Saturday, March 01, 2008

Saturday Stuff

"The Pap Attack" connects the dots and explains why Bain Capital (and its newest acquisition, Clear Channel) is doing all it can to prevent the Sirius/XM satelllite radio merger...

...the Onion News Network has ideas on how to make war more eco-friendly (as usual, tap dancing on that razor's edge between satire and reality under Bushco)...

In The Know: How Can We Make The War In Iraq More Eco-Friendly?

..."The Hillbilly Report" gives us the sordid lowdown on The Foundation For The Defense of Democracies (pardon me while I gag)...

...and this isn't going to make me automatically vote for Hillary in April (if she's still around), but damn, ya' gotta love Jack for this.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Videos

Sorry I'm not doing the music videos any more - really just too much of a demand right now; I may get back to it someday, but who knows.

For now, though, I should take a minute and pay tribute to Mike Smith of The Dave Clark Five (here, with "Because," from back in the day - they did nothing but churn out one absolutely perfect pop song after the other until "those lads from Liverpool" showed up)...

...and Buddy Miles here ("Them Changes," with Carlos Santana).

Friday Political Stuff

Hillary's version of "The Daisy Ad," I assume...

...and the efficiency and thoroughness of Obama's response here is a good reason why he's kicking her butt in the election (if he gets the nod, he'd better respond this fast to the Repugs and their slime machine - he'll have to).

(hat tips to The Daily Kos for both...)

Friday Political Mashup (2/29/08)

  • Yep, if I were McCain, I’d be fighting my gag reflex over the words of John Hagee also (and God help me, but Bill Donahue and I are on the same side here; yep, I’m sure those four horsemen are saddling up all right – now let’s see TImmeh badger McCain repeatedly and tell him to repudiate Hagee over and over, thus pulling the same act he did with Barack Obama and Louis Farrakhan the other night, as Jane sez here).

  • Update 3/1/08: Speaking of Russert above, this is the most thorough takedown of this freeper mouthpiece that I've ever read by Media Matters; there's a ton of information portraying what a shill he is for the Repugs. If you have a few minutes, I strongly recommend it.

    Update 3/2/08: Forgot this from Will Bunch - great point here.

  • I wanted to mention this story about the Improper Payments Elimination and Recover Act of 2008, introduced in the U.S. House by Patrick Murphy and Brian Billbray of California (R, it should be noted).

    As the Courier Times story tells us…

    Item: This summer, a Government Accountability Office investigation found that the Agriculture Department gave out about $1.1 billion in farm payments to more than 170,000 dead people from 1999 through 2005.

    Item: In 2004, the Federal Emergency Management Agency used hurricane aid funding to pay for funerals of more than 200 Florida residents whose deaths were not storm-related, according to a review by Florida's Medical Examiners Commission.

    Item: In one month in 2003, a New York dentist billed Medicaid about $725,000 for 9,500 separate dental procedures and in just one day that month she charged for 991 individual procedures, a New York Times investigation found.

    The bill, which could be voted on this spring, would require government agencies to report any improper payments involved in projects funded through those agencies that exceed $10 million or are 2.5 percent of total project funding. Currently, the White House's Office of Management and Budget requires agencies to report payment errors only when both those conditions are met.

    The bill also would require agencies to recover overpayment if they spend more than $1 million in federal funding. Currently, agencies are required to recover overpayments only if they spend more than $500 million in a year, Murphy said.
    The Courier Times story by reporter Brian Scheid notes that the otherwise odious Tom Carper of Delaware is going to attempt to justify his existence by introducing a similar bill in the Senate, though Carper has so much to atone for at this point that I don’t even know why he’s bothering to go through the motions of trying to do something right.

  • Finally, since there’s no Area Votes In Congress post because they were off last week, I found myself going through a bit of “Joe Pitts Withdrawal” because I couldn’t bust on him over yet more idiotic “No” votes.

    So I did a bit of digging and found out that, among other things, Pitts is a decorated Vietnam War pilot, having earned an Air Medal with five oak leaf clusters after 116 combat missions. Nice work (as noted here).


    In recent years, he has taken a leading role in advocacy for religious prisoners overseas and human rights crises, like Burma, Western Sahara, and Kashmir. Pitts has used his office to build relationships with ambassadors from other countries in hopes of building ties between people from those nations and his constituents. This has yielded shipments of aid to developing nations.
    But it’s a funny thing; for someone who supposedly has lent a hand for causes related to human rights, this tells me that Pitts earned (?) a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign for 2005-2006.

    Why…just color me shocked!

    Well, it turns out that the Human Rights Campaign (as noted here)...

    ...“represents a grassroots force of more than 700,000 members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where GLBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.”
    So just keep reminding yourselves, boys and girls, that Joe Pitts, the Republican representative of the U.S. House’s 16th congressional district in PA, is a paragon of advocacy and aid for those enduring hardship overseas including prisoners of conscience because of their religion and/or political opinion. And you may look to him as a champion on behalf of the ideals of this country that we (basically) practice but, more often than that, preach about every day.

    Just as long as you’re straight (and lest we forget, click here to support Bruce Slater).
  • Doing The Bidding Of Our “Friends” Once More

    Oh, by the way, I thought you’d like to know that, while CNN offers more witless armchair prognostications on the presidential campaign and provides up-to-the minute coverage of dead supermodels, terminal baby elephants and the last words of actor John Ritter, the Times of London is reporting here that…

    …US officials confirmed that the USS Cole, a guided missile destroyer, has been deployed to the eastern Mediterranean as a show of support for the troubled Western-backed Lebanese Government.

    The USS Cole is accompanied by two refueling ships. But it could soon be joined by the US Navy’s Nassau battle group, consisting of six ships including amphibious troop carriers, which is scheduled to sail to the eastern Mediterranean soon.
    Peachy. So it looks like we could be experiencing 1982 all over again, when we last ended up supporting an Israeli incursion into Lebanon when The Sainted Ronnie R was president.

    And we all know how that turned out, don’t we? Just take a look at the pic if you need to jog your memory.

    “This is an area that is important to us, the eastern Med,” said Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    He played down the significance of the USS Cole’s deployment, but added: “it does signal that we’re engaged, we’re going to be in the vicinity, and that’s a very, very important part of the world.
    So what happens if any of our ships end up engaged “in the vicinity”? Are we looking at “Gulf of Tonkin 2008” here? In that event, would we launch missiles into Lebanon ourselves? And how exactly would that affect our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan?

    Yes, I realize that Syria is most likely doing all it can to disrupt anything approximating democracy in Lebanon so it can continue to exert leverage on Israel. I just don’t see why we should use whatever influence we may actually have left in the world in that region in response (but for Bushco’s slavish neocon subservience to the state of Israel; yes, I know that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has offered the Golan Heights back to Syria here which was once thought to be something that would never happen, but as noted here, a peace process of a sort seems to be progressing between Israel and Syria, though how our move to send the Cole into that area can be seen as a means to help that process is something I can’t imagine).

    But hey, not to worry, everyone; CNN just “reported” that a 28-inch-tall mom just gave birth to an 18-inch-tall baby, or something.

    Gotta love those “bread and circuses” while the world goes to hell in a hand basket, don’t you?

    “Show Me” That You’re One Of Us, Claire

    (re: Missouri is commonly referred to as the “Show Me” state.)

    So we have Dem Senator Claire McCaskill shaking in her boots over the prospect of Hillary Clinton winning the Democratic nomination for president here because it will offend the Repugs (as well as her spineless vote to grant retroactive immunity to the telcos).

