Saturday, January 19, 2008

Saturday Videos

(I meant to get to these last night...)

As we watch our investment earnings go further down the drain, let's boogie down to "The Wall Street Shuffle" by 10 cc (Are you as psyched about Dubya's wonderful "stimulus" package as I am, by the way? Just keep digging that hole and hope our "friends" the Saudis and the Chinese continue to bail us out - forgot to note earlier that today was Eric Stewart's birthday)...

...this would have been Janis Joplin's 65th birthday, by the way ("Summertime," recorded in Stockholm in 1969)...

...Dayna Kurtz ("Love Got In The Way"; wow, what a talent, and I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that Joplin was a trailblazer of sorts who helped make it possible to folks like Kurtz to get noticed)...

...and for your listening and dining pleasure, the melodic sounds of Tool ("Forty Six and 2," with clips from the film "Constantine").

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Videos

Robert Palmer would have been 59 tomorrow ("Addicted To Love"; guilty pleasure time)...

...and here's Sara Bareilles with "Love Song."

Friday Political Stuff

I realize I haven't said anything about the war for a little while, though I should have, but I came across this, so (rough language)...

...and speaking of our military (here's more)...

Update 1/19/08: Forgot this from last night (h/t to Prof. Marcus - you go, K.O.).

In Praise Of A King Of Cultural Kitsch

Finally, I cannot let this week conclude (more or less) without observing the passing of Richard Knerr (pictured), the co-founder of Wham-O Inc., makers of frisbees, super balls, silly string, and all kinds of other utterly mindless toys which I enjoyed with my friends growing up in a long-gone era, as we tortured ourselves ceaselessly without the aid of any electronic gadgets whatsoever.

Of course, as it turns out now, the company he and childhood friend Arthur “Spud” Melin founded in 1948 is now owned by Cornerstone Investments Overseas Ltd. of Hong Kong (Melin died in 2002).

Well anyway, thanks for the fun while it lasted, guys.

Sounds Like Justice Was Already Done

I’ve been meaning to take note of an excerpt in this New York Times story written when Dubya visited Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, but this is the first chance I’ve had, so…

Mr. Bush’s tour of Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Museum, and his trip to Galilee on Friday produced the not-so-revelatory headline, “Remembrance and Faith in the Holy Land.”

That item opened with a tantalizing clause — “After a later-than-usual dinner at Prime Minister Olmert’s residence ...” — but Mr. Gillespie dished no more, even though the dinner was, the Israeli accounts said, a raucous affair. It was said that Mr. Bush buttonholed two wavering members of Mr. Olmert’s cabinet, while an Israeli lawmaker buttonholed Mr. Bush about the case of the American spy Jonathan Pollard, to Mr. Olmert’s chagrin.
It turns out that there has been a movement afoot for some time to free Pollard and allow him to emigrate to Israel (news to me anyway), and the Israelis have even granted him citizenship in an effort to expedite matters.

And this notes a time under President Clinton when he appeared to waver on the matter of freeing Pollard; this is a freeper site, I know, but the article was written by Sy Hersh, who has impeccable credentials on this stuff as far as I’m concerned. He states the following…

The President's willingness to consider clemency for Pollard so upset the intelligence community that its leaders took an unusual step: they began to go public. In early December, four retired admirals who had served as director of Naval Intelligence circulated an article, eventually published in the Washington Post, in which they argued that Pollard's release would be "irresponsible" and a victory for what they depicted as a "clever public relations campaign." Since then, sensitive details about the secrets Pollard gave away have been made public by CBS and NBC.

In the course of my own interviews for this account, the officials who knew the most about Jonathan Pollard made it clear that they were talking because they no longer had confidence that President Clinton would do what they believed was the right thing -- keep Pollard locked up. Pollard, these officials told me, had done far more damage to American national security than was ever made known to the public; for example, he betrayed elements of four major American intelligence systems. In their eyes, there is no distinction between betraying secrets to an enemy, such as the Soviet Union, and betraying secrets to an ally.

Officials are loath to talk publicly about it, but spying on allies is a fact of life: the United States invests billions annually to monitor the communications of its friends. Many American embassies around the world contain a clandestine intercept facility that targets diplomatic communications. The goal is not only to know the military and diplomatic plans of our friends but also to learn what intelligence they may be receiving and with whom they share information. "If a friendly state has friends that we don't see as friends," one senior official explained, sensitive intelligence that it should not possess -- such as that supplied by Pollard -- "can spread to others." Many officials said they were convinced that information Pollard sold to the Israelis had ultimately wound up in the hands of the Soviet Union.
Also part of the Pollard story is a 46-page classified document from former Reagan Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, the contents of which were not shown to Pollard's attorneys at his trial. Weinberger called for severe punishment, and the memo, still classified, is widely cited as a major reason that the judge ultimately sentenced Pollard to life in prison without parole for espionage (Weinberger said he thought Pollard's treatment was too harsh before he died, though).

But for me, aside from setting a terrible precedent, I think leniency to Pollard is wrong. And just because our “friends” the Israelis are upset over Pollard’s treatment, it doesn’t make releasing him the right thing to do.

Where’s Your “Identity Politics” Now? (Update)

A whole raft of other bloggers, pundit types, and media notables have weighed in the flap over Barack Obama’s praise of Ronald Reagan, including John Edwards, who I think is entirely correct of course here.

I would just ask that others consider this latest dustup in context with these moments and wonder why the senator from Illinois lapses into rhetoric and actions that end up complementing anything that could come out of the RNC playbook when “crunch time” arrives. Yes, I know he’s a bit “green” after all on this stage, which isn’t his fault entirely, but it’s bad enough when the Repugs trip all over themselves with their “Gipper love” – I can’t think of a word to describe how unseemly it is when a Dem engages in it also.

Update: Wow, Markos, way to take a shot at John Edwards and totally ignore Obama's habit of resurrecting right-wing talking points which you yourself have noted in the past (and you even managed to plug your book in the process...dag, what a pro).

If Obama is talking about "a party of ideas," why does he have to talk about Reagan? Why does he have to talk about bad, truly awful ideas? Why doesn't he look back into his own party's history and talk about the social compact forged by prior Democratic presidents? Or wouldn't that play well with the "Lieber-crat" wing of the party which Obama gravitates to at least as much as HRC (I know she isn't innocent on this either, but I cannot possibly imagine why you would EVER defend that bunch).

A PA Electoral Warning?

I’ve been thinking about this article written by Clive Thompson in the New York Times magazine (dated 1/6) for a little while, and I just wanted to share this excerpt…

IF YOU WANTED to know where the next great eruption of voting-machine scandal is likely to emerge, you’d have to drive deep into the middle of Pennsylvania. Tucked amid rolling, forested hills is tiny Bellefonte. It is where the elections board of Centre County has its office, and in the week preceding the November (2007) election, the elections director, Joyce McKinley, conducted a public demonstration of the county’s touch-screen voting machines. She would allow anyone from the public to test six machines to ensure they worked as intended.

“Remember, we’re here to observe the machines, not debate them,” she said dryly. The small group that had turned out included a handful of anti-touch-screen activists, including Mary Vollero, an art teacher who wore pins saying “No War in Iraq” and “Books Not Bombs.” As we gathered around, I could understand why the county board had approved the purchase of the machines two years ago. For a town with a substantial elderly population, the electronic screens were large, crisp and far easier to read than small-print paper ballots. “The voters around here love ’em,” McKinley shrugged.

