Saturday, December 15, 2007

More Holiday Stuff

And now, "The 12 Days Of Christmas" from YouTuber boymongoose (a "sign of the times," for yours truly and many others in IT-related jobs)...



...and Sir Cliff Richard ("Mistletoe and Wine")

Helping Out Bob Wexler

Just trying to lend a hand to a hero in response to this...

(The "Senator From MBNA" who is allegedly running for president has a nice quote here; some words supporting the House effort of Wexler, Baldwin and Gutierrez would be even better.)

And in case we need a reminder, here's one...



...and here's another.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday Videos

Tango Underground ("Jatek Hatarok Nelkul"; I believe this is an example of Argentinean punk rock)...



...Kate Nash ("Foundations"; sounds like trouble in paradise, sadly)...



...Happy belated birthday to Davey O'List of Roxy Music ("Do The Strand"; a tad influenced by Kurt Weill, I suppose)...



...Happy belated Birthday also to Tom Verlaine of Television ("Call Mr. Lee")...



Time for seasonal stuff now: "Raging Rudolph" from "MAD T.V." (synch is off by about a second)...



...and "The Christmas Waltz" by The Carpenters.



Update: Oh yeah, I usually have an '80s tune on Fridays, so here's "It Doesn't Have To Be That Way," by The Blow Monkeys (looking for that great Jim Croce song by the same name - I'll keep looking...).

Friday Political Stuff

Just a reminder that as mad as we get at the Dems in Congress, some of them are merely cowering (which is bad), but the "Grand Obstructionist Party" is doing something wholly other (and by the way, that number is a lot higher than 23 now, as you can see here; 59 as of now to be exact)...



...and "The Pap Attack" takes on Abu G.

Friday Wrapup (12/14/07)

  • In the post a few minutes ago about the congressional votes, I noted that the Senate Dems had to give in on the energy bill, and I linked to the New York Times story by John Broder; in the print edition, there’s a photo of Reid and Charles Schumer next to a cardboard sign noting that the Repugs thus far have filibustered 59 bills (no mention of that in the story). More information on that is available here.


  • Now we know that Mike Huckabee is a serious Repug contender; he’s hired Ed Rollins (more here).


  • This story tells us of a “bot” pretending to be some kind of a flirty Internet chat room stranger (it’s “the most wonderful time of the year,” as we know, and who doesn’t want company, right?), but in reality, it’s a cyber thief coded by Russian programmers that steals confidential information (I can’t think of any punishment too severe for the people who concoct this stuff).


  • Finally (on a computer-related note), I want to mention that your humble narrator has recently encountered all kinds of misery trying to get Internet Explorer 7 to play nice with Windows XP Professional. My advice is as follows; if you’re running XP Pro, learn from my mistake and do not upgrade to IE 7 (at least, not until Microsoft fixes some of the many, many bugs). Consider yourself warned.
  • Where The Rubber Meets The Road (12/14/07)

    As reported in last Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer, here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress were recorded on major roll-call votes last week.

    House

    New Energy Policies: Members voted, 235-181, to raise vehicle mileage standards 40 percent over 12 years and require utilities to generate 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources.

    A yes vote backed a bill raising taxes on oil firms to finance an array of new energy policies. (HR 6)

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

    Voting no: Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), H. James Saxton (R., N.J.).
    As noted here, the vehicle mileage standards provision made it through the Senate, but the affected industries, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, defeated the renewable sources provision (probably the best deal we were going to get against the Repugs on this – still stinks, though).

    The Times story noted that the bill now goes back to the House (hanging under the inevitable veto threat from President Stupid Head, apparently getting antsy because he hasn’t used his veto crayon since he nixed SCHIP for a second time).

    Senate

    Temporary Tax Relief: Senators passed, 88-5, a bill to exempt about 20 million middle-income filers from the Alternative Minimum Tax in 2007. The $50 billion cost would swell the 2008 deficit because the Senate failed to offset it with tax hikes.
    A yes vote was to pass HR 3996.

    Voting yes: Bob Casey Jr. (D., Pa.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) and Arlen Specter (R., Pa.).

    Voting no: Thomas Carper (D., Del.).

    Not Voting: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.).
    By the way, Carper was one of five Democrats who voted against this bill (they were the only opposing votes). I’d like to think it was because there was no means provided to compensate for lost revenue; I seriously don’t want to think that it’s because they actually support the AMT as is.

    Interesting vote for Biden to miss, by the way.

    Trade With Peru: Senators voted, 77-18, to implement a U.S.-Peru free-trade pact that requires Peru to meet labor and environmental standards while locking in Peru's duty-free access to U.S. markets and lifting Peruvian duties on 80 percent of U.S. farm and consumer exports. A yes vote backed HR 3688.

    Voting yes: Carper, Lautenberg, Menendez and Specter.

    Voting no: Casey.

    Not voting: Biden.
    Kudos to Casey; anyone who doesn’t understand that “free” trade will never be free must still believe in Santa Claus (or perhaps they’re on the “gift list” from the National Association of Manufacturers?).

    This week, the House took up conference reports on 2008 defense and intelligence budgets and a bill on terrorism-risk insurance. The Senate debated farm programs and 2008 appropriations bills.

    Dubya "Decides" To Run For Cover

    In today’s New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg does some more “by the numbers” reporting on Dubya “win(ning) on energy, children’s health and spending bills,” a claim I won’t contest because of the appalling failure of the Democratic leadership to stand up to George W. Milhous Bush.

    However, I will defend Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid somewhat for this…

    Mr. Bush likes to say his relations with Democrats are cordial. Just last week, he played host to members of Congress at the White House’s annual black-tie Christmas ball.

    But munching on crab cakes and sipping spiced eggnog are not the same thing as hashing out policy, something Mr. Bush, who prefers delegating over details, is loath to do. At a ceremony in the Capitol for the Dalai Lama last month, Ms. Pelosi, the House speaker, and Mr. Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, buttonholed Mr. Bush and asked to meet to discuss their differences on children’s health.

    He told them their aides should talk to his health secretary instead.



    “Bush doesn’t like the legislative branch — he never did, and it shows,” said James A. Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University. “He’s taken a C.E.O. approach to the Hill, which is offensive because people on the Hill want to be collaborators.”
    I would remind this cretin (President Numbskull, I mean) of the fact that his oath of office compels him to abide by the Constitution, which calls for the legislative branch to write the laws and the executive to “faithfully execute” them (“collaborators,” you might say), but anyone who hasn’t figured out long ago that this life form has no interest in abiding by the will of our founders must be living on another planet (or in the rural South).

    (Water wet, sky blue stuff, I know, but it’s all part of the infamous record…).

    A Flight Of Fancy?

