Saturday, February 23, 2008

Saturday Stuff

A man named Eric Byler directed this video on behalf of Barack Obama intended to reach a primarily Latino audience, though its message resonates for all of us (hat tip #1 to The Daily Kos and blogger 5oclockshadow)...

...and this video describes the pleas from our forces in Afghanistan running out of ammunition and forced to use enemy weapons, believe it or not (and of course, John Warner is claiming today that he didn't know about this matter, but this video was sent to Warner from Brandon Friedman and VoteVets last May - hat tip #2 to The Daily Kos).

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (2/23/08)

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.


Bolten, Miers citations. In a 223-32 vote, the House approved the filing of criminal contempt-of-Congress citations in federal court against Joshua Bolten, the White House chief of staff, and Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, over their refusal to comply with House subpoenas concerning the alleged systematic infusion of partisan politics into hiring, firing and prosecutorial decisions at several U.S. attorney offices.

A yes vote backed the contempt citations (H Res 982).

Voting yes: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.) and Joe Sestak (D., Pa.).

Voting no: Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.).

Not voting: Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), H. James Saxton (R., N.J.) and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
At least among the Repugs, LoBiondo actually had the guts to go on record as being categorically wrong, as opposed to the others who were too chicken to make a stand and probably made a bee line for that strategically placed podium full of microphones on the Capitol steps during the walkout in response to this vote, led by minority rep John Boehner (pronounced bo-ner, as noted here).

Spy act extension. In a 191-229 vote, the House defeated a 21-day renewal of a version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act enacted last August. That temporary measure then expired as House leaders refused to accept a Senate bill (S 2248, below).

A yes vote backed a 21-day FISA extension (HR 5349).

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

Voting no: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Murphy, Pitts, Saxton and Smith.
The Repugs voted no because there was no provision for telecomm immunity, nor should there be, and my guess is that Patrick Murphy voted no because he quite rightly did not vote for the original Protect America Act anyway (as noted here, and here is more on the bill).


Torture ban, intelligence budget. In a 51-45 vote, the Senate sent President Bush the conference report on a fiscal 2008 intelligence budget that requires CIA personnel to obey the Army Field Manual's ban on torture of prisoners. The manual outlaws harsh techniques such as waterboarding.

A yes vote backed the conference report (HR 2082).

Voting yes: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.), Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) and Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.).

Voting no: Arlen Specter (R., Pa.).
Kudos to the Dems for doing the right thing here, though Dubya will never sign off on it (and as always, screw you, Arlen).

Government spy powers. In a 68-29 vote, the Senate passed a bill to renew the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and grant retroactive immunity to certain telecommunications firms. The bill would permit warrantless surveillance on totally foreign communications passing through U.S. switching points.

A yes vote was to pass the bill (S 2248).

Voting yes: Carper, Casey and Specter.

Voting no: Biden, Menendez and Lautenberg.
And just as quickly as the Dems do the right thing, too many of them then cave on FISA led by the utterly compromised and hopelessly inept Jay Rockefeller (here).

A friend of mine forwarded a video of Casey defending this vote on C-SPAN, with Casey stating quite correctly that he voted against telecomm immunity but voted for this bill because he thought there were improvements over existing FISA law, most notably concerning civil liberties issues. However, the issue of telecomm immunity trumps everything, and Casey should have remained consistent in his opposition to this terrible bill; if the telecoms get immunity today, it will only be a matter of time before Halliburton asks for it tomorrow.

(Congress is now in recess until the week of Feb. 25, when both chambers will resume efforts to renew the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday Stuff

More fun with lobbyists from "Senator Honor And Virtue"...

...and good stuff from "Crooks and Liars" (way to go, House Dems).

(...and I haven't forgotten about the weekly congresssional post - probably tomorrow.)

Dubya Versus The U.N., Again

I think Max Bergmann at Democracy Arsenal is being a bit too kind to President George W. Milhous Bush here when he touts Dubya’s record for fighting HIV/AIDS and malaria in Africa (a related post appears here, as well as this news story). However, Bergmann does note that the preznit, in typical bait-and-switch fashion, has cut funding for U.N. peacekeeping efforts…

According to White House figures quietly released this week, more than $193 million for U.N. troops would be cut for missions in Liberia, Rwanda, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d'Ivoire and elsewhere.


