Friday, February 01, 2008

Friday Videos

Seether ("Rise Above This," a cool fan vid from YouTuber snake1591)...

...Simon LeBon of Duran Duran hit the mid-century mark on Monday ("Save A Prayer")...

...I missed John Legend on Monday also ("I Won't Complain" - not good to cut off Oprah like that; she's got that karma thing going, you know)...

...and happy ontime birthday wishes go out to Ray "Dr. Hook" Sawyer ("The Cover Of 'Rolling Stone',"; the boys are adorable, and kudos to the family for having fun with this also).

Friday Political Stuff

I promise to try and resume normal posting next week - out of my hands to an extent, but we'll see (I know, this is a recording).

In the meantime, as long as "St. McCain" appears to be ascendant on the Repug side, here's a brief reminder about him...

...and technical difficulties prevented me from embedding this earlier, but here's "The Pap Attack" on Dubya's State of the Union fantasy delusion propaganda address this week.

Krugman Sums It Up On Edwards

Can’t let today’s dose of Paul Krugman go unnoticed, particularly this one…

So John Edwards has dropped out of the race for the presidency. By normal political standards, his campaign fell short.

But Mr. Edwards, far more than is usual in modern politics, ran a campaign based on ideas. And even as his personal quest for the White House faltered, his ideas triumphed: both candidates left standing are, to a large extent, running on the platform Mr. Edwards built.

To understand the extent of the Edwards effect, you have to think about what might have been.

At the beginning of 2007, it seemed likely that the Democratic nominee would run a cautious campaign, without strong, distinctive policy ideas. That, after all, is what John Kerry did in 2004.

If 2008 is different, it will be largely thanks to Mr. Edwards. He made a habit of introducing bold policy proposals — and they were met with such enthusiasm among Democrats that his rivals were more or less forced to follow suit.

It’s hard, in particular, to overstate the importance of the Edwards health care plan, introduced in February.

Before the Edwards plan was unveiled, advocates of universal health care had difficulty getting traction, in part because they were divided over how to get there. Some advocated a single-payer system — a k a Medicare for all — but this was dismissed as politically infeasible. Some advocated reform based on private insurers, but single-payer advocates, aware of the vast inefficiency of the private insurance system, recoiled at the prospect.

With no consensus about how to pursue health reform, and vivid memories of the failure of 1993-1994, Democratic politicians avoided the subject, treating universal care as a vague dream for the distant future.

But the Edwards plan squared the circle, giving people the choice of staying with private insurers, while also giving everyone the option of buying into government-offered, Medicare-type plans — a form of public-private competition that Mr. Edwards made clear might lead to a single-payer system over time. And he also broke the taboo against calling for tax increases to pay for reform.

Suddenly, universal health care became a possible dream for the next administration. In the months that followed, the rival campaigns moved to assure the party’s base that it was a dream they shared, by emulating the Edwards plan. And there’s little question that if the next president really does achieve major health reform, it will transform the political landscape.

Similar if less dramatic examples of leadership followed on other key issues. For example, Mr. Edwards led the way last March by proposing a serious plan for responding to climate change, and at this point both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are offering far stronger measures to limit emissions of greenhouse gases than anyone would have expected to see on the table not long ago.

Unfortunately for Mr. Edwards, the willingness of his rivals to emulate his policy proposals made it hard for him to differentiate himself as a candidate; meanwhile, those rivals had far larger financial resources and received vastly more media attention. Even The Times’s own public editor chided the paper for giving Mr. Edwards so little coverage.

And so Mr. Edwards won the arguments but not the political war.

Where will Edwards supporters go now? The truth is that nobody knows.

Yes, Mr. Obama is also running as a “change” candidate. But he isn’t offering the same kind of change: Mr. Edwards ran an unabashedly populist campaign, while Mr. Obama portrays himself as a candidate who can transcend partisanship — and given the economic elitism of the modern Republican Party, populism is unavoidably partisan.

It’s true that Mr. Obama has tried to work some populist themes into his campaign, but he apparently isn’t all that convincing: the working-class voters Mr. Edwards attracted have tended to favor Mrs. Clinton over Mr. Obama.

Furthermore, to the extent that this remains a campaign of ideas, it remains true that on the key issue of health care, the Clinton plan is more or less identical to the Edwards plan. The Obama plan, which doesn’t actually achieve universal coverage, is considerably weaker.

One thing is clear, however: whichever candidate does get the nomination, his or her chance of victory will rest largely on the ideas Mr. Edwards brought to the campaign.

Personal appeal won’t do the job: history shows that Republicans are very good at demonizing their opponents as individuals. Mrs. Clinton has already received the full treatment, while Mr. Obama hasn’t — yet. But if he gets the nod, watch how quickly conservative pundits who have praised him discover that he has deep character flaws.