    Next, we have her voting for that idiotic resolution condemning over the Petraeus ad last year here (and I’m not sure I would have used the “Betray Us” language either, but it was free speech after all, and apparently it was too much to focus on the actual content of the ad as opposed to the headline).

    (To be fair, though, she did support a registry that would disclose how much money and/or gifts drugmakers spend on members of state advisory panels who select drugs used in Medicaid programs here, so that’s a good thing.)

    Oh, and by the way, Claire, thanks for bailing on at least one attempt to pass the Reid-Feingold amendment to start de-escalation of our forces in Iraq (an earlier attempt here versus the most recent attempt noted in the post below).

    And thanks for piling onto John Kerry also here.

    Now comes news that McCaskill is actually sponsoring legislation that would remove once and for all any question surrounding the candidacy of John McCain here; see, McCain was born in the Panama Canal zone in 1936 while his father serving in the Navy was stationed there, so you could technically argue that “Senator Honor And Virtue” wasn’t born as a U.S. citizen.

    Believe me when I tell you that I have many, many issues with McCain, but that isn’t one of them – I’m prepared to extend the benefit of the doubt on that one particularly because his father was serving our country at the time.

    However, I cannot possibly understand why McCaskill would want to help him out. Let one of McCain’s fellow lockstep Repugs save his butt on this matter; I mean, it’s not as if McCaskill is actually going to be rewarded for it or anything.

    Besides, her record is spotty enough that she has too many other fences to mend to worry about helping the opposition anyway.

    Another Iraq Headache From The Inky On "Ferris Friday"

    Maybe it’s a sign of progress that Kevin Ferris of The Philadelphia Inquirer doesn’t seem to be leveling unsubstantiated charges and engaging in character assassination towards those who oppose the Iraq war these days as he did so notoriously here about a year ago.

    However, he still gives us the following here today…

    The military won't solve all of Iraq's problems, but the gains in the last year are remarkable: reducing violence in the country dramatically; holding the towns and territory taken from insurgents and protecting the population; consistently beating al-Qaeda in Iraq and limiting its area of operations. And, at long last, improved security is leading to political gains.

    Now, the question is:

    If it's in the best interests of both countries for Iraq to be a stable, secure and democratic partner in the war on terror, how do you simultaneously nurture that nascent political and security progress, responsibly redeploy U.S. troops, nudge Iraqi security forces into the lead, and maintain the sense of security needed for continued political compromise?

    Here's what you don't do: Threaten to bail out in 120 days. Why would Iraqis fight beside our troops or compromise with one another if it will be every man for himself in four months' time?
    God, Ferris is still horrible, even if he’s toned down the name calling a bit. For his information and ours, this is what was stipulated in S.2633 introduced by Senator Russ Feingold on Tuesday (noted here)…

    Requires that after 120 days, funding in Iraq be limited to the following: conducting targeted military operations against al Qaeda and its affiliates, providing security for U.S. personnel and infrastructure, training Iraqi Security Forces, providing equipment and training to U.S. troops, and continuing to redeploy U.S. troops from Iraq.
    Where in that description do you see “bail out of Iraq in 120 days”?

    And with all due respect to our fine service people and their courageous efforts and sacrifice, I’m really tired of reading about how great everything supposedly is over there because the violence is down by comparison.

    As Brian Katulis, Peter Juul, and Ian Moss of the Center for American Progress tell us here…

    ...what has been extolled as a central “success” of the surge has also exacerbated existing political divisions and fomented new political cleavages in an already fractured and fragile Iraqi body politic. Newly empowered sahwa leaders are challenging each other, traditional Sunni Arab political parties, and the Iraqi government.

    Al Qaeda in Iraq and its remaining allies in the Sunni insurgency have also begun a bloody campaign against the sahwa movement—more sahwa members have been killed since December 2007 (100-plus) than American troops (79 as of February 12).

    U.S. policymakers have not explained these new and dangerous political and military dynamics to the American people, choosing instead to focus on the important accomplishment of putting Al Qaeda in Iraq on the run. What’s worse, current U.S. policy in Iraq does not take into account how the sahwa movements have further fractured and fragmented Iraqi politics, making it more difficult to achieve progress in striking the power-sharing deals necessary to stabilize their country.
    And as noted here…

    In slightly more than a year, Anbar's sheiks have helped accomplish what US military might, and endless rounds of political negotiations, could not: driving out the extremists who had flourished in Iraq's western desert since the invasion in 2003. Pockets of resistance remain in Anbar, but the US command says many of the Sunni insurgents, now allied with Al Qaeda in Iraq, are seeking new sanctuaries north of Baghdad.

    Now, the sheiks say, it's payback time. They want more schools, better healthcare, clean water, and reliable electricity for their war-ravaged province. They want jobs for their followers. And above all, they want a stake in government for their Iraqi Awakening Conference movement.

    "Anbar is a tribal society, and the Awakening came from the tribes," said Sheik Ahmed abu Risha, who succeeded his slain brother, Abdul-Sattar abu Risha, at the helm of the movement in September.
    And what do you think will happen when the Shiite-dominated majority in Iraq’s parliament decides that they don’t want to share power with the Sunnis who have helped drive out al Qaeda in Iraq?

    And as georgia 10 of The Daily Kos notes here…

    Five years after the fall of Baghdad, and the Iraqi government has yet to agree on a power-sharing agreement (or otherwise meet 18 benchmarks of progress). As the AP points out, the "surge" was supposed to make this process easier:

    Such power-sharing agreements are the end goal of last year's buildup of U.S. troops. The hope has been that the declining bloodshed will remove the fear that has paralyzed Iraqi politicians, enabling them to compromise and strike deals across the sectarian divide. And that, in theory, should blunt support for the Sunni insurgency and allow American troops to withdraw from the country.


    U.S.-backed Sunni volunteer forces, which have played a vital role in reducing violence in Iraq, are increasingly frustrated with the American military and the Iraqi government over what they see as a lack of recognition of their growing political clout and insufficient U.S. support.
    And as noted here…

    Since Feb. 8, thousands of fighters in restive Diyala province have left their posts in order to pressure the government and its American backers to replace the province's Shiite police chief. On Wednesday, their leaders warned that they would disband completely if their demands were not met. In Babil province, south of Baghdad, fighters have refused to man their checkpoints after U.S. soldiers killed several comrades in mid-February in circumstances that remain in dispute.

    Some force leaders and ground commanders also reject a U.S.-initiated plan that they say offers too few Sunni fighters the opportunity to join Iraq's army and police, and warn that low salaries and late payments are pushing experienced members to quit.
    And the post by Daily Kos diarist dday also notes that insurgents are starting to infiltrate the Sunni groups that have led the so-called “awakening,” threatening to utterly shatter the relative calm of the moment interpreted by some as lasting progress; would that that calm would remain, but it appears to me to be more similar to the sound of a fuse burning before it ignites the power keg that will engulf Iraq once and for all.

    Not just I, your humble narrator, but the majority of this country have long since grown tired of witnessing our military stuck in Iraq having to referee tribal civil war among groups that have fought each other for centuries, with ever-escalating costs in lives and treasure that should be used for this country instead of flushed into the black hole of Mesopotamia. And any notion that Iraq will ever be “a stable and secure democratic partner on the war on terror” is a delusion adhered to by only the most rabid of right-wing partisans.

    And anyone who would expect Ambassador Ryan Crocker to do anything but feed those delusions is an idiot.

    And speaking of which, I just came across this little item from someone named Nathan Thornburgh at Time's blog "Swampland"...

    No matter what his advisers say, Obama wins nothing by shying away from his differences. After all, Obama is the candidate of change. He should take a cue from McCain's courage on Iraq.
    And you can watch more about McCain's "courage" here.

