Saturday, December 08, 2007

Oh, And About The War...

I want to puke...again.

And I know I don't need to remind you about this, Patrick, but I'll be watching, along with many others.

(By the way, the Kos link to the WaPo story takes you to Page 2 - here's the link to Page 1.)


Update: And Dubya is going to veto it anyway without even having seen it, so they sold out for nothing...

Say It Over And Over

Hat tip to Avedon Carol at Eschaton for this (and calling our politicians to keep trying to make this happen is an even better idea)...

JWL - RIP

Two from John Lennon, who left us 27 years ago today; the first is a protest song (as they used to be called) for John Sinclair (he was interviewed recently and the video provides more information)...



...and "Power To The People" (Lennon put his money where his mouth was, as they say, having learned how to play the media from his moptop days to generate publicity for his causes, which were well deserving more often than not.)



Update 1: I thought local Philadelphia journalist Larry Kane (and author of "Ticket To Ride") made some good points here (don't know if registration is required or not).

Update 2: Good stuff from Martin Lewis here...

Friday, December 07, 2007

Friday Videos

Sheryl Crow ("Shine Over Babylon")...



...Happy Birthday to Tom Waits, bringing us some seasonal fare ("Silent Night" opening and closing "A Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis")...



...Harry Chapin would have been 65 (a live demo of "Cat's In The Cradle")...



...and Band-Aid ("Do They Know It's Christmas").

Friday Political Stuff

As far as I'm concerned, John Edwards talks like a president is supposed to on world poverty here (from Brave New Films)...



...but of course, as K.O. so forcefully and accurately reminds us here, we're stuck with what we've got (h/t Prof. Marcus).

Friday Cleanup Stuff (12/07)

  • Based on this post, is it really any surprise that two Dem lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee (which oversees the FCC) want to investigate that agency’s chairman Kevin Martin (here)?


  • Also, the question of whether or not Iran had nukes was huge this week as we know, but I wonder how many of us know how progressive they actually are concerning AIDS (here)?


  • I’ve been meaning to spend some time looking at Lt. Gen. James Peake, who has been nominated to take over the Veterans Administration with the departure of Jim Nicholson, but happily, Paul Rieckhoff beat me to it a bit here, putting together some questions Peake should be asked before he is confirmed (cross-posted at HuffPo, but again, I’m having technical issues with their site at the moment...ugh, and military.com has ads for that cretin Glenn Beck??).

    (God, how on earth can any human being with Dubya’s record of failure find a way to smirk about anything?)


  • And finally, I absolutely could not let this week go by without giving Our Man Arlen Specter a great big boot into a personal area (if it’s possible to do it this way, in a manner of speaking) for blocking a Senate Judiciary Committee vote on contempt resolutions against Karl Rove and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten for refusing their congressional subpoenas (here, though, of course, Rove wasn’t too busy to write his fictional Newsweek column or appear on Fox “News” Sunday with House Dem Chris Van Hollen).

    And by the way, I’m still waiting for Arlen to get called out over this little episode from last summer.


  • Also, in memoriam...
  • "The Press Has Learned..."

    Don’t you just love it when Bushco subverts our government to decide whether or not we need to know something they think is important?

    As noted here…

    Angry Democratic lawmakers called for investigations Friday into the Central Intelligence Agency's destruction in 2005 of at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two al-Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody.
    Good. It’s long past time to stop treating this cabal of crooks with kid gloves (and I took a shot at Jay Rockefeller a couple of days ago, but based on this, he seems to be “getting his back up also”; we’ll see what kind of a “follow-through” there is, though).

    As the FIP story also tells us…

    In a statement to employees on Thursday, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the C.I.A. director, said that the decision to destroy the tapes was made “within the C.I.A.” and that they were destroyed to protect the safety of undercover officers and because they no longer had intelligence value.
    Says you (and once again, Bushco just refuses to get “advise and consent, separation of powers, congressional oversight”…you know, how our democracy is supposed to work!).

    But gosh, didn’t Joe Biden vote to confirm Hayden as the CIA director here? And I seem to recall that Biden thought Hayden was "a nice guy."

    Glub, glub, Joe – watch that presidential run sink into the Delaware Bay…

    (By the way, this is a great Kos post on this...and Porter Goss continues to remain missing and utterly unaccountable.)

    Update 12/8/07: More fool me for thinking Jay Rockefeller actually had a spine (and Prof. Marcus nailed Jane Harman yesterday over this).

    Friday Freeper Double Feature, Part Two

    I truly hope Kevin Ferris of The Philadelphia Inquirer has hit bottom with this column today; I don’t want to imagine how he could possibly sink any lower.

    I was tempted to do a paragraph-by-paragraph refutation of what he says here, but I won’t primarily because I and many others have done so many times before. So I’ll just post it here with some thoughts afterwards.

    (Oh, and I have a message for those in charge of approving philly.com’s content; try putting a little more work into making sure what you post has some relationship with reality next time instead of trying to determine which “cheesecake” photo of accused “Bonnie and Clyde” identity theft “queen” Jocelyn Kirsch you’re going to feature for that day, OK?)

    Back Channels An Iraq campaign for hope

    Upbeat Bush knows his change in strategy changed the war's dynamic.

    By Kevin Ferris
    Inquirer Commentary Page Editor

    There's a photo of Lyndon Johnson, alone at a conference table. The president's chair is pushed back, and he leans forward, hunched over. His left hand holds his glasses and the arm of a chair next to him for support. His right elbow is on the table, with his forehead resting on his right fist.

    Behind him is a bust of his assassinated predecessor. Kennedy's youth and vigor seem to mock the anguish of Johnson, a president who looks worn-down, bereft of hope.

    Contrast that image with the current war president, who met with about a dozen journalists in the Oval Office last week. He's seated in front of the fireplace decorated for Christmas with artificial greenery and sugared pine cones. A bust of a resolved Churchill is just behind Bush's left shoulder, another of a reflective Lincoln to his right.

    "I'm feeling pretty upbeat about life these days," George W. Bush says as he opens the floor to questions.

    And why shouldn't he? Last year at this time, the Democrats had just won majorities in Congress. They and the Iraq Study Group wanted to call it quits in a violence-plagued Iraq. If Bush had followed the Vietnam script, he, too, would have despaired and accepted defeat.

    Instead, he ordered the surge. The change in strategy and troop levels changed the war's dynamic.

    "I . . . believe in the power of leadership to affect the course of history," Bush tells the journalists.

    He's talking about the just-completed Annapolis summit - Mideast envoy and former Prime Minister Tony Blair was leaving the West Wing as the journalists were gathering - but that belief applies to this president and Iraq as well.

    Bush will be judged by historians for errors made on his watch, perhaps as harshly as his critics slam him today. But if the positive trends in Iraq continue, he, along with the U.S. military, will also receive - and richly deserve - credit for the turnaround.

    Listen to him in person for an hour and 15 minutes, and the president's passion and enthusiasm make it clear that abandoning Iraqis to terrorists was never an option.

