Saturday, January 26, 2008

I Used To Respect Jack Cafferty

Sneaking this in after I said I'd be down, I know...

I just have a minute to two to note that, if someone offered to pay me to concoct drivel like this, I'd tell them to keep their money and let me do what I do here instead.

(And yes, I know this has been another day of bad news for the Edwards campaign, and concerning a crucial state, but it seems that our dear corporate media cousins want him out of the picture so badly that they're willing to come up with this scenario with Gore to try and hasten his departure.)

And given this new idiocy about the possibility of "Al Gore uniting the Democrats," I can hardly wait for someone to suggest that Newt Gingrich enter and unite the Republicans. However, I won't hold my breath waiting for anyone to say that.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Site Note

Just to let you know, I'm going to be shutting things down for a few days for a number of reasons. I hope to be back up and running again early next week. Take care.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thursday Political Stuff

Probably not much posting tomorrow, by the way...

Darcy Burner has a message for all of the Democratic cowards in the Senate who refused to fight the warrantless wiretapping bill (here...aside from the reference to Abu G., it pretty much reflects the pitiable status quo)...

...and oh yeah, this is about the war (great stuff, particularly in light of the post about Rummy today).

Playing The Game At Our Expense

I can think of all kinds of reasons why a Democratic voter would favor Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama for the party presidential nomination or vice versa (though the right thing to do is to support John Edwards instead), but this is definitely not a reason to support Obama over Clinton as far as I’m concerned (as noted here)…

"No one motivates the Republicans in Missouri like Hillary Clinton."
So we’re supposed to let people who probably wouldn’t give a Dem the time of day anyway decide how the party should vote? Would they ever do the same for us? Do I even have to ask?

And that assumes that, somehow, those same Repugs would be less "motivated" if Obama or Edwards were the nominee - please...

And by the way, “thanks” for being a tower of Jell-o on the matter of immunity to the telcos, Sen. McCaskill (here, and kudos to Bob Casey for doing the right thing).

An Ill Wind Of Change

The Minerals Management Service released its 3,000 page draft Environmental Impact Statement last week claiming that “the wind farm off Cape Cod (MA) would have little lasting impact on wildlife, navigation, and tourism.”

This is the same Minerals Management service under Dick Cheney acolyte Randall Luhti that opened up nearly 30 million acres of Alaskan waters to oil and gas leasing in the heart of polar bear country (as noted here).

To say I’m skeptical of the MMS findings is putting it mildly (and by the way, somehow I don’t think the matter of the wind farms possibly obstructing the view of Ted Kennedy from his Hyannis compound is the biggest issue on the table; Boston Globe reporter Beth Dailey mentioned that here).

Lots of important information telling us what we can do, in particular area residents, can be found here.

And I’m sorry, Jim Gordon of Cape Wind, but I guess opposing this doesn’t make me a “rational observer” to your way of thinking, but I can live with that.

A "Nightmare" Of A Candidate

So “Senator Honor And Virtue” is telling everyone in his latest T.V. ad that he’s “The Democrats’ Worst Nightmare,” is he?

Well, this tells us that the race has tightened up between McCain and a Democratic opponent, I’ll admit, but I would point out two things first: 1) They aren’t running head to head yet (and I like all three of our front runners better than any of the Repugs, though I’m partial of course), and 2) It’s not assured by any means that McCain will end up winning the Republican nomination.

Besides, all one has to do to find out what’s going on with “The Straight Talk Express” is to read here about his Baghdad photo-op, among other missteps (with too many of the American sheeple apparently lulled into the notion that Iraq is just hunky dory right now if The Almighty Petraeus says so) and his unflinching Bushco orthodoxy (and what “good company” he keeps also, as you can see here; D’Amato is a stooge, but Phil Gramm is one of the authors of our present misery as former chairman of the Senate Banking Commission – his wife made sure Enron was exempt from federal oversight while she served on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, as noted here, and Gramm said he couldn’t feel sorry for 80-year-old Social Security recipients because “most of them don’t live that long”).

Typical Repug, all cut from the same unholy cloth (and besides, this notes that McCain still has to win over the lunatic fringe of his own party).

Howling At The "Bush Dogs"

The only reason I’m linking to this column from Froma Harrop of the Providence Journal, which extols the supposed virtues of the Blue Dog Democrats, is to refute it by linking to this Matt Stoller Open Left post which explains what these people are, for the most part, really all about, including this excerpt from Stoller’s Q&A…

Why are you doing this? Why are you criticizing Democrats from conservative districts?!? You're a bad Democrat!

First of all, the 'I've voting my district' argument (concerning the Iraq War) doesn't hold. There are basically no districts where the war is popular, and warrantless wiretapping as an electoral issue moved numbers against Republicans last cycle. These members are not voting their districts, they are just conservatives. There are also a number of districts represented by a Bush Dog Democrat, such as Dan Lipinski's in Illinois and Leonard Boswell's in Iowa, which lean Democratic.

