Saturday, December 22, 2007

The "Thing" That Wouldn't Leave

You know, I wish (Don't Call Me) Frances Townsend would just go already. Don't you?

I feel that way particularly after reading this apologia for her written today by David Johnston of the New York Times, which tells us...

Promoted to domestic security adviser in 2004, she became a loyalist and said she was leaving wearied by the acrimony that hangs over Mr. Bush’s last year in office.

"I find it both offensive and crippling," she said. “When both career people and political people are worried about getting subpoenaed, it’s hard to get a lot accomplished.”
What was “offensive and crippling,” dearest, was your proclamation here that Osama bin Forgotten is “virtually impotent” and “can do little more than send videotaped messages” (the post provides evidence to the contrary, by the way). She also received a pass when she rightly said, actually, that the U.S. should attack Pakistan if it meant getting bin Laden (of course, Barack Obama said the same thing and got drilled, but as always, IOKIYAR).

And I don't know what it says about someone who actually thinks President George W. Milhous Bush can actually be mentioned in the same sentence with George Washington by a person with a straight face (here – I also don't understand the difference between “career people” and “political people,” but hey, I'm just a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, so what do I know?).

And of course, Townsend, being a loyal Bushie, has to do the whole "terra, terra, terra," thing as she did here (and as always, the timing of her soothsaying here is more than a bit of a giveaway as to how serious she really is - re: 11/08).

Besides, maybe there wouldn't be “acrimony (hanging) over Mr. Bush's last year in office” if our red state president and his minions had any interest in respecting the Constitution or even obeying the rule of law.

And as long as I used this post title, I might as well embed this video...

Update 12/25/07: More here via Atrios.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Videos

Eastern Conference Champions ("Single Sedative"; kind of a rough club version, but I like this song)...

...Happy belated birthday to Billy Gibbons of Z.Z. Top ("Gimme All Your Lovin' - more '80s music cliches running roughshod over human logic)...

...and now, seasonal stuff; a particularly demented version of "Silver Bells" by Steve Martin and Paul Simon, courtesy of Mark and Brian (kind of hard to hear)...

...and Josh Groban performs "O Holy Night" at the Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the Rockefeller Center in NYC on December 4, 2002.

Doomsy's Do-Gooders And Dregs (2007 - Pt. 2)

Time for some more (a prior related post is here)...

Queasy Borderline Hetero Man Crush Of The Year

Roger Simon on Mitt Romney here (courtesy of Atrios/ThinkProgress).

"Romney has chiseled-out-of-granite features, a full, dark head of hair going a distinguished gray at the temples, and a barrel chest" (and “Simon Says,” huh? How original. I guess, being a journalist of a fashion, you use the phrase “The Write Stuff” regularly also, I’m sure).

Romney never served in the military, though the band at his announcement played both “Anchors Aweigh” and “The Marines’ Hymn” (to me, that’s a tremendous insult to our military, but since I’m hardly a Repug, what do I know about these things :- ).

The “Next Time, Shut Your Pie Hole” Citation

On February 26th, former Fed Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan said that we could be looking at a recession later this year; the next day, the Dow dropped 500 points.

Political Odd Couple Of The Year

Al Sharpton and Strom Thurmond (here).

The "As If Digby Actually Needs A Plug From Me" Citation

For this post.

Dregs Of The Year Candidate

Brit Hume (as a commenter and Mara Liasson of NPR noted, Hume, it isn’t that the Walter Reed scandal looks bad, it is bad)…

Do-Gooder Of The Year Nominee

Ellen McKay

Dregs Of The Year Candidate

Morton Kondracke (The Dems are guilty of “junior Stalinism”?)

Dregs Of The Year Candidate

House Dem Dan Boren of Oklahoma, who said here...

"This supplemental should be about supporting the troops and providing what they need," said Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla., on Monday upon returning from a trip to Iraq. Boren said he plans to oppose any legislation setting a clear deadline for troops to leave.
And he's a "Dem," let's not forget.

Dregs Of The Year Candidate

“Gay Baby” Rev. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. here (who thinks an in-vitro procedure could remove some “gay gene” or something; Dr. Jack Drescher merits consideration also).

The “I Don’t Know – He Sounds Pretty ‘Blonde’ To Me” Citation

Japan’s Taro Aso here for his comment about making Japan “a country rich Jews want to live in,” (and a cabinet member’s reference to women as “birth-giving machines”).

More to follow at some point.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (12/21/07)

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.

(By the way, it seems that the Inky is now going to save space by not mentioning the names of our elected representatives unless they vote no or don't show up for a vote - must be a cost-cutting measure.)


Intelligence budget: In a 222-199 vote, the House approved the conference report on an estimated $48 billion fiscal 2008 budget for the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies.

A yes vote was to pass HR 2082.

All Philadelphia-area Democrats voted yes. All area Republicans voted no.
More information is available here.

Defense budget: The House approved, 370-49, the conference report on a bill authorizing a $696.3 billion military budget for fiscal 2008, including nearly $190 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A yes vote was to pass HR 1585.

