Saturday, November 10, 2007

Edwards and Habitat For Humanity in NOLA

The following is a clip of John Edwards working with five campaign volunteers who won the "Building With John" contest on behalf of Habitat For Humanity in New Orleans: good, important stuff.

Bob Herbert Explains It All

The CPI clarification from Atrios notwithstanding, this is still perhaps the best column I've read about what is truly going on in a long time...

If it looks like a recession and feels like a recession ...

“Quite frankly,” said Senator Charles Schumer, peering over his glasses at the Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, “I think we are at a moment of economic crisis, stemming from four key areas: falling housing prices, lack of confidence in creditworthiness, the weak dollar and high oil prices.”

He asked Mr. Bernanke, at a Congressional hearing Thursday, if we were headed toward a recession.

An aide handed the chairman his dancing shoes, and Mr. Bernanke executed a flawless version of the Washington waffle. He said: “Our forecast is for moderate, but positive, growth going forward.” He said: “Economists are extremely bad at predicting turning points, and we don’t pretend to be any better.” He said: “We have not calculated the probability of recession, and I wouldn’t want to offer that today.”

With all due respect to the chairman, he would see the recession that so many others are feeling if he would only open his eyes. While Mr. Bernanke and others are waiting for the official diagnosis (a decline in the gross domestic product for two successive quarters), the disease is spreading and has been spreading for some time.

The evidence is all around us. Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland told Mr. Bernanke that many members of Congress are holding forums in their districts “to help people who are coming to our doors, literally with tears in their eyes, and trying to figure out how they’re going to manage a foreclosure that’s right around the corner.”

The housing meltdown is getting the attention, but there’s so much more. Bankruptcies and homelessness are on the rise. The job market has been weak for years. The auto industry is in trouble. The cost of food, gasoline and home heating oil are soaring at a time when millions of Americans are managing to make it from one month to another solely by the grace of their credit cards.

The country has been in denial for years about the economic reality facing American families. That grim reality has been masked by the flimflammery of official statistics (job growth good, inflation low) and the muscular magic of the American way of debt: mortgages on top of mortgages, pyramiding student loans and an opiatelike addiction to credit cards at rates that used to get people locked up for loan-sharking.

The big story out of Mr. Bernanke’s appearance before the Joint Economic Committee was his prediction that the economy was likely to worsen. Only the people still trapped in denial could have believed otherwise.

This is what Representative Maurice Hinchey of upstate New York told the chairman:

“This economy is not doing well. And the example of the mortgage closures on 2 million people — and maybe a lot more than that as time goes on — is really not the cause of the economic problem we’re facing, but it’s just a factor of it. It’s a factor of the weakness of this economy.”

In an interview after the hearing, Representative Hinchey discussed the disconnect between official government reports and the reality facing working families. He noted that the unemployment rate does not include workers who have become so discouraged that they’ve given up looking for a job.

And the most popular measure of inflation, the Consumer Price Index, does not include the cost of energy or food, “the two most significant aspects of the increased cost of living for the American people.”

The elite honchos in Washington and their courtiers in the news media are all but completely out of touch with the daily struggle of working families. Thirty-seven million Americans live in poverty and close to 60 million others are just a notch above the official poverty line.

An illness, an auto accident, the loss of a job — almost anything can knock them off their rickety economic perch.

We hear over and over that consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the gross domestic product, but we seldom hear about the frightening number of Americans who are trying desperately to maintain a working-class or middle-class style of life while descending into a sinkhole of debt.

“We have an economy that is based on increased debt,” said Mr. Hinchey. “The national debt is now slightly above $9 trillion, and ordinary working people are finding that they have to borrow more and more to maintain their standard of living."

“The average now is that people are spending close to 10 percent more than they earn every month. Obviously, that can’t be sustained.”

The chickens of our denial are coming home to roost with a vengeance. Meanwhile, the elites are scouring the landscape for signs of a recession.
And Gail Collins was also "on the money" in the Times today concerning Rudy! and Bernie Kerik, among others (here).

Keep Digging, Jay

Brian Scheid of the Bucks County Courier Times provides a bit of analysis today concerning the election last Tuesday in which Jim Cawley was returned to office as a Bucks County Commissioner along with his partner Charley ("I Have A Semi-Open Mind") Martin over Steve Santarsiero (and kudos to Scheid for leading off his column with a reference to "The Simpsons" by the way).

I think it's pretty safe to say that the degree to which we were snookered here is beginning to sink in, by the way, based on this...

While it would be impossible to determine if Bucks residents who voted for Russell would have voted for a Democrat instead if Russell weren't on the ballot, John Cordisco, chairman of the Bucks County Democratic Committee, said it “clearly impacted us.”

Cordisco said votes for Russell, a Northampton wholesale gardener who campaigned on a motorcycle with a bare-bones budget, might have been “anti-incumbent” votes that might otherwise have gone toward the Democratic candidates, who were both neophytes to county politics.
I supposed Scheid is right about that regarding Steve and Diane (possibly meaning that they didn't know how scummy Cawley would get with his tactic of using Jay Russell as a decoy?), but I don't know what that has to do with anything exactly.

And as for Russell himself...

Russell, who ran as a Constitution Party candidate and who scored from five to 819 votes in every Bucks municipality, laughed off claims that he was a spoiler in Tuesday's election. Russell said his supporters were neither Democrats nor Republicans and might not have even voted in the commissioners race if he were not on the ballot.
If they would not have even bothered to vote without Russell on the ballot, then they're as dumb as he is.

This, however, shoots a hole in Russell's supposed argument...

About 15 percent of Bucks voters are registered as independents or members of a third party, including Green and Libertarian party members. However, only 56 voters in Bucks are officially registered as members of the Constitution Party (Russell ran supposedly representing this party), which has a Bible-based platform and supports candidates who “uphold the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States,” according to its Web site.

That means that less than 1 percent of the 5,792 voters who cast ballots for Russell could have been official members of his political party.
An excellent analysis by Scheid; I'm glad the paper gives him this column on Saturdays (nothing against Kate Fratti or the mysteriously-much-improved J.D. Mullane, but Scheid is a reporter as opposed to a pundit type, and it shows).

And by the way, speaking of "not even bothering to vote," an editorial in the paper today tells us that the Bucks County turnout on Tuesday at the polls constituted approximately 24 percent of eligible county voters.

Therefore, any members of the remaining 76 percent who have a problem with Cawley and Martin (or even Diane Marseglia) have automatically forfeited their right to bitch about anything.

Maybe Not Naked, But Now Really Dead

R.I.P. Norman Mailer, 1923-2007

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday Videos

Happy belated birthday to Porl Thompson of The Cure ("From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea" recorded in Miami; quality isn't as good as I'd like, but it was the best combination of song and video for this particular tune that I could get)...

...Happy belated birthday to Bryan Adams ("Heaven," with not a lot going on for an '80s song, which makes it pretty normal actually - no women's legs with stockings that look like piano keys, rain-soaked streets with neon lights populated with Eurotrash, and nobody's morphing into mythical animals either; Adams always was pretty peppy and upbeat when he would appear on "Letterman," which seemed like every other week during the period when this song came out, and I don't know if the girl is Rosanna Arquette or not)...

...Happy Birthday coming up on Sunday to Chris Dreja of The Yardbirds (a nice little fan video by YouTuber John Galt of "For Your Love")...