    "If you think we are in a struggle with extremists and radicals, success in Iraq is essential to the security of this country," he says. "I believe it."

    And that ideological struggle with killers requires an alternative ideology: hope.

    "The only way radicals can recruit is when they find hopeless people," he says. "That's why, for example, an HIV/AIDS initiative is important. That's why a malaria initiative is important. And that's why confronting tyranny is important, because tyrannies are the most likely form of government to create hopelessness."

    In Iraq, the central front in the campaign for hope, Bush is confident of success. "Security begets better economics; both beget better politics," he says.

    No, the central government hasn't followed the benchmark prescription for success drafted by U.S. politicians. But there is political movement. Local and regional Sunni leaders have reached out to Americans to fight al-Qaeda. Sunnis and Shias are attempting reconciliation locally. In turn, they are demanding more from Baghdad.

    Those demands, Bush says, have produced "significant revenue-sharing from the central government to the provinces."

    Oil income is being shared - most of the country's revenue comes from oil - even without a national revenue-sharing law.

    Sharing the wealth is crucial to a democratic Iraq, Bush says. "It will be a part of the healing process that needs to happen," he says.

    Local and national leaders won't always agree on spending and priorities, but that's life in a democracy.

    "It's a constant issue, just like here," Bush says. "And it will constantly evolve."

    The next step, Bush says, is a long-term strategic relationship to help "deal with the mindset of people who wonder whether or not there is a security commitment by the United States."

    And by next year?

    "My hope is that we put [Iraq] in a position where the momentum, the freedom momentum, is strong and powerful . . . so that the decisions are easier to make for the next president."

    Bush stands, as do the guests. The last-minute questions begin. He lists the historical nonfiction he's recently read, along with the novel A Confederacy of Dunces, a title that must make detractors smile and press aides wince.

    An insecure president worried about criticism might not have mentioned it. But this is a confident, upbeat man who describes his White House years as a "joyous experience." He's secure in his principles, grounded by faith and family, and full of hope for his country and its future.
    I really wish the Inquirer had the integrity to add a comments feature to all of its online content as many other news organizations have by now. The responses to this would have been hilarious (so….fighting the scourge of AIDS throughout the world, most notably sub-Saharan Africa, is part of the War on Terra?? I suppose you could claim that, but let’s stay on Iraq for now, get out and redeploy to Afghanistan, OK?).

    And here is a link to a prior post about President Lyndon Johnson, a man who sent his two sons-in-law off to Vietnam (one of them, Charles Robb, went on to become the U.S. senator from Virginia). For all his faults, Johnson had more presence, intelligence and understanding of this country and its government in his cuticle than Dubya will ever have throughout his entire body.

    What is also particularly striking to me about this is that Ferris has no sourcing for this column. None. In the past, he would at least go to the trouble of supporting his cheerleading for the war by referencing a fellow conservative pundit or two. But apparently, even that is too much trouble for him anymore.

    Finally, I want to note this column because it references a book Dubya is supposedly reading called A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.

    Hmmm, that sounds familiar – could it be that (gasp!)…

    …could it be that George W. Milhous Bush actually reads this blog??!!

    Well, then, Mr. President, if I have the honor of addressing you, please let me say the following…

    RESIGN IMMEDIATELY, YOU QUASI-LITERATE, DUNDERHEADED, DELUSIONAL NARCISSIST! AND TAKE DEADEYE DICK WITH YOU!!

    And by the way, have a Merry Frackin’ Christmas back on your ranch. Do us all a favor and spend the rest of your days clearing brush, where the only person you can hurt, maim or kill is yourself.

    Friday Freeper Double Feature, Part One

    (You have to think a minute about this pic, I know, but it’s appro- priate…trust me.)

    I can see that this Guest Opinion that appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times yesterday written by Bob Callahan of Upper Southampton is going to keep me busy (he describes himself as a graduate of the College of New Jersey with a degree in biology and the Pennsylvania College of Optometry – so, I guess that means that he can understand the strange life form he’s writing about here without actually being able to see it…??), so I’d better get started (no link available – nice one, phillyburbs).

    This has to do with Flush Limbore’s “phony soldiers” controversy; Callahan is defending Limbaugh, or trying to anyway – I’ll let you decide.

    In his Oct. 26 column (republished in the CT on the 26th, but originated on the 23rd), Dan Thomasson enshrined the latest lie into media common knowledge. Then Doonesbury attempted to drive it into deeper public awareness, as funny page simpletons repeated the lie. The course whereby this lie arrived at its destination should alarm every American.
    Sounds like this should have been written by Dr. Earl Tilford, who once threatened that we would be invaded by Venezuela (haven’t been able to find much about him online lately, though, which is a triumph for informed discourse).

    Seamless integration of press, politician, and propagandist on such a grand scale is indistinguishable from the tactics employed by communist regimes. The lie that radio personality Rush Limbaugh referred to soldiers opposed to the conduct of the Iraq war as “phony soldiers” prompted Congressman Patrick Murphy to launch a personal attack and Sen. Robert Casey to sign a letter of censure.
    Here is a link to Patrick Murphy’s post on HuffPo about this; I’d love to read through what Patrick said and highlight key points, but I’m having a technical issue with HuffPo in that my browser window frequently locks up from this location when I try to read their content (my guess is some kind of scripting conflict with a pop-up ad or something). I’ll keep at this.

    Also, here is a link that takes you to the Media Matters post on this with the transcript; Callahan will get into that a bit later, but you can read it and hear the audio before that if you want.

    And the Limbaugh censure resolution followed the idiotic “wrist slap” of MoveOn.org for its “General Betray Us” ad here (and, as noted from the link, many of MoveOn’s members are former military personnel and families and friends of presently serving members). Of course, Callahan won’t tell you any of this.

    Media Matters for America, an Internet site Sen. Hillary Clinton claims to have “helped start,” initiated the process.
    Oh brother…

    Here is a link to a Wikipedia article on Media Matters that tells you at least three things: 1) It was founded by David Brock in 2004, 2) It has not been or is not now bankrolled in any way by George Soros, and 3) Aside from mention in site posts from time to time, Hillary Clinton has nothing to do with it (and for good measure, here's more information on who runs the group).

    Their “phony soldiers” version was repeated verbatim by print and broadcast outlets, and within hours the president’s press secretary was being asked if Mr. Bush agreed with Limbaugh’s assessment that soldiers who disagree with the administration are “phony soldiers.” Within hours, senators and congressmen were offering condemnations and threats from their chambers and elsewhere. In terms of choreography and coordination, the attack was as stunning as any Broadway spectacle.
    I suppose, pretty much parroting in a way what the right-wing noise machine (with Limbaugh often figuring prominently) has been inflicting on our discourse for years. And if you want to read just one example of this (there are many, many others, most notably the Terri Schiavo circus), this tells you how Hillary Clinton’s “laugh” became the “news” story of the days a couple of months ago.