All Philadelphia-area representatives voted for the bill, except Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), who voted no.
More information is available here on this also, including Patrick Murphy’s call for an investigation into contractor abuses in Iraq, echoing calls from fellow Rep. Louise Slaughter.

Terrorism insurance: In a 303-116 vote, the House sent the Senate a bill renewing for seven years a program of taxpayer backing to help the insurance industry meet the catastrophic costs of any future terrorist attacks.

A yes vote was to pass HR 4299.

All Philadelphia-area representatives voted for the bill, except Michael Castle (R., Del.) and Joseph Pitts (R., Pa.), who voted no.

Alternative minimum tax: In a 226-193 vote, the House sent the Senate a bill to exempt about 21 million middle-income households from the alternative minimum tax this year.

A yes vote was to pass HR 4351.

All Philadelphia-area Democrats voted yes. All area Republicans voted no.
I’m going to jump ahead to this week a bit and note here that Patrick Murphy voted against this when it was finalized without offsetting charges against hedge fund and private equity fund managers (increasing their tax liability) that would pay for the AMT cut (Murphy voted for the two versions of this bill with the offsetting charges).

The bill passed anyway, though I respect the principle behind Murphy’s decision (yet another victory for the “pay no price, bear no burden,” crowd, and I’m certainly not referring to Patrick here by any means).


Home mortgages: In a 93-1 vote, the Senate passed a bill granting the Federal Housing Administration new authority to stimulate the residential housing market, including measures to help holders of shaky subprime mortgages avert default by shifting to FHA-insured loans.

A yes vote was to pass S 2338.

All Philadelphia-area senators voted yes, except Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.), who did not vote.
Though I’m not thrilled with picking up additional liability from the fallout of “Big Shitpile,” to quote Atrios, I have to admit that this makes sense.

Also, I thought this was an interesting post on this subject (speaking of “the devil” – and remember that “MBNA Joe Biden” signed off on the fraud Bankruptcy Bill).

New energy policies: In a 86-8 vote, the Senate sent the House a bill that would raise vehicle mileage requirements by 40 percent by 2020. The vote occurred after the bill was stripped of provisions that sought to raise taxes on oil companies and require utilities to generate 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

A yes vote was to pass HR 6.

All Philadelphia-area senators voted yes, except Biden, who did not vote.
An utter fraud in the sense that oil companies won't be touched (as noted here).

Update 12/26/07: Will Bunch has a great post about what we should do in response, as well as Bushco's fight against California's attempt to regulate greenhouse gases (here - Stephen Johnson of the EPA is nothing but a puppet, but that's par for the foul course; and by the way, in case you have any doubt as to whether or not has turned into "freeper central," get a load of Bunch's comments).

2008 defense budget: In a 90-1 vote, the Senate sent President Bush the conference report on a bill (HR 1585) authorizing a $696.3 billion military budget for fiscal 2008, including nearly $190 billion for war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A yes vote was to approve the conference report.

All Philadelphia-area senators voted yes, except Biden, who did not vote.
This bill of course was stripped of any kind of a withdrawal timetable for our troops, and as I read about this, I couldn’t help but wonder about the few Repugs who actually made noise about starting to bring our people home and how the al-Maliki government in Iraq was approaching “a crucial point” or whatever and was looking at a “three-to-six-month” window or whatever…and how all of that was utter crap just to keep us diverted while the war dragged on ad nauseum.

And I thought of this story about Repug Sen. John Warner of Virginia and how he said in August that our people should be starting to come home by no later than right about now. And I thought of how that was utter crap also.

Five-year farm bill: The Senate passed, 79-14, a five-year, $288 billion farm bill (HR 2419) that extends the current system of subsidies for growers of major crops.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

All Philadelphia-area senators voted yes, except Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), who voted no, and Biden, who did not vote.
This week, the House took up bills on energy and fiscal 2008 appropriations. The Senate debated the same budget bill, the 2008 intelligence budget, and a bill on the alternative minimum tax.

And by the way, I thought this was a good time to note that the Senate Repugs set a record of 62 cloture votes in this session, as Bernie Sanders of Vermont notes here.

Doomsy's Do-Gooders And Dregs (2007 - Pt.1)

Yep, it's the time for "year-end" lists once again, and I'd better start getting this wrapup for 2007 together because I have a lot of stuff, and I hope you enjoy it; it will probably take me up to New Years Eve to get to it all, so here goes.

(Probably unacknowledged hat tips to Atrios, The Daily Kos and others - sorry about that).

Money-Grubbing Jurist Of The Year

That would be Hangin' Judge J.R., who complained that he wasn't making enough money as Chief Justice, pulling in what he thought was a paltry $165K a year (here).

The "OK, Falwell's Gone - Time For You To Take The Hint" Citation

Pat Robertson said a terrorist attack would take place this year here (only a few days left to go; geez, I thought only the Dems supported al Qaeda - smirk).

Do Gooder Of The Year Nominees

The two FCC commissioners appointed by Dems, Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps, for supporting a Net Neutrality provision in the AT&T-BellSouth merger deal here.

Dregs Of The Year Nominee

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin for opposing the provision noted above (evidence also here and here).

Dregs Of The Year Nominee

Hal Turner, based on this World Nut Daily post...

