Saturday, September 08, 2007

Saturday Videos

Too lazy to post, so here are some more videos; The Pixies ("Here Comes Your Man")...

...Happy Birthday to Aimee Mann ("That's Just What You Are" - not sure if the lip synch is supposed to be off on purpose or not, and no, I wasn't going for a joke based on the last video)...

...I forgot to wish a Happy 78th birthday to the "button-down mind" himself, Bob Newhart (here is an excerpt from his '70s show as the psychologist - the 35th reunion sounded like fun)...

...and Patsy Cline would have been 75 today ("Three Cigarettes In An Ashtray," obviously recorded before the surgeon general's warning - a timeless talent whose songs will endure in any age and any idiom; she transcended country as far as I was concerned).

More videos are available from the WeShow home page link.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Friday Videos

Happy Birthday to keyboardist Benmont Tench of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers ("Don't Come Around Here No More"; always loved this one, with Dave Stewart of Eurythmics on sitar, though the very end is missed)...

...Happy Birthday also to tenor sax legend Sonny Rollins, the subject of this neat little jazz video podcast by Bret Primack...

...Happy belated birthday as well to Pai Waaktaar-Savoy of a-ha ("Take On Me"; lower case, ever so artsy, and the name hyphenation fits that also - hey, it's Friday, so you know what that means, I hope)...

...and Yeah Yeah Yeahs ("Turn Into").

For more videos, check out the WeShow link from the home page.

Repugs Behaving Badly, Senate Version

Susan Collins...

...and Mr. Elaine Chao

Hat tips to The Daily Kos for both...

A South Of The Border Success Story

This takes you to a recent story on the expansion of the Panama Canal, attended by Jimmy Carter and Panamanian president Martin Torrijos. Today also marks the 30th anniversary of the signing of the so-called Panama Canal Treaty which took place in the Carter administration.

Yes, I’ve heard the argument too; we built it when other countries tried and couldn’t pull it off, including France, and yes, that is an accomplishment for which we should be proud. However, since the canal isn’t located in this country, we were perceived as occupiers (and it isn’t like we haven’t intervened in Central and South America enough as it is over time). Besides, during the off-again, on-again negotiations over transferring ownership of the canal, we had every opportunity to secure trade advantages for ourselves (which, again, is fair because we built it), so it’s not as if Carter gave it away for nothing. However, I’m sure Carter's alleged "failure" here will live on forever as a freeper talking point.

Besides, Wikipedia notes the following here…

There were fears that efficiency and maintenance would suffer following the U.S. withdrawal; however, this does not appear to be the case, and the canal's efficiency appears to be improving under Panamanian control.
If you don’t trust Wikipedia here, then I would suggest that you check the March 2004 issue of The Smithsonian that makes this observation and is cited in the article.

Negotiating the treaty is something for which Carter will not receive due credit, I’m afraid. It showed a willingness to respect the sovereignty of another nation and not force our will upon it for economic gain, but instead “share the wealth” (though the revelation that Panama's dictator Omar Torrijos was ready to blow it up if an accord was not signed is disturbing, I'll admit).

The current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue should have learned the lesson Carter emparted long ago, particularly involving a country with a name two letters short of that where the canal is located.

Update 9/10: I went back to check "The Unfinished Presidency" by Douglas Brinkley about Jimmy Carter for more information, and I found this quote from Carter (pg. 281)...

"Ten years ago (1977), Omar Torrijos and I worked to build a new partnership between Panama and the United States based on mutual respect and new Canal Treaties," Carter said at the press conference right after he got off the plane (arriving in Panama on May 5th, 1987 to monitor the election that ended up removing Manuel Noriega). "Torrijos (killed in a 1981 helicopter crash) told me that the fulfillment of Panama's aspirations for national sovereignty was a first step toward better relations between our two countries (referring to the canal treaties). The second step, he said, would be the fulfillment of Panama's aspirations for democracy. I have come with the hope of seeing Torrijos' second promise fulfilled."
Ultimately, the election did serve that purpose. See, Democrats generally believe that democracy can be mentored through human aid (food, medicine, etc.) and encouraging democratic reforms. Republicans generally believe that this can be accomplished by demolishing countries and rebuilding after the rubble has been cleared, and history teaches us who is right and who is wrong.

Chertoff Strikes Again

(Sorry again for that truly disturbing pic.)

Another glowing report on DHS here, from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office…

In a 320-page report, the GAO identified 171 performance expectations and found the department achieved fewer than half since it formed four years ago. Experts, including auditors, have said it would take a department this large five years to seven years to come together.

Auditors also noted that the Defense Department, created after World War II, still faces serious management challenges. “I'm confident DHS can do better faster,” Walker said.
They’d better; somehow I don’t think al Qaeda is as concerned with trying to blow up office buildings or military hardware as they are with actual people

Auditors found DHS has not made adequate progress in these areas:

  • Identifying the spots where people illegally cross the border into the country.

  • Removing criminal aliens and establishing a strategy to prevent human smuggling.

  • Setting standards and procedures for securing the outer perimeter of airports.

  • Issuing standards for securing non-aviation transportation.

  • Establishing a single, all-hazards plan to respond to disasters.

  • Coordinating research and development of countermeasures for chemical, biological, nuclear and other terrorist threats.
  • Yep, I would say that these are some pretty big gaps at the moment (I’m more concerned about the last three than the first three, though).

    The bad news is that I don’t think this will be resolved anytime soon; in fairness, this is a tall order, especially for Mike (“City of Louisiana”) Chertoff.

    The good news is that, at least this time, Chertoff didn’t give us a status report on his intestinal tract.

    He Was There

    The latest from MoveOn...

    I'm John Bruhns and I served in Baghdad as an army sergeant for the first year of the war. Within my first days there, I realized that so much of what I had been told—about weapons of mass destruction, connections to 9/11—was just White House spin to sell the war.

    I'm seeing the same thing all over again now. Even with this being the bloodiest summer for US troops in Iraq, even with Iraqi casualties running at twice the pace of last year, and even with 15 of 18 of President Bush's own benchmarks unmet, the White House is at it again. They're telling us that black is white, up is down, and things in Iraq are going just great thanks to the troop "surge."

    This month Congress is going to vote on war policy for the next year—and Bush is hoping all this "progress" talk will scare Congress away from voting for withdrawal. We can't let that happen. Almost 4,000 US troops have died. We've spent half a trillion dollars in Iraq. Every day you turn on the news and more people are killed. We need Congress to stand up and fight to bring our troops home this fall.

    I need your help to make sure that happens. Can you sign this petition demanding that Congress begin a fully funded redeployment and start bringing our troops home from Iraq immediately? I'll deliver your comments to Congress myself next week. Clicking below will add your name:

    Click here.

