Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday Videos

...On Sunday, Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits hits number 58 ("Industrial Disease," recorded live in Sydney in 1986)...



...and Happy Birthday to Todd Nichols of Toad The Wet Sprocket (named from a line in a Monty Python bit - "Something's Always Wrong")

Another Reason To Love The Bosox

The photo captures that magical moment in 2004 when they disposed of “The Curse of the Bambino.”

Based on this HuffPo story, it appears that the ownership of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team (including Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick and CEO Jeff Moorad) are the biggest contributors to Republican Party presidential candidates among all of Major League Baseball’s owners thus far in the 2008 election.

How appropriate given the fact that the team is named in honor of a snake.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Chairman Thomas C. Werner of the Boston Red Sox has donated $2,300 to John Edwards, $2,500 to Sen. Chris Dodd, and $2,300 to Sen. Barack Obama (sounds like a smart man with his money – asset allocation is truly important in this stuff).

The article notes the other contributors to campaigns among MLB’s owners, though many appear to be hedging their bets at this point (including Chairman Bill Giles of the Phillies, who donated to Dubya in ’04; he’s a Repug capitalist from waaay back, but I have to give him his due a bit for his accomplishments, as long as he’s decided not to participate in player decisions anymore).

It’s serendipitous a bit that I found this story, because we had a family jaunt last night to Citizens Bank Park to watch the Phillies. It is truly a great place – I’ve been to Fenway also, which is another shrine, but the Phillies have done well in building their home; lots of family fun things to do, shopping of course, and great places to eat. It’s worth it just to experience Ashburn Alley where most of this stuff is located.

However, it rained from the third inning on, almost every ball the home team hit seemed to be caught, and they lost to the Florida Marlins 4-2 partly because Wes Helms couldn’t bunt a runner over to second base preceding a wild pitch (and this guy makes more dough that I would see in about 10-15 years…aaaarrrrgggghhhhh!).

Oh well, the Braves are in town for a big series, and we just have to forget the night before. As somebody said, tomorrow is another day.

Oh, and by the way, speaking of the Phillies, it seems that one of their most famous alums has gone around the bend again ("little green doctors," huh? Any luck finding those "strangers"?).

Return Of The Knuckle Draggers

I don’t have much to add to this Inquirer online article, except to say that Diane Gramley and her fellow fascists at the American Family Association should crawl back to western PA and keep their noses out of our business…

Schools drop recognition months
Objections to Gay and Lesbian History Month led the district to remove other tribute months as well.

By Susan Snyder
Inquirer Staff Writer

Dogged by public controversy and "phone calls that bordered on terroristic threats," the Philadelphia School District has removed recognition of Gay and Lesbian History Month from its 2007-08 school calendar, and - in an effort to be fair - similar months, including African American, Hispanic Heritage, and Asian Pacific American.

Other designations, such as the International Day of Disabled Persons, also are gone from the calendar mailed to about 200,000 parents and other affiliates, district officials said last night.

The only days that get recognized now are the ones that mean a day off from school, said Cecilia Cummings, the district's senior vice president for communications and community relations.

For the first time last school year, the district included the gay and lesbian month designation - which is in October - along with several others in an attempt to follow a long-standing district policy requiring equity for all races and minority groups. "Diversity" was the theme of the calendars.

The move brought an immediate backlash, with people berating district officials at public meetings.

"We were just not prepared for the controversy," Cummings said. "We were besieged by calls, threats, letters, and we didn't have the manpower to staff it. Nor did we have the preparation or training to really figure out how to deal with this issue in a way that could keep kids safe. We had meetings where adults were calling kids names."

Removal from the calendar has no effect on curriculum, Cummings said. Furthermore, Black History Month, as well as gay history events, will continue to be held in schools.

The district's decision to retreat on the calendars was first announced in the Philadelphia Gay News last week. Cummings said the district thought it was fair to tell that newspaper first.

But the effort to avoid controversy may backfire.

Some groups on opposing sides already have begun rifling off news releases.

"It is appalling that a school district would drop months that recognize and educate our schoolchildren about the history and contributions of America's diverse fabric," said Malcolm Lazin of Philadelphia, executive director of Equality Forum, an international gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil-rights group.

The American Family Association of Pennsylvania, based in Western Pennsylvania, applauded the decision. The group wrote to the district last year opposing the decision to include the month.

"This was an excellent choice. They were listening to the parents," said Diane Gramley.

Shelly Yanoff, executive director of Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth, criticized the decision.

"I think it's a sad day when people can't honor their differences and come together and recognize that they have a commitment to a whole," she said. "There's never been any progress in this world or in this country without some controversy."

Greg Wade, president of the Home and School Council, the district's parents group, was unsure: "I think they were brave in what they did last year, but I understand their decision."

J. Whyatt Mondesire, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP, could not be reached for comment.

Neither could James Nevels, School Reform Commission chairman, or commissioner Sandra Dungee Glenn, who led the district's push to require an African American history course for graduation - a first in the country.

Cummings said the district had received some complaints about the calendar in previous years, including objections to Black History Month's being noted, but never as much as last year.
I think it’s a logical progression, by the way, to try and frighten children about people different from them in this manner so that they may be more predisposed to the type of thinking Digby assaults here when they become adults.

To contact these charlatans and tell them what you think of them (including Donald E. Wildmon, moral leper-in-charge), click here.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (8/10/07)

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.

House

Soldiers' rest. The House passed, 229-194, and sent to the Senate a bill to set minimum periods between soldiers' tours in Iraq and their time at home. The bill would require at least as much time back home as at war.

A yes vote was to pass HR 3159.

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

Voting no: 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.).
To every Repug who opposed this (with the notable exception of Mike Castle), I dedicate this post from Digby, particularly this excerpt…

I hear so much from the right about how they love the troops. But they don't seem to love the actual human beings who wear the uniform, they love those little GI Joe dolls they played with as children which they could dress up in little costumes and contort into pretzels for their fun and amusement. If they loved the actual troops they wouldn't require them to be like two dimensional John Waynes, withholding their real experiences and feelings for fear that a virtual armchair lynch mob would come after them.

Thank God Joseph Heller and James Jones and Erich Maria Remarque and countless others aren't trying to write their books today. They'd be burned as heretics by a bunch of nasty boys and girls who have fetishized "the troops" into a strange form of Boy Band eroticism --- that empty, nonthreatening form of masculinity the tweens use to bridge the scary gap between puberty and adolescence. Private Peter Pan reporting for duty.

The real men for them are the civilians on 24 torturing suspected terrorists for an hour each week, keeping the lil'est tough guys safe from harm with hard sadism and easy answers. That's where this wingnut war is really being fought. With popcorn.
Take a bow, you “No” voters. Our military thanks you.

Ethics, lobbying rules. The House passed, 411-8, and the Senate passed, 83-14, a bill to tighten congressional ethics and lobbying rules. The bill, in part, requires lobbyists' fund-raising for lawmakers to be reported on the Internet, bans most gifts by lobbyists to lawmakers, requires advance disclosure by members of earmarks they sponsor, and sets time intervals on how soon ex-members can return to lobby in the House and Senate.

All Philadelphia-area representatives and senators voted for the bill (S 1), which now goes to President Bush.

Pay-bias suits. The House voted, 225-199, to give workers more time for filing pay-discrimination suits than allowed by the Supreme Court in its Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire ruling. The bill, now before the Senate, would allow plaintiffs to file suits within 180 days of the latest alleged pay infraction; the court ruled that suits must be filed within 180 days of the original infraction.

A yes vote was to pass HR 2831.

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

Voting no: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton and Smith.
And of course, President Don’t Call It Vacation has threatened to veto that also (assuming it gets past the Senate and the likely battle with Mr. Elaine Chao).