In a statement on his website, (Turner) noted that a newspaper has reported that a bill granting amnesty to illegal aliens is expected to be enacted in January, when the Democratic Party takes control of the U.S. Senate and House.

No word on whether or not Turner was ever charged.

The "I Guess This Explains His Defense of Plessy v. Ferguson" Citation

FBI documents released this year tell of the late William Rehnquist's addiction to a painkiller and his attempt to escape a hospital in his pajamas (here, and kudos to Alan Dershowitz for this, by the way).

Most Unwanted Mailman Of The Year

President George W. Milhous Bush (he merits a few more mentions here, as you may have guessed).

Pundit Idiot Of The Year Nominee

Gretchen Carlson of Fox "News" for this (lots of competition here).

Another Pundit Idiot Of The Year Nominee

Fred Barnes for this (possessing the incomprehensible gall to compare Dubya to Lincoln).

Most Geographically (And Civically) Challenged Right-Wing Blowhard

Glenn Beck for this.

Dregs Of The Year Nominee

"Holy Joe" Lieberman for his evasions on Iraq (here) and his failure to investigate Hurricane Katrina (here).

Dregs Of The Year Nominees

Charles Stimson (h/t to Prof. Marcus for this – dishonorable mentions to Monica Crowley and Robert Pollock also).

Pundit Idiot Of The Year Nominee

J.D. Mullane of the Bucks County Courier Times for apologizing to starlet Anna Nicole Smith after she's dead (here), but not apologizing for saying that "hippies" should be tear gassed while many no doubt are still alive (here).

Dregs Of The Year Nominee

Our Man Arlen Specter, for inserting language into the Patriot Act that allows Dubya to fire federal prosecutors (here - he'll get more mentions also).

The Only Reason To Read The Philadelphia Inquirer In The Entire Month Of January

Faye Flam’s “Carnal Knowledge” column on the sex life of sea urchins (here, with a mention of Christopher Hitchens, no less, and the comparison was actually valid – still waiting for a follow-up on her groundbreaking study of hermaphroditic gastropods)…

…by the way, I had some communication with her over an unrelated matter on her blog, and she’s a classy lady and a real pro.

(Inky link is hosed - sorry.)

Do-Gooder Of The Year Candidate (With Reservations)

Chuck Hagel

Liar Of The Year Nominee

Toby Keith

The "Beating A Dead You-Know-What" Citation

The Philadelphia Inquirer devoted five pages of coverage to the demise of the race horse Barbaro when he was put down on January 30th (here).

Death Wish Pundit Of The Year

Mike Gallagher (Stu Bykofsky of The Daily News would follow his lead later).

The "Nice To Have Will Smith For Your Otherwise Lame Sitcom" Award

Andy Borowitz

Gobbledygook Quote Of The Year

"...the influence of globalization on inequality has been moderate and almost surely less important than the effect of skill-biased technological change."
This was uttered here by Fed chairman Ben Bernanke (though I'll admit that he's right about education).

Hypocrite Of The Year Nominee

Bill Donahue

Dregs Of The Year Candidate

John Howard, former Prime Minister of Australia, for criticizing Dem presidential candidate Barack Obama on Iraq even though Australia has only sent about 1,400 troops (here, and also here).

Pundit Idiot Of The Year

Our own Michael Smerconish for his comparison between guns and single-parent families (here).

Most Inappropriate Comparison Between Muslims And Livestock Citation

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of (where else?) Georgia (here).

Dregs Of The Year Nominee

Rep. Stacey Campfield of Tennessee who wants death certificates for aborted fetuses (and what’s particularly stupid is that Tennessee already tracks aborted fetuses - here)…

Washed Up, Unfunny Right-Wing Hack Comedian Of The Year

Why, Dennis Miller of course.

Worst Attempt To Manufacture A Quote From Perhaps Our Greatest Dead President

House Repug Don Young of Alaska (here).

The “I Wish Molly Ivins Could Write About This From The Great Beyond” Citation

Warren Chisum fights the powerful pro-Copernicus lobby (duuuhh!).

More will follow at some point (not sure when).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Maybe Guns Are Worse After All, Smerky

This quote from Michael Smerconish appears here…

Single-parent house- holds pose more of a threat to safety than firearms.
This was such a cosmically stupid observation that it has stuck with me all this time, and will continue to do so I’m sure.

With that in mind, I’d like to present this story that states the following…

…new research overturns a commonly held belief that families fractured by divorced parents become inferior havens for children compared with stable homes.

"My findings that parenting practices are unrelated to divorce appear to fly in the face of accepted wisdom," said Lisa Strohschein, a sociologist at the University of Alberta in Canada.

Some divorced couples may overcompensate for a split-up by focusing more attention on their kids, which could partially explain why divorced and married households scored similar child-caring marks.
Now I have a question with this right away because 5,000 kids from two-parent households were involved in the survey, with only 200 households that experienced divorce.

Also, I think it’s difficult to measure the effect of divorce on kids in a snapshot like this; someone would need more careful observation over time to get better results (I am hardly an expert here, I should add, and this is only a supposition on my part). However, the point of the survey that the couples’ income level is more of a determining factor in how they raise their kids than whether or not they stay together is the most important “take away” here as far as I’m concerned.