...and to switch things up a bit, here's a homemade video from YouTuber SCNRRR for Linkin Park's "Shadow Of The Day" (I don't completely get all of the images, but I definitely share the band's message for the Marines in attendance at the very end and wish to extend it as well in light of Veterans Day this Sunday).

Thanking LBJ For The CPB

Wednesday November 7th marked the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Public Broadcasting Act by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967, which created the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and I wanted to note that briefly here.

This Washington Post column tells us about how the happily-now-departed 109th Congress tried to end funding for the CPB within two years in 2005 and the resistance it met when trying to do so, and this site from Media Matters for America provides some nested links to more instances of conservative misinformation regarding the CPB’s Public Broadcasting System (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR).

President Johnson provided a vital tool to ensure the free flow of information that we need to think and act responsibly, and to show our gratitude, we must protect it always from Kenneth Tomlinson and any other self-styled potentate who would destroy it.

Toy Threats Ig(Nord) By Dubya's CPSC

I’ve been meaning to get to this topic all week, and that would pertain to this editorial in last Sunday’s New York Times (echoed in the Courier Times this morning) which rightly chastised Nancy Nord, the acting head of the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

In typical Bushco fashion, this is why…

(Nord)…joined industry lobbyists in opposing a Senate bill intended to strengthen her enfeebled agency. That was followed by the revelation that Ms. Nord and her predecessor took free trips from the toy industry.

Ms. Nord, who is supposed to be the consumers’ advocate, has more often echoed the views of manufacturers’ lobbyists. She has argued that voluntary compliance by business is the only way to promote safety when an agency as small as hers is charged with overseeing more than 15,000 products. She is right that self-policing by industry is crucial, but her agency lacks adequate resources: it has just one full-time toy tester. Remarkably, she has been resisting calls for it to get those resources.
And this isn't the first time we've had problems with toys from China under Nord, as noted here.

John Edwards, among others, has call for either the resignation or firing of this hopelessly compromised individual (the fact that “acting” precedes her title is a clue – Edwards has also called for a ban of lead in all children’s toys).

Nord should already be gone, as I noted here in a prior post where she blew off a congressional subcommittee – better to have the post vacant than represented by someone whose actions constitute a threat to our kids (particularly talking about the Aqua Dots recall here, which unfortunately didn’t come soon enough for a child named Rylie Batcheller, as the story tells us; also, this tells us that the toy contains a chemical that when it breaks down, acts in a manner similar to the “date rape” drug 1-4, Butanediol – charming).

My opinion on Nord puts me in opposition to the Times, by the way – they believe Nord is better than nothing, but I don’t.

Also on the subject of toys from China, Joe Biden apparently said in the recent Democratic debate in Philadelphia that he would ban all Chinese imports (can't find a link yet, but the Courier Times noted it in their editorial today).

That’s an admirable sentiment, but the problem is that China is holding so much of our debt that, if they decided to liquidate it, our economy would collapse faster than a house made out of Lincoln Logs.

Update 11/14/07: This takes you a petition to clean up the CPSC, courtesy of David Sirota.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (11/09/07)

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.


Jobs lost to trade: In a 264-157 vote, the House sent the Senate a bill expanding Trade Adjustment Assistance and extending the program to include workers in service industries and some government employees. Established in 1962, TAA provides cash assistance, job training, education, and continued health insurance to persons who lose their jobs as a result of global trade. The bill would renew the program for five years at a projected cost of $8.6 billion.

A yes vote was to pass the bill (HR 3920).

Voting yes: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.) Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), H. James Saxton (R., N.J.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Voting no: Michael N. Castle (R., Del.) and Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.).
I’m going to do something a bit different here; what I usually try to do is find out background information from the govtrack or Thomas sites about the bill in question, but as I searched for more info on this, I came across this link from the Republican Policy Committee which contained the following particularly outrageous lie…

Despite rhetoric and gut reactions, there are relatively few workers that lose their jobs because of trade.
Read this, Repugs: since when does 1.8 million workers constitute “relatively few” (and by the way, speaking of labor issues, I plan to ignore posting on the Hollywood writers WGA strike since that apparently is being covered so well elsewhere).

Also, allow me to bid adios to Jim Saxton (here); I guess he got tired of voting against SCHIP (are you getting the message here, Pancake Joe, especially since you went back on a term limits pledge yourself?).


Children's health insurance: The Senate voted, 64-30, to send President Bush a new version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) bill that he vetoed Oct. 3. The measure limits SCHIP enrollment to families earning up to three times the poverty level, or nearly $62,000 for a family of four. The bill renews SCHIP for five years at a cost of $60 billion, up $35 billion from current levels, and covers the added cost by raising federal tobacco taxes from 39 cents per cigarette pack to $1 per pack.

SCHIP is a federally funded, state-run discretionary spending program designed mainly for children from families that are not poor enough to receive Medicaid but unable to afford private health insurance.

All Philadelphia-area senators voted in favor of the bill (HR 3963).
How commendable of them to do something so obvious that 30 miscreants in that elected body refused to do (and which awaits the inevitable veto from President Brainless).

Amtrak revival budget: The Senate authorized, 70-22, an $11.4 billion six-year budget for Amtrak, nearly 50 percent over current spending for the rail passenger agency. The bill authorizes $10 billion for operating subsidies, capital improvements and debt retirement, and $1.4 billion in matching grants to help states provide intercity service. Now awaiting House action, the bill requires Amtrak to reduce its losses by 40 percent but repeals a 1997 mandate for eventual profitability. Established in 1971, Amtrak has routes that connect 500 communities in 46 states. The agency's taxpayer subsidy for 2008 is projected at $1.4 billion.

All Philadelphia-area senators voted in favor of the bill (S 294) except Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.), who did not vote.
This week, the House debated free trade with Peru (passed, unfortunately; this week’s Democratic cave-in) and bills to bolster homeowners' insurance against natural disasters and a temporary easing of the Alternative Minimum Tax. The Senate took up new farm programs and ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty (more on that here).

Update: Regarding the Peru deal, all I can say is "Go, John, Go!" (here).

So What's It Gonna Be, Mikey?

This story from today’s Bucks County Courier Times tells us that our former U.S. House 8th PA district congress- man Mike Fitzpatrick helped the Boy Scouts launch their 20th annual “Scouting For Food” drive yesterday, which is commendable all around.

The story also tells us that the breakfast was held to honor food drive chairman and returning Bucks County Commissioner Jim Cawley (no word on whether any other nominees were in the running or if the award was garnered by votes provided in part by Jay Russell).

And “the man of the hour” offered these inspirational words also…

“When you think about it, there is no greater need of a human being than to eat,” Cawley said during remarks at the breakfast.
How very true, and I was pondering that same thought myself when I was voting for Steve Santarsiero, Diane Marseglia and other Dem candidates (and selecting yes in response to the Open Space question) on Tuesday and pressing the touch screen buttons that appeared to malfunction at first since they didn’t light up right away (the “gift that keeps on giving” from Cawley and Charley “I Have A Semi-Open Mind” Martin).

But getting back to the master of ceremonies for a minute, I seem to recall that Mikey told us that he’d decide whether or not he would challenge Patrick Murphy for his old seat after the election.