Second of all, Bush Dog Democrats are dragging down the rest of the party.

According to Zogby, 80% of Democrats disapproval of the job that Congress is doing. This is a remarkable statistic. Historically, Congress gets low marks from the opposite party, but the party in power tends to think their leaders are doing a pretty good job. Yet, currently, four fifths of Democrats do not approve of the job their leaders are doing, which is amazingly high for a partisan Democratic group.

In other words, the term 'Bush Dog' is just giving a name to the frustration of many Democrats.

As for why we're doing this, well, despite the 2006 election, George W. Bush is still able to govern along right-wing lines and has formed an effective conservative working majority in Congress, with this block of members as the pivotal swing block.

Without challenging these members, we will never be able to get progressive legislation through Congress. Or, to put it another way, we think expanded warrantless wiretapping authority is awful for any President to have because we don't want to be spied on. We think the Iraq war is really bad and that troops should be withdrawn. We don't agree with Bush Dog Democrats on the substance of their policy ideas, nor do we think it's a good thing that they are helping George W. Bush govern in an effective working conservative majority.
However, there is at least one notable exception when it comes to the “Bush Dogs,” and his mere presence gives them more credibility than they deserve (I recognize the group’s fiscal argument, but practically nothing else, and he definitely voted against the war and the gutting of FISA, as we know).

And to help him out, click here.

Rummy's Back To Catapult More Propaganda

I guess terminal egomania would be the only explanation for the recent return to the national spotlight of Don (“The Former Defense Secretary We Had,” recalling that quote to Pitts and Wilson when they asked him about their armor, just as a reminder) by calling for (as noted here)…

…a “21st-century agency for global communications.” Such an agency would respond to the media attacks leveled at the United States by Islamic radicals, using everything “from blogs to online social-networking sites to talk radio,” The Air Force Times said.
The Times story also notes that Rummy envisions that this agency will “tell the story of a nation that was carved from the wilderness and conceived in freedom.”

Yeah, well, I don’t think any suicide bomber candidates in Mosul (like the one who perpetrated this) are going to be real receptive to hearing the Currier and Ives version of our country’s history, so I think that one is a “non-starter,” as they say.

And if Rummy is serious about trying to “win hearts and minds” in Iraq again (and let’s hope he isn’t), I also hope that he’s learned from some past mistakes, including these (noted here)…

In an effort to mask any connection with the military, the Pentagon had employed the Lincoln Group to translate and place (stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq., translated into Arabic and published in Baghdad newspapers). When delivering the stories to media outlets in Baghdad, Lincoln's staff and subcontractors had sometimes posed as freelance reporters or advertising executives. The amounts paid ranged from $50 to $2,000 per story placed. All told, the Lincoln Group had planted more than one thousand stories in the Iraqi and Arab press. The U.S. Army also went directly into the journalism business itself, launching a publication called Baghdad Now, with articles written by some of its Iraqi translators, who received training in journalism from a sergeant in the First Armored Division's Public Affairs Office. The U.S. also founded and financed the Baghdad Press Club, ostensibly a gathering place for Iraqi journalists. In December 2005, however, it was revealed that the military had also been using the press club to pay journalists for writing stories favorable to the U.S. and the occupation. For each story they wrote and placed in an Iraqi newspaper, they received $25, or $45 if the story ran with photos.

The planted stories were "basically factual," U.S. officials told the Los Angeles Times, although they admitted that they presented only one side of events and omitted information that might reflect poorly on the U.S. or Iraqi governments. Actually, though, concealing the fact that the stories were written and paid for by the United States was itself a form of deception. Concealment of sponsorship, in fact, is the very standard by which the U.S. Government Accountability Office defines propaganda. In a 1988 report that has served as a standard ever since, the GAO stated, "Our decisions have defined covert propaganda as materials such as editorials or other articles prepared by an agency or its contractors at the behest of the agency and circulated as the ostensible position of parties outside the agency. ... A critical element of covert propaganda is the concealment of the agency's role in sponsoring such material."
No amount of perfume is going to make the mess in Iraq any less of a pig, as the saying more or less goes, but this regime will never stop trying to pull these cheap antics even though a legitimate campaign to win over the locals is something that should have been conceived and executed before the first shot in the war was ever fired.

Well, at least if this proceeds somehow (only if privately funded – I don’t want to see a penny of our dough wasted on this), I hope Bushco puts someone in charge this time who at least speaks Arabic, unlike this person.

There Is No "Good" War

This Times of London story tells us that David M. Satterfield, currently our co-ordinator for Iraq (a lot more benign-sounding of a title than “czar” or “viceroy,” as Paul Bremer was called when he headed the Coalition Provisional Authority in that country), said recently that "Iraq may turn out to be America’s 'good war' while Afghanistan goes 'bad'."