    Update: And here's another depressing history lesson...

    Thursday, February 28, 2008

    Thursday Stuff

    To follow up on an earlier post, here's more on that "tax and spend" Mike Huckabee (trust me, I'm being tongue in cheek here by embedding something from The Club For Growth)...

    ...and speaking of the other Repug contender for president (a stretch to lump Huckabee into that category, I realize), Barack Obama has "some news for John McCain" (so nice to hear a Democrat actually showing some balls for a change when a Repug opens up his big, stupid mouth).

    Run, Jesse, Run...Away From "KevMart," That Is

    After reading this post from Matt Stoller at Open Left today, I think it’s high time for The Rev. Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition to go on the record once and for all as opposing the “a la carte” cable idea proposed by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, especially since Stoller’s post describes so well the steps taken by Sprint, Comcast and other corporations to “get a leg up” on this issue as well as Net Neutrality and thus claim to speak for minority interests.

    As noted in the post…

    On the same day and location of the hearing (in which Comcast hired a crowd to sit in an FCC hearing on net neutrality so interested citizens couldn't get a spot to speak – typical), the Boston and Cambridge, Mass., branches of the NAACP plan to host a "take back our media" rally, according to a flier that was circulated on the Internet.

    The flier includes quotations from several civil rights groups criticizing Martin's policies on media ownership. The Rev. Jesse Jackson was quoted as claiming Martin supports a "massive new and unjustified welfare for the rich program."

    But in a statement Friday, Jackson denied making such a comment and said it does not reflect his position or that of his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. "We have always enjoyed a constructive relationship with the FCC and look forward to continuing it," the statement said.

    Martin defended his efforts as FCC chairman, saying the agency has been "active and proactive in taking steps to increase minority ownership."

    Most of the quotations took issue at Martin's efforts to push cable operators to offer channels on an a la carte basis. His proposal has met with opposition from the industry, which says it would hurt minority programming.

    The flier initially did not include the rally sponsors. A later version, supplied to the AP by a public relations firm, included the NAACP's Boston and Cambridge branches as organizers.

    According to Karen Payne, president of the Boston branch of the civil rights group, the rally was sparked by the sale of Boston radio station WILD-FM in 2006. The station's urban format was popular in the black community.

    Payne said the NAACP had not authorized the release of the flier, and that as of Friday night, it was still in the draft stages.
    However, as noted in this prior post…

    …(they) say full channel choice will result in extra costs for customers, who already pay an average of $40 each month for "extended basic cable" which usually includes between 70 and 80 channels.

    "Under an a la carte plan, that same $40 would probably result in a handful of channels, fewer than 10," says Brian Dietz, spokesman for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, an industry trade group in Washington. The existing "bundle" plans provide "the best value and widest variety of programming for the customer," he says.

    …Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D) of California, warned in a newspaper column last month that "the cable industry's most exciting new talent - scores of programs for Latinos, African-Americans, women and others - would be the first casualties" of an a la carte system because they wouldn't be able to reach enough viewers to survive.
    Jesse Jackson and others who claim to speak for minorities should not only categorically oppose a la carte cable, they should fully embrace Net Neutrality. As I and others have said repeatedly, Martin cares about consolidating the corporate voice to the exclusion of everyone else.

    Why I need to point that out to someone who alleges to be as astute as Jackson is something I can’t totally comprehend.

    And speaking of Comcast, here's more information on buying Verizon FIOS instead if it's offered in your neighborhood (boo hiss towards Circuit City, though).

    Update: Kudos to John Kerry for this.

    Why Is He Still Running Anyway?

    Mike Huckabee on Barack Obama today (as noted here)…

    "And so here's the challenge," Huckabee said, "when I hear Barack Obama say that he's gonna provide everybody with health care and college tuition and pave the streets with gold, ya know the American Taxpayers Union has already figured out that just the proposals he's put on the tale so far, already are going to cost about $287 billion, so far."

    Huckabee continued, "What we don't know is how much will it cost when we walk away and leave Iraq in a mess and the Middle East blows up. How much will that cost…If we were doing the Master Card commercial we'd simply say we know what some of the costs are. Some of the items on his agenda? Priceless."
    Fellow wingnut Pat Toomey of The Club For Growth (here)…

    “Over the pas ten months, Governor Huckabee’s embrace of his liberal economic record as governor and his populist, protectionist rhetoric on the campaign trail has only confirmed the Club for Growth’s original assessment,” said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. “Huckabee himself admits that he is a ‘different kind of Republican,’ a code word for more government involvement, less personal freedom, and greater dependence on government bureaucrats.”

    “Huckabee is proud of his tax hikes, his spending increases, and his regulatory expansions as governor, and he has not indicated that he would govern any differently as president. Nominating Mike Huckabee for president or vice-president would constitute an abject rejection of the free-market, limited-government, economic conservatism that has been the unifying theme of the Republican Party for decades.”
    You’re at 14:30 and ticking, Mike.

    Obeying The Law At Last...Maybe

    In today’s update on Bushco malfeasance, I bring you this story of a threatened contempt citation against Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt for failing to provide information from the Food and Drug Administration to a House oversight subcommittee.

    As noted in the story…

    The…oversight subcommittee is investigating whether FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach gave misleading testimony on Sanofi-Aventis SA's antibiotic Ketek during a committee hearing in March. Ketek has been linked to fatal side effects. In a Feb. 11 letter to the House panel, Leavitt didn't comply with a subpoena requesting briefing papers used to prepare von Eschenbach for his testimony.

    ``We're going to respond and have discussions over the next few days,'' Leavitt said in an interview during a break in the hearing today. ``I feel optimistic.''

    Lawmakers of both parties warned in their letter, dated yesterday, that they would back a contempt citation against Leavitt unless he produced the briefing papers or allowed the lawmakers to see the documents and interview FDA staff.
    And the reason why Leavitt didn’t provide the briefing papers used by von Eschenbach? He was worried about a “chilling effect.”

    I can actually understand that. I can see that there would be a “chilling effect” on one’s prospects for future employment and career success in the event of a conviction for obstruction of justice (though I believe this is another matter that could fall into the lap of AG Michael Mukasey, and considering the low view of this administration towards those who don’t give them what they want and their likely demand of Mukasey not to prosecute, I think we know what would happen next, or not happen, more precisely).

    The reason the subcommittee wants to investigate von Eschenbach is because Ketek was linked to death and liver failure in 2006, and oversight committee chairman Bart Stupak wants to find out if von Eschenbach was lying when he said he did not use a flawed safety study to approve the drug (Stupak, as noted here, has also said that von Eschenbach should step down because of “a total lack of leadership”).

    And as noted here (the more you dig here, the worse it gets)…

    Fred Eshelman, chief executive officer of PPD (the firm that monitored the study of Ketek by Sanofi-Aventis), did take some revealing questions concerning how PPD selects investigators and whether it relies on FDA’s debarment list during that process. Committee members were incensed with the FDA that (Anne) Kirkman-Campbell (a former clinical investigator) was not on the list and prevented from doing clinical research even though she was convicted of fraud. Eshelmann said the company does check the FDA list.
    Oh, and as noted here, von Eschenbach requested a report on his own agency (maybe to find out how to do his job?) and the report found that the FDA was overwhelmed. The culprit?

    The report blamed Congress for requiring the FDA to take on more responsibilities without providing enough funds to hire staff.
    Well, if you want to spread the blame around, go ahead. But this prior post tells us that von Eschenbach has done nothing but propose spending cuts for the FDA, apparently resulting in contracting PPD to conduct the monitoring of the drug instead of his own agency (since, as we all know in Bushco’s demented universe, the private sector always works more efficiently than that dreaded “big government”).