    I read this news story about the latest development with Ron Paul, and all I could think of was this lyrical weirdness from Captain Beefheart (hey, it’s just how my mind works, y’know?). So, here’s a parody for the occasion, with an assist from this information (and I know at least one person who isn’t going to be happy about this)…

    Master master
    This is the thing that flies
    It’s gonna make Ron Paul phat
    Just stay away from other aircraft, just swerve
    Or Ron will wipe it out like the Federal Reserve
    It’s the blimp, It’s the blimp!

    Get us coverage from the “media cheats”
    Right under the noses of the world’s elites
    Listen for the cheering, if you can
    From “Constitutionalists,” the Freedmen and The Klan
    Nothing but hoots and applause
    As Paul keeps calling to abolish the Commerce Clause
    And oh, the mother ship looks divinah!
    Trapped over the airspace of Carolina
    What a shame we didn’t set up our LLC
    In time for the blimp to make the “Boston Tea Party”
    ‘Cos who’s the one “traditional” Repugs adore
    Who wants to abolish the gold standard and end the war
    Ron Paul – and how high does he soar?
    Just watch the blimp, it’s the blimp!

    Oh blimp, ascend – let’s hope for no rain
    And watch from on high as Ron outpolls John McCain
    Witness the “mainstream media” hate us
    While we pretend we know nothing about Posse Comitatus
    To decertify the unions, Ron is achin’
    That’s why he tried to repeal Davis-Bacon
    Watch OSHA and minimum wage law grow limp
    Rise up into the air and slowly vanish, like the blimp!
    Deny a third-party run again and again
    And make John Bolton look moderate versus the U.N.
    And don’t even dare calling Ron a kook
    Why, that just won’t hold water, according to David Duke
    Too far into Ron’s policies, just make sure you don’t delve
    The man wants to get down and party like it’s 1912
    So who’s the candidate we honor with this bash?
    Our P.R. stunt that we hope and pray won’t crash?
    Ron! And how are we going to raise more cash?
    With The Blimp! With The Blimp!
    Hey, I didn’t say it was a good parody…

    And here is another attempt at seasonal humor, by the way.

    Update 12/26/07: That 95 percent claim officially puts Paul in full mooner territory as far as I'm concerned (here).

    Bushco's CDC On The Job

    So yesterday, Dr. Julie Gerberding of the Centers for Disease Control told us here that the shortage of a childhood meningitis vaccine “should not become a public health threat.” Hopefully, Dr. Gerberding will be correct.

    And today, the CDC thinks that it might be a good idea at long last to do formaldehyde testing of the trailers in which victims of Hurricane Katrina lived after they complained of health problems; about 90,000 people are living in the trailers, mostly in Louisiana and Mississippi with smaller numbers in Alabama and Texas (h/t The Daily Kos).

    Proactivity, thy name is Bushco (I'll admit, though, that FEMA is the primary culprit on the slow response to the trailer issue).

    And regarding the CDC itself, did you know that (according to here)…

    Top officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention received premium bonuses in recent years at the expense of scientists and others who perform much of the agency's scientific work, agency records show.

    ..

    From 2002 through mid-2006, William H. Gimson III, the agency's chief operating officer, received bonuses totaling $147,863, which included seven cash awards of more than $2,500. Mr. Gimson's bonuses were about twice the amount granted to any other C.D.C. employee, the agency's records show. (Spokesman Tom) Skinner said Mr. Gimson was not immediately available for comment.

    Mr. Gimson's deputy, Barbara W. Harris, received six premium bonuses of $2,500 or more from 2002 through mid-2006 for a total of $84,894, agency records show.

    Mr. Skinner said Ms. Harris was also not available for comment.



    Before Dr. Gerberding's appointment, members of the C.D.C. director's inner circle rarely received premium bonuses of $2,500 or more. After her arrival, in July 2002, such cash awards increased, the records obtained by The Times show.



    Because bonus money is limited -- about 1.5 percent of the personnel budget, Mr. Skinner said -- the growing share of premium bonuses for Dr. Gerberding's close advisers has meant less money is available for some scientists and other workers.
    The story also notes that, as of September 2006, Dr. Gerberding was under investigation by the Senate Finance Committee, though I could not find any information about that from the committee’s web site (and also, since the CDC is a very important government scientific agency, of course Bushco has to keep it “under its thumb” as it does here).

    I realize that the meningitis vaccine recall is Merck’s decision and not the CDCs, but it is the CDC’s responsibility to let us know if this poses a danger and formulate a plan in response (and the “only 92 percent” statistic quoted in the Times story doesn’t fill me with confidence, since were talking about what are probably millions of kids here, and hopefully the backup vaccine from the other drugmaker will be sufficient).

    And IMHO, some of the background information on the CDC presented here is enough of a cause for concern at the very least, if for no other reason than for concerns about agency morale.

    News To Build On

    This TPM Election Central link (h/t Avedon Carol at Eschaton) tells us..

    Though the exchange (in the last Democratic debate before the Iowa caucuses) between Hillary and Obama at the debate was most attention grabbing to the media, it was John Edwards who most impressed the voters who were assembled by CNN and Fox News to gauge reaction.
    The post tells us that Edwards scored with a familiar (though no less important) message about "taking our country back" and the (rigged) tax code. And in fairness, Barack Obama scored well also along with Hillary Clinton.

    And in other news (concerning the climate change summit in Bali)...

    The escalating bitterness between the European Union and the United States came as former Vice President Al Gore told delegates in a speech that “My own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in Bali.”

    Mr. Gore arrived at the conference from Norway, where he, along with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, received the Nobel Peace Prize for helping to alert the world to the danger of global warming. He urged delegates to agree to an open-ended deal that could be enhanced after the Bush administration leaves office and the United States policy changes.

    “Over the next two years the United States is going to be somewhere it is not now,” Mr. Gore said to loud applause. “You must anticipate that.”
    Let us all hope and pray and work to make that a reality (and once more, you "values voters" who blew off that stuffy and uninteresting John Kerry in 2004, take a bow as authors of our present insanity).

    Thursday, December 13, 2007

    Thursday Political Stuff

    A great new video from Brave New Films about the affliction which affects us all...



    ...and even though this looks like science fiction, it most definitely is based in fact.

    Some Reality Therapy

    By the way, every time I think I'm going to lose my mind from the Congressional Democrats and their continual lack of fortitude, I watch this and realize how lucky we actually are that they're in charge (the stuff does scroll by a bit fast, though).



    Update: And by the way, I know Craig reconsidered his resignation, but he definitely isn't running again.

    A "Second Opinion" On "McConnell Care"

    This CQ Politics story tells us that…

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is favored for re-election in 2008, but he faces the threat of a serious Democratic challenge in his home state of Kentucky. So the four-term incumbent is not waiting for the election year to tout his clout in steering funds back home: In one of two early TV ads released last week, McConnell's campaign lauded his ability to obtain federal dollars for Kentucky health care facilities.

