Friday, January 04, 2008

Friday Videos

Happy Birthday to Bernard Sumner of Joy Division ("Love Will Tear Us Apart")...

...Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd would have been 61 62 on Sunday ("Wish You Were Here," accompanied by a neat slide show - "classic rock" I know, but I always had a soft spot for this song)...

...Happy Birthday also to Michael Stipe of REM (this was a good interview with him conducted by Bill Maher in March 2006 - "my" band, though? - but do yourself a favor and shut this off after about 5:25; this was the episode where Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and that airhead Michele Mitchell ganged up on Richard Belzer - I got into all of that here)...

...and Breaking Benjamin ("Until The End," with some clips from the first Fantastic Four movie - another message for the Edwards campaign).

Friday Political Stuff

I certainly don't support him as a candidate, but kudos to the Ron Paul people for taking snark to a whole new level (re: Rudy and his latest bogus campaign ad)...

...and speaking of campaign ads, this is just a reminder that John Edwards is sticking around - we have a ways to go.

Fair Is Fair

Atrios is right; this was a good speech (I thought Obama co-opted some themes articulated by John Edwards, but to be fair, they belong more to the party than a single individual).

Though I obviously wish Edwards had won, I can respect Iowa's Democrats a lot more than I can respect that state's Republicans; Frederick of Hollywood does little more than take a nap and scuff his shoes a time or two in that state and he manages to come in tied for third?

Posting is big question mark for today, by the way - have fun.

By the way, John Zogby on C-SPAN, speaking about St. McCain, just said that New Hampshire loves him, particularly because "he's the 'straight-talking maverick' again."

God, is the bar open yet?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Thursday Videos

Chris Cornell ("You Know My Name"; soundtrack to the latest James Bond film, apparently - I don't keep up with those flicks, though the clips here look good)...

...and as an admittedly feeble attempt at a pick-me-up for John Edwards who came in second in Iowa tonight behind Barack Obama, here's "It Doesn't Matter" by Stephen Stills and Manassas on the occasion of Stills' 63rd birthday (actually, it does matter I know, but we have hopefully a lot further to go in this thing and a lot more work to do).

Update 1/4/08: By the way, best wishes for a full recovery, Stephen (here).

A Sad Inconsistency

Can someone explain to me why the White House would release a statement expressing sympathy concerning the murder of four Russian diplomats in Iraq that took place in June 2006, but say nothing about the murder of American diplomat John Granville in the Sudan along with his driver, an employee of the American embassy (here)?

Here is a link to the White House site, by the way – maybe they’ve updated it, but I couldn’t find anything.

To be fair, Sean McCormack of the State Department answered questions about the murders in this wide-ranging press briefing here, but I guess those who quite probably killed our own people aren’t “high value targets” worthy of mention by Bushco.

Little Ricky Goes To The Movies

I’m currently trying to avoid any news whatsoever on the Iowa caucuses (hey, it would be cool if John Edwards pulled it out, especially because New Hampshire would be a much tougher slog), partly because I don’t have much “capacity” for the blogging thing at the moment and I want to spread it around as much as I can, and partly because I’m sick of hearing about Iowa and I just want it over and done with, OK?

So, with that in mind, I happened across the latest tripe from Former Senator Man-On-Dog in the Inquirer today, and I felt that (as usual), it deserves a response.

Little Ricky is waxing philosophic (for him) over what he sees as a positive trend in the movies, and that is “recognition of life in the womb” (which, as we know, is the “soft focus” code language regarding the attempts to criminalize a woman’s right to decide what transpires regarding her body).

To wit…

U.S. audiences flocked to see five motion pictures with life-affirming texts or subtexts: Knocked up, Waitress, Bella, August Rush and Juno.

In these movies, abortion was urged on women facing an unplanned pregnancy, and rejected. Ultrasound images awakened characters and audiences to the humanity of the unborn. Having a baby, even in the most challenging circumstances, became the compelling "choice." Adoption was held up as a positive alternative to abortion. And, unlike the news media's portrayal of pro-lifers, protesters outside abortion clinics were authentically depicted as warm and concerned. This stood in contrast to the indifference of the staff within.
I can’t judge that remark because I didn’t see these movies, but I’m sure it is every bit as bogus as something you might expect from our former senator (and as far as those “warm and concerned” pro-lifers – and I’m sure many are, to be fair – take a look at this).

And while I know it is “department of the obvious” stuff to point out that this supposed “flowering of pro-life America” is nothing but corporate Hollywood forcing its imprimatur on its movies in order to placate an extremely noisy and easily-dissed minority that is as offended by the “a” word as they are about the exposure of Janet Jackson’s 40-year-old, diamond-studded, African American mammary gland, it needs to be pointed out anyway (and the New York Times does so here)...

Though conservatives regularly accuse Hollywood of being overly liberal on social issues, abortion rarely comes up in film. Real-life women struggling with unwanted pregnancies might consider an abortion, have intense discussions with partners and friends about it and, in most cases, go through with it. But historically and to this day in television and film — historians, writers and those in the movie industry say — a character in such straits usually conveniently miscarries or decides to keep the baby.