Well, to date, we have sustained 3,931 casualties in Iraq, Mr. Satterfield (as noted here). And if that constitutes your definition of “good,” then I don’t want to imagine what you would consider to be “bad” (and I’m going to ignore the other “smoke and mirrors” stuff here implying that the Iraqi government may actually get its act together – looong past the time for that to happen).

And this Wikipedia article tells us the following about Satterfield…

In the indictment: U.S. v. Lawrence Anthony Franklin, Steven J. Rosen, Keith Weissman, USGO-2 is mentioned, and in a New York Times article: David Satterfield, deputy chief of the United States Mission in Baghdad, is identified as USGO-2. In early 2002, Satterfield discussed secret national security matters in two meetings with Steven J. Rosen. The meetings, on January 18, 2002, and March 12, 2002, were confirmed by classified documents. The indictment, however, did not accuse Satterfield of any wrongdoing.
I’m not alleging Satterfield did anything legally actionable here, but I just want to point out yet again how the names of Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman keep coming up whenever the topic of real or alleged discussions of secrets involving people in our government makes its way into the headlines (such as with Our Gal Condi here).

And in case you’re wondering, I can find no trace of military service in Satterfield’s background, which is totally unsurprising (though his diplomatic service is extensive). I can’t imagine anyone who has ever been a grunt in combat finding anything “good” about Iraq.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wednesday Videos

The Postal Service ("Nothing Better"; I believe this is a fan video that actually ends at about 3:45, and can't tell ya' what's going on there with the numbers - guess it means that they're just so compatible and like that)...

...I missed some birthdays so now it's makeup time - hope it was a good one for Duncan Sheik ("She Runs Away")...

...Edwin Starr would have been 66 on Monday ("Stop The War Now," a fan vid for this follow-up tune to "War"; both hits were released in 1970)...

...and to commemorate the 81st birthday of stylish diva extraordinaire Eartha Kitt last week, here's "Just An Old Fashioned Girl" recorded live as Kaskad in 1962 (that's all I know about this).

A “Paean” For Some Forgotten Heroes

We’re going to be commemorating a few 40th anniversaries this year, so we might as well begin with this one, and that would be the seizure of the U.S.S. Pueblo by North Korea on this date in 1968.

This Wikipedia article tells us that the issue of whether or not the ship was in international waters at the time it was seized or whether it had strayed across the border briefly into North Korea may never be resolved (not an uncommon practice if it had strayed, actually). Also, the Seventh Fleet apparently knew of the threat the Pueblo faced, but either no one sought authorization for attacking the North Korean vessels or was only able to obtain it after the Pueblo had already been captured.

The incidents of starving our troops as well as subjecting them to coercion, including beatings, grew harsher after the North Koreans realized our people were giving them “the finger” in propaganda photos, to the point where Cmdr. Lloyd Bucher (pictured) was put through a mock firing squad to make him confess to spying, and only agreed to write a confession after his own men were threatened (including the pun, “We paean the North Korean state…We paean their great leader Kim Il Sung,” which only led to harsher treatment when the North Koreans discovered the intended meaning).

However, as this San Diego Union-Tribune story tells us…

“It was a lot harder for the wives than for us,” said James Kell, 71. “We knew what was happening, and we could cope with it. But they didn't know. They could only imagine.”

Carol Murphy and her young son lived near Yokosuka when her husband – Lt. Ed Murphy, the ship's executive officer – was taken prisoner. The North Koreans released a photo that showed the Pueblo's five other officers, but not Ed.

Three days after the ship's capture, Ed's mother died in California. Carol Murphy, eight months pregnant with her second child, caught a flight home for her mother-in-law's services.
Imagine, eight months pregnant and flying across the Pacific in 1968 – a whole different story versus now.

And by the way, though I don’t mean to malign our services here, the next time you hear some right-wing blowhard frothing about how those damn dirty hippies were protesting the war and spitting on our soldiers, calling them “baby killers,” etc. (as if that was the only treatment our people received from civilians in that era), consider what the wives of the Pueblo crew had to endure at the hands of the Navy, which wanted to shut all of this out of sight…

The wife of the Pueblo's captain (Bucher) heard a report about the ship's seizure while watching a news show at San Diego's Bahia Hotel, where she was staying with her two teenage sons. Pete, a career submariner, would be assigned to San Diego after his Pueblo tour ended.

Within minutes, news reporters tracked down Rose Bucher at the hotel.

She reluctantly embraced the role as the Pueblo families' morale-booster and spokeswoman. She asked a senior Navy officer for the names and addresses of all the crewmen's families so she could keep them informed, a longtime tradition in the service. He told her no.

“He said, 'I think you might be a rabble-rouser,' ” said Bucher, who lives in the Poway home she shared with Pete until his death in 2004.