Children's health care. The House passed, 225-204, a bill to triple funding over five years for the State Children's Health Insurance Program, a U.S.-state program mainly for poor youth unqualified for Medicaid. The bill would raise spending for the SCHIP from $25 billion to $75 billion over five years and expand coverage from the present 6.6 million children to 11.6 million children.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

Voting no: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, Pitts, Saxton and Smith.
Not sure why LoBiondo did the right thing here, but good for him (and as far as the threatened veto from President Stupid Head is concerned, see the post from Kagro X above).

Alternative energy. The House passed, 241-172, and sent to the Senate a bill providing incentives for renewable energy sources and conservation. The bill also requires electric utilities to use more renewable energy to generate power.

A yes vote was to pass HR 3221.

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

Voting no: Pitts.

Not voting: Saxton.
Is it too easy of a shot to call Joe Pitts a “dim bulb” on this one?

Energy taxes. The House passed, 221-189, and sent to the Senate a bill raising taxes on oil companies by about $16 billion. The bill also would provide an array of loan guarantees, federal grants and tax breaks for alternative energy programs.

A yes vote was to pass HR 2776.

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

Voting no: Dent, Gerlach and Pitts.

Not voting: Saxton.
Makes sense, right? Somehow, LoBiondo, Castle and Smith along with the Dems think so too.

But of course, the trick will be to get this out of the Senate with a veto-proof majority, since you KNOW one will be coming for this one (and the Pinecone-In-Chief at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will blame the Dems for playing political games as usual).

Senate

Government surveillance. The Senate voted, 60-28, to give U.S. government agencies expanded authority for six months under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. In part, the bill would permit spying without individualized warrants on foreign communications passing through the U.S. The bill, now before the House, also lowers or removes the standard of evidence needed for warrantless surveillance on foreign phone calls, e-mails and other communications to persons in the United States.

A yes vote was to pass S 1927.

Voting yes: Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey (D., Pa.) and Arlen Specter (R., Pa.).

Voting no: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.) and Robert Menendez (D., N.J.)
Uh, yeah – I know.

Children's health care. The Senate passed, 68-31, a bill that would more than double spending over five years, to $60 billion, for the State Children's Health Insurance Program. The bill would raise tobacco taxes to pay for expanding the health-insurance program for poor children. The issue now goes to conference with the House.

All Philadelphia-area senators voted for HR 976.

Ahead. Congress is in recess until Sept. 3.
And I hope every Democrat on that list who caved on FISA is getting it both barrels from his or her constituents (and, once again, Washington State residents of the 8th U.S. Congressional District, Darcy Burner gets it).

Patrick Follows OUR Money

(And sends a good bit of it back to us…)

As noted in this Page One headline story in the Bucks County Courier Times today, Patrick Murphy secured more earmarked funding than any other U.S. House representative from this area.

And as is the usual case, Taxpayers for Common Sense immediately decried what Patrick did, and another group, Citizens Against Government Waste, said the earmarks were an example of “wasteful spending.”

I’ll tell you what; here is a list of the various businesses and non-profits that stand to benefit form the funding Patrick secured, including funding for Lower Makefield and Bristol, PA police, at-risk youth assistance, defense against bioterror, flood plain management, sewer infrastructure in Yardley, medical equipment for St. Luke and St. Mary's hospitals, the I-95/Turnpike connector in Bensalem, PA, and the James A. Michener museum in Doylestown, PA (borrowing from my posted comment, I know). If you consider that to be “wasteful spending,” then so be it. I don’t.

I know some of these watchdog groups don’t want to see government money spent on anything, and they have the right to advocate that way. I just wish that would be identified a little better in these stories.

And this of course will bring up the issue of earmark abuse (unjustified, though, in this case) and a whole new round of Patrick Murphy-bashing by Mike Fitzpatrick’s followers. Fine. They have nothing to offer but criticism – let them rant and look childish; I plan to be here to refute them if necessary.

Besides, if anyone wants to see an example of earmark abuse for real, all they have to do is read this account of how former House Speaker Dennis Hastert used an Illinois trust to purchase real estate near the proposed Prarie Parkway and then secured $207 million in earmarked appropriations for the parkway.

(Yes, I read the clarification from Hastert’s lawyer that the land is in a vicinity of about 5.5 miles from the parkway, though you can’t quantify how much the land would appreciate in value based on the parkway’s development. And I would also argue that the size of the appropriation is pretty eye-popping by itself, waaay out of the range of any of Patrick’s earmarked appropriations.)

Oh, and of all of the House reps who had secured earmarked appropriations for his or her district, guess who came in dead last according to the list in the Courier Times article?

Why, that would be Pancake Joe Pitts, of course, who secured $11 million for a transportation project (better than nothing, I guess – if I were a resident in his district, I would get on Pitts’ case to find out how that money is going to be spent).

And what does Joe have to say in response?

“Earmarks aren't inherently wrong,” said Andrew Cole, Pitts' press secretary. “Unfortunately, a surprisingly high number of members have chosen to abuse it (sic).
That’s a pretty funny accusation (and grammatically incorrect also) coming from someone belonging to the same political party as Dennis Hastert.

Update 8/13: Is the Courier Times serious here? So…they have a problem with the fact that Patrick didn’t obtain the funding through a more open process of debate as opposed to obtaining it through earmarks? And they’re comparing Patrick’s criticism of Mikey and his vote for funding the teapot museum (and call me crazy, but I don’t believe that North Carolina is part of PA’s 8th congressional district…duuuh) with the earmark Patrick obtained for $100,000 on behalf of the Michener museum (which actually resides in Patrick’s district)?

You know what? If you’re not going to be thankful, Courier Times, then you should shut up and just be grateful in silence, OK?

Trying To Control The Optics

So Dubya received a “boost” in his approval rating from 32 to 36 percent? And his disapproval rating went down from 66 to 61 percent, huh?

I have news for CNN; those numbers still stink (dear God, am I sick of hearing variations on the "Bush bounce" narrative).

And those represent a sampling among Republicans only, by the way; the numbers from last time are unchanged among Democrats and independents.

And speaking of fluffing the war (when talking about Dubya, it’s Iraq first, last and in-between, though the fact that he is an utter cipher shapes people’s perceptions also of course), here is an annotated version of the latest commercial for Iraq 4 Evah! from Kevin Ferris of the Inquirer today (boy, would I love to find out whether or not Ferris actually served)…

“The surge is working it needs more time slow and steady progress the Iraqis need to stand up freedom is on the march sorry General Petraeus you’re dictating too fast for me Harry Reid makes me sick for saying the war is lost clap louder you goddamn chicken members of the Democrat Party yadda yadda yadda…”
Oh, and speaking of Petraeus, check this out here from Ferris’ screed…

"To be fair to them, they are dealing with fundamental issues that will shape Iraq for the foreseeable future, so it's somewhat understandable that there's a good bit of wrangling," (Petraeus) said to me in a telephone interview this week. "Provincial powers, for example. That's akin to our own debate during the creation of the U.S. about states' rights. And it took us more than a few years to resolve that."
Actually, General, that argument has never been "resolved," and it probably never will be.

More revisionist history. More garbage from this guy (though it is funny in a perverse way to hear Petraeus compare the horror of Iraq this way to a cause allegedly so near and dear to the coal-black hearts of Republicans).

Well, since neither CNN nor the Inquirer are going to report on what really matters concerning Iraq (and by the way, Sen. Dick Durbin, thanks for serving as a dupe here), please allow me to do so here (from this source)…

08/10/07 iol: Car bomb claims 11 lives (update)
A car bomb killed 11 people and wounded 45 others near a market in a Kurdish district of the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Friday, police said.

08/10/07 MoD Identifies Army Casualties
Lance Sergeant Casey and Lance Corporal Redpath were killed when their Snatch Armoured Land Rover was hit by an Improvised Explosive Device during an operation to the north of the Rumaylah oilfields, which is to the west of Basra City.