Can’t wait for the O’Reilly-esque frothing over this one, I should add (it’s probably started already).

A Note On The 110th

First the corporate media narrative from The Robertses (here, in a column about Iran, and I would say the right-wing outcry in response to the latest NIE saying they’re not building a bomb has been fairly venomous - another lesson for we in the progressive "blogosphere")…

The Bush Administration, backed by allies in Israel and Europe, is trying hard to spread an unwelcome message: Don’t take the good news about Iran seriously.

They make a compelling case, but a lot of folks don’t want to listen, not at holiday time, not when a weary and dispirited Washington has so much bad news on its plate. Even Republicans can’t wait for Bush to leave town. America’s costly commitment to Iraq seems endless. The housing market is tanking. Congress is useless. Lots of tunnels, not much light.
I can think of at least two columnists who are pretty “useless” also, by the way.

However, I thought this news report on the 110th as they depart was pretty even handed, though; yes, they capitulated on the war, which was the biggest “gut check” – and they failed, and merely delayed enacting a truly odious FISA bill that would have granted telecom immunity – but as the story also notes…

Congress also boosted spending on veterans' needs and overhauled ethics and lobbying rules. Democrats on Wednesday unveiled a proposal to create the first nonpartisan ethics-review panel in House history and passed the most significant gun-control legislation since the early 1990s, by tightening instant background checks.

Beyond that, Democrats secured the biggest overhaul of ethics and lobbying rules since Watergate. And they passed a slew of bills that received little notice, such as money for math and science teachers, tax relief for homeowners in foreclosure, a doubling of basic research funding and reclamation projects for the hurricane-devastated Gulf Coast.
Also, the fact that the Dem majority gives them power over all of the House and Senate committees is something that cannot be overstated in terms of importance. That by itself is a powerful reason to do all we can to preserve that party’s majority and add to it.

I have plenty of disagreements with Sen. Chuck Schumer, but he’s absolutely right when he says, “if you want change, elect more Democrats” (including “more and better” Democrats such as Darcy Burner here).

No "Mo" From Holy Joe

Before I get to the main subjects of this post (Senator Honor and Virtue and the cretin pictured and referenced in the title), I’d like to take a minute and dissect this blog post from Matt Bai of The New York Times in which he starts out discussing “sock puppetry” (i.e., someone online masquerading as an impartial observer though they actually support a candidate – I had to relearn that myself some time back), but then takes some random reader questions…

Diane Montana says: I just spent a week in Iowa, and unlike Mr. Bai, I did get a sense of what Iowans are thinking. How? I asked them. Health care and a big distrust of Washington is on everybody’s lips. Iowans are fairly mild mannered, but there is much frustration and anger there. And they are not big on gossip. They would prefer to talk about policy.

Why didn’t I think of that? Actually, Diane, we reporters talk to lots and lots of voters, but only the less industrious of us would try to pass that off as a good sampling of public opinion. It’s often illuminating, but it’s not a very comprehensive indicator of how specific candidate are faring with the voters, which is the point I was making. You are certainly right about the issues and the general mood here.

Finally, Governor Culver’s press secretary, Brad Anderson, called to tell me that Mrs. Culver did indeed make her own endorsement, independent of the governor, and that the governor might well have tried to stop her. So there. No word yet on whom the Culver children will be endorsing.
I’ll dismiss Bai’s “only the less industrious of us” remark even though I think that’s a pretty crappy attitude towards other reporters perhaps talking to more voters than he is and note that “Diane Montana” may be a “sock puppet” for John Edwards. However, is it too much trouble for Bai to note here that Mrs. Culver actually endorsed John Edwards (here)??!!

Oh, sorry – I should have realized that it was more important for Bai to make a smart remark about the “endorsement” of Mrs. Culver’s kids than it was to give Edwards a fair shake.

And I also want to note this from Bai’s post…

Upstate NY Progressive writes: Can you please attempt to decipher which, if any, of the second-tier Democratic candidates may possibly have a better chance in the caucuses than everyone is giving them? Do any of them have momentum? Can any of them pull off a dark horse upset and come in the top three on caucus night??

This is a good question. My gut here is that there isn’t much room for any true dark horses this time in Iowa, but I am curious to see if John McCain can surprise a lot of people in New Hampshire. Also, an interesting question is whether any of the top-tier candidates will finish much worse than expected in Iowa, as Howard Dean did in 2004.
God, it’s way too damn funny (in an unintentional way) for Bai to completely disregard the rest of the Democratic field and lapse right into the narrative of “John McCain is poised for a comeback in New Hampshire” story line (of course, the Times barely acknowledged the heroic effort of Chris Dodd to push back the FISA vote, so why should they even consider the possibility that that would translate into a higher placement in the Iowa caucuses?).