But what’s notable about Centre County is that it uses the
iVotronic — the very same star-crossed machine from Sarasota (FL in 2000). Given the concerns about the lack of a paper trail on the iVotronics, why didn’t Centre County instead buy a machine that produces a paper record? Because Pennsylvania state law will not permit any machine that would theoretically make it possible to figure out how someone voted. And if a Diebold AccuVote-TSX, for instance, were used in a precinct where only, say, a dozen people voted — a not-uncommon occurrence in small towns — then an election worker could conceivably watch who votes, in what order, and unspool the tape to figure out how they voted. (And there are no alternatives; all touch-screen machines with paper trails use spools.) As a result, nearly 40 percent of Pennsylvania’s counties bought iVotronics.

Though it has gone Democratic in the last few presidential elections, Pennsylvania is considered a swing state. As the political consultant James Carville joked, it’s a mix of red and blue: you’ve got Pittsburgh and Philadelphia at either end and Alabama in the middle.

It also has 21 electoral-college votes, a relatively large number that could decide a tight presidential race. Among election-machine observers, this provokes a shudder of anticipation. If the presidential vote is close, it could well come down to a recount in Pennsylvania. And a recount could uncover thousands of votes recorded on machines that displayed aberrant behavior — with no paper trail. Would the public accept it? Would the candidates? As Candice Hoke, the head of Ohio’s Center for Election Integrity, puts it: “If it was Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004, everyone is saying it’s going to be Pennsylvania in 2008.”

The prospect of being thrust into the national spotlight has already prompted many counties to spar over ditching their iVotronics. The machines were an election issue in Centre County in November, with several candidates for county commissioner running on a pledge to get rid of the devices. (Two won and are trying to figure out if they can afford it.) And the opposition to touch-screens isn’t just coming from Democrats. When the Pennsylvania Republican Rick Santorum lost his Senate seat in 2006, some Santorum voters complained that the iVotronics “flipped” their votes before their eyes. In Pittsburgh, the chief opponent of the machines is David Fawcett, the lone Republican on the county board of elections. “It’s not a partisan issue,” he says. “And even if it was, Republicans, at least in this state, would have a much greater interest in accuracy. The capacity for error is big, and the error itself could be so much greater than it could be on prior systems.”
And if God forbid any of this is realized, I’m sure every Republican in the universe will descend on Pennsylvania as if by magic to “monitor the election results” and do absolutely nothing more than that this November.


Update: And in other voting news, all I can say in response to this is Go Rush, Go! (the good one, that is).

A Sign Of Desperation

Based on this quote in today’s commercial for the Republican Party by Kevin Ferris of the Inquirer, I don’t think it’s going to be much longer before “the gloves come off” concerning Tom Manion…

"(Patrick) Murphy became co-opted by the Nancy Pelosis and the John Murthas of the world - and That's not part of the change that voters in the Eighth District expected."
Yep, they got nuthin’ all right. Given the low regard I hold for Mikey, though, I at least have to give him credit for exercising the good judgment to sit out this election (and Manion said that he wants to now get out and talk to the voters, which is a worthy goal; however, I would have done that before I'd decided to run for office.)

And this Letter to the Editor appeared in the Courier Times today…

Signs have appeared recently that read: “The Iraq War is a success. Patrick Murphy is a failure.” We cannot be certain who sponsored this exercise in double speak since those involved were ashamed to show any identification on the signs.

Anyone with any degree of intelligence realizes that the best that can be said for Bush's misadventure is that, at present, the war is not quite as dangerous as it was. However, even this statement begs the question of why we risked so many young lives with so little potential for success.

Congressman Murphy has done much more than could ever be expected from a freshman representative. It is very difficult for opponents to fault his numerous accomplishments. He has sponsored legislation to support our troops, not empty words that misconstrue what is happening. Obviously, the only alternative is for his opposition to fabricate shortcomings. They certainly could have fabricated something more realistic than the preposterous statement that Murphy was wrong and the war is successful.

If we ever discover who put up such ludicrous signs, one question should be asked of these misguided people. “Would you send you son or daughter to fight in this successful war?

Neil Poppel
Newtown Township, PA
Indeed (and to help Patrick, click here).

On another note, I should add that posting is probably going to drop off again starting early next week and continuing possibly into early next month. There are a few items I still want to address, however, but I just don’t know beyond that.

More From "The Most Trusted Name In News"

This is “water wet, sky blue” stuff and I should probably be spending my time on something more productive, but…

It seems that Glenn Beck is now being promoted by CNN as a featured online columnist, which makes me wonder if that network has any journalistic credibility left at all.

And in this piece of drivel, he uses our current economic melt down triggered by the mortgage subprime lending crisis to accomplish two things: the first is to take another shot at Hillary Clinton, and the second is to tell us all that cutting corporate tax rates will solve everything (see, doing that will spur investment and job growth, encouraging people to spend and saving our economy).

The Repugs and their acolytes are nothing if not predictable, aren’t they? But in the real world, this tells us the following…

Congressional Budget Office data show that the tax cuts have been the single largest contributor to the reemergence of substantial budget deficits in recent years. Legislation enacted since 2001 has added about $2.3 trillion to deficits between 2001 and 2006, with half of this deterioration in the budget due to the tax cuts (about a third was due to increases in security spending, and about a sixth to increases in domestic spending). Yet the President and some Congressional leaders decline to acknowledge the tax cuts’ role in the nation’s budget problems, falling back instead on the discredited nostrum that tax cuts “pay for themselves.”


The claim that tax cuts pay for themselves had already been rejected by the Administration’s own leading economists. Edward Lazear, the current chair of President’s Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, has stated, “I certainly would not claim that tax cuts pay for themselves.” N. Gregory Mankiw, President’s Bush’s former CEA chair and a well-known Harvard economics professor, has written that there is “no credible evidence” that “tax revenues… rise in the face of lower tax rates.” Mankiw compared an economist who says that tax cuts pay for themselves to a “snake oil salesman trying to sell a miracle cure.”
And Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson echoed that line refuting Beck here.

Still, though, it would be nice if the Repugs would get it through their heads once and for all that tax cuts don’t do much by comparison to help the economy; indeed, the opposition to this often wrong-headed policy by St. McCain is one of the reasons why he’s in a dog fight with Huckabee in South Carolina; otherwise he would probably be ahead (here - I have other issues with “Senator Honor and Virtue,” but this shouldn’t be one of them).

And as far as the minimum wage increase which passed last year, Beck said that it would help primarily part-time, younger workers, when in fact (as noted here), it would primarily help full-time workers. And in the case of at least one state, Illinois (here), it was expected to stimulate job growth.

I realize I’d have better luck trying to explain this to my cat than to a hateful demagogue like Beck, but I feel like I have to take a shot at this every now and then (and to get a feel for what a low life this guy truly is, take a look at this).

And here is my final Media Matters link for this post in which Beck admits that he’s “a recovering scumbag.”

That much is certain.

Update 1/28: Why did I know that this involved Beck before I even opened the link?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thursday Political Stuff

Looks like "Mittmania" could be derailed based on these startling allegations from The Onion (h/t The Daily Kos)...

Mitt Romney Defends Himself Against Allegations Of Tolerance

...and I know I've been beating this drum so much that I'll probably end up putting a hole in it, as it were, but here goes one more shot (and if you're so inclined)...

...and by the way, let's not forget Al, you Minnesotans (no punch lines any more, just the truth)...

...and "The Pap Attack" takes on Dubya and the Saudis.

A Granite State Wingnut Alert

I admit to being a novice about New Hampshire politics, but it set off a warning bell or two when I read here that Jennifer Horn, who apparently is a media type in those parts, has decided to challenge first-term Dem U.S. House Rep. Paul Hodes.