“It’s one of those topics that would alienate a portion of the audience no matter what you do,” Sarah Brown, executive director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, said of Hollywood’s reluctance to tackle abortion more realistically.

Perhaps directors of feel-good movies don’t want to risk portraying their heroines as unsympathetic characters.

Jonathan Kuntz, an American film history professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that for the entertainment industry, “It’s a no-win situation.”

“It’s kind of a tricky topic,” he said. “It’s something that’s going to turn off people on both sides unless you do it just right. It’s no surprise Hollywood avoids it.”
Well, since our moviemakers apparently think American audiences are too immature to watch a production that deals with abortion intelligently and realistically (which is, in the end, a good way to curb abortion anyway, but Santorum’s mentality of denial is part and parcel of the dogma of keeping men and women and children sexually ignorant anyway), I should note here that a Romanian film "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" won the best film prize at the 20th annual European Film Awards in Berlin last month (“a harrowing film about illegal abortion in communist-era Romania,” according to the story).

Sorry that doesn’t sound like such a “life affirming” tale, former Senator Scumbag, but I guess we have to leave this country altogether to watch an intelligent treatment of this topic that would probably do more to encourage the pro-life choice desired by many than anything you could muster with your prejudiced and misinformed editorial attacks.

Why I Hate The Corporate Media

This is "echo chamber time," but I don't care; Richard Cohen brought us this dreck yesterday...

John Edwards lied about the cost of his haircuts.

Uh, no. As BarbinMD of The Daily Kos points out...

Apparently Mr. Cohen decided to ignore the fact that the cost of Edwards' haircut(s) was revealed through...wait for it...the Edwards' campaign's FEC filings.
Everyone else maligned by Cohen can fend for themselves, but I just wanted to point that out.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Wednesday Political Videos

Big hat tips to Prof. Marcus and Lukery for this (here - and how right Sibel Edmonds is)...

...and shifting gears a bit, here's my response to this Atrios post (tongue in cheek, of course) on Rudy! (God, Tweety looks like Murrow reincanated for a few fleeting seconds; I must be dreaming!).

...and of course, we must consider this "soft focus" moment with second wife Donna Hanover (hope things are still dreamy between "America's Mayor" and Judi N.)...

...and here's another tribute to the 2007 "Dregs Of The Year".

Wednesday Mashup (1/2/08)

  • This analysis
  • of Mike Huckabee in the New York Times last Sunday brought us the following excerpt…

    “I see Huckabee as more of a Prairie populist than what I would consider a traditional conservative,” said former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a stalwart of the conservative movement once considered a 2008 presidential contender himself. “I don’t see how he takes that show across the East Coast or even the Midwest.”

    Still, he acknowledged that in some ways Mr. Huckabee’s combination of social conservatism and sympathy for the working class also touched a fault line that ran further through the Republican Party, including in his home state of Pennsylvania.

    “He would do very, very well in southwestern Pennsylvania, Reagan Democrat country,” where many socially conservative working-class voters “have a heart for the poor and, unfortunately, think of government as the answer,” Mr. Santorum said.
    Take a look at this, Little Ricky. It tells you that Democrats have won Pennsylvania in the last four straight presidential elections. And we’re going to do it by more than three points this year (that was John Kerry’s margin in ’04), you sanctimonious prick (yeah, I know, I’m not supposed to be about name-calling, but I’ll make an exception for Santorum).

    (By the way, while I definitely am not a fan of any Repug and I think Huckabee has so many problems that it’s a pathetic testimony that he’s even being taken seriously, I have no personal animosity towards him; I didn’t like the whole “cross” thing in the ad...if a fraud like Bill Donahue is exercised over it, then to me, this ultimately is not a big deal...but it’s par for the course for his ilk.)

  • Dan Froomkin of The Washington Post lets us know here that George W. Milhous Bush and his minions are going to go after the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge again in an effort to siphon off any oil and utterly ruin the related ecosystem (this is a recording).

    God, these people truly are locusts; it never matters how many times they’re told “no,” they always come back for what they want (take a lesson for a change, congressional Democrats).

    And who is going to be one of the slovenly minions in pursuit of this disaster, you may ask (besides Dick Cheney and new Bush “counselor” Ed Gillespie)?

    Why, that would be Barry Jackson, who was named to succeed “Turd Blossom.”

    What, you mean you don’t know who he is? Neither did I until a minute ago, actually, but it turns out that (according to here)…

    Jackson was "one of the White House employees discovered to be using RNC email accounts[2] to e-mail an associate[3] of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff."[4]
    So he appears to be eminently qualified to “move up the ladder” among this brood of vipers.

  • Simply put, this post points out that, in the 2006 Connecticut Democratic Senatorial primary, John Edwards supported Ned Lamont and Barack Obama supported this guy (who subsequently bailed on the victims of Hurricane Katrina as chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, refused to investigate contractor fraud in Iraq, and recently endorsed John McCain for president, even though he said he would support a Democrat for president in 2008).