It’s a shame that Bai didn’t bother to read his fellow Times columnist Peter Applebome today (here), who noted the following about the typically traitorous endorsement by Joe Lieberman of McCain for the Repug presidential nomination…

What this means for Mr. McCain is not clear. The best-case scenario is that it helps draw in independents in New Hampshire. But when Mr. Lieberman was on the ticket in 2000, it was the only New England state to go for George W. Bush. And when Mr. Lieberman ran for president in 2004, he got all of 9 percent of the Democratic primary vote.
Now I know that state trends Republican anyway, but somehow I don’t think The Last Honest Man is going to provide the “bounce” McCain is looking for, which would "take the air" out of Bai and his sunny prediction.

And by the way, concerning another high-profile individual who endorsed McCain recently (here), I think “Top-Step Shill” should take that bloody sock and shove it in his mouth if that’s the only thing that will keep him quiet (here - not a fan of Clemens either, but he’s certainly entitled to his awards despite the controversy, I believe).

Update: By the way, that “straight-talking Maverick” said at a campaign stop in Columbia, S.C. here that…

…he wanted to create an Army Advisory Corps of 20,000 soldiers to act as military advisers and a new Office of Strategic Services to fight terrorists. He said he wanted them to pursue "a crash program in civilian and military schools" to prepare more experienced speakers in strategically important languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Farsi and others, and to "create a new specialty in strategic interrogation — a new, a new group of strategic interrogators so that we never have to feel motivated to torture anyone ever again."
Of course, after making the torture remark, McCain quickly backpedaled and said he didn’t think “U.S. forces” were doing that (playing the legalese game of trying to absolve our military while leaving contractors in that gray area as always, of course).

Still, though, McCain is right to emphasize more language skills that our “forces” should bring to bear in the legitimate fight with terror (which is more about tactics, communications, the common-sense rule of law and working with other nations than anything else).

And that’s one of the reasons why this story is so disturbing.

It's "Elephant (Poop) In The Room" Day!

(A reference to the title of Sen. Scumbag’s column in The Philadelphia Inquirer…).

It looks like Little Ricky witnessed “The Mittster”’s speech on faith, religion and why he secretly wants to be a Baptist as well as a Mormon based on this Philadelphia Inquirer column of Ricky’s today, as ponderous and uninteresting of a literary byproduct as you can imagine.

My limited tolerance for vapidity and egomania as well as current holiday shopping requirements do not permit me the time and opportunity to properly dissect this steaming heap of fecal matter, but I’ll focus on two cringingly obvious samples of Santorum’s screed that merit a response...

Romney's speech was thoughtful and courageous. Unlike John F. Kennedy in 1960, he didn't cop out and say his faith does not matter.
Now we all know that Santorum didn’t even bother to read the speech I posted about here, the one in which JFK said “I believe in a president whose religious views are his own private affair,” “I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end,” or where he noted that the American bishops strongly endorsed the separation of church and state in 1948 (I mean, I hope that’s the explanation for his dunderheaded remark; it would be truly pathetic if he had read the speech but still said that anyway).

But JFK most certainly did not “cop out,” Ricky. And how typically cowardly for you to say that he did considering that he will never be able to defend himself.

I also got a laugh out of this paragraph in particular…

The social teachings of my faith were a factor in my work as a senator. The horror of AIDS and the tragedy of the millions of orphans it has left in Africa prompted my support for greater U.S. funding. But it was Christ's mandate to care for the poor that inspired my efforts to take a leadership role.
Really? Funny, but I don’t recall reading anything in the New Testament about Our Lord blaming poor victims of natural disasters, as you did here concerning those who suffered from Hurricane Katrina…

"I mean, you have people who don't heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving."
I also don’t recall the individual whose birthday we will celebrate in a few days seeking punishment also for those who aid illegal immigrants in this country (including fellow members of the faith you profess to believe in). You also didn’t care about anything approximating economic equality for poor workers in this country, doing all you could to fight the first federal minimum wage increase in ten years (don’t worry, the 110th Congress took care of that after you lost to Bob Casey). And you also didn’t care about elderly Americans trying to save money on imported drugs (everything in this paragraph was noted here).

I don’t see “Christ’s mandate” in any of these actions.

I believe this is the third column that Rick Santorum has written for the Inquirer, and each has proved to be more loathsome and self-serving than the one that preceded it. This is truly laughable for a newspaper that supposedly provides a forum for an audience that has a progressive component of some degree but still manages to exclude David Sirota at this knucklehead’s expense.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wednesday Political Stuff

As we watch this compilation of "Faux News" nonsense concerning John Edwards and Barack Obama, I would ask that you remember that FDR once said, "I welcome their hatred," and I'm sure you know who the "they" was that he was referring to...

...and speaking of the "pin head," here's a seasonal message from the Edwards campaign.

Wednesday Videos

Major technical difficulties for your humble narrator today, but I hope to be back to the blogging thing tomorrow.

In the meantime, please enjoy "Christmas At The Zoo," by The Flaming Lips...

...and Celebrity Bric-A-Brac Theater's "The First Christmas."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tuesday Videos

Black Francis ("Captain Pasty"; by the time you think about it, it's over)...

...Happy Birthday to Keith Richards ("Dead Flowers," performed with "The Lost Highwaymen" introduced by Vince Vaughn)...