    "Mitch McConnell is fighting for better health, securing more than $200 million for our research universities," an announcer says.
    Thank God for the fine people at Ditch Mitch KY, specifically Joe Sonka, who asks the following about Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao…

    Aren't you the same guy that continues to vote against the expansion of SCHIP, giving health care to millions more children from low-income families? The one with very broad bipartisan support that Bush continues to veto, with your approval? Aren't you the same guy whose office spread lies smearing Graeme Frost's family to national reporters, and then lied to the face of Mark Hebert when asked about it?
    The Repugs almost make it too easy sometimes.

    Sit Up And Beg, Sheryl

    I have a question for Clark Hoyt, the public editor of the New York Times; where does it state in the job description of reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg that she must receive Bushco stenography unchallenged and write it up accordingly for publication?

    (Warning: this is familiar territory - SCHIP, yet again - but as Atrios says, “zombie lies never die.”)

    As noted in Stolberg’s report…

    To achieve (the) goal (of maintaining SCHIP enrollment of 6.6 million kids), the Congressional Budget Office says Congress would need to provide at least $5.8 billion, $800 million more than the current spending. The bill that Democrats sent to Mr. Bush would have increased spending $35 billion, bringing the total to $60 billion over five years, and would have added four million children to the rolls.
    Oh, and I should note by the way that, while President George W. Milhous Bush tries to pinch pennies regarding the health of our kids, the cost of his Iraq war grows by $200 million every day at a minimum (according to this article).

    Of course, money isn’t really what’s behind the pretzelnit’s ultra-stupid behavior on SCHIP, as Paul Krugman notes here.

    But for now, back to Stolberg…

    Mr. Bush, however, argued that the measure would push people with private health insurance into a government plan and would change the original purpose of the program by allowing it to cover adults. He likened it to a move toward socialized medicine.
    Interesting that the quotes are missing around the phrase “socialized medicine,” a tipoff that Stolberg either doesn’t know that that’s a Republican catchphrase or doesn’t care (and SCHIP covered adults previously, since that’s the best way to cover kids also).

    “This Congress failed to send the president legislation that puts children first, and instead they sent for a second time one that would allow adults onto the program, expand to higher incomes and raise taxes,” his press secretary, Dana Perino, told reporters, in announcing the new veto.
    Sounds like Perino knows as much about SCHIP as she does about the Cuban Missile Crisis (yes, I know it’s old, but so are her SCHIP attacks).

    This Think Progress link tells us the following...

    Center for American Progress health care analyst Jeanne Lambrew notes that the section 106 of the bill specifically ensures that there will not be any expansion of eligibility. “It overwhelming(ly) targets resources to low-income children and it discourages expansion to families with more moderate incomes by lowering the share the federal government will pay for such coverage.”
    And I love this line from Stolberg at the end (trying to surmise motives of the Democrats here, forgetting of course – as always – that two Congressional leaders of this fight are Repug Sens. Orrin Hatch and Charles Grassley)…

    Democrats calculate that Mr. Bush will look heartless by vetoing health care for children and that Republicans will suffer at the polls.
    Democrats are taking the lead in trying to pass legislation providing health insurance for our kids. That’s the only “calculation” involved here.

    And I should note also that Stolberg wrote a “story” about the latest developments with Barney, the White House dog, that appeared right next to the SCHIP piece in the Times’ print edition. It seems that someone in Bushco came up with the bright idea of filming some of the “lighter moments” of White House life from the dog’s perspective (reminiscent of what David Letterman did years ago on his old NBC show).

    I will be kind to the animal since it can’t help the stupidity of its owner. However, I’d like to note the following…

    Like all things Bush, the Barney Cam has a message. Barney and Miss Beazley, the Bushes’ other Scottish terrier, dream of becoming junior park rangers: a plot that fits in nicely with this year’s White House Christmas theme of national parks and, not coincidentally, Mr. Bush’s plan to invest more than $1 billion in the parks over the next decade.

    In case anyone forgot, the interior secretary, Dirk Kempthorne, is on hand with a reminder. “It’s going to allow us to spruce up the parks,” he tells Barney, “and we’re going to bring on new park rangers.”
    I seriously hope Dirk does a better job “sprucing up the parks” than he did “protecting” the Atlantic Rim in Wyoming from development for oil and gas exploration, though what else can we expect from someone who, as a former Senator, earned a 0 rating from the League of Conservation Voters (noted here)?

    And as also noted in the link, Dirk favors his own particular type of “exploration” with the ladies also (wonder if he has an “interview couch” for prospective female park rangers?).

    MoveOn Is At It Again!

    (Posting is a big question mark for today, by the way – don’t know yet…).

    Those shameless rascals :- ) – can hardly wait to hear the howls of outrage from “the usual suspects” over this one…

    Dear MoveOn members,

    How did President Bush respond to the bombshell last week that Iran had stopped its nuclear program? Here's how one of his top military commanders put it: "There has been no course correction."(1)

    For years, Bush and Cheney and Rove have governed using fear—talking up war and terrorism to win elections and push their agenda. They used this method to get us into the war in Iraq, and now the President's at it again—trying to rally support by marching the nation toward war with Iran.

    Someone's got to call him out. Our ad team has come up with a unique twist on the issue. We want to run this as a full-page ad in The New York Times. Can you help out with $25 to help run the ad? We think you'll like it—take a look.

    Click here.

    We need to expose not just the President's lies but his political motivations behind them. To do that, we need the media to be asking tough questions. Running this ad now can force those answers to be made public.

    Consider this: Days after the White House's National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) reported that Iran stopped developing nuclear weapons years ago, President Bush and his proxies are still out stumping for war.

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that "Iran seeks to create chaos" everywhere they go.(2) And leading neocon and Giuliani adviser Norman Podheretz, has even accused the intelligence community of lying in its report.(3)

    It's an old political trick, and one that got us mired in the war in Iraq. Back in 2002, Karl Rove advised Republican candidates to use the fear of war to win their campaigns.(4) And right-wing commentators openly brag about how Bush used the war to win the election in '04.(5)

    This time, the report's revelations about Iran's lack of nuclear weapons give us just the opening we need to expose their lies and force the media to question the motivation behind their march to war. This is just the ad to do it. Can you chip in to make sure that this story gets told?

    Click here.

    Thanks for all you do,

    –Ilyse, Adam G., Marika, Karin and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team
    Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

    1. "Pentagon plans unchanged by Iran report: general," Reuters, December 7, 2007 (
    here).

    2. "Gates Says Iran Seeks to Cause Chaos," Associated Press, December 8, 2007 (
    here).

    3. "Dark Suspicions about NIE" Commentary Magazine, December 3, 2007 (
    here).

    4. "General Karl Rove, Reporting for Duty," Time, September 29, 2002 (
    here).