The Pueblo families bridled at this and other Navy cruelties they endured. After the Pueblo was seized, the Navy temporarily stopped some of the crew members' pay, leaving their wives without that source of financial support.

“I went to get his paycheck, and there wasn't any,” Pat Kell said. “I had to go to church to get some (money).”

(Kell) put a “Remember the Pueblo” bumper sticker on her car. Navy officials said the vehicle wouldn't be allowed on a base because of that emblem.
The Pueblo ordeal lasted for eleven months before the 82-man crew was finally freed (Fireman Apprentice Duane Hodges was killed in the initial attack on the ship), and the Wikipedia article tells us that we’ve since learned that the Soviet Union ordered North Korea to seize the ship because the Soviets were looking for a cryptographic machine they learned about from the American spy John Anthony Walker.

And to think that North Korea actually makes money off the seized ship as a tourist attraction, using the possible repatriation of the ship as diplomatic leverage (as much as Bushco disgusts me, I have to admit that that’s pretty damn low also).

As the Union-Tribune story notes, the surviving crew and family members have carried the memories of this act of terrorism with them all of their lives, and will quite probably until the day they pass from this earth. And I think they all deserve some respect and recognition for their great sacrifice.

Another Bushco Climate Crisis Co-Conspirator

This New York Times story tells us…

WASHINGTON — A new international ranking of environmental performance puts the United States at the bottom of the Group of 8 industrialized nations and 39th among the 149 countries on the list.

The United States, with a score of 81.0, he noted, “is slipping down,” both because of low scores on three different analyses of greenhouse gas emissions and a pervasive problem with smog. The country’s performance on a new indicator that measures regional smog, he said, “is at the bottom of the world right now.”

He added, “The U.S. continues to have a bottom-tier performance in greenhouse gas emissions.”
But not to worry; our government leapt into action immediately to communicate some truly outrageous lies for our media stenographers.

James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said the problem with ozone, which is formed by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen, volatile organic compounds and sunlight, was being addressed by the Bush administration in new rules to curb emissions of those chemicals from power plants and from the burning of diesel fuels.

“We recognized this about five years ago,” he said.
And assuming that’s true, you’re only acting on that now??!!

“We have a program that in the next 10 years is going to address this in a really big way,” with “more than a 90 percent cut” in diesel emissions from trucks and off-road engines like those in construction equipment.

The United States’ low ranking in measures like the amount of carbon dioxide emissions per capita or per unit of electricity — in the bottom 20 percent — is not surprising, Mr. Connaughton said, because the United States contributes a quarter of the new releases of greenhouse gas emissions.

In recent years, he added, the United States has improved its carbon intensity — the output of emissions relative to economic growth. In Europe and Japan, he said, “intensity is not improving as fast, but many of these countries started in a better place.”
I’m not going to waste my time trying to figure out what that means, though Connaughton could be referring to Switzerland’s emphasis on mass transit and hydroelectric power as noted in the story, which makes it “the most greenhouse gas efficient economy in the developed world” according to the ranking.

What I want to do instead is take a look at how Connaughton and his playmates worked to kill California’s plan to regulate greenhouse gases from vehicle emissions (here), as well as take note here of a report that our ruling cabal was due to hand over to the U.N. stating, in part, that…

The United States will emit about 20 percent more greenhouse gases by 2020 than it did in 2000, according to a draft report that the Bush administration was scheduled to submit to the United Nations a year ago.
Oh, and did I mention how Connaughton’s boss pulled his little bait and switch move on Germany’s Angela Merkel to try and cut the legs out from under her vehicle emissions reduction plan for her country (here)?

And Jim Hightower tells us the following about Connaughton (from here)…

"A former lobbyist for utilities, mining, chemical, and other industrial polluters, Connaughton, represented the likes of General Electric and ARCO in their effort to escape responsibility for cleaning up toxic Superfund sites. Now he heads up pollution-policy development for the administration and coordinates its implementation. He has led the charge to weaken the standards of getting arsenic out of our drinking water, and he has steadily advised Bush to ignore, divert, stall, dismiss, and otherwise block out all calls for action against the industrial causes of global warming," (Hightower) wrote in[2]
It would be nice if this otherwise satisfactory news story provided this information, but I guess The Old Gray Lady is lost in her own figurative fog, as opposed to the literal one that is slowly choking our planet thanks in large part to Dubya and his minions.

More "Clucking Around" On Edwards

First we Markos calling John Edwards “an ass” for calling out Barack Obama on his invocation of the Republicans as “the party of ideas” and Obama's praise of Ronald Reagan (here).

Next, we have Julian Epstein telling us that Edwards should do the “honorable thing” and drop out of the Democratic primary if he does poorly in South Carolina on Saturday (here, and of course, Glenn Greenwald’s information here about Edwards’ recent trending in the polls was dutifully ignored).

