to speak in shorter, crisper sentences, particularly in debates and town hall meetings.

    Advisers have also discussed Obama's going to Europe to help define his foreign policy record.

    Yet the campaign rejects questions about whether it needs to do something different to win.
    So let’s see – we have a comparison between the Obama campaign and that of Howard Dean (which, truth be told, flamed out from attack ads from other Dem candidates who also co-opted themes and methods from Dean’s campaign, as well as our media’s childish obsession with the “Dean Scream”…amazingly enough, Kornblut and Bacon don’t mention “the scream” here, probably because they no longer have to).

    In the process of making the comparison between Dean and Obama, the highly pejorative phrase “latte liberals” is used, lazily attributed to “other Democrats” (I’ll expect an upcoming column from Kornblut and Bacon to refer to GOP candidates catering to “fundamentalist wingnuts” or “redneck Republicans,” though I know that won’t happen).

    We are also told that Obama is “retooling” his campaign because he is “long winded” and needs to speak in “shorter, crisper sentences,” and he needs to travel to Europe to “help define his foreign policy record.”

    I have just described what passes for actual substance in this article. And after reading it, I have just one question: can I be a Washington D.C. media “insider” one day too?

    I mean, it’s easy, right? Just do a bare minimum of statistical research, come up with some quotes that may or may not be actually attributed the way you say they are, recycle some of the usually beyond-tired narrative about a particular candidate or other candidates of the same party (maybe even concoct some new nonsense about a candidate for president having to travel to Europe to win an election in this country), turn in your copy, then call it a day and head to the gym or to the watering hole in time for happy hour. What a gig!

    No wonder individuals such as Glenn Greenwald take these people to task so frequently! However, at least there was a response to this nonsense.

    "I'm puzzled by this Barack Obama 'second act' stuff," (campaign spokesman Robert) Gibbs said. "I'm watching the play, and we're still in Act One. And it's pretty good."
    Don’t worry – Kornblut, Bacon and their ilk will find more nebulous, uninformative nonsense to scribble about, calling for the requisite clarification. It’s how they justify their existence.

    Update: And by the way, in case anyone out there has any doubt that it's more important for our corporate media to reinforce stuff like this than it is to do actual reporting, I should note that I was at my doctor's office earlier today and, while I waited, I watched the NBC Evening News with Brian Williams and he aired a report extremely similar to this "story." It didn't include some of Kornblut/Bacon's accusations, but it did have "the Scream," and those were the only differences.

    Exit Jim Nicholson

    So another member of Bushco leaves us…

    Jim Nicholson was typical of Republicans appointed to oversee agencies who had no business doing so; his claim to fame for this regime (as noted here) was that, as head of the RNC from 1997-2000, he left the committee with money in the bank and a surplus of 160,000 on the voter list.

    And as also noted in the prior post (but expanded in a considerable way by Joe Conason here), Nicholson was one of the early deriders of Al Gore for speaking out about the climate crisis, with Nicholson saying the following about Gore’s book “Earth In The Balance”: “This is a book written by an extremist, and it’s filled with extremism …. He wants to do away with the automobile as we know it today…”

    Well, fortunately for us all, we can “do away” with Jim Nicholson running the Veterans Administration; here’s hoping the next person in charge won’t be responsible for losing the social security numbers of 26 million veterans.

    I know it’s too easy, but I have to say it: Heckuva Job, Jim!

    Update 7/18: Dick Polman also noted the following in this post...

    In the spring of 2005, Nicholson publicly admitted that the VA had underestimated the number of Iraq war vets who were expected to seek medical treatment that year – by nearly 80,000, because somehow his agency hadn't taken the growing Iraq caseload into account. Records show that the VA was slow to react when casualties mounted far beyond their initial expectations; the disability claims backlog reportedly exceeds 400,000. Meanwhile, for fiscal 2006, Nicholson approved bonuses to top VA executives, totaling $3.8 million. This spring, he dismissed reports of widespread vet treatment shortfalls, calling them “anecdotal.” In his words, “when you are treating so many people there is always going to be a linen towel left somewhere.”
    I'll withhold comment regarding the rest of Polman's post about the Senate and Harry Reid's all night session - when all you have to grasp at are straws...