    Stupak is right – von Eschenbach should be gone as a result of this, followed closely by Leavitt if he doesn’t come clean also.

    O, to be governed by adults again…

    Little Ricky Takes On Obama-Rama

    Well, it’s Thursday again, and you know what that means, don’t you, boys and girls?

    Why, it’s “Elephant Poop In The Room” Day for the Philadelphia Inquirer!

    And the Inky’s intrepid columnist, former PA Senator Rick “Man On Dog” Santorum, chastises Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama today because of Obama’s opposition to something approximating the “Born Alive Infants Protection Act” while Obama served in the Illinois Senate.

    (The Born Alive Infants Protection Act, as you can read about here, was signed into law by President George W. Milhous Bush in August of 2002. Santorum was the author of the Senate version of the bill, with Congressman Charles T. Canady of Florida authoring the House version before the two were merged prior to Dubya scribbling onto it denoting his approval; strange that Santorum omits his ownership of this bill in his column today.)

    Here’s more from Little Ricky…

    Who would oppose a bill that said you couldn't kill a baby who was born? Not Kennedy, Boxer or Hillary Rodham Clinton. Not even the hard-core National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). Obama, however, is another story. The year after the Born Alive Infants Protection Act became federal law in 2002, identical language was considered in a committee of the Illinois Senate (as previously noted). It was defeated with the committee's chairman, Obama, leading the opposition.

    The act simply prohibited the killing of a baby born alive. To address the concerns of pro-choice lawmakers, the bill included language that said nothing "shall be construed to affirm, deny, expand or contract any legal status or legal right" of the baby. In other words, the bill wasn't intruding on Roe v. Wade.
    Really? Then why did the leader of Santorum’s party say the following when he approved it (as noted here)…

    "This important legislation ensures that every infant born alive -- including an infant who survives an abortion procedure -- is considered a person under federal law," President George W. Bush said at the signing ceremony.
    And there you have the reasoning that one day will be invoked in an attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade once and for all, since an infant surviving an abortion has the legal protections of anyone else, despite Obama’s interpretation which I will note shortly.

    Now please let me emphasize that I’m not oblivious to the emotional argument here. It’s inconceivable that another human being would want to do harm to a newborn child surviving an abortion and instead do everything possible to protect it.

    But that really isn’t the point of this law, Santorum’s protestations notwithstanding. Every single thought or activity at any time originating from the anti-choicers is intended to do nothing else but destroy once and for all a woman’s right to choose. We should have no illusions about that now or ever.

    And Obama recognized that when he explained his vote as follows (from the Jake Tapper link)…

    Obama has said that had he been in the US Senate at that time, he would have voted for the federal "Born-Alive Infants Protection Act," despite his votes on a similar measure in the Illinois legislature in 2001 and 2002. Obama told the Chicago Tribune in 2004 the state measure "lacked the federal language clarifying that the act would not be used to undermine Roe vs. Wade."
    I’m not totally comfortable with the federal law here either as well as the Illinois law, but I give Obama credit for making the distinction between the two.

    And Little Ricky, in typical fashion, states that Obama opposed the Illinois bill because he supported the right to end the lives of genetically imperfect children, a statement so repugnant that it really doesn’t even deserve a response.

    And finally, once and for all (and I’ll probably have to clear this up this forever, like the “Casey Sr. not being allowed to speak at the ’92 Dem convention because he opposed abortion” and “Al Gore inventing the Internet” garbage), it should be noted that “partial birth abortion” is not a medical term, but a political one conceived to maximize the emotional impact of opposing a woman’s right to control her body, which has been grounded in settled law in this country since 1973.

    Wednesday, February 27, 2008

    Wednesday Stuff

    There are all kinds of good videos out there for Obama, but I have to give the Clinton campaign an "attaboy" (girl?) for remembering someone who really should be here with us for the upcoming Texas primary (along with Molly Ivins, of course)...

    ...and here's an ad for the documentary "GOP - KILLING FLOOR" (such wonderful company "Straight Talk" McCain keeps, of course).

    Still Choking On The Fog Of Bushco

    It really takes your breath away (sorry – too easy) to consider how extreme our ruling cabal is acting towards the state of California in its effort to enact vehicle mileage standards that are tougher than those under federal law (they’re seeking a waiver of that law) in an effort to curb carbon dioxide emissions responsible for global warming.

    This McClatchy story tells us…

    EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said in December when he rejected California's request that since the effects of global warming weren't confined to the state, its release from the less stringent Clean Air Act requirements wasn't appropriate. He said that toughened vehicle-mileage standards enacted last year would achieve similar results.

    But documents obtained by congressional investigators have revealed disagreements within the agency over the waiver, with professional staff members saying that California had a legitimate claim and the EPA probably would lose a lawsuit filed by the state if the waiver were denied.

    In congressional hearings, Johnson has testified that he alone made the decision. But Boxer said the new documents showed that Johnson went to the White House last May 1 with briefing papers supporting California's position.

    "A funny thing happened on the way to the White House," she said.
    I’m not going to waste anyone’s time debating whether or not Johnson acted in accordance with the White House. Why would he not (and by the way, Babs, anything happening with that Senate Ethics Committee? How about this?).

    And as this related article in Time tells us…

    The California initiative, part of the state's landmark climate change plan, could have provided a nationwide model for cutting automobile emissions, one of the single biggest sources of greenhouse gas in the U.S. "The Administration has done a number of indefensible things on the environment and global warming," says Jim Marston, director of the state climate initiative for Environmental Defense. "But this is the worst in terms of process, and the one that will be most harmful to the health and safety of the American people."
    And to really give you an idea of how unserious Dubya and company are on this most pivotal of issues, this White House link (a 2001 letter from Dubya to his Senate playmates Chuck Hagel, Jesse Helms, Pat Roberts and Larry “Wide Stance” himself) tells us…

    …I intend to work with the Congress on a multipollutant strategy to require power plants to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury. Any such strategy would include phasing in reductions over a reasonable period of time, providing regulatory certainty, and offering market-based incentives to help industry meet the targets. I do not believe, however, that the government should impose on power plants mandatory emissions reductions for carbon dioxide, which is not a "pollutant" under the Clean Air Act.
    Only because one of your flunkies says so; as this August 2003 Common Dreams article tells us…

    Carbon dioxide, the chief cause of global warming, cannot be regulated as a pollutant, the Environmental Protection Agency ruled Thursday.

    The decision reverses a 1998 Clinton administration position. It means that the Bush administration won't be able to use the Clean Air Act to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from cars.

    Had the Bush administration decided that carbon dioxide is a pollutant and harmful, it could have required expensive new pollution controls on new cars and perhaps on power plants, which together are the main sources of so-called greenhouse gases.
    And again, what does it tell you of the intentions of Bushco that Dubya is saying carbon dioxide isn't a pollutant in 2001 before his EPA stooge concurred in that phony assessment two years later?

    And I have to point out (grudgingly) that when it comes to this matter, Bushco’s legendary message control is still in place; I looked across the EPA’s web site and could find no mention whatsoever of carbon dioxide as a pollutant.

    And from a “Kids Link” from the EPA page, I found this…

    Sometimes little things can turn into big things. Think about brushing your teeth. If you don't brush for one day, chances are nothing bad will happen. But if you don't brush your teeth for one month, you may develop a cavity. It's the same thing with global temperatures. If temperatures rise above normal levels for a few days, it's no big deal – the Earth will stay more or less the same. But if temperatures continue to rise over a longer period of time, then the Earth may experience some problems.
    The Gulf of Mexico was about 2 degrees warmer than usual on August 29, 2005 during the peak of Hurricane Katrina’s intensity, as noted here, which was hardly “no big deal.”