08/10/07 Reuters: 3 bodies found in Rutba
Police said they found the bodies of three people in the western Iraqi town of Rutba, near the Jordanian border.

08/10/07 Reuters: Gunmen kill son of the sheikh of the Bani Malik tribe
Gunmen killed Wisam al-Maliki, son of the sheikh of the Bani Malik tribe of Prime Minister Minister Nuri al-Maliki, in the southern Iraqi town of Garna, 80 km (50 miles) north of Basra, police said.

08/10/07 Reuters: 4 insurgents killed, 10 detained by U.S. forces
U.S. forces said they killed four insurgents and detained 10 others in operations in the provinces of Baghdad and Salahuddin.

08/10/07 AP: Roadside bomb kills 2 in Baquba
A roadside bomb also exploded near a minibus in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, killing two passengers and wounding four others, while another civilian was killed in a drive-by shooting as he was walking elsewhere in the city, police said.

08/10/07 AP: Car bomb strikes Kirkuk - 8 killed, dozens wounded
A car bomb struck a market in a Kurdish area in the northern city of Kirkuk on Friday, killing at least eight people and wounding dozens, police said...The attack in Kirkuk, a disputed oil-rich city that has seen a recent rise in ethnic tensions...

08/10/07 AP: Convicted Marine Details Ill-Fated Plan
Cpl. Marshall Magincalda and seven of his comrades were angry. For weeks, the squad had endured insurgent attacks, but lacked evidence against the man they suspected was responsible.

08/10/07 Newsweek: Scared Straight - Iraqi Style
Inside Iraq’s notorious Camp Cropper, an unusual pilot program is trying to reform youths who’ve been brainwashed for jihad. NEWSWEEK gets an exclusive look.

08/09/07 MNF: U.S. Helicopter executes forced landing, two injured
During an early morning raid Aug. 10, a U.S. helicopter executed a forced landing in Yusifiyah, ten miles south of Baghdad, while supporting a planned mission. Two U.S. Soldiers sustained non-life threatening injuries when the aircraft landed.

08/09/07 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Spc. Donald M. Young, 19, of Helena, Mont., died Aug. 8 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations Aug. 7 in Baghdad. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion...

08/09/07 AP: Iraqi soccer player kidnapped
The goalkeeper of the Kirkuk soccer club was kidnapped as he was traveling from northern Iraq to visit relatives in Baghdad, a sports official said Thursday. Baha Abdul Karim Darweesh was seized by gunmen Monday on the outskirts of Khalis...

08/09/07 nzherald: Bomb attacks on US troops at highest level
Roadside bomb attacks on American troops in Iraq reached an all-time high last month, accounting for more than one third of all combat deaths. The increase in the number of casualties caused by the sophisticated explosive devices comes at the height...

08/09/07 MNF: MND-B Soldier dies from non-combat related cause
A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier died from a non-combat related cause Aug. 8. The Soldier’s name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The incident is under investigation.

08/09/07 AP: 7 pilgrims killed in scattered attacks
In scattered attacks reported by police, seven pilgrims were killed and four wounded when gunmen in a speeding car opened fire and threw hand grenades at them as they were en route to Baghdad from the Dabouniyah area, 75 miles to the southeast.

08/09/07 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (part 4)
Staff Sgt. Jacob M. Thompson, 26, of North Mankato, Minn...assigned to the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis...died Aug. 6 in Baqubah, Iraq, of wounds suffered from an IED

08/09/07 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (part 3)
Sgt. Nicholas A. Gummersall, 23, of Chubbuck, Idaho...assigned to the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis...died Aug. 6 in Baqubah, Iraq, of wounds suffered from an IED

08/09/07 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (part 2)
Cpl. Juan M. Alcantara, 22, of New York...assigned to the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis...died Aug. 6 in Baqubah, Iraq, of wounds suffered from an IED

08/09/07 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (part 1)
Spc. Kareem R. Khan, 20, of Manahawkin, N.J...assigned to the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis...died Aug. 6 in Baqubah, Iraq, of wounds suffered from an IED

08/09/07 KUNA: US forces kill four militants in Iraq
The US forces killed four militants Thursday and arrested a cleric in different operations in northern Baghdad, according to the US army.

08/09/07 AP: Murder charges against Marine tossed out
All charges were dropped Thursday against Marine Lance Cpl. Justin L. Sharratt, who had been accused of killing three Iraqi brothers in response to a roadside bomb attack in Haditha in 2005.

08/09/07 Reuters: Roadside bomb kills 3, wounds 2 in southern Baghdad
A roadside bomb killed three people and wounded two others in the southern Baghdad district of Bayaa, police said.

08/09/07 Reuters: 3 Iraqi soldiers shot in Baghdad's Yarmouk district
Gunmen shot and wounded three Iraqi soldiers in western Baghdad's Yarmouk district, police said.

08/09/07 Reuters: Mortar fire kills 1, wounds 2 in southern Baghdad
A mortar round killed one person and wounded two others when it landed on a residential area of southern Baghdad's Shi'ite Bayaa district on Wednesday, police said.

08/09/07 Reuters: Former Baath party member killed in Najaf
Gunmen on a motorcycle shot dead a former member of Saddam Hussein's Baath party in the holy Shi'ite city of Najaf, police said.

08/09/07 Reuters: Militants blow up two bridges in Salahuddin province
Militants blew up two small bridges in Salahuddin province in the past 24 hours, police said.

08/09/07 MoD: Leading Aircraftman Martin Beard killed in Iraq
It is with deep sorrow that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Leading Aircraftman Martin Beard of No 1 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment, in Basra, southern Iraq on Tuesday 7 August 2007.

08/09/07 MoD: Two British soldiers killed in Iraq on Thursday 9 August 2007
the Ministry of Defence must confirm the deaths of two British soldiers from 1st Battalion The Irish Guards in Basra...The soldiers were killed, and another two seriously injured, when an IED detonated next to their patrol just after midnight local time.

08/09/07 Reuters: Pilgrims flood Baghdad, pray for safety
Hundreds of thousands of Shi'ite pilgrims made their way on foot to a shrine in the north of Baghdad on Thursday, praying for safety at an annual rite marred by violence for the past two years. Pilgrims waved flags, chanted...

08/09/07 VOA: Iraq Tightens Security For Shi'ite Procession
Iraqi security forces in Baghdad are preparing for a major annual Shi'ite religious march, deploying additional police and banning cars from the streets until Saturday. During the holiday, hundreds of thousands of Shi'ite pilgrims march...

08/09/07 Xinhua: Over 2,000 Ugandans joins Iraq gold rush
More Ugandans joined the Iraq gold rush for better pay as another batch of 169 Ugandans has left for the war-torn country as security guards early this week. The batch left Uganda following a deal between Connect Financial Services...

08/09/07 WaPo: Wary about their intentions (part 2)
U.S. soldiers and commanders voiced wariness over the intentions of the former insurgents. "Some of them want to be reintegrated back in society, they want to push al-Qaeda out. Others want to be the next thug group that goes around...

08/09/07 WaPo: Sunni fighters find benefits in alliance with U.S (part 1)
cross Iraq, a variety of Sunni insurgent groups, political parties and tribes are coming forward to help provide fighters for local policing efforts, with an estimated 5,000 having been rallied in Baghdad alone in recent months...

08/09/07 MCT: Portrait of a suicide bomber
Suicide bombers in Iraq are overwhelmingly foreigners bent on destabilizing the government and undermining American interests there, two independent studies have concluded.

08/09/07 MNF: Non-combat-related Death
A Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West died Aug. 7 in a non-combat related incident in Al Anbar Province.
And by the way, I hope all of the politicians in Iraq and this country are each enjoying nice vacations. I’m sure our military serving in harm’s way would be highly gratified to know that.