    Riding Shotgun With Deadeye Dick

    As noted here, the Senate tried to withhold funding for Big Time’s “Fourth Branch” of government until he complied with an executive order that the Dems interpreted to mean that he must provide a report on how he handles classified information to the National Archives and Records Administration (here).

    (Hmmm, would it be too much of a stretch to imagine that Cheney “handles classified information” by divulging it to his buddies at KBR/Halliburton, Bechtel and ConocoPhillips at his earliest opportunity?)

    But upon hearing of the impending difficulty for his true boss here, Sen. Sam Brownback leapt into action immediately and stuck an amendment to a bill from the Senate Appropriations Committee reattaching the funding for Cheney’s office. The vote on the amendment was 15-14 in favor of Cheney’s funding, and you’ll never guess which gutless Dem cast the tiebreaking vote.

    As noted previously, Ben Nelson supported the nomination of “Strip Search Sammy” Alito to the Supreme Court, voted to cut funds for Head Start, supports a Federal Marriage Amendment, and voted to end debate on the nomination of the now-happily-long-gone John Bolton as our ambassador to the U.N. What party does this guy belong to again?

    Bucks County's Big Mouth Emerges Again

    I haven’t taken note of the ramblings of J.D. Mullane in the Courier Times for a good while now, because he really hasn’t given me an excuse to do so. However, in today’s column, he points out that “revealing truth isn’t unpatriotic.”

    And he’s absolutely right, pointing out the fact that George Washington owned slaves, Theodore Roosevelt praised eugenics and (all together now) Franklin D. Roosevelt interned Japanese Americans during World War II (I know it was serious and I’m not trying to trivialize it, but short of the accusation that Sandy Berger stuck documents from the National Archive in his underwear and ran screaming like a banshee with them in his possession – or something – that unfortunate fact about Roosevelt gets mentioned by freepers more than anything else).

    So, as far as Mullane is concerned, I suppose it would also be patriotic to note here the role played by Ronald Reagan in helping Osama bin Laden build his al Qaeda network (funny how videos from this guy always seem to surface when things look particularly bad for the Repugs, to say nothing of coming in the wake of Michael Chertoff’s digestive proclamation and the National Intelligence Estimate’s confirmation of the fact, by virtue of his failed war in Iraq which turned that country into a terrorist training ground, Dubya has emerged as the best friend bin Laden could hope to have).

    And I guess it would be patriotic to remind us all once more that Mullane once described Dubya as having a presence that was “Lincolnesque” in 2004, as well as the fact that the esteemed Courier Times columnist once made a joke about tear gassing “hippies” who protested the Iraq war (here).

    I suppose there are all kinds of ways to be a patriot (and speaking of that wonderful word, this post describes how it has been utterly fouled by Sirius Satellite Radio and tells us what we should do about it).

    (One more thing - whose bright idea was it at the Courier Times to provide a forum for Mann Coulter?).

    Monday, July 16, 2007

    Monday Videos

    I was remiss in not noting what would have been the 95th birthday of Woody Guthrie on Saturday ("Blowin' Down The Road" with a collection of slides; how great to hear his voice and playing so clearly again)...



    ...Desmond Dekker would have been 66 today ("Israelites," his first UK hit in 1969 - nice moves, though the lip-synching needs work; definitely a reggae pioneer of sorts)...



    ...Happy Birthday to Stewart Copeland of The Police ("King of Pain" from the tour when it stopped in Vancouver recently, posted at YouTube by austinpowers61 - I usually don't put up live footage like this, but the sound is exceptional and it really catches Copeland in action)...



    ...Tool ("Schism" - this band always makes the trippiest videos)...

    Heal Thyself, CNN

    This, to me, was a rather amazing instance of fact-checking Michael Moore's movie "Sicko," particularly in light of Moore's recent argument with Dr. Sanjay Gupta over the movie (I have no qualms with Gupta here really, but I do with his network).