    Even for a cynical and informed observer, the breadth and synchronization of this attack was awesome. Imagine if the full weight of media, every avenue of information – broadcast, print, even cartoon – tried to crush you with slander.
    I don’t have to imagine, Callahan. I watched you and your fellow travelers inflict this on President Bill Clinton from the early stages of his campaign until the moment he left office.

    Imagine if the United States Senate, with total power of regulation over your profession, bludgeoned you with this lie. Whatever one thinks of Limbaugh, he would not be crushed, and the parties to this attack were thoroughly discounted. In particular, the credibility of dominant media has fallen so far that the news reporting must be considered for entertainment purposes only.
    That last sentence is solely Callahan’s laughable opinion, and to this day, I have not seen an apology forthcoming from Media Matters, VoteVets or anyone else who quite rightly held Limbaugh to account because no such apologies are necessary.

    For anyone who heard Limbaugh’s show in real time on Sept. 26, it was impossible to miss his meaning.
    That much is true.

    Inspired by an ABC News broadcast about soldiers who misrepresent or fake their service, termed by ABC the “Phony Heroes,” Limbaugh, on Sept. 25, aired a morning update (a monologue that runs proceeding the show) discussing phony soldiers. This morning update was an exposition of how the anti-war movement presents soldiers who are abject frauds, such as Jesse Macbeth, or military personnel who submit fraudulent accounts, such as Scott Beauchamp. In either case they are celebrated for their ability to discredit, demoralize and endanger the U.S. military with fabrication being irrelevant.
    It’s laughable at this point to watch someone like Callahan create more of a smokescreen in defense of Limbaugh here as to what he really meant when the Media Matters transcript plainly shows that Limbaugh was not referring to Macbeth or Beauchamp by name, but just for the record, here is the story on Macbeth (and only Limbaugh would have the gall to utter the phrase “genuine phony soldier” as he does here with a straight face).

    Also, I would suggest reading this well-researched column on Scott Thomas Beauchamp (I know a plethora of other blogs have covered him already) and tell me that you don’t think something fishy is going on, particularly between the Drudge obfuscation noted by writer Tim Rutten, the sloth of The New Republic’s editors in publishing Beauchamp’s claims without corroboration, and the Army’s refusal to comply with TNR’s Freedom Of Information Act request regarding the Beauchamp case. Given all of that, I think there’s more to this story than Callahan will ever tell us.

    On Sept. 26, a caller to Limbaugh’s show, referring presumably to anti-war activists, stated, “they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and spout to the media.” Limbaugh responded, “the phony soldiers.” After ending the telephone conversation, Limbaugh read the text; “Here is a morning update we did recently about fake soldiers.”

    He detailed how the phony soldier and anti-war hero Macbeth’s false accounts of U.S. atrocities were publicized and even translated into Arabic by anti-war media. His outrage was with the purpose of the phony soldier paradigm, employed to damage the stature and morale of the U.S. military. By extension, Congressman Murtha’s deceitful description of Marine conduct in Haditha fits this template.
    Callahan should read this account of what happened in Haditha, particularly this excerpt…

    The Pentagon has said little publicly about the Haditha deaths, and in Iraq the incident has caused little controversy - US troops there are already viewed by most Iraqis as trigger-happy and indifferent to civilian casualties.

    Now four marines in that group, including Staff Sgt Frank Wuterich, 26, are facing charges of unpremeditated murder.

    A further four face lesser charges over alleged failures in investigating and reporting the incident.

    The US military has confirmed that 24 Iraqi civilians died in Haditha that day, none of them killed by a roadside bomb.

    Col Stewart Navarre, announcing the charges on 21 December 2006, said: "The reporting of the incident up the chain of command was inaccurate and untimely."
    And by the way, “Democrat” Congressman John Murtha (Even overseas? Oy…) is mentioned at the very end of the story after all of the grisly details have bee presented, and the quote about “Iraq’s My Lai” is not associated to him, but to “media commentators.”

    From that exchange, Media Matters inferred an abuse of authentic soldiers where no reference is made, and ignored the lengthy discussion where phony soldiers are defined. Clinton’s Internet proxy offered the tedious and inane defense that allowing the caller 90 seconds to make an additional unrelated point before referencing only one example of numerous and documented phony soldiers somehow nullified the truth.
    I don’t know what the hell that sentence means, and at this point, I don’t really care because Callahan is flat wrong anyway.

    And the axis of Internet propagandists, corrupt politicians, and subservient press, in ferocious unison, tried to destroy a man and his reputation. Where do our politicians fall within this axis of weasels?
    Yep, Rush knows all about trying to destroy reputations, whether or not it’s through his sickening spectacle of imitating Michael J. Fox’s symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (here) or impugning 12-year-old Graeme Frost who committed the unpardonable offense (in Limbaugh’s evil eye) of standing up to President Nutball and his veto of SCHIP (here).

    It is telling that Murphy and Casey chose the dishonor of propagating a lie instead of promoting the truth about phony soldiers and the incredible damage inflicted by false portrayals of the character and conduct of our American servicemen. And it is telling that among the large body of American media only radio penetrates institutional deception.
    I think the best way for me to end this is to let Jon Soltz of VoteVets have the last word here (via ThinkProgress – I have more “fun” to get to shortly).

    The "Piano Man" And The War

    This AP News story tells us about a new single just released by Billy Joel titled "Christmas in Fallujah," in which he asked 21-year-old singer-songwriter Cass Dillon to sing the vocals. As the story notes, Joel thought the song should be sung by someone "about a soldier's age," and he wanted to help someone else (Dillon) benefit from his experience, which is a classy thing to do.

    The proceeds from the song will be donated to Homes For Our Troops, which builds homes for severely wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. The song also just went on sale Tuesday at iTunes, which is good because I can't imagine that it will get any radio airplay (should, though, of course, maybe on some of the "classic" rock stations...???).

    Anyway, here it is...

    Thursday, December 06, 2007

    Thursday Videos

    Keane ("Somewhere Only We Know"; uh, OK - nice song, but he's an alien cult leader? Huh??)...



    ...Happy 87th Birthday to Dave Brubeck ("Take Five," the tune that epitomized the "cool jazz" of the late '50s and '60s)...



    ...OK, I've put this off for as long as I can, but it's December 6th, so it's time for holiday music; here's the tune only for "A Cradle in Bethlehem" from Nat "King" Cole's 1963 "Christmas Song" recording (Happy Hanukkah to those observing the festival of lights, by the way)...



    ...and the workshop elves bring us "Crank That Santa Claus" (interesting use of a steel drum, I must say - go dawg!).

    Thursday Political Stuff

    Testimonials on behalf of Sibel Edmonds (Prof. Marcus "fills in the blanks" here)...



    ...and "The Pap Attack" takes on Nancy Nord (more information here from yours truly).

    Anticlimactic Punishment?