    But this is just another chapter in the war against our planet waged primarily by Incurious George and the Republican Party (and an earlier related post appears here).

    Not A Prayer Of An Intelligent Argument

    Untidy liberal miscreant that I am, I have always been skeptical of news organizations that cater to a broad-based audience but appear to advocate religion or spirituality of one type or another. That is why I have always been squeamish about the “On Faith” section of the Washington Post; for news particular to my religion, I would go read from a special interest publication such as the Catholic Standard and Times, and let the Post serve as the dumping ground for all of the latest Beltway blatherings and nothing more.

    So I happened to comes across this from someone named Claire Hoffman today in the Post which states the following…

    …combined with the decline of American-born Catholics (the Church's numbers are still strong due to immigration) and this does start to sound like something new for us, nation (sic). Fickle to a particular faith yes, but fickle to faith in general would be a new era for the U.S. That's the number to keep watching. I doubt we'll become like those godless Europeans anytime soon. The vibrant and faithful flow of new Americans will keep that at bay. But it's something to watch.
    Hoffman then goes on to tell us that, according to her data, Hindus and Jews are likely to earn more money in this country, so we Christians have to “hit the books,” I suppose.

    Notwithstanding Hoffman’s patronizing insults, I should point out the following from this link…

    The Catholic Church has maintained a higher level of participation (in Europe), but (author Philip) Jenkins adds, faces considerable challenges. The social and cultural forces have influenced the population to the point where family size in Catholic countries has dropped to the lowest levels in Europe. In addition, Church attendance in countries such as Italy and Spain has declined sharply in the last decade or so. Vocations to the priesthood and religious life have fallen notably, with little sign of any turnaround.

    Nevertheless, Jenkins continues, along with this negative trend we need to consider other, more positive, elements. Despite the decline Europe is still home to a considerable Christian population. In Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, religious participation is still very high. In Britain Polish and Croatian immigrants have brought about a religious resurgence in some areas.

    Another source of strength for Christianity in Europe is immigration. In addition to the Muslim immigrants a portion of new arrivals are Christians. Birthrates have plummeted in Italy, but Rome, for example, can count on the presence of tens of thousands of immigrants from the predominantly Catholic Philippines.

    There is also a growing presence of clergy from other continents that is helping to make up the shortfall in local vocations. Great Britain, says Jenkins, is host to around 1,500 missionaries from some 50 nations, many of them African. Another example he cites is that of a French Catholic diocese that hosts around 30 priests from former colonies in Africa.
    Jenkins goes on to say that, in his estimation, the secular European media is more hostile towards religion and tends to portray the situation as worse than it really is; also, the popularity of Pope Benedict XVI and religious pilgrimages are factors.

    And I would say to Hoffman that perhaps the reason than Americans of an earlier generation as a whole (more European in ancestry, including your humble narrator) are more “fickle” about Christianity is because we’re tired of self-styled know-it-alls such as yourself implying that we are somehow bad people because we don’t confirm to your standard of good behavior.

    Announce Already So We Can Ignore You Again!

    Even when our corporate media gives reasonably decent treatment to John Edwards, it still can’t help but work in the whole “hedge fund/fancy home/haircut” nonsense as “factors which undercut his populist message,” or some such nonsense, as Jay Newton-Small does here (as opposed to our media saying, “Has it occurred to anyone that emphasizing this stuff instead of a candidate’s position on the issues – or even giving him a bare minimum of coverage versus the other candidates – is utterly ridiculous?).

    I know this is all water under the proverbial bridge, but now, it seems that our intrepid Time correspondent is blaming Edwards even though he isn’t even in the race any more (no end to this stuff, I swear).

    You see, the problem for Edwards at one time is that he didn’t take what some thought to be an honorable course and leave the race fast enough for their linking. Now, he’s getting blamed because he hasn’t endorsed either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama already!

    Yes, if anyone had any doubt that “the silly season” has arrived…

    Myself, I think Edwards is playing this exactly the right way. Why on earth should he rush into an endorsement (I once chided Patrick Murphy for endorsing Obama as early as he did, but he looks like a genius for that now; I guess that’s why he’s serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and I’m a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger).

    All during the campaign, Edwards gravitated more towards Obama than Clinton, so for that reason primarily, I would be utterly shocked if he endorsed Clinton. And as far as Obama goes, he doesn’t even need Edwards’ endorsement, given his fundraising and delegate count considering his recent string of primary wins. Yes, Edwards could take some older, mainly white union voters who might gravitate towards HRC and hand them to Obama, but I don’t think it would be enough to turn the race either way.

    But the “media beast” must be fed, of course, so individuals such as Jay Newton-Small must chide Edwards for not acting with speed one way or the other.

    So just for that, if I were Edwards, I would just sit back, let the campaign continue to play out in a favorable manner for Obama, and not say anything at all just to spite our corporate media, thus getting the last laugh after all.

    (Seriously, if Obama gets both Texas and Ohio, I think you can pretty much book an Edwards endorsement, for however much it matters.)

    Update 3/6/08: Two things - 1) You just found out why I don't pass myself off as a pundit, really (re: the above item in parens - HRC won both), and 2) I'm sure Small is the match keeper, as it were (here).

    Shed No Tears For Bill Buckley

    I’m sure that, at any moment, our corporate media will go fully into “dead Diana mode,” as the eternal Molly Ivins once called it, with the passing of conservative icon and godfather William F. Buckley today.

    Upon hearing that the cause of death was emphysema, I should note that I’m sorry that he went out that way; it’s a horrible way to go. However, that is where my sympathy for Buckley begins and ends.

    Because, event though he denounced the foreign policy interventionism of George W. Milhous Bush here, Buckley (along with individuals such as L. Brent Bozell) laid the foundation for the conservative moment that drew like-minded individuals through the late ‘50s to the present day. Through his frequently obscure literary denunciations of those who disagreed with him as a result of his thin intellectual skin, he crafted the attack blueprint readily adopted by his disciples such as Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, all helping to denigrate our political dialogue by demonizing the opposition any way possible.

    And I find that I cannot mourn a man who once said the following in 1954 (noted here): "as long as McCarthyism fixes its goal with its present precision, it is a movement around which men of goodwill and stern morality can close ranks."

    In my folly, I once laughed at Buckley, considering him nothing more than a well-heeled intellectual curiosity of little importance outside of his own insular circle of power and influence. However, he preserved the insidious conservative “brand” through years of domination by moderate to left-wing orthodoxy in our politics and our media, to the point where it was viable when the time arrived for its ascendancy under Ronald Reagan, initiating what has led to its currently-slipping-but-still pervasive dominance.

    Give him a brief moment of remembrance for the sake of his admirers and then relegate him to the dustbin of history where be belongs.

    Tuesday, February 26, 2008

    Tuesday Stuff

    The Brad Blog brings us the truly insidious case of the conviction of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman (kudos to Dan Abrams also)...

    ...and gosh, can't you just feel "McCain Mania" in the air (and I mean "mania" as in "total insanity")?

    More From The John McCain PR Agency

    David Brooks thus sayeth the following from his ivory tower perch at the New York Times today…

    In 2000, (John) McCain ran for president and reiterated his longstanding opposition to ethanol subsidies. Though it crippled his chances in Iowa, he argued that ethanol was a wasteful giveaway. A recent study in the journal Science has shown that when you take all impacts into consideration, ethanol consumption increases greenhouse gas emissions compared with regular gasoline. Unlike, say, Barack Obama, McCain still opposes ethanol subsidies.
    Saying that ethanol consumption leads to global warming is fudging a bit; to say that ethanol production increases global warming according to the Science study cited by Brooks is more accurate, though I have to grudgingly admit that he has a point (has more to do with the use of the land harvested for the ethanol than the actual ethanol itself, it should be noted).