    If CNN were to do that about all of its content, maybe they could claim once more to be “the most trusted name in news” (of course, that would cut into the territory of Media Matters a bit, but I’m sure they wouldn’t mind…the network could also toss Glenn Beck by the curb and plead with Aaron Brown to come back, but I don’t think that will happen either).

    I love the fact that, by the way, in instances where Moore agrees with Gupta, Moore is accused of "creating controversy where none exists." And isn't it also a hoot that Moore uses the most current data he can obtain when comparing the per-patient spending on health care in this country versus Cuba ($7,498 in this country $251 in Cuba), but he's still accused by CNN of being inconsistent in his statistical comparison? Also, the charge that Moore "fudged" the data is thrown out into this argument, but is not substantiated (Moore states that this is libel, and he's right).

    Moore is again accused of "creating controversy where none exists" in Point 10 (11 points of contention are presented here) when he makes the most compelling case for a single-payer government-run health care system that I've ever seen (and if your first instinct here is to believe "the government can't run something like this right," allow me to remind you, as Moore does, that Medicare replicates this and it would not be approaching insolvency in 2019 if it were fully funded at the expense of our ludicrous private, profit-driven system).

    (And CNN also acknowledges again that Moore is correct about Paul Keckley, formerly of Vanderbilt University and the head of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions; Keckley is most definitely a for-profit health care advocate who supports Republican candidates - I realize neither of those behaviors are illegal, but Moore points out that Keckley has a stake in attacking "Sicko," and on that note, CNN proceeds to recite what appears to be an excerpt from Keckley's CV.)

    And at the very end, CNN, by noting Gupta's "objectivity and care" in his reporting, implies of course that Moore's work doesn't show either of those qualities (interesting comments to this CNN post, also - maybe an idea, Inky?).

    And speaking of a single-payer health care system versus private, for-profit care, Paul Krugman's column in today's New York Times discusses how we fare in this country with preventive medical care and regular checkups versus the rest of the world, and he also brings us the story of U.C.L.A. professor Mark Kleinman, who nearly died of cancer because his insurance carrier dragged its feet on approval of a necessary biopsy procedure. He also notes that "American Medicare has shorter waits than Canadian Medicare (yes, that's what they call their system) because it has more lavish funding - end of story."

    Indeed.

    Today's Required Reading

    Given a choice, I can definitely understand why someone would head over to The Daily Kos today to read Kagro X instead of here if they had to choose; I do what I can, but here is some great stuff...

  • This pretty much obliterates the argument that the Dem congress should forget about trying to impeach Bush and instead concentrate on other legislative matters exclusively.

  • This tells us about more sneaky garbage from The Last Honest ManTM (and, amazingly, Russ Feingold goes along with it, to a degree).

  • This is his (?) take on USA Today's feature story on the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles that went to the Iraqi army first instead of our troops (to me, this is stuff on the level of the exposure of the tragedy at Walter Reed by Dana Priest and Ann Hull earlier this year).
  • Typical Of A Rat

    Awww, poor Ralph Nader!

    It turns out that some baaaad people here in Pennsylvania are trying to make Nader pay the court costs he owes for losing a challenge in 2004 to keep his name off the presidential primary ballot (nice move to turn in fraudulent signatures, you bozo).

    As noted here…

    "Mr. Nader owes us some $60,000 to $70,000, and it's time for him to pay," said Efrem Grail, a partner at Reed Smith, the Pittsburgh firm that brought the case on behalf of a group of voters (who challenged Nader’s petition). Nader failed to submit 25,697 valid signatures to get on the ballot, he said, and the court reporters, stenographers and handwriting experts Grail used to buttress the case were costly.
    The story also notes that the Democratic activists who kept him off the ballot are also on the verge of getting officials in Nader’s home city of Washington to attach his assets.

    Good.

    So what does Nader have to say?

    Describing his reaction to the judgment, which went all the way to the Supreme Court, Nader said he felt disenfranchised, excluded from the standard American political and legal process, much as African-Americans once were.