What I do know is that Hodes is endorsed by Act Blue (here) and, out of a possible 1185 votes cast by the House during his term thus far, he has missed four votes.

That’s impressive.

So why exactly does Horn want to oust him?

(She) says New Hampshire voters elected Hodes to change Washington, but that Washington has changed him. She says she would work for smaller government, to cut taxes and wasteful spending, to develop a long-term energy solution, for immigration reform and to support the military and veterans.
Yep, I think you could pretty much expect any Repug from the freeper-cookie-cutter mold to spout that stuff (and by the way, she wrote this fawning column about Frederick of Hollywood that positively made me gag; sounds like Hodes supporters everywhere have some work to do - I know the whole Diebold mess in that state is the top story now, but this will eclipse that eventually).

Terra Rants Anew From “Torture Yoo”

Time to plunge into local wingnuttia in The Philadelphia Inquirer today, and I need my hip waders for this one (a refresher background post is linked below).

It seems that Bushco sycophant John Yoo is fighting back against Jose Padilla, going on the offense as follows...

Padilla is no innocent. Last summer a Miami jury convicted him of participating in an al-Qaeda support cell in the United States. Prosecutors now are asking the court to sentence Padilla to life in prison. The conviction did not even address his detention in 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare Airport on allegations that he had returned from Afghanistan to carry out a "dirty" bomb attack on a major U.S. city. According to the Bush administration at the time, Padilla had received the green light from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the planner of the 9/11 attacks.
The reason why none of this was mentioned was because no case could be made against Padilla on any of these charges (thankfully, just because Bushco alleges it, it doesn't make it so in a court of law, at least not in this case); as noted here, these were the three counts in Padilla's indictment…

  • Conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals

  • Conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists

  • Providing material support to terrorists
  • And though this stuff is anything but honorable, Dubya called Padilla “a grave threat to national security” based on this (and as I noted in the November ’05 post, Padilla – brace yourself now – completed the dreaded Mujahadeen Data Form!! OMIGOD!!!).

    Beyond that, it’s really pointless to take seriously much of anything Yoo has to say in this column; it’s really not fit for publication by a reputable newspaper, which explains precisely how it ended up appearing in the Inquirer.

    The only reason for the column, really, is self-defense on Yoo’s part because, as he notes early on in the column, a suit was filed against him on January 4 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Padilla’s behalf by attorneys working with the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School.

    Tee, hee, hee (as noted here)…

    The factual basis for the suit is that as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel, Yoo crafted policies dealing with enemy combatants and "alternative" interrogation tactics. In addition, it alleges that Yoo personally recommended to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft that Padilla be named an enemy combatant in connection with the alleged "dirty bomb" plot. It claims that in his book War by Other Means, Yoo takes credit for Padilla's treatment, arguing it was a victory for justice. The suit also alleges that (as has been widely reported) Yoo was a principal drafter of the now-declassified "torture memos," purporting to provide legal justification for the government's use of torture.
    Gee, do you think Yoo could have avoided the suit had he felt the tiniest hint of remorse for his abuse of our legal process, along with exercising a bare minimum of common sense?

    As I noted earlier, only Bushco could take an unrepentant thug like Padilla and make him a sympathetic character through its idiotic machinations that are more emblematic of regimes we profess to oppose than anything bearing any resemblance at all to the principles upon which our country was founded.

    Update 1/22/08: This is probably fair, given what Padilla has already endured (h/t The Daily Kos).

    Bushco's Sonar Sub-terfuge

    For years, the Navy and groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council have fought a legal battle over the use of sonar in the world’s oceans to detect potentially hostile submarines. This is because of the effects of sonar on marine life, with so many undersea animals relying on sound for feeding, mating, and other functions necessary for their existence.

    And since it appeared that environmentalists were starting to turn the tide in favor of protecting marine life off the California coast, you can be sure that our ruling Repug cabal was going to involve itself at some point with the subtlety of an army boot to the groin.

    And sure enough, as noted here (the party of “states rights” strikes again)…

    The Bush administration jumped into a long-running legal fray in California on Tuesday, exempting the Navy from a law that environmental groups have used to prevent the use of a type of powerful sonar that is believed to harm whales.

    The waiver exempts the Navy from the
    Coastal Zone Management Act, which allows states a voice in federal activities along their shores. The law had been cited in early January by a federal district judge who issued an injunction against the Navy, stopping it from using the midfrequency sonar in exercises off the Southern Californian coast because of concerns about its effect on certain species of whales.

    But on Tuesday, the White House announced that such sonar exercises, used to track enemy submarines, were “essential to national security.”
    Utterly predicatable...

    By the way, the Times story contains a link to the blog “Dot Earth” by Andrew C. Revkin that discusses this story in more detail. And there is also a link in Revkin’s blog to the Navy’s web site, which in part states the following…

    Man-made sounds include commercial shipping and other ship sounds, oil dredges, air guns used in seismic mapping, and sonar. Many sources have higher intensities than sonar, and have a far greater prevalence. Sonar comprises a very small percentage of the sound found in the seas…

    Sonars designed for use in anti-submarine warfare need greater ranges than the others, and therefore have higher source levels.
    Kind of a euphemism for “louder” there, don’t you think? And the “percentage of sound” isn’t really the issue here, is it, since sound can reverberate across the ocean.

    And the effect? As noted here…

    Environmentalists argue that sonar noise disorients whales, causing them to become stranded on beaches and die.

    They have accused the Navy of refusing to take simple measures, such as avoiding whale migration routes, to reduce the environmental harm from 14 exercises planned through January 2009 that would use high-intensity, mid-frequency sonar.
    And as noted here…

    In 2000, naval sonar contributed to 16 whales and two dolphins being beached in the Bahamas, according to a federal study.
    But in the demented world of Bushco, porpoises can't vote and lampreys can't make campaign contributions, so...

    And Sen. Barbara Boxer is right when she states that “this Bush administration action will send this case right back into court, where more taxpayer dollars will be wasted defending a misguided decision” (by the way, anything up with that Senate Ethics Committee, Babs?)…

    And in the Times story, Joel Reynolds, a senior lawyer and head of marine mammal protection for the Natural Resources Defense Council, is quoted; as I read about this issue, I’ve discovered that Reynolds has been fighting this battle on behalf of the whales and other marine life for some time.

    With respect, though, I have to criticize what he has said elsewhere on this, declaring that defense of the environment is “not a national security issue” (can’t find the link at the moment). I, however, believe there is no greater national security issue than doing all we can to protect our environment.

    Also, Bushco claims that the sonar with “higher source levels” is needed to defend against “a new breed of more silent-running submarines,” which, as it turns out, are manufactured by our “friends” in China.

    Any word on discussions about curtailing submarine surveillance between every country on earth so there isn’t as great a need for the sonar to begin with?

    Oh, sorry…I forgot; that’s what adult leaders do. And we won’t see one of those in this country until at least 1/21/09 (and we can’t really take that for granted either, can we?).

    Update 2/5/08: Bushco loses again.

    Ignoring A Picket Line Isn’t Funny

    I know I promised I wouldn’t say anything about the WGA strike, but I wanted to take a minute and applaud cartoonists Ted Rall and Matt Bors for showing their disagreement with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s decisions to host their programs while the writers continue their walkout (as noted here).

    And while I’m at it, I have to express a similar attitude towards Bill Maher, who expressed his “love” for “my guys” during the “Real Time” premiere the other night, but managed to work in a dig anyway, saying that the “all or nothing” attitude by the WGA leaders on the strike is about the same mentality that led us into the Iraq war (want some apples with your oranges, Bill?).