    However, that “straight talking maverick” once openly embraced ethanol, hardly considering it a “wasteful giveaway”…

    In a flip-flop so absurd it'll be a wonder if it doesn't get lampooned by late-night comedians - not to mention opponents' negative ads - McCain is now proclaiming himself a "strong" ethanol supporter.

    "I support ethanol and I think it is a vital, a vital alternative energy source not only because of our dependency on foreign oil but its greenhouse gas reduction effects," he said in an August speech in Grinnell, Iowa, as reported by the Associated Press.

    "Well, at least now we know he's serious about running for president," quips Brown University presidential politics expert Darrell West, upon being told of McCain's ethanol about-face.
    And by the way, this takes you to a page listing other energy-related initiatives proposed by Obama, including encouraging the development of other biofuels aside from “cellulosic” ethanol (meaning ethanol that comes from other natural sources besides corn, including switchgrass).


    In 1998, McCain championed anti-smoking legislation that faced furious opposition from the tobacco lobby. McCain guided the legislation through the Senate Commerce Committee on a 19-1 vote, but then the tobacco companies struck back. They hired 200 lobbyists and spent $40 million in advertising (three times as much as the Harry and Louise health care reform ads).
    I know Brooks is counting on all of us to forget this, but the so-called “Harry and Louise” ads were attack ads aimed at the Clinton health care initiatives of 1993. They did not support the Clinton plan in any way.

    And speaking of health care, I should provide information regarding McCain’s initiatives, which you can sum up as increased tax deductions for expenses (assuming the money to deduct for out-of-pocket care is there to begin with, which it frequently isn’t) and somehow finding a magical way to ensure greater competition among private carriers and greater selection choices among health care consumers (and don’t get sick if you read this – coverage may be denied in the event of any subsequent stress).

    The Cockroaches Mount A Counterattack

    Not much to say here, but only a reminder that the ideological goons at Freedom’s Watch have definitely not gone away – quite the opposite in fact, as noted here…

    According to its website, the organization's four "core issue areas" are:

    • The dangers of radical Islam and the emerging Iranian threat
    • Advancing a conservative agenda and market-based solutions to pressing domestic problems
    • Standing up to Big Labor's radical agenda
    • Preventing the degeneration of our society by stopping the legalization of controlled substances.

    "While initial reports suggested a budget of $200 million, people who have talked to the group in recent weeks say the figure is closer to $250 million, more than double the amount spent by the largest independent liberal groups in the 2004 election cycle," the Washington Post reported. "There is a sense among those contributing to Freedom's Watch that MoveOn powerfully filled a void in the left, that rallied support in the left, that raised money from the left, that mobilized the left," (Ari) Fleischer (pictured) told the Post.
    So as you can see, the FW lickspittles have moved beyond mere warmongering and are now trying to attack a broad menu of left wing causes (real or imagined, and it’s hard to tell sometimes with these characters).

    The group’s clout, however, is a fact. And one of its most noticeable propagandists is familiar in these parts…

    A year ago, (Ed) Patru, then the House Republican Conference spokesman, attacked Pennsylvania Democrat and Iraq War veteran Patrick Murphy, who had spoken out on the need to end the war in Iraq. According to the blog Brendan Calling, Patru sent out the following quotes (with Patru's commentary) from freshman Rep. Murphy:

    Mr. Murphy said in a speech on the House floor Tuesday: "I served in Baghdad from June of 2003 to January of 2004, walking in my own combat boots, I saw firsthand this administration's failed policy in Iraq."

    That is true. Mr. Murphy, according to his Web site, served with the 82nd Airborne in Iraq.

    However, Republicans dug up a quote from Mr. Murphy in the Widener University School of Law Magazine, Fall 2004 edition.

    There, Capt. Murphy said: "We are really making a difference here in Baghdad. These people haven't had a sense of justice in such a long time. We're rebuilding schools and parks, and I am working with the Baghdad judiciary on rebuilding their court system ... For those of us who joined the legal profession to make a difference, this sure is the place."

    In an attempt to find out more about his record of service, Brendan Calling phoned Patru's office:

    No one could connect me to Patru, but a person named Shane spoke to me. Had Patru ever served in the military? Shane wasn't sure. Had Patru served in Iraq? Shane was pretty sure that wasn't the case. How old was Ed Patru? Shane didn't know. Was he over 42, was he past the maximum age of enlistment? Shane didn't know. Did Patru support the war in Iraq? Shane couldn't answer for his boss.
    Of course not – Patru had already put his message out there. Why should he have felt any need to explain further?

    Thus goes the M.O. of the Freedom’s Watch cockroaches, living up to their foul pedigree by flourishing in garbage (including this cretin, let’s not forget).

    The Pointless Fight Over The “I” Word

    So it appears that our nation’s governors have met with President George W. Milhous Bush about more funding for infrastructure projects and come away empty (here – more of the same from the Bushco cabal)…

    Bush this month signed an economic stimulus package to send $300 to $1,200 rebate checks to millions of Americans and to offer tax incentives to businesses. He opposed including infrastructure projects because “it's not really a stimulative way to get the economy going,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said Monday.
    I can see that Perino knows as much about economics as he does concerning the Cuban Missile Crisis (here).

    To get an example of a country investing in infrastructure and experiencing economic growth as a result, this tells you the following about Thailand…

    The Thai economy has been stalled due to a crisis in confidence, owing largely to the political and policy uncertainties that followed the Sept 19, 2006, coup. ''Many are not spending, because of uncertainties about the economy, uncertainties about their jobs and future earnings,'' Mr Surapong said.

    ''How will we rebuild confidence? The state has to start the process.''

    The pro-growth policy stance comes after the state planning agency yesterday raised its growth forecast for 2008 by a half-point to between 4.5% to 5.5%.

    The National Economic and Social Development Board said that the economy last year grew 4.8%, up from earlier forecasts of 4.5%.

    New investment in basic infrastructure will be the main engine for growth, with the Samak Sundaravej government pledging hundreds of billions of baht in new programmes in five areas: Bangkok mass transit; logistics; water management; education; and public health.

    Mr Surapong (Thailand’s finance minister), a medical doctor by training, said the megaproject investments would not only boost growth, but also would strengthen the country's long-term competitiveness.
    And as the story notes, Thailand’s economy grew by 4.8 percent last year, which outperformed this country as noted here (not sure of the math, but I believe that’s close enough).

    And Jim Hightower tells us here how we arrived at this sorry state…

    The first W--George Washington --was on board with using public funds to provide the new country with a solid infrastructure, including an extensive system of postal roads and canals. Jefferson stepped up with tax dollars for the Louisiana Purchase. Even in a time of civil war, Honest Abe saw the need for a transcontinental railroad, the Homestead Act, and a public system of land-grant colleges. Teddy Roosevelt--a Republican-- pushed for our sterling network of national parks and created the National Forest Service. FDR put America to work building courthouses and dams, planting windbreaks and arbors, creating music and plays--jewels that are still with us. Ike, a fiscal conservative, saw the need to launch the Interstate Highway System. Lyndon Johnson fought for crucial investments in hospitals, schools, water systems, and parks.

    From the early 1950s into the 1970s, total public spending on America's physical plant (including money put up by local, state, and federal agencies) amounted to about 3% of our Gross Domestic Product. In the 1980s and 1990s, however, this investment in the public good fell victim to posturing budget whackers and dropped well below 2% of our GDP--a cut of more than a one third.