    And for the record, I agree with kos here that the whole “Iowa caucus” thing is a little ridiculous anyway.

    (By the way, posting will continue to be iffy for a few days; some “pay the bills” stuff to do instead.)

  • Update 1/2/08: What's a million or so here or there, right, Arlen?

    Mark Shields Talks About Government

    He’s not bad as far as it goes with corporate media journos (link here), though he has uttered an unkind word about bloggers from time to time. However, I think this is something to remember periodically (spoken at a commencement address given to Hobart and William Smith Colleges on May 12, 2002).

    Permit me a word of what has become the mindless demonizing of government.

    Government at its best has always been and can be a crucial instrument of helping people to help themselves. After all, it was the national government that affirmed the Bill of Rights. Our precious natural resources have been protected, preserved against the shortsighted and the greedy, not by local government but by the national government.

    The national government has been accused of diminishing freedom, and that is true. Yes, "the freedom" of the privileged and the powerful to work 11-year-old children in mills and mines and in factories was abolished. Abolished by the government, the national government. "The freedom" of powerless workers to endure squalid conditions for near starvation wages was abolished by the national government. The freedom of the majority to impose racial segregation to deprive African-Americans, Latino-Americans, even those who had fought for their country and spilled their own blood to buy their own child a hamburger, a Coke and fries, or to use a public restroom. Yes, those "freedoms" were proudly abolished. Not by states' rights, not by local government or privatization or Dow Jones, but our national government.

    Just 30 years ago in the United States, 34 of every 100 Americans over the age of 65 lived in poverty. Today, largely because of what other Americans have done through their own national government the percentage of seniors living in poverty has been cut by three-quarters.

    Government can and does make mistakes. Government is not perfect. It is flawed and it can be terminally frustrating in its unresponsiveness.

    But it is important to our national community and confidence that we celebrate our successes. In the very lifetime of the members of the Class of 2002, think of what we have achieved in this nation for the environment. At the beginning of the decade in which many of you were born, three out of four rivers in the United States were unswimable and unfishable. The Great Lakes, the greatest fresh water gift any people had been blessed with by a generous Providence, were actually dying. So polluted and infected was the Cuyahoga River running through the city of Cleveland that it actually caught fire. And this nation committed itself under a Republican president, Richard Nixon, and a Democratic Congress to end our abuse of nature. Just in your own lifetimes, we have gone from three out of four rivers being unswimable and unfishable, to four out of five being swimable and fishable, to 99 percent of the lead being removed from the air, to the Great Lakes now alive and vibrant and vital, spiritually, economically, recreationally because of what those who went before you did, and cared to do and committed to do. Your lungs are healthier, your lives are longer and better, and so will be your children's. And it is important to celebrate.

    It was a great Republican president, Theodore Roosevelt, who said, "The government is us. We are the government, you and I."
    (Note: I’m doing more site housekeeping stuff and changing a few links; that’s why I’m reposting this.)

    "Shake Your Money Maker," J.R.

    I suppose this will be yet another New Years’ ritual, but Hangin’ Judge J.R. of The Supremes is back to beg for more money again (here).

    If nothing else, I admire J.R.’s sense of punctuality; I posted on this same subject exactly a year ago (here).

    Well, if I were an employer, I would decide whether or not I wanted to reward an employee with more dough if they truly understood the value of a dollar. So I decided to do a little digging into some of J.R.’s prior decisions to find out if he qualified.

    And before I give you my answer, please take a look at this Wikipedia article on the False Claims Act (also called the “Lincoln Law”), which states that it…

    …is an American federal law which allows people, whether affiliated with the government or not, to file actions against federal contractors claiming fraud against the government. The act of filing such actions is informally called "whistleblowing". Persons filing under the Act stand to receive a portion (usually about 15-25 percent) of any recovered damages.

    The Act provides a legal tool to counteract fraudulent billings turned in to the Federal Government. Claims under the law have been filed by persons with insider knowledge of false claims which have typically involved health care, military, or other government spending programs.
    As you consider this, I would ask that you read about the case of “United States ex rel. Totten v. Bombardier Corp., 380 F.3d 488 (D.C. Cir. 2004)” (more information is on pg. 9 here).

    As the linked text tells us…

    Edward Totten, a former Amtrak employee, brought this action under the False Claims Act, charging that two private companies had delivered defective rail cars to Amtrak and had submitted invoices to Amtrak for payment for them from an account that included federal funds. The district court dismissed the case, holding that, under the False Claims Act, the false claims must have been presented to an officer or employee of the United States government, and that, since Amtrak is not the government, the Act did not apply.10

    Totten appealed, and in a 2-1 ruling in which Judge Roberts wrote the majority opinion, the D.C. Circuit affirmed. Judge Roberts stated that the plain language of the statute required the claims to “be presented to an officer or employee of the Government before liability can attach,” and that it was not sufficient for the claim to be paid by a federal grantee using money provided by the government to pay the claim where the grantee was not a department or agency of the government. 380 F.3d at 490, 491.