Now, we have Dick Polman in the Philadelphia Inquirer today referring to Edwards as a “headless chicken” here (and how funny is it to read Polman pile on assumption after assumption – possibly correct, but we’ll see – about Edwards, but then chide others who do the same thing regarding St. McCain?).

(Oh, and by the way, Polman and the Inky, you might want to take a look at this survey today from Editor and Publisher telling us that’s readership dropped 63.8 percent from December 2006 to December 2007, coming in just barely under, which had the biggest loss of the top 30 sites over that same period at 64.4 percent (note: please see comment for clarification). And I haven’t noticed any comments yet to Polman’s post, and unlike your humble narrator, Polman gets paid for this – sad when even the wingnuts don’t even bother to show up any more...never mind, I just saw one, and they eventually showed up including some character named jmc who does nothing but perpetually trash Democrats.)

And all of this actually is not a setup to another media bashing over the lack of Edwards coverage; there’s only so much I can do about that, and life is short (and at least this shows the guy has a sense of humor).

However, I do want to note that I haven’t heard Edwards or anyone else “pick up the baton” left by Chris Dodd on the issue of telecomm immunity on FISA since Dodd dropped out, and I believe it’s high time that John Edwards did so (here...and by the way, this doesn't say much for Obama or Hillary, seeing as how Edwards isn't even a senator any more).

Update 1 01/23/08: Kudos to The Fresno Bee (here), and no thanks to Big Ed (here).

Update 2 01/24/08: Good job!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tuesday Videos

I'm going to try and combine a couple of items here; first, until the tragic death of actor Heath Ledger, the big show business news was that Ringo Starr wouldn't perform on "Live With Regis and Kelly" because the two hosts wouldn't cut short their idiotic gabbing at the top of the show to allow Starr enough time to perform his song, and second, today is the 40th anniversary of the debut of "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-in" (quintessential '60s escapist fluff), so here's Ringo from back in the day promoting that incredibly strange movie (and just remember - as we know, "losers get Bushes")...

...and here's Atreyu ("Becoming The Bull").

Tuesday Political Stuff

I think this is appropriate given the departure of Grandpa Fred today (noted here - to be honest, though, the Kos video really is a bit much)...

...and "The Pap Attack" takes on our "snake-bit" preznit.

A Review For "Movie Monday"

With the announcement of the Academy Award nominations in mind (one day I’ll be able to watch the films again in actual theaters as opposed to home DVDs when the most viewed channel in our house isn’t Nickelodeon), I just wanted to take note of the film “Redacted” by Brian De Palma that I was able to watch over last weekend.

If you want to find out more about it as they say, this link provides more information (more info here). There are also a whole bunch of reviewer comments at the IMDB link that take De Palma and the film apart for a variety of reasons, including the criticism that, in one scene, a U.S. soldier is holding a rifle and then, a moment or two later, he’s holding a rocket launcher (there are about a trillion little continuity errors like that a year in movies; I don’t think your enjoyment of a film should be based on that alone), as well as some of the film’s incidental music (the aria "e lucevan le stelle" is one of hope, see, and this film is tragedy from early on until the very end – actually, a lot of the negative comments read like they’re part of a well-orchestrated campaign to trash the film).

Personally, I thought the film accomplished a lot, and I was not put off by the intermingling of what was supposed to be a documentary by a French filmmaker as well as web clips of the IED death of a U.S. soldier and the girl friend/fiancée of one of the soldiers pleading teary-eyed to hear from him. The film communicated the moments of utter boredom, nerve-jangling terror and sudden horror faced by our troops, as well as the miscommunications that can lead to tragedy for themselves and the Iraqis.

The film puts together a lot of different situations and creates a context that we will never see in anything presented in our media; the last time I saw “connect-the-dots” movie making about the war prior to this was in “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

Was it preachy? Yes. Did it put me off? A bit; the photos of the dead Iraqis at the very end were unnecessary, I thought. But it captured the whole dynamic of how the alleged crimes in Samarra could have taken place (De Palma acknowledges the gray area there) and it is absolutely uncompromising in depicting the rape in question and the beheading of a U.S. soldier (a la Nick Berg – it’s actually one of the most sickening experiences in film I've ever encountered).

Oh, and did this movie deserve a 10-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival? Uh, no.

There are some clumsy moments, but the acting was pretty solid I thought, particularly Rob Devaney as Corporal Lawyer McCoy. And regardless of what you may think of this movie, it brought home to me the reason why the Iraq war should be, hands down, the number one issue in this country, even with our crappy economy at the moment.

Mikey Lowers The Bar

So it looks like Saint Mikey will have to content himself with competing for the PA state house, since he has declared himself as a candidate to run against Dem Rep. Chris King of PA’s 142nd District.