If Democrats manage to get the focus on their substantive differences with the Republicans, however, polls on the issues suggest that they’ll have a big advantage.

And they’ll have Mr. Edwards to thank.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (02/01/08)

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


Health-Coverage Veto. Members failed, 260-152, to reach a two-thirds majority for overriding President Bush's veto of a bill that would renew the State Children's Health Insurance Program through 2012 at a cost of $60 billion, up $35 billion over current levels.

A yes vote was to enact HR 3963.

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

Voting no: Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.) and H. James Saxton (R., N.J.).
Instead of wasting more time bemoaning Pancake Joe again (not bothering with Saxton since he’s leaving), I just want to note that Bruce Slater declared himself against Pitts, and you can read more about Bruce here (happened awhile back I know – sorry to be so late with this; if I get word on Bruce’s web site, I’ll let you know).


Government Surveillance. Senators killed, 60-36, a bill to tighten court oversight of the government's warrantless surveillance program and allow lawsuits to proceed against telecommunication companies that allegedly cooperated with the secret program for years after 9/11.

A yes vote was to kill S 2248.

Voting yes: Thomas Carper (D., Del.) and Arlen Specter, (R., Pa.).

Voting no: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.), Bob Casey Jr. (D, Pa.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), and Robert Menendez (D., N.J.).
Here’s more on that vote, and more importantly, here’s more on what we can do in anticipation of next Monday’s vote on the consent agreement reached on the FISA bill (and Tom Carper continues to be absolutely awful).

Defense Budget. The Senate voted, 91-3, to send President Bush a $649 billion fiscal 2008 defense budget. The bill replaces a measure Bush vetoed over language exposing today's Iraqi government to lawsuits based on acts by Saddam Hussein.

A yes vote was to pass HR 4986.

Voting yes: Biden, Carper, Casey, Lautenberg, and Specter.

Not voting: Menendez.
And the three Nos, as noted here, were from Robert Byrd, Russ Feingold, and Bernie Sanders (as opposed to the “No Vote” votes from Repugs John McCain, John Thune, and John Warner, as well as Dems Hillary Clinton, Menendez, and Barack Obama).

This week, the House was expected to take up a $150 billion economic stimulus package, while the Senate continued to debate changes to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thursday Stuff

I really haven't had time to expound on the departure of Rudy Giuliani from the presidential race - not soon enough - so I thought I'd bring back this ad from the early '90s instead while everything was still peachy with second wife Donna Hanover...

...and the Tet Offensive began 40 years ago on or about this day (and it was a huge military loss for the North Vietnamese, but it created enough of a media splash here to make many in this country question and/or actually protest the Vietnam War if they hadn't done so already).

Little Ricky’s A Real Gas On Alternative Energy

I had to take a minute and note this column from PA’s happily-now-former Senator Rick Santorum that appeared in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer where he beats the drum of energy self-sufficiency, so to speak…

Across Pennsylvania, farmers are also digging and planting corn and other crops that will be turned into ethanol that can replace gasoline in our cars. Most cars in America can't run on ethanol, however, so who is going to install ethanol pumps at the gas station without the cars to run on it? At this point I would say to all of my hard-core conservative friends: Hold on to your hats.

What we need is a government mandate! We need to mandate that all cars sold in the United States, starting with the 2010 model year, be "flex-fuel vehicles" - that is, they should be able to run on a blend that is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline (the so-called E85 blend), or even a coal-derived methanol/gas mixture. This mandate would cost a fraction of the new fuel economy standard with the added benefit of saving barrels more oil.
Sounds good, right? Shocked to hear Senator Man-On-Dog making sense for a change, aren’t you (and he also talks about clean coal technology in this state, and if there’s one thing we have plenty of in this state besides corrupt politicians, it’s coal).

Well, I would ask that you consider the following from this USA Today story from 2005 that tells us…

"It doesn't require presidential ambitions for United States senators to want an energy policy that benefits consumers and relies on American farmers, not the Saudi royal family," said David Wade, a spokesman for (MA Senator John) Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate last year and a potential contender in 2008.

A spokesman for (former Sen. George Felix “Macaca”) Allen, a possible White House challenger in 2008, said, "Virginia is looking for ways to transition from traditional crops."
The article notes that that put Allen in direct opposition to his Senate counterpart John Warner on this issue.

So where did Little Ricky line up?

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and Rick Santorum, R-Pa., also voted against the wishes of ethanol supporters. Both are seeking new Senate terms in 2006.
And Barack Obama made good use of that vote in the Iowa caucuses, as we know.