    I left Iraq on February 27, 2004 and from what I hear from my friends who are still there—many on their third or fourth deployments—it's worse now than ever before. The "surge" was a failure and it's time to draw down our troops.

    This president can't be trusted, his policy is reckless and it's more and more dangerous every day.

    Here's what's happened in Iraq since the escalation went into effect.

  • Violence has gone up in Iraq. This summer is on track to be one of the bloodiest summers for Iraqis and U.S. troops, with nearly twice as many U.S. troops killed this July than the previous July. (1)

  • The surge has not created political stability. The central premise of the surge was that it would increase political stability. Two years after Sunnis were brought into the political transition, a Sunni bloc withdrew from the government. (2) This week's original Government Accountability Office report showed that 15 out of 18 of Bush's own political benchmarks remain unmet. (3)

  • We've poured weapons into Iraq's civil war. Another Government Accountability Office report earlier this summer showed that the Pentagon lost track of nearly 200,000 weapons given to Iraqis. We distribute weapons and then they disappear and we don't know what happens to them. What we do know is that violence increases—both among Iraqi sectarian groups and against American troops. (4)

  • Ethnic cleansing is happening in Baghdad. The once Sunni dominated city is now dominated by Shiites. Here is a quote from the most recent Newsweek: "When Gen. David Petraeus goes before Congress next week to report on the progress of the surge, he may cite a decline in insurgent attacks in Baghdad as one marker of success. In fact, part of the reason behind the decline is how far the Shiite militias' cleansing of Baghdad has progressed: they've essentially won." (5)

  • As an Iraq war veteran I felt so much relief after the November of 2006 election—I felt like we would finally end this mess and start bringing our troops home from Iraq. I've been let down a lot over this last year and I want to do everything I can to make sure it doesn't happen again.

    Congress has the power to force redeployment and they have to use that power this fall. Nothing is more important to me than making sure we start bringing all our troops home—and I need your help to make sure that's what happens.

    Please sign the petition today.

    Click here.

    Thanks for all you do.

    John Bruhns, former US Army Infantry Sergeant.
    Wednesday, September 5th, 2007


    1. "Diplomatic Surge for Iraq, But New Steps Require Credible Redeployment Plan for U.S. Forces," Center for American Progress, August 9, 2007 (

    2. Ibid

    3. "Report Finds Little Progress On Iraq Goals," Washington Post, August 30, 2007 (

    4. "Stabilizing Iraq," United States Goverment Accountability Office, July 2007 (

    5. "Baghdad's New Owners," Newsweek, September 10, 2007 (
    To learn more, click here.

    The ABCs Of Fixing NCLB

    The New York Times reported yesterday that Margaret Spellings was at it again, criticizing the efforts of Congress to try and fix NCLB.

    In a speech before a business group and at a news conference, Ms. Spellings said that a series of proposals in draft legislation circulated by Democrats and Republicans on the House education committee, taken together, would allow states to remove children from testing regimes and tutoring services, and would make it too difficult for parents to know whether students and schools are making progress.
    To me, the first clue that something is wrong is the fact that she’s meeting with a business group and the media instead of a roomful of parents.

    Well, fortunately for us in the 8th U.S. congressional district, Patrick Murphy has…

    (Murphy), a Democrat who represents Bucks County and parts of Montgomery County and Philadelphia, credits the law with setting some standards. A federal study analyzing the law shows that students are making improvements, and achievement gaps are closing. But the law is too punitive, he said, and doesn't give schools enough of a chance to improve.

    The current law is designed to punish schools that underperform by withholding federal funds, said Adam Abrams, a spokesman for the congressman.

    “The system should be redesigned to improve public schools, not abandon them,” Abrams said. “Our schools in Bucks County that need the most help will be the ones most hurt by this policy — current NCLB provisions do not take into account the level at which the schools started, and even if they make great progress they are still penalized for not meeting the one-size-fits-all standards.”

    Another sore spot for Murphy is the trend in some schools of “teaching to the test.”

    “We deserve an education system that has both high standards for achievement and high standards of accountability,” Murphy said. “That starts by making sure that attention is paid to individual students without simply teaching for the sake of a test.”
    And in case anyone was wondering about students requiring special education…

    Some teachers have been forced to put so much focus on English and math that instruction in other subjects has suffered. Jerry Oleksiak, a special education teacher in Upper Merion and president of the Mideastern Region of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, said his district has had to cut back on social studies and other subjects so educators could focus more on tests.
    Don’t ever wonder why kids don’t place a priority on voting, reading newspapers, writing to them or generally being informed about local, state, and federal government, by the way; I have just given you a big part of the reason.

    Such sacrifices are happening nationwide. The Center on Education Policy, a Washington think tank, reports that districts are spending more time on math and reading, the only subjects tested under NCLB, and less time on subjects such as social studies, art, music and gym. In about 20 percent of the 350 schools surveyed, even lunchtime was cut back.

    More problematic, however, is the conflicting message the law is sending to students with learning disabilities, Oleksiak said. Every special education student is assigned an education plan, which considers limits in learning and requires educators to teach at the student's ability level.

    “The one-size-fits-all mentality just doesn't work with students we see every day,” he said. “We are putting our students in a situation where we are asking them to be taught at one ability level and tested on another. As a special education teacher — we have students sitting in front of us in tears; they cannot do what they're being asked to do on the test. Our older kids just shut down.”
    This links to proposals by the John Edwards campaign on education, and this links to an editorial by Bill Richardson in USA Today in which he advocates scrapping NCLB altogether. That’s attractive to me also, but to be honest with you (after some further consideration), I’d like to see if it can be salvaged somehow under a new (God willing) Democratic presidential administration in 2009.

    That’s the only hope I see for it. If not, put it out of its misery and try again.

    Thursday, September 06, 2007

    Thursday Videos

    Him ("Wings Of A Butterfly"; the preceding is the opinion of the artist only and not necessarily the site proprietor, blah blah blah)...

    ...I missed the birthday earlier this week of drummer Martin Chambers of The Pretenders ("Human," with footage of the TV series with the same name as the band).

    For more videos, check out the WeShow link from the home page (and I'm not sure about posting activity for tomorrow, by the way).

    The Turf He Knows

    So Frederick of Hollywood decided to blow off the Repug candidates debate in New Hampshire last night to announce on Jay Leno that, yes, finally, at long, looooong last, he was really, officially and, like, for sure, announcing that he was running for president!!

    Can I bear the drama?

    I’ll tell you what, Fred – we’ll call it even for this bit of fluffery if you commit ASAP to this appearance (as Atrios and others have pointed it, it should be hilarious – whoever can prostate himself before The Sainted Ronnie R the most wins automatically, I guess).

    And get ready for questions and assorted rants from people such as this individual.

    Clap Louder, Bremer!