Well, Cawley and Martin are back in, sadly, joined by Diane replacing Sandra Martin. So..??

And this Intelligencer story tells us…

Republicans are also considering a handful of other candidates to run against Murphy, including Thomas Manion, whose son Marine 1st Lt. Travis Manion was killed in Iraq in late April; state Rep. Bernie O'Neill, R-29, a former special education teacher from Warminster; Dave Denoon, a college professor from Buckingham; and state Rep. Scott Petri, R-178.
I’ve also seen the name of PA State Rep. Gene DiGirolamo here, which would affect Patrick’s support in the Philadelphia section of PA-08 somewhat, though I can’t imagine how DiGirolamo would mean much for the overwhelming Bucks portion of the district (stranger things have happened, though).

But ultimately, the call of whether or not to run again is up to Mikey. And the clock continues to tick.

And by the way, concerning Bucks County, it looks like the VA cemetery is moving closer to realization based on the good news here (DOJ approval in Washington is all that is needed before the VA takes title on the property), but as Patrick alludes to in the story, I’ll feel better when that idiotic lawsuit related to the Federal Cemetery Overlay ordinance that’s still pending is thrown out.

BoBo, Reagan And Race (updates...)

I know I covered some of this yesterday already in the Giuliani/Robertson post and I apologize for the repetition, but David Brooks of the New York Times decided to craft more propaganda today that requires a response.

Brooks is arguing here that The Sainted Ronnie R has been painted unfairly by we godless liberal blogger types as someone who just apparently happened to kick start his 1980 campaign for president in Philadelphia, Mississippi (where three civil rights workers were murdered) as if by accident; Brooks argues, in fact, that Reagan really went there to speak at the Neshoba County Fair…

…Mississippi was a state that Republican strategists hoped to pick up. They’d recently done well in the upper South, but they still lagged in the Deep South, where racial tensions had been strongest. Jimmy Carter had carried Mississippi in 1976 by 14,000 votes.
Funny how Brooks fails to mention here that Carter ran against incumbent Republican President Gerald Ford from Michigan, as well as the fact that Ford was definitely not a “movement” conservative like Ronnie Baby (who ran against Ford for the nomination in 1976 and, by thusly splitting the Repugs, ended up helping Carter win).

So the decision was made to go to Neshoba. Exactly who made the decision is unclear. The campaign was famously disorganized, and (Reagan biographer Lou) Cannon reported: “The Reagan campaign’s hand had been forced to some degree by local announcement that he would go to the fair.” Reagan’s pollster Richard Wirthlin urged him not to go, but Reagan angrily countered that once the commitment had been made, he couldn’t back out.
Oh, so the campaign was “famously disorganized,” huh? That was the reason why Reagan committed such a gaffe here. I see now…

(In Reagan’s speech at the fair he) told several jokes, and remarked: “I know speaking to this crowd, I’m speaking to a crowd that’s 90 percent Democrat.”
How funny is it that BoBo fails to point out that “Democrat,” in this context, is more freeper code, as well as the evergreen “states rights” of course…

You can look back on this history in many ways. It’s callous, at least, to use the phrase “states’ rights” in any context in Philadelphia. Reagan could have done something wonderful if he’d mentioned civil rights at the fair. He didn’t. And it’s obviously true that race played a role in the G.O.P.’s ascent.
OK, enough of this nonsense.

Here is a link to a column by Jack White of Time Magazine from December of 2002 in which he points out, among other things, that Reagan decided to begin his campaign in Philadelphia, MI at the urging of a then-young congressman from that state named Trent Lott. White also tells us that, when it comes to milking white anger and racial hostility…

The same could be said, of course, about such Republican heroes as Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon or George Bush the elder, all of whom used coded racial messages to lure disaffected blue collar and Southern white voters away from the Democrats. Yet it's with Reagan, who set a standard for exploiting white anger and resentment rarely seen since George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door, that the Republican's selective memory about its race-baiting habit really stands out.
And what’s interesting to me about White is that he is apparently sympathetic to Repugs, but said this anyway (based on the last paragraph of his column where he cites Dubya’s “commendable and long overdue campaign to persuade more African-Americans to defect from the Democrats to the Republicans”…way too damn funny).

This is typical for Brooks of course; trying to invent a false mythology of one type or another that favors his point of view is what he does for a living (as Glenn Greenwald notes here).

Update 1: And by the way, speaking of Wallace...

Update 2: Hat tip to Big Tent Democrat for this, as well as The Daily Kos - I forgot about the whole "welfare queen" thing.

Update 3 11/10: A little repetition here, but many good points also.

Update 4 11/11: I realize it would have been impolite for Krugman to call out Brooks by name, so incisive, almost-surgical sarcasm suffices here instead (h/t Atrios).

Update 5 11/12: Game, set and match to Bob Herbert for this.

Update 6 11/18: First of all, Cannon, nobody is saying that Reagan was a racist himself, and second, I don't give a flying you-know-what about what he said or did as a baseball announcer in 1931 - otherwise, I don't see you bothering to refute much of anything pointed out by Herbert or Krugman here. And I could probably say more about your utterly disingenuous column, but I'll leave it at that.

Take The Hint, Ralph

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports today that Ralph Nader, in a further effort to avoid paying an $81,000 judgment for court costs as a result of a successful challenge to his 2004 nominating petitions to get onto the presidential ballot in Pennsylvania, is crying about the fact that the law firm that filed the challenge should have revealed its ties to three Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices who ruled against him.

The Inquirer story tells us that, while Nader’s case was pending, the Reed Smith law firm (which represented the party challenging Nader) also represented Chief Justice Ralph J. Cappy (one of the three judges hearing Nader’s case) in a complaint that was dismissed.

As the story also tells us…

Nader further contended that the law firm also should have disclosed it had contributed $5,000 to the 2005 retention campaign of then-Justice Sandra Schultz Newman, and that Justice Ronald Castille had once worked for the firm and had an "open-ended offer of employment" there.

"Reed Smith's negligent or intentional concealment of these ties is misconduct that constitutes a fraud upon the court," lawyer Oliver B. Hall and three other lawyers contended in court documents.

Daniel I. Booker, an attorney at Reed Smith, said the law firm's representation of the chief justice had been widely reported and was well-known - and the law firm's political contributions were publicly filed. And Justice Castille did work for the firm, he said, "but all that was before he was ever on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania."

Castille said through a court spokesman yesterday that he "severed all ties with Reed Smith as of 1993. There is absolutely no 'open-ended offer of employment.' "

Cappy declined to comment, saying it would be inappropriate to do so while the matter is in litigation in another court. Newman, a former justice who has returned to the practice of the law, also declined to comment.
It just keeps getting more and more pathetic with Ralph, you know? And somehow I don’t think this is a situation where the loss of $81K would suddenly put Ralph in the poor house.