    Judge Merrick Garland dissented, stating that “[u]nder the court’s interpretation, the government cannot recover against a contractor that obtains money by presenting a false claim to a federal grantee,” and that the “court’s ruling immunizes [from False Claim Act liability] those who defraud” a government-funded corporation that receives billions of dollars in federal funds, merely because the grantee does not re-present the claims to the government. Id. at 503. Judge Garland criticized the majority’s interpretation of the Act as “inconsistent with its plain text” as well as “not just inconsistent, but irreconcilable with the legislative history of the 1986 amendments to the False Claims Act.” Id.

    Judge Garland further noted that the government, arguing as an amicus curiae on behalf of Totten, had warned that the interpretation of the Act adopted by the majority “leaves ‘vast sums of federal monies’ without False Claims Act protection.’” Id. at 502 (citation omitted). According to the government, this interpretation will “‘significantly restrict[] the reach of the False Claims Act in a manner that Congress did not intend, withdrawing False Claims Act protection with respect to a broad swath of false claims inflicting injury on the federal fisc.’”
    Id. at 516.
    And though Judge Garland pointed this out above, this Wikipedia article tells us that Amtrak, while not a government agency, is “a quasi-governmental corporation” and “all of Amtrak's preferred stock is owned by the Federal government. The members of its board of directors are appointed by the President of the United States and are subject to confirmation by the United States Senate.”

    And as Judge Garland also noted, Roberts’ narrow reading of the False Claims Act would prevent the government from recovering “vast sums of federal monies” in the event that a legal verdict of fraud is determined against a “a quasi-government agency” or related party.

    So, to answer my question of whether or not J.R. truly understood the value of a dollar (coming from our taxpayer funds in both federal and state aid), I would have to say that the answer is no (and I know Roberts is seeking raises for federal judges besides those sought for he and his fellow Supremes, but my verdict on this still stands, if you will).

    Try again on the raises next year, J.R.; at least he didn’t call it a “constitutional crisis” this time.

    Bushco's New Years' "CYA" On Bhutto

    This Yahoo News story tells us…

    The United States provided a steady stream of intelligence to Benazir Bhutto about threats against her before the former Pakistani prime minister was assassinated and advised her aides on how to boost security, although key suggestions appear to have gone unheeded, U.S. officials said Monday.

    The intelligence was also shared with the Pakistani government, the officials said.
    That’s about as good as helping Musharraf figure out how to kill her as far as I’m concerned; as noted here, police abandoned their security posts in Rawalpindi shortly before she was killed, and the preposterous notion that she received a fatal skull fracture by bumping her head on the hood of the car would be laughable except for the circumstances (the absence of an autopsy is most telling of all, though).

    And besides, if our government was supposedly so cooperative with Bhutto and her supporters, then why was her husband, Asif Ali Zardari (who visited the United States shortly before her death to plead for help) denied the meetings he sought at the top levels of the State Department (noted here by Roger Cohen; “Genghis” did a good job, which happens not nearly as much as it should…Cohen also notes that Bushco failed to pressure Musharraf to allow the FBI to investigate the previous attempt on her life last October 18th).

    And in the wake of all of this, NBC News correspondent Michelle Kosinski tells us here…

    At the gates of Liaquat Park, where Pakistan's first prime minister had been assassinated, and where Benazir Bhutto waved her last to the crowds on Thursday, was a small group of older men, praying silently together. And one by one, more people on the streets would join them, slowly and without cheering or jeering or setting anything aflame but some white candles.

    None of them noticed us. Their sorrow was more palpable in that moment than the lingering oily smoke that made us stifle our coughing.

    That was the last image we saw in Rawalpindi before darkness completely overtook the dusty old town.

    Most of Pakistan is not raging in the streets, but waiting, and watching. Worrying, and mourning.
    And in the unreal world of Beltway punditry, we have Little Timmeh Russert trying to get Barack Obama to confirm the absurd “conventional wisdom” that, somehow, Bhutto’s assassination is a weapon of sorts to be used against Hillary Clinton for her vote in favor of the Iraq war (huh?).

    I’m not happy with Obama for some of his recent, right-wing-pandering comments against John Edwards and other Democrats, but I thought he did a good job here stating the obvious (though Atrios and Arianna are both right, sadly – “zombie lies never die,” especially this year).

    Update: This is positive anyway.

    Tuesday, January 01, 2008

    Tuesday Videos

    Alter Bridge ("Rise Today"; a nice, anthemic kickass rocker to start the year)...

    ...Hank Williams died of a drug and alcohol overdose 55 years ago today (here's the standard "Lovesick Blues," and this is just about as close to country as I get - a collection of performance clips from the '50s not synched with the song; love the jacket)...

    ...and in recognition of some of the unfortunate public statements coming from the Democratic senator of Illinois running for president (here and here), here's "Politician" with Jack Bruce and Rory Gallagher (tongue firmly in cheek here)....

    ...and speaking of politics, here is a timely message with the Iowa caucuses coming up in two days (and we'll take all the help we can get).