...and now, seasonal stuff; Dolores O'Riordan of The Cranberries with Westlife ("The Little Drummer Boy," from 2001 at The Vatican)...

...and the second-from-the-original Christmas episode of "South Park" with Santa vs. Jesus (all kinds of bad words here; I think the subtitles actually make it funnier).

Tuesday Political Stuff

"Falafel Boy" is K.O.'s "Worst Person In The World" today...again (God, what an awful thing to do to a vegetable starch product - #4 here, for those of you keeping score at home)...

(My vote, though, goes to Kevin Martin for this.)

...and "The Pap Attack" tells us exactly what Chris Dodd fought against along with all of us in our opposition to granting telecomm immunity.

John Edwards - The Movie

Yeah yeah, I know, but I thought this was kind of neat - oh and, by the way...

All Hail "Doddmania"!

I support John Edwards of course, but Chris Dodd stands tall right now for this (h/t Atrios).

Monday, December 17, 2007

Monday Holiday Stuff

The Ronettes ("Sleigh Ride"; another nice home made You Tube video - can't wait for that rematch of Phil Spector v. the people of the state of California next year, by the way)...

...and a punk "White Christmas" (seriously, people, take it easy, OK?)

Both of these tunes were recorded by Arthur Fiedler of The Boston Pops, by the way, who was born on this day.

The Next Wave Of Offshore Programmers

In today’s world news, file this under “Bedtime for Bharat” (with Vivek Paul playing the role of “The Gipper,” I’m sure; hey, if they could write the complete works of Shakespeare, as the legend goes, then what's a few lines of C++ or Javascript?).

God, and that poor mayor died when he fell off a balcony fighting them; as George Clooney so memorably told Harvey Keitel in "From Dusk Till Dawn," "life really sticks it in and breaks it off sometimes."

Smerky Serenades "Senator Civility"

In yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, Michael Smerconish brought us the following here…

This was (Arlen) Specter as Pennsylvania elder statesman, anxious to deliver a message about the need for civility and compromise, not shrillness and contempt. He spoke like an ideological moderate fed up with the left-right extremism too often seen on the split screens of America today. And he thought the future should have more of the camaraderie so evident in New York City that night.

"The importance of courtesy and civility is critical at all levels - international negotiations, national, state and local government. This weekend is exactly the kind of time when we should all reflect on how much we have in common and how much harder we should try to get along."

And then came this key line:

"If you can lift a glass together with your colleague from across the aisle on a Saturday night here in New York, you can lift your pen with that same colleague across the hall on Monday morning in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, or any place in our state."
Heaven forfend, could these words have actually been uttered by the man referred to as “Snarlin’ Arlen”? The individual who patented the derisive smirk long before that mental midget from Crawford, TX arrived?

The man who made it his life mission to utterly interrogate and demean Anita Hill every way possible during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 1991 (as Howie at Down With Tyranny notes here)?

The man who uttered these words for which he has yet to be called (from here)?

"I don't know that there is any victory there. We're not going to be able to defeat all the crazies in Iraq."
The individual who flip-flopped on abstinence funding (adding two dozen earmarks to promote it even though it has been proven not to work)?

The man who said here that Mike (“City of Louisiana”) Chertoff would have made a good replacement for Abu G. as Attorney General?

The man who said the 9/11 attacks “could have been prevented if the FBI and CIA communicated” here (probably right, though, but funny how that was ignored along with the quote about Iraq's "crazies")?

And the man who recently blocked a vote on contempt resolutions against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and Karl Rove?

OK, apparently so. I’m glad Our Man Arlen came through in all of these golden moments for which he was not called to account or asked to explain what it was that he meant or was trying to do.

And managed to do all of that with "civility,” as well.

Update 1/2/08: Looks like "Senator Civility" needs to work on his math (here).

Try Again On FISA, Harry

Ted Kennedy tells Harry Reid what he thinks of the FISA bill that was brought to the floor for a vote (and then WITHDRAWN!! SUCCESS!!).

We will have to fight this again in January, of course, but good has been done for now (and Tony Fratto and the rest of Bushco can kiss my ass, by the way - OOGA BOOGA!! TERRA, TERRA, TERRA!! AMERICANS WILL DIE!! 9/11, 9/11!!).

Hat tip to Prof. Marcus for this...

Hispanics Can Be Idiot Columnists Also

You know, I really try not to look for people like Ruben Navarrette, Jr., as well as Kathleen Parker, Jack Kelly, and assorted other right-wing media numbskulls. However, they seem to return to our discourse with the consistency of cockroaches seeking moisture and food scraps through fissures in concrete.

And Navarrette really uncorked a lulu in his corporate media column today on CNN (I’ll get to it in a minute).

Now I’ll be the last person to defend Bill Shaheen, the (former) New Hampshire campaign co-chair for Hillary Clinton, who had the following to say about Barack Obama (from Navarrette’s column)…

In his remarks, Shaheen, a local attorney and Democratic powerbroker, said he was worried that Republicans would have a particularly easy time going after Obama's drug use as a teenager because he has been so open about it. He contrasted this with George W. Bush, who Shaheen said wisely ruled out answering questions about his behavior as a younger man during his presidential run in 1999 and 2000.