This Wikipedia article provides more background on Nader’s troubles in Pennsylvania in 2004…

…Although his campaign claimed to have turned in over 50,000 signatures by the August (2004) deadline, the Democratic Party launched legal challenges. A series of Commonwealth Court decisions in the fall of 2004 came to a final conclusion on September 2, 2004. On that day, the state's highest Court ruled that Nader could not appear on Pennsylvania's ballot as an Independent candidate, as he was seeking the Reform Party's nomination elsewhere.[23] When the Nader campaign moved to block the examination of its signatures, Pennsylvania Judge James Garner Collins rejected it, declaring that the campaign's plea "tortured the law."[24] Pennsylvania brought the Nader campaign another black eye: Nader was sued by a lawyer representing homeless people in the state who claimed that they had been hired to gather signatures, but not paid for their efforts.[25]
Also, here is a commentary on the Pennsylvania case written by an attorney who has represented Nader; even though it is sympathetic to Ralph, I should point out the following…

Even assuming fraud among some supporters, it must be remembered that the Nader campaign itself was found guilty of no wrongdoing. Political sabotage likely played a large part in Nader’s unfolding drama. (Who do you think signed names like “Fred Flintstone” and “Mickey Mouse”?) (to the petitions)
Yeah, yeah, political sabotage; it wasn’t Ralph’s fault at all. Not the fact that Nader’s whole venture was a cartoon of sorts anyway. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Oh, and did I mention that, according to Wikipedia, Nader also had ballot problems in Florida and Hawaii in 2004?

So now, in true deadbeat fashion, Ralph is screaming about alleged favoritism among Pennsylvania’s judges and lawyers to create a smokescreen (as if the issue of judicial elections versus appointments, valid though that is, is really at the heart of Nader’s case).

And this egomaniac is threatening to pull these shenanigans again next year.

Hello, corporate media; anybody else out there paying attention?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Thursday Videos

Nada Surf ("Always Love"; easier said than done, but they're right)...

...and Happy Birthday to Roy Wood, a founding member of the Electric Light Orchestra ("10538 Overture," with Jeff Lynne on lead vocals of course - this is loud).

Zeroing In On "Deadeye Dick"

Meteor Blades at The Daily Kos tells us here that Dem U.S. House Rep and Judiciary Committee member Robert Wexler is trying to move forward with impeachment hearings for Dick Cheney. The linked post contains phone numbers and other contact information for committee members.

(I have other issues with Dennis Kucinich, but I give him credit for keeping up the fight on this.)

And as if we need any more reason than that to contact the committee, I would ask that you watch this video.

Click here for more information.

“Banking” On More Misery

This story (borrowed from the New York Times last Sunday), noted that U.S. sanctions against Iran have forced the World Bank “to suspend payments for earthquake relief, sanitation and other projects there in response to new American sanctions on leading Iranian banks, World Bank officials say.”

I’ve never seen any evidence that sanctions ever accomplish their intended purpose, which is to punish a regime or individual acting against our interests, and I don’t mean here to initiate a debate on how wrong headed those interests often are.

And besides, the story notes the following…

The (U.N.) Security Council has adopted two resolutions, one last year and another this year, calling on a freeze of assets in Iran deemed to be linked to its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The aim of the resolutions is to get Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment activities, which Western experts say are part of a secret program to make a nuclear bomb.

Only one Iranian bank, Bank Sepah, has been identified by the Security Council as involved in nuclear and ballistic missile programs. According to information circulating among members of the Security Council, the bank has all but ceased to function.

Bank Saderat, Bank Melli and Bank Mellat have been listed only by the United States. But Western diplomats, citing official information circulating in Europe and the United States, say that most major banks in Europe have ceased working or are winding down their business with them.

In addition, the diplomats said the Dutch, French, Italian and German governments had begun reducing their state credits promoting trade with Iran. The Bush administration, however, is pressing them to do more.
As I read this, I wondered why we couldn’t allow other countries to scale back their business with the affected Iranian banks without implementing sanctions against the banks, even when it looks like the Dutch, French, Italian and German governments are acting independent of us anyway. This way, we could still allow funds into Iran for humanitarian projects.

But more fool me I guess to think that Bushco will ever learn that, by trying to squash a people into the dust by cutting off the means for their recovery, the only thing they’ll end up doing is planting the seeds of more terrorism.

Bombs and sophisticated weaponry are ultimately useless when those are the only means at your disposal while trying to defeat an idea (my “deep thought” for the day).

Exhibit A For "More And Better Democrats"

So Sarko flies over to D.C. from France and wows everyone with a speech according to this New York Times story, full of wonderful words and images that represent absolutely nothing that will address any of the urgent issues facing our countries and the rest of the world.

And as you might imagine, Republicans were positively orgiastic in their praise (and I could point out that, in terms of actual substance, I don’t see a heck of a lot separating Sarko from that stiff Jacques Chirac, but then again, there I go being a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger again).

(Also, I could go off over Dubya’s utterly delusional claim that Iraq is “a struggling democracy” and having no issue at all with Sarko going to Syria to talk peace while our own politicians who do so are demonized from here into next week, but I’ll save that for perhaps another day.)

And what does “the opposition party” to the Repugs have to say, in the person of U.S. House Rep Tom Lantos? Well, concerning the speech…

“President Sarkozy has hit a home run out of the ballpark,” said Representative Tom Lantos, the California Democrat who is chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. “I expect a spectacular renaissance in French-American relations.”

Mr. Lantos added that France was proven right in its refusal to back the war in Iraq.

“In view of everything we know now — the flawed intelligence, the miserable execution of the post-military phase — the French certainly were right,” Mr. Lantos said.
Uh, yeah Tom, your point is made. However, there are a couple of issues to be addressed, and one of them is noted here…

By September, 2002, Lantos had shown himself to be a supporter of the White House position on the war. On October 4, 2002, Mr. Lantos led a narrow majority of Democrats on the House International Relations Committee to a successful vote in support of the President's path toward war, seeking the approval of the United Nations, but allowing the President to strike out on his own if necessary. "The train is now on its way," said Mr. Lantos after his — and the President's — victory.[13] In later hearings on the war, Mr. Lantos continued his enthusiastic support. At one point he was confronted by witnesses who questioned the likelihood of enthusiastic Baghdadis welcoming the invading Americans; Mr. Lantos called this a kind of racism, to suggest the Iraqis might be so ungrateful.
Wow (and of course, the Wikipedia article states that Lantos has subsequently “distanced himself from the Bush Administration's Iraq policy”).

And the other issue, of course, is wondering what the hell this kind of message sends to our troops in Iraq; opposing the war after supporting it at first is one thing, but cheering on a leader of a country who refuses to send over any portion of its armed forces to assist us is something completely different.

But I guess Lantos felt that he had to leap at this opportunity to suck up to a European head of a country, seeing as how he acted like such an utter buffoon in front of Dutch lawmakers recently.

And as we know, Lantos, along with fellow Dem Rep Ike Skelton, utterly caved in on during the “General Betray Us” fiasco, when, as I’ve said before, it’s likely that the Dems would not be enjoying their Congressional leadership without that group’s assistance.

I know his background and sense of history is otherwise admirable, but if Lantos is going to conduct himself in a matter so utterly oblivious to reality, then he should either join the Republican Party (where he would fit in seamlessly) or announce that he will not run for another term (maybe resigning altogether is something for him to consider as well).

Update: OK, I’ll give Lantos this one anyway, but what else can you expect when doing business with a totalitarian regime?.

Update 2 11/20/07: Please let this be so.

CNN Forgot The Other “R”

I didn’t say much on the preposterous fraud of Pat Robertson’s endorsement of Rudy Giuliani for the Repug presidential nomination yesterday, but only noted that Mike Huckabee voiced his indignation over the snub (which quite likely means the end of his marginal candidacy).