    The New York Times also published a column today from L. Paul (“Jerry”) Bremer III, the former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq from 2003 to 2004. Bremer defends himself against the charge that he disbanded the Iraqi military (which kick-started the insurgency that our military is fighting to this day) after the fall of Saddam Hussein, saying that that came from Washington.

    I actually think he’s right. However, he should have stood up to Bushco and told them that it reflected monstrous stupidity that has resulted in the present horrific consequences (but, like all of the other prominent players in this tragedy, he refused to do so).

    The beginning of the crisis after the military was disbanded was noted in this prior post based on “State of Denial” by Bob Woodward, particularly this excerpt…

    In the days after the order disbanding the military, vehicles traveling the road between Baghdad and the airport started coming under attack more regularly. Crowds began to gather to protest the order, although reports differed greatly as to how many people turned out each time. On May 19 (2003), about 500 people demonstrated outside the Coalition Provisional Authority’s gates. A week later, on May 26, a larger crowd gathered to demonstrate. Some Arab media reports that were later translated and given to Bremer’s team said there were as many as 5,000 protesters.

    “We demand the formulation of a government as soon as possible, the restoration of security, rehabilitation of public institutions, and disbursement of the salaries of all military personnel,” said one of the leaders of the protest, an Iraqi major general named Sahib al-Musawi. His speech was carried over the Arabic-language television network Al Jazeera, and later translated for the CPA. “If our demands are not met, next Monday will mark the start of estrangement between the Iraqi army and people on one hand and the occupiers on the other.”

    Paul Hughes now had to deal with the former Iraqi officers who wanted their soldiers to be given the $20 emergency payments, but who were now shut out under the Bremer order. Hughes stalled for awhile but finally went to see the officers.

    “Colonel Paul, what happened?” asked Mirjan Dhiya, their English-speaking spokesman.

    “I don’t know,” Hughes said. “I can’t tell you what happened. I’m as shocked as you are.”

    “Colonel Paul, we have men who have families. They have no food. They are running out. We need to do something.”

    Hughes finally got
    Slocombe’s chief of staff to meet with the former Iraqi military representative. There was still a possibility that they might get the $20 each, but things were moving very slowly.
    This is all the more tragic when you read in Bremer’s column today that, on May 19th, he was receiving a final draft from Rummy and Douglas Feith (the imprimatur of those two more than anyone else besides Cheney marks this current mess) about the disbanding of the Iraqi Army, which British military officials in London considered a “fait accompli.” Do you think any of the 500 who protested to Paul Hughes would have been happy to return to the Army and receive a pay check as opposed to joining the insurgency instead (to say nothing of the 5,000 protesting a week later)?

    I also shook my head when I read this excerpt from Bremer today…

    Moreover, we were right to build a new Iraqi Army. Despite all the difficulties encountered, Iraq’s new professional soldiers are the country’s most effective and trusted security force.
    It would be nice if this “effective and trusted security force” were good enough to let some of our soldiers come home by now, wouldn’t it (but I guess that’s because they won’t be “effective and trusted” in Iraq for the next 12 to 18 months, at least, as noted here).

    But I guess such self-promoting behavior in denial of reality is about what we can expect from some neocon sycophant who was schooled by this guy.

    Toying With Our Kids

    The Philadelphia Inquirer reported today on the third toy recall issued by Mattel Inc. of Chinese-made toys with excessive amounts of lead paint over a period of about the last month (this excerpt provides more information)…

    The recall covers 675,000 units of various Barbie accessory toys that were manufactured between Sept. 30, 2006, and Aug. 20, 2007. The action also involves 90,000 units of Geo Trax Locomotive Toys and 8,900 Big Big World 6-in-1 Bongo Band toys, both from the company's Fisher-Price Inc. brand. The Big Big World products were sold at retailers nationwide from July through August this year, while the Geo Trax toys were sold from September 2006 through August.
    And this New York Times editorial today takes note of the endemic problems within the Consumer Products Safety Commission (threadbare budget, not enough staff to do the job – one employee to test defective toys; one! – a “fox running the hen house”…this is a Bushco recording), as well as Mattel’s arrogance in deciding not to report product defects because it thought the reporting rules were “unreasonable” (an excerpt follows)…

    The (commission), which requires companies to report potential hazards within 24 hours of their discovery, has fined Mattel twice for such delays since 2001: once because it waited about two years before reporting a fire hazard in its Power Wheels motorized minicars and on another occasion because it took months to report loose screws on its Little People Animal Sounds Farm.

    The commission is now investigating Mattel’s recent handling of toys containing tiny magnets that, if swallowed, could puncture a toddler’s stomach lining. Though the company recalled 2 million Polly Pocket figurines with these magnets last November, it wasn’t until August that it recalled another 18 million toys that were also studded with the magnets.

    Mattel’s excuse — that it needs time to analyze reports of possible hazards before telling the authorities — is arrogant and dangerous. And Mattel’s unapologetic willingness to defy the regulators leaves no doubt that the nation’s battered regulatory apparatus is not up to the task of protecting American consumers.

    The commission’s puny fines, capped at less than $2 million, are clearly no deterrent against flouting its rules and should be raised. But rather than tightening consumer protections, the Bush administration seems happy to let the agency decline. Under this White House’s tutelage, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has promoted voluntary compliance over safety mandates. Bush appointees have also coddled manufacturers in other ways — for instance, by allowing companies not to report hazards involving their products if the risk of injury is considered to be obvious or predictable, or if misuse played a role.
    (I'd love to hear this administration's definition of "obvious," "predictable," and "misuse," by the way.)

    This takes you to an article from the International Herald Tribune about the circumstances behind the similar recall of the Thomas The Tank Engine toys carrying the HIT Entertainment “brand,” though the toys themselves were manufactured in China by a company called RC2.

    HIT is an English company that holds the rights to a number of popular characters, including Barney and Bob the Builder, and then licenses the toy manufacturing to companies like RC2.

    Except for a small link on the Thomas Web site to RC2's recall announcement, HIT has otherwise acted as if it has nothing to do with the situation. Its executives haven't even said that they regret having been promoting toys with lead paint in them. They haven't said anything publicly.

    When I suggested to the company's public relations agency, Bender/Helper Impact, that this might not be the smartest approach, the agency e-mailed me a two-sentence unsigned statement. It said that HIT appreciated the concerns of its customers and was working with RC2 on the recall, but that the recall was "clearly RC2's responsibility."

    In effect, HIT has outsourced Thomas's image, one of its most valuable assets, to RC2. And RC2 has offered a case study of how not to deal with a crisis, which is all the more amazing when you consider that the company also makes toys for giants like Disney, Nickelodeon, and Sesame Street.