Obama's candor on the subject, on the other hand, would "open the door" to further questions, Shaheen had said. "It'll be, 'When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?'" he said. "There are so many openings for Republican dirty tricks. It's hard to overcome."
First of all, Dubya didn’t “wisely rule out answering questions about his behavior.” He played his typical game of saying he didn’t want to talk about it because it would almost be the fault of the questioner if they brought it up to begin with (don’t have his verbatim response, but I’ll keep looking).

This of course fits his template perfectly. Incurious George has always been hopelessly overmatched for the job of president, but I’ll grudgingly acknowledge that he’s plenty cagey in the ways of the world or else he wouldn’t be where he is (having the benefit of pliant corporate media and all advantages of his last name – hell, even his FIRST name is the same as his old man – have proven invaluable also).

However, I seriously believe that, at this point, past “recreational” drug use isn’t going to freak out any voter expect someone who isn’t going to vote for a Dem anyway. People were upset about the “don’t inhale” response from Bill Clinton because it showed a tactical calculation that should not have been necessary, as opposed to simple honesty. And Obama is engaging in the latter here (actually, past tense is appropriate, since this was all noted in his book “Dreams From My Father” anyway, noted in the Post story).

(Now if a candidate is photographed stumbling out of a “crack house” at 4 AM in the morning wearing only socks and a speedo and acting in a disoriented manner, that’s something wholly other. But I should note that those rumors about Tom Tancredo have never been confirmed :- ).

So what does Navarrette Jr. have to say about the Clinton/Obama flap?

But could it be that this story is even worse than many in the national press will say? Isn't it interesting that Shaheen, or whoever is behind this, opted to invoke the image of a drug dealer in referencing the first top-tier black candidate for president? That's quite a coincidence. This wouldn't be an ugly Willie Horton-type tactic intended to harvest fear and play on stereotypes about who is a criminal and who isn't, or -- in this case -- who uses drugs and who sells them?

Nah. Liberal Democrats would never sink that low. Why if they did, how could they continue to package themselves as a kinder and gentler -- and more enlightened -- alternative to Republicans? Certainly not with a straight face.
Wow. As kos would say, “Pot, meet kettle.”

“Whoever is behind this,” huh? This after Navarrette spends much of his column attacking the “Clintonistas” (Painting With A Broad Brush 101, it looks like).

And no Democrat has accused the Clinton people of “an ugly Willie Horton-type tactic” here, by the way. The only person doing that, Navarrette, is you.

(And I'm sure we all know that Horton is pictured above, by the way; G.H.W.B. and Lee Atwater roasting on a spit in hell right now both made sure of that.)

So you imagine that there is any connection at all between a United States Senator, a highly accomplished individual with a depth of international understanding and experience both in government and education, and a felon convicted of armed robbery and rape based on their shared skin color?

Your own ethnic background does not absolve you from culpability for race-baiting rhetoric yourself, you cretin.

Update 1 12/17/07: Yep, we all know that conservatives never engage in race-baiting tactics - only Dems do stuff like that.

Update 2 12/18/07: And concerning the prior update above, I bring you this (h/t Atrios).

The (Real) Trouble With Harry

(Posting is going to be “up in the air” today, and it will probably start to trail off as we get closer to the holidays.)

After spending way too much time here defending Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (including yesterday, for valid reasons I should add), I find myself utterly repulsed by his actions on the FISA bill that he plans to bring to the floor of the U.S. Senate today, as are many of you I'm sure (Sen. Russ Feingold has more here – h/t Atrios – and more is here from The Daily Kos; here and here are prior related posts, and I would call these numbers pretty decisive).

I can tolerate some of Reid's actions on legislation regarding Iraq, for example, since as we know all too well, the Democrats don’t have enough of a majority in that body to overcome Repug obstruction (to say nothing of not having a Democratic president). But the bill he plans to introduce that grants retroactive telecomm immunity is a cave-in, pure and simple.

Because of this, I’ve been reading up on a variety of sources to find out how or if he can be replaced as U.S. Senate Majority Leader. While it has been informative to learn a bit about the role of the majority leader as part of the arcane details of serving in that body, I haven’t really been able to find the answers I’m looking for.

However, I did come across this article from about five years ago concerning the fallout engulfing former Majority Leader Trent Lott because of his moronic “all these problems” remark at the birthday party for Strom Thurmond. The article tells us that, at first, one-time Lott ally and former Oklahoma Repug Senator Don Nickels…

…called for a new election. Several other senators backed this demand, and Lott agreed to hold a closed-door meeting of the Republican caucus on January 6 where the vote could be taken. On December 19, Senator William Frist of Tennessee announced he would challenge Lott in the caucus vote. With heavy backing from the Bush White House, Frist rapidly won the support of a majority of the 51 Republican senators. The next day Lott conceded the race, clearing the way for Frist to become Senate majority leader when the new Congress reconvenes.
So it looks like what would be required in the case of Harry Reid would be for another Democratic senator to call for a new election, thus necessitating some kind of closed-door caucusing from which another Senator would challenge Reid. And in the case of Lott, the White House pretty much refereed the transition from Lott to Bill “Cat Killer” Frist.