    5. "Five-Tool Player," National Review, August 14, 2007 (
    here).

    Support our member-driven organization: MoveOn.org Political Action is entirely funded by our 3.2 million members. We have no corporate contributors, no foundation grants, no money from unions. Our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. If you'd like to support our work, you can give now
    here.

    PAID FOR BY MOVEON.ORG POLITICAL ACTION (
    here), Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.
    I think supporting MoveOn here is the least we can do, considering that they're John McCain’s favorite people.

    Wednesday, December 12, 2007

    Wednesday Videos

    Sneaker Pimps ("Spin Spin Sugar"; chicks with "tats" generally skeeve me, and this one does a bit also)...



    ...I've been wondering all day long what kind of a tribute Ike Turner deserves, and to be fair, he does merit a place in the recorded history of popular music in this country, specifically R&B, so here he is with Tina Turner performing a medley, probably back in the late '50s-early '60s, including "I Think It's Gonna Work Out Fine," probably the most inaccurate song title of all time (and I definitely will not beat my wife to commemorate his passing)...



    ...Happy Birthday to Dionne Warwick (her psychic friends told her I would embed this YouTube fan video for "Do You Know The Way To San Jose?," which I believe was her first #1 hit after years of recording other great Bacharach/David songs - "with a dream in your heart, you're never alone")...



    ...and Mr. S. would have been 92 today ("Softly As I Leave You"; yet another nice fan video).

    More Holiday Stuff

    Perry Como ("Do You Hear What I Hear?"; a nice little fan video)...



    ...and now, time for "Song Of Joy" with The Burping Snowmen!

    Wednesday Political Stuff

    Maybe this truly captures the appeal of Mike Huckabee (h/t Daily Kos)...



    ...but don't forget Willard Mitt too (this Stranahan guy is pretty good).

    Seasons Greetings From Dubya, Kids

    I'm so glad President Numbskull is "off the sauce." Only someone drunk would veto SCHIP for a second time.

    Oh, wait...

    Update 12/13/07: This idea is so good that I should have thought of it first (h/t Molly I. at Eschaton).

    Don't Rebuke The "Spooks"

    (Not for Iraq anyway; Intel parlance for spies, I hasten to add…)

    This is the first chance I’ve had to note this, but last Sunday in the New York Times, writer Tim Weiner took the C.I.A. to task even though it released the information that Iran had abandoned its nuclear program four years ago (noted earlier today and elsewhere)…

    Why would the United States start a war to stop a weapons-of-mass-destruction program that had been placed on hold? Been there, done that. American spies and analysts conjured up phantom Iraqi weapons programs in 2002; the nation went to war largely on the basis of that bad intelligence. And yet, according to the new analysis, American intelligence seems to have erred in much the same way in 2005, assuming Iran’s nuclear bomb was still in the works when it was not.

    But last week’s about-face showed that the analysts are unlikely to make the same mistake thrice. Why? Because American intelligence is now asking itself: How do we know what we know?

    The nation paid a terrible price for failing to do that about Iraq five years ago. The C.I.A.’s spies protected their purported sources on Saddam Hussein’s presumed weaponry — protected them so well that they shielded crucial data from the C.I.A.’s own analysts, who then failed to ask the right questions.
    Weiner also tells us the following…

    Gen. Mike Hayden, the C.I.A.’s chief, has said that the long war in which the nation is engaged is an intelligence war — one that will be won or lost with information and ideas, not smart bombs.
    True, but wars also are won or lost based on “trying to win hearts and minds” of the population in the field of battle. And how did we have a snowball’s chance of achieving success with a Muslim population when someone like Karen Hughes, who doesn’t even speak Arabic, is given the task of trying to justify the Iraq war to a population that didn’t even consider Saddam Hussein a threat to begin with (noted here)? And how is that the C.I.A.'s fault?

    As I read this critique by Weiner, it became apparent that his intent was only to blame the intelligence services for the epochal blunder of the Iraq war, even though in his book about the C.I.A. titled “Legacy Of Ashes,” he spread ample blame onto Dubya, as Times reviewer Michael Beschloss notes here…

    Mr. Weiner is scathing about the current state of the agency, writing that George W. Bush has turned the institution “once proudly run by his father” into “a paramilitary police force abroad and a paralyzed bureaucracy at headquarters.” He says that President Bush “casually pronounced a political death sentence” on the C.I.A. in 2004 by dismissively explaining that the agency had been “just guessing” about the future of the Iraq war.
    I know Weiner is highly knowledgeable on this subject so I’ll be respectful in my criticism, but the information from this link should be noted, in particular…

    An "alternative intelligence" unit operating at the Pentagon in the run-up to the war on Iraq was dedicated to establishing a link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida, even though the CIA was unconvinced of such a connection, the US Senate was told yesterday.



    (Pentagon Inspector General Thomas) Gimble described a unit called the Office for Special Plans, authorised by then Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld and overseen by the former policy chief Douglas Feith, to review raw intelligence on Iraq. The main focus of the unit was establishing a link between Saddam and al-Qaida - going against the consensus in the intelligence community that the Iraqi leader had nothing to do with the September 11 2001 terror attacks.
    And MoDo of The Times returned to form with this column today properly taking Feith and his boss Rummy to task over the war (resurrecting the quote from Gen. Tommy Franks that Feith is “the dumbest [expletive] guy on the planet” (Franks is hardly perfect himself, but he was dead-on here).

    Bushco wanted war with Iraq from the moment it seized control of our executive branch in January 2001. Nothing was going to stop them. And for all of the CIA’s failures, it can’t be held accountable for that.

    The Campaign Never Ends

    Just a quick mention of this Bucks County Courier Times article yesterday noting that Patrick Murphy…

    …held a congressional field hearing (Monday) to discuss ways to improve response to disasters at the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center just outside Doylestown (PA), which attracted about 50 people.

    The 11 people who testified covered a range of topics, from efforts after Hurricane Katrina to general disaster response to addressing floods along the Delaware River. Though the particular disasters differed, one theme was constant: Much more could be done, much faster and better, if information got to the right people at the right time.

    “There is no coordination between federal and state governments and the private sector. It just doesn't exist,” Grover Friend said during a break in the hearing. “Americans are wonderful people. In times of disaster they want to help. The problem is knowing how to do it.”
    I presume that Friend is a resident; he is not identified in any other capacity.

    Along with Murphy, state Reps. Dave Steil, R-31, and Scott Petri, R-178, attended part of the hearing.
    I don’t see how Patrick could do more to reach across to politicians “on the other side of the aisle” in these parts, and I believe that is understood by voters in this district (might have something to do with why no Repug has declared to run against him yet; I’m beginning to wonder if someone else besides Mikey will answer the call here).