As Will Bunch says, see you in two weeks, Ricky.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Our Bucks County, PA Tax Dollars At Work

This is another item that has fallen through the cracks (heavily into non-blogging mode and trying to squeeze in what I can for a few more days), but I want to get to it now.

This link to a recent “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down” segment in the Courier Times tells us that county Chief Operations Officer David Sanko recently locked new supervisor Diane Marseglia out of the county commissioners’ offices because Diane was guilty of a “security breach” by giving a reporter the combination to the office suite; Sanko had the lock changed as a result but neglected to tell her.

Drat, that pesky government accountability again!

And from the same link, fellow Commissioner Jim Cawley told a group of people gathered in Bristol, Pa. recently that “county money pegged for a three-hole golf course and driving range can be spent only for recreational purposes.” Diane said that that was wrong according to Guy Matthews, the county solicitor, though Matthews subsequently wrote to the Courier Times in defense of Cawley (figures).

Most of the Bristol residents, though, favor a skate park, but with a chunk of the $400,000 going to keep the struggling Bristol Township homeless shelter open (Diane does also).

(And believe me, Bucks County needs another golf course like I need another cold sore.)

But at least Cawley didn’t call skateboarding “a fad” as fellow commissioner Charley (“I Have A Semi-Open Mind”) Martin did here (information from this link tells you that there are 12.5 million skateboarders around the world, and I’m sure more than a few reside here).

And here’s an example of doing skateboarding right from nearby; Diane’s already on board with this, guys, so how about you getting with it also (think ka-chiing, ka-chiing)…

An Edwards Postscript

Before I get started, I just want to link to this bit of insight from Atrios today.

As sad as I am to see the candidacy of John Edwards for President come to an end, I can’t say that I’m surprised. I think there are a few reasons why this happened and I’ll try to elaborate, for whatever it is worth.

I don’t know if it was completely by intention or by design, but Edwards ended up pigeonholing himself more than a little bit by risking everything for that one big throw of the dice, as it were, in Iowa. He absolutely needed to win the caucuses and establish himself as a player for fundraising purposes to last throughout the campaign. But of course we know what happened.

And by tailoring his campaign to win in Iowa to the degree that he did, he ended up also tailoring his message primarily to an audience of people who I would call (with respect) “Dick Gephardt Democrats,” primarily (but not exclusively) older, white male unionists – heads of households, parents who had raised their kids or were in the process of doing so before their job got shipped to God knows where. Meanwhile, younger voters (as well as African Americans) lined up for Barack Obama and women voters, above all other groups, have come to the aid of Hillary Clinton (I don’t really know how the Hispanic vote is shaking out on the Democratic side at the moment, though it’s pretty damn obvious that they’re making their voices heard on the Republican side, and that and the fact that not enough of this country is focusing on the war right now are the only reasons why McCain is the frontrunner). I said at one point that we needed to see a “second act” of sorts from the campaign that showed Edwards reaching out to Latinos, LGBT individuals, and others; he’s done that, but I think it should have been publicized more.

And by the way, speaking of HRC and Obama, I don’t begrudge them anything here. They crowded Edwards off the stage, but that’s politics; I’ve expounded at length about the shafting Edwards received from our corporate media, primarily because he’s embodied everything they absolutely despise in a trial lawyer by working tirelessly on behalf of poor people, particularly children, who were wronged terribly, as well as the fact that, by focusing on poverty and the devastation after Katrina, Edwards publicized the shameful neglect endured by many in this country for all to see, and that’s hardly the type of feel-good story the corpocracy wants its media to blather on about, particularly darling little Katie Couric with her soft-focus, nearly penitent schmoozing of our “betters” such as The Almighty Petraeus.

But as I contemplated the end after South Carolina (and really, what else could have transpired after that – actually, since that happened, I’m glad Edwards is bowing out now; some kind of craven exercise in hanging on to secure some kind of a delegate-related favor from HRC or Obama at the convention is utterly beneath him), I happened to come across an article about Edwards that appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times recently written by Charles Krauthammer, of all people, and I just want to link to it here and comment on it since (unbelievably) it slightly supports some of my thoughts.

And of course it’s a hit piece. And of course it focuses on some Edwards flip-flops (name a politician who hasn’t done that) and mocks his sincerity. But it actually doesn’t mention hair cuts, hedge funds or a fancy home.

It does mention Edwards’ vote for the bankruptcy bill in 2001 (though Edwards was gone by the time it passed in 2005 – God knows how many permutations it went through in those four years). It mentions his vote to store waste in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain (which may have been prudent at the time seeing as how he was a senator from North Carolina, but I believe he said he discovered information since that vote that, had he known previously, would have led him to vote no – take that however you want). And like many others, he supported “No Child Left Behind” before Dubya decided to underfund it.