    Also, I’m curious to see if his “Blogga, Please” segment remains when the strike finally ends; in it, Maher took some excerpts from sites and submitted them for response by guests Mark Cuban, Catherine Crier, Tony Snow, and Matt Taibbi. I suppose I should give Maher credit for that even if the excerpts weren’t particularly interesting or thought provoking; I guess he was desperate for filler material more than anything else.

    Still, I can’t help but wonder why Maher chose to go ahead with the show while the writers are still out. To say that the quality of the program fell off a bit is an understatement.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2008

    Wednesday Videos

    Bush (once again, the band, not the waste of space - "Come Down")..

    ...and Happy Birthday to John Mayer ("Waiting On The World To Change").

    Wednesday News/Political Stuff

    Something to think about concerning John Edwards and the Nevada debate (from Brave New Films - and I know it's from Fox, but still...)...

    ...and I think this is part of why he scored so well (familiar themes I know, but so, so important)...

    ...Meanwhile, Pinch's quota hire at The Old Gray Lady tries to defend what is indefensible...

    ...and I hated on Bill Gates earlier I know - here's a kinder, gentler spoof than he deserves from Letterman.

    Bill Gates, Friend Of The Working Man

    I tried to leave this as a comment in response to this post from Prof. Marcus, but it was too long, so…

    First, it sounds like these unindicted criminals want to get into what used to be and may still be called “human factors engineering” in the defense consulting ‘biz; that was once my world in another lifetime. And, being Microsoft, they intend to utterly dominate the market and squash all competition, bringing them under heel to lick the refuse from their boots.

    Second, I’ve been meaning to post forever about my horror story with these bastards. For reasons that were utterly cosmic in their stupidity and which I will probably never understand, I upgraded to Internet Explorer 7 on a whim near the end of last summer from IE 6.

    The first thing that went wrong was the sudden inability of my anti-virus program to go get daily updates, and my spyware program didn’t work properly either (both AVG, good products, and both free – I had to buy the spyware program to fix one issue). Not much of a problem for the moment, though it was tedious after awhile.

    Next, I started getting messages from MS that IE 7 updates were available, so I installed a security update which completely hosed my browser. I removed the update and the browser worked OK, but then I kept getting the update message and (again, being MS) it eventually updated whether I wanted it to or not, and I had to keep constantly deleting the update to keep the browser working.

    So I got my tech guy into the picture and I told him I wanted Mozilla Firefox (which I should have had all along), so he told me to go download it and delete IE 7. I installed MF and deleted IE 7, and it completely killed my browser to the point where I could do NOTHING. I tried to go back and install IE 6 over it, but see, IE 7 leaves trace files all over the place that utterly corrupt your registry, program files, system files…you name it (it thusly refused to install IE 6 since it still recognized IE 7). They do this to allow Internet updates to other MS products even if you can’t get online yourself (the IE 7 “backbone” – funny, but as near as I can recall, the point of the lawsuit in the ‘90s was to prevent this). So I couldn’t upgrade to MF, couldn’t go back to IE 6…couldn’t do jack.

    The answer? I needed to go buy a whole new hard drive and use the existing one as a slave – my tech guy managed to hide or delete all of the IE 7 trace files that he could on the old drive. And on the new drive, I had IE 6 installed – should probably have gotten MF, but I had both time and cost issues that made IE 6 the better option for now.

    Let’s see – new hard drive was $100, new student version of Office was $149 (couldn’t get an open source presentation graphics package that worked), $180 for my tech guy, time and aggravation of setting up and reinstalling all former programs (lost Front Page, but I can deal with that), and I’m only now getting back to my “pre IE7 status quo” - all of this hit the fan in mid December last year.

    Lesson? Buy Mozilla Firefox from “the jump,” among other things. And I would ask that you remember this and realize what a prick Gates is while someone else alleges that he’s actually some kind of a humanitarian.

    No Economy Of Common Sense

    The New York Times ran this Op-Ed piece today by Steven E. Landsburg, a professor of economics at the University of Rochester, who, among other things, has said that those who choose no health insurance should not receive (potentially life saving) treatment (as noted here). And he is a self-described “libertarian,” which, to me, means that he’s bought into the whole Ayn Rand, laissez faire capitalist, “me, myself, and I and everyone else can drop dead” thing.

    How sad.

    So it should come as no surprise that Landsburg’s piece in the Times today is a free-market love fest which contains this sickening piece of agit-prop…

    If you’re forced to pay $20 an hour to an American for goods you could have bought from a Mexican for $5 an hour, you’re being extorted.
    Pardon me while I spit up a burrito at my PC monitor for a moment.

    This does, though, give me an opportunity to compare the earnings of American-based CEOs as opposed to their foreign counterparts (after all, isn’t it true then, using Landsburg’s logic, that we’re being “extorted” if we pay CEOs in this country more money?).

    This article actually praises the status quo in this country using language such as the following (I’ll get to the “con” argument shortly)…

    The international pay gap (between American and foreign CEOs) arises, under this theory, because foreign CEOs don't have the same power over their boards. In most foreign corporations, control shareholders act as strong checks on executive pay. Control shareholders will recoup most of the firm's surplus that is not paid out to the factors of production, such as CEOs, and therefore have strong financial incentives to keep executive pay abroad low. Thus, by comparison to U.S. levels, foreign CEOs are paid less.
    One example I can think of in this country where “control shareholders” have a lot to do with CEO compensation is The Vanguard Group in Malvern, PA, where the “shareholders” are those who have purchased the company’s mutual funds and other products, in line with the management structure conceived by John Bogle, the company’s founder.

    And considering the wholly other extreme, we have this blog post from USA Today that notes the utterly excessive compensation awarded to Lee Raymond of Exxon-Mobil, Pfizer’s Hank McKinnell and Home Depot’s Bob Nardelli; in the latter two cases, their companies performed poorly, but in Raymond’s case, Exxon-Mobil did well of course, due to rising oil prices that he had no involvement with at all.

    And to return to Landsburg’s original argument, what is the effect of paying less for a foreign worker (considering China in the following example here as opposed to Mexico) versus an American? We know all too well…

    The rise in the U.S. trade deficit with China between 1997 and 2006 has displaced production that could have supported 2,166,000 U.S. jobs. Most of these jobs (1.8 million) have been lost since China entered the WTO in 2001. Between 1997 and 2001, growing trade deficits displaced an average of 101,000 jobs per year, or slightly more than the total employment in Manchester, New Hampshire. Since China entered the WTO in 2001, job losses increased to an average of 353,000 per year—more than the total employment in greater Akron, Ohio. Between 2001 and 2006, jobs were displaced in every state and the District of Columbia. Nearly three-quarters of the jobs displaced were in manufacturing industries. Simply put, the promised benefits of trade liberalization with China have been unfulfilled.
    But, as Landsburg tells us today in the Times, “All economists know that when American jobs are outsourced, Americans as a group are net winners.”

    “American economists,” then, have obviously never flipped burgers at “Mickey D’s” as a stopgap until permanent future employment returns (hopefully) or sweated out the final weeks of unemployment while hoping and praying for a job offer.

    Finally, I should note that the University of Rochester named Landsburg “Professor of the Year in Social Sciences” in 2007.

    Remind me to cross off the University of Rochester from my list of places or institutions I ever intend to visit for the rest of my life.

    Update: Speaking of the economy (what an airhead)...