    When it first announced the recall, RC2 said its customers would have to cover shipping costs to mail back the trains. It reversed that decision after parents reacted angrily, but it is still going to wait about two months to send the postage refunds. Why? "Because finance is in another building," as one customer service employee on RC2's toll-free hotline told me.

    Most important of all, the company hasn't yet explained how the lead got into the trains or what it's doing to avoid a repeat. Like their counterparts at HIT, the RC2 executives have stayed silent.
    Though the Chinese manufacturers have clearly been negligent in these cases (and, in this case anyway, have owed up in as dramatic a fashion as you can imagine), I don’t primarily blame them. As far as I’m concerned, the fault lies first and foremost with Mattel, HIT, and other companies that only see dollar signs when they decide to send this work to a country with cheaper labor and no regard for the consequences.

    And also, don’t forget to chastise Bushco on this. As this San Francisco Chronicle story notes (dated last February 14th)…

    According to the Consumer Product Safety Act, two commissioners can conduct the agency's business for six months after a third commissioner quits. After that, they're restricted from taking action on regulatory maters or civil penalties until the vacancy is filled.

    The six-month mark was hit on Jan. 15. It's now a month later, and there's still no indication that Bush is ready to name someone to fill the vacancy and allow the commission to get back to the business of protecting consumers from defective products.

    "It's a serious problem," said Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. "We can only hope the new Congress takes a look at this situation and calls on the president to do something."

    The agency isn't exactly dead in the water. Even without a quorum of three commissioners, it can still seek voluntary product recalls and take complaints from consumers.

    "There are procedures in place to keep the trains running at the CPSC," said Julie Vallese, a spokeswoman for the commission.

    Be that as it may, the commission can't act on new regulations, such as a pending ban on the use of lead in children's metal jewelry, which can cause neurological damage and other health problems if kids put the trinkets in their mouths.

    "That should be a slam-dunk," Mierzwinski said. "If we had three commissioners, that would probably pass right away."

    But we don't, which also means that if a product poses a significant risk to consumers, the manufacturer may need to conduct a recall but wouldn't face any civil penalties until a third commissioner is appointed.
    According to the CPSC site, the chairman and acting commissioner is Nancy Nord, and the other commissioner is Thomas Moore.

    Also, here is a statement from the John Edwards campaign on the latest Mattel recall, and here is more information on the Patriot Corporation of America Act in response to this story and others (interesting).

    If you find yourself pondering the typical Bushco negligence on this issue when shopping for holiday toys this year, try not to rip the stuffing out of that adorable little Elmo doll or twist the head off Barbie’s elegant neck, since some oppressed third-world worker earning a starvation wage (as opposed to an American trying to earn a living) will just have to make it all over again.

    Riposa In Pace

    Pavarotti performs "Nessun Dorma," from a Paris concert in 1998...

    Wednesday, September 05, 2007

    K.O.'s Special Comment On "Withdrawal"

    Just caught it from yesterday - Olbermann picks up on something I missed, in particular the "playing" remark into October and November ("moving the goal posts" again for "The Splurge").

    Update 9/8: I don't have a problem with this headline from Dan Froomkin, since I know he means it out of utter exasperation as opposed to misguided freeper triumphalism (registration is probably required).

    Wednesday Videos

    Theory Of A Deadman ("No Surprise"; "what" myself to sleep, I wonder - don't worry, I can guess; and hey, look on the bright side - at least she took care of the fish)...

    ...and Happy Birthday to "classic" rocker Al Stewart, performing an acoustic version of "Modern Times" here with "AJ" in 1995 (everyone automatically thinks of "Year Of The Cat" as his signature song, but this is my choice - speaking of Kerouac, today is the 50th anniversary of the publication of "The Road," and no, I don't know what happened at 6:44 either...quick story: Stewart and Paul Simon were brand new on the folk scene in the '60s when Paul asked Al to pick the best song from the upcoming "Simon and Garfunkel" debut, and Al said "Richard Cory," but Paul went with "The Sounds Of Silence," and the rest is history as they say).

    For more videos, check the WeShow home page widget (drop-down menu included).

    Leaving The Truth Blowin' In The Wind

    (Posting is iffy again for tomorrow, by the way.)

    Boy, did Froma Harrop of the Providence Journal take the long way in this attack of drive-by “journalism” on Ted Kennedy, even predicting his “sorry end” at the close of this column.

    This excerpt gives you a good part of the setup (describing scorn at Kennedy from “the leftish ‘Daily Show’,” among others)…

    The source of unhappiness is Kennedy's efforts to kill an offshore wind farm on Nantucket Sound. Cape Wind was to be the first such project in the United States and a source of pride to environmentally-minded New Englanders. Polls show 84 percent of Massachusetts residents in favor. But now it appears that America's first offshore wind farm will be near Galveston, Texas.
    Harrop tells us that a book co-written by her editor at the Providence Journal with the short, understated title of “Cape Wind: Money, Celebrity, Class, Politics and the Battle for Our Energy Future on Nantucket Sound" (phew) portrays the dustup as a battle between well-moneyed pols of status and “the year-round locals.”

    (“Locals” where, I wonder? Harrop tells us that 84 percent of Massachusetts residents favor the wind farm, but I wonder what kind of a polling result she’d obtained if the poll had been conducted with residents of Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard? And Kennedy has to represent those areas also.)

    I’m familiar with this area, having vacationed there twice (with a return trip planned for next year), and I can guarantee you that we do not live in “the high-rent district”; we can rent property for rates that are competitive with shore locations in New Jersey with no problem. For that reason, I think I have a little more insight into this; as this link from “Save Our Sound” written by Cape Cod Times writer Brent Harold tells us…

    It’s nice when a book sheds some light on its subject.

    Can a book be said to shed darkness?

    The new book on Cape Cod’s wind power controversy, “Cape Wind; Money, Celebrity, Class, Politics, and the Battle for Our Energy Future on Nantucket Sound,” by Wendy Williams and Robert Whitcomb, has been reviewed widely, including twice in the New York Times. Many people beyond our immediate area may get their main impression of the debate from this account. Unfortunately, it will be a grossly skewed impression. “Cape Wind” almost completely ignores the issues of a very complex situation in order to tell the more marketable story alluded to in that nifty subtitle.

    (According to) Whitcomb and Williams, the proposal to install 130 turbines, each as tall as a 40-story building, over 25 square miles of open water off Cape Cod’s south shore would not have occasioned so much as a ripple of controversy if a handful of wealthy and powerful men had not chosen to block this slamdunk of an idea solely to protect the views from their trophy houses.

    We should support the wind farm because, while Ted Kennedy is “a crafty old senator,” Jim Gordon, Cape Wind’s president, is a tall, trim, no-nonsense sort of guy who played a tenacious game of tetherball when a youth.