And on and on.

But I thought Krauthammer actually touched on something in his insidious way, and that was the fact that Edwards’ record as a senator stood in contrast to his tireless work as an advocate for the poor as a lawyer and his efforts since leaving the Senate as a presidential candidate. I’m not entirely sure that that’s accurate, but that’s how it played out in the threadbare media coverage he received (and by the way, Edwards’ FINALLY RATES A HEADLINE on the web site of the New York Times today with the news of his departure).

But of course people like Krauthammer would never acknowledge the fact that the Iraq war and the devastation of Katrina legitimately spurred an impulse within Edwards to bring the issues that truly matter front and center. And anyone with a pulse knows that that’s what the Edwards campaign was all about.

Still, though, I think it’s sadly ironic that, by basically blowing off his record in the Senate, Edwards didn’t really give the skeptics (who may not have been won over anyway because of the other two “stars” in the party – Edwards may not have gotten their votes even if he had received decent media coverage) a reason to see how, like Hillary Clinton (to be fair), he had been working his whole public life towards the goal of winning the White House (say what you want about the Clintons, but that much is certain). I say it’s ironic because that’s the same thing John Kerry did as nearly as I could tell in 2004 (and I think it was another tactical mistake by Edwards to not play up the fact that he’d run in a presidential campaign before), and apparently, the two of them have had a bit of a “falling out,” though I won’t pretend to know the story on that.

It’s also sad that candidates such as Edwards who have a paper trail by virtue of their time spent in Washington have less of a shot of winning the White House since they’re more ripe for attack ads; that may be part of the reason why we’ve elected governors as presidents as frequently as we have for the last 30 years or so (I wish I could take credit for that observation, but I didn’t come up with it – I forget who did, though). I think that’s also a small part of Barack Obama’s appeal, the virtue of the fact that he’s an unknown commodity in many ways (though I readily admit that there’s much more to him than that).

Also, though I know Edwards couldn’t rail against corporations and take their money at the same time, I think his decision to rely on public financing turned out to be a big mistake (Markos noted that almost as soon as Edwards made the decision, and he was right). If your opponents aren’t going to agree to something like that, why should you? And with all due respect to Edwards and the campaign, I really got tired getting hit up on for dough every day through the Email; yes I know they didn’t have a choice, but they should have foreseen this.

I guess that’s about all I have – I have no idea where I’m going to go from here. Maybe I’ll try to write in Edwards for the PA primary in April; I’ve done that in the past for other candidates. If I’m not happy with where HRC or Obama are going at that moment, I’ll give that a thought (of course, the general election is a wholly other story – I’ll support the nominee).

Here’s more on the announcement today from SusanG at The Daily Kos, including a clip of Edwards’ speech ending the campaign (I’ll try to embed it later).

Thanks for all you’ve done, John. Best to everyone, particularly Elizabeth.

Update 1/30/08: Here's the video.

Update 1/31/08: Here are some good thoughts from Meteor Blades and Devilstower at The Daily Kos.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tuesday Videos

The Vines ("Get Free"; what a bunch of zany, kooky kids)...

...Happy belated birthday to novelty song guy Ray Stevens, who got all preachy at times also, which was fine by me; it was the '60s, after all ("Mr. Businessman," recorded 40 years ago - the video is a bit repetitive, I know; I take it YouTuber TommyToma1 doesn't like "The Donald")...

...another happy belated birthday, this one to Ben Harper ("Excuse Me Mister"; yep, I believe the pictures say it all)...

...and a final, happy belated birthday to keyboardist Danny Federici of The "E" Street Band (here's "Kitty's Back," with solos by Federici and Roy Bittan, among others, on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" from a couple of years ago; I hope he's doing OK).

And Somewhere, Elaine Chao Smiles

Every time I think our corpocracy and our wonderful global economy can’t possibly concoct something more outrageous than their latest travesty (and by now, I should know not to think that anyway), along comes a news story such as this one about Gordon Brown, the prime minister of Great Britain, advocating a “skills initiative” that would allow employers such as McDonald’s to give their employees “takeaway diplomas and ‘McDegrees’.”

"I think that is the important thing, companies prepared to train people up which they weren’t doing before, in the way that we want them to do, in a far greater number, so that people have the qualifications for the future.”