    The Robertses Are At It Again

    There’s so much wrong with the latest screeching from Cokie and Steve Roberts concerning that oh-so-ugly partisanship that has Washington, D.C. in its grip that it’s really impossible to refute it all (and to be honest, even if I did, they’d just be back about a month or so later repeating it all over again – I don’t like partisanship either really, but I like zombie-like compliance with the corpocracy’s dicta as articulated by their media slaves even less).

    However, I just want to take issue with a couple of items. First…

    When political advantage is the only goal, any lawmaker who tries to reach across party lines immediately takes fire from his or her own ranks. Consider (John) McCain's courageous attempts to work with Democrats like Ted Kennedy on immigration reform. To hear his fellow Republicans, you'd think McCain represented Hades (Kennedy's home state), not Arizona.
    Oh, ha ha, did you read that? The Robertses made a funny! A slur against the commonwealth of Massachusetts. And it was printed. What a “laff riot”!

    Sounds like it’s time for another blogger ethics panel (and by the way, to get the full story on “Senator Honor And Virtue” on immigration, click here.)

    Well, guess what? Read this first in the column from the Robertses…

    Just look at one issue: health-insurance coverage for children (which Hillary Clinton stressed on the stump in winning New Hampshire). There is no better way to spend taxpayer dollars than keeping kids healthy and out of costly emergency rooms. Congress did pass a bipartisan measure extending coverage to 10 million children, but Bush vetoed it and lawmakers upheld his action.

    The bill financed the expansion by raising tobacco taxes — a smart idea, since higher prices would also reduce teenage smoking. But the president adamantly refused to cross his most conservative supporters and consider tax increases of any kind. Democrats were also reluctant to compromise, believing that gridlock gives them a great issue for the fall campaign. Bottom line: paralysis
    Cue scary-sounding incidental music: du-du-duuuuuh!

    I don’t know how “Democrats were also reluctant to compromise,” but I do know this; Dubya eventually signed an SCHIP extension (here). But of course, you would never know that from the Robertses.

    Must be nice to live in the world of accountability free punditry – cushy gig, that.

    A Brief Thought On Tom Manion

    I’ll be respectful towards the declared Repug opponent against Patrick Murphy for the 8th district seat in Congress (ignoring Madden and Lingenfelter for now) as long as he acts in a similar manner, but I must point out something based on this Philadelphia Inquirer story (and I’ll also ignore for now Manion’s laughable claim that somehow Patrick Murphy is responsible in part for the partisanship in Washington, D.C., though Manion has to run on something, I realize - Brian Scheid and the Courier Times have more here)…

    (Tom Manion) moved to Bucks County with his wife and two children in 1990, when he joined Johnson & Johnson (Manion is an executive with the big pharma company).
    OMG, you mean Manion isn’t “a lifelong resident of Bucks County” like the beloved Saint Mikey?

    Well then, I’m sorry, but I have no choice then but to trump up the admittedly idiotic story line that Manion was “dropped into” our district by the Republican National Committee during the presidency of Poppy Bush as a sleeper of sorts, to be sprung into action when his party needed his services as they do now.

    I mean, how much did we read about how Patrick was “dropped into” our district by Nancy Pelosi and the national Democratic Party two years ago; see, Patrick is not a “lifelong resident,” which is definitely a slur of sorts in these parts, as noted here.

    And now, apparently, it turns out that Manion isn’t either.

    Just file this as another double standard of the “do as I say, not as I do” Republican Party, then.

    Tuesday, January 15, 2008

    Monday Videos

    Arctic Monkeys ("Fluorescent Adolescent"; so sad when clowns go bad - tsk, tsk)...

    ...Happy Birthday to Don Glen Vliet, otherwise known as Captain Beefheart ("Click Clack" live from Paris in 1973 - wonder what those silly French people were thinking when they watched this?)...

    ...happy belated birthday to T-Bone Burnett, here with "Earlier Baghdad (The Bounce)"; I haven't quite made up my mind on this yet, but it's interesting...

    ...and Happy Birthday also to Iris Dement, performing "You Can Close Your Eyes" with James Taylor.

    Monday Political Stuff

    Concerning this "Huckabee moment," doesn't it make you all "warm and fuzzy" for The Man From Hope-Less, you "values voters" (should scare the crap out of anyone in this country with a brain, though - h/t The Daily Kos)...

    ...and congratulations to The Mittster on winning in Michigan tonight (tongue planted firmly in cheek here)...

    ...and K.O. brings us the "Worst Person In The World" from yesterday (and by the way, it's "Jonah" Goldberg, alias the Doughy Pantload - don't ask)...

    ...and to get serious for a minute, I wonder what this man would have made of all of this (he would have been 81 today)....

    Also, here's a link to his speech at the Barratt School in South Philadelphia in 1967.

    Update 1/16/08: This is somewhat "off-topic," but that's OK; check out the thread commenter Ron is referring to here from J.D. Mullane's blog post. I haven't managed to read all of it yet, but it sounds like our ol' buddy J.D. got called on some of his typical liberal-baiting language and had a meltdown over it (with assistance from some of his like-minded knuckle draggers).

    Happy Landings For "Bubble Boy"

    This tells us…

    Alan Greenspan, a former Federal Reserve chairman, is joining the hedge fund Paulson & Co. as an adviser, the New York-based company said Tuesday.
    And this tells us…

    As rising delinquencies on subprime mortgages escalated into a global credit crisis this summer, some in the $1.8 trillion hedge fund industry thrived, like Paulson and Scion, while others fell.
    And The Shrill One tells us this about Greenspan…

    (Greenspan is) like a man who suggests leaving the barn door ajar, and then - after the horse is gone - delivers a lecture on the importance of keeping your animals properly locked up.
    As Krugman said, the chutzpah is breathtaking.

    Patrick Murphy Finally Has A Repug Opponent!!

    As I live and breathe, it turns out that Tom Manion of Doylestown, a 53-year-old pharmaceutical executive and a recently retired colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve, has decided to challenge Patrick Murphy for the U.S. House 8th district seat in PA (here, with Mikey cheering from the sidelines, of course).

    I will give Manion the respect of acknowledging that he lost his son Travis, 26, in Iraq during his second tour, and we should extend our thanks to both of them for their sacrifice on our behalf and in particular to the father for enduring such a tragic loss.

    However, if Manion intends to act in accordance with the foul boilerplate concocted by the Bucks County Republican Party (an example of which appears in the sign…these people live in their own particularly demented version of wingnuttia), then I can assure you that he will receive the same treatment Mikey did from your humble narrator.

    Manion held a meeting with reporters at his house today at 2 PM, so I am sure that he has announced by now and more details will be forthcoming shortly.

    But in the meantime, this Guest Opinion appeared in this morning’s Bucks County Courier Times from Harry Heavey of Bensalem, PA, a retired firefighter and a Democratic committee person (great timing, I must say)…

    In a recent Courier Times article, Congressman Patrick Murphy was once more brought under the spotlight for his sponsorship of earmarks. Writer Brian Scheid stated, “I received many phone calls and e-mails, mainly from Republicans who all wondered the same thing: Why had the Courier Times ignored this critical story?”

    There is a saying in law that you don't ask a question if you don't know the answer. Republicans wanted the Courier to do a critical story about Congressman Murphy sponsoring earmarks. The Courier Times published the story but there was no criticism. Why not?

    To answer that question, you have to go back to the shenanigans of the prior Republican Congress where earmarks were standard fare. In that Congress, no one had to identify the sponsor of the earmark nor was there time to review it. Consequently, there were infamous earmarks like the Tea Pot Museum and the multi-million dollar bridge to nowhere.