But with Reid, there really is no “head of the Democratic Party” White House presence that would guide or enforce all of this activity. Also, it’s hard to imagine someone like Russ Feingold or Ted Kennedy (my choices to replace Reid) garnering the support of “Democrats” like Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln or Tom Carper in a caucus vote.

And none of this even touches on what would be the biggest problem, and that is that such an election to replace Reid would be a HUGE PR victory for the Repugs. This would enforce the “squabbling, divided Democrats” narrative into stone far better than any Fox “news story” or RNC-sponsored attack TV ad (as well as re-launch the whole “The Democrat Party is held hostage by” cries once more). And Mitch McConnell would probably be the first to run to Reid’s side in his defense.

So it looks like we’re stuck with “the Senate Majority Leader We Have” who chooses not to respect holds by members of his own Party but instead allows those by opposition-party Senators (another h/t to Atrios for this).

I can’t think of a word to describe how pathetic this truly is (and I’m also starting to get concerned about the Democrats even being able to maintain control of that body after the next election, to say nothing of picking up additional seats).

Update: Sometimes I wish this were all just a bad dream...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sunday Videos

Two from Dan Fogelberg, who left us today - "To The Morning" ("A boy dreams of another time and place")...

...and "These Days" (an album/photo slide show).

Trying To Close Dubya's "Back Door"

Last week in this post, I noted the following quote from George W. Milhous Bush about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's plan to hold "pro forma" sessions that would last approxi- mately 30 seconds over the holiday break; Incurious George had this to say in response:

“If 30 seconds is a full day,” Mr. Bush said, “no wonder Congress has got a lot of work to do.”
Hah hah, you moron (as the post also noted, Dubya had taken as much vacation time in three years as Bill Clinton took in seven, and I believe that, by now, he has shattered the record set by Ronnie Ray Gun - and never forget how we loved "The Gipper" for his "optimism"...easy to have a good outlook on life when you're well connected and rich).

Well, as the post also noted, the point of Reid's maneuver was to prevent the "Dear Leader" from making recess appointments, and this New York Times story tells us of one that Dubya would likely make for some human slug named Robert J. Battista, whose term as head of the National Labor Relations Board ends today.

Hmm, Labor would ordinarily think of mediation on behalf of workers with management disputes, right? Well, never forget that Battista belongs to Bushco, so...

Senate and House Democrats attacked the Republican-led National Labor Relations Board at a Congressional hearing on Thursday, saying its recent decisions had favored employers over workers.

The Democrats focused on 61 board decisions issued in September that, among other things, made it harder for unions to organize workers and harder for illegally fired employees to collect back pay.

“This board has undermined collective bargaining at every turn, putting the power of the law behind lawbreakers, not law victims,” said Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

At the hearing, Wilma B. Liebman, a Democratic member of the five-member board, which oversees unionization rules for workers in private industry, repeatedly clashed with the board’s Republican chairman, Robert J. Battista.

“Virtually every recent policy choice by the board,” Ms. Liebman said, “impedes collective bargaining, creates obstacles to union representation or favors employer interests.”


At Thursday’s hearing, a hotel housekeeper, Feliza Ryland, testified about her fight to win back pay after the board ruled in 2001 that she and 43 other workers had been illegally fired in 1996 in a labor dispute with Grosvenor Resorts in Orlando, Fla.

“It has now been more than 11 years since I was unlawfully fired,” Ms. Ryland said, “and I am still waiting to see the back pay, still waiting to see justice.”

In a decision in September, the board sharply reduced the workers’ back pay, saying they forfeited the right to full back pay because they picketed for several weeks in an effort to get their jobs back instead of looking for new jobs. The board’s majority wrote that giving full back pay would “reward idleness.”
Very Dickensian on the part of the NLRB, I must say.

This is a link to their website; I've been trying to determine the political composition of the five-member board, but my slightly educated guess is that it is a Repug majority (would Bushco have it any other way?)

And this Washington Post article tells us of two other potential recess appointments that Reid is trying to block with his pro-forma sessions. One is Charles Pickering to an appeals court seat; as noted here by People for the American Way, Pickering's decisions on civil rights cases had been overturned frequently by appeals courts, and he also intervened in trying to obtain a reduced sentence for a defendant convicted in a case of burning a cross on the lawn of an interracial couple's property (actually, I'm not sure whether or not Pickering is a racist - the jury seems to be out on that, if you will - but I would say that his understanding of the law and legal procedure is questionable at best).

The other recess appointment Reid is trying to block is that of Sam Fox as ambassador to Belgium (Fox being a leading Swift Boat ad campaign contributor who, of course, utterly chickened out here when confronted by John Kerry during Fox's hearing for the Belgium post last February).

I definitely have issues with Harry Reid at this moment (and speaking of the Senate, click here to support Chris Dodd's FISA filibuster; not happy with Dodd either for sucking up to Imus, but he's standing tall at this moment as well), but Reid deserves our support for doing what he can to oppose more Bushco contamination of our government and our courts.