Officials say that McDonald's, which has more than 1,000 outlets across Britain, is to pilot a basic shift manager course, which will train staff in areas like marketing, human resources and customer service skills. The company has run its 'Hamburger University' in Chicago, which turns out more than 5,000 graduates a year, since 1961.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, a regulatory body which overseas the national curriculum in England and Wales and accredits qualifications, has also approved two other organisations, the first time commercial companies have been allowed to award nationally recognised qualifications.
Now granted, I don’t know the first thing about higher education in Great Britain, but doesn’t it sound like there’s a bit of overreach going on when a large multinational like Mickey D’s can claim to provide a “takeaway diploma,” as opposed Brown’s government providing greater opportunities for students to attend legitimate educational institutions? I mean, do you really think the home of Ronald McDonald is going to care about offering instruction in the humanities and social sciences while also teaching its charges how to empty and clean out the fry vats? Please.

And by the way, speaking of Hamburger University (and yes, there really is such a place, and it’s a big deal), I once read a good book about it (more info is here).

Well, with all of this in mind, I thought, why, if our friends “across the pond” can offer what passes for higher education through companies doing business in their country, why can’t we do that here?

So, here are my ideas for course instruction that could be offered by some of our most visible “corporate citizens”…


Using Political Campaign Contributions To Thwart Litigation On Behalf Of Victims Hurt Or Killed By Your Company’s Practices (

Instructor: D. Cheney


Perpetuating Global Warming Deniability (

Instructor: L. Raymond


Providing Increasingly Obsolete Cable TV And Internet Service While Secretly Perpetuating Regional War In The Middle East (

Instructor: E. Snider


Developing Mal-ware Disguised As An Internet Browser As You Preach About Giving More Aid To Third-World Countries (
here and here).

Instructor: B. Gates

General Electric

Trashing The Environment For Fun And Profit (

Instructor: J. Welch


Inflating A Company’s Worth Purely For Potential Acquisition Purposes, Seeing As How It’s Not Achieving Profitability By Actually Manufacturing A Product (
here and here)

Instructor: M. Blumenthal
I mean, we should provide training for our students that reflects what they’ll be dealing with in our country’s “corporate culture”…am I right?

Another Reason To Read

I guess there’s no World news to read about today, since this is the message I received when I clicked on the Inquirer link from

But of course, as we know, the REAL problem is that I incorrectly stated here that the readership decline at that site reflects a decline in the number of site visitors, not an actual decrease in the time each visitor spends at the site (I implied as much anyway - corrected by Dick Polman, that genius of the world who called John Edwards a “headless chicken” and then said “forgive my inelegant rural metaphor” afterwards…screw you; also, never forget that, as Polman went out of his way to tell me, there are other ways to access his blog besides

I just thought some people out there might want to be aware of this.

Update: OK, it's almost 3PM EST, and to be fair, I should note that I haven't been able to replicate this issue that I noted in the screen shot above, so they may have fixed this.

However, just to let you know, Barbaro the race horse is still dead (and also let us know when that interesting new columnist George Curry shares some "Beyond The Spin" insights with us this year, would you, Inky?).

Note To Dubya On The '08 SOTU: STFU

Actually, I really should thank George W. Milhous Bush because, for almost each year of this abomination of a presidency at this time, he provides all kinds of blogging material for your humble narrator and various other like-minded miscreants who do this for a profit motive or out of masochistic impulses (I of course am in the latter category).

And last night was no exception of course; I’m linking here to the text of the speech from the White House web site because that way you can note each time Our Dear Leader received applause from those in attendance (of course, there’s no way you can quantify who it was who applauded, how strenuously or for how long, or whether or not at times it was just from Deadeye Dick, Dubya's family and select other suckups, but such is life). And this includes his snarky BS about how the IRS “accepts both checks and money orders,” forever harping about tax cuts (ha ha, laugh it up, funny boy – your approval ratings will remain in the toilet until you are mercifully gone and you will also leave office with the worst record of job creation of any president in at least half a century).

So I’d better get right to the ugly excerpts; I’ll probably find more, but this will have to do for now…

We must also do more to help children when their schools do not measure up. Thanks to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships you approved, more than 2,600 of the poorest children in our Nation's capital have found new hope at a faith-based or other non-public school. Sadly, these schools are disappearing at an alarming rate in many of America's inner cities. So I will convene a White House summit aimed at strengthening these lifelines of learning. And to open the doors of these schools to more children, I ask you to support a new $300 million program called Pell Grants for Kids. We have seen how Pell Grants help low-income college students realize their full potential. Together, we have expanded the size and reach of these grants. Now let's apply that same spirit to help liberate poor children trapped in failing public schools.
Funny how Dubya mentions expanding Pell Grants; as U.S. House Rep. Elijah Cummings notes here, our preznit should properly fund the grants for college first before he tries to expand the original program (and as we know, to Dubya's less-than-childlike way of thinking, there's no way a public school can do anything but "fail").