    Then the Democrats took over Congress, including Congressman Murphy. The earmarks were condemned for what they were — secret methods for wasteful spending to pad members' re-election.

    When a congressman is sworn in, he has two major responsibilities. One is to do what is best for the country; the second is to do what is best for his district. Doing what is best for his country is best achieved by working with party members and the opposing party to pass bills that benefit the country as a whole. Doing what is best for his district is often achieved by inserting earmarks.

    There are major differences in today's earmarks as opposed to the earmarks of the Republican Congress. The changes are as follows:

    1. No more secretly inserting spending items into the federal budget.

    2. Committees are required to disclose the sponsors of spending projects.

    3. Trading of earmarks for votes is forbidden.

    4. Members and spouses must certify they have no financial interest in earmarks.

    5. Pay-as-you-go spending required new spending to be offset by cuts elsewhere.

    Under the new benchmark rules, the sponsoring member identifies himself and there is time to review the earmark before voting. Congressman Murphy has identified himself as sponsor on any earmarks he introduced.

    As stated earlier, earmarks are a way of meeting a congressman's obligation to benefit his district. Congressman Murphy sponsored legislation for the following purposes:

    Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies: Lower Makefield, Bucks County Security Threat Group; Bristol, law enforcement equipment; Bucks County Law Enforcement Interoperability.

    Department of Defense Appropriations: molecular switch vaccine for bio defense and cancer; skin/equipment chemical decontamination; strategic bio terror response for battlefield survival.

    Energy and Water Appropriations Bill: Southampton Creek flood plain management services; Community College of Philadelphia Small Business Development.

    Interior Appropriations Bill: Yardley Borough Sewer Authority

    Labor, Health and Human Services: St. Luke's Quakertown Hospital; St. Mary Hospital Foundation; American Red Cross, Lower Bucks County Chapter.

    Transportation, Housing and Urban Development: Pennsylvania Turnpike / I-95 connection; Yardley, improvement of storm water systems; SEPTA, hybrid buses.

    These earmarks aim at bettering our nation and/or our community. If you don't oppose these things, you should be supportive of Congressman Murphy's earmarks. Consequently, when you look at the disgraceful earmark practices of the Republican Congress, as opposed to the open and honest earmark rules of the Democratic congress, you can recognize how Murphy has used the benefits of a fair, open, honest system to serve his country and his district.

    As previously stated, smart lawyers don't ask questions unless they already know the answers. Now that the Republican's question has been answered, any reasonable person would thank Congressman Murphy. Unfortunately, the Republicans who asked the question are not moderate or reasonable Republicans but those right wing extremists who find something wrong in everything except their own failures. These are the Republicans still supporting President Bush.
    Yep (and as always, to help Patrick, click here).

    The Edwards Freeze Out's "Exhibit A"

    I apologize for continuing to beat this drum, so to speak, but I would ask that you consider this New York Times story written today by reporters Adam Nagourney and Jennifer Steinhauer for a minute or two. It pertains to the efforts of the Democratic contenders for president and their courting of the Hispanic community.

    The Times reporters devote a lot of space to the efforts of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, as you might expect, noting also that former Arizona governor and presidential aspirant Bill Richardson is Hispanic. There is also mention of former Clinton administration HUD secretary Henry Cisneros, Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa…hell, even Al Sharpton is quoted, taking the opportunity to provide the laughable observation that, somehow, Obama “has not been part of…efforts to make (racial) progress.”

    This story is about 1,250 words in length. As noted, it pertains to the Democratic presidential campaign.

    And John Edwards isn’t mentioned even once.

    And I really don’t know what else there is to say.

    And by the way, New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt and others, please don’t try to “toss us a bone” by saying that your mention of Edwards launching four new campaign commercials in South Carolina on “The Caucus” here is somehow supposed to lend balance.

    Well, since the Times won’t tell us about Edwards’ Latino support (I know it’s dwarfed by what Clinton and Obama enjoy, but at least it’s there), I would ask that you read this.

    And to learn more about the campaign in general, click here (and I can only add “what Atrios sez” about this).

    Update 1/16/08: The beat goes on (sigh)...

    BoBo Almost Makes My Head Explode – Film At 11

    David Brooks of the New York Times continues to embellish the corporate media narrative that the campaigns of Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the presidential nomination are nothing more than the triumph of “identity politics,” which is pretty much defined as someone running for office to represent a group that has been actually oppressed in some fashion or merely perceived as having received that treatment (here).

    This does at least three things, I realize. First, it keeps the “divided Democrats” theme lurking out there in the shadows of public consciousness somewhere, and second, by excluding John Edwards, it implies that white males have no place in the Democratic Party. Third (as always), it gives Brooks a launching point from which he can foist more misinformation on us.

    This is not really news, I know. However, Brooks does go off on this right-wing riff that is really a doozy…

    All the habits of verbal thuggery that have long been used against critics of affirmative action, like Ward Churchill and Thomas Sowell, and critics of the radical feminism, like Christina Hoff Summers, are now being turned inward by the Democratic front-runners.
    I can understand how Brooks can use this column as an excuse to plug fellow freepers Hoff Summers (whose work is quite properly dissected here by Jennifer Pozner) and Thomas Sowell (likewise here and here)…but Ward Churchill??!! Mr. “little Eichmanns” himself?

    I always thought Churchill was nothing more than a nut sheltered in academia who should be left alone to rant for his cloistered audiences, given as little exposure as possible to the outside world composed of actual grownups. The fact that the freepers made him a poster boy for their vitriol speaks volumes to both the shallowness of their arguments and their own intellectual bankruptcy.

    And as you can read here, Churchill was an “affirmative action officer” at the University of Boulder in 1978 and received special treatment by some alleged status as a native American, nursing a grudge based on class oppression in consideration of that status, though the Rocky Mountain News reported in 2005 that Churchill had “no evidence of a single Indian ancestor.”

    I have no evidence also to support a claim by Brooks or anyone else that Churchill opposed affirmative action, and even if I did, Churchill’s lack of credibility would automatically rule out any thought I’d have of citing him to support my argument.

    And by the way, for more evidence of our august corporate media stoking this “Hillary/Obama brawl” for all it’s worth (jumping from "affirmative action" to the whole "raced-based politics" thing), here’s Michael Duffy, managing editor of Time, telling both sides to call Jim Wallis for a “feel good love in” of sorts that will of course be criticized also by Brooks and his ilk (Jim Wallis, who “knows their hearts well”; pardon me while I gag…and Duffy has some of his own issues that are noted here).

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take some Ibuprofen and go lie down in a dark corner somewhere (Atrios was right – the “silly season” is now a whole lot sillier).

    One more thing: spank me and send me cryin' to my mama about Brooks' point at the very end about the Latino vote. He's absolutely right, though not just about the Dem nomination; they'll play a huge role in the general election in November.

    (In a related vein, J.D. Mullane of the Bucks County Courier Times was shockingly sensible here; that can only mean a no-holds-barred hissy fit from him against Dems in general will be published shortly.)

    Update 1/18/08: To be fair, I should note that BoBo clarified today that he was referring to Ward Connerly instead of Ward Churchill, though Connerly apparently has another whole set of issues - surprised?

    Monday, January 14, 2008

    Monday Political Stuff

    OK, Michigan Dems, you know what to do (h/t The Daily Kos)...

    ...and so do the rest of us (nice work by JedReport - glad Cate wasn't hurt in the car accident today).

    Update 1/15/08: David Sirota has more.