    This story tells us that the State Supreme Court of New Jersey recently upheld the death sentence of Ambrose Harris, convicted of the rape and murder of Bucks County graphic artist Kristin Huggins in 1992 (Harris also killed fellow prison inmate Robert “Mudman” Simon, though a jury found in 2001 that Harris acted in self defense).

    The larger issue, though, is that New Jersey is probably going to abolish the death penalty in that state shortly, meaning that Harris’s sentence would then be commuted to life without parole.

    I posted about this here, and as I noted last May, there are plenty of valid reasons to do this, chief of which is that it would cancel the appeals process for criminals sentenced to death. Also, Harris is only one of eight inmates on that state’s death row anyway, and New Jersey hasn’t executed anyone since 1963.

    But somehow, I just worry that there will be fallout for this that will hit the Dems chiefly (the NJ Repugs, as per usual, are already crying that the Dems are “rushing this through,” the state legislature; related bills, that is), though I definitely believe that this will NOT start a wave of states abolishing the death penalty. And I can’t imagine that the family and friends of the victims of those eight Garden State life forms are very happy about this.

    What’s Next? Reporters From Guangzhou?

    I don’t know what cost-cutting move the Sacramento Bee (a McClatchy paper) will come up with next based on this story; a worrisome trend, I'd say.

    First the customer service center goes to the Philippines, then the artists go to India.

    Of course, maybe if the management and executive jobs went to Belarus or South Africa instead…

    A Toothy Problem

    This is a local thing that doesn’t pertain to politics, but it’s a pet peeve of mine, so here goes.

    The Bucks County Courier Times published this Guest Opinion yesterday from Dr. Brent Monahan (does not specify whether or not Monahan obtained his doctorate in dentistry) in which he argues that it is unnecessary to fluoridate all of Pennsylvania’s water supplies (currently the water for Lower Makefield and Yardley Borough in PA remains non-fluoridated). And (somewhat amazingly to me) he used this information to support his claim…

    Untold billions of dollars in dental care have been saved by water supply fluoridation, since this procedure has been credited with lowering the occurrence of cavities by as much as 60 percent in children up to 16 years of age. Since mouth infections can be fatal, lives have also been saved by a technique that requires no extra time or application by the general public.
    The crux of Monahan’s argument seems to be that most people in his experience and immediate community obtain all the fluoride they need from direct application of fluoride directly to their teeth at the dentist’s office during their regularly scheduled appointments, so it is unnecessary to fluoridate the water. And of course, since we’re talking about Bucks County, PA, which remains (on the whole) the “Republican land of God and guns,” Monahan ends his column with this…

    For those lower socioeconomic communities where social work research has clearly demonstrated that insufficient brushing with fluoridated toothpaste and lack of regular professional dental care exist, the enforced introduction of fluoride into the water system is merited. Elsewhere, it is merely one more instance of governmental intrusion by the folks who believe that “government that intrudes the most works the best.
    Well, isn’t that special (and let’s all click the heels of our shoes together three times and say, “I hope I don’t lose my dental insurance coverage,” each time we do, OK?).

    Guess what, Dr. “I Hate Governmental Intrusion”? Try reading this article, which states the following…

    Tooth decay is making a comeback, fueled by junk food, spurred by social changes, and abetted by an unusual culprit - bottled water.

    "I had a three-year-old kid come in the other day," says Toronto dentist Sheldon Rose, D.D.S., "and he had at least two cavities that I could see. I haven't seen that for years."

    Like most dentists, Dr. Rose blames the usual suspects - snack foods, soft drinks, lack of parental supervision of food. But bottled water also plays a role, he and others suspect.

    "It's not the water that's causing the decay," said Jack Cottrell, D.D.S., president of the Canadian Dental Association (CDA). "It's the lack of fluoride."
    So it looks like even the people who load up the SUV or the min-van every weekend to head down to B.J.s and buy cases of bottled water are at risk of increased tooth decay without fluoridation also – wouldn’t you agree then, Dr. Monahan? It’s not merely a problem for “lower socioeconomic communities” then, is it (and this Wikipedia article provides more information).

    Yep, I’d say there’s something rotten to Monahan’s claim all right, and you don’t have to look into anyone’s mouth to find it.

    I Wish I Could Forget This “Elephant”

    And by the way, regarding Iran and the latest NIE, Little Ricky Santorum weighed in today on the pages of (where else) The Philadelphia Inquirer (here) with this somewhat obscure detail…

    We must view this information in light of the continued obsession of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with the return of the Twelfth Imam. That's the ninth-century Shiite leader who, according to his view of Shiite theology, will return to earth to lead them after an Armageddon in which Islam has conquered Christians and killed the Jews.
    Wow, do you think we’d better turn that “Eye Of Mordor” somewhere else in the Middle East then, former Senator “39 Percent Approval Rating” (here)?

    ("Divest from Iran, just like I said in my Iran Freedom From Terra! Terra! and 9/11, 9/11 Act before I lost to Bob Casey, bad liberals, this is a recording, blah blah blah...")

    Fiscally Reckless Now And Always

    From today’s New York Times here…

    President Bush’s lame-duck attempt to repair the Repub- lican Party’s thread- bare fiscal reputation is an increasingly reckless game. In the latest exercise of irresponsibility for political gain, Mr. Bush reportedly wants to slash counterterrorism funding for front-line police and firefighters.

    The administration’s own Homeland Security agency requested $3.2 billion for this first responder aid to high-risk cities and states in the 2009 budget — the one that Mr. Bush’s successor will inherit. The White House is considering cutting that request by more than half to $1.4 billion by eliminating grants for port and public transit security, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

    While Mr. Bush wrestles with more responsible members of his own administration, his larger and more immediate game is to portray the narrow Democratic majority in Congress as feckless overspenders.

    In October, he vetoed a sensible bill that would have provided health insurance for millions of uninsured children. In the name of faux fiscal discipline, he is threatening to veto budget measures that the nation needs for effective government.

    Mr. Bush is clearly hoping that the public will somehow forget that he is the one who spent the last seven years running up huge deficits and debt with his off-the-books war in Iraq and serial tax cuts customized for his affluent political base. Mr. Bush’s Republican allies on Capitol Hill are also hoping that the voters will forget how they abetted the president through all those years. Those fiscal turncoats are now scrambling to pose once more as budget hawks to survive in next year’s watershed election.

    The differences between the Democrats’ spending bills and Mr. Bush’s budget are not that large. And the Democrats are offering to split the difference. But Mr. Bush isn’t interested in compromise.

    He’s decided the real political traction comes with manufactured standoffs and blame-the-Congress gridlock. And he clearly doesn’t care who suffers — the nation’s vulnerable cities or vulnerable children without health insurance.

    As the White House plays out its cyncial scenario, loyalists are flinching.

    “This isn’t a bridge to nowhere. We’re talking about life and death,” Representative Peter King of New York, the top Republican on the House’s Homeland Security Committee, warned of first-responder cuts. Having played along so far with the grand Bush strategy, Mr. King is alarmed now and threatening to vote against sustaining future vetoes.