Most people don’t realize that the UN has the highest number of troops deployed abroad than anyone else besides the U.S. The UN has 90,000 peacekeeping troops deployed around the world in 17 different missions in some of the most dangerous hot spots, including Kosovo, Congo, East Timor, Haiti, and Lebanon. While the favorite conservative talking point is that UN missions are ineffective, because of the failure 15 years ago in Bosnia when the Dutch were held hostage by Serbian forces and unable to stop genocide (sic). This argument is still made, despite RAND having shown that UN peacekeeping has been highly effective compared to U.S. efforts (pdf). UN forces however do fail, but this is often the result of either too few troops or too little money. And sometimes the peacekeeping forces are placed in a security environment where little could reasonably be expected. However, the fact is that, while our forces - since end of the Cold War - were constantly reinventing the wheel each time they engaged in peacekeeping operations, the UN instead, learned from each of its missions and in the process developed a high degree of knowledge and expertise.

"I don't view Africa as zero-sum for China and the United States," Bush said during a joint press conference with Ghana President John Kufuor. "Do I view China as a fierce competitor on the continent of Africa? No, I don't."
Well, you’d better, President 19 Percent Mandate, because, as noted here…

Despite Sudan's political turmoil, and history of decades of civil war, the lure of oil and other natural resources, and access to the third largest country in Africa, has proved irresistible for China. In addition to Chinese investment in Sudan's oil industry, which supplied China with 7 percent of its energy needs last year, China has also invested $2 billion in the Merowe hydropower dam project. When it opens in 2008, the Merowe will meet Sudan's entire demand for electricity, and allow it to sell the excess to other African neighbors.


While Darfur rebel groups welcome the world's attention, one senior opposition leader says that the West's preoccupation with Darfur could be counterproductive, and even dangerous.

"I consider the West naive," says the opposition leader, speaking on the condition of anonymity from his home in Khartoum. "Instead of being involved in the oil business, and putting pressure on the dictator of the day, they have abandoned us. And believe me, when you abandon us to the hands of the Chinese, you are leaving Sudan quite naked."

The more the West pushes Sudan into a corner over Darfur, the more the Sudanese people will learn to hate the West, says Professor (Abdul Rahim Ali Mohammad) Ibrahim. "In my opinion, neither the US nor the Europeans can compete with China on its trade and development policies, so they want to push China out."

But that's not likely to happen any time soon. China's famous reluctance to intrude on other countries' sovereignty and its long-term investment approach allows it to overlook disagreements with the current government, says Ibrahim.

"China is very farsighted. Nothing is lost because of their cooperation with one regime. If that regime is overthrown, they work with the next government, too. They may offer advice, but they continue to invest, and this sustainability is the result."
Am I saying we should be silent and do nothing while civil war rages in Darfur? Of course not. However, we cannot claim any moral high ground whatsoever in Africa or anywhere else while we continue to wage war in Iraq for reasons that have long since been unmasked as lies (and speaking of Iraq, let’s hope and pray al-Sadr renews the cease fire of his Mahdi army due to expire tomorrow – how pathetic that we find ourselves in such a position, hoping for an enemy to do our bidding to somehow make the war more palatable to many in this country and thus delay the eventuality facing the next presidential administration).

Update: Good news...

A "Pax" On McCain?

I just wanted to point out that, with all of the stories now floating around concerning "Senator Honor and Virtue" (including this one) and his unparalleled shilling for the telecoms (notably, the access he granted to lobbyist Vicki Iseman of Paxson Communications), I don't think it has been pointed out that Ion/Pax TV (so named in honor of founder Lowell Paxson, pictured) was once the network that catered to family friendly programming such as "Touched By An Angel," "Alice," and "Mama's Family" (though Ion seems to be more secular, if you will, featuring fare such as "The Drew Carey Show" and "The Wayans Brothers," with "Baywatch" coming in March).

I would argue that PAX TV’s wholesome image stands in contrast to Paxson himself, who has benefitted from congressional intervention by McCain on at least two occasions: during the period from 1998 to 1999 as well as 2003 to 2004, when Paxson lobbied to delay passage of a bill that would have forced all broadcasters to stop transmitting via analog television by December 31, 2006 and slowed the transition to digital broadcasting, which, as noted here by Drew Clark, presented public safety risks particularly for Florida residents (with Paxson also a resident of Florida, ironically enough).