    Ringing In The Old, Unfortunately

    Sorry to start things off on a bit of a downer, but the New York Times hit a home run with this editorial yesterday...

    There are too many moments these days when we cannot recognize our country. Sunday was one of them, as we read the account in The Times of how men in some of the most trusted posts in the nation plotted to cover up the torture of prisoners by Central Intelligence Agency interrogators by destroying videotapes of their sickening behavior. It was impossible to see the founding principles of the greatest democracy in the contempt these men and their bosses showed for the Constitution, the rule of law and human decency.

    It was not the first time in recent years we’ve felt this horror, this sorrowful sense of estrangement, not nearly. This sort of lawless behavior has become standard practice since Sept. 11, 2001.

    The country and much of the world was rightly and profoundly frightened by the single-minded hatred and ingenuity displayed by this new enemy. But there is no excuse for how President Bush and his advisers panicked — how they forgot that it is their responsibility to protect American lives and American ideals, that there really is no safety for Americans or their country when those ideals are sacrificed.

    Out of panic and ideology, President Bush squandered America’s position of moral and political leadership, swept aside international institutions and treaties, sullied America’s global image, and trampled on the constitutional pillars that have supported our democracy through the most terrifying and challenging times. These policies have fed the world’s anger and alienation and have not made any of us safer.

    In the years since 9/11, we have seen American soldiers abuse, sexually humiliate, torment and murder prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq. A few have been punished, but their leaders have never been called to account. We have seen mercenaries gun down Iraqi civilians with no fear of prosecution. We have seen the president, sworn to defend the Constitution, turn his powers on his own citizens, authorizing the intelligence agencies to spy on Americans, wiretapping phones and intercepting international e-mail messages without a warrant.

    We have read accounts of how the government’s top lawyers huddled in secret after the attacks in New York and Washington and plotted ways to circumvent the Geneva Conventions — and both American and international law — to hold anyone the president chose indefinitely without charges or judicial review.

    Those same lawyers then twisted other laws beyond recognition to allow Mr. Bush to turn intelligence agents into torturers, to force doctors to abdicate their professional oaths and responsibilities to prepare prisoners for abuse, and then to monitor the torment to make sure it didn’t go just a bit too far and actually kill them.

    The White House used the fear of terrorism and the sense of national unity to ram laws through Congress that gave law-enforcement agencies far more power than they truly needed to respond to the threat — and at the same time fulfilled the imperial fantasies of Vice President Dick Cheney and others determined to use the tragedy of 9/11 to arrogate as much power as they could.

    Hundreds of men, swept up on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, were thrown into a prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, so that the White House could claim they were beyond the reach of American laws. Prisoners are held there with no hope of real justice, only the chance to face a kangaroo court where evidence and the names of their accusers are kept secret, and where they are not permitted to talk about the abuse they have suffered at the hands of American jailers.

    In other foreign lands, the C.I.A. set up secret jails where “high-value detainees” were subjected to ever more barbaric acts, including simulated drowning. These crimes were videotaped, so that “experts” could watch them, and then the videotapes were destroyed, after consultation with the White House, in the hope that Americans would never know.

    The C.I.A. contracted out its inhumanity to nations with no respect for life or law, sending prisoners — some of them innocents kidnapped on street corners and in airports — to be tortured into making false confessions, or until it was clear they had nothing to say and so were let go without any apology or hope of redress.

    These are not the only shocking abuses of President Bush’s two terms in office, made in the name of fighting terrorism. There is much more — so much that the next president will have a full agenda simply discovering all the wrongs that have been done and then righting them.

    We can only hope that this time, unlike 2004, American voters will have the wisdom to grant the awesome powers of the presidency to someone who has the integrity, principle and decency to use them honorably. Then when we look in the mirror as a nation, we will see, once again, the reflection of the United States of America.
    "Pinch" Sulzberger and the gang are still chumps for hiring Bill Kristol, but for now, we have our marching orders for 2008.

    Update 1/2/08: And here's more from clammyc...

    One of the legacies of six years of the George W. Bush Administration is that America has gone "From $20 trillion in fiscal exposures in 2000 to over $50 trillion in only six years? What shall we do for an encore... shoot for $100 trillion?"

    Typing this I feel like Alice talking with the Cheshire Cat:

    "But I don't want to go among mad people" Alice remarked.
    "Oh, you can't help that" said the Cat: "We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
    "How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
    "You must be" said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."

    The US is insolvent. There is simply no way for our national bills to be paid under current levels of taxation and promised benefits. Our combined federal deficits now total more than 400% of GDP.

    That is the conclusion of a recent Treasury/OMB report entitled
    Financial Report of the United States Government [.pdf] that was quietly slipped out on a Friday (12/15/06), deep in the holiday season, with little fanfare. Sometimes I wonder why the Treasury Department doesn't just pay somebody to come in at 4:30 am Christmas morning to release the report. Additionally, I've yet to read a single account of this report in any of the major news media outlets but that is another matter.

    But, hey, I understand. A report is this bad requires all the muffling it can get.