However, in this Paul Krugman blog post, Tom Edsall tells us how Rudy! is modifying his campaign somewhat to pander to Robertson’s crowd even more slavishly than before (and this excerpt tells us how “America’s Mayor” had the “cred” on this issue that right-winger racists are looking for…

Giuliani’s eight years as New York’s chief executive exemplified a Northern adaptation of the GOP’s politically successful “Southern strategy” - the strategy playing on white resistance to and resentment of federal legislation passed in the 1960s mandating desegregation - resistance that produced a realignment in the South and fractured the Democratic loyalties of white working class voters in the urban North from 1968 to 2004.

“Race is at the heart of Rudy’s story,” according to Wayne Barrett, one of Giuliani’s preeminent biographers.
Indeed it is, as noted in this review by Kenneth Turan of the documentary “Giuliani Time” in June 2006…

"He was a one-trick magician, and that was crime," says Ruth Messinger, one of his unsuccessful opponents. Yet for all the talk that he was a mayor who "brought joy, safety and greatness back to New York City," "Giuliani Time" claims the mythology doesn't always stand up to scrutiny.

For one thing, statistics indicate crime in the city began to decline before Giuliani's election. For another, the policemen who made that decline possible were hired when (David) Dinkins was mayor. Finally, there is no consensus that the celebrated "broken windows" school of policing that emphasized dealing with minor infractions such as vandalism really was a factor in suppressing major crime rates.

What New York's aggressive "We Own the Night" policing policy did do was create fertile ground for several scandals involving overzealous officers. This included pumping 41 bullets into an unarmed man named Amadou Diallo and beating and sodomizing a man in custody, Abner Louima.

The mayor's other controversial programs including forcing people off welfare, which critics said created no real jobs and merely enlarged the underground economy, and a hostility to 1st Amendment rights that led to courts ruling against the Giuliani administration in 22 of 26 cases.

More than this, Giuliani consistently fell out of favor with people who had once been closely allied to him. Former New York (and now Los Angeles) Police Chief William J. Bratton says Giuliani "rules by intimidation and fear," and former city schools chancellor Rudy Crew says, "there's something very deeply pathological about Rudy's humanity. He was barren, completely emotionally barren on the issue of race."
And as noted here, this is in keeping with Repug party doctrine, preached to all by The Sainted Ronnie R, of course, with the first stop of his 1980 campaign for president in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964.

And once Ronnie was elected (here)…

The IRS sought to revoke the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University in 1975 because the school's regulations forbade interracial dating; African Americans, in fact, had been denied admission altogether until 1971, and it took another four years before unmarried African Americans were allowed to enroll. The university filed suit to retain its tax-exempt status, although that suit would not reach the Supreme Court until 1983 (at which time, the Reagan administration argued in favor of Bob Jones University).
So it’s not surprising that racism turns out in the end to be “the tie that binds” between Robertson (who has of course traveled in Repug-friendly circles forever) and Giuliani.

And by the way, Bernie “The Gift That Keeps On Giving” Kerik never seems to go away any more, does he Rudy?

Update: And speaking of Ronnie Baby, in introducing this story via the Daily Kos, SusanG tells us trenchantly that "the cult of individualization, minimal regulation and oversight, and some creative privatization by an employee takes a bite back at the Reagan Library as 80,000 items go missing."

Today’s Inky Post-Election Screwup

Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Thomas Fitzgerald tells us the following today concerning the Bucks County Commissioners elections between returned incumbents Jim Cawley and Charley (“I Have A Semi-Open Mind”) Martin and Dem challengers Steve Santarsiero and new commissioner Diane Marseglia (oh, sorry…forgot to mention Repug decoy candidate Jay Russell)…

Toward the end of the race, the Democrats came out against a $140 million proposal for a new courthouse as too expensive, though they had been in favor of it.
And of course, based on the way that’s written, Fitzgerald’s piece can then easily transition to a strategically placed quote from Repug spokesman Mike Walsh alleging an imaginary “trust issue” here.

Well, that’s an interesting bit of fiction, isn’t it? Now, for the reality.

In this column by Intelligencer reporter Jenna Portnoy, about the non-issue YouTube video alleging that Steve and Diane would be beholden to to the supposedly dreaded unions and their project labor agreements (please)…

…(Steve and Diane) have pushed for a “scaled-down” building. For the first time Tuesday, however, Democrats said the building project may be completely unnecessary, but would not immediately explain their reasoning. “We need to revisit the issue,” Marseglia said.
In Portnoy’s article, please tell me where it states that Steve and Diane agreed with Cawley and Martin from day one on the cost and scope of the courthouse, OK?

And by the way, today marks the debut of Little Ricky (“Eye Of Mordor On Iraq”) Santorum's column which, like Smerky’s bow last February, is basically about nothing but “oh, I’m such a conservative, and look at the liberal Inquirer granting me space in their paper, ha, ha, ha…” and "they used to call me names, and now I have a column, nyah, nyaahh!"

I am soooo glad we no longer subscribe to that yellow rag any more.

Standing With Chris Dodd Against FISA

Sorry I forgot to add this last night, and I know others have posted on this already, but here's AT&T technician Mark Klein opposing immunity to the telecomm companies (please watch this video and then contact the Senate Judiciary Committee to voice your opposition to immunity).

Update: What Kagro X sez...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Wednesday Videos

Puddle Of Mudd ("She F*cking Hates Me"; yes, I know that bad word gets repeated a few times, but you'll never rock out so much hearing so many others in their misery)...

...and Happy Birthday to Joni Mitchell (another great homemade video from YouTuber Novaultrano1 for "A Case Of You").

Fox And Mitch, Perfect Together

Faux TV doing what it does best (apologies, but it's appropriate to call out these cretins on this nonsense)...

...and speaking of cretins, Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao has a whole new batch of problems with the election of Kentucky governor Steve Beshear yesterday (don't let the door hit you on the way out, Ernie...guess that little illegal immigration gambit of yours didn't work out so well).

Still Getting Milked By Neil's COWs

The New York Times reported this morning that the inspector general of the Department of Education will take a look at whether or not federal money was “inappropriately used” to buy educational products from Ignite Learning of Austin, TX, a company owned by one Neil Bush (a prior post on this appears here – luckily our friend Ed Secretary Maggie Spellings won’t be in charge, or surely nothing would happen).

As the Times tells us…

Members of (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, D.C.) and other critics in Texas contend that school districts are buying Ignite’s signature product, the Curriculum on Wheels, because of political considerations. The product, they said, does not meet standards for financing under the No Child Left Behind Act, which allocates federal money to help students raise their achievement levels, particularly in elementary school reading.

Ignite, founded by Neil Bush in 1999, includes as investors his parents, former President George H. W. Bush and his wife, Barbara. Company officials say that about 100 school districts use the Curriculum on Wheels, known as the Cow, which is a portable classroom with software to teach middle-school social studies, science and math. The units cost about $3,800 each and require about $1,000 a year in maintenance.

The citizens’ group says it has documented only a small part of the federal money spent on Ignite products. Ignite has had strong support from districts in Texas, President Bush’s home state. This week, the Houston Independent School District is set to consider whether to authorize schools to spend an additional $300,000 from various financing sources on the Curriculum on Wheels.