I'll add, though, that there's nothing illegal about lobbying to save one's company, but I think Paxson's actions – in particular, working to hang onto the analog spectrum channels of 63, 64, 68, and 69 for obsolete television purposes instead of allowing New York Fire Department Battalion Chief Joseph Pfeiffer and special operations chief Ray Downey to use those channels for firefighter communication – had a broader impact that ended up jeopardizing the FDNY firefighters.

And I happened to come across the following parody which I thought was a bit amusing, and that is a version of “The Sopranos” for PAX TV edited in an appropriate manner for that station (though a couple of bad words did slip by).

Update: More from Atrios here...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Thursday PM Stuff

Keith Olbermann and Eugene Robinson take on Falafel Boy over his remark about "a lynching party" for Michelle Obama (and during Black History Month, of course; real nice - Dubya actually is a bit sympathetic for a change, but I still think he's imbibed in something here)...

...and Jacob of Why Tuesday asks a good question about President's Day (yes, I know it passed already, but George Washington's official birthday is tomorrow, so there).

Thursday Stuff

Posting is a big question mark today, so here's a video promoting the movie "Shut Up And Sing," featuring Red State America for the whole world to see (McCain looks a bit sympathetic here, but of course his little alleged escapade with a certain telco lobbyist was still "under the radar" at that time)...

...and speaking of "Senator Honor and Virtue"...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"What Not To Wear" And Other Africa Follies

(Hat tip to Democracy Arsenal for the pic – so many punch lines, so little time…).

The Philadelphia Inquirer worked really hard today to find a way to compliment President George W. Milhous Bush, who of course is out of the country touring in Africa (as I noted over at Take It Personally earlier, maybe Dubya should stay on the road permanently in light of this truly embarrassing approval rating, now into the teens – h/t Atrios and Prof. Marcus; will we see single digits one day?).

The Inky tells us the following…

Some might say Bush has purchased the adoration some Africans give him. In Tanzania, the road ahead of his approaching car was layered with flower petals. He reciprocated by announcing a $698 million foreign aid grant to the East African nation.

But Bush's largesse to the African continent may well be the part of his legacy that ultimately gives him the most pride. The wartime president will be remembered as a humanitarian in sub-Saharan nations that have benefited from his personal commitment to fight HIV-AIDS.
A “commitment” with strings attached all over the place, it should be noted; this post tells us that Dubya established The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) rather than pledge full support to the already established and internationally acclaimed multilateral initiative known as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. By doing so, Dubya created a duplicate bureaucracy with lower funding versus the Global Fund (lots of good stuff in the article, and I’m highlighting only some major points here).

And due to an earmark in the PEPFAR legislation that privileges abstinence-until-marriage programs, we are treated to sad spectacles such as the one noted here…

NAIROBI, Kenya -- On July 5, Beatrice Were, the founder of Uganda's National Community of Women Living with HIV and AIDS, stood before hundreds of other HIV-positive women in Nairobi's vaulted city hall and denounced the Bush administration's AIDS policies.

Like many in attendance, Were contracted HIV from her husband, a common occurrence in a region where women make up the majority of new infections and marriage is a primary risk factor. For those like her, the White House's AIDS prevention mantra -- which prescribes abstinence and marital fidelity, with condoms only for "high risk" groups like prostitutes and truck drivers -- is a sick joke.

"We are now seeing a shift in recent years to abstinence only," she said. "We are expected to abstain when we are young girls and to be faithful when we are married to men who rape us, who are not necessarily faithful to us, who batter us." The women in the audience, several waiting to share their own stories of marital rape, applauded.