    Dubya's Space Dreams A Flight Of Fancy

    Just noting that four years ago, President George W. Milhous Bush thus spoke the following (here)…

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Saying "the desire to explore and understand is part of our character," President Bush Wednesday unveiled an ambitious plan to return Americans to the moon by 2020 and use the mission as a steppingstone for future manned trips to Mars and beyond.

    "We do not know where this journey will end, yet we know this -- human beings are headed into the cosmos," Bush said. "Mankind is drawn to the heavens for the same reason we were once drawn into unknown lands and across the open sea. We choose to explore space because doing so improves our lives and lifts our national spirit."
    Meanwhile, on terra firma (here)…

    Despite the Bush Administration's public commitment to the space program, in the form of the 2004 Vision for Space Exploration initiative, which sets goals of returning men to the Moon, establishing a base there, and later mounting manned missions to Mars, the White House has refused to adequately fund it. The five-year projection of the budget needed annually by NASA to meet the program's major milestones, proposed by the Administration and passed by Congress in 2005, has been underfunded by more than $1 billion per year.
    What a shame that we can’t send this administration into orbit instead.

    Bill Kristol's Wankery Continues

    Slightly less obvious from last week, perhaps; from Greg Mitchell of Editor and Publisher here…

    Kristol in (today’s) column, which hailed the success of the "surge" in Iraq, concluded with this trump card: Now the Iraqi government has agreed on de-Baathification, a key gain that proves his point and pretty much destroys the Democrats' stand.
    Well, even that claim is debatable to yours truly. But as Solomon Moore of the Times notes, according to Mitchell…

    "…the (de-Baathification) legislation is at once confusing and controversial, a document riddled with loopholes and caveats to the point that some Sunni and Shiite officials say it could actually exclude more former Baathists than it lets back in, particularly in the crucial security ministries.
    And as noted in Moore’s story by Sunni politician Khalaf Aulian…

    “Many Baathists hated the Baath Party, but they were part of it to have a job,” he said. “By this law, we will push them into the insurgency.”
    Peachy (and for more “fun” with the Times’ new “quota hire,” click here).

    Smerky Slams "Obama-Rama"

    Philadelphia’s resident right-wing know-it-all Michael Smerconish concocted this yesterday in the Inquirer…

    On the morning after Hillary Rodham Clinton's upset victory in New Hampshire, I spoke to MSNBC host Chris Matthews. He said that after anchoring coverage on MSNBC, he had been up all night talking to the NBC pollsters, trying to figure out how the pre-vote polls all got it wrong in projecting a double-digit win for Barack Obama.

    Matthews wondered how they had been dead right in Iowa, and on the Republican side, but wrong with the Democrats.
    I think the following from this story about HRC’s New Hampshire win is pretty close to the mark…

    In the end, though, key voting blocs were there for Clinton - or were not there for Obama, depending on how the campaign frames it. According to exit polling conducted by The Associated Press and the networks, far more women voted than men; Clinton won 45 percent of them compared to 36 for Obama.

    Also according to exit polls, only half as many New Hampshire voters under 30 turned out as in Iowa, depriving Obama of crucial support.
    And I honestly believe that Clinton benefited from that lame-brained “iron my shirt” stunt those idiot radio people in Boston pulled, with HRC handling that moronic example of utter sexism like the pro that she is. On the one hand, it showed her as more “human” to the voters (and yes, maybe the “crying moment” also), but on the other hand, I don’t want to contemplate the notion that it takes a gimmick to get people to vote who otherwise would not have bothered (though I’m sure that’s true…sigh, and of course,we can't really claim our votes are secure anyway without a paper backup, can we?).

    Update: I should have noted the following from here...

    More than half of New Hampshire's elections administrators hand count paper ballots in public at the polling place, with a public chain of custody. The rest of New Hampshire's towns and cities use Diebold voting machines to count votes in secret, with a secret chain of custody...still no way to run an election, though, my note).
    And back to his column...of course, Smerky saw (the N.H. result) differently (and to pretend that Matthews is objective towards HRC in any way is laughable when you consider this – no wonder he was apoplectic at Obama’s loss)…

    "All I can tell you," Matthews said, "is that people did something inside the voting booth that was different than what they told the pollsters."

    The host of Hardball was being diplomatic. Let me be more straightforward: Voters lied to the pollsters, and they did so because of race. I know. I saw it firsthand, in 1987, right here in Philadelphia.
    For the benefit of anyone not from this area, I should note that Smerky is going to give us a bit of a history lesson in his eyes that will show how utterly provincial he is. And this is an easy trap for the punditocracy to fall into…

    That year, I was Frank Rizzo's political director in his bid to retake City Hall. He had been defeated by W. Wilson Goode four years prior in a Democratic primary and was now taking another shot as a Republican. Marty Weinberg, Rizzo's campaign manager, believed Rizzo could make up the small margin by which he'd lost to Goode among Democrats in 1983 if, in 1987, the city's then 200,000 Republicans were added to the mix.

    We in the Rizzo campaign always believed the election was impossible to poll because of race. As with Obama, Goode was what we would now call "the P.C. choice," although I don't know whether political correctness was yet an expression we used.
    Which, to Smerky, is the greatest evil of all, as we know (I’m surprised the Inky didn’t let him plug his book here that protests it)…

    By that I mean that Goode was certainly the more publicly acceptable, fashionable choice. In certain quarters, voters were reluctant to admit publicly their desire, much less their willingness, to vote for Rizzo.
    That may be because Frank Rizzo was perhaps the most divisive mayor in the history of Philadelphia, pledging not to raise taxes and then signing into law the highest increase Philadelphia had seen to its onerous city wage tax; he also survived a recall petition because he tried to change the city charter and run for a third term, and he was political damaged by a scandal that ensued when it was found that he lied concerning a patronage scheme involving Democratic party boss Peter Camiel - the atrocity of the PGW takeover was another blemish (aside from the senior citizen discounts by that gas utility – all of this and more is recounted here…I’ll always wonder what would have happened had he won in ’91, though – also, his son is really a “stand up” guy).

    On Election Night in 1987, I had the heady experience (for a 25-year-old) of being a spokesman for the Rizzo campaign. Simultaneous with the closing of the polls at 8 p.m., I was scheduled to do a live shot on TV with veteran anchor Larry Kane. Minutes before, Kane told me that the Channel 10 pollster predicted there would be a blowout win for Goode - with 70 percent of the vote! Kane also told me, and informed the Goode campaign, that he was refusing to publicize the poll because he knew it was incorrect.

    "When I saw that lopsided tally, I knew people were lying," Kane told me last week.

    The polling data were never aired. Goode beat Rizzo by just 2 points. And the pollster was fired.

    Kane reminded me that the same thing occurred with former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, who was the odds-on favorite to win the California gubernatorial election in 1982 but lost, and lost again in 1986. In his honor, the tendency of white voters to say one thing and vote another is sometimes called "the Bradley effect."
    Now this is where it starts to get interesting…

    I was reflecting on all of this when Chris Matthews gave me his analysis of the New Hampshire vote. Why were polls more accurate about the outcome in Iowa? Because Iowa voted by caucus, meaning, in a public forum. But New Hampshire voted inside a ballot booth. With a curtain! Iowa voters knew they would be publicly accountable for their votes, so they were stuck. New Hampshire voted in anonymity.
    So…somehow Iowa voters were “stuck” with voting for Obama because they couldn’t hide their vote? That’s a pretty pathetic commentary on Iowa voters. Somehow I think they would have just opted for HRC outright, then (in '87, there was only one Democrat on the ticket in Philadelphia, but Iowa had a choice).