    And I haven’t said anything about Admiral Joe for awhile now – sorry about that – so…

    As I finish out my first year in office, I am asking for your support again before filing our end of the year fundraising report. To date, we've been able to deter an opponent from getting into the race against me due to the good work we've done with your support, including your response to my fundraising requests … thank you!

    Please contribute now (
    here).

    It's been a memorable first year.

    • As a member of the Armed Services Committee, Education and Labor Committee, and Small Business Committee (Vice-Chairman), I have authored 5 pieces of Legislation out of my committees, which have passed the House and gone onto the Senate … the most of any freshman representative!

    • With my 31 year military career in both operational commands and national security policy positions, I have been deeply involved in trying to end the "tragic misadventure" in Iraq and to safely redeploy our troops for America's overall security. It's been a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of our nation's debate on national security, restoring our liberties, and appearing on national shows as Meet The Press with Tim Russert (the only Freshman Congressman in the show's history to have appeared); This Week with George Stephanopoulos; Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer; Hardball with Chris Matthews; Late Night on PBS with Tavis Smiley; Fox News Live Weekend; and Fox & Friends. These appearances have been part of my effort to help move the debate towards the proper, comprehensive exit strategy.

    Please contribute now (
    here).

    Because of our success in my initial year, the Republicans will be running hard to re-claim this seat next year, and I would ask you - as this year ends - to help out this quarter by making a final contribution now for 2007. When we announce our financial results in early January, your contribution - coupled with what we have raised to date - will hopefully continue to deter the entry of a top-flight opponent because of the fundraising strength we've shown, and because of our 5,000 volunteer-base poised to help out in a Presidential-year election.

    Please contribute now (
    here).

    Thank you for what you've done in the past, and continue to do in supporting our campaign. I am very appreciative for all that you have done, and hope that I am living up to your expectations.

    Warmly,
    Joe Sestak
    And to help Patrick also, click here.

    And speaking of money (as we often are, I admit), please read this post about the possibility of the FEC deciding that Act Blue donations don't qualify for matching public funds, and find out what we can do about that (a shot aimed right at the Edwards campaign, I hasten to add).

    Today's Weather Forecast

    I know Dubya hates Al Gore, but I didn’t know Pope Benny did also.

    But before I get to the Vatican, I want to note this New York Times story today that tells us that Bushco has decided to “mess around under the hood” with a bill that passed the House and is pending in the Senate that would regulate auto emissions and fuel economy.

    Here’s the rub…

    Primary regulation of mileage standards has historically fallen to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an arm of the Transportation Department. But vehicle tailpipe emissions are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, and a Supreme Court ruling this year affirmed the E.P.A.’s authority to regulate emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from passenger vehicles, which basically would mean regulating their fuel use.

    The White House, echoing a position taken by auto manufacturers and a coalition of industry groups, is asking that the energy legislation be changed to specify the highway safety administration as the primary enforcer of fuel efficiency standards, with the E.P.A. in only an advisory role. Democratic leaders in Congress have rejected that position as a “nonstarter” and indicated their intent to move the bill with the current language intact.
    (I can just picture another long-winded, whiny objection and filibuster threat on this from Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao, can’t you?)

    To me, it sounds like Bushco want to remove any possibility of enforcing vehicle emission standards through this bill (and of course, blame the Dems for passing weak legislation next year, no doubt – a typically cagey maneuver trying to make the new fuel efficiency standard and vehicle tailpipe emissions separate issues, though how could you reduce one without the other?).

    Well, to find an example of a Republican doing the right thing on this issue, we need look no further than Kaa-Lee-Fourrr-Nee-Aahh and Governor Arnold, who (all kidding aside) looks positively like a visionary leader on this, as noted here…

    The state of California today sued to force the Environmental Protection Agency to rule whether the state can put its strict vehicle tailpipe emissions standards into effect.

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the state would "sue again and sue again and sue again" in order to get approval to put in place tough new fuel economy regulations.

    "It's all common sense," the governor said of the regulation, saying it was necessary to force new clean technology.
    Indeed. But (undaunted, unfortunately), the Times story also tells us (about the bill facing yet another veto from George W. Milhous Bush)…

    The White House and many polluting industries consider this a critical battle because similar conflicts are likely to arise as the nation tries to slow and then reverse the production of the greenhouse gases that scientists blame for the warming of the planet. Late last week, representatives of a variety of industries, including petrochemicals, mining, refineries, manufacturers and paper products, also wrote to Congressional leaders asking them to settle the regulatory uncertainty in the auto mileage bill. They said greenhouse gases from manufacturers would be regulated by the Energy Department, the Commerce Department, the E.P.A. and other agencies, “but current law provides little guidance on how they are to coordinate their responsibilities.”
    What the hell does that mean? Why should these industries care about how these agencies “coordinate their responsibilities”?

    I don’t know about you, but I smell a rat here (or, more precisely, a well-coordinated campaign by affected industries that previously “sat on the sidelines” while this played out but decided to jump into the process at the last minute to try and scuttle everything).

    And as if all of this wasn’t bad enough, His Holiness chimes in with this, courtesy of D-Mac at Philadelphia Will Do…

    Pope Benedict XVI has launched a surprise attack on climate change prophets of doom, warning them that any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology. The leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics suggested that fears over man-made emissions melting the ice caps and causing a wave of unprecedented disasters were nothing more than scare-mongering.
    Well Benny, you should get a load of this, then…

    WASHINGTON - The dramatic decline of Arctic ice in recent summers greatly accelerated this year, a sign that some alarmed scientists worry could mean global warming is picking up speed.

    Greenland's ice sheet shrank far below what scientists had previously seen, and the volume of Arctic sea ice at summer's end was half what was recorded four years earlier, according to new NASA satellite data.

    "The Arctic is screaming," said Mark Serreze, senior scientist at the government's snow and ice data center in Boulder, Colo.
    What a shame that neither Benny nor Dubya will listen, apparently (God, am I sick of posting on this no-brainer of a subject, having said much of this already about two years ago here).

    And I know I ranted on “Straight Talk McCain” yesterday since he picked another idiotic fight with MoveOn.org, but kudos to him for being the only Repug to acknowledge this issue (time for your nap, Grandpa Fred; I’ll make sure and let Margaret know).

    Update: And speaking of Dubya and Gore, today marks the infamous seventh anniversary of this decision – as Jake Tapper recounted in this book, December 12th was an arbitrary date for completing the Florida hand recount that head Gore lawyer David Boies basically manufactured out of thin air.

    The War On Another Battlefield

    I don’t know about you, but I continue to remain skeptical about the timing of the latest NIE report declaring that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 (here).

    Some think the report was floated by our intelligence services to head off a confrontation with Iran. That may be so; regardless of the reason, though, the report was good news then and remains good news today.