I don’t live in that district so I won’t be able to comment as authoritatively on it as I might about my own (PA-31; our rep is the departing Dave Steil, and I have a feeling I’ll be posting on this also with Steve Santarsiero and Mike Diamond both competing for the Democratic party nod here). Also, I have a feeling Chris is going to get tag teamed with both Mikey and Matt Wright making noise from the sidelines.

And I just love this quote from Mikey about why he chose to run (and I wonder if he could have waited much later to declare, by the way?)…

“I intend to change the way business is done in Harrisburg,” said Fitzpatrick, who lives with his family in the Snowball Gate section of Levittown in Middletown. “We need to control the growth of spending in government, expand economic opportunities and restore honesty to the process. I will bring a unique perspective along with a proven record of accomplishment for the people I serve.”
Har de har har har

No one will ever change Harrisburg, Mikey (assuming that paragraph is anything other than RNC-approved boilerplate, which it isn’t). The best you can do is fight the trench battles and try to build on any success you can achieve, which Chris has done effectively as nearly as I can tell (a lot better than Mikey or Matt Wright could, anyway).

I did some research on Chris to find out where he stands on the issues, and I came up with this (from here - still looking for information on legislation introduced and congressional votes; I’ll link to it if I can track it down, tough because Chris apparently doesn't have a web site).

The Project Vote Smart link tells us, among other things, that Chris supports abortion only in the first trimester and in the case of rape or incest and danger to the mother’s life, which puts him probably about smack in the middle of where the majority of his constituents are on this issue (and yes, I know Roe v. Wade was decided 35 years ago today). He would slightly decrease welfare funding and greatly decrease property taxes (everybody says that, though, to be fair). He also doesn’t support the death penalty (academic really, since I can’t remember the last time we actually executed anyone in this state), he is opposed to the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, and he is opposed to school vouchers and voluntary prayer in public schools.

The only areas where I take issue with Chris are in his non-commitment to requiring background checks on gun sales between private citizens at gun shows (I don’t even know why that’s legal to begin with, to tell you the truth, but being as this is “Pennsyltucky”…) and requiring a license for gun possession. However, Chris knows the electoral and fundraising landscape in this state at least as well as other legislators; you must pay homage to the NRA, or you will not be returned to office - it’s just a matter of how slavish you are about it.

Chris also recently came under fire for stating in 2002 that he wouldn’t use taxpayer funds to run TV ads (here), but then did so, touting an expansion of the state’s property tax and rent rebate program for low-income senior citizens.

I didn’t see the original ads by Matt Wright in 2002 that Chris opposed, and if it turns out he was wrong, then he was wrong. However, as this letter to the Courier Times notes, the ads helped notify a lot of seniors who didn’t know about the program to begin with.

Aside from personally being a good guy, I believe Chris has done an effective job for the residents of his district. And in this political climate, Carpetbagger Mikey’s whole “local boy, one of us, father of six, boy scout, pretend-moderate-but-lockstep-wingnut-in-reality” act may not go down as easily with the voters of the 142nd as he thinks.

Update 2/6/08: Seriously, I'm sorry to hear about this; I hope everything works out with Fitzpatrick and his family.

The Inky Weighs In On The Economy

I have to remind myself not to devote so much time and attention to the Philadelphia Inquirer, especially when they produce a lede like this in one of their editorials today on the “tax cut, more debt” smoke and mirrors gimmick from Bushco in response to the nose dive our markets are currently performing, bringing other world markets down right along with it.

You don't need a degree in economics to know where Congress should send rebates to stave off a recession: to people who will spend the money faster than Paris Hilton in a shoe store.
I think that speaks volumes about what the paper thinks of its audience.

What is truly bizarre about this column is that the Inquirer actually gives Democrats credit for trying to provide rebates “for working families who don’t earn enough to pay federal payroll taxes.”

I should back up for a minute, though, and say something about the farcical notion that some cosmetic, one-time gift of cash to people in this country who have been hosed every financial way possible by this cabal of crooks can somehow address the endemic problems of our markets that have led to the current calamitous state of affairs…OK, there I said it.


Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified to Congress last week that the greatest economic effect of the stimulus "would come from people with lower incomes." Families of four with income below $41,000 are the ones who most need the money, in Bush's words, "to help meet their monthly utility bills, cover higher costs at the gas pump, or pay for other basic necessities."
As if he would know (and by the way, I'm currently reading a profile of Bernanke in last Sunday's New York Times magazine, and I believe he's an improvement over "Bubble Boy" Alan Greenspan, who handed Bernanke a first-class mess before he cashed in - I'll try to say more about it later).

Not so a family with income of $200,000, who might just save the rebate or use it to pay down a credit card. That's not to say that higher-income families shouldn't receive a rebate; but the immediate impact on the economy from their rebates isn't likely to be as great.
Because poor people, being good consumers, will automatically spend whatever they get (and families pulling in low-to-mid-level six figure incomes will be much more practical, of course).