    You would never guess it from “Cape Wind,” but many thousands of Cape Codders who are not rich and don’t own a house with a water view have had serious concerns about the industrialization of Nantucket Sound. (Over the years, the polls have shown sometimes a majority opposing the Cape Wind proposal, sometimes a strong minority).

    For all of Cape Cod this is a backyard issue. We all stand to gain from meaningful greening of energy, but we are protective of our area, which also happens to be one of the most prized recreational destinations anywhere. Saving Nantucket Sound from development is an extension of the logic and sensibility that created Cape Cod National Seashore, which 45 years ago took much of the Outer Cape out of development.

    The book has reviewers shaking their heads over the story of local power-brokers trying to deprive their less well-heeled fellow citizens of the obvious benefits of the Cape Wind proposal, such as a substantial reduction in utility bills and the substitution of clean energy for a dirty electric plant and worrisome nukes. If either of these benefits had been part of the proposal we might all be looking differently at the quality-of-life issues. But, contrary to the impression left by the book, the company has never promised a reduction beyond a few cents a month. Nor will the dirty power plants be taken off line.
    Harold provides a lot more depth on this issue than Harrop does in her column which I stumbled across from the Philadelphia Inquirer online (with each passing day, I am more and more glad that we no longer subscribe to that paper any more).

    "The Shepherd," At Long Last, Leads His Flock

    Thank you, Pope Benedict XVI, for finally speaking out on an issue of critical important to us all, as opposed to creating a controversy through some kind of mangled or badly (un?)-vetted speech (as stated here)…

    Pope Benedict on Wednesday made another strong appeal for the protection of the environment, saying issues such as climate change had become gravely important for the entire human race.

    The Pope made his appeal, his second on environmental issues in four days, at the end of his general audience before some 16,000 people in St Peter's Square.

    'Care of water resources and attention to climate change are matters of grave importance for the entire human family,' he said.

    'Encouraged by the growing recognition of the need to preserve the environment, I invite all of you to join me in praying and working for greater respect for the wonders of God's creation,' he told his listeners, speaking in English.
    And regarding matters of faith (allegedly), I have to work extra hard to control my snark impulse on this story, as well as this one (h/t Atrios).

    Slam One Dem, You Slam All, MoDo

    Like many of you, I’ve watched the quality of Maureen Dowd’s writing dissipate over time. As far as I’m concerned, she has turned from witty and sharply insightful to mean-spirited, petty, illogical, and – worst of all – genuinely uninteresting.

    In today’s New York Times screed against Barack Obama (I’m not going to try and dissect all of her attempts to perpetuate the narrative that Obama is inexperienced – he is a bit as a presidential candidate, I’ll grant you that, but he is formidable in his knowledge of both U.S. politics and the world), she offers the following about Hillary Clinton…

    In the White House, she botched health care and bungled dealing with special prosecutors — remember that talent she had for losing critical files? And in the Senate, she played it safe and became a Democratic Senator Pothole while helping W. launch his disaster in Iraq.
    Yes, her vote on the Iraq war was a mistake, but to be fair, I think we’ve beaten this to death pretty much by now; I’ve read enough statements from her that pass for a mea culpa as far as I’m concerned. And since she was not serving in any official capacity in the White House under her husband’s administration, I cannot recall what Dowd is talking about pertaining to the Ken Starr inquisition.

    But as long as Dowd has brought up the Clinton impeachment farce, allow me to provide this excerpt from a 2000 Times column written by reporter James B. Stewart, and I’ll let you determine who was really “bungling” in that mess…

    The independent counsel's mission was to get to the bottom of the morass (presumably, with the Whitewater land deal, though it ended up with trying to find out the specifics of the BJ Clinton received from Monica Whatsername). Kenneth Starr and his top deputies were not instinctive politicians, and they became caught up in a political war for which they were woefully unprepared and ill-suited. The White House and its allies relentlessly attacked the independent counsel for what they thought were both illegal and unprincipled tactics, like intimidating witnesses and leaking to the press. Mr. Starr has been vindicated in the courts in nearly every instance, and he and his allies were maligned to a degree that will someday be seen as grossly unfair.

    Nonetheless, that the Whitewater investigation cost what it did, took as long as it did and meandered so far afield from its original mission is preposterous. The investigation unfolded with an inexorable logic that made sense at every turn, yet lost all sight of the public purpose it was meant to serve. Mr. Starr's failure was not one of logic or law, but of simple common sense.
    And as far as “botching health care,” all I can say is that, if Dowd chooses to blame Clinton for trying to mandate employer health insurance through HMO’s, Dowd should take a look at Willard Mitt Romney’s so-called “Massachusetts Plan,” which mandates the same thing. And to acknowledge the failings of so-called “Hillary Care” without acknowledging that it was a starting point for legislation that could have resolved the mess we currently face (as well as the firestorm of criticism from the health care industry, including the so-called “Harry and Louise” ads – more here) is misleading to say the least.

    How sad is it that, when you need to look for a minimum of common sense among the regular Times columnists today, you need to pass MoDo and proceed directly to Little Tommy Friedman?

    "Going Green" With Diane And Steve

    The Bucks County Courier Times reported today on last night’s debate between incumbent Repug county supervisors Charles Martin and Jim Cawley and Democratic challengers Steve Santarsiero and Diane Marseglia. The theme of the debate was the environment; the debate was sponsored by the Sierra Club (and don’t assume that automatically means a tilt towards the Dems, since they supported Mikey Fitzpatrick last year in the U.S. House election).

    There are a couple of points I want to highlight in the article, and the first is based on this excerpt…

    Martin, who has been a commissioner for more than 12 years after being appointed in 1995, said the county has elevated 55 homes and acquired 100 homes as well as created a task force in response to flooding. Santarsiero noted the task force was formed nine months after the last in a series of three floods.
    Well, did the task force issue a report or recommendations of any kind, aside from elevating 55 homes and assuming the cost of 100 more? Was there any consultation with other state or federal agencies as to a preparedness plan of some type?

    Also, the incumbent commissioners touted their record of open space preservation, but Steve noted that, though 10,000 acres have been preserved in the last decade, 28,000 had been developed over the last six years.

    I spoke with Steve briefly about this, and he noted that he had created cited a regional plan for Chester County, PA devised so that they may to create open space or use property in a variety of environmentally friendly ways (Steve is an environmental lawyer). The county provided incentives for individual municipalities to work within the regional plan and provide input to the plan as well. As it is now in Bucks County, whenever we need open space, we issue a bond to buy it back, and the county doesn’t have enough money to do that for every piece of property that needs that designation.

    There is no regional plan in Bucks through which municipalities can use easements or other means to preserve open space or use land to come up with some other means to curb sprawl, such as building a children’s park or something else within the regional plan framework, according to Steve. And coordination among municipalities in Bucks is bound to save money over time as opposed to the cost of inaction on this from the current county commissioners.