    But being the fundamentally corrupt capitalists that they are, I don’t imagine that the Bushco regime acted in anything but its own self-interest here, as usual, either in controlling the release of the report or going along as actors after it emerged when they discovered a way to use it to their advantage.

    And in the event that the former case is true, I want to suggest that they did so in an attempt to appease Iran to the point where that country would continue to transact oil using the dollar as currency and thus stabilize or lower the price of oil. Our ruling cabal would surely know that a continuing rise in the price of that commodity (currently trading at about $90 a barrel) would accelerate and deepen the economic recession that many financial experts anticipate (peachy), with predictable electoral consequences for Republicans next November, so that is why they tried to “cool things off” a bit with the latest NIE release (my theory, anyway).

    But as you can see here, that didn’t work.

    And of the many stories that our corporate media refuses to report, I would add that the consequences of our government’s inability to get its financial house in order on the world financial markets is one of the big ones.

    Indeed, as this Moscow Times story notes (reading about Putin and Medvedev and came across it)…

    Today, with the U.S. current account deficit running at well over 6 percent of gross domestic product, necessitating net financing of about $2 billion per day, the United States is fortunate that Russia, China and other oil-producing nations have continued to return all its payments for imports in the form of loans -- generally, purchases of U.S. treasury bonds.
    And this link provides more information; I try to stay away from sites that blend news information with apocryphal forecasts of doom, but sadly, this information all seems to fit…

    The root cause of the problem can be summed up in one word, debt. Americans have been overspending for decades, both at the governmental and personal levels. More recently, that debt has been financed by other countries. Only the United States could do this, precisely because the dollar is the world's trading currency. Other countries would accept U.S. dollars as payment for goods and were happy to bank those dollars to pay for their own future needs.

    But this is no longer the case. Increasingly of late, there is a realization around the world that those dollars are decreasing in value. Consequently, countries want to divest themselves of their U.S. dollars, but they want to do it slowly, to avoid a panic that might wipe out the value altogether.

    That's exactly what China is doing—diversifying into other currencies.
    Such good friends of ours, aren’t they (certainly not stupid, anyway)…

    Besides being a hard currency (meaning that it can be traded almost anywhere), the U.S. dollar is the world's reserve currency. Many commodities, including oil, are priced in U.S. dollars. This is to America's advantage. If the American media is anything to go by, few people in the United States realize the consequences of this changing. But it almost happened the weekend of Nov. 18.

    OPEC countries meeting in Riyadh (last month) heard some of their members calling for oil to be priced in euros or a basket of other currencies. Only the intervention of the Saudi delegation stopped this from happening.
    This just explained why we suck up to our “friends” in the Middle East the way we do (as opposed to our Asian “friends” noted earlier).

    When Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, stated that "OPEC needed to sell its oil in a 'strong currency,' he summed up the discontent widely shared by other OPEC members and expressed most volubly by Iran and Venezuela. 'If we continue to trade in a weak currency [the dollar]…we will need to sell more of our oil to buy the same amount of goods and services'" ("OPEC Looks at Switch to Strong Currency," Financial Times, Nov. 19, 2007).

    If oil were priced in euros, it would cost Americans more to buy it. Further, if the dollar should ever become a soft currency due to its unreliability, the United States would have to actually pay in euros or another hard currency. For example, that could mean that the United States would have to sell sufficient goods to Europe to buy oil from the Mideast.

    Americans have had the luxury of enjoying cheap oil partly because the precious liquid was priced in dollars. Other countries have seen wild fluctuations and shortages of supply because they have not only had to contend with price increases in dollars, but they have also had the problem of coming up with dollars in the first place. The United States could soon have that problem with euros.

    Where would the euros come from? Especially now, when, according to Fareed Zakaria in Newsweek, "The United States is the only major country in the world to which travel has declined amid a tourist boom… Every American who has a friend abroad has heard some story about the absurd hassle and humiliation of entering or exiting the United States" ("America the Unwelcoming," Nov. 11, 2007).



    Most Americans seem blissfully unaware of the dollar's decline or of the likely repercussions for them on a very personal level. At the very least, the fuel they need to get to work is set to substantially increase in cost. This will, in turn, affect food prices. Ironically, neither fuel nor food is included when the government reports the core inflation rate, which may be used to determine an annual cost of living increase…

    This also gives the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank a headache. Wall Street is calling for a further drop in interest rates, which are set by the Fed at its monthly meetings. However, the rest of the world wants to see interest rates either held or raised so as to stabilize the dollar. This dilemma led to the following front-page news item in the Nov. 17 issue of the Financial Times, "Fed and Markets set to Clash on Rates."
    And revisiting Iran, it sounds like Bushco is trying to ratchet up the rhetoric again (placating the neocons as always who want All War, All The Time), switching back from this mode of trying to do something in support of the dollar that entails calmer relations with that member of Dubya’s “Axis of Evil.”

    So on the one hand, our government wants to push its agenda as far as it can in pursuit of empire in the Middle East, but on the other hand, it wants to “pull back the reins” some times to try and stabilize our currency before other countries abandon it in favor of some kind of a “basket” of other international security types (that will do more to accelerate a legitimate recession in this country, and probably the world, than anything our corrupt and incompetent ruling cabal could do on its own).

    As we are in Iraq, whatever “success” we may enjoy in the effort to protect our currency is due to forces out of our control under this regime. And I’m afraid many of us won’t know this battle has even taken place until after it is already lost.

    Update 5/14/09: What Nouriel Roubini sez here (in the NY Times)...

    Tuesday, December 11, 2007

    Tuesday Videos

    Chuck Prophet ("Freckle Song")...



    ...Happy Birthday to Mike Mesaros of The Smithereens ("A Girl Like You")...



    ...Happy Birthday also to Justin Currie of Del Amitri ("Roll To Me"; clever stuff)...



    ...and I'm really late with this, but happy belated birthday to Mike Smith of The Dave Clark Five ("Can't You See That She's Mine"; these guys had a nice run until those four moptop lads from Liverpool showed up; the guy has fallen on hard times so best wishes from yours truly - entry of these guys into the Rock N' Roll Hall Of Fame is truly a no-brainer)...



    ...Now for seasonal stuff: "Silver Bells" with Johnny Mathis (a nice little homemade vid from YouTuber SirKnott)...



    ...and Santa has a brush with the law ("bad boys, bad boys, whatcha' gonna do?").

    Before The WGA, There Was The MLBPA

    I don’t have any updates on the writer’s strike at the moment (I believe negotiations have broken off for now – I’m sure you can find a more current update somewhere), but in the category of labor news, I should note that former Major League Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent wrote a column in the Op-Ed section of the New York Times last Saturday that definitely deserves mention (all the more startling when you realize that the subject of Vincent’s column was Marvin Miller (pictured), the founder of the MLB Players Association, with Vincent representing management).