For the same reason, a relief package should include a temporary increase in unemployment insurance benefits beyond the normal 26 weeks. This is not incentive for the unemployed to remain so; rather it will put money in the hands of people most likely to spend it right away. Increasing the funding for food stamps would have much the same effect.
Uh…I know from my own experience with unemployment that you have to nurse your “maximum benefit entitlement” carefully to take care of the necessities of living because it will be at least a third below that of what you had earned previously in full-time employment, and it will run out at 26 weeks at the earliest; spending it right away is exactly what you DON’T do.

But I suppose no one on the Inquirer editorial board has ever had to file for unemployment in the state of Pennsylvania. They should count their blessings.

When the Inky is in “finger pointing” mode such as this, preaching to those about whom they apparently have very little understanding, they seem to aspire to be a junior varsity version of the Wall Street Journal or something without the nuanced layers of propaganda.

Well, at least they didn’t call their “Paris Hilton in a shoe store” recipients “lucky duckies.”

Leadership Amidst The Nonsense

The following endorsement was received by the John Edwards campaign…

January 20, 2008

The Honorable John R. Edwards
410 Market Street
Suite 400
Chapel Hill, NC 27516

Dear Senator Edwards:

It was good meeting with you yesterday and discussing my father's legacy. On the day when the nation will honor my father, I wanted to follow up with a personal note.

There has been, and will continue to be, a lot of back and forth in the political arena over my father's legacy. It is a commentary on the breadth and depth of his impact that so many people want to claim his legacy. I am concerned that we do not blur the lines and obscure the truth about what he stood for: speaking up for justice for those who have no voice.

I appreciate that on the major issues of health care, the environment, and the economy, you have framed the issues for what they are - a struggle for justice. And, you have almost single-handedly made poverty an issue in this election.

You know as well as anyone that the 37 million people living in poverty have no voice in our system. They don't have lobbyists in Washington and they don't get to go to lunch with members of Congress. Speaking up for them is not politically convenient. But, it is the right thing to do.

I am disturbed by how little attention the topic of economic justice has received during this campaign. I want to challenge all candidates to follow your lead, and speak up loudly and forcefully on the issue of economic justice in America.

From our conversation yesterday, I know this is personal for you. I know you know what it means to come from nothing. I know you know what it means to get the opportunities you need to build a better life. And, I know you know that injustice is alive and well in America, because millions of people will never get the same opportunities you had.

I believe that now, more than ever, we need a leader who wakes up every morning with the knowledge of that injustice in the forefront of their minds, and who knows that when we commit ourselves to a cause as a nation, we can make major strides in our own lifetimes. My father was not driven by an illusory vision of a perfect society. He was driven by the certain knowledge that when people of good faith and strong principles commit to making things better, we can change hearts, we can change minds, and we can change lives.

So, I urge you: keep going. Ignore the pundits, who think this is a horserace, not a fight for justice. My dad was a fighter. As a friend and a believer in my father's words that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, I say to you: keep going. Keep fighting. My father would be proud.

Martin L. King, III
And here is additional information (in your face, Markos and Julian Epstein…)

Dear Friend,

I just finished talking with John -- and he's committed to going all the way to the Democratic Convention, taking the nomination and then on to the White House.

We're going to win delegates in South Carolina -- and we're going to win delegates in other critical states on February 5. And with John McCain emerging as the likely nominee for the Republicans, it's becoming clear there is only one Democratic candidate who can win against him in November -- and that is John Edwards.

Poll after poll shows it is John Edwards who can beat any of the Republican candidates in the general election. Now is the time when John Edwards needs your support the most.

That's why I'm making a special appeal for a contribution to help keep John and this campaign fighting for the boldest agenda of change of any candidate.

here to make a contribution now.

Your support allows us to expand the broadcast of our campaign spots in those states where we know we can win delegates on February 5, put additional phone banks into place for South Carolina this week and move field staff into the next round of contests.

here to make a contribution now.

Over the past two weeks, thousands of you have responded with contributions -- and your support has truly sustained this campaign. Many of you have given for the very first time to John Edwards in the past two weeks.

Can you do it again for John and for our campaign? Can you give us another contribution and help keep us competitive to the convention? John is committed to this fight -- together, we can win!

Thanks for all you do.

Joe Trippi
Senior Advisor, John Edwards for President
January 22, 2008

P.S. I hope you had a chance to watch last night's debate on CNN. Here's a moment from that debate you need to see (
And here’s more from Daily Kos diarist JedReport (and to help, click here).

Update: Take note of this, you South Carolina Dems (and everyone else).

Monday, January 21, 2008

Monday Political Stuff

I'll be honest with you; I can't keep track of whether or not the Clintons are mad at Obama or Obama is mad at the Clintons or all three are mad at each other at the moment. All I know is that everyone involved had better knock it the hell off and start acting like grownups.