Here's some pictures and music for the "enjoyment" of our civilian "experts" (set to "Dad's Gonna Kill Me," by Richard Thompson - again, "Dad" is military slang for Baghdad)...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

My Tribute To Stu Bykofsky


The columnist for the Daily News said here that "I'm thinking another 9/11 would help America."



stubyko@phillynews.com

Update 8/13: And you knew this was inevitable, right?

Who's Their Inspiration, I Wonder?

Gee, let me think; a children's book about a boy who doesn't want to read, huh?

(Oh, right, it's based on "their experiences as teachers" - suuuure.)

Well, if Laura and Jenna Bush want to write it based on what they know (or should know about our country's recent history, anyway), it could go something like this...

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who was very incurious about the world. He lived a sheltered life of prosperity and only knew a few people like those in his own family. They all had similar beliefs and were equally incurious about the lives of people other than themselves.

The boy's father had served our country in the military and government service for years, and the son served in a peacetime national guard position, though there are records missing that would probably answer questions about what exactly he did when he was supposed to be defending our country (oh, and he managed to avoid fighting in a war, like many other sons of privilege at that time).

After that, he was set up in an oil business by friends of his father. He merged with another business that paid off his debts, but when the new company composed of his own and the company that saved him started to sink, he made a hefty profit and let the new company go bankrupt. Because of his father's connections, he also made friends who had the same kind of business in politically unstable countries halfway around the world.

When every business he tried to run failed, more friends of his father came along and asked him if they wanted him to act like he owned a professional baseball team, though he in fact had only a minority interest. He said yes and found out that he liked talking to people and pretending to be their friends. Eventually, he was asked to give up his ownership share in the baseball team and take a job as governor of the state of Texas (the baseball team, by the way, traded away one of the game's greatest hitters and basically has never amounted to anything...all of its other star players eventually left).

His lack of desire to read or apply himself as a boy affected his entire life, because he continually found himself in a position where other influential people (all friends of his father) decided what he should do instead of himself. And one day, as his time as governor neared an end, more friends of his father asked him if he wanted to be President of the United States. And as always, he said yes.

So his friends made sure the media reported that he was a regular guy just like every other voter, and they told him to make fun of the previous president and vice-president everywhere he could, thinking that he could do what he wanted as president and be as successful as his predecessors.

And it never occurred to him, as usual, that the people talking him into all of these jobs did so in order to get him to do what they wanted. And what they wanted him to do was attack a country called Iraq to get its oil, and they knew he could persuade people in all of the ways that he persuaded people when he ran his baseball team, and the media would do everything they could to make him look good.

So he ended up getting the job as president with help from some lawyers and more friends in the state of Florida, and after the worst terrorist attack in our country's history, brought about partly because of his refusal to read and understand a security brief a month before the attack, he decided to invade the country that his friends wanted him to attack in the first place.

So he started the war and everything looked fine for a few months after it started, but then everything went wrong because there was neither a plan for victory nor a plan in the event of failure. And there were no such plans because he didn't ask for them. And he didn't ask for them because he didn't think he'd need them. And he didn't think he'd need them because he didn't have a desire to learn about what had happened to other leaders who launched wars for reasons that, over time, were revealed as lies. And as a result of his lack of desire to learn, thousands of people have been killed, maimed, displaced, and are now predisposed to hate our country and quite possibly attack us again one day.

And he never had a desire to learn because he never had a desire to read.

The End.
Well, sorry - I know it isn't very happy, but at least it's true (if you want cute stories by Eric Carle about fat caterpillars or creatures by Maurice Sendak that look like they were inspired by a hangover or a night in detox, go somewhere else).

Not The Comic Relief I Had In Mind

The New York Times reports today that 600 Washingtonians (not “Washington- ites” – reminds me of that episode of “Taxi” with Jim and the T.V.s…never mind) were asked who they would want to see immortalized in wax at Madame Tussauds from a list of area notables.

So many people to choose from, as noted in they story; they could have picked Steroid Man also, since he just hit Number 757 to widen his lead over Hank Aaron last night.

So who did they choose?

None other than former mayor and prison inmate Marion “Bitch, Light Me Up” Barry.

Actually, I think the survey should have been clarified for those polled. Apparently, they believed the figure of the person selected would be made not from wax, but crack cocaine.

Maybe they don’t deserve the vote after all (snark).

Another Reason To Boot Him Out?

It turns out that (according to Atrios here), President Clouded Vision was checked by a physician for symptoms of Lyme disease a year ago (apparently, he might have picked it up while he was bicycling in the Maryland woods – I mean, he might as well engage in physical activity since anything mental would probably be too challenging for him).

Aside from the fact that, as Atrios says, we should have known about this long before now, Dubya should be monitored for this frequently. Lyme disease is not something that you can get rid of by applying an analgesic cream or regular doses of Robitussin or something like that. It can turn into a serious neurological disorder.

All you have to do is read about the sad case of Fraserburg university professor Alasdair Crockett (here) to know what’s at stake. And if I wonder whether symptoms may have progressed affecting what precious little good judgment he actually has, I promise I’m being serious.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Wednesday Videos

Joe Tex would have been 74 today ("Skinny Legs And All" - smooth moves)...



...Happy Birthday to Dave Evans, otherwise known as "The Edge" of U-2 ("Gloria")...



...Happy 70th Birthday to Dustin Hoffman, here selling a Volkswagen prior to becoming a big shot; just remember one word, Dustin? Are you listening; plastics...



...and for now, I'll leave you with The Get Up Kids ("I'll Catch You").

A Request Of My Brethren

I have to admit that I saw this poll on The Daily Kos this morning and I was taken aback somewhat.

I know we all here do what we can to communicate to people in a forum that, don’t forget, is maturing each day along with other means of promoting ideas, causes and points of view, but I think it’s a mistake for us to forget about trying to communicate to people who still read ink output on dead trees.

I think we should embrace whatever opportunity we can to get people on board with us. And my guess is that there are people still reading the traditional corporate media who may or may not know of bloggers, the netroots, the progressive movement, etc. and could be truly enlightened if we took the time to reach out to them via some kind of a Letter to the Editor or a Guest Column of some type (one of the reasons why I think it’s so important to publicize David Sirota, among others).

So please consider scribbling something along the lines of what we post about here and sending it off to a newspaper or magazine for the betterment of those poor souls wandering around in the dark. We need all the potential new recruits we can get.

What A Difference...

As kos notes here…

One year ago, Ned Lamont booted Joe Lieberman from the Democratic Party and ushered in a new Democratic Party aggressive in its efforts to end the war in Iraq. More here. And now, the good folks over at My Left Nutmeg want polling operations to ask the voters of Connecticut if they regret their votes today.
(By the way, I’m going to try and break my “no Sunday political viewing” rule to watch Markos go at it with Harold Ford on “Bleat The Press,” though I’ll be on the road…I’ll give it my best shot).

Update 8/9: David Sirota has more.

Gathering The Political Roadkill

Out of a truly perverse sense of curiosity, I visited the White House web site to find out how President Don’t Call It A Vacation (h/t HuffPo) spun the evisceration of FISA by the congressional Repugs and chicken dems (lower case intentional) a few days ago…

I commend members of Congress who supported these important reforms, and also for acting before adjourning for recess. In particular, I want to thank Mitch McConnell and John Boehner for their strong leadership on this issue, and Senators Kit Bond and Dianne Feinstein for coming together in the Senate on an effective bipartisan solution. In the House of Representatives, Pete Hoekstra and Heather Wilson were instrumental in securing enactment of this vital piece of legislation before the August recess, and I thank them for their leadership.
As far as I’m concerned, Dubya manages to do something here that is almost artful in its utter repugnance (almost). By congratulating Dianne Feinstein (the only Dem, of course), he draws attention to the fact that she utterly flipped on this issue versus her well-principled position almost a year ago (opposing a bill from Our Man Arlen Specter that would have removed all FISA oversight of warrantless surveillance, versus the almost-shredded fig leaf of a “solution” we have now where the warrants are to be reviewed by Abu G. and Mike McConnell outside of the FISA court).