    The topic of Vincent’s column was the inclusion of former commissioner Bowie Kuhn into baseball’s Hall of Fame while ignoring Miller, with Vincent arguing that Miller did more for the game than Kuhn and thus deserves inclusion also.

    And I know now that professional athletes today have a very different lifestyle than that enjoyed by their predecessors, so it’s hard to see them in the same light as you would see a construction worker or someone else who worked in a trade and belonged to a union. But all of that wealth and glamor had some hardscrabble beginnings, as Miller himself noted here in an interview with Dave Zirin of Counter Punch (I’m going to let stand some of the typos here)…

    DZ: Why were the conditions so ripe for a strong union (in 1965)?

    MM: I don't know that they wanted a real union [at first]. If I had to make an educated guess, the one thing the players had which they prized was their pension plan. It was called a benefit plan, That had been put into effect also in 1947 once again the owners saying, let's do something to prevent the union here. 18 years later, two things, were concerning the players. One was that the pension had not kept pace over 18 years of progress, also they picked up strong rumors that the owners were wanting to change it. Television by 1965 had grown tremendously. [L.A. Dodgers owner] Walter O'Mally saw this and wanted to after the benefit plan. But beyond that I was also learning that it was like pulling teeth learning what else made them unhappy. This was because they were a work force basically unschooled in working conditions. They had all undergone a bunch of brainwashing that being allowed to play major league baseball was a great favor that they were the luckiest people in the world. They were accustomed never to think, "This stinks. We need to change this." You have to remember baseball players are very young and with few exceptions have no experience in these matters.

    DZ: Did the other movements of the 1960s, the Civil Rights Struggle, the anti-war struggle, had on giving people the confidence to think union?

    MM: There is no doubt there was a major connection. You now had a great many black and Latin players. You now had a much more diverse sampling of the American people than in the 1940s. You now had at least some people who were able to think in terms of what was wrong with the society, what was wrong with the conditions, people much more accustomed to think about these things. You have to remember before 1947, the ballplayer came in tremendous proportion from rural areas rather than from cities, from the south and southwest and not from big urban areas. And by and large from anti-union areas.
    The Counter Punch article goes on to note the importance of Curt Flood’s challenge of baseball’s reserve clause (Flood is someone else who belongs in the Hall of Fame, a sentiment shared by Miller here), and though it fell short, it was a step along the way to the overturning of the reserve clause in December 1975 leading to free agency.

    To me, though, the exclusion of both Miller and Flood shows the small-minded paternalism of the owners of Major League Baseball (who installed former Milwaukee Brewers’ owner Bud Selig as commissioner in the early ‘90s, one of the owners who colluded on restricting players’ salaries in the late ‘80s resulting in a payment of $280 million in damages to the affected players).

    The owners had no problem with the likes of Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire jacking baseballs into the stratosphere and boosting the sport’s TV ratings and subsequent ad revenue and not asking any questions about those tiny jars of then-unknown substances hidden in their lockers. But how quickly they turned on their stars when it was all revealed (I hasten to add that no one in that sport in particular is blameless, though).

    But at the very least, Miller deserves the same recognition as Kuhn (noted by Vincent, in a borderline personal attack, as a failed businessman in other ventures). To me, this omission is more inglorious than Bill Buckner’s “ball between the wickets” moment in 1986 (and please don’t flame me for that, Mets fans…).

    (By the way, totally my bad on that post title; I double checked, and as it turned out, both the Writers Guild of America East and the Writers Guild of America West predated the MLBPA...serves me right for straying from politics I guess.)

    Also, as long as we’re on the subject of baseball here, it looks like Phillies center fielder Aaron Rowand is going to sign with another team (Update 12/13: He went to the Giants), since he’s looking for a five-year deal commanding big bucks (enjoying the benefit of free agency that developed under Miller’s leadership, though it began based on the ruling of an arbitrator in the cases of Dave McNally and Andy Messersmith in 1975).

    I have to admit that I’m torn here; I have no problem with paying Rowand the money since he’s one the top players in his position, but I’m not sure a five-year deal is wise. I want to give the Phillies a boot for letting him go, but part of me realizes it’s all a business in the end, so good luck to him, and thanks for helping to make last year special.

    Update 12/13: Chickens coming home to roost, I see (aw, shut up, Roger - what are you gonna do now? Unretire for the fiftieth time?).

    “Senator Honor And Virtue” Rages In Fury!

    Well, I guess “Straight Talk” McCain had to do something to let the world know that his campaign still had a pulse (here)…

    Senator John McCain had harsh words Tuesday for the Democrats both in Congress and on the campaign trail, accusing them of putting politics ahead of national security.

    “I can only draw one conclusion from what the Democrats are trying to do today…” McCain said in Inman, South Carolina, “is that their political priorities have taken over their dedication to our nation’s security. And I don’t say that lightly.”
    Of course not. And I know you didn't enjoy it either...

    On Monday McCain, R.-Ariz., sent a letter chastising the liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org for calling on Democratic presidential candidates to filibuster the war funding bill before Congress. Tuesday, he tied those Democrats to the group.

    “These are good men and women on the other side of the aisle,” McCain said, “but they’re being driven by the most radical left wing organization and the name of it is called Moveon.org.”
    (Mandatory link noting that many of MoveOn’s members have previously served in the military or are friends and family of currently serving members – this is a recording…)

    Besides, didn’t McCain read David Brooks today? I mean, according to Brooks and Peter Beinart, the Iraq war is, I mean, like, so over, y’know?

    Another Sneaky Stolberg Slam

    In her ongoing quest to make our red state president look legitimate, Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times communicates more nonsense in her profile of Ed Gillespie, who is once more pulling Repug strings in an effort to perpetuate confrontation every chance he gets.

    Bringing Gillespie on board, by the way, was a “by the numbers” move for a regime that has nothing whatsoever to offer for this country except the almighty “base,” thus making way for diversionary attacks of the opposition dutifully spun by our corporate media as politics as usual (but of course, when the Dems do anything like this, along comes David Broder and the Robertses to say "tut tut" and preach about how wonderful it is to achieve a "consensus," provided it's approved by the Repugs, of course).

    Anyway, Stolberg brought us the following today, again regarding Gillespie and his way of doing business…

    And Democrats have provided targets, by waiting until two months into the new fiscal year to finish their appropriations work. Mr. Bush has already vetoed Democratic measures on children’s health and Iraq war spending, and a water resources bill — all the while complaining lawmakers are wasting taxpayers’ money, and scolding them like errant schoolchildren who forgot to turn in their homework.
    Uh…I think Ms. Stolberg should take a look at the information Kagro X of The Daily Kos provides from this link (should be required reading for all members of the corporate press). As you can see, George W. Milhous Bush had every intention of vetoing primarily-Democratic-sponsored appropriations bills dating back to last summer, and prior to that actually. The phrase “waiting until two months into the new fiscal year to finish their appropriations work” (presumably talking about a month ago) is inaccurate to the point of propagandistic.