    Why is what I saw locally in 1987 reemerging nationally in 2008? Obama's campaign has been a juggernaut, in part because he has been the recipient of a free ride by the media, creating a sense of inevitability that he will be the first African American to be nominated by either party. To be opposed to that movement on substantive, issue-oriented grounds is nevertheless to risk being thought a racist. Rather than run that risk, voters choose the easier path of lying to a pollster. Even when anonymity is guaranteed.
    That “free ride by the media” comment is truly laughable, when you consider the unbelievably ugly partisan smears Obama has had to overcome primarily from Smerky’s acolytes at Faux News; they basically tried to “strangle Obama’s candidacy in its crib,” if you will, but thankfully they failed.

    And it’s also funny that Smerky says that about Obama but forgets this moment when he praised the Illinois senator.

    The same dynamic makes the media reluctant to put Obama under the microscope.

    Just look at what happened to Bill Clinton. In New Hampshire, he talked in substantive terms about what he believes to be inconsistencies in Obama's record pertaining to Iraq: "It is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, enumerating the years, and never got asked one time, not once, 'Well, how could you say that when you said in 2004 you didn't know how you would have voted with the resolution? You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war, and you took that speech you are now running on off your Web site in 2004, and there is no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since.' Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I have ever seen."

    Reacting to that comment, Donna Brazile told Wolf Blitzer on CNN that "I will tell you, as an African American, I find his tone and his words to be very depressing."
    The only thing I’ll say in Smerky’s defense a bit here is that I think Obama has gotten all of the mileage he can out of his entirely correct vote to oppose the Iraq war (and while I think Bill Clinton is going through more than a little semantic gyrations trying to spin Obama’s words against him, it is waay too funny to see Smerky defending The Big Dog; anyone who doubts that our corporate media wants to see HRC running against whatever Repug emerges must also believe in the tooth fairy).

    What exactly did (Brazile) mean by "as an African American"? That had nothing to do with Bill Clinton's substantive comment about Obama and Iraq. Are Obama opponents supposed to be muzzled at this stage, forbidden to use the words fairy tale to question his meteoric rise against the backdrop of little media due diligence? One thing is certain: When pundits start speaking as members of a particular race, public discourse will diminish and suffer.
    Smerky should communicate that to Ruben Navarrette, Jr., who uses his ethnicity to bait Democrats/liberals/progressives every chance he gets (re: "Clinton doesn't deserve that kind of (Hispanic) support" here).

    Bill Clinton was right. I hope the media drop their double standard and fully vet Obama's candidacy. This hands-off stuff only adds to an atmosphere in which voters who don't like Obama fear to admit it. It all but forces voters to be hypocritical. As long as Obama gets a free ride, 2008 will be the year of the Bradley effect.
    That remains to be seen; I think there will be some of “the Bradley effect,” but naïve liberal that I am, I honestly believe this country is ready for a candidate who will stand up for their interests (primarily John Edwards, who of course is dutifully ignored here by Smerky) as opposed to automatically endorsing those who would do the bidding of this country’s corpocracy at every turn, and I think that will outweigh the issues of racism and sexism in this election which, sadly, are very much alive.

    One more thing: Smerky’s comparison of Obama to former Philadelphia mayor Wilson Goode (recalling 1987) is almost too outrageous for words. Aside from basic problems in elocution, Goode suffered from a chronic inability to crunch numbers (a big problem as former managing director) as well as the baggage from the 1985 MOVE disaster, in which Goode thought the image of an entire block of West Philadelphia row homes going up in smoke was merely “snow on his TV set.” Rizzo clearly tried to capitalize on that in the ’87 contest, but his own baggage was too much to overcome also (though an election result that close in a city with the substantial Democratic majority enjoyed by Philadelphia is an accomplishment, I’ll admit).

    Maybe instead of complaining about Obama getting “a free ride from the media,” Smerky could practice some actual journalism and inform his readership regarding Obama’s policy positions on the economy, the climate crisis, education, the legitimate fight against terrorism – even illegal immigration (red meat for Smerky’s primarily freeper audience). But I guess that’s too much to ask from “a mover and shaker of public opinion” who would rather engage in barely supported speculation that amounts to mud slinging.

    Stick to telling us the tales of your beard, and other related tripe next time, OK? And leave legitimate analysis to the bloggers and select “traditional” media sources, since apparently we are the only ones who can provide it in this election.

    Update: By the way, concerning New Hampshire, Smerky may want to take a look at this.

    Patrick Supports Our Vets Again

    Back to the Courier Times for this (in their “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down” segment from Saturday)…

    (Thumbs Up) To Congressman Patrick Murphy for his willingness to fight the small battles for veterans.

    After hearing about veterans unaware of benefits they were eligible for at the state and county level — such as an exemption from paying property taxes — Murphy and another congressman wrote a letter to Daniel Cooper, the VA's undersecretary for benefits, encouraging him to better inform veterans.

    Cooper responded by promising to include a paragraph about local benefits in award notification letters, instructing veterans to contact their state and county governments to find out what other benefits they can receive.

    “It's a small thing, but it will go a long way to make sure all veterans receive all their benefits,” said Dan Fraley, director of Veterans Affairs for Bucks County, who said he gets five to 10 calls a year from veterans unaware of their benefits.

    Too often it seems politicians only take action when it is sure to generate a lot of publicity, even if the public benefit is marginal. It's nice to see Murphy looking out for veterans by taking the time to ask for this small change, which might only amount to a couple sentences but could translate to hundreds or thousands of dollars staying in the pockets of eligible veterans. And, as far as we're concerned, that's no small change.
    To learn more, click here.

    A New Fight Against Guns

    This letter appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times yesterday (no link available)…

    The New Year is a time for annual resolutions, and the standards for these include weight loss, exercise routines and spending quality time with loved ones. If, however, you spend a minute looking back at 2007 to try to develop a meaningful resolution, look at the nearly 400 families in Philadelphia who lost a loved one to gun violence and murder, more than 125 of the victims under the age of 25. Unfortunately that statistic included our family (sic).

    Eric was a 20-year-old college student, on the right track, going to school, working and enjoying his friends. His was not a typical gun death, barely newsworthy, but devastating to our family just the same. Perhaps if the gun laws included licensing and education requirements, his death may have been prevented. Our wish for the New Year is to help others avoid such a senseless death.

    Most people watch the news and feel sad, but most also feel powerless to enact change. But what if you could – what a New Years resolution that would be. If you help with the fight for better gun laws, that action or the attention you give it could save one life, making it a very worthwhile effort.

    My son was well liked and we received hundreds of letters of condolences. We ask that folks expend the same thoughtfulness and effort by signing the petition for better gun laws available on Moms Against Guns is a fairly new organization founded by Philadelphia resident and philanthropist, Lynne Honickman. Frustrated by the political rhetoric and lack of change, Ms. Honickman has formed this group hoping to bring individual voices together for a stronger united front calling for changes to the current gun laws.

    You will see on the web site they have the support of (Philadelphia) District Attorney Lynne Abraham, (Wife of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter) Lisa Nutter and others. All agree the safety of our children must come before anything else. Moms Against Guns has a goal of 50,000 signatures to be sent to our legislators, forcing this very political issue out front. It is too hard to fight the gun lobbyist alone; together each of our signatures will count. One death, let alone the many that have occurred, is too many.

    So for yourself, your children and maybe for the memory of our son Eric, please start with this one accomplishment and make a difference.

    Lisa and Robert Aberman and family
    Middletown Township, PA
    My sympathies go out to the Aberman family and Eric's friends; to learn more, click here.