Were exhorted her audience to "denounce programs that are not evidence-based, that view AIDS as a moral issue, that undermine the issues that affect us, women's rights. I want to be very clear -- the abstinence-only business, women must say no!" Again, there were hollers and applause.
And concerning the prescribed PEPFAR medications…

In 2006, brand name manufacturers produced 73% of the lifesaving anti-retroviral drugs purchased with PEPFAR funds, totaling 20% of all PEPFAR funding that year. While PEPFAR does not explicitly forbid money from being spent on generic anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs, the Bush administration refuses to accept World Health Organization (WHO) evaluations of drug purity, safety and efficacy, instead relying solely on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s screening process to choose which drugs are PEPFAR eligible. This unnecessary procedural bias means that few of the cheaper, internationally produced generic drugs can be purchased for PEPFAR treatment programs, reducing the efficiency of U.S. taxpayer dollars and placing fewer Africans on life-saving ARV-treatment.
And as also noted, Dubya likes to tell everyone that his proposed $30 billion of PEPFAR funding over the next five years represents a doubling of existing funding, but with $6 billion currently spent per year, the $30 billion is basically flat funding that doesn’t keep up with the demand for treatment.

And the Inky closed its editorial with the following…

Bush deserves credit for fighting HIV-AIDS, and for his focus on malaria, another bane on life in Africa. He uses a biblical quote to explain why America should be so active: To whom much is given, much is expected. He's right.
Boy, am I sick of anyone conferring upon Dubya some sort of religious pretext for his actions that clearly is not warranted; this individual is possibly the most irreligious person I have ever seen.

But as long as the Inky is quoting Scripture here, allow me to do so also…

“Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and never succeed. (Proverbs 12:24)”
Yep, I think that's a lesson for President 19 Percent Mandate, all right.

Patrick’s Book Debuts At Long Last

This story in the Bucks County Courier Times yesterday tells us that Patrick Murphy’s memoir, “Taking The Hill: From Philly to Baghdad to the United States Congress,” hit the market yesterday (here). Some particular items that are discussed in the book include the following…

  • A call from Bill Clinton on election night 2006 (when running against Fitzpatrick the incumbent for his U.S. House seat) where Murphy “…gave (Clinton) the numbers and asked his advice,” (given the fact that the election was so close, and) “The former president was clear: "Don't let those bastards take away your victory. You go down to that hall and declare yourself the winner. Let the press sort it out.' ”

  • Murphy’s split with his then-fiancée when he returned from Iraq.

  • When he married his wife, Jenni, in June 2006, his parish priest refused to bless the marriage in a Catholic validation ceremony because of his public pro-choice views. As his campaign heated up, he wrote that a group of Fitzpatrick supporters harassed him and his wife as they left Sunday Mass.
  • Such good, upstanding “Christians” – and here is another insightful excerpt…

    The whole campaign (against Fitzpatrick) was a baptism by fire. Every kind of attack was leveled at me. My stammering Chris Matthews interview was used in a negative ad. Because I had been single when I moved to New Hope, where there was a large gay community, my opponents began whispering that I was gay. Because the row house I grew up in was a couple hundred feet outside the Eighth Congressional District, maybe two city blocks, I was accused of being a carpetbagger, even though my apartment, some relatives, my grade school, church, hockey rink, and community college were all located within the district. Because I had voted for George W. Bush by military absentee ballot in 2000, having been duped by his “compassionate conservative” agenda, I was accused of not being a real Democrat. Because I didn't vote in the primary and general election every year, or even in the majority of elections since I had reached voting age, I was accused of not being a good citizen. Because I was pro-choice, I was accused to being a bad Catholic. Because I was Catholic, I was accused to not being pro-choice. The attacks were surreal. Sometimes I wondered what I had gotten myself into.
    And in case anyone has a doubt as to whether or not the Repugs are priming their “fear and smear” machine at this moment (and why would you?), take note of the following from the Courier Times article…

    Mike Walsh, a spokesman for Tom Manion, a retired Marine from Doylestown Township who also hopes to run against Murphy in November, said the book is a glaring example of the freshman congressman's “misplaced priorities.”

    “Here we have the lowest rated Congress in history and [Murphy's] priorities are writing a book and, now, publicizing it,” Walsh said. “The people in Bucks County didn't send him to Washington to write a book.”
    First of all, Repugs, Patrick signed the book deal before he was sworn into office, so we’re done there.

    Second, as far as this “lowest-rated Congress in history” garbage goes, read this.