    Stolberg also communicates the following…

    On the budget, Mr. Gillespie looked back to the Republican defeat of 1995. “We saw how Clinton did it, using the power of the presidency,”’ (David) Hobbs (a friend of Gillespie and fellow Repug lobbyist) said.

    Mr. Armey said Mr. Gillespie had argued that his party would lose because the public believed Republicans were antigovernment, “so therefore it is credible to argue Republicans shut government down.”

    He said Mr. Gillespie’s strategy was to “understand the public’s already conceived disposition,” and create a story line around it.

    That strategy was on full display in the Rose Garden last week, as Mr. Bush tapped into another preconceived notion, that lawmakers are lazy. The president opened his remarks by tweaking Democrats on the 30-second pro forma sessions they held to prevent him from making recess appointments over the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

    “If 30 seconds is a full day,” Mr. Bush said, “no wonder Congress has got a lot of work to do.”

    It was positively Gillespie-esque.
    I don’t know exactly how to respond to a crack like that except to note the following (dated October 1, 2003, comparing the vacation time taken by Dubya to his predecessor - at the bottom)…

    …in barely three years in office, George W. Bush has already taken more vacation than Clinton did in seven years.
    The good thing about this article, full of hosannas to Gillespie and Dubya, is that it was buried in the back of the first section of the print edition.

    The bad thing is that it was published in print at all.

    Ignoring The War Won't Work, BoBo

    God, I wish David Brooks had stayed in China (he wrote some columns from there recently).

    I don’t know what it says even about a person as disreputable as a member of our pundit class that he or she would consider the 2008 campaign “a postwar election,” as if somehow “the splurge” had just work so magnificently that Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki had managed to achieve unity in his government at long last and started hitting those “milestones” that seem to be drifting further and further out of sight (something that would be pretty miraculous anyway considering that the Iraqi parliament just took another recess).

    (By the way, the most current info I can find on those milestones Iraq’s “government” is supposed to meet is from last spring. If anyone knows of anything more current, please leave word on that.)

    But such fiction is what Brooks concocted in his New York Times column today (with Greg Mitchell of Editor and Publisher quite rightly taking Brooks to task here, providing polling evidence as follows - and by the way, is it even worth pointing out at this point that the paper lists most of the presidential candidates in a column by one of its writers but somehow manages to ignore John Edwards yet again?)…

    The raw numbers for top issue: Iraq 36%, the economy (i.e. lunchpail) 16%, health care 15%. Nearly 1 in 2 Democrats say it is the top issue and even 29% of Republicans feel that way. And it's the number one issue in every section of the country.
    And by the way, I don’t know what it says also about a group of people that 71 percent of them think that a conflict that has already lasted longer than World War II is of secondary importance, apparently, to issues such as immigration and gay rights (talking about more than just marriage here – I would like to think that the climate crisis trumps the war for some of them, but I’m sure those individuals aren’t in the majority).

    Also, Brooks makes the interesting but un-analogous comparison between the upcoming election and the 1945 campaign in Great Britain, in which wartime PM Winston Churchill lost to Clement Attlee (trying to bolster his claim that this country seeks “peacetime” leadership to resolve highly important issues within this country; actually, I think this country desires competent leadership to resolve anything whatsoever).

    I think this Wikipedia article on “Winnie” provides some interesting insight into that year…

    Although Churchill's role in World War II had generated him much support from the British population, he had many opponents. He also expressed contempt for a number of popular ideas, in particular creating a system of national public health care and improving public education. Partly as a result of this Churchill was defeated in the 1945 election by Clement Attlee and the Labour Party.[102] Some historians think that many British voters believed that the man who had led the nation so well in war was not the best man to lead it in peace. Others see the election result as a reaction not against Churchill personally, but against the Conservative Party's record in the 1930s under (Stanley) Baldwin and (Neville) Chamberlain. During the opening broadcast of the election campaign, Churchill astonished many of his admirers by warning that a Labour government would introduce into Britain "some form of Gestapo, no doubt humanely administered in the first instance". Churchill had been genuinely worried during the war by the inroads of state bureaucracy into civil liberty, and was clearly influenced by Friedrich Hayek's anti-totalitarian tract, The Road to Serfdom(1944).
    You read that, Repugs? Churchill lost in part because he fought against reforms in public health care and education, as well as trying to wage an election partly based on demagoguery (substitute “Nazis” of that time for “terrorists” and “illegal immigrants” today).

    As great as Churchill was, he tried to rally his nation into a wartime fervor of sorts, though they had long since grown tired of it (to say nothing of the fact that rationing lasted considerably longer in Great Britain following the war than in this country).

    So had the Iraq war actually been nearing an end, there might have been a kernel of validity in Brooks’ argument, notwithstanding the fundamentally nonsensical argument that George W. Milhous Bush bears any resemblance at all to a world leader, let alone someone of Churchill’s stature.

    Update: Oh, and by the way, I just noticed this at CNN...

    Just sayin - so...

    A History Lesson For Bushco

    I sincerely hope that White House flak Dana Perino can take a few minutes from her busy day of misinforming our corporate lap dog media, as well as talking down to Helen Thomas, to learn about the Cuban Missile Crisis (and no, I'm not talking about the mixed alcoholic drink served at Red Square at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas), since she has professed ignorance on that subject.

    And as for this clip of President Kennedy addressing the nation on the subject, all we can do is recall a better time and keep working for impeachment of these Republican criminals who, short of that, still have about 400 days to go in office (and the obscenities perpetrated under their watch grow more despicable by the minute).



    Joseph A. Palermo of HuffPo has more.

    Update 12/12/07: And regarding the "more despicable by the minute" Kos link (h/t Atrios)...

    Monday, December 10, 2007

    Monday Videos

    Band Of Horses ("Is There A Ghost"; first time I ever saw a pillow fight riot in a music video, I must say)...



    ...and believe it or not, Otis Redding was killed in a plane crash 40 years ago (!) today ("I've Got Dreams To Remember" - another great YouTube fan video).

    Monday Political Stuff

    And now, Rudy ("I Don't Make Many Mistakes, But When I Do, They're Big Ones") Giuliani in action (God, I will never watch the Sunday morning gab fests again; Russert is almost APOLOGIZING as he fawns over this cretin - hat tips to Atrios and TPM)...



    ...and I just came across this from Brave New Films ("The Art Of Mental Warfare"), with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails (I don't quite agree with all of these juxtapositions, but understand that Rudy "Giggliani" is very much a part of the mix here, though he just has a lower profile relative to Dubya, Deadeye Dick, Rummy, Turd Blossom, etc. - this has very graphic war footage).