    "It's like the 1930s," he said. "It's political bigotry of enormous proportions."
    Oh shut up, you moron.

    Sorry about the name calling, but I have no sympathy whatsoever for Nader; the continued presence of George W. Bush is ample enough reason to feel that way. Nader was challenged in court, and he lost. Also, as the story notes, Nader has “millions in stock holdings.”

    Isn’t that too much? A guy who screams about how corrupt the two-party system is is always trying to mask his own wealth. It’s not a crime to be rich, but try being honest about it; I guess that’s why Nader is always afraid to wear a nice-looking suit.

    Bu before he thinks about upgrading his wardrobe, he should take care of the suit he already has (sorry – too easy).

    The New Edwards Non-Controversy

    As reported here, Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd objected to a discussion that took place during a Democratic candidate’s forum between John Edwards and Hillary Clinton last Thursday night. Edwards approached Clinton and suggested that there should be “a more serious and smaller group,” with Clinton agreeing and saying the format had “trivialized the discussion.”

    And later in the story (as if to validate Clinton’s concerns), Dodd is quoted as saying, "My problem is you're insulting me and the American public when you give 30 seconds to talk about Darfur and Iraq.”

    This also gave Dennis Kucinich an opportunity to wax indignant here; I can’t possibly imagine how he thinks Edwards and Clinton are trying to “rig” anything, unless he believes Edwards is trying to help Clinton win so he can obtain some advantage, which is laughable (Kucinich is right to try and impeach Cheney, but he’s dead wrong here and only hurts his cause).

    I’ll admit I’m a bit biased on this, but I honestly can’t see how Edwards would risk some kind of a vendetta against someone like Kucinich (or Mike Gravel – please explain his presence if you can). He has everything to lose and nothing to gain, and I’ve noticed no inkling of this type of behavior from him (but of course, you can bet that Tucker Carlson, Chris Matthews et al will be spinning this every way over Sunday to case both Edwards and Clinton in a negative light).

    But before they do, here is the latest from the Edwards campaign (no money involved this time)…

    Dear Friend,

    Thirty seven million Americans live in poverty—one out of every 8 of us. This is a national disgrace.

    The millions of Americans who struggle with poverty are all but invisible to the media and to the power brokers in Washington, D.C. That needs to change. Starting today, I will be traveling on the Road to One America—visiting 11 cities in 8 states over 3 days to expose the problem of poverty and highlight our power to solve it. And I am asking you to join me.

    Help me expose poverty in America. Send me a picture or a story about poverty you have seen or encountered.

    Please send your pictures and stories
    here.

    For the next three days, you can also join me on the Road to One America by checking for the latest photos, videos and blog updates
    here.

    And to get exclusive audio reports from me on the road, text the word 'TOUR' to 30644 on your mobile phone.

    The trip began today in New Orleans, where I talked with residents about how to address poverty in their community, and visited a local community center and school to learn about the great work happening there.

    Later today, I will be traveling to four cities in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee to meet with low-wage workers, hear their stories, and talk about how to reward work.

    No one who works full-time should live in poverty—yet the number of full-time workers living in poverty has doubled over the past 25 years.

    By honoring and rewarding work, we will lift up millions of Americans and build a stronger, more productive America. Today, I unveiled two new initiatives designed to do just that:

    A new labor taskforce to target industries with the worst abuses of minimum wage, workplace safety and overtime laws

    A new effort to protect workers health by providing seven paid sick days a year.

    We are all Americans—and that means that the struggles of the millions of people living in poverty matter to all of us. We can end poverty through solutions like these and others that I will discuss throughout the tour. But we can only do it if we work together.

    Over the next three days, please help me take on the injustice of poverty by sending your stories and pictures
    here and checking in on our progress online.

    Click here.

    Together, we can end poverty and build One America. Join us today.

    Sincerely,

    John Edwards
    Monday, July 16, 2007

    P.S. - Members of One Corps, the local action arm of my campaign, will be taking action this week to fight poverty in their communities. Actions are being planned all over America, and I hope you can join in. To find a local action or sign up to start your own, please go
    here.
    To learn more, click here.