    Republicans sweating political survival beyond Mr. Bush’s desperate endgame would be wise to follow Mr. King’s lead, not the president’s.
    And as noted last night regarding DHS (as noted in the editorial), if Dubya was really serious about money management (and he isn’t, because he doesn’t know the meaning of that phrase), he would start with trying to fix that now-wretched agency "run" by Mike "City of Louisiana" Chertoff (and exploited in the ways noted in this video).

    Dubya Writes A Letter

    (This would not be news for any other president, of course...).

    In response to the story about our chief executive finally deciding to contact a head of state he doesn’t like after seven years in office, I should note that I have tracked down the contents of Dubya’s correspondence, as follows...

    Dure Kim John ill,

    I hop yure r gun to bide bi tha gree ment to disabul yure nukuler pro graam be four I leve off iss in Januery uf two thousan ann nine. I haaf to du suum thin too haf uh legucy lik mah daddy diid when he wus presedent.

    Sinceerely,

    Goerge W. Bush

    P.S. Jus’ jokin’ aah bout tha “little pigmy” and “asses of eveil” there…hee heee.
    And he’s finally going to The Middle East also? Ya’ think, on some level, George W. Milhous Bush is starting to get the hang of this whole “president” thing?

    Naaahh.

    It Truly Never Ends

    Regarding this post, we have the following CNN headline today to yet another opinion column brimming with "good news for Republicans" (that is, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's plan to freeze interest rates on "some 2 million troubled mortgages" - Atrios clarifies this here).

    Update: I don't know how this supposedly wonderful plan of Dubya's is going to "boost the GOP" when he tells people the incorrect phone number to call for assistance (here).

    Also, here are two (more) quick updates:

    - It looks like The Mittster FINALLY gave that speech of his on religion, and Kagro X sums it up here (a follow up to this post).

    (Update 12/07/07: Len Hart shames us with typically awesome posts like this, but we're all the better for it...tons of great information to digest).

    - This is the best analysis I’ve read to date of Dubya’s latest NIE follies (there's a reason why a Google search for George W. Bush and the phrase "bait and switch" returns 108,000 hits, people).

    Wednesday, December 05, 2007

    Wednesday Political Stuff

    "DHS Follies - The Movie" (ugh)...



    ...and on a lighter note, Jackie and Dunlap offer to take over Mitt Romney's landscaping.

    Not A Brando In The Bunch

    This New York Times story from Monday tells us about the latest individuals honored by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts last Sunday at our nation’s capital, and this Washington Post article more of less “dishes” on the gossipy tidbits for consumption by our entertainment media about the party that followed.

    The five individuals honored by the Kennedy Center this year were pianist and conductor Leon Fleisher, singer Diana Ross, musician Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, actor/author/comedian Steve Martin (I guess that’s close enough) and filmmaker Martin Scorsese. The ceremony was recorded as usual and will be broadcast on CBS on December 26th.

    Congratulations are due to all of these people for this recognition, representing a lifetime’s achievement in the artistic enterprise in which they’ve excelled. And under normal circumstances, I would just leave it at that and not say another word.

    But these are hardly “normal circumstances” in this country. And when I say that, I’m referring to the Iraq war, as you might have guessed.

    And my question is this; did it ever occur to any of these people to decline the award as a means of protesting the war?

    Now I know this award is presented by the Center and not officially from our government, but I can recall a time in this country when awards were rejected by celebrities out of principle (or pique at times, I’ll admit – Sacheen Littlefeather is pictured here, the person who declined the Best Actor Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando in 1973 as a protest on behalf of native Americans). And the Academy Awards, for example, weren’t even presented officially by the President of the United States, as these were.

    But Dubya did present them, following a White House dinner reception.

    And everyone accepted.

    So nice, right?

    Well, guess what (rose-colored glasses alert: here comes a liberal rant)...

    All of these people are artists, and that means that they’re supposed to craft something that elevates the sometimes beautiful but frequently wretched thing known as “the human condition.” And in the process, I believe that they’re supposed to contribute something that brings joy where there is sorrow, hope where there is despair, and truth where there is a lie.

    Truth where there is a lie.

    And the Iraq war, for every moment that it has existed and continues to exist, remains the greatest lie of our age. “Ramped up” for lies, started for lies, waged for lies, sacrificed for lies, prolonged for lies, and accepted for lies (and who knows, one day it may be, at long last – and may we all live to see it, however it happens – ended for lies).

    And if that is not worth protesting, then I don’t know what is.

    Now I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have the right to tell any of these five people what to do. I know at least some of them endured brutal hardship to rise to their present prominence; I’m not familiar with all of their stories, but I’m sure that’s true across the board (I won’t be so ridiculous as to even contemplate telling the director of “Mean Streets,” “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” “Goodfellas” and “The Departed” how important it is to resist the temptation of evil and do good through your work).

    But I just wish one of them had chosen to act in the way I’m suggesting here. It would have cut through the flotsam of the typical entertainment pabulum consumed by much of this country and the world and stirred consciences to act that, I’m sure, will now remain somnambulant.

    And that is sad.

    (By the way, I remembered later that another good reason to protest would have been the damage to the Constitution, which is a close second behind the war as far as I'm concerned.)

    "Top-Step Shill" Still A "Pill"

    So it looks like star pitcher Curt Schilling of the Boston Red Sox is going to campaign for Senator Honor And Virtue when the latter campaigns in Manchester, New Hampshire huh?

    I’m tempted to wax sarcastic about this, but I think I’ll pass because the comments to this post do it pretty thoroughly (only found one in support of Schilling, who, by the way, I would no longer consider to be the “ace” of the Red Sox pitching staff, but “Dice-K” instead (update: Josh Beckett probably owns that mantle now, upon further consideration), and Jon Lester won the Series-clinching game anyway).

    God, I’m so glad Schilling decided not to sign with the Phillies for next year (and please run against John Kerry for the Senate, Curt; it will be fun to watch you get hammered, with no bloody sock to add to your “legend” this time – though Schilling supports Dubya’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure in Iraq, do you even have to ask whether or not he served, as Will Bunch - again - notes here?).

    Bushco "Birds And Bees" BS

    Here’s a bit of a history lesson…

    The sexual revolution that began in the 1960s has left two major problems in its wake. The first is the historic increase in non-marital births that have contributed so heavily to the Nation’s domestic problems including poverty, violence, and intergenerational welfare dependency. The second is the explosion of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that now pose a growing hazard to the Nation’s public health.

    To address these problems, the goal of Federal policy should be to emphasize abstinence as the only certain way to avoid both unintended pregnancies and STDs.
    I didn’t say it was fact, I just said it was a history lesson – in wingnuttia, I mean.

    However, this story tells us the following (from the reality-based community)…

    In a troubling reversal, the nation's teen birth rate rose for the first time in 15 years, surprising government health officials who had no immediate explanation.



    U.S. health officials said it was possibly a one-year statistical blip and not the beginning of a new upward trend.