I think it all started with the words from Hillary Clinton that Bill Moyers talks about so eloquently in this clip, but I'm not sure (and by the way, what Digby sez - h/t Atrios)...

...and "The Pap Attack" takes on our "patch and pray" (no lie) infrastructure.

It's Money That Matters, As Always

I just wanted to throw out this crazy notion given the disconsolate news of the world wide markets in response to our little untidiness over the subprime mortgage meltdown and the effects rippling through our financial institutions.

Yesterday in the New York Times, this story tried to create the impression that, somehow, this could be good news because foreign investors would establish more of a presence in this country than the substantial one they have already, bailing us out somehow in light of our own ineptitude and malfeasance.

And this particular bit of condescension caught my eye...

Some labor unions see the acceleration of foreign takeovers as the latest indignity wrought by globalization.

“It’s the culmination of a series of fool’s errands,” said Leo W. Gerard, international president of the United Steelworkers. “We’ve hollowed out our industrial base and run up this massive trade deficit, and now the countries that have built the deficits are coming back to buy up our assets. It’s like spitting in your face.”

Other labor groups take a more pragmatic view.
Oh, you poor, sad labor unions. You continue to protest the havoc wrought by the pillaging of our way of life? How "un-pragmatic" of you (as Atrios so correctly noted recently, the Times is more interested in preserving the status quo than in honoring anything we would associate with liberal or progressive values).

Well, suppose all of this global expansion into our economy turns out to be a bad thing? What if it leads to a scenario such as this one instead?

Read And Learn, Inky

Kudos to Guy Petroziello and the Bucks County Courier Times for publishing David Sirota today on its editorial page; Sirota's great column today pertains to the health care insurance initiatives in Washington state and Wisconsin in which employers and employees pay a modest payroll tax in exchange for full medical benefits.

For all of the wingnuttia on that paper's Op-Ed pages - and there's plenty of it again today - the Courier Times at least makes the effort to publish progressive voices like Dave as well as Gene Lyons, Paul Campos, Jim Hightower on occasion and others (as opposed to the Inquirer, which is just about beyond any hope as far as I'm concerned).

Remembering Dr. King

Prof. Marcus posted this already, but I'd like to do so again - The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was talking about Vietnam and communism in the '60s, but he could have just as easily been talking about Iraq and terrorism today, among other things (and pay close attention to his totally apropos Biblical references, you self-professed Christians and "values voters" - it's called "walking the walk," and he paid the ultimate price for it).

The duration of this video is 22:48, but it's worth every second and much more.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Kos Doth Protest On Edwards Too Much

First, Markos calls John Edwards "an ass" for Edwards' criticism of Barack Obama for calling the Republicans "the party of ideas for about 10-15 years" and "challenging conventional wisdom" here while giving credit to Ronald Reagan, allowing infamous freeper demagogue Fred Barnes a shot to write stuff like this).

Next, we have Markos citing Edwards' "stalling effort" and claiming that "this may be the last week of the Edwards campaign" if he doesn't win South Carolina (here - it's crucial I'll admit and doesn't look good at the moment, but the primary will be held on the 26th, so we'll see). In fact, Edwards has stated that he's in for "the long haul" (here, though I can assure you that I will acknowledge it if Markos turns out to be right).

And also, we have this post from Markos where he alleges that Obama's supporters ridiculed the Edwards supporters, though there is no link or further information to back up that charge.

All of this is starting to cause concern with yours truly, not only concerning Markos (is he trying to horn his way into the punditocracy somehow, though I'll admit that he'd be more informed than most of the other clueless morons in that bunch?) but concerning Obama also.

As I noted here, the senator from Illinois has this disturbing habit of lapsing into Republican-style language in such a manner that it could be interpreted that he's embracing their talking points from time to time. There are many reasons why this is bad, but one is that it ignores the history of his own party when it come to using government benevolently to better our lives; making our water safe to drink, our air safe to breathe, our planes safe to fly in, etc. (and despite her other virtues, I know HRC has some pretty heavy baggage also when it comes to what you might call her "crossover" connections to the dark side, certainly in terms of fundraising for starters).

And I hardly think that John Edwards is "an ass" for calling Obama on it (also, this "inclusion" argument from Obama implying that he's somehow above this fray is incredibly naive; that sounds nice, but only a fool shows up to a gun fight with a knife).

Also, I'll be honest with you; as in all things, you should have a plan "B," and in the event that John Edwards doesn't make it, I naturally assumed I would work for Obama until a nominee is decided, but that is not at all certain now after witnessing all of this.

No matter what Markos says.

Update 1 1/21/08: Julian Epstein must read The Daily Kos (here).

Update 2 1/21/08: Once again, The Shrill One explains it all.