I thank the Congress for approving a good agreement with Peru. Now I ask you to approve agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. Many products from these nations now enter America duty-free, yet many of our products face steep tariffs in their markets. These agreements will level the playing field. They will give us better access to nearly 100 million customers. And they will support good jobs for the finest workers in the world: those whose products say "Made in the USA."
As this BBC article notes, the Colombia agreement was signed shortly after the 110th Congress was elected in November 2006 while the loathsome 109th still took up space in the House chamber, so many of our current reps thus had no time to review it. Some particular objections are noted below…

…it fails to protect internationally agreed worker rights such as the abolition of child labour, protection against discrimination and freedom to join a union.

Opponents of the Bush administration also claim that such deals do little to protect US companies from unfair trade practices.
And I have found no evidence to indicate that Bushco, working with Colombia, has addressed those concerns.

Trade brings better jobs, better choices, and better prices. Yet for some Americans, trade can mean losing a job, and the Federal Government has a responsibility to help. I ask the Congress to reauthorize and reform trade adjustment assistance, so we can help these displaced workers learn new skills and find new jobs.
I realize that “trade adjustment assistance” is just a catchphrase, like many others sprinkled through this latest exercise in deceit from this bunch (of course, they’ll NEVER top the 2003 SOTU address, one of the grossest documents of wall-to-wall lies ever seen), and Dubya could in fact care less about the American worker. And as proof, here’s the latest on this subject from Paul Craig Roberts.

(An) agreement (concerning greenhouse gas emissions) will be effective only if it includes commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride. The United States is committed to strengthening our energy security and confronting global climate change. And the best way to meet these goals is for America to continue leading the way toward the development of cleaner and more efficient technology.
“Gives none a free ride,” huh? How pathetic is it that we have been an industrialized nation for at least a hundred years while India and China have only approached that status recently, yet we refuse to lead on this issue and insist that they catch up with us first (which they seem to be doing; not crazy about India and China particularly when it comes to trade – nothing personal – but fair is fair).

I think the blogger The Green Miles had some really good thoughts on that here.

Update: And by the way, just to let you know, the Iraq "government" is going to sign off on the Kyoto Protocols while Dubya continues to sit on the sidelines (here - how sad is that?).

To keep America competitive into the future, we must trust in the skill of our scientists and engineers and empower them to pursue the breakthroughs of tomorrow. Last year, the Congress passed legislation supporting the American Competitiveness Initiative, but never followed through with the funding. This funding is essential to keeping our scientific edge. So I ask the Congress to double Federal support for critical basic research in the physical sciences and ensure America remains the most dynamic nation on earth.
Concerning the so-called American Competitiveness Initiative, by the way, I just wanted to note that, according to this Wikipedia article, “The ACI proposes $380 million in new Federal funds to invest in the Nation’s education system.”

Sounds nice until you consider that, according to this, the American Friends Service Committee has calculated that the cost of the Iraq War is $720 million a day.”


In communities across our land, we must trust in the good heart of the American people and empower them to serve their neighbors in need. Over the past 7 years, more of our fellow citizens have discovered that the pursuit of happiness leads to the path of service. Americans have volunteered in record numbers. Charitable donations are higher than ever. Faith-based groups are bringing hope to pockets of despair, with newfound support from the Federal Government. And to help guarantee equal treatment for faith-based organizations when they compete for Federal funds, I ask you to permanently extend Charitable Choice.
I haven’t been able to find any updates on Charitable Choice, but this recent New York Times article by Sheryl Gay Stolberg tells us that Dubya’s “culture of volunteerism” initiatives proposed in his 2002 SOTU address haven’t quite lived up to the original hype (so what else is new for this bunch - I've taken shots at her rightly in the past, but this is solid reporting).

And finally (mustn’t forget Terra! Terra! Terra!)…

One of the most important tools we can give them is the ability to monitor terrorist communications. To protect America, we need to know who the terrorists are talking to, what they are saying, and what they are planning. Last year, the Congress passed legislation to help us do that. Unfortunately, the Congress set the legislation to expire on February 1. This means that if you do not act by Friday, our ability to track terrorist threats would be weakened and our citizens will be in greater danger. The Congress must ensure the flow of vital intelligence is not disrupted. The Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America. We have had ample time for debate. The time to act is now.
I’m actually not going to use this as a lead into another slam against Dubya and the Repugs (and cowardly Dems like Mary Landrieu) on FISA (though I could), but only to link to this article also from the New York Times telling us that our government decided that a petting zoo, popcorn factory, donut shop and an ice cream parlor should be designated as “terror targets.”