    But several experts said they have been expecting a jump. They blame the increase on increased federal funding for abstinence-only health education programs that do not teach how to use condoms and other contraception.

    Some key sexually transmitted disease rates have been rising, including syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. The rising teen pregnancy rate is part of the same phenomenon, said Dr. Carol Hogue, an Emory University professor of maternal and child health.

    "It's not rocket science," she said.
    Indeed not; you could say that, in terms of accomplishing the goals of reducing both STDs and unplanned pregnancies, “abstinence only” education “doesn’t even make it to second base.”

    ...

    Well, you could, but you don't have to.

    About That Broken Clock...

    Will Bunch via Atrios tells us today that Little Tommy Friedman of the New York Times “knocked one out of the park” this morning with this column about the supposed dialogue within Iran about the United States at this moment (titled, “Today Is The Day That The Broken Clock Is Right”).

    I beg to differ, particularly here…

    ...We have to note that obtaining open-source intelligence in America has become more difficult, because traditional news shows have become more comedic and more comedic news shows more authoritative.
    How right you are, Tommy. Why, it seems like just the other day when I witnessed your famous “hold your nose and vote for Gore or Kerry for President” act that the Democrats supposedly went through during the 2000 and 2004 elections (captured by the fine folk at Media Matters here), though I never saw a photo of a voter actually doing so. However, I can tell you from my own experience that I have assumed this position when reading many of your columns.

    And regarding this claim noted in the Bunch post…

    …9/11 has made America afraid and therefore stupid.
    That actually is quite correct, and you were the standard bearer in that department around the May 2003 time frame as I recall (here – fortunately for Friedman, the YouTube video for this golden moment has apparently been pulled...afraid and more than a little obnoxious also, right Tommy?).

    And I also want to note this excerpt from Friedman’s column…

    …all the U.S. presidential candidates are distancing themselves from the core values that made America such a great power and so different from us — in particular America’s long commitment to free trade, open immigration and a reverence for scientific enquiry wherever it leads.
    You know, Friedman really should pay attention to the Democratic presidential primary from time to time; I don’t hear any of the candidates speaking against scientific news or discovery in any way. And the only place you’re going to hear opposition to common-sense immigration policy is out of the mouths of Giuliani, Romney, Huckabee and those individuals of the same party.

    Also, this country’s “commitment to free trade” is a comparatively recent phenomenon in our history, going back to NAFTA in the 1990s – I suppose that’s what Friedman is talking about here, and his embrace of this misguided policy (in the absence of any sensible U.S. congressional legislation on immigration) has led to the flattening of wages and the hiring of illegals for many jobs in this country (those that haven’t disappeared due to offshoring, that is).

    Towards the end of his screed, Friedman typically paints with a broad brush stating that both parties are appealing to “nativist extremes” and imagines a “tooth fairy” that “will make their energy, budget, educational and Social Security deficits painlessly disappear” (and Atrios notes here that the minor problem with that statement is that these “deficits” in Social Security don’t, you know, actually exist).

    Wish as I might, I don’t expect any of those items to disappear either. However, I can still hope to see this occur with Friedman’s grandiose and self-indulgent missives of questionable veracity one fine day in the future.

    Sanity, For Now

    I’ve been trying to digest everything involved with the latest National Intelligence Estimate stating that Iran is not the nuclear threat it was purported to be by our ruling cabal (here), with President George W. Milhous Bush threatening of World War III with that country only last month (here).

    To me, this whole matter absolutely screams for an investigation by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, currently chaired by Dem Jay Rockefeller. However, based on this exchange (in which Rockefeller pled to reporter Charles Davis that, regarding intelligence, “I only get, and my committee only gets, what they want to give me,” with that being an apparently good enough standard for the committee chairman), I’m not holding out much confidence that Congress will be able to get to the bottom of the Bushco propaganda (I mean, we all know Cheney is ultimately behind this, but proving it is another matter).

    And by the way, regarding Rockefeller’s predecessor in that job from the 109th (Pat Roberts of Kansas by name), he deserves another dishonorable mention for doing nothing but fronting for this regime’s overseas misadventures, as Think Progress noted so thoroughly here.

    Is Iran still a threat? Of course, but given this most recent report, the time will never be better for negotiations (Biden and Jim Webb are both right that we should at least talk with Ahmadinejad here), and on that score, I agree with the assessment from Atrios on Our Gal Condi Rice here, but the problem is that 1) Everyone is dirty in this administration, and if you’re not going to choose her, then Negroponte is probably the only other alternative, and 2) This type of high-level negotiation is something requiring involvement of a head of state, but Dubya will involve himself in something like this the day that Britney Spears sings opera at The Met.

    And speaking of Iran, it turns out here that Rudy “Sex On The City” Giuliani just released a TV ad…

    …using Iran to how (sic) punch home his message on how to handle today's terrorism challenges. Invoking Ronald Reagan, Giuliani warns voters that a certain mindset is needed defeat those who threaten the United States and that he has it.

    Entitled "One Hour," the former New York City Mayor and Reagan justice official steals a page from his stump speech and uses the Iranian hostage crisis of the late 70's and early 80's to illustrate how he would approach dealing with "tyrants and terrorists."

    Using black and white stock footage of those Americans that were held by the Iranians for 444 days, Giuliani reminds viewers that they were released within one hour, the hour in which Ronald Reagan took the oath of office.
    It would actually be funny were it not so pathetic. As noted here…

    …On October 18, 1980, George H. W. Bush, Republican candidate for vice president of the United States, flew to Paris to negotiate with representatives of Iran over the release of 52 hostages held by that country.

    By doing so, Bush and his co-conspirators were in potential violation of the International Commerce Acts of 1798 which prohibit any American citizen or party from negotiating with a foreign power in matters of national policy or military action.

    Although numerous Republican activists and two Congressional committees claimed that no such effort or trip was attempted, more than a dozen credible sources told of their knowledge of the trip and its results.

    Bush, representing Ronald Reagan and himself, told representatives of the Iranian government, including cleric Mehdi Karrubi, that a Reagan administration would provide arms and other assistance to Iran in response to its release of the 52 remaining hostages.

    According to reports by Robert Parry, ". . . Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe . . . said he saw Bush attend a final round of meetings with Iranians in Paris."

    "Ben-Menashe said he was in Paris as part of a six-member Israeli delegation that was coordinating the arms deliveries to Iran. He said the key meeting had occurred at the Ritz Hotel in Paris."

    "Ben-Menashe said the Paris meetings served to finalize a previously outlined agreement calling for release of the 52 hostages in exchange for $52 million, guarantees of arms sales to Iran, and unfreezing of Iranian moneys in U.S. banks. The timing, however, was changed, he said, to coincide with Reagan's expected Inauguration on Jan. 20, 1981."
    Gee, Rudy, what a shame that you’ve sunk so low in the polls that you now feel it’s necessary to unofficially team up with Mike Huckabee so both of you can go after Willard Mitt Romney (here). Guess that Pat Robertson endorsement isn’t worth as much as you thought, huh?