    All of this makes perfect sense to me (and as noted, last night’s debate focused on the environment; we haven’t even touched on the Danaher voting machines approved by Martin and Cawley that do not provide a paper backup, among other issues).

    To learn more about Diane and Steve, click here.

    Arlen Tops Craig's "List" Now, I Guess

    (And I mean that in terms of Specter as a political kindred spirit and nothing more, by the way.)

    So our senator has come to the defense of Larry (I’m Not Gay) Craig, giving the beleaguered Idaho Repug the idea of now contesting his resignation from the Senate. I think this is an absolutely scurrilous development, and in response, I have only this to say…

    Thanks, dude!

    This breathes new life into a story whose “shelf life” was about to expire, keeping the spotlight on the hypocrisy of the “family values” party as it shields someone who has been the subject of innuendo concerning anonymous gay sex for years.

    Do I ultimately care if all parties consent in the activity and show a bare minimum of discretion? No, though I will admit to be concerned if I ever enter a men’s room to do my typical “business” and see the stall door shaking, a man (presumably) on his knees and hear the sound of low moans.

    And as far as Craig is concerned, there are other more important reasons for him to depart the Senate, though I’ll take this reason at the moment. And yes, I believe it is just for him to take the fall over this behavior since he represents the “family values” party and thus has placed himself on a higher pedestal and an equivalent standard of behavior.

    And related to this subject, I read this post from Arianna Huffington today and noticed this excerpt in particular (her argument is that it’s a wasteful use of law enforcement resources to go after Craig when airport security is more important; though I acknowledge that she has a point, I still think she’s discussing apples and oranges, as it were)…

    And, yes, I know, Sen. Craig pleaded guilty. But given the inevitable humiliation that would have ensued had he challenged this arrest, it's not hard to imagine that he felt he had no other choice.
    Uh, no Arianna. Craig would have been humiliated either way, possibly less so had he pleaded innocent. And if this calls more attention to his entire congressional record, including his neglect of the environment, all the better.

    (Either Arianna really feels this way, which I suppose she does, or this is all part of a brilliant ploy on her part to embolden Craig to the point where he fights for his seat and, again, “keeps up the traction” with this story and thus keeps the Repugs in spin mode, echoing Specter also.)

    I posted earlier about how Craig is the darling of some freeper shock troops called the American Land Rights Association, but this post from mcjoan at The Daily Kos provides more information on Craig’s sneaky attempt to prevent the Snake River area that extends from Wyoming to Idaho from being covered under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Protecting this area was the goal of Craig’s fellow Repug senator and friend Craig Thomas of Wyoming, who died earlier this year.

    If this is what Larry Craig does to his friends, I’d hate to see what he does to his enemies.

    Update 9/6: By the way (concerning Specter), don't forget that, with this quote, he proved to be a "surrender monkey" on Iraq (tongue firmly in cheek).

    Tuesday, September 04, 2007

    Tuesday Videos

    The Rentals ("Last Romantic Day")...

    ...and legendary guitar virtuoso Danny Gatton would have been 62 today ("Harlem Nocturne"; the video-audio synch is a bit off, but it still captures his amazing musicianship).

    By the way, more videos are available from the WeShow home page link - enjoy.

    A Moment In Romney History

    I guess I should have tied some of this into my prior post about how the Repugs are telling Hispanics in this country to take a hike based on their confrontational position on immigration and so-called “sanctuary cities,” but it seems that Willard Mitt was chanting this mantra recently (and gosh golly, Mitt, it sounds like your whole “down-home” thing plays just oh so well with the voting demographic of this country that is shrinking faster than any other).

    Well, it turns out that I overlooked the 40th anniversary last Friday of the self-destruction of the presidential hopes of Mitt’s father, George (here).

    As Boston Globe columnist Neil Swidey wrote last August...

    On August 31, 1967, George Romney, the voluble, vigorous three-term governor of Michigan and former automotive executive, walked into a Detroit TV station to be interviewed by a local broadcaster with a lousy hairpiece. For more than a year, Romney had been talked about as the Republicans' best chance for winning the White House in 1968. But the national campaign trail, at first welcoming, had become bumpy. Reporters pressed Romney repeatedly to explain his ever-evolving and often confusing position on military involvement in Vietnam, which he had strongly supported after a visit to South Vietnam in 1965 but later declared a tragic mistake. Polls showed his lead fading.

    So, during that August interview, when he was asked to explain his inconsistent position on the war, Romney replied, "Well, you know, when I came back from Vietnam, I had just had the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get."
    The word brainwashing conjured up powerful images at that time, with an America perceiving a threat of Communist indoctrination and the realization of our captured military facing torture (including John McCain, of course – though his “little jerk” remark was typically brittle and showed why he’ll never be president, I thought student William Sleaster showed even worse conduct here). Also, movies such as “The Manchurian Candidate” were getting churned out frequently to dramatize the dangers of the conflicting ideologies at that time.

    The only comparison I can think of for today would be if a candidate were to say that he (or she, though Hillary would be too smart) was temporarily addled because he’d been to Iraq and survived an IED attack (though it’s hard to say how our corporate media would spin something like that; a remark like that would be devastating to a candidate, as it should be).

    Is it fair to evaluate someone’s entire candidacy based on one misstep? Probably not, depending on how big a misstep it was. But it does give an indication as to that person’s judgment (and it would have been nice, by the way, if this little faux pas by a one-time candidate had made its way through our media as fast as George Romney’s did – who’s to say how it would have affected the outcome in 2000 had our corporate media reported that Dubya had mocked Karla Faye Tucker, who was about to be executed as a result of his signature on the warrant as Texas governor?).

    Turd Blossom’s Immigration Faux Pas

    According to Dick Polman in the Philadelphia Inquirer last Sunday (here)…

    Karl Rove is right.

    That's not a misprint.

    President Bush's career guru has long insisted that Republicans will never achieve permanent majority status unless they can connect with Hispanic voters. Since his White House departure, he has warned Republicans that their persistent immigrant-bashing is hazardous to their long-term political health. In Rove's words, "You cannot ignore the aspirations of the fastest-growing minority in America."
    Wow, I guess the fact that Rove recognizes the obvious is what makes him a political genius (but being the scheming rat that he will always be, I know that you can never count him out).

    I wonder, though, if he was “trying to connect with Hispanic voters” when he spoke the following (as noted here - there are many, many ways the Repugs have alienated this constituency, but I'll just focus on this for the moment)…

    "I don't want my 17-year-old son to have to pick tomatoes or make beds in Las Vegas."
    God forbid the son of “Bush’s Brain” should actually have to perform manual labor, right (Smerky should send Rove a copy of his latest column in the Sunday Inky, where he told us all about his job history – trying to measure up to Philadelphia’s pre-eminent radio talk show host should snap Rove, Jr. into line right quick).