Jay Spuck, a former curriculum director for the district, has criticized spending on the Ignite product, saying: “It’s not helping kids at all. It’s not helping teachers. The only way Neil has gotten in is by his name.”

Much of the product’s success in Texas dates from a March 2006 donation by Barbara Bush, who gave eight units to schools attended by large numbers of hurricane evacuees.
Gee, I wonder if the “the beautiful mind” decided to let poor kids left even more destitute by Katrina act as guinea pigs for Neil’s bogus product since they apparently had no other choice? I mean, maybe trying to figure out how to learn from Neil’s COWs “worked out (as) well for them” as the Louisiana Superdome “accommodations” for some of Katrina’s other victims.

But not to worry; Neil, being the global capitalist that he is, plans to expand Ignite into China this summer.

Better be careful, Neil. They don’t take too kindly to corporate malfeasance over there (here).

My Leading Economic Indicator

When supermodel Giselle Bundchen said that she wants to be paid in euros instead of dollars, that tells me that tremors through the NYSE can’t be far behind.

And sure enough…

Three Really Quick Hits

  • Wow, I actually agree with Mike Huckabee here (of course, not getting the nod from the on-high hypocrites Robertson and Weyrich probably dooms Huckabee…but did he really have a shot anyway?).

    When the announcement comes telling us that former governor “razor blades” is done, let’s see how many of his supporters sign up with “Paulmania.”

  • Faye Flam of the Inquirer tells us here that she’s “never seen anyone under 40” reading the paper (and I thought they were writing to that target audience also - see post for explanation:-).

    For that admirable bit of candor, I wish for nothing whatsoever to endanger her employment.

  • So, does this mean that Bill O’Reilly is planning to attack us (re: #4 here – tee hee; h/t Paul Krugman).
  • Flushing More Freeper Fiction

    (I was posting about food earlier, so I guess it makes sense in a way to post about one of its byproducts also.)

    Did you know that the World Toilet Summit was recently held in New Delhi, India, attended by representatives from 39 countries (though I don’t believe that the United States sent a representative; I can’t find that information anyway)?

    Well, it was, as it has been in a participating World Toilet Organization country every year since 2001 (44 countries are members, as noted here).

    And the World Toilet Summit was allegedly the topic of this Philadelphia Inquirer editorial by Claudia Rosett of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (and since we’re talking about the Inky, rest assured that this organization is a right-wing “think tank”; a prior Rosett column that assaulted common sense appears here).

    As Rosett tells us…

    If (the World Toilet Summit) sounds like a joke, sanitation is no laughing matter. According to U.N. estimates, 2.6 billion people worldwide lack access to hygienic toilets. The U.N.'s aim is to halve this number by the year 2015, as part of a broader agenda of halving poverty. By its own account, the United Nations has been falling behind in this goal. At least six major U.N. agencies have now been enlisted, and will seek more funding, to hurry up remedies to what one of them, UNICEF, is calling the "global sanitation crisis."
    It’s nice that Rosett identifies the number of people lacking access to hygienic toilets, but please take note of how she demeans the importance by stating vaguely that it is “part of a broader agenda of halving poverty” before he quickly launches into another freeper attack on the U.N. (and putting the phrase “global sanitation crisis” in quotes the way she does diminishes the true threat).

    This should tell us the extent of the problem (not that we would hear this from Rosett, of course)…

    The United Nations claim that more than 5 million children die every year from sanitation related diseases such as diarrhea. More than a billion people without sanitary facilities relieve themselves on streets and in rivers, heavily polluting the water. The most important source of water contamination in developing countries is due to the lack of adequate sanitation facilities. Although public toilets are available in most countries, most of them are poorly maintained.
    Also, Rosett uses the story of the latest World Toilet Summit to launch into a tale of how Taiwan was thrown out of the United Nations in 1971 (as if departing from that body led to better toilets, among other benefits). Perhaps, but if so, why does Taiwan continue to participate in the WTO (they hosted the 2003 summit in Taipei)?

    And on top of that, we receive this mystifying analysis from Rosett…

    For those individuals privileged to be flown to U.N. conferences and to sit in U.N. assembly halls, the Year of Sanitation represents yet another potential pot of funding. From it will flow employment, consultancies and per diems for people who already have toilets. It dignifies the fiction that regimes such as those of China, Belarus and Zimbabwe are dedicated to serving their people.

    To get a better idea of what went on at this year’s World Toilet Summit, feel free to access the information from this link; somehow I think the summits have and will accomplish more good than Rosett will ever admit.

    Only our own immaturity about this subject gives us the illusion that we can poke fun at others because of an amenity that we take for granted. When all is said and done, this is a public health issue first and foremost, not an easy target for a cheap conservative laugh.

    Thanksgiving "Charity" From "Blow 'Em Up" Bolton

    The New York Times Magazine’s Deborah Solomon conducted an interview with former U.N. antagonist and neocon maniac representative John Bolton last Sunday (based on the article from here, though, I have to wonder about the timing of the questions and the manner in which the interview was edited). And if you guessed that the interview was timed to coincide with the release of Bolton’s new book, then you win a commemorate model of the U.N. building with the top 10 stories missing.

    There is so much in this garbage that could be refuted by the answers that we all know so well, but I want to take note of one item in particular…

    Your book includes a personal anecdote about a turkey you returned to a supermarket, right before you went back to Florida as one of the lawyers for the Bush team after the election in 2000. It was Thanksgiving Day. My wife and daughter wanted a Thanksgiving dinner, and they didn’t want to eat the turkey because God knows when I was coming back from Florida. So I went back to the Safeway and exchanged it.

    Why didn’t you just give the turkey to someone? Well, who are we going to give it to? Here, you want a turkey?
    Yeah, something like that, you asshat.

    See, John, apparently some of you winger zealots and other self-styled “Christians” aren’t familiar with the whole “reaching out to those in need” thing (there’s this word called “donate,” see). Fortunately for you in this case, other people are.

    What could you have done? Well, you could have contacted a food service agency of some type online and found out contact information so you could have given the turkey to a family who needed it for the holiday. Either that, or you could have done the decent, honorable thing and at least, after returning the turkey, made a donation to a food service agency for the equivalent cash amount.

    In our area, here is a link to Philabundance and here is a link to the NJ Food Bank (here is a link to Bread For The World and here is a link to World Hunger Year). You could do some reading about this online, John, to get some ideas of where and how to donate.

    And I apologize for “contaminating” what passes for your thought processes by informing you of how real people live in the real world, as opposed to your comfortable Beltway confines. How silly of me not to realize that you enjoy bemoaning about imaginary problems as opposed to ever trying to solve real ones.

    Congrats to Matt and Diane (And A Reprimand)

    In Lower Makefield Township, Bucks County yesterday, Matt Maloney was elected to the Board of Supervisors while incumbent Republican Pete Stainthorpe also won another term. Grace Godshalk, the other incumbent Republican on the board, finished third, and Deb Wachspress finished fourth in close voting (I saw a reference to some problems with the Danaher touch screen voting machines approved by Martin and Cawley, pictured with Sandra Miller – gee, what a surprise – so I don’t know about formal concessions here, and I’ll try to find out more information).

    Had Steve Santarsiero been elected as a Bucks County Commissioner, Grace would have been retained to fill Steve’s vacancy. However, Diane Marseglia will replace Sandra Miller now as the sole Democrat on the board of commissioners.