    In his
    accompanying statement to the report, David Walker, Comptroller of the US, warmed up his audience by stating that the GAO had found so many significant material deficiencies in the government's accounting systems that the GAO was "unable to express an opinion" on the financial statements. Ha ha! He really knows how to play an audience!
    Oy (yes, I know that makes this a year old, but that doesn't diminish its urgency as far as I'm concerned)...

    Monday, December 31, 2007

    New Years Eve Videos

    Redwood ("Falling Down"; I like the song, but it's a shame that the vid is so clueless)...

    ...Happy Birthday to Paul Westerberg of The Replacements ("Unsatisfied," and no, I didn't see "Airheads" - not a clue as to what is going on in this vid, but I always liked this song)...

    ...I was wondering exactly how to end the year and welcome 2008 on an "up" note, and I saw this on Eschaton a few days ago and thought it would be a good choice; here's "Sweet Georgia Brown," with Sidney Bechet on soprano sax, Teddy Buckner on trumpet, Vic Dickenson on trombone, Arvell Shaw on bass, Sammy Price on piano, and Roy Eldridge on drums (1958 was a good year)....

    ...but I can't quite let 2007 go yet without one more tribute to Dan Fogelberg (a slide show accompanying "Leader Of The Band").

    New Years Eve Political Stuff

    I forgot to include Fred Kagan in the "Do-Gooders And Dregs" posts, so here he is along with "General" Kristol (Pinch really "screwed the pooch" by bringing him on board)...

    ...and "The Pap Attack" brings us "Seven Years In Hell" (this is a good reason for a stiff drink, but of course please don't drive after doing so)...

    Doomsy's Do-Gooders And Dregs (2007 - Pt. 8)

    Time to finish this up, at long last (prior related posts are here, here, here, here, here, here, and here)...


    Art Buchwald, Molly Ivins, Arthur Schlesinger, Tom Eagleton, Kurt Vonnegut, David Halberstam, Mstislav Rostropovich, Steve Gilliard, J.B. Handelsman, Khalid W. Hassan, Doug Marlette, Lady Bird Johnson, Ingmar Bergman, Tom Snyder, Norman Mailer, Hy Lit, Milo Radulovich, Luciano Pavarotti, Oscar Peterson, Dan Fogelberg and Stu Nahan

    Here are some tribute videos, first of Oscar Peterson ("You Look Good To Me"; deleted this earlier by accident)...

    Update 1/14/08: Well said.

    ...Brian Williams of NBC News remembers Tom Snyder from earlier this year...

    ...Rostropovich plays Allemande from J.S. Bach's Cello Suite No.1...

    ...and Molly Ivins is remembered in this tribute on "The Newshour with Jim Lehrer" from last February 1st, a 1986 report on "art" in the state of Texas - sorry that the picture quality isn't better, but it's good enough.

    I thought these were four of the best political videos of the year; first, Dem U.S. House Rep Anthony Weiner of New York "throws down the gauntlet" at the "Republic" Party..., Chris Dodd mixes it up with that idiot O'Reilly (as Atrios says, "more like this")...

    ...I absolutely loved this; Keith Olbermann reads a "Tom Tomorrow" comic making fun of O'Reilly (I guess these last two tell you what I think of O'Reilly, huh?)...

    ...and while this isn't the video of Ted Kennedy speaking out in favor of SCHIP that I was looking for, it is close enough and shows him stating the case eloquently, blowing up the freeper boogeyman of "socialized medicine" in the process.

    And now, without further ado, here is my choice for "Dregs Of The Year"...

    It would be this guy, Mitch McConnell (a.k.a., "Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao").

    I could have chosen from anyone in a huge field here - "Deadeye Dick" Cheney, Gen. David Petraeus (maybe a low blow to go after someone in our military, but his relentlessly rosy scenarios on Iraq have contributed hugely to this nightmarish year, the worst in terms of troop casualties), Rudy Giuliani, Brian Tierney of the Inquirer (for giving a paycheck to Smerky, Ferris and Little Ricky, if for no other reason), Clarence Thomas for spending a good part of this year sulking over his Yale Law degree in an effort to promote his book (an unapologetic paean to his fellow freepers, of course), Dubya, or Elaine Chao herself.

    But I think McConnell deserves this above all others because he more than anyone else, in his role as Senate Minority Leader, has stalled all efforts by Congress to rein in President George W. Milhous Bush and his ruinous escapade in Iraq. And as Cliff Schecter and Zachary Roth noted so presciently here in October 2006...

    With a confrontational Republican leader, a narrow Senate majority, and an unpopular, lame duck president, the next two years don’t figure to see much landmark legislation passed. Instead, if the past is any guide, Majority Leader McConnell will focus only on measures that support Republican power or drive a wedge between Democrats, and will do everything possible to keep campaign dollars flowing to the GOP. But if and when that happens, don’t blame McConnell. He’ll only be doing what he was elected to do.
    I should note that Schecter and Roth assumed for the purpose of argument that the Repugs would keep control of the Senate - and again, I think that would have happened had Dubya fired Rummy before the election, but luckily he didn't - but otherwise, this scenario is the same.