    I mean, getting one's hands dirty doing honest work is something that's too good for most Repugs, isn't it?

    Vitter, Vidi, Vici

    Sen. John Ensign, the Senate Republican campaign chairman, denied (in this Philadelphia Inquirer story today) “a double standard… in pushing Sen. Larry Craig (R., Idaho) to resign after a sex sting guilty plea, while remaining silent over Louisiana GOP Sen. David Vitter's involvement with an escort service.”

    See, Ensign said that Craig should step down because he pleaded guilty, but Vitter shouldn’t because he did not.

    I don’t know about you, but that makes perfect sense to me. What kind of a godless liberal, al Qaeda-loving heathen would think otherwise?

    I mean, Vitter apologized for the fact that, as the New York Times reported…

    …his phone number had appeared in a list of clients' numbers kept by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who is accused of running a prostitution ring in Washington. He missed major votes on Iraq in the Senate and made no public appearances, even as accounts of other relationships with prostitutes multiplied in the New Orleans news media.
    Vitter said that “political enemies” had spread falsehoods about him. And that’s why his number appeared in Palfrey’s book and he missed all those votes.

    And his apology was not tantamount to an admission of guilt.

    And the fact that Idaho has a Republican governor who will name a Republican to replace Craig and Louisiana has a Democratic governor who would name a Democrat to replace the Repug Vitter has nothing to do with it also.

    Are we all clear on this now?

    Sorry Patrick Isn't Clairvoyant

    So the Bucks County Courier Times today tells us on its editorial page…

    Our congressman (Patrick Murphy) acted quickly to shed tainted money (received from Norman Hsu, who is currently awaiting trial on felony fraud charges after posting bail at $1 million) – but should have used better discretion to begin with.
    While the editorial makes the good point that campaign finance reform is needed to prevent scams such as those allegedly carried out by Hsu, I fail to understand how Patrick was expected to somehow foresee this, especially since Hsu had also donated to Hillary Clinton and Gov. Ed Rendell (who has said that he’ll keep his $40,000 Hsu donation unless Hsu is found guilty – Ed can afford to do that since he isn’t running for office any more).

    And as far as Repug mouthpiece Ken Spain’s criticisms of Patrick (here), my comment is that, unless he can produce an itemized list of where Mike Fitzpatrick donated every dollar that he received from Jack Abramoff, he should shut his pie hole.

    All Too Convenient

    Forgive me if I continue to be suspicious, based on this editorial in yesterday’s New York Times, regarding the explanation from Yuri Chaika, Russia’s prosecutor general, about some notable murders in that country over the last year or so.

    According to the Times, Chaika announced the arrests of 10 people involved in the murder of the crusading journalist Anna Politkovskaya, and perhaps also the killing of an American journalist, Paul Klebnikov, and the deputy head of the Russian Central Bank, Andrei Kozlov (a prior post on this appears here).

    But now, it appears that a military court has overturned a decision by a lower court to sanction the arrest of Federal Security Service officer Pavel Ryaguzov, who served in the FSB's Moscow branch and focused on ethnic crime groups (Ryaguzov has been linked to a criminal group that carried out contract hits of the type that killed Politkovskaya and the others mentioned by the Times editorial, with 9 other members of the group).

    Who knows how the word could have gone forward to kill these people. And why do I have a feeling that individuals will escape accountability due to legal technicalities?

    As noted in the prior post, Politkovskaya wrote about what she saw (correctly, I think) as abuses under Putin, specifically regarding human rights in Chechnya. For speaking out, she was executed in as cold blooded a fashion as you can imagine.

    And the explanation from Chaika that a Putin critic was behind all of this, as opposed to Putin himself “signing off” to one degree or another, makes no sense to me, particularly after reading this.

    Dubya's Fan Dance

    Awww, I think President Nutball needs a big hug based on this story.

    It turns out that, based on what he has communicated to family friend Robert Draper (whose upcoming book Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush has had excerpts published in the New York Times; ironic title, I’d say - and no shot on an Amazon link, in case you were wondering), Dumbya…

    …must continue to contend with the loneliness and the sadness of serving, all the while not showing the strain. But surely he has a "shoulder to cry on," Draper asks? "Of course I do," the President replies. "I've got God's shoulder to cry on, and I cry a lot."
    And we all do too, but I’m sure for very different reasons. Also…

    …You would expect that, as Commander-in-Chief, Mr. Bush would have a firm handle on everything that has happened on America's watch in Iraq. But in one exchange he almost blithely admits to Draper: "The policy was to keep the [Iraqi] army intact; didn't happen." How was it then, Draper asks, that his then administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, was allowed, in May 2003, to disband the Iraqi army without pay?

    Mr. Bush is stumped, suggesting that maybe the answer lies somewhere in the notes of the National Security Advisor, Stephen Hadley. "Yeah, I can't remember; I'm sure I said, 'This is the policy, what happened?'" Mr. Bush said, adding: "Again, Hadley's got notes on all this stuff."

    It is a revelation that has already got some of Mr. Bush's critics almost gasping with indignation. "There are so many things to scream about" in reports of the Draper book, James Fallows of the Atlantic Monthly wrote in his blog yesterday, but none more that the exchange about the fate of the Iraqi army.

    "Think about this. The dissolution of the Iraq military is one of the six most-criticised and most-often-discussed aspects of the Administration's entire approach to Iraq ... and the President who has staked the fortunes of his Administration, his party, his place in history, and (come to think of it) his nation on the success of his Iraq policy cannot remember and even now cannot be bothered to find out how the decision was made."
    Also, Dubya tells Draper that, after he “steps down”…

    …He expects to settle in Dallas and make it home-base for a "fantastic Freedom Institute" to spread democracy around the world. Yet it is hardly inspiring when he talks mostly about his desire to earn money on the speaking circuit and the likelihood of his getting bored. "I'll give some speeches, just to replenish the ol' coffers." Mr. Bush tells Draper. "I don't know what my dad gets – it's more than 50-75" thousand dollars a speech, and "Clinton's making a lot of money." "We'll have a nice place in Dallas," he went on, but then added, "I can just envision getting in the car, getting bored, going down to the ranch."
    Jerry and Joe Long of the Sturdy Beggars comment on the “ol’ coffers” remark here, and speaking only for myself, I can’t wait to see the “Fantastic Freedom Institute” of Dubya’s after it is built. I wonder if you’ll get a free Captain Midnight decoder ring upon entering the institute that will reveal, at long last, the location of Saddam Hussein’s WMDs? Or maybe there will be a special exhibit featuring the pretzel that he almost choked on in January 2002 (and by the way, how do you “pass out” when choking like that and manage to not asphyxiate yourself? I always wondered about that “official story”).