And gee, whaddaya know…no mention at all of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. What a surprise!

I wonder how you two kids feel at this moment. Played? Used? Betrayed? Cheap? Cowardly? Kind of like the “morning after” following a “last-call” liaison from the night before that you never would have agreed to if you were sober?

Good. I have only this to say…

HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll watch this slick DSCC video one more time and have another good laugh.



Update 1: Oh, gee Nancy, I'm so happy that you can let out a yell for Steroid Man and Number 756...hoo hah!



Update 2: Oh, by the way, residents of Washington State, Darcy Burner gets it (h/t Atrios).

Following Patrick's Money

In today’s Bucks County Courier Times, reporter Brian Scheid takes a look at the composition of the nearly $1.2 million in funding that Patrick Murphy has raised to date for the 2008 campaign (which, despite Mikey’s absence at the moment – no doubt trying to ratchet up whatever drama he can generate for his return on behalf of the knuckle-dragging faithful – is very much underway).

Yes, it is symptomatic of the crassness of our politics that this is a legitimate issue. But until the vast majority of this country gets serious about campaign finance reform, this is the status quo.

What Scheid found out (here) was that about $670,000 of the money came from individuals. Nearly $280,000 came from PA residents, meaning that slightly over half of the individual donations came from outside of PA, in a fairly diverse spread across the east coast and California (and in diverse amounts as well).

The rest of the money came from political action committees, which included labor and defense interests, as well as about $30,000 from PACs of U.S. House members (including $5K from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer), as well as $44,000 from other Democratic candidates.

I know $1.2 mil is a lot of dough for a political campaign, but as Scheid notes, Mikey Fitzpatrick raised $1.5 million total for his own campaign last year, and Patrick will need every bit of what he has and more to keep his seat.

This is the sort of unglamorous reporting that ends up being very important, and Scheid did a good job here – kudos.

And Remember, Markos Served

Five sons and not one in the military, even though their father, Mitt (“Clap Louder, Dammit! That Pony Has To Be In This Pile of Poop Somewhere!”) Romney is running as the Repug nominee for president?

(By the way, to get the “pony” reference, see “Chapter One” halfway down the page here.)

I think Seamus showed more courage.

Update 1: "The Most Trusted Name In News" strikes again.

Update 2: Some context from Attaturk here (R.I.P.).

Today's News of C.E.O. Abuse

(A non-political post coming up here having a lot to do with Philadelphia – by the way, posting will be sporadic for the rest of the week after today.)

A family member communicated to me that the Philadelphia Inquirer practiced actual journalism in its “Magazine” section today (having to do with People/Lifestyle/This Week’s Beautiful Celebrity In Trouble stuff), and what is even more unbelievable is that the person responsible was Karen Heller, who, to my mind, is one of the worst features writers who has ever lived.

I am quite sure there will be a response to her column today, but she states that Bill Marrazzo, the CEO of WHYY, Philadelphia’s public radio and television station, earned $430,786 in salary and an additional $56,250 in benefits during fiscal year 2006 (as Heller observed, pulling in a “for-profit” kind of salary for a non-profit operation).

(Her column is actually a follow-up to the criticism by Arlen Specter of Matt A. Peskin, who makes $255,000 in salary and $42,000 in benefits as the head of the National Association of Town Watch based in Wynnewood, Pa. – Specter criticized Peskin because the former has channeled a lot of money to the latter, who makes more than Specter running a non-profit, to say nothing of populating the board of the organization with Peskin’s friends and family members).

Heller continues…

Marrazzo's obscene salary, and the lack of station-generated television programming, got him named No. 2 on the watchdog group Charity Navigator's 10 Highly Paid CEOs at Low-Rated Charities. (Full disclosure: My husband works at the public radio station WXPN. No one there earns anything close to this salary.)
By the way, here is a link to Charity Navigator to learn more about the site, though, as Wikipedia notes here, Charity Navigator relies on information that the charitable organizations provide on IRS Form 990, which can be incomplete at times (sounds like a good reason to revisit Sarbanes-Oxley and tighten the rules for nonprofits as well as for-profit entities).

I think Philadelphia-area residents should be mindful of Marrazzo’s compensation versus the station’s programming when they happen to tune into Channel 12 and watch “That’s Entertainment Part 257” on Saturday nights from 8-10, preceded by Lawrence Welk reruns and followed by a “World at War” retrospective of the Allied ambush laid for them by the Germans prior to the Battle of the Bulge in 1945.

(No, I’m not trying to trivialize that history – I’m just saying that Ch. 12 should bother to broadcast interesting programming of some type during peak viewing hours on occasions besides those when they’re groveling for donations, to say nothing of trying to produce programming of their own.)

And speaking of mediocre CEOs receiving undue rewards, I strongly urge anyone reading this to never buy a Chrysler vehicle ever again, seeing as how Cerebrus, the company that bought Chrysler from Daimler, has hired former Home Depot CEO Bob Nardelli to call the shots; to me, that’s kind of like watching the job Mike Brown did while running FEMA and dealing with Katrina and then, after sacking him, deciding to put him in charge of the Army Corps of Engineers (a post on Nardelli’s “parachute” from Home Depot appears here).

(I know this comes in the wake of saying that you shouldn’t donate to the national Democratic Party organizations yesterday; my point is not to give money to anyone if you’re not sure what they’re going to do with it.)

And with Nardelli’s hiring at Chrysler, will it only be a matter of time before stories such as this one appear? (as always, God Bless The Onion).

Update 8/29: This letter appeared in response today in the Inquirer...

Karen Heller's commentary attacking WHYY ("Giving until it hurts," Aug. 8) reaches erroneous and unfortunate conclusions.

Like all media outlets, WHYY is in a battle for survival. Unlike others, its future is predicated on the powerful mission of serving our community. WHYY offers excellence in news, local arts and children's programming.

While maintaining consecutive years of outstanding fiscal performance, WHYY invested significantly but prudently in creating a presence on each of today's media platforms - On Demand, FiOS, satellite, and any number of Internet services, such as MySpace. At the same time, in addition to broadcasting TV12 and 91FM, WHYY has launched 24/7 over-the-air services, including a new radio channel built upon classical music and enhanced news and information, as well as three new digital TV services.

During this period, 91 FM has experienced a 68 percent growth in its market share and WHYY has recorded unprecedented increases in member and donor revenues.

In light of these accomplishments, Heller's disparagement of CEO Bill Marrazzo seems shallow. WHYY's board stands behind its decision to retain and compensate an executive whose background, experience and values align so well with WHYY's business strategy and powerful brand.

Molly Dickinson Shepard
Chairman
Gerard H. Sweeney
Vice chairman
Board of Directors, WHYY
Philadelphia
What is "shallow" to me is WHYY asking for money while they give Marrazzo a raise that is uncomfortably close to my base salary for an entire year!

Update 9/19: Commenter Anon reminded me that I meant to include this in my original post...it continually amazes me that people like Marrazzo think they can pull this stuff without anyone pushing back.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Tuesday Videos

I'm not really of a mind to joke about this FISA business, by the way, but I still thought this was clever (based on the '80s dance hit by Rockwell)...



...Kasabian ("Empire," a logical progression for a society that tramples on the rights of the individual, including the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution)...



...and now, let's set the wayback to the late '50s-early '60s for this bit of kitsch; the "Jeno's Pizza Roll" commercial brought to us, along with many other clever ads and great comedy bits, by Mr. Stan Freberg, who celebrates Number 81 today (the Lone Ranger and Tonto were played by Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels, of course)...



...and Nancy Sinatra performs "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" on "Hullabaloo" (once again, not Digby's great blog, but the '60s T.V. show from the Dippity-Do, "yeah baby" Austin Powers era, introduced by the Righteous Brothers), a song written by the king of "cowboy psychedelia" Lee Hazelwood, songwriter and producer, who died on August 4th).