    And this story tells us that Patrick opposes granting immunity to the telecomm companies as part of the FISA fiasco orchestrated by Dubya and the Repugs…

    “His scare tactics have grown thin,” Murphy said Friday. “We can absolutely, positively continue to have surveillance on American phone lines if people are talking to a foreign entity … and anyone who says differently is lying to the American people.”
    And so how does prospective Repug challenger Tom Manion respond?

    “I just can’t see how Congress has time to vote on congratulating the [New York] Giants and not the time to vote on this before they leave,” Manion said. “I would have stayed there all night and worked with the Republicans and the Democrats to get this thing done.”

    Murphy was one of 10 Democrats to vote Thursday evening to cancel the congressional recess and try to reach a compromise solution on the legislation.
    I see that Manion is going to play “good cop” while all of the other Repugs play “bad cop.” They really have no other shot but to do that (and as long as Manion mentioned that phony-baloney vote congratulating the ‘Jints, I have to note once more this great move by Patrick on that).

    And I can also detect another line of attack for the Repugs coming up here on FISA, by the way;

    The legislation, known as the Protect America Act, was passed by the House in August. Murphy, along with 180 other Democrats, voted against the act then. Murphy voted against the bill because it didn’t ensure proper oversight of President Bush’s executive authority, according to Adam Abrams, a Murphy spokesman.

    Murphy did vote for a similar surveillance act, known as the Restore America Act, in November because it “struck the right balance between keeping American families safe and protecting the Constitution,” Abrams said.

    Both Pennsylvania senators, Republican Arlen Specter and Democrat Bob Casey, voted for the Protect America Act.
    (And I’ll plan to have some words for Mr. Casey Jr. in a couple of days regarding his most recent FISA vote; it represented a step back after a step forward, which isn’t good enough as far as I’m concerned.)

    So to reply when the Repugs say, “Murphy voted against the terrorists before he voted for them,” or some such idiocy, Patrick voted for the Restore America Act because it provided the proper constitutional safeguards while allowing us to wage the legitimate war on terror intelligently, but he voted against the Protect America Act because it was yet another cave-in to Dubya at our expense.

    Any questions?

    Update 2/28/08: And here's an interview (h/t Atrios).

    The Anthrax Charade Continues

    The New York Times tells us here today that, absent a legitimate case against a suspect in the Anthrax scare of 2001 (remember that?), Judge Reggie Walton has ruled that USA Today reporter Toni Locy is in contempt of court for refusing to reveal her sources in a story she wrote about a former Army scientist’s possible role in the attacks (the last we heard of Judge Walton, by the way, he was presiding over the Scooter Libby trial). Walton has also said that a second reporter, Jim Stewart, may be held in contempt also.

    As noted in the Times story…

    The two journalists are being pressed to reveal their sources by Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, a onetime bioterrorism expert for the Army, who is suing the federal government, saying his reputation was ruined by leaks to the news media from law enforcement officials linking him to the attacks. In 2002, the F.B.I. and John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, described Dr. Hatfill as a “person of interest” in the investigation into the attacks, which killed five people and remain unsolved.

    Judge Walton said Ms. Locy’s testimony was important to help Dr. Hatfill pursue his civil lawsuit against the government, but advocates for the news media said his order was the latest of recent rulings that could hamper the work of journalists.

    “Of all the federal court sanctions on reporters for refusing to reveal confidential sources over the past several years, this is perhaps the most disturbing,” said Lucy A. Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

    “Toni Locy is being punished for doing what reporters are supposed to do: making sure important information gets to the public about whether the government had the investigation into a major public health threat under control,” Ms. Dalglish said.
    It is important to note, by the way, that Dr. Hatfill has not been charged.

    One of the things I’ve always wondered about, though, concerning this story is the following from this CNN story from June 2002 (embedded in this great post by The Bulldog, who was all over this a long time ago)…

    Last weekend, a senior government official who wished not to be identified said testing has determined the deadly anthrax mailed to various places last fall was no more than two years old.

    This discovery lends credence to the theory that whoever mailed the finely milled anthrax spores -- known to be of the Ames strain -- has a current connection to a sophisticated laboratory.
    However, this 2005 story from the International Herald-Tribune tells us that Hatfill worked at the Army’s biodefense research center at Fort Detrick, Maryland from 1997 until 1999 (The Bulldog explains how the Ames-strain Anthrax could only have been produced at Fort Detrick).