    The situation has worsened under the Bushites, who are sworn enemies of public investment in anything but the military and their corporate cronies. While federal infrastructure outlays in the 1960s were equal to the amounts spent by state and local governments, locals are now putting up three times what the feds spend, with the federal investment shrinking this year to an abysmal 0.7% of GDP.

    Of course, George W has a fib to fit every figure, including this deceit: "Infrastructure is always a difficult issue," he said recently. "And I, frankly, feel like we've upheld our responsibility at the federal level with the highway bill." Well, frankly, George, you haven't. Not even close. Experts point out that your $286 billion bill is more than $30 billion short of the bare minimum needed simply to bring America's once proud highway system up to the low standard of "adequate." And what you provide is way short of what's required for rail, mass transit, smart highways, and other transportation needs.
    Believe it or not, though, there actually is a tiny bit of good news here, and it is that the only veto by Dubya overridden by the 110th Congress thus far (pretty sure about that; can’t find any others) was for a water resources infrastructure and environmental protection bill last November here. So at least those on Capitol Hill know about the importance of keeping this country from utterly crumbling (more so about keeping their jobs, though, I'll admit).

    Of course, it’s hard to do that when the money is going somewhere else, and this tells us where (as if we didn’t know already).

    Malkin-izing Michelle Obama

    I cannot possibly imagine why The Bucks County Courier Times granted column space to Michelle Malkin last Sunday, but they did here (and for whatever it's worth, my opinion of that paper thus plummeted to new depths).

    I respect the fact that the Courier Times prints opinions from all over the political spectrum, which is commendable actually and important to foster ideas and formulate opinion. But while I would never harm the right of someone to make known a point of view that could be inflammatory to others, I still have to wonder why they did this.

    The excuse for Malkin’s written regurgitation was an attack on Michelle Obama, the wife of one of the Democratic candidates for president. And what exactly was it that Obama had done wrong, in Malkin’s view? She had said, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country, and not just because (her husband) Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.”

    And that was all Malkin needed to begin a harangue of Mrs. Obama, calling her part of “a sad, empty, narcissistic, ungrateful, unthinking lot,” among other choice adjectives, in the most patronizing manner at her disposal. And in so doing, Malkin managed to extol herself, recounting her experiences witnessing the soaring of The Blue Angels Navy flight team, the launching of the space shuttle, and partaking in respectful remembrance of those entombed in the U.S.S. Arizona at Pearl Harbor.

    It’s hard to communicate the peculiar dementia of Malkin’s universe, but I will attempt to do so here. She propagates innuendo and personal attacks on anyone who dares to speak up against her, and judging from the popularity of her web site, her success is a sad commentary on the state of our political discourse.

    Consider Graeme Frost, for example, the 12-year-old boy who had suffered head trauma and spoke out against the failure of the Republican Party to support SCHIP funding last fall, which he needed due to actual financial hardship. In response, Malkin and her legion of like-minded right wing bloggers encouraged their minions to harass the Frost family by calling them personally to get information about their private lives.

    Malkin also claimed that Air Force Senior Airman Jonathan Schrieken of Willingboro, NJ was shot by an Iraq war “peacenik” last July 4th, though Willingboro police categorically stated that that was not true. Malkin was also one of the Iraq war bloggers who alleged that the Associated Press manufactured a police source in Iraq to generate “insurgent friendly propaganda,” though the source was later identified as a real-life Iraqi police captain.

    Another “golden oldie” from Malkin is her reference to the Democrats as “the white feather party” for attempting to include troop withdrawal timelines in Iraq supplemental war funding. Malkin also accused those who opposed the Iraq war of staging a “party” to mark the 2,000th casualty suffered by our service people, when in fact what was staged was a candlelight vigil by the American Friends Society for this infamous milestone (here).

    Malkin has also been vocal against Barack Obama’s opponent for the Democratic nomination, in case you’d wondered, encouraging “ethnic profiling” of Asian-American donors to Hillary Clinton, described by Malkin as “smellier than stinky tofu” (here). She also misrepresented a Pew Research study that showed Muslim Americans as largely repudiating Islamic extremism, telling her audience just the opposite (here).

    And finally, no discussion of Michelle Malkin should exclude the sad story of Denice Denton, the former UC Santa Cruz chancellor who, in Malkin’s eye, failed to expel or punish students who angrily protested and kicked military recruiters off campus (here). Malkin encouraged her audience to “take a stand” against this “capitulationist chancellor” and contact Denton, who subsequently took her own life. And while no one has said that Malkin was responsible for the death of this troubled woman (and I do not do so here), the absence of any remorse from Malkin subsequent to the Denton tragedy is telling.

    I sincerely hope that the Courier Times gives us advanced notice when it decides to publish any future screeds from Malkin (who, it should be noted, approved of Japanese internment by President Roosevelt during World War II). That way, if I happen to come across her bilious rants by accident over breakfast, at least I will do so on an empty stomach.

    Monday, February 25, 2008

    Monday Stuff

    Hillary's attack (God, I hate to give a nod to Kornblut and Murray, though - nice work by JedReport)...

    ...and to be fair, here's Obama's barely audible response (wow, that iShowU Demo legend sure is annoying, and I definitely think HRC has more of a commitment to health insurance than Obama)...'s another spot-on video from that Stranahan guy on FISA (h/t The Daily Kos)...

    ...and I don't know who Lee Camp is, but kudos for this...

    ...also, I don't think I've ever embedded this VoteVets ad before aimed at "Straight Talk" McCain, so here goes (another "phony soldier," no doubt)...

    ...and speaking of the all-but-anointed Repug nominee, here's a history lesson courtesy of "The Pap Attack."

    Edwards Returns To The Fight

    This post from ABC’s Political Radar site tells us that John and Elizabeth Edwards are lending their voices to the Iraq/Recession Campaign, which is…

    …an effort organized by several groups, including the Center for American Progress, USAction,, SEIU, and Americans United for Change. The coalition fights for a halt in war spending to bring focus to economic issues at home.

    Speaking from his home in Chapel Hill, N.C., Edwards and his wife Elizabeth said they are proud to throw their support behind the campaign.

    "The war in Iraq at least from my perspective needs to be brought to an end for a lot of reasons--including reestablishing America's moral authority in the world and making America a force for good again," said Edwards on a conference call launching the campaign.

    "I don't have the empirical data I just know what I've heard over and over and over, is people don't understand why we're spending $500 million dollars and counting in Iraq at the same time that we've got 40 plus millions of Americans who don't have any health care coverage, 37 million living in poverty. People are terrified about being able to pay their bills. It doesn't make sense to them and they see no end in sight."
    And just as a reminder, here is the 2005 Op-Ed piece that Edwards wrote disavowing his vote for the war.

    This gives me an opportunity, by the way, to venture into wingnuttia courtesy of yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, in particular Mark Bowden’s column, in which he says that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama should “start making sense” about Iraq.

    See, even though Bowden, like Edwards, now sees that the invasion was wrong, the problem as far is Bowden is concerned is that liberal opinion has “congealed and dried” on withdrawal (actually, Bowden should consult Fareed Zakaria, who has basically said that the war is over despite stories like this one – I think someone needs to start making sense all right, but it’s not Clinton, Obama or anyone else who supports withdrawal – and not to be outdone, “Senator Honor And Virtue” says here that the war will be over “soon,” no doubt trying to create a distraction from that little dustup with a certain lady lobbyist).

    Here are more rose-colored prognostications from Bowden…

    It is certainly possible that these gains are illusory and temporary, and that hopes for lasting stability and a working democracy will unravel, but it is also reasonable to suppose that moderate Iraqis have glimpsed the abyss and are backing away from it.