A Down-Home Whacking

I guess there are a whole bunch of newspaper columnists in remotely rural areas of this country aspiring to dispense with sage advice disguised as commentary on current events that they hope will be useful (I probably just explained the media existence of J.D. Mullane, among others).

This admittedly obvious observation occurred to me when I read this post by Brad Warthen, editorial page editor of TheState.com, South Carolina’s Home Page (don’t know anything else about it except what’s on the masthead). Warthen, though, tries to imagine himself as a “mover and shaker” of opinion, though (like Mullane also, and – truth be told – your humble narrator to a certain degree, though I at least aspire to provide substance).

And Warthen has it in for John Edwards. You see, he thinks Edwards is a big phony.

Hey, I’ll admit that no politician is perfect, but let’s look at the “evidence,” OK?

His face was impassive, slack, bored: Another crowd, another show. Nothing wrong with that — just a professional at work.

But then, I saw the thing that stuck with me: As his introduction reached its climax, he straightened, and turned on a thousand-watt smile as easily and artificially as flipping a switch.
Entering into evidence People’s Exhibit No. 1 – Edwards Has A Toothy Grin. You may proceed, Warthen (regarding a meeting between Edwards and The State’s editorial board).

He was all ersatz-cracker bonhomie, beginning by swinging his salt-encrusted left snowboot onto the polished boardroom table, booming, “How do y’all like my boots?” He had not, it seemed, had time to change footwear since leaving New Hampshire.

On the 30th, Howard Dean came in to see us for the second time. Again, I was struck by how personable he was…

“Isn’t he a nice man?” said our copy editor (the fan). I agreed. Then came the revelation: “Unlike John Edwards,” observed the administrative assistant. What’s that? It seems that when she alone had met then-Sen. Edwards at the reception desk, she had been struck by the way he utterly ignored the folks in our customer service department and others who had hoped for a handshake or a word from the Great Man.
Entering into evidence People’s Exhibit No. 2 – Edwards Ignored The People Working For A News Organization’s Customer Service Department (could have been preoccupied and apparently was not intentionally rude, but never mind).

Proceed, Warthen (concerning John Edwards running late for two campaign appearances)…

It was well past the candidate’s alleged time of arrival (at a somewhat upscale reception at the Capital City Club), but no one seemed to mind. Then a prominent Democrat who lives in a fashionable downtown neighborhood confided we’d be waiting even longer. We all knew the candidate had a more public appearance at Martin Luther King Park before this one, and no one begrudged him such face time with real voters.

As reported in The State the next day: “Edwards was running late, and the throng waiting to rally with him at Martin Luther King Jr. Park took notice. They sat for two hours in the sweltering heat inside the community center, a block off Five Points.”

(But according to Warthen’s “prominent Democrat” source) he had seen Sen. Edwards go jogging in front of his house, along with his security detail, after the time that the MLK event was to have started.
Entering into evidence People’s Exhibit No. 3 – John Edwards Went Jogging While A Crowd Waited For Him In A Hot Community Center.

Your honor, we have no need of a trial. We can render a verdict right now – John Edwards is GUILTY of flashing a toothy grin while also ignoring a customer service department and keeping supporters waiting in stifling heat! TAKE HIM AWAY…

As ridiculous as this column is, I should point out that this is all part of reinforcing the narrative, brick by brick, stone by stone, mortared together as solidly as possible by our corporate media (and I can tell you from my own limited experience that quite a few candidates have kept me waiting for meetings or rallies in all kinds of circumstances, and though that is unfortunate, it’s pretty common when you have these people getting booked for appearances all over the place).

John Edwards campaigns as a populist, but he has been paid as a hedge fund consultant. John Edwards has a big, fancy house. John Edwards has a toothy grin. John Edwards gets $400 haircuts. John Edwards is insincere. John Edwards keeps people waiting in a hot community center in South Carolina.

And don’t forget that John Edwards also recently tried to pick a fight with Bill Clinton, even though the name of the former president does not appear in the quote attributed to Edwards in this story, and the New York Times reported that the Center for Promise and Opportunity, Edwards’s organization created to help people in poverty, existed only to further his presidential hopes according to the Times, which did not bother to investigate whether or not anyone received a donation from the charity (here).

And of course, our corporate media tells us that the poverty proposals of John Edwards are stupid, even though they didn’t even bother to talk to knowledgeable people on the subject (here, though I have to admit, again, that Edwards is going to run into a buzz saw, so to speak, if he tries to emphasize Section 8 housing as the – dare I hope? – Democratic nominee for president…just pointing that out, that’s all).

Brick by brick, stone by stone…

This is how the game is played. This is how George W. Bush was presented to us in 2000 as a “regular guy” and Al Gore was stiff, aloof, condescending, and quite probably a liar (though that was never proved, of course).

Don’t be fooled again, people.

Holding The Betrayers Accountable

As I continue to figure out just how in the hell I’m going to support a political party that cowers and capitulates at every turn to our criminal ruling regime, I happened to come across this editorial in the New York Times today which should be required reading for every single member of the Democratic Party (regarding the shameless sellout by Congress on FISA, aided and abetted by a handful of “Democrats” including Sideshow Bob Casey).

Yes, I’m still angry. I’m going to be angry for a little while.

And with this in mind, I should let you know that I came across the following letter in the New York Times recently from Marc Dunkelman, whose title is “Director of the Ideas Primary Democratic Leadership Council” (?) written in response to a column by Noam Scheiber called “The Centrists Didn’t Hold”…

Mr. Scheiber’s contention that the Democratic Leadership Council believes that the “teachers unions endanger the republic” must have come as a surprise to the teachers union, which sponsored the National Conversation in Nashville.

Moreover, despite his insinuation, the D.L.C. did not support the bankruptcy bill in 2005. But worse, he did not bring any historical perspective into his analysis.

During the third year of every presidential cycle, candidates looking to court the left choose not to attend the D.L.C.’s National Conversation. That was true in 1999, and again in 2003. But during each subsequent year, like clockwork, the Democratic nominee keynotes the National Conversation, cognizant that any Democrat hoping to win a national election needs to win swing votes in the middle of the electorate.

So if history is any guide, we’ll see the Democratic nominee in 2008. Only one political strategy and governing philosophy has successfully propelled Democrats into the White House during the last 30 years: the New Democratic philosophy generated by the D.L.C. and championed by President Bill Clinton.

Fortunately for all Democrats, despite Mr. Scheiber’s histrionics, all three Democratic front-runners indicate that they would govern with the type of centrist ideas the D.L.C. has championed for a generation.

Marc Dunkelman
Director of the Ideas Primary Democratic Leadership Council
Washington, Aug. 2, 2007
Gee, Marc, I guess it would have been nice if the Democratic candidates for president had actually shown up at the “National Conversation” to tell you that, wouldn’t it (bad luck there, dude). And smooth move to blow off Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson, by the way – I’m not paying much attention to them either, but then again, I’m just a lowly, unkempt liberal blogger, not the “Director of the Ideas Primary Democratic Leadership Council” (?).

If Dunkelman believes that Scheiber “did not bring any historical perspective” into his analysis of how Dunkelman’s precious DLC Democrats completely and utterly caved on the 2005 Bankruptcy Bill, then please allow me to do so here: this is a link to Senate vote total on the bill, and this is a link to the House vote total.

I’ll save a bit of time and summarize those Dems who voted for that awful bill in the Senate:

Baucus
Bayh
Biden
Bingaman
Byrd
Carper
Conrad
Inouye
Johnson
Kohl
Landrieu
Lincoln
Bill Nelson
Ben Nelson
Pryor
Reid
Salazar
Stabenow
I’m not going to bother doing that for the House, but suffice to say that “Democrat” Tim Holden is on that list, among way too many others.