    I think we should all keep in mind, though, that the point of these leaked revelations about the book (as well as his little surprise trip to Iraq, where he hinted that some troops will be able to come home, a tactic he's pulled before – how dumb would someone have to be to actually take Bush at his word at this point? Never mind, I don’t want to know the answer.) is to deflect attention away from the “magical September” report of Dick Cheney Gen. David Petraeus, with more than a smidgeon of misinformation being propagated by our corporate media, that will serve to reinforce support inside the Beltway for the Iraq war (Paul Krugman has more on this here).

    And speaking of Petraeus, Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times reminded us of the following in this story (behind the wall now, I’m sure)…

    …in May (Bush) said that this fall it would be up to General Petraeus to convince the public that the Iraq strategy is working.

    “I’ve been here too long,” Mr. Bush said, according to Mr. Draper. “Every time I start painting a rosy picture, it gets criticized and then it doesn’t make it on the news.”
    I don’t know what is more depressing in that excerpt, the fact that Dubya willingly admits here that he is ceding control over what has become the defining issue of his nightmare of a presidency to someone not elected to any office by anyone (as he did in the earlier “Hadley” reference), or his ongoing utter denial of reality for blaming “the news” for not “painting a rosy picture” for him (as if that hadn’t been going on for waaay too long already).

    We’re being played again, ladies and gentlemen. And it may work. Again.

    And if you guessed that I was going to link to a petition about this, give yourself a pat on the back.

    Update: "Camp Cupcake," huh? Figures.

    Monday, September 03, 2007

    Hit Ed Where It Hurts

    The following Philadelphia Inquirer story appeared yesterday, written by reporter Steve Goldstein, about Arlen Specter meeting with Altoona, PA residents, holding a Q&A session about a host of topics (the Iraq war was number one on the list, as it should be).

    Now I definitely have issues with Specter, including his recent repugnant defense of Larry Craig, but I have to give it to him; if I make it to be his age and survive his surgeries, I hope I'm able to accomplish what he can.

    However, there's something else in Goldstein's story that I want to highlight, and that's the real "takeaway" from this post.

    It seems that, according to Goldstein, Ed Snider, chairman of Comcast-Spectacor which owns the Philadelphia Flyers, 76ers, and many other cable and business interests, has contributed to the group Freedom's Watch, the organization that is lobbying members of Congress (primarily Republicans) to support the Iraq war (they have spent $15 million on this effort - please read more here).

    To merely say that such an act by Snider is utterly unconscionable as far as I'm concerned is sugar-coating the matter. His contribution is blood money to perpetuating the carnage in a country that was never a threat to us, had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11, and possessed no link to al Qaeda before we invaded. The conclusion is inescapable that Snider and the other Freedom's Watch miscreants want the human misery in Iraq to continue as an ancillary benefit of sorts to the state of Israel, involved now and possibly forever with the Palestinian conflict.

    With all of this in mind, I'm letting you know that I am going to try and organize a boycott of Comcast-Spectacor. Yeah I know, good luck with that (especially when content linked to this site is hosted by Comcast). It's going to be tough, since there are so many ways that Comcast impacts our lives.

    However, one way we could do this without affecting our TVs or computers (if we can do that, all the better) is to simply not hand over any of our money to an event at the Wachovia Center (particularly for the Flyers and the Sixers) as well as the Wachovia Spectrum (Phantoms hockey and I'm not sure what else). One exception that I can think of right off the bat is the Flyers Wives Fight For Lives Carnival; I would never suggest doing anything to hurt that great cause.

    If anyone is interested in publicizing or committing to this, please let me know in the comments or Email me (I can be reached from the home page through a link at the bottom right hand corner). If you are interested, I will link to you from this site and publicize your efforts, and I will do so with thanks.

    It is long past time to punish anyone who has done anything whatsoever to perpetuate the Iraq war, and Ed Snider, through his contribution to these fiends, now merits this punishment, and we have a not-too-difficult way to send him a message. Believing in an exclusionary, corporatist orthodoxy that exalts himself above others is one thing. Openly supporting a human tragedy that has led to the slaughter and maiming of thousands, to say nothing of having stirred up the unholy stew of sectarian violence and militant jihadism that has also spawned the worst refugee crisis in the world, is something wholly other.

    Update 9/5: 2.35 million, Ed - 2.35 million.

    Labor's Many Colors

    I realize this is par for the course when it comes to the Wall Street Journal, but yesterday, this column appeared from Paul Moreno, a professor of history at Hillsdale College.

    Moreno makes a persuasive argument that unions in this country practiced racist policies in recruitment, training and membership representation, citing incidents where African Americans were used as strikebreakers (particularly during the 1894 Pullman railway strike) but were not granted union representation (though Moreno does not acknowledge the formation of the Colored National Labor Union, organized to achieve a type of racial unity with the National Labor Union that did not take place). Moreno also spins advances in labor such as the passage of the Wagner Act in 1935 that created the National Labor Relations Board to protect the right of unions to organize as affronts to racial equality also.

    In short, Moreno blames unions for the rise of affirmative action, saying in so many words that the "goals and timetables" of the "Philadelphia Plan" passed under the Lyndon Johnson administration, for example, were enacted in an attempt to correct racist membership policies.

    Am I going to argue that unions, throughout their history, have always been tolerant of all races and ethnicities, religions and gender preferences? Of course not (though I wish I could). Unions, then as now, reflect to a degree both the political, cultural and economic commanlities and disparaties of our country. This country has always been a "melting pot," though the composition of the ingredients in the "pot" has changed over time and will continue to do so (not making excuses, just acknowledging the reality).

    And I think it's disingenuous in the least for Moreno to claim that unions have not always acted in as enlightened a manner as they should have, but in the meantime, say nothing about how the policies that affected our unions also have affected our government representation, educational institutions, and the composition of our corporate boardrooms.

    This provides more information on how minorities of all types are now represented in unions, and this tells you how African Americans and Latinos joined together to try and unionize the workers at Smithfield Packing in Tar Heel, North Carolina. And this takes you to an article describing how the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (now there's a combination!) are trying to postpone a planned crackdown on illegal immigration by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration.

    (And yes, fighting the crackdown is the right thing to do absent a law that allows a path to citizenship for these people if they work hard, which many do, and also live their lives as citizens the way they should, and many do that as well, the frothing of the Malkinite crazies notwithstanding.)

    Though labor’s history is black and white to some degree (literally and figuratively), it is also as rich and layered as the shadings of its representation. We can either choose to marginalize the movement based on past injustice or embrace it based on its gains and potential for future success (though the Employee Free Choice Act is out of the picture for now thanks primarily to Mr. Elaine Chao in the Senate, we will bring it back).

    And I, for one, choose the latter.

    And by the way, here's a video about a friend of labor in action.

    Update 9/6: This is good information also.