    And as the article also notes...

    ...McConnell’s full-throated defense of the right of politicians to take unlimited amounts of money from corporations helped make him a popular man among Senate Republicans, and put him in a position to make his move into the top ranks of leadership.
    To learn more about McConnell and his corporatist subservience, I would suggest you discover what the good people at Ditch Mitch KY have unearthed about this cretin.

    Oh, and did I mention the filibusters? Well then, just as a reminder, here's Mitch and his friends in action.

    And did I mention that the phrase "60 votes needed for passage" in the Senate has become accepted language by our corporate media, with we filthy, unkempt, profanity-spewing bloggers being the ones to point out that this doesn't make mathematical sense in a governing body of 100 members?

    We can thank Mitch for that too. In fact, we can "thank" Mitch for following the marching orders of the outlaw Bushco regime to the letter to the point where the Dems will have a hard time running next year trying to defeat the narrative that they accomplished nothing when the voters gave them control of Congress last year (that is categorically not true - they caved on the war too easily, and Reid was an utter disgrace on FISA, but other than that, a lot of good has come out of this Congress). McConnell has derailed efforts to make our government more accountable, allowing Jim DeMint of his party to block a deal that would have brought the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act to the floor, as well as refusing to tell Harry Reid who introduced a hold on the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act (here).

    And yes, while it's true that McConnell could have done a better job but Dubya would have vetoed Congressional legislation anyway, McConnell could have helped to override those vetoes (this is all speculation, I realize, since McConnell has never had any inkling or intention to deviate from the foul Bushco orthodoxy one bit).

    So for all of these reasons and probably many more that I cannot get into at the moment, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is my choice for Dregs Of The Year.

    And now, my choice for Do-Gooder of the year would be this man, Liviu Librescu. He was an engineering professor at Virginia Tech, and he was at the school on April 16th, the day the coward Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and wounded many others before he took his own life.

    As this Washington Post profile tells us...

    ...the 76-year-old man (Librescu) barricaded the door to his classroom long enough for (his students) to jump to safety from the upper-story windows of Norris Hall.


    "My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee," Joe Librescu told the AP in a telephone interview from his home outside Tel Aviv. "Students started opening windows and jumping out."
    Librescu was killed by the gunman, who eventually forced his way into the classroom, according to his son. And his death occurred on the date of Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel and one day after it was observed in this country.

    For all the great work of, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Patrick Murphy, Paul Krugman, Russ Feingold and many others over the past year, I can't think anyone who can top what Librescu did (and my prayers and condolences go out to his family and friends).

    That's all I've got - if you made it through all eight of these posts, you have my undying gratitude. And even if you didn't, best wishes for a happy and healthy 2008 anyway.

    Update 1/1/08: I meant to add these quotes from Glenn Greenwald yesterday, so...

    Sunday, December 30, 2007

    Sunday Political Videos - Again

    I thought the embedded videos were messing up the site formatting so I deleted a bunch of them; turns out it was the Impeach Bush Coalition widget instead. I'll try to add back some more of them over the next few days.

    In the meantime, here are two once more from "The Pap Attack"; the first takes on Pope Benny...

    ...and the second takes on corporations and our government, explaining why FDR was a great president and pointing out that we shouldn't take seriously anyone who runs from that legacy...

    ...and just for the hell of it, here's "The Legend of Hercubush" one more time from Cliff Schecter and Brave New Films...

    ...and here's how to make your own ad for John Edwards (a cool idea, I must say).

    Doomsy's Do-Gooders And Dregs (2007 - Pt. 7)

    Winding down with this (prior related posts are here, here, here, here, here, and here)...

    Lamest Fundraising Excuse Of The Year

    Buzz Jacobs (Buzz? Where’s Jesse, Woody and The Prospector? - "Toy Story 2" reference...sorry), John McCain’s campaign manager in South Catolina, who sent out a mailer asking for money to “stand up to Rick Sanchez and CNN,” who had the “audacity” to ask McCain whether or not he should have admonished the woman who called Hillary Clinton a “bitch” (here).

    Dregs Of The Year Nominee

    The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority for permitting a ritual where, during halftime at football games at Giants Stadium, “men gather on a pedestrian ramp at Gate D and engage in an obscenity-laced chant for women to expose their breasts” (reported here in the New York Times - related post appears here).

    Story Most Ignored By Our Corporate Media (and others –
    not just for this year also)

    One name: Sibel Edmonds.

    Second most ignored story – victims of the sub-prime loan debacle.

    Third most ignored story – with few exceptions, the lack of military experience of Repug congressional war cheerleaders (some related thoughts and here are related posts from The Daily Kos).

    Most Undeserved Assist Of The Year

    "Independent" Bucks County Commissioners candidate Jay Russell, who managed to siphon off nearly 6,000 votes on behalf of Repug incumbent candidate Charley ("I Have A Semi-Open Mind") Martin and thus ensure Martin's re-election over Dem challenger Steve Santarsiero (the margin of Martin's victory was about 1,500 votes; not hard to imagine how many of Russell's would have gone to Steve instead - here).