My guess is that many of those people from both the Senate and the House would feel very much at home addressing a DLC gathering, so Dunkelman’s assertion that the DLC did not sponsor the bankruptcy bill is truly laughable.

And I’m so glad that kos wrote this about the DLC today since that ties in so well to this post. Beyond that, though, kos said this in 2005 that I think is more resonant than ever now (with respect, I would favor kos’s argument over Ezra Klein’s in a heartbeat).

Now before you start thinking that I have achieved some kind of mind meld with The Great Orange Satan, please understand that I’m trying to put the pieces together and understand how the Democratic Party, despite some notable accomplishments cited in today’s Times editorial, so utterly failed us on the “big picture” stuff.

To me, there is still a yawning chasm between the accomplishments of the progressive netroots and its future goals and inherent philosophy (i.e., the actual truth) and that of the corporatist Beltway mentality of our national party, which strives for accommodation above all else (with those who want nothing but to grind it into the dust, sadly enough).

And again, as it was with today’s kos post, it was a bit of karma I believe that brought news of this ad my way, sponsored by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee…



Yes, it’s nice, full of the syrupy-voice narration with a soft-focus, earth-toned feel of kids, workers, politicians, shiny happy people one and all, wagging their collective finger at that baaad George W. Bush saying “Golly gosh, you’d better listen to us, Mr. President,” not unlike a pouting but adorable Shirley Temple as a child cradling a puppy (I almost expected Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to recreate the dance Temple performed with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson up the steps from the landing to the child’s bedroom).

So Nineties. So out of date. So no longer appropriate or relevant, barely reflective of our actual life and times at this moment.

I don’t want to see that crap any more. I want to see this instead…



So that is my estimation and analysis, for whatever it’s worth. And now, I want to ask something of you, dear reader.

Accompanying the DSCC spot, Chris Van Hollen, the Maryland congressman and head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, asked for a donation to help promote the ad.

Don’t give it to him.

Don’t give any money to either the DCCC or the DSCC. And don’t give any money to the Democratic National Committee either.

Don’t even consider giving any money to a national Democratic Party organization until those running those organizations decide to tell us definitively what it is that they think a member of the Democratic Party stands for. To me, they have been utterly poisoned by the style of DLC accommodationist garbage that has brought us to our present misery.

“But how will we get our ad on TV?” I hear Van Hollen cry among others.

Representative Van Hollen, based on the recent FISA cowering as well as the refusal of Congress to stick to legislation on Iraq with timelines for troop withdrawal, I would say that the Democrats have bigger issues to deal with than funding for a T.V. ad.

And oh yes, I know how doing something like that would finally cause those with one foot in the boat and one foot out, so to speak, hedging their best at every turn, to jump to the Repug side at long last (are you listening, Tom Carper, Ben Nelson and everyone else who bailed on FISA, among other moments of cowardice?).

Fine. Go. I, for one, will not miss you.

And if that ensures that the Democrats will be a minority party forever, so be it. But somehow, I don’t think that will be the case when the rest of this country realizes that we’ve finally figured out exactly who we are, what we represent and what we believe in at long last.

And I hasten to add that I am not saying that you shouldn’t donate money to Democrats if you are so inclined. I encourage anyone with the means or desire to do so to donate to Act Blue candidates, any Netroots-related organization such as Democracy for America, or to local candidates or local Democratic organizations.

But as I said, the national Democratic party organizations can get out of my face.

The title of the New York Times editorial I linked to above is called, “Fear of Fear Itself.” That is a highly appropriate title. Fear is the only explanation for the conduct of this Congress, with the Beltway crowd, the morally bankrupt inheritors of the legacy of Joe Lieberman, among others, whispering its poison in its metaphorical ear, telling them to just act like Republicans and everything will be all right.

I’m not interested in their fearmongering; if I had been, I never would have started this blog.

So get out of the way, chicken Democrats. We’re all going to do the hard work of saving our party on behalf of the working men, women, families and kids who are the heart and soul of this great nation (may be melodramatic, but it’s what I believe). You can help us, or you can go off and cower in your corner.

We’ll do it, one day, God willing. With or without your help. It’s up to you.

(By the way, I would never be so bold as to presume that kos was thinking the same way I was for a minute, but…).

Update 8/8: I'd say mcjoan is spot-on here.

Update 8/13: And Harold Ford wonders why the Democratic presidential candidates don't take the DLC seriously when he utters nonsense like this (h/t Atrios).

Update 8/19: The latest on FISA (no excuses - h/t Atrios)...

Honoring Our Military

The following letter appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times on Sunday (I'm not familiar with the original letter Ms. Fulton is referring to - so many of its type to choose from)…

Your recent "balanced" report is precisely why so many Americans mistrust the mass media. Next time you report on a rally against governmental injustices and illegal wars, end the article with a quote from the U.S. Constitution, not from some blindly obedient militarist!

Every active duty military person, including the quoted Marine, took an oath to preserve and protect the Constitution. He has a right to express his opinion - and I would sacrifice my life to ensure that both he and I retain that right. But his opinion is factually wrong on all counts.

Look up the language on impeachment in the Constitution. Impeachment is mandatory for the kinds of high crimes and misdemeanors committed over and over with utter arrogance and claims of "privilege" by draft dodgers Cheney and Bush.

Article II, Section 4 reads: "The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on Impeachment for, and conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." The Constitution, the ultimate law of the land, says "shall," - not "may" or "can" or "could"! No "maybes."

By the way, "privilege" (executive or otherwise) means nothing more or less than "private law." Is that why our true patriots have fought and died for more than two centuries? No way!

Sandra J. Fulton
U.S. Navy 1957-1968 (Vietnam)
Philadelphia
And this letter appeared yesterday...

Recently, on a sunny weekday afternoon, Congressman Patrick Murphy, a former captain in the 82nd Airborne Division, made a surprise visit to Delaware Valley Veterans Home located on Southampton Road in Philadelphia. He toured the building and went to each wing, shook hands and introduced himself to our veterans who reside here. The men’s faces lit up to be recognized and to feel appreciated.

It is a good day when an elected official takes the time to recognize our veterans.

Kudos to Mr. Murphy!

Kathleen T. Burden
Infection Control Coordinator, DVVH
Middletown, PA
As always, to help Patrick, click here.

More Plame Blame

By the way, how many other people besides me noticed the fact that Valerie Plame got hosed again recently?

This story notes the following…

A federal court last week accepted a Central Intelligence Agency argument that the date on which former covert officer Valerie Plame Wilson's employment at the CIA began should remain classified even though it is irrevocably in the public domain.

The date in question appeared in a seemingly unclassified letter sent by CIA to Ms. Wilson and published in the Congressional Record. But when she sought to include the information in the manuscript of her forthcoming memoir, the CIA objected that it is still classified. Now the Court has agreed.

"To be sure, the public may draw whatever conclusions it might from the fact that the information at issue was sent on CIA letterhead by the Chief of Retirement and Insurance Services," wrote Judge Barbara S. Jones in an August 1 ruling. "However, nothing in the law or its policy requires the CIA to officially acknowledge what those in the public may think they know."
So, even though the CIA (in my humble opinion, I admit) inadvertently declassified Valerie Plame’s beginning date of employment by noting it in a letter that ended up getting published in the Congressional Record, Judge Jones asks, “Who would you trust? Bushco, or your own lying eyes?”

Articulated like a true Republican (which Jones is, as noted here).

Again, I admit that I am hardly in a position to evaluate Judge Jones’ legal qualifications. But given the fact that Valerie Plame, a covert spy tracking loose nukes and running a program responsible for that vitally important mission, was outed for political gain to punish her husband Joe Wilson, thus hopelessly compromising her as a spy, what possible difference can it make to confirm the beginning date of a job that we already knew she held?