    And with that in mind, I want to say a word about Jay Russell, the third-party candidate in the commissioner’s race who I pretty much ignored previously (more information is here).

    Simply put, I want to say “thanks” to Russell for doing his part to preserve the highly imperfect status quo among our commissioners.

    As this report in the Courier Times tells us, Russell captured 5,759 votes, and Steve finished fourth behind Charley (“I Have A Semi-Open Mind”) Martin by about 1,500 votes with all but three districts reporting by this morning (and you can do the math there as well as I can).

    So let’s take a bit of a closer look at Russell then, shall we (I’m not going to say he was the only factor in the outcome, but it’s silly to pretend that he wasn’t a factor at all).

    As reporter Jenna Portnoy’s article tells us, Russell has been running for office of one type or another for 15 years under a variety of parties (Republican, Libertarian, Reformist - ?? – and in the prior election, he ran under the Constitution Party, claiming an affiliation with Ron Paul). He also counts among his friends Bill (“I-Hate-Government-But-Vote-For-Me-When-I-Run-For-Office-Every-Two-Years”) O’Neill, which tells me that, like O’Neill, seeking employment in the public sector is nothing more than an exercise in vanity for him.

    Russell has an admirable background, serving our country and running working for his family’s retail and wholesale garden center. But if he’s been running for 15 years and hasn’t managed to secure any elected office whatsoever, I think it’s high time he realized that the voters of Bucks County are sending him a message.

    I also want to point out Russell’s supposed rationale for entering the county commissioner’s race…

    “It doesn't take a rocket scientist to [run for office],” he said. “That's what I'm here showing people. If I can do it, anyone can.
    I think we just identified the problem here.

    Yes, I know I’ve said in the past that county commissioners are good at bureaucratic exercises like shuffling paper, running meetings, and attending various kinds of ceremonial functions. However, I’ve never said that some basic managerial experience in the private or (preferably) public sector wasn’t required to serve in that kind of a job. And this is something that Russell clearly doesn’t have (apparently relishing that fact for some strange reason).

    I’ll be honest; I have a grudge against third-party candidates ever since the tragic events of November 2000. Maybe that’s not the right attitude, but I don’t care. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re a third-party candidate and you’re running in an election, you’d better have a damn good reason for being there as opposed to serving merely as a voice of protest. And Russell clearly falls into the latter category.

    So thanks, Jay, for helping to ensure four more years of closed government with Cawley and Martin, Repug patronage galore, the continued existence of the unreliable Danaher touch screen voting machines, the likely $80-$120 million boondoggle of the Doylestown county courthouse (Russell opposed it like the Dem candidates, and Cawley and Martin say now that they’ll scale that back, but let’s wait and see, OK?), bond issues into infinity to preserve open space, and legitimate voices of reform such as Steve Santarsiero relegated to stand on the sidelines in Lower Makefield as we’re all left to wonder what might have been.

    Update 1: Oh, and by the way, speaking of Ron Paul... (if he's going to raise big-time dough, then he should be held up to big-time scrutiny).

    Update 2 1/18/08: The Courier Times took Martin to task here for his remark about skateboarding being a "fad" in response to a request for a skate park in Bristol Township; Diane supports it, and it would be a hell of a lot cheaper than the golf course (another one??!!) Martin supports (and supporting the skate park means that there'd even be funds left over for the Red Cross Homeless Shelter).

    News For Philly Folk

    A benefit will be held at Finnigan's Wake at 3rd and Spring Garden streets in Philadelphia tonight to support the Philadelphia Police Survivors Benefit; cops in that city have been facing particularly lethal threats lately, including the recent slaying of Officer Chuck Cassidy.

    Radio Station WMMR will run the Beef and Beer from 6 to 9pm - $10 at the door includes buffet and drink specials. There will also be a raffle to win a ton of great prizes, with all proceeds going to the Benefit (more info here).

    Tuesday, November 06, 2007

    Tuesday Videos

    Incubus ("Stellar," live at Red Rock, with some of the Police thrown in a bit at the end)...

    ...Happy Birthday to jazz trumpet legend Arturo Sandoval ("Esse Toca Muito," I believe, with Dizzy Gillespie)...

    ...James Honeyman-Scott of the Pretenders would have been 51 on Sunday ("Stop Your Sobbing" by The Kinks; no word yet on how much of that I'll be doing tomorrow morning - generate positive vibes, Doomsy)...

    ...and Happy 61st Birthday to goddamn Sally Field (recalling this moment from the Emmys that almost nobody else saw, as well as more Faux TV hypocrisy).

    Some Lies Are Easy To Refute

    White House press mouthpiece Dana Perino, speaking here on behalf of President 24 Percent Mandate (or should we call him George W. Milhous Bush?)...

    "This Congress has not sent a single appropriations bill to the president’s desk this year – a new record of failure," Perino said.
    (And again, I would support Kucinich if he didn't expose himself as a total fraud for voting against SCHIP here.)

    This post from Kagro X at The Daily Kos tells us the reality.

    This is a recording.

    Update 11/13/07: As BarbinMD says here, "Another day, another veto."

    A Video (Or Two) For Voting Day

    (I have no idea whether or not I'll be posting today, by the way.)

    Did you know that Halloween was "a liberal holiday"? Well, it must be, since Sean Hannity says it is here...

    Well, then how come "Deadeye Dick" got into the spirit?

    And here's a timely video from Paul Hipp of HuffPo about something near and dear to the heart (literally, I hope) of soon-to-be-confirmed AG Michael Mukasey (heck of a job again, Chuck and Di).

    (By the way, sorry about the video links not working from time to time; I fixed the Edwards/Clinton one yesterday. I'll try to watch that.)

    Update: More evidence that the Repugs "get" Halloween after all; Myers is extremely unqualified for the position anyway (h/t The Daily Kos)...

    Monday, November 05, 2007

    Get Out The Vote Tomorrow, Bucks County Dems!

    Tomorrow is it for Steve Santarsiero and Diane Marseglia against Jim Cawley and Charley Martin in the election for Bucks County Commissioners; all of the blood, sweat and tears, as they say, comes down to one day on the calendar, so let's wrap this up the right way.

    And by the way, is it even worth pointing out that, on October 30th, the Inquirer endorsed Cawley and Martin? I mean, after all, these are the same geniuses who gave the nod to Mike Fitzpatrick last year along with Joe Pitts (ugh).

    Borrowing almost verbatim from the Guest Opinion in the Courier Times written by Cawley and Martin on the same day, the Inky endorsed the Repug incumbents because, under their watch, Bucks has earned its highest bond rating in 20 years and kept taxes comparatively low. However, as noted here, the county budget has risen $109.7 million since 2002, more than $47 million in the last two years (the linked post also describes the sordid dealings of Jim Cawley and Charles "I Have A Semi-Open Mind" Martin with George Komelasky of Paist and Noe of Richboro and County Solicitor Guy Matthews...this describes some of the "quid pro quo" antics of Cawley and Martin with the Langhorne law firm of Begley, Carlin & Mandio,).

    And as far as the bond rating goes, I guess that's partly because that's the only method by which Cawley and Martin know how to preserve open space. Well, suppose the county, for whatever reason, ends up defaulting on those bonds over time due to adverse economic conditions? In that sad event, that rating won't mean anything (yes, I know I'm a cynic - call me "Mr. Worst Case").