And this editorial in today’s Times really made some excellent points on the speech, and Hunter at The Daily Kos does so also here.

Thank God this clown will be gone a year from now.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Tuesday Videos

The Foxboro Hot Tubs ("Mother Mary"; OK, so I think Green Day wrote the song and they're performing it in the video, but it's a different tune and not in synch - ??? - so confused, but it still rocks)...

...and Warren Zevon would have been 61 last Thursday ("Lawyers, Guns And Money" recorded at the BBC in 1994, and I believe this is the only rock song I ever listened to with my dad - make of that what you will).

Tuesday Stuff

I received a request from Walt Sherman to help publicize his cause, for all of you Philly folk, so here it is (only too glad to help)...

...and Jackie and Dunlop give us their opinion of Barack Obama; a little tongue-in-cheek here, including stuff on the Clintons, but I wish "The Big Dog" would back off a bit.


The latest from Dr. Dean's brother and DFA...

We just had a huge victory. Grassroots action forced the Senate to stop telecom immunity from passing.

Earlier today, DFA members made over 1,000 calls an hour to our Senators. And they heard our voices loud and clear.

Tonight I'll be watching President Bush give his final State of the Union. As usual, he will be fear-mongering and pushing his radical agenda on the American people.

Thanks to your work today, we flipped the vote and forced Senate Democrats to have a backbone.

This isn't over by a long shot, but it's nice to be on the winning end, particularly for this.

Nice work, boys and girls (and how sad is Mary Landrieu anyway for this?).

I'll get back to regular posting as soon as I can (a somewhat dated backlog is building up).

Update 1/29/08: Markos has been a real lunkhead lately, but he's spot-on with this observation.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (01/28/08)

As reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer on January 20th, here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress were recorded on major roll-call votes for that prior week.

(Also, posting is going to be messed up for the foreseeable future.)


Defense budget. Members approved, 369-46, a $649 billion defense budget for fiscal 2008. The bill replaces a version vetoed by President Bush over language subjecting today's Iraqi government to lawsuits based on acts by Saddam Hussein.

A yes vote was to send HR 4986 to the Senate.

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

Voting no: Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.).
Because President George W. Milhous Bush refused to sign this original bill last year, in addition to thwarting the lawsuits against Hussein, Air Force reenlistments were held up and some bonus programs for airmen expired (as noted here).

Mine safety. Members passed, 214-199, a bill to impose new health and safety rules on U.S. mine operators. The bill also would launch a study into whether to begin federal licensing of mines and set the stage for the possible drug and alcohol testing of miners.

A yes vote backed HR 2768.

Voting yes: Andrews, Brady, Fattah, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Schwartz, Sestak and Smith.

Voting no: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, Pitts and Saxton.
This tells you that, in addition to updating the federal mining law, Pennsylvania’s state senate advanced its own legislation out of a senate committee recently with a floor vote upcoming shortly. The bill would allow for fines to be imposed on mine owners instead of supervisors (surprising that wasn’t law already, particularly after the Quecreek near-disaster), establish a seven-member safety board, and require a greater distance between a planned mine and an abandoned mine to protect against a breech (which is what happened at Quecreek).

And of course, we witness the sorry spectacle of Joe Pitts and his fellow Repugs fighting these life-saving measures; gee, I wonder if Gerlach’s “No” vote here will make Smerky reconsider his stated desire to trot to the polls this November like the good Repug sheep that he is, bleat out loud and then pull the lever, as he noted here (at the very end)? But I guess I don’t have to ask, do I (and I realize he didn't literally say that, but just try reading that sentence any other way).

I’ll have last week’s wrapup (from yesterday's Inquirer) this Friday as usual.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sunday Political Stuff

To me, Laurie Dyer of North Carolina embodies what all of us should be as citizens of this country; please watch and listen to her below...

...and here's some "spot on" commentary on "Real Time" from a couple of days ago with ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz, Herbie Hancock and (especially) Richard Belzer (sorry the audio isn't so good).

The Inky Shocks Again

But in a good way this time - kudos to them, actually (here)...

Judiciary Committee should move to impeach Bush and Cheney

Elizabeth Holtzman
served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1973 to 1981

Since mid-December, members of the House Judiciary Committee Robert Wexler (D., Fla.), Luis Gutierrez (D., Ill.) and Tammy Baldwin (D., Wis.) have called for hearings on the impeachment of Vice President Cheney.

This should not be surprising, given the strength of the case for impeachment. What's surprising is that it took so long for members of this committee, normally tasked with holding impeachment proceedings, to call for them.