Outside of typical Bushco pettiness and vindictiveness, why would they care if people knew when the CIA hired Valerie Plame?

Do you think it could be because they want to reinforce the narrative that she was something she wasn’t, namely, just some kind of a hanger-on with not much of a claim to anything, instead of the seasoned intelligence professional she truly was bravely serving our country for years?

I have a feeling some may be tired of watching this Bill Maher clip about her one more time, but it really does fit what I’m trying to say here (the video should still be available – I’ll test that later - never mind, we're good).



Oh, and by the way, Dubya, you should treat this matter more in accordance with how your daddy feels about it.

Lending A Hand To "The Man"

This is one “echo chamber” post that I am more than happy to publish.

David Sirota notifies us here that he was asked to write a column for Creators Syndicate, to, in essence, fill the shoes of Molly Ivins; I’m sure David and anyone else would admit that's impossible, but all we can do is try our best.

He also is asking that we lend a hand on behalf of his column and ask newspaper editors to include his well-written and highly detailed observations amidst the ever-growing volume of right-wing bile that they inflict on us at every opportunity. I will attempt to communicate this to Chris Satullo of the Philadelphia Inquirer shortly; I don’t know who has replaced him as editorial page editor, but I’m sure it isn’t asking too much for him to publicize David’s existence. I will also contact Guy Petroziello at the Bucks County Courier Times and make a similar request.

(Oh, and I should point out that I may not have much success with the Inquirer since we cancelled our subscription, but I’ll try. And by the way, Inky, I should make it crystal clear to you that we are not going to renew it, so you might as well stop sending issues that we won’t pay for now. Even the Courier Times draws the line at publishing Glenn McCoy’s odious cartoons – and Smerky conducted a hard-hitting interview on Sunday with…his son? Somehow, I think that Pulitzer for editorial commentary will remain juuuust a bit out of reach for Philadelphia’s pre-eminent radio loudmouth for all eternity.)

Congratulations on your column, David (I would link to it if it weren’t for the fact that the Creators site is experiencing technical difficulties from my location which are so maddeningly frequent). We need all the voices of reason we can get in our print media.

Update 8/13: I contacted Chris Satullo of the Inquirer and received an out-of-office Email message that he was working on his "Center Square" feature and I needed to contact someone else, so I contacted Harold Jackson who I believe is the deputy editorial page editor, and I have not as yet received a response. That is also the case with Guy Petroziello of the Courier Times.

One voice only and at all times as far as our corporate media is concerned - they ignore us at their peril.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Monday Videos

A couple of mellow ones tonight, in a bit of a reflective mode - "Quicksand," by Natalie Walker...



...and Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong singing "Summertime," appropriate for these parts (August means absolutely beastly humidity, so we're right on schedule).

Casey Strikes Out

I forgave you for taking a total pass on that so-called “Justice Sunday” farce that took place in Philadelphia featuring Senator Man-On-Dog during the campaign last year (while your primary opponent Chuck Pennacchio rightly opposed it in person).

I looked the other way (tried to, anyway) when you resurrected one of the all-time “zombie lies that never die” about your father being denied the opportunity to speak at the 1992 Democratic Convention because he opposed abortion (he opposed Bill Clinton for the nomination, so he wasn’t given a chance to speak from the podium; that’s as old a tradition as politics itself).

I cringed over your opposition to federal funding of embryonic stem cell research because a lot of that scientific study has now moved offshore along with the jobs that go with it, though I made an attempt to understand how you could seriously think that such funding would actually lead to an increase in abortions.

I seethed while you refused to support the Reid-Feingold amendment to begin redeploying our troops and cutting off funding for the Iraq war next March.

Update 8/15: I should be fair and note that Casey voted for HR 1585 here to start withdrawing troops, though the measure didn't advance because it didn't receive the required 60 votes to break the Repug filibuster, but only 52; however, as far as I'm concerned, Casey is still at fault because he did the right thing but two months later than he should have.

And now, to top it off, you voted to gut FISA along with some other notable chicken Dems in the Senate (still can’t believe Jim Webb is part of this bunch).

“Sideshow Bob” Casey, at this moment, I consider you to be a total failure.

Oh sure, you signed on to support the Employee Free Choice Act and supported expansion of SCHIP (the former never made it because of the evil influence of Mr. Elaine Chao and President Numbskull has vowed to veto the other).

That’s good, but guess what? Those are no-brainer votes for Democrats. I refuse to give you special credit for either one.

I suppose it hasn’t truly occurred to you yet the nature of the political-media-industrial complex in which you are immersed in Washington, D.C. Here’s a simple rule you should memorize and let sink into your head; as a Democrat, you aren’t going to get credit from anyone (aside from your constituents, of course).

By playing ball with the Repugs, do you think that will earn their respect? Hell no! At this moment, they’re back in their states crowing about how they steamrolled the Dems and kept you in line and how they will always be the party to protect America (and they will be joined by their House brethren doing the same thing in their districts). And if you had done the right thing and stood up to them, they would have called you all terrorist-loving cowards anyway (aside from the politicians, I mean the right-wing bloviators as well, of course, erupting on cue to spread their bile all over the country before you and the other clueless members of your party have realized that they’ve even opened their big mouths).

Go back to the post I linked to above that lists the name of every unworthy Democrat who, when given the opportunity to stand up, keeled over instead to President 25 Percent Mandate (or whatever his pitiful approval rating is now). Then, read the post by Meteor Blades at The Daily Kos that articulates everything I’m tempted to say over again here.

Better yet, here’s something easier; just pick out the quote from the great Dem U.S. House rep Rush Holt of New Jersey in this story; Holt summed up his vote against hacking the legal protections out of FISA as follows…

“Legislation should not be passed in response to fear-mongering.”
Now I’ll grant you that Holt has more experience in Congress than you do, but many of your fellow Senate Dems understood this instinctively and voted the right way. They offered a compromise to the crooked cabal running our government that would have ensured that the FISA warrants were overseen by a FISA court, but of course Bushco walked away from it. And at that point, you and the rest of Congress should have done the exact same thing.

(Oh, and by the way, please spare me Rahm Emanuel and his “we won’t wait 6 months to come back to this” garbage. You know what will happen, Rahm? Dubya will call you guys names again, the congressional Repugs will follow suit, and then so will the usual coterie of media bottom-feeders, and you guys will chicken out again. I dare you to prove me wrong.)

But no, Bob, not you. You caved. You bailed. You passed.

Let me remind you of the ruling by Judge Anna Diggs Taylor a year ago when she ordered a halt to the NSA spying under the following grounds…

The terrorist surveillance program, Taylor ruled, violates the First Amendment's right to freedom of expression and the Fourth Amendment right to privacy--that is, freedom from unreasonable searches. It also ignores requirements of a 1978 electronic wiretapping law known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and represents an overstepping of presidential powers, she wrote.

"There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution," the judge wrote, dismissing the Bush administration's argument that the warrantless program falls within the president's inherent wartime powers as commander in chief.
And do you know what happened as a result? Judge Taylor was promptly vilified quite thoroughly by every right-wing politician and media outlet in the country. And somehow I have a feeling that she was not particularly bothered by that; at least, that did not appear to be the case.

She stood up and did the right thing. Unlike you.

So I hope you enjoy a nice recess, Bob. I hope you are able to explain to your constituents how sacrificing the precious freedoms guaranteed to us by our founders helps ensure our safety (and don’t bother to wonder whether or not Bushco will abuse the freedom you so stupidly gave to them – you know they will).

By the way, Bob, speaking of the Constitution (the cornerstone of our government and our way of life, as I hope you know) the Constitutional Convention began to debate a draft of that document 220 years ago today in Philadelphia. It would have been nice if you had honored the intent of the authors who risked their lives standing up to another tyrant named George all those years ago.

Update 8/7: I second, third, fourth and fifth this editorial from today's New York Times.