    And by the way, I'll admit that I've been wrong to snub Huckabeee - mea maxima culpa - but who knew the other Repug presidential candidates would turn out to be so incompetent that Huckabee would actually stand a chance (including this latest Romney misadventure)?

    And Atrios, once more, reminds us that Huckabee has to face the fire on this also, among other issues.

    Update 1 12/5/07: Speaking of Pat Roberts, this is good news.

    Update 2 12/6/07: This is probably the best summary of everything going on here that I've read over the last few days.

    Edwards On Health Care, Again

    I wanted to take a minute and note this post by Paul Krugman from his blog for a couple of reasons. The first is because it’s refreshing (and a bit shocking, actually) to watch him call out fellow Times writer Kit Seelye on her reporting of the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama health insurance proposals (with Krugman highlighting the absolutely absurd claim by Seelye that the AEI is somehow “nonpartisan”).

    The second is because the Seelye article quotes an adviser to the Obama campaign who states that Clinton has not come up with a means of penalizing those eligible for coverage who do not enroll.

    Actually, Krugman himself noted that John Edwards had come up with an idea on that here…

    …John Edwards has just called Mr. Obama's bluff, by proposing that individuals be required to show proof of insurance when filing income taxes or receiving health care. If they don't have insurance, they won't be penalized - they'll be automatically enrolled in an insurance plan.

    That's actually a terrific idea - not only would it prevent people from gaming the system, it would have the side benefit of enrolling people who qualify for S-chip and other government programs, but don't know it.
    For more information on this and other proposals from the Edwards campaign, click here.

    Tuesday, December 04, 2007

    Tuesday Videos

    Bush (the band, that is - "Everything Zen")...



    ...Happy Birthday to Chris Hillman of The Byrds ("Eight Miles High" - ends just a bit early, but close enough)...



    ...Frank Zappa died on this day in 1993 ("Cosmik Debris," live)...



    ...and I neglected to extend Happy 80th Birthday wishes yesterday to Andy Williams ("The Way You Look Tonight," from 1966).

    Iran Out Of Anything To Say

    Haven't had the time to say anything about Iran and the latest NIE which tells us that they aren't a nuke threat after all, but it looks like our corporate media cousins still aren't giving up here (snark - lots of bad words, but I thought it was still funny)...



    ...and just as a reminder (besides this great post by Greg Mitchell of E&P - h/t Atrios...some of the comparisons to Iraq are a bit dated at this point, but if nothing else, it shows up Faux News as spectacularly wrong once again).



    Oh, and by the way (regarding this story), let Israel try fighting its own damn war with Iran without our help, OK?

    Time To Do A Good Deed

    (And the title of this post is aimed at Jeff Jubelirer of the Cradle of Liberty Council of Philadelphia, Delaware and Montgomery County).

    The Philadelphia Inquirer tells us here today that Philadelphia City Solicitor Romulo L. Diaz Jr. has contacted the local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America and told the group to either renounce its policy of banning gays from the organization in order for it to remain in its headquarters near Logan Square (Jubelirer is the spokesperson for the local Boy Scouts chapter) or pay up more for its rent.

    As the story tells us…

    Diaz has said that if the scouts did not respond by his Dec. 3 deadline - by either relenting on the policy or paying a $200,000-a-year "fair-market rent" - he would actively begin looking for a new tenant for the 79-year-old building at 22d and Winter Streets near Logan Square.

    The Cradle of Liberty Council built the Beaux Arts structure in 1928 on Fairmount Park land that the city agreed to lease to it in perpetuity for a dollar a year.

    Perpetuity, however, could not outlast recent U.S. Supreme Court cases holding that taxpayer money cannot be used to support private groups that knowingly discriminate.

    Last year, Diaz wrote to the scouts that it was impossible to reconcile the group's policies on homosexuals and atheists with the city's antidiscrimination fair-practices law.

    Cradle of Liberty officials maintain that they have used a "don't ask, don't tell" practice but cannot change the policies without violating their charter from the national scouting organization.

    Jubelirer said the scouts should not be required to pay additional rent for a building the scouting council built, spent $2.6 million renovating in 1994, and pays $60,000 a year to maintain.

    "The council could not afford it, and it's not feasible," Jubelirer added.
    Maybe, but given the fact that the Boy Scouts refuse to relent on their ban of gays, there’s no way they should be charged only a dollar a year of rent on the structure (and given the wide discrepancy between that amount and the fair market value, you know the taxpayers of the city of Philadelphia are picking up that tab).

    And as far as the December 3rd deadline, which of course has come and gone, Jubelirer had this to say…

    "We're letting it pass. We feel it's a political, arbitrary deadline"…
    Oh really? This little drama has been going on since last May, Jeff. And the city must comply with the Supreme Court ruling. Why is that so difficult to understand?

    Actually, though, as D-Mac of Philadelphia Will Do notes here, this little gay-baiting song-and-dance has been going on for nearly a year and a half at least; the Fairmount Park Commission (which oversees historic properties such as the Scouts’ headquarters) sided with the administration of soon-to-be-departing Mayor John Street in July 2006 regarding the issue of the adjusted rent for the building.

    It’s time to change the policy or pay up, Jeff; given all of this, I think Jubelirer needs to brush up a bit on the scout law, which states…

    A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
    Ya’ think Jeff needs to keep working on the “obedient” thing?

    Monday, December 03, 2007

    Monday Videos

    Carbon/Silicon ("The News")...



    ...and to mark the 30th anniversary yesterday of the acquittal of the South African police charged with his murder, (legitimizing state-sponsored terrorism as far as many were concerned, including yours truly) here's "Biko" by Peter Gabriel from one of the Amnesty International Concerts in 1988 (I can't tell you what that last shot is about either).

    Kos and BNF Video Monday

    Because presenting Christopher Shays of Connecticut as the spineless, whining Lieberman wannabe that he is brings a smile to yours truly (h/t Daily Kos)...



    ...and K.O. nails Falafel Boy again (put this one in the vault - another h/t Daily Kos).



    ...and let's "Meet The Foxers" (h/t Brave New Films)...



    ...and getting serious, here's the ad that Fox refused to air (Surprised, huh? Not - also from Brave New Films).

    Another Monday Mashup

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

    Just a few items thrown together…

  • For everyone following the WGA strike (and I’m not one of those people, though I may come across a story about it), this item appeared in the New York Times on Friday, telling us that…

    A federal appeals court yesterday threw out a hard-fought agreement between publishers and freelance writers to pay the writers for electronic reproduction of their work.

    In a 2-to-1 decision, an appellate panel ruled that the courts had no jurisdiction over the copyright dispute and that a lower court erred in accepting the writers’ lawsuit and approving the settlement.
    It sounds like the legal rationale here from Judge Chester J. Straub (such as it was) was that the writers weren’t allowed to claim damages because they had not registered their work with the U.S. Copyright Office, though in dissent, Judge John Walker said that the non-registration was “a malleable procedural rule” only.