They face huge political resistance on Capitol Hill. But they aren't alone. Other Democratic members are joining them. Former senator and Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern recently published an op-ed demanding impeachment proceedings for both Bush and Cheney. Bruce Fein, a Republican who served in the Reagan Justice Department, and many other constitutional scholars also argue for impeachment.

There is more than ample justification for impeachment. The Constitution specifies the grounds as treason, bribery or "high crimes and misdemeanors," a term that means "great and dangerous offenses that subvert the Constitution." As the House Judiciary Committee determined during Watergate, impeachment is warranted when a president puts himself above the law and gravely abuses power.

Have Bush and Cheney done that?

Yes. With the vice president's participation, President Bush repeatedly violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which requires court approval for presidential wiretaps. Former President Richard Nixon's illegal wiretapping was one of the offenses that led to his impeachment. FISA was enacted precisely to avoid such abuses by future presidents.

Bush and Cheney were involved in detainee abuse, flouting federal criminal statutes (the War Crimes Act of 1996 and the anti-torture Act) and the Geneva Conventions. The president removed Geneva protections from al-Qaeda and the Taliban, setting the abuse in motion, and may have even personally authorized them.

The president and vice president also used deception to drive us into the Iraq war, claiming Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda were in cahoots, when they knew better. They invoked the specter of a nuclear attack on the United States, alleging Hussein purchased uranium in Niger and wanted aluminum tubes for uranium enrichment, when they had every reason to know these claims were phony or at least seriously questioned within the administration. Withholding and distorting facts usurps Congress' constitutional powers to decide on going to war.

Can a commander-in-chief disobey laws on wiretapping or torture to protect the country in wartime?

No. The Constitution requires the president to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." The Supreme Court ruled Harry S. Truman could not seize steel mills to prevent a strike, even during the Korean War. Nixon's claim of national security as a justification for illegal wiretaps was also rejected in impeachment proceedings against him.

What then is the justification for taking impeachment "off the table"? Congressional leaders don't defend the administration, nor do they contend that its actions are unimpeachable or less serious than Nixon's. Instead they argue there is no time, or that impeachment proceedings would distract the Congress from other work, or divide the country. The subtext seems to be fear that impeachment could undermine Democratic election prospects in 2008.

But even these "pragmatic" arguments are wrong. Let's take them one at a time:

Insufficient time. In the case of Nixon, the House officially instructed the Judiciary Committee to act in early February 1974. The committee finished voting on articles of impeachment July 29, less than six months later. No presidential impeachment proceeding had taken place for almost 100 years, so the committee had to start from scratch, analyzing the Constitution and developing procedures for the impeachment inquiry. Now that the relevant legal spade work is done and a road map for proper impeachment proceedings exists, Congress might conduct them even faster than in 1974.

Distraction. During Watergate, the impeachment inquiry didn't prevent Congress from getting its work done. In fact, the House Judiciary Committee also worked on other matters during impeachment, just as the Senate did during its impeachment trial of former President Bill Clinton.

Divisiveness. True, President Clinton's impeachment was a highly partisan process that divided the country - because most Americans didn't support it. They believed his conduct was reprehensible, but not an impeachable offense. Impeachment therefore had negative repercussions for the Republicans who instigated it.

Nixon's impeachment united the American people. The process was bipartisan, demonstrating this wasn't just a Democratic ploy to undo an election. The fairness of the process, the seriousness of purpose, the substantial evidence - all gave the public confidence that justice had been done. This reinvigorated the shared value that the rule of law and preservation of democracy are more important than any president or party.

This value is again asserting itself in grassroots impeachment movements across America. The Vermont Senate, several state Democratic parties, and many municipal governments have adopted resolutions supporting impeachment. More state legislatures would have acted except for pressure from Washington. Many polls show a majority of Americans support impeaching Cheney (a Nov. 13 American Research Group poll says 70 percent of Americans believe he abused his office), and slightly less than a majority support impeaching Bush.

Stonewalling such widespread public sentiment is itself divisive, leading at least half the country to feel their concerns about upholding the Constitution are being ignored. Only a serious airing of evidence in hearings would heal the split.

Undermining election prospects. When the impeachment process began, Nixon had just been reelected in one of the largest landslides in history. Few, if any, worried about whether impeachment was a political winner for Congress or the Democrats. Public opinion simply forced Congress' hand when Nixon fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. After the Judiciary Committee conducted impartial hearings and voted on impeachment, Congress' approval ratings soared. Republicans were swamped in the November 1974 elections.

Whether or not they bring electoral rewards in 2008, impeachment proceedings are the right thing to do. They will help curb the serious abuses of this administration, and send a strong message to future administrations that no president or vice president is above the law.
To learn more about this and find out what to do next, click here (all kinds of other helpful links are available).