    So, assuming that Hatfill had some role in the scare (and again, he has vehemently claimed his innocence), it’s highly dubious to assume that he acted on his own (I can’t imagine someone managing to secure a quantity of Ames-strain anthrax and then keeping it in their possession for two years before mailing it, which resulted in the deaths of five people, let’s not forget). I think the scenario noted in this post by Ed Lake in 2002 (describing two individuals at a minimum involved in the scare: one would be the “supplier” from Fort Detrick and the other would be the “refiner/mailer” who delivered the anthrax-laced letters from Trenton, New Jersey after 9/11 and early in October, 2001) is highly plausible.

    Lake also notes, by the way, that The Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention had ended in turmoil in July/August 2001 and indecision resulted when the United States failed to agree to any plan that included international inspections of US government laboratories, implying that that played a role in the timing of the anthrax attacks.

    Given all of this, it is typically beyond ludicrous for John Ashcroft and Bushco to name a single individual as “a person of interest” assuming that this individual could somehow have acted on his own, when in fact he had not worked at the facility that manufactured the anthrax for two years prior to the mailing of the deadly anthrax-tainted letters.

    The only thing that this sideshow with the reporters and Dr. Hatfill will do is hinder any legitimate investigation into the Anthrax attacks, which perhaps is the ultimate goal anyway.

    Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    Tuesday Stuff

    Just a reminder about what "good friends" the Saudis are from NBC correspondent Lisa Myers...

    ...and "The Pap Attack" takes on Dubya and the Repugs over some of the ways that they hide the truth (though noting all of them would necessitate running this video for about three hours instead of about three minutes, at least).

    The Same Old Beef With Bushco

    This tells us that Hallmark/ Westland Meat Packing Company of California recently recalled all of its beef produced since February 1, 2006, amounting to 143 million pounds, because of a video filmed by the Humane Society of the U.S. that showed…

    …(plant) workers (using) several abusive techniques to make animals stand up and pass a pre-slaughter inspection. These included ramming cattle with forklift blades and using a hose to simulate the feeling of drowning.
    Great, so now we’re “waterboarding” cows, huh? As noted here by Kerry Trueman of HuffPo, however, the Hallmark workers used other tactics to get the so-called “downer” cows (those too sick to move on their own) to the slaughterhouse, and since I’m eating my lunch at the moment, I’ll let you read about them in Trueman’s post instead of mentioning them myself.

    And are you ready for the “good” news in all of this?

    Most of the meat, raw and frozen beef products, probably has already been consumed, said USDA officials at a briefing. Some 37 million lbs were bought for school lunches and other federal nutrition programs. USDA said there was only a minor risk of illness from eating the beef.
    I’d feel better about that guess if it weren’t for the fact that, as noted by Lou Dubose and the eternal Molly Ivins in “Bushwhacked” here…

    …(the authors) charge that the Republican Party “is the party of unregulated meat and poultry.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) undersecretary for food safety, former Texas A&M professor, Elsa Murano, does not believe in testing food products (Murano stepped down in 2004). She also helped to kill off the Clinton administration regulations that dealt with the deadly bacterial form of food poisoning, listeria. The authors accuse the Republicans of paying off their wealthy contributors from the cattle- and chicken-processing states with the lax enforcement of USDA regulations.
    Among the many diseases that could be transmitted through tainted meat, “Mad Cow” would have to rank as the worst (as noted here). And though brain and spinal cord tissue from cows is not used to feed cattle, sheep and goats…

    …the government now allows meal containing brain and spinal tissue from cattle to be fed to chickens. One concern is that the government allows mixing chicken waste into cattle feed, another possible route for spreading mad cow disease that critics say should not be dismissed.
    And this links to a press release from Sen. Dick Durbin’s site in which Ted Kennedy notes that he is working with a coalition of groups to call on Bushco to “increase FDA’s food safety resources.” And this notes that Bushco actually is proposing an increase in FDA funding from $510 million to $545 million, which is a pittance when compared with that money pit in Mesopotamia.

    This should be surprising to no one after all this time living under Bushco, by the way. Our ruling cabal has waged actual war halfway around the world for oil, it has waged economic war through the continued offshoring of our jobs, it has spied on us with impunity thus far, it has refused to work on behalf of universal healthcare for those most in need, and it has done nothing while our planet continues to suffer the effects of global warming, among other ways it has harmed us. Why would it possibly choose to act on our behalf against those who would poison us as well?