    I think we can pretty much bank on an appeal to The Supremes on this one if there is standing to do so, especially since the Court had already ruled in 2001 that digital reproduction of the writer’s work by publishers without the consent of the writer violated his or her copyright. Stay tuned.


  • This story (h/t Daily Kos) tells us that our U.S. House Rep Patrick Murphy has been “busting his hump” as they say trying to recruit other Iraq war vets to run for Congress next year….

    A political neophyte considering a run for Congress…29-year-old (Jon) Powers wondered what kind of reaction he would get from those he'd served with. He had no idea how to assemble a staff or how running in his native New York would affect his family life.

    The conversation ended with a clear message from Murphy, Powers recalled. ''He literally looked at me across the table, and said, 'You have to do it.'''

    Murphy, the Bucks County Democrat who emerged from the 2006 congressional races as the first and only Iraq war veteran elected to Congress, is looking for company in Washington. And he's not waiting around to see if it shows up.

    The 34-year-old former Army captain is helping out other veterans as they jump into a different kind of combat than the one they faced in Iraq: campaigns for U.S. House seats against Republicans.

    ''I want to have battle buddies in Washington,'' Murphy said in a recent interview. ''I want these guys to stand there with me.''



    At least 17 have announced candidacies for 2008, roughly split between the major parties, according to congressional campaign offices. Several others remain on the fence.

    Murphy and his campaign staff are helping -- giving tips on honing a message on Iraq, dealing with the media and holding fundraisers -- a handful of them, Murphy said.

    There's Powers, a former U.S. Army captain who led an artillery platoon before assisting a battalion commander in Najaf and Baghdad, now a declared candidate in New York. There's John Boccieri, an Air Force Reserve major vying for an open House seat in Ohio. And there's Doug Denneny, a 22-year Navy veteran who is running in Virginia.
    Go, Patrick (and as always, to help, click here).


  • This story is a bit dated, but in case anyone missed it, Texas oilman Oscar Wyatt was sentenced to one year in prison for his participation in the U.N. oil-for-food scandal in which he participated in a scheme to pay illegal surcharges to the former Government of Iraq in connection with the purchase of crude oil through the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program between mid-2000 and 2003.

    No word on a reaction from Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota (with his back to us above, appropriately enough), who tussled with Brit MP George Galloway over the scandal as we may remember (oh, and by the way, speaking of Coleman, click here to help Al Franken send him back to private life next year).



  • And finally, this tells us of Vermonter John Nirenberg, who…

    …plans to walk from Boston to Washington, D.C., to confront House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in hopes of persuading Congress to take up the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
    Go John (you truly have the thanks of a grateful nation).
  • Michael Moore, Meet Luis Mandoki

    As we know, Bushco is crowing over the electoral defeat of Hugo Chavez yesterday in Venezuela (as Atrios noted, funny how a “dictator” seems so willing to comply with the wishes of the electorate).

    In the unlikely chance that any Republican happens to be reading this, I’ll tell you what; I won’t say that the only issue that mattered in John Howard’s defeat in Australia was the Iraq war (because it wasn’t) if YOU don’t say that the razor-thin loss of Chavez in Venezuela is an endorsement of Bushco (because it isn’t). Deal?

    That being said, though, I just want to note this New York Times article from yesterday that tells of the release of the film, “Fraud, Mexico 2006” by filmmaker Luis Mandoki, which portrays last year’s Mexican election which was even closer than Venezuela’s yesterday. In it, conservative Felipe Calderón edged left-winger Andrés Manuel López Obrador (pictured) by 243,000 votes out of 41 million cast.

    The Times article tells how López Obrador did not receive the full recount his supporters requested, along with the allegations of fraud at the polls combined with a smear campaign run by Calderon and his people, alleging that López Obrador would become a Mexican version of Chavez (sounds like they’ve been paying close attention to our campaigns).

    The Times story also tells us that 300,000 people have seen the film in the first two weeks after its release, as well as this reaction…

    The film has stirred up deep emotions. Standing ovations and shouting matches were not uncommon in the 230 theaters where it is showing. On Nov. 24, a dispute broke out between employees of a Cinemex theater in Mexico City and the audience when one of the reels broke 20 minutes into the film. The audience accused employees of censoring the film. The employees shouted insults at the audience and chanted, “Calderón! Calderón!”

    “I am very surprised and happy,” Mr. Mandoki said in a recent interview. “At a premiere, people often stand at the end, but here, in all the theaters, the people not only applaud but they stay until the credits are over.”

    So far, Mr. López Obrador’s supporters have made up the bulk of the people going to the film. For many of them it has only confirmed what they felt in their gut last year.

    “I always have thought there was fraud,” said Sandra Quiñones, a 36-year-old city employee, who saw the film in Mexico City. “I would have thought that as a documentary it was boring. But, no, on the contrary, the truth is you come out angry, the great anger of knowing they stole the presidency.”

    Others with different political leanings remain in quiet thought long after the film has ended. “I voted for Calderón,” said Araceli Pliego, 23, a student, as she left a Mexico City theater. “At the time, I liked his proposal and I still say he’s not bad as a governor, but after seeing the film, I have a lot of doubts about what happened last year.”
    And this should sound familiar also…

    Mr. Mandoki said he had seldom had such trouble getting a film distributed. According to Mr. Mandoki and Mr. Arreola, the head of the Warner Brothers subsidiary in Mexico, Juan Manuel Borbolla, agreed in mid-June to distribute the film and said his bosses in Hollywood were enthusiastically on board.

    But Warner Brothers pulled out in late August, and Mr. Mandoki and Mr. Arreola say the decision was political. They say Mr. Borbolla told them that he had been warned he would make enemies at Televisa, the dominant Mexican television network, if he distributed the film. Televisa owns Videocine-Distribucion, the company with which Warner Brothers has a distribution partnership in Mexico.

    Televisa officials denied that they exerted pressure on Warner Brothers to drop the film, other than to warn that the documentary would not make a profit. (It has grossed about $1 million at the box office, the producers say.)

    Mr. Borbolla has insisted politics played no role in the decision. “I decided not to distribute the film because it was not good business, because in Mexico, documentaries don’t sell,” he said at a news conference in September. A spokeswoman for Warner Brothers Entertainment in California, Andrea Marozas, said in a telephone interview that officials at the company’s headquarters had determined that the film would simply not be profitable.

    In the end, none of the major distributors in Mexico would handle the film, the producers said. Mr. Mandoki and Mr. Arreola turned to a small company, Decine S.A. de C.V., which agreed to help the producers distribute the film for a fee, as long as the payments from the four main Mexican movie chains went directly to the producers instead of the distributor.
    It sounds like Mexico has found a way to consolidate its ruling political influence through questionable means as well as we have, but I wonder if one element is missing: could there possibly be a Mexican language translation for “dittohead”?