    But really, let's step back here and ask ourselves a question; are taxes and bond ratings the real reasons why people move to counties or municipalities?

    No (although nobody wants to pay high taxes, I'll admit, but it depends on what you get in return); I can tell you right now that the people I know look to move to certain areas because of the schools first and foremost and other quality of life issues. And the county schools are, in many areas, highly rated and the school taxes reflect that (again, if the money is being spent on teaching your kids, that makes a difference).

    And as I've said in the past, another big quality of life issue in Bucks is that of sprawl, and Cawley and Martin, though they've preserved 10,000 acres of open space over the last 10 years by floating bonds, have permitted development of 34,000 acres over the last six years (here). What kind of a tradeoff is that?

    Also, Cawley and Martin have done nothing but continually scoff at Steve and Diane for their efforts to combat sprawl and advocate for efficient land use by encouraging Bucks municipalities to come up with their own plans, to say nothing of the calls for more open government by Cawley and Martin's Democratic challengers (and remember, you two clowns, the "ic" is part of "Democratic" also). Part of that includes Steve and Diane’s call for a citizens board to review all county appointments and contract awards, as well as publishing county budgets online.

    And finally, as noted here by eRobin, we will be "blessed" with the fandango of dealing with the Danaher touch screen voting machines in Bucks for the foreseeable future because of Cawley and Martin's boneheaded refusal to purchase optical scanning machines with paper ballots to ensure voting accuracy.

    These are but a few of the reasons to elect Steve Santarsiero and Diane Marseglia as Bucks County Commissioners tomorrow.

    And by the way, don’t forget to vote for Matt Maloney and Deb Wachspress for Lower Makefield Township Supervisors also.

    More Repug SCHIP Whining

    Today’s New York Times contains a story by reporter Robert Pear alleging in its headline that “missteps on both sides” led to the latest SCHIP veto by President Brainless last week.

    This made me wonder what the Dems could have done wrong on SCHIP, as opposed to Dubya and his obstructionist Repug sycophants (as you read the story, it becomes crystal clear that they and no one else are responsible for the impasse).

    However, Pear does tell us the following…

    Democrats say that Mr. Bush described the bill in wildly inaccurate terms, got bad advice from his staff and missed many opportunities to find common ground. Republicans say that Democrats misjudged the president; excluded House Republicans, who in the end were crucial, from negotiations; and aimed negative advertisements at the very members whose votes they needed to override a veto.
    As for "misjudging the president"…

    Representative Michael R. Turner, an Ohio Republican who voted for the bill, said, “The administration did not come forward with any real offer of a solution or a compromise that would break the logjam.”
    (OK, and to be fair, he also accuses the Democrats of playing politics; I’ll concede that, though I don’t agree necessarily.)

    As for the argument that, somehow, the Democratic House leadership excluded House Republicans whose could have ended up voting for SCHIP instead of against it, this story tells you about the effort of Republican Sen. Charles Grassley to try and resolve this dispute between the two parties and the two bodies of Congress…

    Grassley’s decision to invite (House Repugs John) Boehner and (Roy) Blunt to a meeting on the SCHIP bill on Tuesday (10/30) represents an acknowledgment that House Republicans cannot be engaged if their leadership is not, Blunt’s spokeswoman said. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and committee members Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) also attended the meeting.

    Grassley’s move to reach out to the House GOP leadership at this point was influenced by (Dem Speaker Nancy) Pelosi’s insistence on not putting off last week’s vote, a Grassley spokeswoman noted. Grassley had no intention to exclude House Republican leadership from the process, and in fact kept open a line of communication with them, she added.

    “Sen. Grassley didn’t cut out House Republican leaders in the discussions leading to last week’s House vote,” she said. Grassley and Hatch met with Boehner and Blunt two days before the vote, she noted, and their aides met afterward.
    The excerpt above communicates the fact that the House Repugs have no grounds whatsoever to claim that they voted against SCHIP because the House Dems didn’t give them a chance. If they want to be mad at Pelosi for not putting off the vote (as if the Repugs didn’t do that and much worse when they held sway in the happily-now-long-gone 109th Congress), let them go ahead, but there was ample opportunity to address whatever issues they may have had, and I’m sure Baucus in particular would have found a way to persuade Pelosi to delay the vote if that were called for.

    And finally, the Repugs (and House Repug Thelma “There Was No Dialogue” Drake of Virginia in particular) claim that “the Democrats refused to delay the vote because they had already purchased ads to be used against us in our districts.”

    Gee, Thelma, maybe the reason they were running ads in your district as well as those of other Repug House members who opposed SCHIP is because you and the others CONSISTENTLY REFUSED TO BUDGE IN YOUR OPPOSITION TO THE BILL!!

    And I must tell you that it is truly hilarious to hear a Republican complain about getting pressured from an ad campaign orchestrated through the media and the Democratic Party when you consider one single word: Memogate (yes, I also get tired of the –gate suffix getting attached to any real or imagined political controversy having something to do with what goes on inside the Beltway; it will take a minute or two to make the connection here, by the way).

    As noted here, Memogate refers to the following (in a story written by Neil A. Lewis of the New York Times on March 5, 2004)…

    "For 18 months, at least two Republican Senate staff aides engaged in unauthorized and possibly illegal spying by reading Democratic strategy memorandums on a Senate computer system, according to a report released on Thursday by the Senate sergeant-at-arms.

    "The 65-page report concluded that the two Republican staff aides, both of whom have since departed, improperly read, downloaded and printed as many as 4,670 files concerning the Democrats' tactics in opposing many of President Bush's judicial nominees. The report, the result of an investigation undertaken at the request of the Senate Judiciary Committee, suggested that many other Republican staff aides may have been involved in trafficking in the stolen documents."
    So when the Repugs were found out, do you think they went “quietly into that good night” and fessed up?

    Of course not. Instead, they went on the offensive in as relentless a manner as possible through some group called the Center for Individual Freedom bankrolled indirectly through Philip Morris to do the required freeper dirty work (here), accusing the Democrats of obstructionism at the least in opposing the nomination of Dubya’s appointees (and yes, they even ran an ad attacking Democratic senators Ted Kennedy – of course – Patrick Leahy and Dick Durbin).

    And I think it is instructive to read through this timeline to see how thoroughly the CFIF colluded with “traditional” media such as the Wall Street Journal (and FOX, of course) along with ideological fellow travelers like Rick Santorum to keep this “story” alive and kicking for a few news cycles.

    I wonder if Kennedy, Leahy and Durbin were consulted by anyone from the Center for Individual Freedom before the ad was run? Do you really have to wonder too long about the answer to that question?

    Well then, why is Drake upset because the ad against her for opposing SCHIP was run without her consultation (as if that would have changed her vote anyway)?

    The Repugs voting against SCHIP want to kill it out of a perverse sense of fealty to President 24 Percent Mandate and his battle against “socialized medicine” (a catchphrase used by conservatives to frighten this country at the notion of universal coverage for seemingly the last 50 years or so, with Rudy! now leading the misguided charge also). They can do all the whining about procedure and ads and voting timetables that they want.

    But they’re hurting the kids, who are showing more maturity on this than the supposed “adults” who have been tasked to look out for them.