    BoBo Tries To Deflate Obama-rama

    (Note: Currently having technical difficulties dont know if this is permanent or not.)

    David Brooks offers us a glimpse today of the type of attacks Barack Obama will face in the ever-more-likely event that he emerges as the Democratic Party nominee, to wit

    Barack Obama vowed to abide by the public finance campaign-spending rules in the general election if his opponent did. But now he’s waffling on his promise. Why does he need to check with his campaign staff members when deciding whether to keep his word?

    A typical cheap shot from someone who claimed that Obama should go visit a factory for once and speak there, presumably as opposed to college-audiences only; the problem is that Obama did just that days earlier, as noted here (h/t Atrios).

    And speaking of keeping his word, its important to note the following about Straight Talk McCain on public campaign financing, namely that he didnt want to be held to public financing limits if he ended up winning the nomination, but had no problem abiding by those limits if he lost (here).

    And Oliver Willis notes here that the only reason why McCain is hammering Obama on the public financing issue is because of the vast fundraising edge enjoyed by the Democrats in this campaign. If the opposite were true, McCain would be silent, I assure you.

    Also, Brooks snidely notes the following

    If (Obama) values independent thinking, why is his the most predictable liberal vote in the Senate? A People for the American Way computer program would cast the same votes for cheaper.

    Somehow I dont think anyone affiliated with PFAW would have worked with Tom Coburn, of all people, on the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (here) to create a Google-like search engine and database of federal spending," as Obama did.

    Brooks derides voters favoring Obama by stating that theyll experience Obama Comedown Syndrome (an acronym of OCS) when they come to believe that their man has thin qualifications for the presidency. However, I think many more voters will experience OCMCIC (Oh Crap, McCain Is Crazy) syndrome the first time he has a profanity-laced meltdown at the worst possible moment (here) before then.

    Sunday, February 17, 2008

    Nick Kristof, Meet Kevin Ferris

    The New York Times columnist takes "McCain love" to absurd new extremes in his column today (in "concern troll" mode), echoing this earlier post...

    Consider torture. There was nary a vote in the Republican primary to be gained by opposing the water boarding of swarthy Muslim men accused of terrorism. But Mr. McCain led the battle against Dick Cheney on torture, even though it cost him donations, votes and endorsements.
    Yes, we know that McCain has a perspective on this that no one else has among the presidential candidates. The problem, however, is that, as Kristof's colleague Michael Cooper noted here today...

    Senator John McCain’s vote last week against a bill to curtail the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of harsh interrogation tactics disappointed human rights advocates who consider him an ally and led Democrats to charge that he was trying to please Republicans as he seeks to rally them around his presidential bid.

    The bill, which the Senate passed Wednesday by 51 to 45, would force the C.I.A. to abide by the rules set out in the Army Field Manual on Interrogation, which prohibits physical force and lists approved interrogation methods.


    Elisa Massimino, the Washington director of Human Rights First, said given the administration’s refusal to clearly ban abusive techniques, it made sense for Congress to be more explicit about what should and should not be allowed. Requiring the C.I.A. to follow the Field Manual, Ms. Massimino added, would be a welcome step in that direction.

    “We’re very disappointed in his vote,” she said of Mr. McCain. “Because of his personal history and his leadership on this issue, it sends a terrible message to the rest of the world, to Americans, to the troops.”
    And McCain's defense is that, although he has professed to oppose torture, he has no problem with exempting the CIA from the Army Field Manual requirements and thus allowing them to conduct it (which, happily for him, ties in nicely to Bushco's refusal to ban torture altogether, notably water boarding).

    And I neglected to mention this earlier, by the way, but how's this for setting the bar so low that there's really no point to having the bar at all (from Kristof)...

    In short, Mr. McCain truly has principles that he bends or breaks out of desperation and with distaste. That’s preferable to politicians who are congenital invertebrates.
    I know I'm just a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, but somehow I fail to see the difference.

    As Barack Obama has said, if you like George W. Bush, you'll love John McCain (and here's some more of our "straight-talking maverick" in action)...