    Best Reason For Energy Independence

    A Saudi court sentences a woman victimized by a gang rape to 200 lashes – at times like this, there are actually no words.

    Worst Journalistic Fraud Of The Year

    Joke Line’s “reporting” on the Democrats’ FISA bill in November (here - lots of competition in this category).

    Most Obnoxious Comment Thread Of The Year

    The one from a month or so ago in response to this post last year.

    Liar Of The Year Nominee

    Bill Clinton (this hurts)…


    But then again (if the “Big Dog” still has Republican friends at this point, then he’s living in a time warp)…

    Do-Gooder Of The Year Candidate

    The great Rush Holt for calling out that nut sack Joke Line on how the latter didn’t know what he was writing about on the RESTORE Act for Time’s blog “The Swamp.”


    Do-Gooders Of The Year

    Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne (their auction ended up raising $800 grand, to be donated to the Sharon Osbourne Colon Cancer Program at the Cedars Sinai Medical Center in LA - here).

    Gone, But Not Forgotten Soon Enough Citation

    Henry Hyde

    Dregs Of The Year Nominee

    The Texas Education Agency for firing Christine Comer who forwarded an e-mail message about a talk by a distinguished professor who debunks “intelligent design” and creationism as legitimate alternatives to evolution in the science curriculum (here).

    I’ll try this again; this woman was fired for forwarding an Email.

    About a topic pertinent to her job.

    Regarding the teaching on “intelligent design” as science.

    In Texas.

    Pinheaded Liberal Moment Of The Year (Nominee)

    Whoopi Goldberg referring to the estate tax as the “death tax” here.

    Dregs Of The Year Nominee

    Arlen Specter, for blocking a Senate Judiciary Committee vote on contempt resolutions against Karl Rove and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten.

    Special P.T. Barnum Citation For American Stupidity

    Glenn Beck’s book debuts at #1 on the NYT bestseller list.

    Most Manufactured Moment Of Feigned Media Umbrage

    Peter Osnos over Scott McClellan’s book (here – the funny part is that Osnos apparently doesn’t get that the people he believes deal only in “outrage or vituperation,” or whatever that quote is, are generating buzz for his book – i.e., the bloggers he apparently detests.)

    Special “Act Now And Satan Can Be Yours Also For $9.99
    As Part Of This Limited-Time-Only Offer” Citation

    Talking Jesus action figure sells out at Wal-Of-China Mart (here).

    Special “Black Like Him, Sort Of” Citation

    Dr. James Watson, a Nobel-winning geneticist and former head of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island who once claimed that “black people, overall, are not as intelligent as whites” (he apologized and resigned), was found to be “16 percent African” (here).

    Dregs Of The Year Nominee

    Paula Deen of The Food Network here for failing to intervene in the efforts by workers at Smithfield Foods in Tar Heel, N.C. to form a union, saying “I feel like I’m being dragged into something” (or even meet with the workers, actually).

    The workers at Smithfield Foods have been trying to form a union for ten years. Dean makes about $4 million a year, and the Smithfield workers make about $12 an hour. Why is it too much to ask of her apparently to lend a hand here?

    Do Gooder Of The Year Candidate

    Dem Rep. Robert Wexler of Florida for his interesting solution to get past the SCHIP roadblock set up by Bushco and the Repugs (here).

    ...more here (and here).

    Do Gooder Of The Year Candidate

    Kurt Daims of Brattleboro, Vermont (here).

    Dregs Of The Year Nominee

    Bill Shaheen, co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s New Hampshire campaign, for bringing up Barack Obama’s past drug use here, as well as the ugly innuendo that he may have sold drugs as well (the “use” part is fair game, but not the innuendo).

    The "All Wet Repug 'Carrying Water For Dubya'" Citation

    Sem. Kit Bond of Missouri, who thinks that waterboarding is “like swimming, freestyle, backstroke” (here).

    Dregs Of The Year Nominee

    "Hold This" Harry Reid (pathetic)…

    Media Career Self-Emulation Of The Year

    Alycia Lane

    Most Repugnant Corporate Media Narrative

    George W. Bush scoring a political “win” on SCHIP (here - his “artful” veto?? I'm going to vomit).

    Worst Journalistic Hire Of The Year

    Back to The Old Gray Lady for this one (h/t Atrios - more here).

    Martyr Of The Year

    Benazir Bhutto

    Literary Critique Of The Year

    Here (re: Jonah Goldberg’s book “Liberal Fascism” – hacking story on the book here) …

    “Reading this book is like watching a flaming piano fall out of an airplane and land in a puppy farm.”

    I'll finish this tomorrow - not much more to go.

    Update: I don't know where else to put this, so I'll stick it here, so to speak; kos is dead-on...why does Obama have this apparent reflex for spouting freeper nonsense when in panic mode (the supposed social security "crisis" he recently embraced is another example).