    The war is not won, but failure no longer appears inevitable.
    Wow, what a great motto for an Army recruiting ad; I can hardly wait for the quick-editing, video-game simulation of soldiers storming an enemy compound, rounding up insurgents and handing out candy to ever-so-grateful Iraqi children while the words “The war is not won, but failure no longer appears inevitable – be all you can be” splash across the TV screen in just under 30 seconds!

    And I’ll just blow off much of Bowden's remaining propaganda – it actually would make me ill to dissect his entire column and refute the same arguments over and over and over and over (including the highly unserious notion that somehow, Incurious George has “changed course” in Iraq, leading to our present “success”)…

    Talking sense about Iraq for Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton would mean acknowledging the remarkable and courageous achievements of Petraeus and his troops, and admitting that their efforts have opened an unexpected door to a happier ending.
    In which “failure no longer appears inevitable,” let’s not forget (and to take a stroll down memory lane, as it were, here is a link to the background on the MoveOn “General Betray Us” ad with many, many links to news sources that totally undermine the credibility of the head of our forces in Iraq).

    Oh, and did I mention that Bowden has absolutely nothing to say about the Iraqi “government” and its total inability to meet any of the milestones projected for it by George W. Milhous Bush, among others, here?

    And finally, here is some polling data that Bowden should read, assuming he hasn’t done so already (and these numbers don’t appear to be trending anywhere; possibly down, but certainly not up).

    So I suppose the majority of the people of this country need to “get serious” about Iraq also, as far as Bowden is concerned.

    How serious is this, then?

    Update 2/26/08: And by the way, the legacy lives on.

    Hillary's Shock Troops To The Rescue?

    I have to admit that I’m starting to reconsider the respect I once had for the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. I was willing to overlook the presence of individuals such as Mark Penn and the campaign’s reliance on other well-heeled politicos to sell the Hillary “brand” to its audience of Democratic consumers, and I was even willing to overlook some of the clumsy attempts by former president Bill Clinton to separate his wife’s campaign from that of Barack Obama (which continues to impress me with its organization and efficiency, by the way, to say nothing of the candidate himself – and yes, to a certain extent, he is getting a free ride from our corporate media which I expect to end abruptly at any moment).

    And I am continuing to reconsider HRC after this New York Times op-ed today by former Congressperson and vice-presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro in which she claims that the so-called Democratic Party “superdelegates” should be allowed to choose the nominee (I don’t think anyone is arguing against that, exactly, as long as the superdelegates act in accordance with the popular vote of the party – and by the way, you can also read this op-ed from Hillary Clinton’s web site if you so choose, which to me amounts to a tacit endorsement).

    Here is an excerpt…

    These superdelegates (formed in 1982 as a result of the Hunt Commission)…are the party’s leaders. They are the ones who can bring together the most liberal members of our party with the most conservative and reach accommodation. They would help write the platform. They would determine if a delegate should be seated. They would help determine the rules. And having done so, they would have no excuse to walk away from the party or its presidential nominee.

    It worked. In 1984 I headed the party’s platform committee. We produced the longest platform in Democratic history, a document that stated the party’s principles in broad terms that neither the most liberal nor the most conservative elected officials would denounce. It generated no fights at the convention. It was a document that no one would walk away from. We lost in 1984, big time. But that loss had nothing to do with Democratic Party infighting.
    All well and good so far, but then we get to the following…

    …the superdelegates were created to lead, not to follow. They were, and are, expected to determine what is best for our party and best for the country. I would hope that is why many superdelegates have already chosen a candidate to support.

    Besides, the delegate totals from primaries and caucuses do not necessarily reflect the will of rank-and-file Democrats. Most Democrats have not been heard from at the polls. We have all been impressed by the turnout for this year’s primaries — clearly both candidates have excited and engaged the party’s membership — but, even so, turnout for primaries and caucuses is notoriously low. It would be shocking if 30 percent of registered Democrats have participated.
    Well then, I think that, based on this from Media Matters about the 2008 primaries, Ferraro should prepare herself to be shocked…

    In New Jersey, Democratic primary turnout of 1,104,000 was 69 percent higher than the previous record turnout with 99 percent of precincts reporting. In Massachusetts, the turnout of 1,170,000 was 48 percent higher than the previous record turnout, with 98 percent of precincts reporting. In New York, the turnout of 1,744,000 was 11 percent higher than the previous record turnout with 99 percent of precincts reporting. States in other parts of the country also had record turnouts among Democrats. According to the Political Ticker, Missouri exceeded its prior record by 47 percent (and voters in the Democratic primary outnumbered voters in the Republican primary by 200,000. According to the Political Ticker, the prior record for Democratic votes in an Arizona primary was 239,000, a number it had already surpassed by 31 percent with 67 percent of precincts reporting).
    And as Media Matters also tells us, a Feb. 6th article in the Hartford Courant noted the following…

    Turnout among Democrats exceeded the previous record of 43.3 percent in 2006, when anti-war challenger Ned Lamont denied Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman the Democratic nomination in a primary. Turnout in the March 2, 2004, presidential primary, when John Kerry cruised through a depleted field, was 20 percent.

    Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said she expected turnout to be around 50 percent.

    Note: the actual turnout ended up at about 53.4 percent.
    And get a load of this from Ferraro’s column today…

    Because (Florida and Michigan) went strongly for Mrs. Clinton, standing up for the voices of grassroots Democrats in (those states) would prove the integrity of the superdelegate-bashers. The people of those states surely don’t deserve to be disenfranchised simply because the leaders of their state parties brought them to the polls on a day that had not been endorsed by the leaders of our national party — a slight the voters might not easily forget in November.
    No one that I know of is suggesting that the delegates of those states not be seated because their state legislatures stupidly voted to move up their primary dates against the objections of the DNC. The question is merely how the delegates should be apportioned between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

    So what kind of a solution does Ferraro then recommend to the question of the superdelegates? Does she state that they should be allocated proportionately to the winner and loser of the Democratic primary in a way that represents the overall vote?

    Why, no…

    As it happens, the superdelegates themselves can solve this problem. At this summer’s Democratic national convention in Denver, the superdelegates could assert their leadership on the credentials and rules committees.
    And thus work on behalf of Hillary Clinton to make sure she gets all of the superdelegates from Florida and Michigan where she ran uncontested, let’s not forget (though I should add this post by Chris Bowers of Open Left as a caveat of sorts; basically, there’s nothing stopping the superdelegates from doing almost anything they want).

    I’ve run hot and cold, as it were, on the Times and much of our corporate media in this election partly because of their treatment of John Edwards’ candidacy, but also because of their continual reinforcement of the “Obama Good, Hillary Bad” narrative at every opportunity. However, I thought Frank Rich made some good points in his column yesterday on the many missteps of the Clinton campaign in the face of that of Barack Obama, which has operated with precision and economy and helped propel his candidacy almost to the point where the nomination is secured (almost).

    That is the reason why the Clintonites find themselves in this silly fix over the superdelegates (and don’t forget Ferraro’s paranoid supposition that the “supes” are switching from HRC to Obama because they believe they’ll face primary contests the next time they run for office if they don’t – reminiscent of the “chauvinism” charge of Ferraro here; it’s truly startling to contemplate the unreal world in which HRC’s campaign seems to operate).

    Update 3/10/08: All class, Gerry - sheesh.

    Update 5/19/08: That's OK, Gerri; we don't need your vote anyway - WAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

    Update 5/21/08: Wow; I can hardly wait to hear what Bob Herbert has to say about this, assuming he chooses to even dignify the comment by responding.